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history of tile

Ready for flooring with some real history behind it? Ceramic tile floors have seen their popularity rise and fall from Ancient Rome to the modern day. Mosaic tile floors were the norm for wealthy Roman families, who had their floors inlaid with elaborate mosaics creating patterns or depicting scenes of daily life. If you're looking for long–lasting floors, take note – some of those Roman tile floors have survived to the present day!

Origins of Tile Flooring

Tile–making skills were lost as empires rose and fell, and tile floors didn't see use again until the 12th century. Cistercian monks created ceramic tiles with a pattern or design made from different colors of clay, known as encaustic tiles. Tiles were stamped and then the voids were filled with white pipeclay, after which the tiles were fired and glazed, fusing the clays together. These tiles were installed in the floors of cathedrals and churches until tile floors again fell out of favor.

Tile Floors Today

Tile floors didn't see a revival until 1843, when Herbert Minton re–introduced encaustic tile–making to England. Tile–making also saw a great technological advancement around this time, when the "dust–pressing" method was introduced, which used nearly dry clay rather than wet clay, which could be difficult to handle. This method allowed for the creation of tiles by machine, so they no longer had to be made by hand using wet clay. While this still wasn't a cheap process, tile floors became a popular choice in many large buildings, including London's Palace at Westminster.

Traditional ceramic floor tiles remain a classic flooring choice in many homes, but those who like the look of tile floors have many other options. Rubber, vinyl, and marble tiles are available, and even carpet can be found in tile form!