Will encaustic tile work in my house?

skyedogMay 5, 2010

I have a hallway off my back entrance that is 3 1/2' by 10'. It leads to both the basement and kitchen and is heavily used by the family - think of it as a mini-mudroom.

The house was built around 1914 and like most houses in the area is a venacular house that is a mix of styles. In this case the exterior is Chicago Prairie and the interior a mix of craftsman and colonial revival but not a lot of either!

We think the backhall originally had a pine floor but given the copious amount of sand that comes in daily I would prefer not do wood here. Ideally I would like to find a tile that would work but everything I find seems either too large and contemporary or if it's small and "arts and crafts" it is designed for very wide grout lines, neither fitting in with the house.

Some neighbors have rectified tiles in earth tones with minimal grout lines. I would love to find a tile that takes a smaller grout line and looks appropriate for the house but no such luck. No one has the hex tiles or small white mosaics in their house - only old commercial businesses have that here and I'm not too excited about the hex options either.

I got a sample of faux encaustic tile in and we are considering doing a simple pattern. Will this work or are we just "earlying up" the place? I've also looked at cement floor tiles but they almost all come in 8" squares and the floor width is 43" it might be difficult to get a pattern to look centered.

Sorry this is so long but I would appreciate any suggestions.

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I think if you use a simple pattern that is not overtly Victorian, you should be ok. This catalog even has an "art deco" pattern.

Here is a link that might be useful: Simulated Encaustic Tile

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 9:37AM
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Thanks for the response. I already have samples from Tile Source - I was thinking about the Huntingdon pattern.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 8:50AM
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I think the Huntingdon is a nice pattern.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 10:15AM
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Encaustic tile would be era appropriate. Our nearby city was home to American Encaustic tile and it was in operation until 1935. Lots of homes here, including the one my parents owned (built circa 1920-30) had encaustic tile in them. The real stuff and it's still valued by the locals and preserved when found in homes. I love it and think it would work wonderfully for the situation you describe.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 11:05PM
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Well I definitely don't want to talk you out of encaustic tile, and I swoon over tile source's products (but choke up over their prices!)

I will probably end up using them for my conservatory, but if not, I am considering quarry tile. Yes, it's inexpensive, but it's been in production forever, at least some of the colors are based on natural clay colors, and it has a warmth and depth of color that appeals to me. But I agree; I'd skip the giant grout lines. I wish rectified tile were more common these days.

I started a thread in the bathrooms forum about setting up jigs and cutting down tiles to diy the encaustic look. At first I thought it was crazy, but there is a woman who does it professionally. Anyway, like many threads, it has disappeared, but if I can find the pro site I'll post back with a link.

Here is a link that might be useful: clear quarry tile

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 8:39AM
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Thanks for the link. I actually have been searching for paver tiles as an option because even if they are not rectified you can do smaller grout lines.

As for the cost - after spending 10 years on things no one sees - wiring, plumbing, rafter tails and what not - I'm ready to spring for some fun stuff!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 9:46PM
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Check all the options. Villa Lagoon Tile has lots of encaustic cement patterns and prob best prices around. You can get historic patterns in old world colors or go modern w/ the same materials.

Here is a link that might be useful: Encaustic Cement Tile

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 12:43PM
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skyedog, what do you mean by paver tiles? Could you post a link to an example?

I agree, you gotta splurge somewhere.


Lundy, thanks for the link to Villa lagoon! Had never seen them before; they have some great patterns.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 7:55AM
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I don't know what the technical term pavers means but doing a search with it got me closer to smaller, geometric floor tiles like I was looking for. I'm attaching the Ken Mason link below as an example. www.mymoroccantile.com had 2x6 loose pavers which is the same size as my fireplace hearth but they are very thick and maybe a little too rustic.

I'm also considering the cement pattern tiles. The install would be much simpler but the effect would be similar. I want tiles smaller than the standard 8x8 because of how the pattern would fit in the hallway. cement-tiles-use.com has smaller tiles available and a lot of patterns. I don't know if you've seen their site or not.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ken Mason tile

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 11:19PM
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I was thinking of antique hex french pavers if the encaustic plan didn't work out. I like the Ken Mason pieces; thanks for sharing the link!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 9:09AM
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I wanted to add a s;ight clarification; American Encaustic Tile Co. made _all kinds_ of ceramic tile, not just solid-color encaustic tile. They made to my personal knowledge, really beautiful Victorian glazed hearth/fireplace surround sets in amazing variegated glazes, and relief tiles with vines, flowers, figures, etc.
So the fact that they were in business until 1934 doesn't really prove what was in their catalog at that time (one way or the other.) The heyday of encaustic, when it was in full-flower as a decorative element, was more like the late 1870's through mid- 1890's.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 12:14PM
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