Anyone put oversized tile in a Victorian bath?

VictoriaElizabethMay 1, 2012

I should say that I am not doing an authentic Victorian bath...

I am trying to retain a classic, vintage look, but merging it with an updated feel.

We are doing subway tile, console sink, transom... But the floor is bringing all progress to a crashing halt.

We put a 2" carrara marble hex in the master bath. And it is absolutely beautiful. I love it. BUT. That bath gets very little use. And so the grout/sealing marble is not an issue.

The bath we're doing now is going to be used by everyone. And I cannot abide the thought of all that grout. Yes, I know some people will say you can seal it, magically and have no problems. But my issue is cleaning it. Grout is too porous for me to feel like it's ever clean. So I've been looking at oversized tiles that have a neutral / marble appearance.

I haven't found anything I love yet, so I figured I'd ask here. Perhaps the bath forum might be a better place to post, but I'm interested in the perspective of other old-house owners who love the character of their house. But might have used modern designs when it suited them.

I've lurked here for almost two years now and have found the forums indispensable.

Thanks, Victoria

If youâÂÂre interested in photos of the project:

Here is a link that might be useful: Bath Remodel

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I am about to do a hex tile install in my old house (kitchen and two bathrooms). We just had the flooring guy out this morning and I told him about my grout concerns, which are the same as yours. He told me that epoxy grout was the way to go. He said that it dries harder than cement, is non-porous and is impervious to nearly all stains. Have you looked into that at all? It's quite a bit more expensive, but in a high-use area I think it's worth the cost. Going with a gray grout instead of white will also help a lot. Good luck, I hope you figure out something that works for you!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 10:56PM
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I'm still on the fence about the Epoxy grout... I've read some mixed reviews. Although mainly very good, the few that are unhappy, give me some concern.

And, in one of my million tile-store visits, and giving my speech about grout-phobia, the owner said "Epoxy grout is still grout. And if you hate grout that much, you're not going to be happy."

It's been over two years, renovating this house...and I am FINALLY trying to make practical, rather than purely aesthetic choices. Once this floor is in, I NEVER want to think about it again...

Having said all of that, I am still in love with the hex tile. Nothing is as beautiful, authentic, or appealing. And, I'm still torn, since I haven't found a large one that works for me. Sigh. Thanks for replying.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 10:05AM
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I wonder if you want to consider alternate period materials - for example, wood.

In our modest Victorian, the original bathroom floor is wood. It was painted when we moved in, and we sanded it to natural fir, but I am painting some very battered floors upstairs in light colours and really like the look (this one was chipped dark green though... so, not so much).

So we've had a natural finish wood floor in the bathroom for nearly 20 years, with kids growing up. With no bathroom fan (lots of condensation). It looks a bit beat up - but this is mostly because we used a water-based clear finish, which obviously was a stupid idea, but no one could have told us that at the time. Well, it was also a pretty well-used floor to start with (that would be why someone painted it). So, some staining, but all of it adds to the "authenticity" and aged look.

For look and feel, the floor is great. It is never really cold the way tile can be, and we like the look. Of course, our standards may be low... I'll have to look again to see if it could be photographed. But in real life, it keeps us happy.

So maybe try compromising from your hex tile ideal in a slightly different direction?

The other thing I would say is that if the small hex tile is that impractical, surely it would not have been the flooring of choice in Victorian times. Maybe you are overplaying the one downside you are afraid of? If you have mats, can get at all the floor with a quick dry mop, and have a bathroom fan to quickly clear condensation after a long use (I can't stand having a fan on WHILE I'm in the bathroom), maybe you are making a mountain out of a molehill.

Finally, it sounds like you have made all your other design decisions and are now looking for a tile that will fit. Maybe if you start with a flooring you like and are willing to flex some of the other decisions, you could come up with a total picture that will work. (and I say that partly because I'm not a fan of subway tile :-)). But seriously, resolving these design gridlocks is often a matter of clarifying which design elements are in fact fixed, and which are variable. Often, you've fixed some in your head that are actually still variable, and flexing those opens up new options.

Karin L

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 12:57PM
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We painted the floor on our third floor... We, (no me, actually) chose a light blue. My husband would have chosen something more practical. But I LOVE the blue. It's bright and unexpected, and the color is fantastic.

No doubt I am over thinking the tile. (As I have done nearly every other design decision in this house.) There is no wood floor to resurrect in the bath. The floor was an utter mess with the previous owner pouring a second wet bed on top of the first... which had to be 500 pounds of concrete.

I brought home a large-tile sample last night, that I think I may be pleased with. I am counseling myself not to over think it, and move past the feeling of abandoning the house's authenticity... the possibility of being able to move forward is trumping the hesitation.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ripping out two wetbeds worth of tile and concrete.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 11:33AM
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The classic Victorian bath tile was white hexagons ... but if you hate grout, consider using the tiles that look like wood.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 6:34PM
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Came across this link for larger hex tiles.

Here is a link that might be useful: Crossville Hex

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 5:30AM
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Wow ... I love the big hexagons.

Would they look good in black and white?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 9:31AM
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I've seen the large hex in person, and it's lovely. However, I've decided to go ahead with the larger tile. It does seem like I'm alone in this. I was hoping for some other old-house violators... But the samples have been laid out on the bath floor for nearly two days, and I 'm ready to commit.

It's not authentic to the house, but it suits my needs, which I've decided is just as important. Plus, the idea that this weekend we will get a floor, and move forward with this never-ending project is thrilling. As you can probably relate, the giant mess of this bath renovation is really getting old.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 9:39AM
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