Encaustic Tiles Have a Wonderful Victorian History in the UK

Tiles are among the oldest flooring and wall materials on the market today. Their beauty outshines other flooring options as they can be made into various shapes, designs, and patterns; their durability is simply unparalleled. Encaustic tiles are some of the oldest and most popular tile styles for interiors and these beautiful pieces of tiled art have an illustrious Victorian history here in the UK.

What Are Encaustic Tiles?

Encaustic tiles are something that most of us have seen, but may not know exactly what we are looking at. What sets encaustic tiles apart from other varieties is the materials which they are made from; high grade marble dust, cement, sand and natural pigment dyes were the usual elements favoured. The tile designs can be simple, but are often much more elaborate than modern mass produced tiles. Encaustic tiles can be used on their own or fashioned into a highly elaborate design as seen still in many ancient buildings throughout the UK.

Encaustic tiles can be dated back to the 13th century and are among the oldest surviving tile types in existence. Their longevity and hard wearing qualities can be attributed to the tiles being kiln dried in a kiln over 1000 Celsius which makes them durable and dependable for even the largest of buildings.

Why Were They Popular in the Victorian Era?

During the Victorian era people favoured homes and businesses with ornate and elaborate interiors; architecture also reflected this over decorative stage with impressive structures. Not only were people enthused with placing ornate chandeliers, tapestries and wood work throughout their homes, but also demanded elaborate designs, colours and textured to be enhanced in their floors.

Encaustic tiles fitted the bill on all accounts. They could be used in Victorian era homes, churches, and businesses without the fear of damage and need to repair as other tile and flooring materials were prone to do. Designs within each tile were also a source for elaborate, intricate designs creating a statement floor to be admired as well as practical. The Victorian era in the UK was all about style and impressing visitors.

So, They Are Primarily for Wealthy People?

No, actually encaustic tiles, even though elaborately designed have been utilised in every type of home from modest all the way up the ladder to the wealthiest of families. It’s not always the highest priced materials that make the best designs and with encaustic tiles, clay has always been a relatively inexpensive material to use throughout the decades. As more modest families equally turned to encaustic tiles as a means of transforming their space without diminishing their means, the popularity of this tile type grew tremendously.

Why Do People Love Them Today?

Reclaimed encaustic tiles are among the most exceptionally beautiful tile varieties on the market today. There have been many copies that try to mimic the success of encaustic tiles, but none have successfully achieved that goal. What is unique about reclaimed encaustic tiles is that the design is not merely stamped into the tile and nor are true originals just painted on the tiles, as you will find with ceramic and porcelain tile varieties. Encaustic tiles use various pigments of natural clay inlaid in pieces to create the designs, then each single tile is then carefully fired as one piece to essentially bring each individual clay jigsaw into one solid mass.

This type of artisan handcrafting tile is a craft that is handed down generation to generation. Each design of these unique and often rare reclaimed encaustic tiles will have the pattern or design penetrated throughout the entire tile as opposed to simply sitting on the surface. Therefore, encaustic tiles do not wear away like some other varieties can. Victorian homes and businesses within the UK that utilised encaustic tiles are likely to feature original flooring designs even if at first glance the floor appears worn in certain areas; its this wonderful sense of history and character that comes with an aged patina that simply adds to their charm and demand.

Maitland & Poate

Are you looking for encaustic tile for your new design project? Let Maitland & Poate be your resource for all your tiling needs.