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Unread 02-04-2009, 11:40 PM   #1
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Need ideas for "period" bath floor tile

Hi, This is my first post. I was encouraged by a member over at Fine Homebuilding's forum to check in with you folks.

I have a house built late 1800's in Santa Cruz, CA. It is a simple farmhouse with minimal embellishments.

The house is in good shape and high quality finishes will not look inappropriate. The other house on the property is a highly embellished Victorian.

I need to replace the bathroom floor which was originally linoleum installed more than 50 years ago.

I would like to use tile that will look like it has been installed in the bath since its construction. In other words I would like people new to the house say "Wow!, is this the original bathroom".

My design sense is pretty good at identifying what I don't like but not so good at coming up with creative ideas.

I had originally thought I would use Dal Tiles 1 1/4" unglazed white porcelain tile but I have two small kids and two dogs that would track a lot of dirt in. I am suspecting that keeping the unglazed porcelain clean might be a challenge and the white will show every speck of dirt or loose hair.

What do you all think about keeping a white unglazed porcelain floor clean?

I am planning on using epoxy grout so keeping the grout from staining is hopefully less of an issue.

If the consensus is that unglazed white porcelain will look a mess or be challenging to clean, What options would you suggest?

I am wary of strong colors as they might lock the bathroom into a specific color theme.

I also like the idea of doing a 3" by 6" subway tile wainscoat that would complement or tie in naturally with the floor.

Dal Tile has a warehouse nearby in San Jose and I am content to go with their product line if they have something appropriate.

Unfortunately budget is a consideration so I would prefer to buy good quality tile at an economical price.

The bathtub is the original clawfoot tub with a fresh coat of gloss white paint on the outside, white wall hung sink, newer Toto drake toilet and the room is a rectangle 6'6" by 10'6". Bath hardware is nickel or chrome. Black porcelain light fixtures. Flat 1 by 6 door casing. Relatively big window so good natural light but never any direct sunlight (overhanging eaves and northwest exposure)

I did look at the photo album on this site and saw at least two nice period bathrooms with white tile (Pinwheels and 1" by 1" squares and some subway tile). It looked great but I am still wondering how it looks after two kids and two dogs have made several trips into it (for some reason the dogs always have to come visit the kids while they are in the tub).

Thanks for any input.

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Unread 02-05-2009, 12:13 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Kent, Washin'ton
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Hi Karl,
Stay away from the Dal "historical" tiles. They just don't have the right edging to fit into the time period you're trying to match. By "late 1800's" and in Santa Cruz, it's my guess that you are looking at a "Folk Victorian", "Edwardian", maybe a "Second Empire" (think The Addams Family) or a very late Victorian which is hinging on entering "Arts and Crafts". If you can nail down the architectural style, we might be able to help you a bit better?
If you really want to pursue the subway tile look, I strongly suggest that you check out "Subway Ceramics" for their period-authentic dust-press tiles. Great edges and glazing with plenty of options for special order trim, fabricated to order.
More food for thought, try looking at 2" hexagonal tiles made from Carrera marble, maybe with a honed finish to replicate ages of wear. Add in some Platinum Gray non-sanded grout and you've got a beautifully authentic 19th Century floor.
Best of luck,
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