A 5m2 antique French ceramic floor in a cool palette
Reclaimed from a house in the small town of Berlaimont in the Nord departement of France built c.1905, a ceramic encaustic floor consisting of a 15cm square field tile and a same size border tile, both of which are +/- 15mm thick. In a cool palette of primrose blue, mid grey with charcoal piping on a white slip the floor dates from the early twentieth century and was produced by Produits Ceramiques de Maubeuge, Douzies Maubeuge. We have included scans below from their original catalogue showing both the field and the border tile.
Classical in its tessellation and easy on the eye the design is both simple and pure and the same size Maubeuge border frames the floor beautifully.
The floor has been completely cleaned of its old lime-based mortar and years of wax revealing a quality ceramic and colours that are as crisp and consistent as when they were first fired. There are occasional small groutable chips and nibbles present on a small number of tiles but the condition of the floor is excellent and being a highly fired tile they can be laid inside or outside of the home as they are impervious to high and sub zero temperatures. Inside the home they can be laid with underfloor heating systems as they are excellent retainers of heat.
From a maintenance perspective the tiles do not need sealing or waxing once laid, waxing being an option exclusively for aesthetic reasons, as a regular wash is all that is needed to retain their beauty and lustre.
176 field tiles totalling 4m2 / 43 sq ft and 44 large borders totalling1m2 or 6.7 linear metres / 21.6 linear feet.
We have reclaimed this ceramic tile on two occasions in the past 15 years and we were delighted to receive photographs from our client showing the tiles installed in the family kitchen, a link to which can be found here
Antique tiles were most commonly made in single or two tile moulds. Before current computer automation methods their moulds were made my hand and the colour slips mixed by eye. Kiln temperatures could also be variable, as could the firing time. The result is that often tiles display subtle size and thickness variations and there can be tonal variations in colours, owing to the slip mixing and/or firing time. All of this makes these handmade tiles unique and adds to their charm. Some floors display their subtle variations in size and tones, some not, but when photographing we always take a random section of the floor so that it is representative of the whole. A tiler should always dry lay a section of the tiles to familiarise himself with them before starting to fix lay.