History of Ceramic and Stone Tiles

As flooring retailers, we are always surrounded by beautiful tiles. It’s easy to lose sight or perhaps not even be aware of the journey tile making has undergone through the ages. The history of ceramic and stone flooring is long and interesting. With so many setbacks, it’s truly a wonder that we have such a vibrant industry today. 

Flooring Through the Ages

Egypt was among the first to succeed in stone construction, which dates back 5000 years. In ancient Greece remnants of this tradition have been uncovered as well. Ceramic flooring has been traced back to the 4th century BC . The Romans expanded on the ceramic industry and made great gains. Some Roman structures even had heated floors. As they occupied Western Europe, tile making became more and more popular. With the fall of the Roman empire, tile production ceased to be commonplace. However, this introduction of ceramic tiles would have a far greater impact on the architecture from Europe to North America than anyone could have predicted. 

In the 12th century, Cistercian monks began producing patterned floor tiles to place in cathedrals and churches. During the Reformation, tile making suffered another setback in the 16th century. The tradition was carried on in Turkey and the Middle East with wall tiles still being produced for decor and Delft tiles developed in Holland in the 17th century, inspired by the Chinese porcelain tiles.

The Palace at Westminster

Flooring Revolution and Revival

While tile making might have continued on this way, a continuous cycle of resurgences and roadblocks, the flooring industry, as did many other industries, saw a huge breakthrough during the Industrial Revolution. With the introduction of machines, tiles were no longer produced using the arduous processes required by hand, and Britain led the way, along with Germany, France,  and Belgium. 

In 1843, England’s Herbert Minton brought back encaustic tile-making. His tiles were more popular due to his range of color use and the help of a brilliant Gothic artist, named Augustus Pugin who designed the tiles. During this time dust-pressing became the standard for making the tiles, which allowed for more efficient production. These tiles were placed in some of England’s most prestigious structures, such as the Palace at Westminster in London, and Queen Victoria’s Royal Residence on the Isle of Wight

For thousands of years, stone and ceramic tile has been a sought after flooring, due to its beauty and durability. You can visit some of the oldest and most breathtaking structures in the world to see early examples of stone and ceramic tile. At one time, only the ultra wealthy could afford stunning tiles for their floors. But thanks to modern technology, that is no longer the case. Stone and ceramic flooring is an affordable and lasting choice for a variety of budgets.

Now that you know a bit of flooring history, you might want to use it when selling to your flooring customers!