Ceramic tiles are special. It’s not just because of the fact that they generally make better flooring than carpets or wood, it’s no that they keep you cool in very hot summers. There is more to ceramic tiles than what is usually let on.
Ceramic tiles have a long and illustrious history – nearly as long as civilization itself. The first tiles used that have been found are roof tiles dating from 6000 years in 4000 BC. In the Early Helladic House the Tiles, fired terracotta roof tiles has been found at the site in Lerna, Greece. In the Mycenaean Period, roof tiles were documented for Gla and Medea. The Chinese also had ceramic artwork, but they never used tiles in the way that the Europeans or the Middle Eastern nations did.
The Dutch style, otherwise know as the Delft Style of ceramic floor tile making was started in a Dutch town called Delft in 1544. In 50 years, the craftsmanship became so popular and world renowned that the Dutch prospered immensely from it. However, with increased popularity, there was a commensurate increase in competition and the Dutch floundered – all that remained was their style, which slowly changed due to Chinese influence into the blue and white ceramic glazed tiles that we know today. The other major competitor to the Delft Style is the Maiollican Style, crafted by the artisans of Italy and Spain, which are to this day considered among the greatest tile makers in the world.
In the 19th century the British pioneered the mass production of ceramic floor tiles, boosted by the effects of the Industrial Revolution. The British prospered much like the Dutch and much like the Dutch they succumbed to the increased competition that popularity brought. The Americans overtook the British as the main mass producer of floor tiles but were kept on their guard with the ever present availability of English wares.
Today’s floors are mostly covered by ceramic tiling as it has proven to have the best cost to upkeep ratio. While there are many types of flooring that are cheaper than ceramic floor tiles, nothing can really compare to negligible cost of upkeep that ceramic tiles bring to the table. They are easy to clean and do not crack easily. They might not have the durability of porcelain or the luster of marble, but they do not have the price either yet they are relatively similar to both. They are better than a Jack of all trades and it is precisely for this reason that they have been an integral part of every major historic event the world has ever seen. Whether it be in the Far East, the Middle East or anywhere else – ceramic floor tiles have been there to keep people feeling good.
So the next time you think about buying new floor tiles for a new room in your home or for a refurbishment of an existing room, think about the versatility of ceramic floor tiles. Think about the longevity of these marvels of human ingenuity and think to yourself… What history will these tiles witness?