Published at Saturday, 19 January 2019. Kitchen Floors. By Gerda Andersen.
Wood floors are an old-house staple—but in the harsh environment of the kitchen, wood will splinter, flake, and warp when exposed repeatedly to water. That's why early Americans quickly learned to seal wood floors with whatever was available, from homemade paint to wax and tung oil. Similarly, Victorian homeowners jumped at the chance to install water-resistant materials like linoleum and mosaic tile as soon as they became widely available in the last quarter of the 19th century.
Once the first tile is in place, align the next tile tight to the edges of the first and press down. Compression-fit the tiles to stay in alignment as necessary. After you have got a four-tile section down, stand up and give them a once-over before the adhesive is fully set. Make sure they butt up against each other in the correct pattern and line up with the main chalk line. If there is any adhesive on the tile surface, wipe it off with a damp rag.
Homeowners were at first content to varnish their beadboard or other wooden walls, but as concerns with sanitation grew at the turn of the century they covered kitchen walls with glazed white tiles, usually 3" x 6" subway tiles. White tile was frequently used behind coal-burning ranges, where it made the wall easier to clean, so it was logical to extend the tile to the sink area. Painted or sculpted tiles played an important decorative role early in the 20th century, primarily around the fireplace, but weren't common in the kitchen until the late 1920s.
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