Published at Saturday, 02 February 2019. Kitchen Floors. By Gerda Andersen.
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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.
You can trace the use of brick in the kitchen to colonial times, when locally made, hand-molded pavers were typical in above-ground basements or detached summer kitchens. Brick is an unusual choice today, but at least one company has gotten around that with thin brick look-alike tiles that express an early American feel. Patterns include basketweave, running bond, herringbone, and a number of variations.
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