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History of Bathroom Tiles

When bathroom tiles started to be used?

In Biblical times, mud men were masons and are the first recorded makers of bricks, and thinner bricks for cladding, the forerunners of tiles. Masonry is the oldest of the building trades. For centuries sun-baked clay bricks were used for building. In about 3000BC fired bricks were first used for cladding walls.

The first record of glazed tiles in architecture was in 2700BC in Egypt. The famous Turquoise City of Pi-Rameses was known for the thousands of blue glazed tiles adorning the doors and windows of many buildings.

Beginning of Modern Tiles

Modern glazed tiles were started from the 13th to the 5th century BC and used by the Assyrians and Babylonians in Mesopotamia.

The Greeks and Romans used mosaic extensively, but did not contribute much to tile making. Ceramic tiling did not accompany the westward spread of the Roman Empire in Europe, except for mosaic flooring.

Marble and stone were used for mosaic in Italy, but in Britain ceramic mosaic was substituted. These could in a way be classed as small tiles.

Although they didn’t have bathroom tiles, the Romans seem to have been the inventors of bathrooms. They valued the cleanliness of submersing themselves in water. Their bathrooms were communal (men and women bathed separately) and bathing was quite a social event.

With the advent of Muslim art and architecture, after 700AD the influence of Islamic tiles and architecture spread from Syria to Turkey, North Africa, Morocco and Spain.

The Moors brought with them to Spain the Assyrian and Babylonian skills of tile making, which had been developed it to a fine and magnificent art.

In the 15th century AD the Catholic religious architecture was incorporating beautiful ceramic tiles in their cathedrals. These skills are believed to have come from Spain. At the time of Reformation, many skilled tile makers fled to Flanders, Germany and Britain. Between 1620 and 1640 Dutch seamen began to bring lovely porcelain from China and the East. This combination gave birth to the beautiful and unique Delft pottery and tiles.

The skill of tile making was brought to Colonial North America by European colonists. At first they were too expensive to be used anywhere except in the homes of the wealthy.

Today in the United States, and indeed in large parts of the world, there is hardly a home that doesn’t have tiles.

Bathroom Tiles Today

Bath tiles began by being plain, utilitarian and usually clinically white. Bathrooms were tucked away, discrete to the point of being unmentionable in Victorian and Edwardian times.

Gradually people lost their inhibitions about bathing and it became an enjoyable luxury. They started demanding something more aesthetically appealing in their bathrooms, and one of the first improvements was in the tiles.

Today bathrooms are so much part of home life that they can be as beautiful as any room in the house. Bathroom tiles come in almost any color you can think of.

They have many designs and can be grouped together to make pictures, frame bathroom fittings and outline areas. As far as materials go, tiles can be made of glazed ceramic, quarried stone slabs, stone chips, terrazzo, terracotta, beautifully painted or decorated clay tiles, handmade tiles with inlays of shells or anything else the creative mind can think up, stainless steel tiles, glass tiles, copper, brass or combination tiles. Bathroom tiles can even be made of cork or bamboo.

New types of linoleum and all kinds of plastic and synthetic tiles are also available. Reclaimed tin ceiling tiles are scarce but highly prized. If you are looking for really unusual bathroom tiles, what about this: pieces of rock are carefully molded and reproduced in fiberglass / concrete and the walls are tiled with this. When you walk into your bathroom, instead of a ‘normal’ bathroom with bathroom tiles, you find you are walking into a cave. Concealed lighting, stone fixtures, ferns and a waterfall or two with a tub sunk into the floor complete the picture.

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