Decorative Front Step and Porch Tiles

Mention tiling and most people’s minds turn to bathrooms or kitchens. These are the rooms that we have designated as the place to demonstrate our passion for grouting and the plethora of decorative or practical tile designs that are now available.

But when many of our homes were designed and built, the main place a tiling expert would be employed would be near to the front door. Tiled doorsteps afforded the homeowner the chance to show off how clean their home was, often with a big tub of red polish and an awful lot of elbow grease. The sight of rows of housewives scrubbing and polishing their steps is a common one in historical films and photographs, as a clean and shining tiled step was a source of pride, especially among the working classes who inhabited the terraced homes that we now prize.

porch tiles

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Builders who wanted to show off their housing stock would also often add some decorative tiling in the porches of terraced homes, often with a matching pattern around fireplaces in the living rooms. Different tiling would be used on houses along the street, so that owners felt a sense of individuality from their house. On more expensive homes the tiling would extend out from the step and all the way up to the front gate, forming a tiled pathway. Others would have tiling heading inwards, up the hallway to the stairs or kitchen.

outdoor tiles

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A good number of these features were removed from homes in the 1960s and 1970s as people sought to modernise their homes and move away from the standard Victorian look. Now, however,  many people are seeking to restore and replace these features, which can be beautiful when cleaned and polished.


Many businesses are catering for the return to a Victorian decorative trend with reproduction tiles that copy both the decorative and geometric tiling favoured by builders and developers at the time. Bold contrasts or bright colours are the norm, so don’t be afraid to go for eye-dazzling chequer board designs or to choose lime greens or floral designs backed with burgundy. These are the kind of stand-out looks that your home may have had originally. Have a good look around your neighbourhood for any homes that still have original Victorian (or Edwardian) tiling intact.

outdoor floor tiles

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You will also find that local reclamation yards will carry sets of tiles that have been removed from demolished or modernised homes in your area. You can even uncover close matches for any missing tiles that you may have on your own home.

Having tiling on the front of your home renewed or renovated can start from as little as £100 for some repair work, but having a whole set of tiles put on the inside of a porch and up the path could cost upwards of £1,000 when the cost of tiles is taken into account. Reproduction and reclaimed tiles can be expensive, unless you get lucky and score some at a junk shop or car boot sale. But the results will undoubtedly be stunning and add value and kerb appeal to your home.

Coming home after work will certainly be a more colourful experience and the need to keep your steps proudly polished will mean that your meet more of the neighbours, too.

Need some help restoring your period tiles to their former glory? Find a qualified and trusted Tiler on Rated People for period restoration and put the elegance back into your front porch or steps.

Iain Aitch

Iain is a London-based writer who works as a journalist for a number of newspapers and magazines. He has also written two books, one of which is a hilarious lexicon about Britishness – Iain is a Brit through and through!

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