How to lay Victorian tiles

Once a decoration reserved for the rich and famous, Victorian tiles spread in the late 1800s to the middle classes who wanted to mimic the fine ways of the aristocracy. Throughout terraced streets, tiles were lain in different colours and patterns. They took inspiration not only from the upper classes, but also from monasteries and medieval churches. Some of these tiles have survived today, but their 100+ year survival has taken its toll. Many porches are now in need of repair, with cracked or broken tiles. While in the 60s and 70s it was extremely unfashionable to have Victorian tiled pathways (it was replaced in many cases by concrete or carpet indoors), thankfully, today it’s back on trend.

Victorian tile path

Traditional Victorian Tiles

Although there are traditional patterns to stick to such as Blenheim, Chatsworth and Cambridge, the combinations are endless. It means that you can create a unique pathway or hallway, which is completely your design. Decorating a porch with Victorian tiles is not only visually pleasing, it is also easy to maintain. Once the tiles have been grouted, sealed and then re-sealed, the floor or pathway only needs regular cleaning. Sweeping is the best option, as tiles can easily scratch or discolour from too much cleaning attention.

Victorian Tiles

Kerb appeal is another benefit of Victorian tiles. A porch with colourful or monochrome tiles looks both impressive and well-kept – future buyers would most likely consider a Victorian tiled pathway a perk. In some cases, it might even add value to the property, although this largely has to do with the preferences of the buyer.

Installing Victorian tiles

Installing Victorian Tiles

Dermot, a project manager from south London based company Dermartaspecialises in laying Victorian tiles. He says: ‘Whole terraced streets were made by the same tradesmen’s teams using traditional methods and in some places these porches are still intact, so you can see the tradesman’s work – it’s quite impressive. Using the same tile patterns was a way for the tradesman to make his mark, like an artist’s signature.” Dermot has seen an increase in demand for Victorian tiling, but he warns that it’s not a hobby for homeowners. He points out that quality really does matter and if you get cheap clay tiles, the result won’t last very long. As some Victorian tiles have survived since the 1890’s, it shows that tiles can be extremely hard wearing if they’re of good quality and laid professionally.

Victorian floor tiles installation

While the old Victorians would have had entrance hallways and bathroom tiled too, homeowners today are currently opting for exterior projects. If Victorian tiling will spread and become more commonplace again, we might just see a second tiling renaissance.


Dermot’s Victorian tiling tips

-Victorian tiles work best with a narrow grout gap, around 1.5mm-2mm wide

-Remember that the concrete slabs to which the tiles are glued, must be at least 150mm thick, level, with square edges

-Plan the design first on the ground, or on a piece of paper, so you know the colour combinations and the pattern. Alternatively there are CAD design packages available on line to determine tile quantities and the finished look

-This is not a DIY job, any little mistake will be exaggerated  further down the row of tiles and you will end up with a Victorian entryway that is completely askew

– If there is a manhole cover in your pathway it is recommended to use acover that allows the tiles to sit within the lid for a seamless finish.

Hey presto! The finished pathway.

At Rated People you can find local tilers , like Dermot , to do your tiling job. Thousands of tradesmen use the service and when you post your job we connect you with up to 3 of them. Read their previous customer ratings, look at their photos, and check their qualification.


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