Tiling the Hallway
Our house was built around 1910. It has a stereotypical narrow Edwardian hall, leading straight up the stairs; with the front room and back room leading off. When we bought the house it was thoroughly carpeted with rough, grey, faux-wool all over. The estate agent had obviously told the owner to neutralise the decorations: the walls were magnolia and the carpets were utterly bland.
Preparing the Hallway
By this point we had pulled up the carpet in the main bedroom, across the landing, down the stairs and in the back room downstairs. We are aiming for varnished floorboards in most of the rooms, and so far they have been in varying conditions. I pulled up the carpet with my Mother when she was visiting, I was lucky because she’s a dab-hand- I just followed her and rolled up the underlay! She then got the carpet grippers up with a crowbar and all the staples with a flat-head screwdriver. For the bedroom (which was the first room we worked on) I’d used a pair of pliers (originally bought for jewellery making!) and not only did it take a very long time to get all the grippers and staples up/out but my right hand was quite blistered. However Mother showed me the light and it’s been a far easier task since then!
Disappointingly the hallway floorboards were in good condition, I say disappointingly because we’d already planned to cover them up! Mr Aviacion had picked out some beautiful Victorian style mosaic tiles from Topps Tiles which we’d bought from the leftovers of our wedding savings. I bashed a few nails in and gave the hall a sweep, then we booked a tiler and waited in anticipation.
Testing the Tiles
The night before our new floor was due to be laid, Mr set everything out so we could see what the end result would look like/best advise the tiler… and we realised we didn’t have enough tiles.
When we’d bought them, although we’d had a very firm idea in mind about how we wanted them to look and the particular style we were going for, we didn’t know very much about tiling. The shop manager knew a lot about tiling, but not very much about the effect we wanted! When we presented our pencil drawing complete with measurements of our hallway, and showed him the tiles we intended to buy, he calculated the number and combination of tiles we required. The set included chequered tiles for the centre, a chequered boarder including corner pieces, and plain terracotta for the edges.
We wanted this look:
You see the boarder sits right up to the edge? However our hallway is rather an uneven shape, starting at 33″ width and widening to 39″ at the widest part then narrowing back down by the bottom of the stairs. The shop manager thus advised us to move the boarder inwards and fill the edges with plain terracotta. He suggested that we might aim for the chequered tiles to look like a rug on the floor, which apparently is what people go for nowadays. Consequently we ended up with more plain terracotta than black and terracotta cheque!
Karen the Lady Tiler
We called our tiler and let her know that we were short, she came round as planned the following day and screwed the boards down in preparation before laying the tiles out and calculating exactly what we needed. Mr was at work and we don’t have a second car, so our tiler Karen (self-titled Lady Tiler) gave me a lift to Topps and got us sorted. Great news, but the tiles needed to be ordered and would take a week to be delivered!
Karen said she would pick up the extra tiles for us and booked in again for the following week. Well that week stretched into eternity! Finally the day arrived and Karen and I got to work. I helped a little bit, but mainly watched and passed the odd tool.
Measuring and Lining Up
Here Karen is measuring and lining everything up. She spent several hours making sure it was perfect and after that the actual laying of the tiles was much quicker. Unfortunately you might be able to see that the tiles themselves have been made the wrong size. There should be the same gap between the plain edge tiles, the boarders and the inner chequers as there is between the inner chequers themselves. The tiles we chose are individual mosaics and come stuck to mesh, which can then be cut to size. This mesh leaves 3mm between each mosaic tile, which should then be replicated when all sections are placed together. If this isn’t the case, as is not in this example, the tiles are the wrong size. Quite bad form on the part of the manufacturer. Karen solved this by placing 5mm and 7mm spaces between the edges and the boarders- something which has impacted the overall effect somewhat, but which was the best outcome. I’m grateful that we chose a tiler whose work we thought was of a good standard, rather than going for the lowest price! I understand that mosaics are tricky at the best of times, but in a case like this, you want a skilled labourer on side!
Starting the Tiling
Here’s the process throughout the morning.
Here the tiles are laid and ready for grouting, you can see some of the spacers still remaining:
Finished Victorian Mosaic Tiled Hallway
Our finished Victorian/Edwardian style mosaic tiled hallway, after grouting and still damp from cleaning: