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Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

Hydraulic tiles: when a painting is on the floor

The traditional ceramic flooring has come back to stay, relegating the dominance of terrazzo or hardwood. This modernist characteristic of the houses in the centre of Valencia boasts a vintage flair

Hydraulic floor

Valencian ceramic is a cultural element, both prestigious at an international level and well-established locally.  Since ancient times the city has drawn its history on floors, either in domes, walls or floors. On occasion just a simple look at our feet permits us to go back through decades of art, that go through the Romanians to Modernism, when this decorative element was presented in the International Exposition of 1867 in Paris. The hydraulic tiles gained their popularity at the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century, moving the large constructions to the bourgeoisie homes, therefore it is a typical floor in the area of El Ensanche. In some of the properties located in the centre of Valencia it has survived until the present day, where it is not only a relic of the past, but a trend of the future.

The times of wooden floors and marble pavements have been left behind. Nowadays, whoever has a hydraulic tile flooring tries to preserve it, even tries to restore it. We are talking about a decorative pigmented cement tile, which is made compressing that material with tiling hydraulic presses (hence the name “hydraulic”) afterwards it is handcrafted and decorated to get the best result. In the past, these tiles were made piece by piece, and consequently the older pieces are also the most valuable.  They represent scenes depicting local customs, inspired by the nature, or geographical motifs, which can be different in each room of the property and in some cases it can be framed with a decorative accent tile.

Lounge with hydraulic floor

The flooring of this property for sale situated in Calle Jorge Juan, right in front of the modernist Mercado de Colón, is a good example of  good conservation. It forms part of one of the most beautiful buildings of the area, boasting a myriad of original elements, thus the setting helps to perpetuate the spirit of the twentieth century. In addition, the 183m2 apartment boasts large and bright rooms, with high ceilings and large windows overlooking two of the city’s noble streets. Wherever you look, there are reasons that justify its special character. When you look down you can discover the charm of the floral ornaments, which are different in each rooms and help to separate them from each other. The original tile composition of the lobby is just one example of what the visitor can find in the interior of the property.

The vigour of the mosaic tiles

Those who believe the hydraulic tiles are only specific to apartments centrally located couldn’t be more wrong. Although we are accustomed to finding it on urban property floors, it serves both for indoor and outdoor use. One of its virtues is that it can support heavy loads without hardly deforming, therefore it has a rather long shelf life and you don’t have to worry about its maintenance as often as with wood flooring.  It is usually more slippery than concrete but it is also more waterproof and, in any case, there are anti-slip treatments.

Hydraulic floors in the entrance hall

Aesthetically, it stands out for its versatility. It is possible to find these traditional ceramic tiles in the most classic properties in El Ensanche but also in the most hipster flats of Ruzafa. It combines with the classic finishes for which it was conceived, but it also perfectly adapts to the Nordic style of present-day homes or to a workspace that is completely eclectic.  The existence of different shapes and colours also contributes to this eclecticism and to assemble original combinations only depends on if you have a good interior design taste. You can decorate a complete property or just one room with mosaic tiles, or create a visual effect of a carpet for a specific area, combining this material with other floor coverings. It has a longer life that floors. It serves not only as flooring but also is used in walls, furniture or headboards.

Whoever is willing to assemble the puzzle, but do not have the primary material, can order it. As its manufacture is fairly simple, the price does not have to be extortionate. Currently it is also made with a vinyl finish (PVC), but there are many varieties of wood and laminates. The techniques also offer the possibility to make worn tiles, which gives an appropriate aged appearance for this type of flooring; as if it were original, but it is not. You only need to wish for it, find it, and dare to do it; and in just a few seconds you will check if your feet have entered into the XX century.

Bedroom with hydraulic tiles


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