Retro bathroom tile flooring — 3 awesome new choices from Daltile

I am super excited at the new mosaic flooring I discovered at Daltile this weekend while poking around their website. These can be found in their Keystones collection.

These three new choices now to go to #1 among all possible flooring choices for 50s and 60s homes. Guys, the American Olean Chloe is nice, but not nearly as correct for the postwar period. (It’s a holdover from the 30s and early 40s.) Drats, 5 years too late for my 3 bathrooms. Oh well.

FYI, the very first design shown — “Random” — is by far my favorite. I cannot tell from the online material whether different variations of white are possible. I know we tend to think that all the whites must match – but I don’t think it’s a must, particularly when it comes to the floor.

Ring the bell, put out a press release, this is BIG wonderful news for the retro renovation community.

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Comments

  1. Palm Springs Stephan says

    Having dealt extensively Dal-Tile over the past couple of months, I can say that yes, there are at least 3 or 4 shades of white that are available, from whitest “Arctic White” to an off-white “Biscuit.” BUT … those whites are available in through-color (the color goes all the way through and is not simply a glaze layer) porcelain floor tile in only 1×1 and 2×2, nothing larger. But the good news is that you can choose multiple colors and Dal-Tile will assemble the tiles into the pattern of your choice and attach it to large sheets of webbing for easy installation. If you can find the local Dal-Tile distributor, rather than an outlet, you can also custom design your own pattern. So if you see a photograph of an authentic 1950s pattern, as I did on this site, you can take that photo to the Dal-Tile distributor and they will make the pattern in your choice of colors. It takes about 6 weeks and costs a bit more, but it was worth it.

  2. Femme1 says

    You know, I’m wondering if these tile styles were ever used in any other rooms besides bathrooms. Would they be too small-scale for a kitchen?

  3. says

    Amy, it’s the grout (not the tile) that you have worry about keeping clean. In general – I recommend going as dark as you can with the grout. If the tile is white, a warm grey can look really great. Also, you then need to seal the grout. Finally – you need to keep the floor vacuumed – that is the best prevention, in my experience. There is actually more I could write about this fascinating subject of grout. I’ll get after it someday!

  4. Palm Springs Stephan says

    Pam, I would never mix-and-match tile finishes on a single surface. I am using all through-color tile, all matte finish on the floor. Glazed tile would pose a slipping safety hazard in a bath area, I think. I’m still trying to find the larger size … I need to shclepp halfway across the state to B&W Tile to see if they can custom make some for me. If they cannot, I’m going to use four 2x2s laid together in a square to create the illusion of a 4×4. The walls (different surface) are 4×4 glazed arctic white, though.
    Note to Femme1 : I do not recall ever seeing a ceramic or porcelain tile kitchen floor (I’m 50, and I’ve been in a lot of houses older than I am). Every kitchen floor I have ever seen was always some kind of plastic-like substance (linoleum, asphalt tile, vinyl tile, etc) with a pattern on it to make it look like tile. I would be very interested if any of the other site visitors have ever seen actual ceramic tile on an authentic mid-century modern kitchen floor.

  5. says

    Stephan, Thanks for confirming the mix-and-match question, makes total sense. FYI, the AO Chloe tiles in my bathrooms are a Satin (matte) glazed finish. One bathroom has a black dot – which even is glossy. We have not had slip ‘n slide issues, though – because we use fluffy rugs (which I also consider accessories adding color, of course). I agree, though, if you want to step out directly onto the tile – no glaze! And no glaze INSIDE a shower floor.

    What about a bigger but still boutiquey tilemaker like Ann Sacks? (sp?) Maybe they would have unglazed arctic white 4×4?

  6. Amy says

    I really like those but I wonder how the housekeepers kept them clean back then seeing as they’re quiet light coloured?

  7. Jason says

    I have the white 1″ hex tiles in my bathroom, and they ARE hard to keep clean, especially with six dogs and cats. The previous owners used WHITE grout, and it’s no longer white. It’s a dirty color that I cannot clean. Do what Pam suggested and go with a dark grout. It also makes the shapes of the tiles stand out more.

    Of course, this isn’t going to stop me from using the same tile in my new bathroom (currently being built). ;) The look is worth it.

    I’ve seen the 1″ hex tiles (white with the black “flowers” and black border) in a kitchen before, and I thought it looked great. But I don’t think it was original.

  8. Basil says

    Dear Pam,

    I am considering in using American Olean “Chloe” (black square, pinwheel style) for my bathroom.

    My house was built in 1946 – Melbourne, Australia, however I’m not sure exactly what period the “Chloe” floor pattern style was used.

    Could you please advise if the “Chloe” floor tile would suit my house that was built straight after WWII.

    Thanks,

    Basil.

  9. says

    Hi Basil – Yes, Chloe is a classic “pinwheel” design that would have been common in the 40s, I think. I have Chloe tile in my three bathrooms. One has the black dot, the other two do not. Click here for my post on Chloe tile.

    If your house has a 40s Deco vibe – I think the black dot is fine, great even…

    But if your house has a more modern 50s feel – with chrome rather than black accents – I would NOT use the dot.

    Remember: You can always add color with rugs, towels, curtains and of course WALLPAPER.

    Finally, you might also like this post about 40s colors for bathrooms. Click here.

    Send photos, Basil!

  10. Chris says

    I came across this while looking for patterns that would work in my 1958 black and white bathroom (currently sporting a very uninspired vinyl). Maybe I’m looking in the wrong place, but I don’t see these patterns on the Daltile Folio One page.

    [link broken]

    There’s something similar, but less interesting. If I’m in the wrong place, could you point me in the right direction?

    Thanks

    Chris

  11. says

    chris, yes – i agree about the daltile website – hard to find stuff. my site has the same problem these days. as i just told jen in her comment – improving navigation to key resources/answers is my top goal for 09.

  12. Marina says

    Hello! I wonder if you can help me? I need to locate some Daltile,Keystone collection tiles to fill in a space where a bath tub was removed. where and how can I locate these tiles? Do you Know? Thanks Very Much! Marina

  13. John Ordway says

    Where can I find simple, inexpensive 4 x 4 white tile for kitchen counter top? I’ve looked at lots of web sites. Some come close. But most have “fancy” tiles. I just need the basic.

  14. pam kueber says

    Hi John – Home Depot and Lowes both carry basic 4×4 (or 4-1/4×4-1/4 white tiles, and they are very inexpensive. You can also go to a large tile store – the main names in these basic “field” tiles are: American Olean, Daltile and sometimes you see U.S. Ceramic. You might also be lucky and find some boxes at Habitat for Humanity/Re-Store. Finally…and I am not 100% sure about this, but I don’t think it’s recommended to use glossy tile for high-use countertops. They are more likely to scratch (and show it) than a “satin finish.” Good luck.

  15. John Ordway says

    Excellent. Thanks much. I couldn’t find on Home Depot website, but I am capable of actually physically going to my local store.

    And thank you for that advice re “satin.” I have no idea what the finish is on the tiles that I’m replacing since they are 1938 tiles (and pretty well-used, if you know what I mean). But I know I don’t want a matte finish — unless that’s what folks recommend these days.

    Thanks again for the advice and quick response. I was beginning to tear my hair searching on the internet.

  16. WrenchingTiara says

    I am redoing the floor of my bathroom in an Eichler home, built in 1960 in San Fernando Valley. The shower was retiled 15 years ago in a mostly white marble-look tile. Would the Daltile choices shown (Block Random Almond or Squre Random Biscuit) be best for me, or could I use a mosaic with some color in it, like “Beach” blend in Daltile Keystones collection? [link broken]

    • pam kueber says

      Hi WrenchingTiara, I think that as long as at least one color in the mosaic floor picks up on one color in the shower, that would work beautifully. Have you also seen the Nemo Appiana mosaics? All the flooring resources are on the Fast & Easy Bathroom page – repeated also on the Fast & Easy Flooring Page. Take a look, I think there may be few others to take a look at.

  17. WrenchingTiara says

    I went to the Dal-Tile showroom with a printout of the Keystones Block Random Almond and Square Random Biscuit (shown above), thinking this would be a snap. The saleswoman was very demeaning, saying these were for industrial/commercial applications only, like “public toilets.” She told me I should get octagon and dot, and when I mentioned that I had read those were correct for homes built earlier than mine (ca. 1960), she became incensed and asked “Where are you getting this information?” I of course caved and let her send me samples of white octagon and gray dot, which I have to admit look very snazzy in my bathroom. My contractor also felt negative about the small mosaic patterns because of all the grout–maybe more work to install, but also hard to keep clean. Just thought I’d share that feedback, which I was not expecting.

  18. pam kueber says

    Woah, WrenchingTiara,
    Here are photos of Nancy’s bathroom, which used the Daltile Keystone mosaic, I don’t think she thinks it looks like a “public toilet”! http://retrorenovation.com/2008/11/10/nancy-completes-her-yellow-50s-bathroom/

    Personally, I would not likely do business with sales staff who do not want to show me what I want to see.

    Finally – if you search octagon on the site I am pretty sure there are a fair number of pics of those floors, too. The bottom line on all of this: Survey your choices…then choose what floats your boat.

  19. Kersten says

    Pam!
    I’ve been pouring over the bathroom section of your site for months. And, one night, I couldn’t take it anymore, and put my bathroom vanity/sink, and two wall cabinets on craigslist. They were grossly WRONG for our 1957 ranch, and had to GO. Well, they sold much faster than we anticipated, and for about 6 week now, we’ve been without a sink and trying to decide what to do in the bathroom. Although the floor is in great shape, it is ugly (terracotta type 4″ tiles put in in the 90’s). So, we’re going to try doing this in “stages” so we don’t spend a ton of cash at once. SO- we decided to start with the floor. I really want the Block Random from Daltile, but it is crazy expensive for our budget (would be over $1,000 for our small 54 sq/ft bathroom)! So, we are thinking about sheets of artic white keystone, and pop some out here and there and add a little pink carnation speckle and waterfall randomly. Sadly, they won’t sell any of these fun colors in single sheets. I am totally stumped and tired of brushing my teeth in the kitchen sink. Can you please provide a little direction?

    • pam kueber says

      Kersten — Go straight to the Re-Store — see what the retro decorating gods have for you there. 54 s.f.? You might hit the jackpot! Where do you live (more or less)? Maybe some readers in your area have recommendations on places to find great salvage tile.

  20. Donna Daniel says

    Definitely the Daltile keystones were used in my 1953 ranch kitchen. But I had to get under three layers of yucky kitchen carpet to find them. And the cleaning was a bear. The tack strip from the carpet ruined the edge pieces so I am in the middle of trying to find the gray speckle keystones for repairs.

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