30 patterns for vinyl floor tiles from the 1950s

David asked the other day:

We’re planning our basement finishing project and looking at VCT tiling options in the basement. Does anyone know where to find design ideas for Vinyl tiles? I’m seeing a lot for ceramic, but not many for VCT.

You ask, I deliver: Here are scans from 1950s Armstrong and Kentile catalogs.

armstrong floorsThe thing I like about the designs in my 1955 Armstrong dealer catalog is that they show the percentage of each color required. The Kentile designs come from a retail brochure, so you will have to do the math yourself.

Also remember: Armstrong still offers the the decorative shuffleboard. Come on — you only live once — get the shuffleboard, especially if you are doing a basement floor. I also like VCT like this for kitchen flooring. If you’re planning a retro remodel of your kitchen, be sure to start here to scope all the products, ideas and inspiration — for floors and much more — available.

Finally — Please know, readers — these designs are provided with the intent that you will use them with new vinyl composite tile (VCT). Always be sure, when you move into a house, to consult with experts to test all the materials in your house, including flooring, for stuff like lead and asbestos — and make informed decisions about how to handle these issues.

vintage floor tiles

READ THIS VIEWING TIP: I have inserted the images very large so you can see the designs well — I had to click on the image THREE times to get to the largest version. Then, use my back button to return to the post.

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Comments

  1. Lara Jane says

    Gorgeous! I collect floor patterns like a mad woman. I started out being obsessed with 1920s houses and I’ve worked my way to the 50s. I’ll probably go back and forth many times before I actually end up in my “forever” house, but my kitchen will be linoleum no matter what, so I’m covered! haha!

    By the way, linoleum is not only “greener,” but quite a lot healthier for the people living with it, than vinyl.

  2. Mark says

    Where was this 3 months ago!?
    I just re-did my kitchen with VCT and had a heck of a time coming up with a pattern.
    Dang!
    Thanks for these though.

  3. gavin hastings says

    Un-advertised, but still very available are Armstrong “Fashion Strips”. They are 1 or 2 inch strips is solid color vinyl tile that come 24′ in length…
    I plan on creating a white 2 inch “racing stripe” double border one foot from the wall in my kitchen of Armstrong Excelon. I am sure they could be used to make 100’s of other patterns.

    Total floor materials cost: appox $175.

    • Wendy says

      Oh WOW! I want to do a black kitchen floor with two stipes (one red & one green) and dreaded having to cut all the tiles!!!

      How do you go about getting them?

  4. gavin hastings says

    …..oh, and I plan on NOT turning the direction of every other tile. A one way design gives a more “linoleum” look.

  5. gavin hastings says

    I really need to collect ALL my thoughts before posting, but:

    Most of the patterns shown were created when tiles came 6 or 8 inches. If you chose one of these patterns- rent the tile cutter! Most all vinyl tiles today are 12 inches and would lose the pattern effect unless installed in a really, really big room.

    Ok..thats all….for now.

    • pam kueber says

      Gavin, I actually read about a homeowner who wanted true vintage sizing of her new linoleum tile. So, she bought sheet and had it cut at a water-laser place into 9″ (as I recall) tiles. I am thinking, that if you want to cut your VCT down to these authentic sizes, you are going to have to take it someplace special that can really do a fine cut.

      • Jason says

        Absolutely agree with Pam’s post about this. There’s no way you can cut tile down yourself and have it actually work. The cuts need to be absolutely perfect and 100% the same for every single tile. Otherwise you’ll end up with ugly gaps and ragged edges all over your floor!

  6. Vanessa Bugge says

    These patterns are great for VCT and would also work beautifully for Marmoleum tile, it is true Linoleum and comes in tiles. It’s beautiful and comes in lots and lots of colors, is eco friendly and sturdy as can be.

  7. Happy Daze says

    I really wish VCT patterns would come back in style; they’re such an inexpensive way to add color and depth to a space. To me, the ubiquitous white “quarter-turn” pattern that is in nearly every drug store and school is really boring.

  8. MrsErinD says

    Love these! I like the yellow/gray/black and red/gray/black but would like pink or aqua/green with the gray and black for mine.

    Where do you get these vct tiles? Do they come in colors and shades/pattern of individual tile like those anymore? I’d so love to use those on my kitchen floor, I adore that look and didn’t know if you could find that anymore. Our kitchen floor they replaced with ugggggly stick floor linoleum tiles that are crooked, sigh, the bathroom too. Thankfully they didn’t mess with anything else.

  9. says

    MrsErinD, I bought mine at Home Depot. They had some colors in stock, but you order the others. They have a little sample board you can look at. A rainbow! I got the black there, but had to order my green. No biggie though! I have a small kitchen and was inspired by a house at an estate auction I went to for the colors. I figured I could add any color to the black and green when I felt like changing stuff. It’s surprisingly neutral. I’ll have to email Pam some pics of the finished product. I did it myself too! I didn’t rent a cutter, I used a knife and scored it until it cut all the way through, or I could snap it off. I DO want to add that the darker colors show way more dirt than the lighter, even with the pattern.

  10. says

    this is probably posted already somewhere on this site, but here is a link (if that is allowed):

    http://www.armstrong.com/commflooringna/products/vct/_/N-75h/Ntt-excelion

    I used the imperial texture in basil green & black. There are some really amazing bright colors also, like bright purple, orange and pink even! I used the more subdued green for a more authentic look, being my house is a 1947 house and still has all it’s original cabinets & sink cabinet. :)

  11. gavin hastings says

    MrsED-Any place that sells linoleum or vinyl sheet flooring has access to these tiles. Lowe’s and Home Depot sell them in stock for 69 cents per tile. Armstrong Excelon. Lots of colors.

    The upside is that properly installed, they last a lifetme.
    The downside is that they are a “scrub and wax floor”. Will the home health aides of the future take care of the kitchen floor,too?
    At 50-I now think about how decorating and maintenance will effect the next 25 years!

    • pam kueber says

      gavin, my azrock cortina autumn haze is so neutral-ish, i doesn’t show the dirt or scratches much. i need to do a post on “low maintenance (read: easy to clean) mid mod.” i am not super expert on this, but my experience has been: the darker the floor, the more it shows dirt. when we moved in, we had cranberry/burgundy wall to wall carpet in the living room. it was in great shape. it showed every damn speck. i eventually replaced it with oak – with shows NO dirt whatsoever, yippee.

  12. TappanTrailerTami says

    Reminder for anyone looking at VCT or Lineoleum – be sure to check the “commercial” sections of Forbo or Armstrong as the commercial sections have many many more colors available than what is listed under their “residential” flooring.

  13. Mark says

    Yes it is listed and sold as ‘commercial’ flooring.
    I will back up the ‘dark colors showing the dirt’ I went with a dark blue which looks great but it does get dirty fast.
    I rented the cutter and it saved me a lot of time and trouble, the cuts it makes are ‘almost’ factory smooth.
    The possibility are endless with this stuff, it comes in a huge number of colors.
    Really easy to work with as well, and the price is the best part!

  14. atomicbowler-dave says

    VCT cuts well in stacks of several at a time on a commercial-type “wet saw” used for cutting ceramic tile. The diamond blade does a good job and the water bath keeps the heat down. Some considerable care is required to be sure they will ALL come out to the EXACT dimensions needed…for pretty obvious reasons. Doing a SMALL area (a damaged stair landing) like this made me think there had to be a better way!
    Dave

  15. MrsErinD says

    I just remembered about asking this, doh.

    Thanks SO much Angela and Gavin!

    I may go with this for my kitchen, I like the look, Angela, thanks for the link too, wow lots of pretty colors and textures, Yay!

    Gavin, at almost 40 I do think of those things too :O0

  16. says

    All three of the bedrooms in our c.1960 house have the square pattern shown in the bottom right of the top photo done in green and white. Cool to look at, yes, but not the warmest thing to put your toes on on a cold winter morning!

  17. Jennifer Krupa says

    Thankfully I have gotten my home investor boyfriend to LOVE MCM styles. Sadly, he gutted so many perfectly wonderful 50s ranches in Charlotte, NC before he met me. However, at this time, I am just recently living in my favorite of his–a rather large 1957 ranch with a basement. I have convinced him that he needs to put VCTs into the kitchen that he just updated for me with a new boomerang countertop (not with a metal edging however). With that said, if I post images of what the kitchen, would it be possible to get suggestions based on the Armstrong tiles that you have referenced above? I only specify this as I know we can find these locally. Unfortunately one of the links listed we called (I think it was amerock?) didn’t sell flooring just the subfloor.
    I’d love to get feedback and ideas if that’s something Pam will allow. Thanks

    • pam kueber says

      Jennifer, if you put your photos onto flickr or picasaweb or any photo-album site, and post a link, yes, we can look at them. Alternatively, send me a message thru the Contact Form (bottom of page in blue area, currently) and then I will give you the email to send me the photos. Glad you are working your mid mod magic on your BF.

  18. Phil Evans says

    What a great site! I’m installing a 50s formica kitchen and have decided on some vinyl tiles for the floor. I love the Kentile inserts and wondered how i could access the full catlogue as the examples above are numbered in the 500s! any help would be greatly appreciated. Regards, Phil.

  19. Trouble aka Shane says

    I want to revisit this again. How often was the VCT found in bathrooms? It seems durable, colorful, and MUCH cheaper than tile.
    Also, Gavin pointed out “Fashion Strips” I looked around on Armstorng and couldn’t find anything on them…

    • pam kueber says

      I think that VCT was pretty common in mid century bathrooms. That’s what was in mine. Note, though, it is not waterproof. Mine was all grody (now there’s a blast from the past word) and rotted out. Ceramic = waterproof, and I believe we installed mine on blueboard (I think that’s what you call it) for further waterproofing. Some ceramic is not that expensive.

  20. toni says

    What are you using for backsplash? I am trying to find the linoleum type stuff that looks like fake tile. will I find anything? Wallpaper and the wall board I’ve seen just doesn’t cut it.

    • pam kueber says

      toni, I don’t know of any current manufacturer who makes the old fashioned linoleum that looks like tile. I have a number of old catalogs that show this stuff. Have not gotten around to posting it. You might want to look for vintage. If so, please test it for midcentury nasty material first.

  21. John D. Ruskin says

    Lots of good ideas, but the thing I don’t like about modern VCT, is that it doesn’t have the contrasting striations in it like vintage asphalt tile. Armstrong Excelon mainly comes in monochromatic flecks, and Azrock/Tarket has a light marbelized patern that is closer, but looks more like linoleum which is more environmentally friendly, but not the mid century modern look. As for laying each tile a quarter turn, that is the standard way, which when the tiles have a more pronounced direction produces a cool basket weave effect.

    • pam kueber says

      Azrock Cortina Autumn Haze … and some Congoleums … which I have detailed on the blog … have the striations. I have the Azrock Cortina in my kitchen. It rocks the 50s. See Kitchens / Flooring category.

  22. Selena says

    Oh my… perhaps I can talk my hubby into NOT putting down the faux-wood and instead doing this! I’m looking at all those colors and very nearly drooling.

  23. rbnhd76 says

    Man, these are great, thanks! I have worked in flooring for 15+ years and i have always loved the old school look. I’m gonna put these in my 71 Shasta Compact, probably a 4×4 checkerboard on a diagonal, which reminds me, you definitely want to use a VCT cutter for VCT, it cuts as clean as the factory edge (provided it isn’t worn out), Azrock is my personal favorite, but there are other good brands. You should stop at floor stores and ask what colors they have left from commercial jobs, a lot of them keep 8-10 boxes and then it’s hard to sell them, so hopefully you can get a good deal.

  24. says

    My 1950 ranch has 9×9 vct on all floors. I don’t know who made ones I have.Mine are a base color, then a contrasting color making a random “cloud ” pattern, and some black splashes here or there. Besides Kentile, what other company names were making vct back in the 40’s . Thank you

    • pam kueber says

      Bruce, I don’t have a list of all the manufacturers, this is not something that I’ve researched. Armstrong and Congoleum are two that come to mind…

  25. Kim guthrie says

    Hi Pam, we are looking for patterned sticky tile for our 1963
    Shasta trailer and love the 50s tile that you show. The yellow, gray and black pattern. Any idea where we can find this? Thank you!!

    • pam kueber says

      Kim, that sounds like it will be a needle in a haystack… vintage, that’s about it. Note: Old floor tile can contain vintage nastiness such as asbestos — make sure you consult with a pro to know what you have and can make informed decisions about how to handle.

  26. Selena says

    I think I finally talked my DH into VCT in the kitchen after finding this blog post:
    http://karapaslaydesigns.blogspot.com/2012/10/unexpected-hexagon-flooring-finished.html
    Isn’t it cool? I just had to share. As beekeepers, it’s right up our alley!

    DH did ask: “So… how are we going to get a bee in there?” and I had to show him these patterns. LOL. Too bad the 50’s weren’t big on bees in your flooring. I then suggested perhaps we could just paint bees here and there on the cabinets… :)

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