Plastic bathroom tile: 20 pages of images from 3 catalogs

Plastic tiles seem to have been very popular in the 1950s and, my mom tells me, into the 1960s. In estate sale houses, I see them in both bathrooms and kitchens.  I attribute their popularity to the fact that homeowners could install them themselves — and we were a very DIY nation at the time. Also, these tiles could be easily installed over existing plaster walls — meaning that they were good for renovating the “imperfect” plaster walls in old farmhouses, Victorians and bungalows and to get that  “modern” look.

In fact, the benefits of plastic were highly touted during the entire postwar period. I kind of have a feeling folks thought plastic and ceramic were equal in attractiveness? We were fascinated with the lure of the man-made and technology — this is a critical part of the American identity, even still. Also, I am pretty sure it’s a good guess that plastic tiles were significantly cheaper than ceramic tiles, and that must have been part of the allure as well. In my very recent travels I have picked up three vintage brochures — from Church, Pittsburgh and Coronet Tile Companies — and have scanned the prettiness, and info, for all to share.

Check out the complete slide show…. Click on first thumbnail to launch it, then move forward via the arrows below each image:

Mind you:

  • I am not necessarily the world’s biggest fan of plastic tile. All three of my bathrooms were outfitted with the stuff. The bathrooms had seen some hard livin’, I think, and the stuff was…. nasty. The plastic tiles in my tub/shower surrounds had all rotted through. So much so that previous owners had then pasted marbleized vinyl panels on top of it. The seams were grucky and moldy and oh, I shudder at the memories…. I had that plastic ripped out with joy in my heart and replaced it with ceramic tile all around. Bottom line: I fear that if plastic tile has not been installed well, and if the bathrooms or kitchens have been used heavily, it may not be worth salvaging. I am all for function, folks, and in a bathroom especially, there is nothing that beats waterproof ceramic tile, in my mind.
  • All that said, I did buy a bundle of vintage plastic tile for my kitchen backsplash. Two (gulp) years later, it’s still in a box waiting to be installed. (I’m nerve wracked about how it will look, and yes, simply procrastinating regarding launching yet another house project, one of a gazillion always in the works, or at least, rattling around in my head.) So, you can see, I am not “anti” plastic tile, either.
  • And importantly : Precautionary Pam here: If you do decide to rip your plastic tile out, Lord knows what’s in the old adhesive… smart to have it tested.

Finally, hey, remember this post? Kurt’s kitchen with the large 8″ tiles all around. Wow!


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  1. Janet Gore says

    Those plastic tiles … this really brings back memories. When my mom and step-dad married in 1956, we moved to his house in Mahanoy City, PA (the hard coal region) where ‘company houses’ didn’t have the best of walls … or anything. Anyway, the tiles were sort of pink square with burgundy accent subway shaped tile. Dad was a perfectionist, so it was done correctly, but then no grouting was involved so if you could measure a straight line, you were pretty safe. It was a fright, though, and it was great to see it come down in the early 60’s … to be replaced by “marlight” (sp?). Was that better???? Oh my ….

  2. says

    Don’t do it!

    Only Sharon Stone could pull off a Gap T with a Valentino skirt, and even then Mr Blackwell wasn’t impressed.

    Your cabinets are too upscale for such a low-brow backsplash.

    I love hightop keds, but would never wear them with a suit.

    Save the plastic ‘you do it’ tiles for some poor wall in need of a quick and cheap cover-up, like behind the washer/dryer.

    • pam kueber says

      thank you, error 404, i tend to think you are right…i think that instead i might paint the backsplash a very light aquamarine…

      • Gavin Hastings says

        Pam-I agree with Error 404
        There is enough going on in your perfect kitchen. What really makes it appealing is that you knew when to stop: It draws from the 1940’s and 50’s with the simplicity of the 1960’s tossed in and “makes sense” to the 21st Century eye.

        • pam kueber says

          thanks, gavin. you hit a nail on the head: “knowing when to stop” is always a key question. another reader said: it’s like dressing up to go out to a fancy dinner. just before you leave the house, you want to look in the mirror and remove one piece of jewelry. a little bit less… editing… usually has a big payoff.

          • Gavin Hastings says

            I can’t resist
            The only piece of jewelry I remove before going out is a wedding band!

            How’s that for Mid-Century Humor?

          • Frank says


            Your wedding ring comment gave me a chuckle.


            As for your decision leave the plastic tiles in the box–I always trust my gut feeling.

  3. Gavin Hastings says

    The plastic bath tiles left my home about 20 years ago. A lifespan of 50 years isn’t too shabby.

    Were they the vinyl-clad picket fencing of 1940…? Funny how the appeal of plastic often wanes- I remember that my parents came back from vacation in 1972 ….and couldn’t stop talking about the “fabulous” modern plastic tub and wall surround in the pricey hotel.

    I always assumed that maybe ceramic tile was unavailable during the war: Which would explain the cedar shingles on my roof and plastic tiles in the bath.

  4. jkaye says

    Just looked at a ’57 ranch with pink and black plastic tiles in the half bath. It’s in great shape, and managed to look great and really cheesy at the same time.
    (Oh, and by the way, I’m no longer sumac sue because I dug out the sumac, which was taking over the front yard. Definitely a landscaping mistake.)

  5. nutella says

    When we purchased our 1937 rowhouse in 2005 we had gray 4×4 plastic tiles (not interlocking) installed on the lower half of the plaster walls in the bathroom . They were in terrible condition, falling off the wall, mold and mildew behind then. We happily removed them ourselves and the mystery adhesive (whole wearing safety googles, gloves and masks) that was used. To replicate the look without the expense of tile we installed white laminated tile look press board and a white subway tile trim.

    We still have the original tub, inset medicine cabinet, and black asbestos floor tile. We had the original wall mounted sink but replaced it because we couldn’t stand having seperate taps for hot and cold water.

  6. Justin says

    The house I grew up in Minnesota had the plastic wall tile in the upstairs bathroom. One of the previous owners had painted over it though. Eventually my dad remodeled the bathroom and ripped all the old tile out. Then about a year ago I picked up a large amount of pink plastic tile. Just not to sure about installing it yet. Also a neighbor of ours has tin tile in his bathroom. It has the look of the regular cermaic or plastic tile, but its tin.

    • michelle says

      did you every install your plastic tile…i have some and want do but an unsure of what to use and grout…is there any i don’t remember. any help would be appreciated

  7. Retro Junkie says

    We bought a custom 1957 ranch about 25 years ago and the bathroom had tin tiles in the bath. I got rid of them too, it sounds like they were comparable with the plastic.

  8. kate mckinnon says

    Hey where did the cool globe art go? Did my asking about if the pic with the tag was from the same piece cause trouble? Hope not!

    • pam kueber says

      kate – i did not mean to publish it today, so i pulled it. it will likely publish next week. sorry ’bout that. and yes – the pic with the price tag was from the same piece!

  9. CindyD says

    I can’t stop laughing…the first house we bought had pink plastic 4×4’s and burgundy trim in the kitchen – all cracked and nasty. Being young, and back in the 70’s, we attempted to remove them ourselves – something I would not recommend knowing what we now know. The adhesive was industrial-strength. We took a sample to three different hardware stores, and none of them could come up with a solvent to remove the glue. We ended up ripping the drywall out completely with many of the tiles still hanging on. To this day, my husband wonders what that adhesive really was! Fortunately, our current home has beautifully laid ceramic tile (salmon pink with cocoa brown trim) in the bath. If you’re dying to try it, Pam, mount a few on some foamcore and put it under your cabinets to see if you like it – – – then, put it AWAY! :)

    • pam kueber says

      i like the foam core idea, cindyd, thanks! in the estate sale house this past weekend – the kitchen was tiled in grey plastic tile. it looked just fine — great, even, i’d say. i really think the outcome depends on the type of tile you installed and what it was exposed to… i am never going to say anything is “bad” — i think it just depends…

  10. Rhonda says

    I grew up in one house. We never moved, we just stayed in the same house. Since my father passed, my sister now lives in the house. We had plastic marble tile in our bathroom. When I took baths, I’d stare at all the different tiles and see pictures in them the way you see pictures in the clouds. There was one tile that I SWEAR looked just like Foghorn Leghorn. :-) My sister recently re-did the bathroom and got rid of all the plastic tile. As a surprise, she kept the Foghorn Leghorn tile and gave it to me as a gift. :-) If I can remember where I put it, I’ll scan it and send it to you…

  11. Pat says

    My dad built all the houses we lived in (3) in the 50’s and 60’s and they all had plastic tile! We had a house that we removed the plastic tile, cause it was the wrong color and besides, we needed to put the real deal in the shower area in order to make a real shower. I do like the ceramic better than plastic, to me that’s the real retro stuff.

  12. Robyn says

    Ok, guess I have to be the “Lone Wolf” by saying something positive about the plastic tiles. There is one great use for them today, if you can find enough of them and if you happen to own a vintage travel trailer or mobile home from the 50’s or 60’s. They give a (ok somewhat) ceramic tile look, but were much lighter weight which is essential for anything you tow. Many trailer companies used these in the kitchens and baths during the 50’s to simulate the look of a site built home, but yet were able to maintain the lighter weight. If any of you are Lucy fans, check out the tiles in the bathroom and kitchen scenes in her movie “The Long Long Trailer”. The trailer is a 1953 New Moon 36 footer and it has the plastic tiles. I have seen several New Moon’s and other trailers of the era and they have those plastic tiles. So although, perhaps not in keeping with the more site-built Mid-Century homes featured here, I just had to speak up for the vintage trailers and the beloved plastic tiles. LOL. Thanks again Pam for keeping us so enlightened and entertained.

    • pam kueber says

      Robyn, I feel I must clarify: I am NOT AGAINST plastic tiles. I think that you have pointed out, very vividly, where they have a terrific use. Also, I HAVE heard from readers who say they are holding up just fine in their vintage bathrooms and kitchens. In fact, this post was inspired by my picking up these vintage brochures at an estate sale last week — and in that house, the gray plastic tiles in the kitchen looked great! I think that in bathroom applications, there must have been some brands whose design was more waterproof — and if they are still in great shape, love the plastic tiled bathroom you’re in!

    • Kathy McKay says

      Hi Robyn: That’s EXACTLY what I want to do with some plastic wall tiles. I have early 50’s Shasta that has some cheesy looking tin sheeting for a backsplash in back of the sink /stove area. I also am fixing up a 59′ Corsair cutie, and want to do the same in it. The Corsair is TINY- only 10′ not counting the tongue. Would LOVE to see some vintage trailer stuff on this site.

  13. Kathy Liston says

    Anyone want a bunch of pearlescent white/pewter plastic tiles? I’m removing them from my 1950’s bathroom and there’s a bunch of them…in the neighborhood of 1000…don’t want them tossed out just yet in case there’s any interest. They’re in great shape too but some of them still have the adhesive on the back. Fronts are perfect.
    Send an email if you’re interested to subject Tile

  14. Barbara Robinson says

    My house was built in 1950 and when I removed a damaged tile in the kitchen (light green with dark green ones here and there for accent) I found they were made of tin! Anyone run across this type of tile?

  15. Nicola Grainger says

    Don’t knock plastic tiles, there is a UK company that still manufactures them, and not just for retro refits, look at and you will see up to date tiling form a company still going after 50 years

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Nicola, just to be clear, I did not knock them. I just think: There were good installations… and bad installations. In my three bathrooms, all installations were what I would call “bad” — specifically, a substrate that did not hold up… and, no one will convince me that these are the right answer for tub/shower surrounds…

  16. lisa says

    i love the plastic subway tile panels you can buy these days, ive used plastic cladding in my bathroom to mimic the seaside feel, it works very well.

  17. lisa says

    also, neken do the plastic subway tile in 12 inch panels which you apply to the wall with adhesive and then grout like ordinary tiles…they look fantastic for a utility room or even in the shower/bath surround…they cost £9 a pack of 6, which is very good value compared to ceramic tiles.

  18. Trip says

    I recently had to do some major repair work on the walls around my tub. The previous owners decided to nail regular wallboard on top of the old plastic tiles and put real white tile on top of the regular wallboard. One day when cleaning about 10 tiles came off and after tearing it all off I found a TON of mildew on the original plastic tiles. I treated it at least 4 times and then found more mildew under the plastic tiles. I ended up putting up a 1950’s glass tile look that I found at Home Depot. I had never done anything like this before but the lady at Home Depot was a tremendous help in telling me exactly what I needed to do. Being by myself it took me about 2 full days of putting up the glass tiles, letting it dry and then grouting and making sure NO moisture was anywhere in that bathroom. I have to admit it came out looking pretty good except for those added surprises where the walls in a 70 year old home arent exaclty straight!

  19. Thirkellgirl says

    My grandparents had this plastic tile in their kitchen and bathroom. When my grandmother had a fire in the kitchen, just beneath the upstairs bathroom, the tiles melted and gave off the most horrendous black toxic smoke you can imagine. If I had a house that had these tiles I’d IMMEDIATELY rip them out, and I’d never install them. The smoke from the tiles was the worst thing about the fire, which essentially destroyed her home.

    • Catherine says

      I just bought a house that has plastic tiles in the kitchen. They were installed in 1956 along with the flooring (I have the installer’s receipt), and they are in perfect condition. But my home repair professional did ask me if I were planning to take them out because they are not up to code–the reason she cited was the toxic smoke. I’ll keep them for now, but I’m thinking that if I redo the kitchen in the future, I won’t try to save them.

  20. Shamira says

    After attempting to buy two different homes (1935 & 1950) we are finally supposed to close on a 1965 home next week. The previous owner put wallpaper in every room. :) In one bath, she wallpapered over what looks like tile, however when I tapped on the tile, it didn’t feel or sound like tile. I’m wondering if this is plastic tile? The surround above the tub has been redone with more modern large tile. Probably was necessary if the original tile is plastic. My question is what to do with what is under the wallpaper. I like the wallpaper and plan to leave it up, but would prefer not to have it over tile. Do I simply remove the wallpaper that is over the tile and then deal with whatever is underneath or just leave it alone until I’m ready to totally redo the bath? I’m concerned that if I start removing the wallpaper from the tiles I’ll discover that I do indeed have plastic tiles that are in poor condition and won’t have the funds to remove/replace with ceramic tile.

    • pam kueber says

      Shamira, unless it is an environmental or safety issue, I encourage you to live in your house for a while (a year?) without making major changes. This will give you the chance to really get to know your house, adjust your tastes, and then spend your time and money wisely. Be sure to consult with experts before you move in to examine/test your house for environmental and safety issues so that you know what you are working with, and can make informed decisions. Good luck.

    • Lou drago says

      If the tiles are 4.25″ sq plaSTIC TILES and you plan on stripping the walls I would be interested in about a dozen. I have an old bathroom with a few tiles missing. Any color as long as thhey are the thin plastic tiles from the 50’s.

  21. communist says

    I had those plastic tiles glued on top of the original plaster in a 1935 bungalow we just sold. They looked so cheap, tough to clean without scratching, almost impossible to repair because they interlock. Just an overall nightmare. If I would have kept the house they would have come down.

  22. Lou drago says

    I am looking for 4.25 sq plastic tiles (about a dozen) to complete repairs to a rental home we own. Original tiles were pink but Any color would work as the walls are painted white.

  23. Coco says

    So now I’m re-thinking taking out the grey plastic tiles in the bathroom….if I can lighten the adhesive that shows between the tiles that has turned yellowish brown. Any suggestions? Thanks – I loved this posting!

  24. says

    We are in the process of renovating our 1920s bungalow’s kitchen. We’re taking most of the walls down to the studs and leaving the 1940s or 50s cabinets. While taking down some of the walls this weekend, we found that there were Cermac plastic tiles on the walls. There were remnants of a few of the tiles, a real pretty aqua blue with marble effect. I wish they were still on the walls instead of the 80s wallpaper! Anyways, as usual, the first place I came to find this brand was here! (Plus Google keeps telling me that I meant “ceramic” not Cermac) Thank you for having this information out there!

  25. dlaw4552 says

    My upstairs bath has black plastic, marble look tile on the walls surrounding the tub…only I’m missing 1 tile…directly under the faucet. if anyone knows where i can find one matching tile to place in there, I would be forever greatful.

      • dlaw4552 says

        1 1/2 years ago…before I owned my older home…(I call it “early depression”), a friend of mine demo-ed one with black and maroon plastic tile. If I would have only known!! I thought of ebay…buy never thought of my local restores!


  26. Heather Staas says

    Oh gosh.. the home I’m buying has plastic tile in the bathroom… in the dark maroon/burgundy with white streaks.. I was surprised to find out they were from the same period as the rest of the house! Most of it has now fallen off and is just laying around the bathroom. The bathroom is the only room that is really in rough shape, but that just means I get to be more creative in there!

  27. Jules says

    We have 1948 mint ice plastic tiles with black trim in our bathroom. The tiles themselves look fantastic, especially with out all original pink toliet, duel sinks and bath-tub.

    The bummer is the “grout” or whatever the hell is in the joints does not look good. It’s discolored. But I don’t think I can do a simple re-grout because alot of it seems to be on the tile itself, like it somehow made its way out of the joints and onto the edges of tiles if that makes sense. In joints, it’s very cracked. I’m not sure how to clean the edges without ruining the tiles. Any suggestions?

  28. Kathy says

    We recently purchased an old home with green plastic tiles on kitchen wall.
    We want to remove them from wall because the glue underneath makes the whole kitchen stink. I would like to put up wainscot over the area. Removing all the glue is just too time consuming. Is there anything you can put on the glue to cover up the smell?

  29. Barbara Manning says

    I have purchased my parents home which was built in 1950. I want to salvage the grey plastic tiles in the kitchen and bath which are in great shape, that is if I can get them off the wall without breaking them, most are falling off the glue is so dry. QUESTION, what do I use this day in age to glue them back on?

    • pam kueber says

      Barbara, this is not specifically a DIY site. I recommend you talk to local experts. Also please know: You never know what is in those old adhesives — best to get the stuff tested for vintage nastiness (such as lead and asbestos) before doing demo. Consult with a licensed professional. Good luck.

  30. ahammond says

    I bought a home that’s been in my family since the sixties. The kitchen has the marbled turquoise tiles with rectangular black tiles at the top. At some point, someone had wallpapered over them around the sink and cabinets; they put masking tape over the grout lines to hide the indentations. I used a steaming tea kettle, then a hand steamer to melt that off – took FOREVER…but it was something to do while I talked on the phone. The tiles are 99% in good shape, and I love them. Only problem is today there is nothing in existence that matches that color…so I pretend things match. The bathroom was still while plastic tile…pretty yucky. When the bathroom was redone, I noticed something in the trash…under the white tile was the marbled periwinkle/soft blue tiles! They were beautiful…but the workers had thrown them away before I noticed them. I saved five of them.

    • pam kueber says

      Hi ahammond, I love your story and that you are bringing this house back to life. My favorite line: “The tiles are 99% in good shape, and I love them. Only problem is today there is nothing in existence that matches that color…so I pretend things match.”

  31. ervin Beck says

    I desperately need to know which solvent will remove the original paste-like cement that remains on the bathroom wall after I tore off plastic tiles. If possible, give me a brand name.

    • pam kueber says

      ervin: Whenever you uncover new layers, I recommend you consult with a properly licensed professional to make informed decisions about what to do next. You need to know what is in those layers. Vintage nastiness like lead and asbestos can be found in vintage materials — including adhesives. Renovate safe.

  32. Ted says

    There’s 2 boxes of the blue marbled (50 sq ft per box) at the thrift store. It opens in an hour and you’ve inspired me to buy them. AT $6 a box. I’m not sure what I’m doing with them yet and wish I had another color for accent.

  33. Jules says

    I’m in the same boat as Ervin, but the “experts” I’ve consulted so far don’t seem to know what the adhesive is either. In fact, most initially argue with me when I tell them the tile is plastic. Fortunately, there are some spare pieces that I can show them to prove it.

    If anyone knows of any cracked ice mint plastic tile out there, please let me know. Unfortunately, the spare pieces are not sizes I could actually use.

  34. Joe Felice says

    Once plastic polymers were discovered and able to mass produced, our fascination went wild. All of a sudden, we could have the luxurious look of earlier times at a fraction of the cost. And nothing was spared – floors, countertops, furniture, tile, you name it. When they got to exterior siding, that’s when they went too far! And then, in the ’60s, the process of extrusion was perfected, and we really went wild. Back then, Americans were busy discovering and inventing things so fast, and we were really taken with what we were able to do, which was seemingly everything! The sky was the limit.

  35. Joe Felice says

    Ah, yes–the ’50s! Imitation everything, and what better way to imitate natural products than with plastic? We had a fascination with plastic once uses in the home were discovered. I must say, we were very inventive with it, too! Plastic tiles were popular, but lost their luster (literally) because people didn’t know how to clean them, and cleaning products were more caustic back then. Comet and Brillo pads ruined them, and even the uber-popular Jubilee left them dull after time. Anything with gasoline/naptha will dull plastic, except for laminates.

    Speaking of cleaning, I wish they hadn’t taken the lye out of dishwashing detergent. Dishwashers have never been the same, no matter how elaborate the products have become. Is it possible to purchase dishwashing detergent with lye anywhere these days? Maybe commercial suppliers? Remember when we were able truly sanitize our dishes & glasses? Plus, it helped keep the drain lines flowing.

  36. Adam Kohl says

    I just bought my grandparents’ 1957 ranch with aquamarine marbled plastic tile in the bath. We plan to rent the house out, and for a while I thought there was no way anyone could convince me to remove those awesome tiles that reminded me so much of my childhood. But alas, I think I agree with Pam that these are not suited for tub surrounds (even though my grandmother managed to keep them in AMAZING shape for 56 years!). I think a renter wouldn’t know or care how to take care of them and I’d be getting calls about falling tiles and mildew in no time. So thankful for getting the different perspectives in this thread. I think I’ll replace with equally vintage but more durable 4×4 ceramic. Thanks again!

  37. Cassie says

    My husband and I are trying to remodel our bathroom. we bought our home (built in 1953) from the original owners, well their children anyway. how do we get the adhesive off?? The tiles pop right off but the adhesive is not going without taking the drywall with it.

    • pam kueber says

      I don’t know but, Cassie, please know that vintage materials can contain vintage nastiness like lead and asbestos. Be sure to consult with a properly licensed professional to know what you are working with and to make informed decisions.

      • Joe Felice says

        You are absolutely correct, Pam. In fact, federal law requires [edited; Pam notes: Readers, consult with your own properly licensed professionals regarding applicable laws and guidelines, etc.]

  38. Adam says

    Cassie – I just had the exact same issue last week remodeling my grandmother’s 1957 ranch with plastic tiles in the bathroom. Tiles popped right off but the adhesive didn’t. We ended up tearing out the walls and re-drywalling. :-(

  39. Mary Elizabeth says

    Here is some new-in-box Homart plastic tile on sale on eBay. (Noboby I know, so I’m just pointing you to it.) If you are thinking of using plastic in your mid-century bathroom, keep in mind that this tile, properly installed, has lasted in my bathroom over 50 years. The plastic tile adhesive is not sold by Sears any longer, but you can get it in other brands.

    • Mike B says

      Mary Elizabeth – thank you! I bought those tiles! I have a property I am trying to do a conscientious repair/remodel to which has a large bathroom (first floor laundry in the bath) completely done in those tiles. They covered the walls about 4-1/2 ft high all the way around a 12 ft by 6-1/2 ft room – (except the tub/shower).

      The vast majority of the room is in beautiful shape, including the 1/2″ black border along the top. But a couple of square feet of water damage near the head of the tub put me in a difficult position: remove all the tile in the whole room or do what?

      No easy answers to that dilemna – until you provided it!

      I was the only bidder :-) Thanks again!

  40. Mike B says

    I spent 18 years as a remodeling contractor and still remodel in my spare time (no, I never did a new install of plastic tiles – I’m not THAT old).
    The adhesive looks to me like an early latex, very similar to what is still used on vinyl base molding. It gets extremely brittle, which can help in removing it – IF you’re only doing a small area, and want to replace tiles. Patience, a hammer and a sharp chisel (the wider the better) can be used to carefully peel it off the wall. If the drywall is in good condition you should only just peel half of the paper face off. If the whole paper face comes off leaving bare gysum, there was moisture attacking the drywall and it should be replaced anyway.

    If you are doing away with your plastic tiles, first check for an architectural salvage store (including a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store) in your area. If you have one, please try to save a number of tiles to donate! The most sustainable remodeling methods are those that consume the least new material. You’ll be giving someone like me a chance to avoid tearing out a whole room of tile for lack of a handful. Thanks in advance!

    • michelle says

      mike b. i don’t see your comment. there’s one from you one september 9, 2013. is that the one or is there a current one. i desperately want to put this in, i have the tile i just can’t find any information on what type of adhesive to use, and what the grouting situation is as the tiles are to butt up against each other. it just going to be a backsplash for my kitchen counters. i just haver painted wall there now and it doesn’t see much action as far as wet, or dirt. just a quick wipe down each week. any information would be awesome. thank you.

      • Mike B says

        Michelle I left a rather long post (at the same time I left you that message to check it) but soon noticed that it was awaiting approval by the moderator. Probably due to length. I see it’s still not here so I’m emailing Pam to see if she plans to give it a thumbs up or down.

        • Mike B says

          Michelle my missing comment was held due to the site policy against giving safety or environmental advice. Pam suggested I resubmit minus that advice. Much of that advice was surrounding removal of old adhesive, and I can’t in good conscience instruct on that subject WITHOUT the safety/enviro advice. Since your question is strictly on new install I’ll ditch the old post and start over.

          Any modern LATEX ceramic tile adhesive will work well for your plastic tile (IE: water cleanup). Use a 3/16″ v-notch trowel held at near 90 degrees from the wall for the final pass to scratch the adhesive down to proper depth.

          Look for an all plastic trowel that is (typically) 4-1/8″ square and has one flat edge and 3 other notch sizes. They are inexpensive and no other trowel works as well for small jobs. You must achieve a minimum of 65% contact with the back of the tile, so check by peeling your first tile back off as soon as you’ve applied it. Also don’t press the center of tiles hard to achieve bond, you want that minimum 65% with normal pressure (the tile will flex slightly as you press it to wall).

          Use a new, sharp cornered sponge to clean up adhesive, using a long corner to clean down into the cracks, and rinse it very often. The latex adhesive leaves no trace as long as you get it soon and thoroughly.

          Grout: I have never seen a line of plastic tile that was intended for grouting. Plastic expands and contracts with temperature much more than ceramic tiles (or many other materials), so real portland cement based grout would never last – it would pop out over time. I have never seen an installation that was “grouted”, and I’m guessing that any such installation used the adhesive as “grout”. This is a bad idea because it will yellow with age and would be MUCH harder to get a clean intial installation.

          For your backsplash I would suggest you use a thin 1/16″ to 1/8″ temporary spacer between the counter top and the tiles and then caulk the joint. This will help guard against material movement possibly popping tiles later, and also allow the possibility of being able to remove the countertop at some future point without taking the tiles with it (esp. if you use the 1/8″ spacer).

          Good luck!

          • pam kueber says

            Thank you for resubmitting, Mike B. Yes, Michelle: Before you go REMOVING old layers of anything in your old house, consider that the layers may contain such nasties as lead, asbestos, etc. Get with your own properly licensed professional to determine what you are working with so that you can make informed decisions. As Mike B. said, I do not want readers giving advice that involves environment/safety issues — the advice here is: Get with your own properly licensed professional etc. as above.

  41. Maureen Graber says

    I’m looking to replace about 20 of the plastic tiles by Church in a light marbled green. Any ideas where I can locate some of the tiles?

  42. Charly says

    FYI … Ceramic tile was developed after the Korean War and didn’t become widely used until the late 1960’s. The introduction of ceramic tile to the US from Japan was the death of the plastic tile industries. When taken care of properly, the plastics lasted for years. My uncle’s old apartment even had entire walls and even the ceilings in his kitchen and bath tiled with it. The work had been done in the early 1950’s. The last time I saw the apartment was in 1997 and it was still in perfect condition. Probably because it was done without a grout space between the tiles which would have created the space for mold, dirt, grease, and bacteria to cause deterioration. Personally, I wouldn’t want it, but it still brings back a lot of memories,

  43. says

    Consulting you all, since you are more informed on the topic than I. I have a half bath done in tan tile with a chocolate brown border. Some of these tiles are coming loose, and the “grout” is yellowed and cracking. Am I looking at a big project, or can I get away with regrouting the ones that are not loose, then peeling off and re-adhering the ones that ARE loose? How do you re-grout? Do you need to scrape all that old grout totally out first? I really do like the “retro” look to these tiles, and I want to keep them. Advice? Thanks everyone!

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Nicki, I suggest you talk to a local tile store. Also remember: There can be vintage nastiness in the layers of our vintage houses — for example, what’s in all the grout / mastic? The only way to know is to have it tested. On such matters, we advice: Get with your own properly licensed professional to determine what you have so that you can make informed decisions how to handle.

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