Vinyl vs. vinyl composite tiles … and meet Margaret Lowe, Matico color stylist

1956 Matico floor tile

Margaret Lowe color consultant in the 1950s

Margaret Lowe -- another color stylist in the 1950s. I only found a little online.

20th century materials expert Grace Jeffers recently wrote a story explaining the difference between vinyl and vinyl composite tiles — including their different grades today — of interest to homeowners with vintage floors or pondering new floors. Grace also reminds that asbestos was a common component of resilient flooring throughout most of the 20th century. For example, the advertisement I found for this story — for 1956 Matico tiles — is for vinyl-asbestos tiles. If you own a vintage home, make sure you consult with a licensed professional to find out what is in your old floor tiles, including any backing and the materials used to adhere the tiles, so that you can make informed decisions how to handle them. Meanwhile, if you are looking for new tiles, Grace’s story is a good first step to beginning to understand and distinguish among the different grades in today’s marketplace.

Marglo Principle of Color Programming copyright 1971

And… remember the story I wrote about 1950s color consultant Beatrice West and all those amazing NOS pink caloric appliances? Well, here we have another stylist, Margaret Lowe. The only thing that I can find out about her online, is a copyright notice for her book, The Marglo Principle of Color Programming, either originated or renewed in April 1971.


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  1. says

    My full bath has a flooring that is a dead ringer for the Matico advertisement here, except for the coloring. Mine is a confetti patterned sheet flooring, purple background with pink, aqua, cream, and gray “confettis.” I love, love, LOVE it, but it’s been heavily damaged by subsequent layers of wood subfloor nailed into it. I wish there was a similar new product. But at least I know I need take care in its removal. Thanks for the info!

  2. Jon Hunt says

    Laura: There is indeed a similar new product! Tarkett and Armstrong both make floor tiles very similar to what you’re looking for. Granted, it’s not sheet flooring, but it still looks super nifty and vintage. Tarkett in particular looks exactly like the old 60s asbestos tile above. I do believe it’s available in interesting colorways like that too. Menards in our neck of the woods has it, but definitely just look at Tarkett’s website.

    • Jon Hunt says

      Oh, and watch out — as Pam would say, make sure you talk to a pro before you mess with that old sheet flooring, because almost all of it has asbestos on the back of it or within the composition of it!!

    • says

      Oo, thanks! I’d been lurking around over on Tarkett’s web site the other day hunting for Pam’s mention in another blog post about some of their product, and some how missed that line completely. I’ll go take a second look. And I do know to be careful about the asbestos. Laying floor tile may be “easy” for a DIY person, but I’m thinking pro is the way to go for safe disposal.

  3. Michelle says

    What type of professional can confirm asbestos tiles? Hat do they do to make sure? Testing or just by looking for some characteristics? We’ve messed with our broken basement tiles, so this is a concern for us going forward with a flooring redo. Thanks!

    • pam kueber says

      Michelle, I am not the one to give this kind of advice and don’t want other readers to do so, either. Sorry to seem elusive, but this is just the sort of thing every homeowner needs to research on their own.

  4. says

    I’ve got shelves in my basement lined with scraps from some of that stuff. Every time I see it, I wish I could have my whole kitchen floor covered in that stuff instead of just my paint can shelf.

  5. Chutti says

    An enthusiastic recommendation for the Tarkett VCT here.

    We used one Armstrong color and 2 Tarkett colors in our kitchen this spring. Still waiting for the weather to warm up before we can do the attached hall and laundry room. Stuff looks JUST like the old asbestos that we love. And I looked long and hard for authentic retro pattern and color. I couldn’t find a true muted red anywhere else-not in VCT, Marmoleum, etc…
    this looks FAB with yellow, grey and black speckled accent lines..

    Not ready to switch the floor in my mamie pink and baby blue bath yet, but will absolutely be going with one of the pastel confetti ones when I do.

    I highly suggest ordering the samples as the online colors vary a lot. I love this stuff so much, I don’t mind using them for mousepads and trivets- so $5 not wasted!

  6. Cindy says

    I am in the same dilemma… I more than anything want Heart Pine floors but, my pocketbook turned me down.
    So, I am falling in love with an idea that came to me after seeing beautifully painted floors, stair riser that looked like wallpaper… Of course, this would be too strong to the whole floor.
    My floors are rough.
    So, here’s what I’m going to do…
    1). 8′ x 4′ plywood with one good side.
    2). Cut them in 4′ x 4′ squares.
    3). Before apllying to the floor, using floor paint,
    4). I will score the 4′ x 4′ into 4 equal spaces…vertically, quilt block, horizontal… You pick…
    5). Unfortunately, without pics it’s harder to explain.
    6). I’ll try, each square gets its own design… i. e. one square gets checkerboard paint, next to that one a floral design (stenciled), [if you use checker board remember to do the opposite spare or skip a unit], the options are endless….
    7). Laying the painted plywood squares, screw down as born, then paint over heads to keep design.

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