Glitter wall tile panels

wall-panel-081-2In mid-century America, people were frugal — and inventive. Ceramic wall tile — while fundamentally affordable — still may have been out of the reach of many Americans. So to bridge the gap, manufacturers came up with wall panels and even plastic wall tile to meet the needs of the DIY and super budget conscious segment of the market. Even so… paint is cheap… so their designs could be pretty spiffy. Today’s case in point: This set of Wallace Glitter Pre-Finished Wall Panel samples that I recently picked up. Glitter tile!

glitter wall panels

Wallace Manufacturing Company was located at 10th & Fayette in North Kansas City, Missouri.

The little samples in my kit are all 4″ x 4″ in size. They are scored, just as the wall board would have been. The wall board itself looks to be super sturdy, and the glossy paint finish looks very high quality and durable. The “glitter” on the glitter tiles looks to be painted — not real pieces of metal glitter, like we see on old glitter laminate. The grout on these glitter pieces also is painted. Overall — very nice!

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Comments

  1. Mary Elizabeth says

    Wow, these look familiar. My father and my uncle both installed something similar in each of their houses. The one in our bathroom, redone in the 1950s, looked similar to the gray speckled sample shown. It was a kind of masonite, finished on the outside surface to be waterproof, so it enclosed our new shower-tub. It was still there when they moved out 10 years later. I have no idea how it lasted, but I’m sure it didn’t match ceramic tile.

    And is it just me, or does anyone else want to go into the old houses your parents and grandparents lived in to see what is different and what has remained as you remember it? When I was in my 30s, both my parents’ house and my grandparents’ house were for sale at the same time, and I was sorely tempted to pose as a potential buyer and snoop. I often drive by them on my way somewhere else, and I think, What would happen if I just rang the doorbell and introduced myself?

    • Roundhouse Sarah says

      I say go for it! I do this quite often with any old house I think looks cool. I’ve never been turned down and I get the full tour and usually some great conversation. I drove an hour out to find a round house similar to mine in Texas (from an article in a magazine from the 60s and the help of google earth). I just drove up unexpected and introduced myself. We’ve now become close friends and I’ve gone back several times to just hang out.
      I’ve also been back to my childhood home and I’ve had the children of the man who built my house show up at my door step. I was so interested in their stories about the house and details on what has changed and what hasn’t. But be emotionally prepared for things to have changed. It may bring up emotions you didn’t know were there. The daughter who visited my home cried when she saw I had painted the brick fireplace so…. Be careful, trust your gut and be polite : )

    • Lynne says

      We had a visit from the son of the original builder/owner of our house. I thought he was gonna cry when he saw that the people just before us had painted the custom oak kitchen cabinets. He described the entire original kitchen to me-down to the color of the flowers on the wallpaper. I was happy he came for a visit, but I knew he left upset.

    • Pat says

      My mother and sister drove by a house we moved out of in the late fifties and the owner was standing out front, so they stopped and said hello. She was THRILLED to meet them, and told them the house was still known as “the (our name) house” – fifty years on! She took them inside for a tour. Great fun to see what had been done with it over the years and what remained unchanged.

    • tammyCA says

      Hate to be a real downer but I have mixed feelings about “touring” someone’s old home. I wouldn’t want some stranger on my doorstep asking to come in..sounds scary, who can you trust? we get warnings from the News & police neighborhood watch about not even opening the door to anyone because people push you in attack & rob. There’s even been fake uniformed utility workers doing that..’course I live in a big city so there’s higher crime than other places so we are more leary and cautious.
      I’d be curious about a past house but I’d never intrude and especially not make negative comments. If anything I’d wait til the old house went up for sale and had an open house.

      • Mary Elizabeth Lang says

        Hmm, I can see how that would be a concern for some folks. But if some middle-aged lady shows up on your doorstep and says, “Oh, I grew up in this ranch house in the 1950s; does it still have the knotty pine den?” I can’t imagine perceiving her as a threat.

    • Steve Wildman says

      I had the chance to see the house I grew up in when the couple that bought it both passed away and their kids had a garage sale of the couple’s property. They had the tables set up inside so people could look at the house as it was also for sale.
      The house was built by my father in 1957 and we moved away in 1970 when I was 10…boy did it shrink! I am sure it wasn’t to code, but it was home and I still consider it home. Everything looked the same except for the kitchen which they unfortunately remodeled. They still had the original bathroom and a passage way between the kitchen and family room so mom could watch TV while in the kitchen.
      Due to my work requiring me to live in the county I worked in, I couldn’t purchase it, but would have if it would have been remotely possible.

  2. JKM says

    The home my grandparents built in 1949 in Austin, Texas had painted wallboard wainscot scored to look like tile in the laundry room, service hall, and back bathroom used by the maid and my grandfather when coming in via the breezeway or garage after working in the yard. I bet it was a similar product to this. I’d forgotten all about it. The floors were linoleum.

  3. June Cahill says

    As a realtor, I’ve been through several mid-cent mod ranch(50s) that still has this type of “tile” in the baths. I always wondered why the owners would put what seemed to me, as plastic tile – instead of a real tile – and, of course, the answer was thriftiness!:) –

    Regarding past home tours – after my Dad passed away in ’08, I had the strongest urge to go back to KS and see where I’d spent 5 years of my childhood. The first home, in Garden City, my parents had built in 1966. In spring 1967, the home (with us in in the basement) was ‘blown away’ by a tornado. After that, my parents had it rebuilt. My Mom had the most gorgeous custom built-in cabinets installed in the basement with the most beautiful pulls (I remember them from when I was 7!) – As we drove into town – even though it’d be over 40 years since I’d been there, I knew EXACTLY how to get to our home (and also to our church and grade school) – I knocked on the door and was met by a wonderful man – who didn’t hesitate to give me a tour. The home had changed, but the cabinets (and pulls) in the basement were still there! It made my heart sing!

    Our other home was in Harper, KS (pop in 1968 1200, in 2008 – pop 800). It was a 1907 Victorian with wraparound porch. I knocked on the door there, too. A retired couple who worked for the RR had purchased that old home for $35K and had been working on it for 10 years. They had made wonderful changes/upgrades while still adhering to the era of the home. I was able to give them insight to some things that’d been changed before they purchased the home and they were happy to know some of the home’s history. So, two positive ‘trip down memory lane’ stories.

  4. lisa in Seattle says

    Haha! You can still buy similar products today. They tend to mimic stainless steel, granite and other currently popular finishes, but I’d say there is still a big market out there for thrifty DIY solutions!

  5. Scott says

    Funny how tastes change over time. What would have been a thrifty option back in the day would be envy of so many of us now.

    About 10 years ago I put plain white tile board surrounds in my shower as well and have often wondered if there was such a thing as paint that would stick. Besides being boring they have otherwise been perfectly durable.

  6. TappanTrailerTami says

    Not sure I’m “sold” on the glitter tile, but I LOVE the green and pink marbled tile! Wow!

  7. ineffablespace says

    While I am not sure I would use this particular finish material, I do miss the use of modest materials in well-designed rooms and houses. Nowadays, “luxurious” trumps honest and sturdy.

    I looked at a house on the market that had been designed by a locally well-known architect and preservationist that was in time-capsule condition, and the oval shaped entry hall with it’s suspended elliptical staircase was trimmed with Johnsonite rubber cove base, and had accordion doors on openings set into the curved walls. The bathroom vanities were custom, but laminate, and most of the light fixtures were simple and functional.

    Today, most people doing a custom project would turn up their noses at such simple materials and wouldn’t even want them in their basements. But designers and architects in the middle of the 20th century embraced these materials, not because they were cheap, but because they were innovative, and durable.

  8. Jason says

    My Grandparents hipped roof Permastone ranch built in 1955, which I have commented on before had the plastic bathroom tiles. I do not understand their ability to be waterproof at the “grout lines” and indeed we had to put panels around the tub eventually in the 90s, but they were shiny and beautiful and I have mentioned them before.

    This wall board glitter tile is very reminiscent of what we had in the kitchen. They were scored panels that to my memory were just plain white as far as the “tile” portion with a dark, maybe black scored “grout” area. The top about 1/2 or less way up the wall – similar to bathroom tile height was capped with a metal trim piece, similar to what you’d see around old countertop corners. I remember the stuff not being securely stuck on the larger wall expanses and it would move or flex a little when you touched certain areas against the wall and seemed to me to be crumbly back there – old glue or plaster who knows. Also, I think it was the backsplash if memory serves me correctly.

    A fanastic house and memories, Frigidaire Flair stove and huge picture windows and pinch pleats, I could go on and on. Mommom to this day doesn’t understand why I miss it so much:)

  9. Dennis says

    I have wanted to do this on my grandparents house, which is on Main Street in Piedmont, MO. Someone was stupid enough after their deaths to allow the front yard to be taken out, with its beautiful mature tree, take out the front steps leading to the 2nd story, and the porch underneath, and place an AM/PM type gas station flush against the house! An empty gas station sits across the street —- yet the house is still there!
    I remember push button switches, the transoms above the doors, skeleton key locks, etc – I would love to see if the house is still largely intact, or it is have been changed drastically – and if I or my sister won tons of money – knock the gas station back out, put the yard back, and the stairs, plant a good tree —

  10. Joe Felice says

    I think panels like these are still made & sold, aren’t they? But the ones I’ve seen are not in colors or with patters–just white or bone. As per last week’s discussion, I still wouldn’t use them as a tub surround.

  11. Janet Salisbury says

    I have recently moved back to my childhood home. Previous renters somehow knocked down and bent the rollers on the panel doors on the closets in the master bedroom. These are the original doors, house built in 1968. I have looked everywhere for these rollers, anyone out there have any ideas where I might find any?

    • Mary Elizabeth says

      Janet, are the rollers part of a track system? If so, you should look in the big box stores or any large hardware store for “sliding door track system parts.” If the tracks themselves are bent, you need to replace the whole thing.

      We had to do this when one of our pre-teen children had a tantrum and threw something heavy at the closet door in his bedroom.

      Hope this helps.

  12. Pen says

    I am about to buy a home built in 1929 but it looks like the bathroom was renovated in the 50s or 60s. The shower/tub area is tile but the bathroom walls are tile board. The tile boards aren’t that bad but there are holes here and there and some wear and tear that has worn off the color.

    Does anyone know about doing touch-up with paint and what sort of paint would you use?

    • Mary Elizabeth says

      I have painted tile board with great success, but it was a complete coat, not touch-up. It’s no harder than painting walls. First, fill in any holes with spackle, dry and sand. Wipe down with a damp cloth to remove surface dirt. Apply a latex primer (ask for recommendations in the paint store if you are painting over a dark color) that is mildew resistant. I like Benjamin Moore, but you should stick with a paint that you have liked to work with on other projects. Choose a color that is close to your bath tile or provides a good contrast. A high gloss latex enamel works best f you want a tile look; a soft pearl or matte finish is best if you want it to look like a textured wall.

      Special effects: If the original had a gold or other color splatter, you can use Rose’s (see her recent story on this site) toothbrush splatter method, but be sure to cover all other surfaces before splattering. Follow this with a polyurethane sealant for extra protection (not necessary if you don’t use the spatter over the coats of wall paint). You can use one of the oil paint pens to redraw the faux grout, if you like. (I didn’t.)

      I think you’ll like the new, clean, fresh look the painted tile board gives you.

      • Pen says

        Thanks! I’m not really up for painting all of it, just touching up. But I am glad to know that you can paint it. I think I’m going to find a close match to the aqua, get a quart mixed, and fill in holes and cover the dark spots. Then I can use the extra paint to do a hand painted border around the top of the painted walls which are going to be white.

        • Mary Elizabeth says

          Sounds good. Be sure not to skip the step of wiping off the surface dirt. Post photos when you are done.

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