For many a moon I have pondered: What is the exact technical term for when you lay pieces of streaky VCT floor tiles at 90-degrees to each other. The most common pattern, I am sure, in mid century homes that used this ubiquitous vinyl- or vinyl-asbestos floor tile — similar to the Congoleum VCT available today. I have always thought, there must be one word in the industry that means “lay each tile at 90 degrees to each other” and which is more precise — leaving no confusion about what you’re going to do. So, the other day I got all excited because somewhere someone said this was called “tesselation.” I got to experience tesselation-elation!
Alas, my elation was short-lived, as I consulted with the wikipedia and tesselation seems to mean ‘fitting pieces of tile together’, generically speaking, not in any particular pattern. There are a many, many ways to tesselate, depending on the shape of the tile. “Tessela” means “small square” in Latin, although tesselation refers more broadly to fitting any number of shapes together.
In fact, the Wikipedia reminded that: This is math. I think it would be called plane and solid geometry. As in uniform tiling of the Euclidean plane, and, tiling of regular polygons. There is never any running away from math — it’s actually very useful in solving interior design problems. To be sure, these wiki-pages are useful for patterns and ideas to consider if you are going to tile a floor or a tabletop.
But, it may be easier to refer to this reference: 88 mosaic tile patterns from Daltile.
And for other ways to lay your square vinyl floor tile — your tesselas! — remember this one too: 30 patterns for vinyl floor tile from 1955.
Anyway… I probed all around that geometry-soaked Wikipedia world, and in the end, I think that to lay tiles at 90 degrees to each others is simply called: Basketweave. I’m accustomed to thinking basketweave involves lots of little pieces of bathroom floor tile — but the concept also makes sense fitted to our streaky Azrock Cortina (which I used in my kitchen)… linoleum from Marmoleum, Armstrong or Tarkett (which have a few streaky choices)… or even wood parquet — like in my dining room (pictured above). Problem solved. I have the word.