Hydraulic tiles are reviving their particular “moment of glory”, and more and more people are falling in love with this floor covering that manages to bring together the best of “the new and the old” in kitchens and bathrooms. That is why many people need to know how to care for them and how to clean hydraulic tiles.
They are handmade using cement, sand and natural oxides, three materials that give them their particular and somewhat “muted” colour.
To make these tiles, the materials are placed in a mould and compacted with a hydraulic press, so there is no need for baking them (hence the name): they are simply left to dry until the cement becomes hard.
What do you need to know about hydraulic tiles?
The original hydraulic tiles were born in Viviers (near the Alps, in France) in the mid-nineteenth century, and soon dazzled the French high society.
However, they became popular within Spanish high society during the 20’s and 30’s. Years later, the trend spread throughout Europe and its colonies as a type of durable paving containing Spanish, French and Portuguese influence in its designs.
Nevertheless, they started losing much of their popularity in the 50’s due to the emergence of fired industrial floors, and were practically forgotten after the 60’s.
Thanks to the return of vintage fashion, hydraulic tiles seem to have a new lease of life. In addition, due to their high durability, they are kept in a very good condition in old houses.
Aesthetically, the main characteristics of paving tiles are their square shape (the standard size of each tile is about 20 centimetres x 20 centimetres) and their wide variety of designs, which include plant, geometric and floral motifs. The latter aspect gives hydraulic tiles a unique strength and makes them a decorative element in their own right.
At L’Antic Colonial we have introduced floors inspired by hydraulic tiles in our catalogue, and not only for aesthetic reasons: nowadays there are new materials that can be used to imitate these traditional floors, although with much more modern and up-to-date touches.
This way, we obtain floors that preserve the original essence of hydraulic tiles and that, at the same time, fit in with any decorative style, whether it is more classic or more contemporary.
How to clean hydraulic tiles: general recommendations and products to avoid
This is a very common question, since, due to usually being located in bathrooms and kitchens, hydraulic tiles are more exposed to dirt, grease or moisture. However, thanks to their properties and ease of cleaning, they are ideal for these parts of a house and not only for the floor: they are also suitable for wall coverings.
Hydraulic tiles do not require complex cleaning treatments:
- For “daily” hygiene, a microfibre mop is perfect if we only want to remove dust.
- If we need to remove surface stains, soap and water will be enough.
- If we want a “more thorough” cleaning, we can use a steamer, as the steam will help us to remove the most ingrained dirt, leaving the surface clean.
In addition to these tips on how to clean hydraulic tiles, you should also know what type of products are not recommended.
To clean hydraulic tiles, we recommend that you choose floor detergents that are not very aggressive or that are very diluted in water.
With regard to the household cleaners that you use for other surfaces in the house, it is advisable to avoid using ammonia or bleach. Nor is it advisable to use blades or metal spatulas on the glazed surface, as you could damage it.
Both bicarbonate and diluted vinegar can be used as sanitising products without any problem, as both are not very aggressive.
If you wish, you can complete the maintenance of your hydraulic tiles by periodically applying a sealing treatment that reduces the porosity of the paving (they can be glossier, with a matte effect, with a wet effect, etc.) and colourless wax to protect the top layer and prevent it from wearing away.
Advantages of hydraulic tiles: durability, versatility and easy maintenance
Hydraulic tiles can be installed both outdoors and indoors. This is because they are originally a porous material and are coated with a waterproof layer that protects them from dirt and liquids. This is a great advantage, as not all materials can be installed both indoors and outdoors.
The versatility of hydraulic floors is closely linked to their durability: their impermeable layer makes them a good option for bathrooms and kitchens, two areas of the house with a lot of traffic, but where, with this type of tile, resistance to scratches, damp or wear and tear is guaranteed.
Hydraulic tiles are easy to install: they usually weigh less than other tiles and it is not necessary to wait too long for the materials to dry or settle.
One of the main advantages of hydraulic tiles is that, unlike wood or natural stone floors, they do not require specific maintenance to preserve their properties. In addition, their coating layer allows the patterns of hydraulic mosaic tiles to remain virtually intact over time. Even so, there are special waxes and waterproofing products that can help us take care of our new floor. These products are quite affordable and very easy to apply.
Looking for unique and original designs?
Hydraulic tiles are perfect for creating customized spaces with character and nowadays it is very common to create murals and carpets with them. For this reason, they are a good alternative if you want to innovate and give your home a ground-breaking look.
We recommend you take a look at our CRAFT series, with patterns inspired by old hydraulic tiles that produce creative patterns in Nordic tones, combining the best of both decorative styles.