Belgian floor tiles were very popular.

Around 1900, a large part of the Belgian cement tiles and ceramic tiles were exported.

Ceramic tiles and cement tiles an important Belgian export product !

Today, Belgium imports many tiles from exotic countries, a century ago Belgium exported to far away countries the beloved Belgian tile.

The production of ceramic floor tiles started in Belgium around 1850, Boch Frères was the first Belgian company that manufactured inlaid tiles following the example of the English “encaustic tiles”. When their tiles were awarded at the world fair in 1862, this company grew further into one of the most important European tile producers. Soon several competing companies originated in Belgium and in the North of France. The Belgian companies exported as a significant share of their production, so the Belgian tile traveled the world.

 

Antique ceramic patterned tiles Boch
Molds for cement tiles - Mario Baeck

Cement tiles a worthy alternative

In addition to the baked ceramic floor tiles, cement tiles were also made in Belgium. It was the company Les Usines à carreaux en ciment Fiève & Cruls form Ghent that took the lead and ensured the real breakthrough of the cement tile in Belgium. They produced tiles that could compete with the old and antique ceramic tiles.

 

Photo: M. Baeck

Same patterns and difficult to distinguish

The cement tiles and ceramic tiles often had the same patterns. It was therefore very difficult for untrained eye to distinguish between these two types. So it was no coincidence that traders in building materials have included both types of tiles in their offer.

The loss of a booming Belgian industrial branch

Due to the rise of linolium, balatum and the cheaper Italian tiles, most Belgian tile manufacturers closed their doors in the first part of last century.

Photo: Impermo

Old cement tile press - Impermo Factory
Lifting a floor of antique ceramic tiles

The revival of antique patterned tiles

Recently there has been a great interest in reclaimed antique floor tiles. Now these authentic  floors are carefully removed from their houses, restored and given a new home. After more than a century they have maintained their natural beauty and pay tribute to the craftsman who produced them more than 100 years ago.

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