101 Mosaic floors and hydraulic tiles - Green Ecologist

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Mosaic floors and the beauty of hydraulic tiles

I remember an architectural historian telling me that when I was younger the mosaic on the floor, on the walls, on the ceiling or even in the garden of a house, the more money the family that lived in the house had had at the time.

Similarly, in the drawings of the hydraulic tiles and their colors, due to the fact that more manual elaboration was required when treating the decorative tiles with its pigmented cements as in the execution and commissioning. Since then I always add a pinch of imagination when I see a building with mosaics quality.

The truth is that it is a pleasure to observe them! … A thousand figures withcolored tiles, designs, types and forms transform spaces around the world without us many times realizing their magnitude and beauty in a world where walking has become more of a running sport in order to beat the clock a few seconds.

Recovering the lost design

This is where the German photographer Sebastian Erras comes in, who reminds us of the beauty of the pavement we walk on, its geometry, its drawings and figures with a series of photos that frame the world of hydraulic soil, its variants and the perfection of the mosaic floor period from a different and unique perspective, combining his great passions, shoes and architecture at ground level.

In all his photographs he combines the splendor of a wonderful flooring with his shoes, vindicating the beauty of those we walk on.

Erras is traveling around the world to show us the richly toned tiles and ceramics of the most avant-garde cities like Barcelona or London, to the intricate flooring of Venice or the mid-19th century hydraulic mosaic of more bourgeois France. An architectural wealth that certainly deserves your attention.

Pavements that are brighter or less, with more or less colors, with curved, straight, symmetrical shapes or simply spectacular drawings that frame the interior and exterior of many of the great buildings of our cities or the interior design of the wealthy and wealthy residences of the time. without wasting the old flavor.

A luxury in modern times!… Where many times we focus more on modern materials instead of rescuing the pure essence of thosehandmade flats by the hands of an expert craftsman who provide us with colorful floor mosaics almost perfect.

He subtly uses the Instagram platform to show the world his work that began in Paris with the series Parisian Floors.

After photographing about 250 hydraulic floors in Paris he has been jumping from city to city in search of geometric figures and bright colors full of charm, from the most interesting streets to unexpected buildings, a long journey that brings us wonderful photographs with a lot of charm and uniqueness that go beyond the typical patterned tiles to a pure art.

A photo posted by Parisian floors (@parisianfloors) on Jul 8, 2016 at 8:48 am PDT

In fact, each week brings us a new source of inspiration and ideas to the delight of all users.

Fabrication process

How to aim, we leave a good video about it fabrication process Y how are hydraulic tiles made which shows a long manual work, which at the time was cheap and that at present these types of floors are relatively expensive as the geometry and colors increase in relation to traditional industrial ceramics, although undoubtedly and as many would comment, they are for the entire life!

Hydraulic type tiles are manufactured piece by piece. The craftsman chooses the colors to use and prepares a paste with water, mixing white marble dust, white cement, sand and pigments.

This preparation is poured into the template, which is nothing more than a mold that integrates some bronze or brass spacers in a boxed frame. Each space is filled with the corresponding color. The colors form the drawings that the paving will have, which will increase the cost of the piece. This layer, will be visible when placed, is about 4-5 mm. of thickness.

How they are made and what are they

In the following video we will see how to make this handmade tile that requires significant manual work, hence its current price in the market is high.

The steps to follow and how to do them: When the template is filled with different colored pastes, a second layer of a similar thickness is added, which consists of a mixture of gray cement and sand, which has the function of absorbing excess water from the first. Finally it is filled up to 20 or 25 mm. which is usually the thickness of the tile, with the fat or the support layer that is made on top of gray cement, cement and sand, with a more porous texture to facilitate grip when laying.

Why is it called hydraulic tile, It is mainly due to the pressing process whose filled mold is placed in a hydraulic press that is compressed. Afterwards, it is removed from the mold, and allowed to dry, and subsequently immersed in water for 24 hours. For the cement to set properly, the tiles are sprayed with water and kept in a humid chamber for 28 days.


To remind because it is called hydraulic soil It must be taken into account that the beginnings and antecedents go back to the Italy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries where marble tiles were imitated with a more basic technique but with truly surprising results.

A little later he went to industrialization in France in terms of a more formal design, where his main characteristics were the richness and lively chromaticism of his drawings. Until the middle of the 20th century, the 60s, with a significant decline and almost the disappearance of the technique due to the introduction on the market of the famous «terrazzo» from Italy with low prices, a more industrialized manufacture, simplicity of installation and less maintenance than it has also been commonly called hydraulic terrazzo.

The recovery of the technique has been fostered by large architectural firms that have used the beauty of these formidable pieces in modern architecture and the most avant-garde interior design, incorporating and recovering techniques, new forms, molds and drawings.

Types of pavements

We want to review at what point in the world of the types of flooring we are. Soils are classified a prior into three large groups: soft, medium and hard. Cleaning procedures and advantages and disadvantages vary according to their characteristics, mainly derived from the type of material.

  • Depending on the material of which they are composed, they can be classified into:
  • Cement: burnished, polished, armored or washed.
  • Natural stones: slate, marble, granite …
  • Artificial stones: porcelain, terraces, tiles, porcelain, mosaic, ceramic tiles.
  • The clay ones: stoneware, brick, Florentine …
  • Polished clay: glazed tiles, glazed ceramics and stoneware, etc.

Due to their history, we can see that they can be used outdoors in areas where there are no sudden changes in temperature or indoors in all areas of the house, for bathrooms or kitchens, for stairs, in public spaces such as sidewalks or squares. due to its resistance but always taking into account the temperature.

What are the advantages

It must be borne in mind that there are advantages in their use and use of the "hard" pavements of these artificial soils in relation mainly to those that are made of clay material.

  • Durability: hydraulic mosaics they have great resistance over the years. It is for this reason that they are used mostly in kitchens and bathrooms, as they are places of high traffic and wear and tear. If its installation was carried out correctly, it resists humidity very well.
  • Simplicity in installation on site: In contrast to many other materials, it is simpler to install because it is lighter. In addition to this, after its placement, in just twenty-four hours the surface will be able to be used.
  • Versatility: It can be placed in multiple places, from walls, ceilings, bathroom, kitchen … etc. It almost depends on more of the imagination than the material. Both indoors and outdoors creating stylish surfaces.
  • Simple maintenance: A mosaic floor or else a mosaic wall does not require much care for greater durability. It can be seasoned and covered with a unique wax, apart from a waterproofing treatment that is carried out when applying it. Wax revives vivid colors. Apart from this, they do not require much greater care for their maintenance.

What are the drawbacks

They are hard to tread and cold. They work very well in compression but in case of strong traction they can produce cracks. They are expensive in relation to a standard manufacture and although it may not seem like it, in relation to a ceramic it adds weight to the structure. The porosity of the pieces must be taken care of with waxes and other special products.

How to clean the pavement

After a while they can acquire porosity, so it is necessary to apply sealing and cleaning treatments to prevent dirt from embedding in the pores. Certain of these treatments are crystallization, waxing or polishing, but we have to remember that new products appear every day to treat, maintain and improve hardness.

It is advisable to clean them with water and neutral products, although they accept most cleaning products.

Examples of hydraulic pavement

We leave a modern catalog of an architecture office to see the versatility in designs:

Information manuals

  • History of the hydraulic mosaic
  • Tips for laying, cleaning and treating hydraulic tiles … HERE

Some articles of interest:

  • Minimalist house
  • Free architecture magazines
  • ecological architecture
  • Natural lighting in architecture
  • Drawings and architecture
  • Bioclimatic and technical houses

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