This post is part of a monthly series that explores the historical applications of building materials and systems through resources from the Building Technology Heritage Library (BTHL), an online collection of AEC catalogs, brochures, trade publications, and more. The BTHL is a project of the Association for Preservation Technology, an international building preservation organization.

No surface suffers from more wear and tear than the floor, which mounts a great challenge to manufacturers to create durable yet beautiful options. Throughout the 1900s, tile companies conceived and perfected various designs and materials for use in all types of settings.

Here, the BTHL offers a glimpse at tile design and technology from the 19th and 20th century.

Minton Tiles, Minton Hollis & Co., Stoke-Upon-Trent, England, 1906
Founded in 1840, Milton Hollis & Co. offers tiles for walls, paving, and mosaics, as well as those designed specifically for application in churches.

Armstrong’s Cork Tile Floors, Lancaster, Pa., 1924
Armstrong Cork got its start with its namesake material expanded to also manufacture linoleum and vinyl flooring in the 20th century.

Catalog of Lloyd Floor & Wall Tile Co., Kansas City, Mo., 1928
Lloyd Floor & Wall advertised that its tiles are “unlike any other wall or floor, they are practically impervious to wear, retain their original colors, and can be had in a multitude of colors, shapes and sizes.”

Color & Pattern Suggestions for Goodyear Rubber Tile, Goodyear Tile & Rubber Co., Akron, Ohio, c. 1928
According to this catalog, Goodyear manufactures “faithful reproduction of the medieval and old country tile floors … that is quiet to walk upon.”

Zenitherm for Walls and Floors, Zenitherm Co., New York, 1930
Designed for application on a wood or masonry substrate, Zenitherm’s composite tiles were marketed as having the look of marble that can be installed like wood.

Art Marble, Chicago Art Marble Co., Chicago, 1931
Made from a “precast compound of marble chips, Portland cement and color pigments,” the Chicago Art Marble floor tiles were availbe in various sizes and colors. The company used a special alundum aggregate for a non-slip surface.

Decorator’s Answer Book: Hazel Dell Brown, Armstrong Cork Co., Lancaster, Pa., 1949
Armstrong Cork hired professional designers such as Hazel Dell Brown to produce illustrated catalogs that showcased new flooring materials and patterns in sample settings.

How to Create Your Own Designs in Resilient Tile Floors, Congoleum-Nairn, Kearny, N.J., 1957
This idea book offered consumers the opportunity to participate in the design of their floors, offering various tile pattern and colors.

Vermont Slate, Vermont Structural Slate Co., Fair Haven, Vt., 1957
Available in shades of green, gray, and purple with red accents, this slate flooring could be specified in various roughness finishes depending on its application.