What Lies Behind The Art Of Maltese Tiles

Last updated: 01.09.2023

Maltese tiles are more than just a pretty decoration for your home. These vibrantly colored tiles have a rich history and cultural significance. Maltese tile-making is an art form that dates back centuries, and each tile is unique in its design. Behind the vibrant colors and patterns of Maltese tiles lies a fascinating story. In this blog post, we will explore the history and meaning behind these beautiful works of art. Whether you want to add Malta-inspired flair to your home or simply want to learn more about this interesting cultural tradition, read on!

Maltese tiles

A Brief History Of Maltese Tiles

Patterned tilework is centuries old, and its appearance around the world can often be traced back to stylistic movements or trends. The styles in Spanish, French, Moroccan, Italian, Greek, and Indian tiles might look quite different when compared side by side, but all of them share a common ancestry. Over time each country has interpreted the trend in its own distinctive way, with Morocco being especially influential with its brightly-hued “zellige” tiles. So, while patterned tilework isn’t a Maltese specialty, it comes from an international background beyond Maltese borders.

With many theories surfacing on the origin of patterned cement tiles, some say it began in Viviers along the Rhône riverbanks in France around 1850, while others claim that Barcelona’s first factory to produce encaustic cement tile was opened in 1857. If we trace Malta’s tile history further back, it appears to originate from Turkey during the Ottoman Empire. Eventually, tile use and their production process made their way to Spain. Today’s patterned tiles in Malta have strong ties to Spain, and their influence on them is evident. Surprisingly, the application of patterned concrete tiles is only three centuries old. Although their persistence in popularity continues to this day, sadly, fewer artisans are creating them than ever before.

How Maltese Tiles Are Made

Maltese tiles are a sensational sight to behold, captivating viewers with their vibrant patterns and colors that seem to shimmer in the sunlight. A true symbol of Maltese culture, these handmade tiles have been around for centuries – used to decorate houses with character ages ago and are still widely seen today. However, despite this dwindling trade, there is an ongoing revival in the use of traditional Maltese tile designs.

Expertly crafted Maltese tiles are composed of a carefully selected combination of cement, marble powder, and rich pigment. Their unique patterns are then derived from metal molds that feature separate sections for each color block in the design.

To attain the desired outcome, tilemakers mix together small batches of ingredients in their required colors and pour them into a mold. Once secured with a square brace as it hardens, each individual tile is crafted by hand. An experienced tilemaker knows that even slight changes to moisture levels, temperature, or the consistency of cement can greatly influence the quality of the finished product.

beautiful patterned tilework with intricate designs

Adding A Touch Of Culture To Your Home

If you are one of the privileged people who has come to appreciate the beauty of old-style hand-made traditional tiles, a typical Maltese townhouse may be your dream home. From its charming double-fronted exterior with a classic wooden balcony to its interior featuring unique louvered wooden windows and floors, these architectural wonders have managed to retain their historic charm and allure.

You’ll find yourself transported through time as you walk on these beautifully crafted floors laid centuries before. As you admire the intricate details, it’s easy to appreciate why locals tend to treasure these unique historic tiles. Whether you live in your dream home or admire the beauty of its floors from afar, there’s no doubt that traditional Maltese tiles are the passport to enjoying a piece of architectural history.

Installing original antique floor tiles into one’s home can be a costly and highly detailed process, but the results are often stunningly beautiful. Although it requires some effort to find the perfect pieces, the rewards of creating an awe-inspiring home through vintage tile work are well worth it. Installing such flooring in your home provides you with a timeless look that can never be replicated and gives you peace of mind knowing that no one else will ever have an interior quite like yours.

For those looking to acquire the look of traditional Maltese tiles without the associated costs or time commitments, buying reproductions can be a great solution. If you are searching for authenticity, select a reliable source and examine their methods carefully before making a purchase. Alternatively, use modern technology to find inspiration from designs on Pinterest and make custom-made replicas that uniquely reflect your personal style. Whether you choose old or new designs, Maltese tiles are sure to add unique charm and character to any home interior.

How To Take Care Of This Type Of Tilework

Installing Maltese tiles can be a beautiful and historical addition to any floor. Once installed, these tiles are incredibly durable, boasting an impressive lifespan that tends to increase over time. However, it’s important to remember that depending on the color of the tiles used, some pigments may be more prone to fading than others. One of the most sensible choices is blue, which tends to suffer when exposed to significant amounts of sunlight or humidity in particular. That being said, if you’d still like to adhere to a traditional look or theme, new cement tiles should be polished as soon as they are installed in order to prevent staining or discoloration over time.

And as a reminder, if you want to give your bathroom an added layer of class and style with these particular tiles, consider switching materials. While cement can create stunning visual effects, it is porous and more prone to staining. To avoid this issue, consider opting for ceramic tiles instead. Not only will they provide a durable and attractive finish, but they are also much easier to maintain over the long run. With its versatility, ceramic tile should fit right in with any aesthetic you want to create in your home.

vintage blue patterned tilework

Ana Coteneanu