Hydraulic tile floors, or hydraulic mosaics, are one of the most used and common types of floors in Barcelona, specially until the 70s. These were forgotten and avoided for a few decades, but do not consider them as something out of fashion because they are back.
This type of tile is made with pigmented cement and its origins are French (mid XIX century), being quite popular in Catalonia until the 70s. Its manufacturing process is characterized by the use of metal moulds, called ‘trepas’, the colours are applied through these moulds and are later fixed to the cement base using a hydraulic press. The process is quite slow and artisan and although they are still made this way, there are several alternatives very similar to these which are easier to make and to maintain – as well as a bit cheaper –; ceramic tiles which look like the original hydraulic ones. The ‘real hydraulic tiles’ are quite porous, so they usually require waterproof and stain protection, while the ceramic ones are more easily cleaned and maintained.
The popularity of this technique overlapped with the ‘modernista’ movement – Catalan Art Nouveau – so the designs during this movement were more complex and artistic, having within its designer ranks names such as Domènech i Montaner, Josep Puig i Cadafalch or Enric Sagnier. The famous Antoni Gaudí also designed a special hydraulic tile for Casa Batlló, but the design was only used in the end in Casa Milà, and was afterwards used as well in the sidewalks on Passeig de Gràcia.
The city of Barcelona is probably one of the cities where we can find this type of flooring more abundantly, which happens to be very fashionable once again. We recommend you watch this short video where you can see the manufacturing process of the original hydraulic tiles – and if you are looking for a flat with this beautiful type of floors, do not hesitate to contact us, we have several properties to show you.