This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
Tiles of various patterns and materials are used to a large extent for floors and walls of bathrooms, corridors and counting rooms. For fireplaces, and walls and floors of bathrooms, where the tiles are not subjected to hard wear, a plain glazed tile makes a clean and satisfactory job, but where much wear will come, the hard, vitreous, unglazed tiles will make a better wearing surface.
The foundation for tiles should be prepared from the best Portland cement, and should be perfectly level, and allowed to thoroughly harden before the tiles are laid. The foundation for both floor and wall tiles should be thoroughly brushed, to remove all dust and other foreign substance, and then well wet before applying the cement bedding. Portland cement should be used for setting floor or wall tiles, and for grouting the floors; and the best Keene's cement for filling the joints in wall tiling. Clean sharp sand well screened should be used in equal parts with the cement for floors, and with two parts sand to one of cement for walls. The tiles must be thoroughly soaked in water before setting.
Floor tiles are set by being firmly pressed into the mortar bed and then tamped until perfectly level. When the bed is sufficiently set, the joints are grouted with pure cement and cleaned off with sawdust or fine shavings.
Wall tiles are set by two methods called "floating" and "buttering." In floating the tiles, a portion of the bed is spread on the wall, and the tile placed in position and tamped until firmly united. Buttering consists of spreading the mortar on the back of each tile, which is then placed against the prepared wall and tapped gently until it is united with the bed. When the tiles are all set, by either process, the joints are carefully washed out and filled with Keene's cement. When fixtures are to be secured to the walls, as for plumbing etc., a wood piece should be secured to the wall, flush with the rough bed, and the tiles laid over it, to be bored for the fastenings.
For halls and corridors, mosaic, tile, or terrazza floors are to be preferred, but for offices, nothing is better than a wooden floor. Rift hard pine, birch, maple, or oak make good wearing floors, and when laid on sleepers securely bedded in the concrete, with no chance for the air to get beneath the floor, are in little danger of being consumed by fire. Wooden floors should be matched and tightly laid, and treated with as little oil or inflammable varnish as possible, depending upon constant care, for preservation, rather than a great amount of finishing.
For banking rooms and corporation offices, counters of greater or less extent and elaboration will be required. These are usually made of wood, but may be constructed of other materials, a wooden top being always preferred. The use of enameled bricks or tiles for the base of the counters with a wooden top makes a solid structure, while polished marble may be used of almost any degree of expense.