The old hand-made tiles give our floors an incomparable cachet. A Norman recuperator gives us the secrets of these terracotta that display a beautiful hundred years
Between Deauville and Canapville, a long avenue of lime trees leads to an old farmhouse of the eighteenth century. Next door, a barn of the same period houses pavers and tomettes that Martine and Alain Lavillaugouet have patiently accumulated. Beautifully staged in the middle of zinc planters, apple baskets, garden chairs and other watering cans, the stacks of terracotta arranged by size and color each have their own story. For these specialists in antique tiles and members of the Maisons Paysannes de France association, restoration rules are primarily artisanal and each nuance determines a region. Dedicated to rare pieces, Alain Lavillaugouet does not hesitate to cross the department's borders to bring back precious stones. Unique in size and color, Canapville's tiles are decidedly charming.
The tiles (hexagonal models) and pavers of Pont-Audemer and Honfleur (square models) are available in subtle shades ranging from yellow to orange through cream, rose, tending towards the brick when they are more cooked. Very popular for kitchens and bathrooms, especially for wall spaces, they come in three sizes: 10 x 10 cm, 16 x 16 cm and 22 x 22 cm. Like almost all old tiles, small ones are rarer. From 60 € per square meter.
The cobblestones of Sarthe and Mayenne currently win all the votes with their light pinkish colors. More porous because less cooked, they must be protected. Recovered in attics and farm buildings like most old tiles, these pavers are suitable for all rooms, provided that the floor can support a load of about 40 kg per square meter. From 65 € per square meter.
The Caen stone slabs are relatively large: 33 x 33 cm and 28 x 28 cm and are only between Troarn, Bayeux, Creully and Falaise, which explains their rarity. Smooth for some, more porous for others, they are easily recognized by their ecru white color and are mainly reserved for the ground floor. From 100 € per square meter.
Cement tiles and their pretty designs are well known on the Normandy coast, but they are quite rare because the laying techniques of the last century make it difficult to recover them. Sometimes Martine and Alain find some beautiful blue, gray and sand series.
And the joints?
These terracotta 2 to 3 cm thick require laying with clear joints. Martine Lavillaugouet advises a mortar made of white cement, lime, sand and pigments.
The gel prevents the laying of terracotta outside. But sometimes, we use old course floor bricks or road pavers that work wonders on the terraces.