Pricewise: Black-and-White Basketweave Tile
These three floor tile patterns all share that clean, classic look. Here's how to read between the grout lines and pick out the right material for your bath
Like snow-white subway tile, black-and-white basketweave floor tile was popular among cleanliness-obssessed Victorians, who appreciated floors that could be tromped on, scoured, and flooded with rinse water—and come up shouting "hygienic." Nonporous porcelain proved so tough, you can still find century-old unglazed basketweave in historic houses, restaurants, and bars.
We found one made the old-fashioned way and pitted it against an equally traditional marble version and a lower-priced glazed porcelain. All three would look great in a bath, where no-slip, small-scale tile is a natural, and all are made to last. But read on to see how they differ in surprising ways, from durability to finished look.
Quarry Collection: Calacatta Basketweave Mosaic
Is it for you?
If you love the luminous look and subtle color variations of polished marble.
Sheet: 12 by 12 inches
White tiles: 1½ by 2 inches
About $44 per square foot
Material: Unlike cheaper stone versions, this tile is made in Portugal with two types of marble, gold-flecked Italian Calacatta and soft-black Spanish nero.
Design: Hewing closely to historic basketweave, with small black squares, this version has crisp edges and tight grout lines. Polishing gives this marble a light-reflecting shine.
Care: Clean with mild soap and water. Marble (even if sealed) can be damaged by acidic cleansers, which eat into the calcite crystal. Abrasives, including shoe grit, sanded grout, and some cleansing powders, can scratch the finish.
TOH Pro Tip: Mark Ferrante, This Old House Tile contractor says, "Basketweave tile, especially in marble, is tricky to install, so before you decide which one to buy, ask an experienced tile setter how much it will cost to put down."
American Restoration Tile: Square-edge Unglazed Porcelain
Is it for you?
If you crave authenticity and appreciate a patina that improves with age.
Sheet: 9 by 9 inches
White tiles: ⅞ by 1⅞ inches
About $38 per square foot
Material: A clay mix is pressed into molds and fired at 2,200 degrees F to create a very hard, dense, stainproof material; over time, unglazed porcelain's rough surface gains a glazelike patina.
Design: A faithful repro-duction of early 20th-century basketweave with clean, square edges for a tight fit and a flush, easy-to-clean surface when grouted.
Care: After a onetime scouring with a sand-and-Cascade paste and a thorough rinse, this tile can handle any floor detergent, including abrasives. Adding an acrylic sealer to the rinse water will speed patination.
Merola: Basketweave Glazed Porcelain
Is it for you?
If you want a low price and don't mind wider grout lines and a more modern look.
Sheet: 9¾ by 9¾ inches
White tiles: 1 by 2⅛ inches
About $8 per square foot
Material: A clay mix is pressed into molds, glazed, and fired at 1,500 degrees F.
Design: Basketweave's "dog bone" visual effect is exaggerated by the flared ends of the nearly matte white pieces. For contrast, the dots are high-gloss black. The tile's "pillowed" edges demand wider grout lines.
Care: Regular sweeping or vacuuming and cleaning with soap are recommended; grit can damage the glaze, and abrasive cleansers can dull it. Porous grout lines can be difficult to keep clean.