Harding’s patent Litosilo deck sheathing, used to provide durable flooring over the steel decks on the Titanic. Shown above is a period advert for Litosilo, a rendering of a crew dormitory laid with Litosilo, a chunk of Litosilo and lino tiles found at the wreck site, and an illustration of a section of Litosilo & lino-tile-covered deck showing its layers.
Since Titanic’s decks were, at their barest, steel plates riveted together, overlaps in the plates and protruding rivet heads, they needed a basic covering to level them out and make them into suitable floors, as well as to insulate them. In some crew spaces where heavy traffic and wear was expected, the decks were sheathed in pine wood decking. In some areas with a lot of moisture or water, such as the galleys and swimming bath (pool), and where ceramic and brick tiles were laid, the steel deck was covered in a layer of cement, with tiles laid on top. In some rooms above refrigerated cargo spaces, the deck was sheathed in wood, which was then covered with a proper flooring. In many areas of the ship, however, a standard magnesite composition flooring was utilized. On Titanic that composition was Harding’s patent Litosilo, manufactured by C.S. Wilson & Co. of Liverpool.
Litosilo was applied to the steel deck in a pasty liquid form with trowels. It was applied in two layers on Titanic, the bottom a grey, raw, cheaper form of Litosilo, and the top layer a better-quality, colored Litosilo. It was a pinkish-red hue on Titanic, but could be manufactured with any color the client wanted. Litosilo was known to sometimes expand and rise from the deck in places in less ideal conditions, so steel hold-down clips were riveted to the steel plates before the Litosilo was applied. When it dried, Litosilo essentially became a large, solid mass of plastic. It was quite durable, and could either be left bare and used as a floor covering itself, or it could be covered with ‘lino’ tiles or carpet. Some third class and crew spaces on Titanic, like the Third Class Dining Saloon, the crew dormitories, and various corridors had bare Litosilo flooring. In many other areas, like the first class cabins and public rooms such as the Grand Staircase, ‘lino’ tiles or carpet was laid over the composition. Litosilo had a serious disadvantage, though, in that it didn’t react well to water. When water soaked through it, the magnesium chloride in the Litosilo was released, and when it seeped to the steel deck plates below the plates would be eroded by the chemical, resulting in pits and holes in the plates that required expensive repairs. As a result, shipping companies stopped using Litosilo around that time when they found out what was happening, favoring instead a composition called ‘Veitchi’ which was later used on the Britannic.
Advert image ©”Teamtunafish” - Wreck photo ©NatGeo - Render ©Matt DeWinkeleer & ORM Entertainment - Illustration ©Kyle Hudak - Info source: Titanic:The Ship Magnificent, Vol.1