A Simple Guide to Cement Tile

A modern take on a traditional classic, cement tile, has spiked a lot of interest recently.

Over the years, we have seen a significant demand for geometric patterns, which can be seen in rugs, throw pillows, wallpaper, artwork and furniture.

Eventually, the geometric frenzy influenced textile such as tile. Designers and manufactures created tiles with interesting shapes such as hexagon, cube and circles.

This led to people wanting more softer curves in patterns, which was greatly influenced by the interest in farmhouse style.

As a result, quatrefoil pattern started to gain popularity due to its simple shape.

As you can see from the below images, the pattern mimics the “Moroccan” style which is technically the floral motifs of encaustic cement tile. Now, the industry has fully embraced the re-emergence of encaustic cement tile.

History

As a product with a rich history, encaustic cement tile has a challenging beginning to date.

Depending on the website or manufacturer of the product the origin of the cement tile changes.

According to Moroccan Mosaic, cement tile dates back to the 10th century in Spain.

While Cement Tile and Design states that it began between 1855 to 1875 in Northern Spain and Southern France.

Additionally, Cement Tile and Design mentions that the name encaustic cement tile was adopted from encaustic clay tile during 1855 to 1875 due to the similarity in colour.

Similarly, Granada tile, a manufacturer of the tile states that Victorians in the mid-1800s were misinformed and believed that cement tiles and encaustic tiles were the same.

Where it was use

Mosaic tiles evolved to become encaustic tiles as mosaic tiles are extremely detailed which made it labour intensive.

Encaustic tile became the solution as it had the ability to include the patterns and shapes in one tile. Source:Granada tile

With a more streamline process of creating detailed and ornate flooring, this then provided the opportunity for the cement tile to be used in grande structures such as churches and palaces.

Medieval encaustic tiles at Winchester Cathedral. Source: Pinterest
The small church at Wyre Piddle, sanctuary floor at Wyre piddle, 15th century encaustic tiles forming rosette patterns.
Source: Pinterest
The small church at Wyre Piddle, sanctuary floor at Wyre piddle, 15th century encaustic tiles forming rosette patterns.
Source: Pinterest
A Nottingham Medieval encaustic tile, 14th century. Source: Bonhams

How it’s made

Cement tile comprise of cement, sand, pigment and mineral powders which is mixed then turned into a liquid form, that is poured in to a metal mold.

Below is an image of a metal mold, notice how complex and detailed it is, right next to it is the outcome which is a floral motif pattern tile.

Example of a metal mold, Avante Tile.

Maintenance

With any new product, maintenance is an important issue that should be considered when purchasing a product like tile.

When it comes to encaustic cement tile there have been a lot of discussion, as some people consider it to be a high maintenance product.

Examine the extract below which is a statement from a homeowner sharing her experience with encaustic cement tile.

“Oh my goodness it’s a pain—it’s so porous, it sucks the pigment of the grout in and it’s hard to get it off,”

Source : apartmenttherapy

“It stains if you so much as look at it,”

Source : apartmenttherapy

He sealed a floor five times for a client and it still stained, immediately.

Source : apartmenttherapy

Here what the homeowner may be describing is “patina”, it’s a natural stain that develops overtime on the tile.

Apparently, this is what adds to the character of the tile as it looks aged, weathered and antique which is very much similar to a rustic metal or distress wood.

One manufacturer, Cle Tile, mentions that most homeowners in North America lack knowledge and appreciation for cement tile and believe patina to be a production error.

Below shows the discovery of cement tile from a research project, clearly the tile have patina yet they look phenomenal.

“the tiles had apparently been a part of the flooring of the once grand sutro conservatory”
Credit: Cle Tile
“130 year old cement tile unearthed in san francisco”
Credit: Cle Tile
Credit: Cle Tile

The best way to ensure the quality of the tile doesn’t deteriorate is through regular maintenance.

According to a number of cement tile manufacturers the product is quite easy to keep up and doesn’t require any excessive or laborious process.

Cement Tile Shop mentions that typical natural stone detergents are suitable along with instruction provided by the manfacturers for the specific product.

While Louisville Tile details a list of cleaning tips that can be regularly used to prevent any damage to the tile. Simple things such as regular sweeping and mopping are recommended to maintain the integrity of the tile.

Where to buy

  1. Cement Tile Shop
  2. Avente Tile
  3. Tile Shop
  4. Cle Tile
  5. Riad Tile
  6. Arto

Riad Tile

Cement Tile Shop

Credits: Cement Tile Shop
Credits: Cement Tile Shop
Credits: Cement Tile Shop

Cle Tile

Credits: Cle Tile
Credits: Cle Tile
Credits: Cle Tile

Arto

Credits: Arto
Credits: Arto
Credits: Arto
Credits: Arto
Credits: Arto
Credits: Arto
Credits: Arto

Avante

Credits: Avente Tile
Credits: Avente Tile
Credits: Avente Tile
Credits: Avente Tile
Credits: Avente Tile

Popular Opinion and Concerns

Will encaustic cement tile stand the test of time?

Yes, it will, I mean it already has since it’s a product that has been around for years and we are rediscovering it.

The biggest concern is that it’s a busy pattern.

Some people believe “it’s just a fad that looks good on Pinterest”

source: mariakillam

Some say “They can be strikingly beautiful but can overpower after a time.”

source: mariakillam

Madrid based interior designer Corinne Kowal says

“In Europe they are much more commonly found in old houses and buildings as they were the material of choice about 100 years ago.  I am currently based in Madrid and renovating a flat for clients where we found the original encaustic tiles below the newer laminate.”

SOURCE: MARIAKILLAM

The general rule is that encaustic cement tile is great for a traditional home as the intricate details compliment the ornament and carvings found in traditional homes.

Other styles that it’s suitable for are transitional, farmhouse, Mediterranean, Country and Spanish.

Manufacturers have completely embraced the movement and provided modern and traditional style which are very different styles in the design spectrum.

The versatility of options available shows that interest in encaustic cement tile is beyond a trend and is here to stay.

Selecting a tile for your home is an investment as it has the ability to increase the value of the home, so is it possible to achieve an appealing and timeless space using encaustic cement tile?

Yes, below are images of different rooms in a home that have used the tile to achieve phenomenal results.

Entry / Mudroom

Credits: Granadatile
Credits: Anna
Credits: Riad Tile
Credit: Riad Tile
Credit: Riad Tile
Credits: Riad Tile
Credits: Styleathome

Living Room

Credits: NyTimes
Credits: riadtile
Credits: riadtile
Credits: Riadtile

Bathroom

Credits: Cle Tile
Credits: Cle Tile
Credits: dwell
Credit: Tile Shop
Credit: Tile Shop
Credits: Styleathome

Kitchen

Credits: beckiowens
Credits: Riadtile

Bar

Credits: Arto
Credits: Cle Tile

Laundry

Credit: Tile Shop
Credit: Tile Shop
Credits: Jillian Harris
Credits: Jillian Harris

Restaurant/ Commercial Use

Credit: Bond Interior
Credit: Bond Interior

DIY Cement Tile

On a budget or seeking temporary remedies we found a couple of diy solutions that mimic cement tile.

During a renovation the budget can quickly spiral out of control, due to unforeseen expenses along with needs and wants, so the logical thing is to take control of the budget.

To accomplish this, divide the project into phases, so phase one are rooms that need immediate attention while phase two are rooms that can be renovated at a later date.

Rooms that are designated as phase two can be spruced up using DIY solutions and below are a few of them.

Option 1: Stencil the pattern

The wonderful ladies Elsie and Emma from a beautiful mess rolled up their sleeves to revamp the entrance of a studio.

Due to budget constraints purchasing encaustic cement tile was not possible, so they opted for a crafty solution.

They traced the tile pattern using paint, ruler, X-acto knife and an Oil Based Sharpie Pen. This is very labour intensive and requires a great deal of patience.

However, looking at the images it’s quite worth the effort and time they invested into it.

Credits: abeautifulmess

Option 2: Floor Stickers

Roxanne from The Honeycomb creatively updated her powder room with removable floor stickers, this is a fast and budget friendly solution to get cement tile design without breaking the bank.

Additionally, it’s a temporary way to test patterns, style and ultimately decide if cement tile pattern is for you.

Credits:thehoneycombhome

Do you like cement tile? What are your thoughts on the pattern? Do you think it’s just a fad?

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