Cement tiles are a classic decorative tile that have been around for a long time. They are also known as encaustic tiles, and they have become popular again in the modern world of home design. These decorative cement tiles are made through a time-honored artisanal process. Natural pigments are mixed into dry cement and poured into a metal mold and hydraulically pressed.
These handmade, non-fired cement tiles have a durable surface that resists wear and tear, even when used outside in high-traffic areas or for indoor/outdoor applications, with the proper sealant. The beauty of cement tiles is their ability to create a unique and timeless look. Their pattern and color choices allow them to fit into both antique and contemporary aesthetics, with or without other patterned tile types.
The artisanal process that these tiles go through results in the color layer having a soft, matte finish with varying levels of saturation. They are very different than ceramic tiles, which have a hard gloss surface. This texture makes them very appealing for flooring, walls and countertops.
The surface of a cement tile may be smooth, matte or rough depending on the type of mix that was used to make it. The texture also affects its durability, with rough surfaces being less likely to scratch or stain. The softer, matte finishes are also easy to clean and maintain.
When it comes to choosing a tile, the size of the area being tiled and the style that you are trying to achieve are important factors. There are many cement tiles available in a wide range of sizes. Smaller sized cement tiles can add a subtle pop to an entrance way or backsplash while larger sized cement tile can take the space of entire rooms, such as living and dining areas.
Choosing the right cement tile for your project starts with understanding the basics of how they are made. They are comprised of two layers, a top layer that is colored with mineral pigments and a bottom layer that is a mortar of fine sand and standard portland cement. The top layer is hand poured into the patterns that are created in the molds. The slurry is then cured for several days under hydraulic pressure to form a strong and durable finished product.
While this artisanal process is time-consuming, it is environmentally friendly. Unlike their ceramic counterparts that get fired in a kiln, cement tiles are cured using hydraulic pressure, which means they don’t release fossil fuels or harsh chemicals into the atmosphere during production. When they are disposed of at the end of their lifespan, these tiles are 100 percent recyclable.
Like any other tile, cement tiles require regular sweeping and mopping with water and a non-acidic cleaner, such as Ph-neutral soap. In addition to cleaning, maintenance for your cement tiles will involve sealing them on a semi-annual basis. It is recommended that you hire a professional to ensure that the job is done correctly and that your cement tiles will continue to look their best for a lifetime.