what is encaustic cement and is it right for me?

What’s in a cement tile?

clé's encaustic cement tiles do not use clay, glazes, or kilns, but instead have their own special ingredients and processes that allow them to be sustainable, recyclable and free of energy costs involved in the firing process of ceramic tiles.

Our encaustic cement tiles are made up of three layers for long lasting wear:

  • Top layer: a color portion made with natural pigments mixed with ground marble dust and portland cement
  • Middle layer: a mortar of fine sand and portland cement that allows for compression reinforcement
  • Bottom layer: a solid concrete base made to be strong and porous

clé's cement tiles are sold in a standard 8"x8" size, and the industry standard thickness of 5/8". We do create custom sizes, as well as a "thin" 3/8" version on a case by case custom basis.


How is it made?

Cement tiles are made by hand, one at a time, using pigments, cement, concrete, a mold, and a hydraulic press. There is absolutely no kiln or other firing process involved. Metal molds are hand made for the top "color/design" portion of the tile. After the tiles are pressed they are put in a water bath and then stacked to cure. One feature that sets clé’s tiles apart from others is that our tiles are pre-polished and pre-sealed. To learn more, please refer to our article about pre-polishing and pre-sealing.

Now that you know how cement tiles are made, you may be asking yourself, “are cement tiles right for my project?” If so, continue reading below to learn more about encaustic cement tiles.


Are cement tiles right for my project?

If you live in the United States, you may have noticed the trend towards cement tiles. While this is new to the U.S., cement tiles have been popular in other parts of the world for centuries. Cement tiles have graced the halls and walls of fine estates and cool cafes, as well as regal hotels and stately institutions. If you’ve been wanting to add cement tiles to your tile project please read through the 5 questions below - if you can answer YES to all of these questions, then clé would highly recommend our unparalleled cement tiles for your tile project:

1) Is your installation for interior floor and/or walls, exterior floors and/or walls or water features (such as fountains or the waterlines of pools)?


2) Do you like color, black/white combinations, or subtle neutrals?


3) Are you drawn to matte surfaces that are smooth to the touch?


4) Are you open to perfect imperfection?


5) Is patina your thing?


If you answered YES to all of the questions above, please continue reading to learn more about cement tiles. If you did not answer YES to all of these questions, no need to worry! clé offers a wide variety of tiles that are sure to suite a wide variety of tile projects.


More Information on Cement Tiles

One of the most frequently asked questions when considering cement tiles is “where can I use them?” The answer is – virtually everywhere! However, to be more specific, for interior spaces cement tiles are ideal for kitchen floors, kitchen backsplashes, bathroom floors, bathroom backsplashes, bathtub surrounds, grand entryways, sturdy mudrooms, laundry room floors and exciting fireplace surrounds. For exterior installations, in warm climates cement tiles are perfect for a veranda, fountain accent, terrace walls and patios.

Virtually all colors seem to take on a new life when created with the natural pigments used to make cement tiles. The muted and highly irregular nature of these pigments insures that no two tiles are ever alike. Therefore, even when using a bold color palette, contrasting basics (like black/white) or the most evenly matched neutrals – cement tiles will convey all your favorite color combinations with a muted quality that will make them perfect for any design application.

Cement tiles are best known and loved for their distinctive matte and silky finish that can only be achieved with the encaustic cement tile craft. Each and every tile is hand formed and takes on the natural pigments in a varied and soft-to-the-touch surface. No two tiles are ever alike, which adds to their unique hand crafted qualities. For clients that want more sheen to their cement tile, finish gloss sealants can be used to provide this sheen.

clé cement tiles are unparalleled in quality and finish. They are pre-polished and pre-sealed in our studios that have been perfecting the handmade craftsmanship required for cement tile production for more than 100 years. It is that aspect to clé cement tiles that makes for the highest quality tiles for your projects. And it is the same production process that makes each and every tile by hand a perfectly imperfect rendition from tile to tile. As each swirl of pigment fills the tile molds in a slightly different way, and each craftsman’s hand forms each tile with the slightest of nuances, we hope that you will examine each of your cement tiles with the same pride of which each craftsman poured into every mold.

Cement tiles are a natural product; each tile is completely hand crafted of natural pigments and other materials. With a top layer that is mainly marble dust and pigment powders, they have mineral similarities to limestone, and their care and maintenance resembles that of French limestone. With time your tiles will take on an inherent patina from wear and tear and guarantee your tile project will have the beauty you’ve come to love when visiting the best cafes, museums and other destinations whose floors have withstood the test of time and show their patina as a badge of honor.

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