Encaustic Cement Tile – Advantages and Disadvantages

Encaustic Cement Tile

Encaustic cement tile has an increasing popularity these days due its unlimited pattern options. It is not a new technique. In the past, clay was used as the source material to build encaustic tiles. Today, mostly cement is used. It is known as mostly cement tile instead of encaustic tile. In some part of the world, encaustic cement tiles are also known as hydraulic tiles. Because these tiles are pressed under a hydraulic press with extreme pressures to make it firm.

encaustic cement tile

If you are into bold, patterned tiles, encaustic tiles are just for you. The main advantage of cement tile is its durability. Cement is a very strong material, therefore you can be sure that your encaustic cement tile will not be easily scratched or destroyed.

One other advantage is the patterns on it. Cement tiles are not painted like porcelain or other materials. The patterns are deeply buried inside the tile. Because of that cement tile colors will not be easily faded away.

On the other hand, it is porous compared to ceramic or porcelain. It can absorb water inside.

According to wikipedia: Encaustic means:

The word encaustic from Ancient Greek: ἐγκαυστικός means “burning in” from the ἐν en, “in” and καίειν kaiein, “to burn”. The term originally described a process of painting with a beeswax-based paint that was then fixed with heat. It was also applied to a process of medieval enameling. 

The Origin of Encaustic Tile

encaustic cement tile

These tiles coming from medieval times are among top choices of interior designers. Even it is believed that encaustic tile was used in ancient Greek. Mostly clay were used in ancient times. That is why colors of clay were important to create different pattern tiles.

When you go to a tile shop, there are different tile design options. From black and white to marvelous colors, you can find either natural stone or ceramic, porcelain tiles. But none of them have unlimited design options as cement tiles.

Social media is another reason of rising popularity of these tiles. You can see them as a stunning, drop-dead, eye-catchy backsplash or as a shower floor. It has an inlaid tile structure. The patterns are literally burnt into the cement tile and it is very difficult to fade away. Because encaustic tile pattern is not only on the surface like porcelain or ceramic.

How to install an encaustic cement tile?

cement tile

To install encaustic cement tile properly, you are gonna need some tools materials.

  • Trowel – 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch
  • Wet tile saw
  • Large heavy cement mortar
  • Tile spacers (1/16 – 1/8)
  • Grout
  • Penetrating Sealer

Step 1: Preparation

Encaustic cement tiles are beautifully hand-crafted and must be cared and installed differently than porcelain and ceramic tiles. It is essential to properly prepare the sub-floor before the actual installation. You have to be hundred percent sure that the subfloor is clean, dry, leveled and there is no cracks or any type of bulges on the surface.

If you are planning to install your gorgeous encaustic tiles over a wood subfloor or on a wall, you must install 1/4 inch cement board first on the wood. Before installing, check your tiles for manufacturing defects. You have to store cement tiles indoor always and keep them dry. Allow tiles to acclimate to your room for at least 24 hour acclimation period is recommended.

Step 2: Installation

Encaustic cement tiles enhance the beauty of your floor through natural variations in color and tone. We recommend dry laying the tiles first to achieve the look you want. Wipe each tile with a damp sponge to remove excess concrete dust. Spread mortar evenly and in straight lines over the subfloor with a trowel. Back butter each tile. 100% coverage is essential.

Thickness of encaustic cement tiles may vary. Adjust tiles accordingly during installation, using a level and gentle hand pressure. Do not use a mallet to tap tiles.

Use spacers between tiles to create even grout lines. Remove any excess mortar from tiles while it is fresh. Tile color may deepen when wet and will return to original color when it dries.

Step 3: Grout and Sealing

Before applying grout, tiles need to be sealed with a penetrating sealer and must dry for at least 24 hours. Apply a non sanded grout to your floor. Wipe excess grout immediately using a damp cloth.

Do not use a black or dark-colored grout because it may stain the tile. After the tile is set, sweet the floor to remove any excess debris. Then clean with a PH-neutral detergent. Allow floor to dry for at least 24 hours. Do not allow water to pool on tile.

Apply the same penetrating sealer used in the pre-sealing process. Follow manufacturer instructions. To care for your new floor, damp-mob using only a neutral cleaner. Reseal as necessary to maintain optimal performance because sealer may diminish more quickly in high traffic areas.