Cement tiles and encaustic tiles are all types of flooring that you can use in your home. However, they have some significant differences between them. If you’re not sure which type of tile is right for you, this blog post will help clear things up! 

Let’s look at the three different options and compare their characteristics side-by-side: cement vs. encaustic.

Often people mix these two types of tiles up, but they are very different. The significant difference between these two types of tiles is how they are made and the type of adhesive used.

Cement Tiles

Cement tile is a manufactured floor material. It’s commercially mixed with water which hardens to form an even layer on the ground or beneath finished floors. They can be processed in different colors and textures but may have some inconsistencies between them as this process doesn’t allow for many variations from batch to batch.

The primary benefit of using cement tiles is that you don’t need any additional adhesives because once set, these tiles will stick together without anything else required! 

If your home has dampness issues, it may not be best suited for you as there isn’t enough flexibility relative to other materials.

Cement tiles can also be fragile and will chip easily if they are dropped or rubbed against those of another type, making them less than ideal for high-traffic areas where people could trip on chips that have fallen out!

Encaustic Tiles

Unlike cement tile, encaustic tile is a natural material made with clay from the earth – it’s not manufactured like cement tile. It has an organic feel because there are no artificial additives in these materials, so you’re getting 100% natural goodness when you choose this option.

Original encaustic tiles are fired in a kiln, but cement tiles are not. 

The meaning of “encaustic”: (especially in painting and ceramics) using pigments mixed with hot wax that are burned in as an inlay.

The word ‘encaustic’ refers to the process of adding color to wax which was originally beeswax. The next phase is pressing it into a tile. Then, the paper wax on top of the color is removed to reveal a stenciled design wax or painting underneath.

Individuals have been producing this type of tile work for thousands of years, like the encaustic tiles on Topkapi palace. The process of coloring cement tiles was similar to that of the encaustic process, so they were initially called “encaustic cement tiles.” 

The primary functional difference between cement tiles and encaustic tiles is absorption. Cement tiles can have 10% or more, while encaustic tiles usually are around 5% absorption. The two types of flooring also differ in strength: fired (or porcelain) tile has a higher level of resilience than cement tile does, but neither type is as strong as it is with the traditional material for tiles, porcelain.

Patchwork

Before waterjet cutting technology was introduced into the tile market, patchwork was the only way to combine the patterns and designs on the same tile. Today, these geometric patterns are now made of porcelain. Tile manufacturers often promote these tiles as “encaustic cement look” or “cement-look” tile.

Sealing and Grouting

The single most crucial element in working with cement encaustic tiles is to seal them before grouting. These tiles are very porous, and the pores will absorb color from everywhere because cement tiles are characterized by their absorbent qualities, and porcelain doesn’t suffer from the same issue.

The moisture in grout will be absorbed into the porous surface of a tile with tremendous power, causing one or both surfaces to lift prematurely. In contrast, any water that would go beyond the joints (or “grout lines”) between two adjacent ceramic tiles will either spill onto an adjacent area or simply evaporate before it penetrates.

This can lead to many problems when using light-colored grouts like white:

  • Dark stains can form on the floor through improper sealing.
  • Sealers containing high levels of volatile organic compounds may emit foul smells during the curing process.
  • Pigments used for coloring tiling materials could wear off due to the water. 

Grout joints should be a minimum of 1/8″ with these tiles. Larger grout joints are used when the tiles have size variation or when the grout is part of the overall pattern.

Maintenance

Cement tiles are easier to maintain, as they can be scrubbed and cleaned more easily than encaustic tiles. Encaustic tile is not recommended for kitchens or areas with continuous water exposure (such as in a shower) due to the absorption rate.

Dark stains may form on the floor through improper sealing; sealers containing high volatile organic compounds may emit foul smells during the curing process.

Pigments used for coloring tiling materials could wear off due to moisture from wet feet or liquid spills, etc. 

Possible Uses

Cement tiles are widely used for floors, walls and as a decorative feature in bathrooms. Encaustic tile can also be used on the floor or wall of any room but is more commonly seen as an accent piece due to its color variations making it less versatile than cement tiles.

Which One Is More Expensive?

Cement and encaustic tiles are available in a wide range of prices to suit everyone’s budget. The cost will depend on the type and quality of tiles you purchase and any customizations such as colors or patterns that are added.

Encaustic tiles are quite a bit more expensive than cement due to the labor-intensive process of applying color and patterns with hot wax. This increases both their installation cost as well as the price for each individual tile.

Conclusion

In this article, we compared the differences between cement and encaustic tiles.

Encaustic is a more expensive option due to applying color and patterns with hot wax due to the labor-intensive process of using color and patterns. Cement tiles are available in many colors and at prices that are affordable for all different budgets.

The main difference between encaustic tiles and cement tiles is how they are manufactured. Today both encaustic and cement tiles have hundreds of different designs and color options. You can find encaustic and cement tiles in all shapes, sizes, colors, patterns, and textures.