Handmade Moroccan Encaustic Cement Tiles - Artwork for your floors...


Encaustic tiles were originally prepared from a pigmented clay base then heated or fired in a kiln. Following the discovery of Portland cement and the development of hydraulic presses, the moroccan cement tile, as we know them today is prepared without the use of clay or heating.

Cement tiles then appeared in the late 19th century in the south of France. What were called encaustic tiles in the Victorian Era were originally called 'Inlaid Tiles' during the medieval period. 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. Supposedly, Victorians thought that the two color tiles strongly resembled enamel work and so called them encaustic. Despite the error, the term has now been in common use for so long that it is an accepted name for inlaid tile work.

By any other name...

Cement tiles are called by many names including: hydraulic cement tiles, mosaic tiles, encaustic cement tiles, mosaico hidraulicos, hydraulic tiles, ladrilhos hidráulicos, carreaux de ciments, Spanish mission tiles, Redondo tile, baldosas hidráulicas, hidraulicos antiguos, ladrilho de água, baldosas decoradas, hidráulicas de cemento.


Where to buy

The colorful patterns, durability and versatility have been attracting the attention of architects & designers alike and now private consumers also have access to these beautiful tiles as they once again become available to the UK market. Tile retailers like Fired Earth have a good (but pricey!) selection, but after them there is a distinct lack of variety from many of the other main retailers.

Terrazzo Tiles
in Chalk Farm, London have a fantastic range and they also have a really good display of these tiles at their shop. Prices are around £95 per square metre and they have stock items which take 5-10 days for delivery. The great thing about Terrazzo is that they also have a bespoke service where they let you pick the the colours for your pattern.

Check out their 'Antique Tile Range' at www.antique-tile.co.uk


There are now many styles of Encaustic Tiles, ranging from contemporary geometric to the traditional victorian 'inlaid' patterns which were inspired by middle eastern tiling. Floral patterns are also in trend. 


Encaustic Cement tiles are handmade, one by one. Instead of a glaze or kiln, a mould is used and mineral pigments, Portland cement and fine aggregate are pressed into the mold with a manual or electronic hydraulic press. The tiles are then cured by water and left to dry

The metal mould is handmade from specific design drawings. The composition of the pigment is a mixture of high quality white Portland cement, marble powder, fine sand, and natural mineral color pigments.

Each individual handmade cement tile is unique and slight imperfections are to be expected. The imperfections give the tiles character and depth.

The main difference between manufacturers is the hydraulic method used in the production. Quite a lot of small companies use a hand-operated, manual hydraulic press which leads to quality variations due to inconsistent pressure, affecting cement layers and the attachment of the pigment layer.

Larger, modern manufacturers use electric-powered hydraulic presses, producing consistently higher quality products. The higher pressure (1,500 PSI) allows a thicker pigment layer to be embedded in the cement layer, producinges a tile with a longer lifespan. The pigment layer is recommended to be 3–4 mm thick.

Another difference in manufacturers is the content of the pigments. High quality producers use mineral-based pigments only. Non-mineral based pigments fade with age and normal wear. Another consideration is curing. Improper curing reduces quality. Tile should be cured for 2–4 weeks before installation.

Special Considerations

Handmade Moroccan Cement Tiles need a little bit more care during installation than ceramic tiles.

  • Cement tiles are normally seated with butt joints – without spacers. A small space between tiles will be visible and will require a grout mixture (unsanded) applied. Spacers to produce a larger grout line may be used, if so, sanded grout may be used.
  • Never use dyed cement joint filler, pigments from the joint might stain the tiles irreversibly.
  • Prior to use each tile should be submerged in water and allow to stand 10–15 minutes before placement.It prevents the tiles from absorbing moisture from the thin-set too quickly and results in poor adherence to the surface and the tile.
  • It is recommended to seal the tiles. The sealer will protect the tiles limiting the water and oil penetration. The sealer must be applied after grouting, the borders with sealer might have reduced adherence and the joint filled will not stick correctly to the tile. Always try the sealer on a loose tile before applying it on the entire surface in order to measure the grade of absorption of the tiles.[3]
  • Cement tiles are easily cared for wash with mild detergent (E.g.: neutral soap, Murphy soap) and water. Never clean with harsh detergents, acid or alkaline, it will irreversibly damage the tile surface. The toughest stains can be smoothed out by scrubbing with an soft abrasive like Scotch Brite. [4]

Avoid scrubbing with hard abrasives that can remove the finish and damage the pigment layer of the tile.

For more information on laying an maintenance please click HERE to go to a specialised site.


and HERE for instructions on how to install Encaustic Tiles, Cement tiles, handmade moroccan tiles.


If you have any questions you'd like to ask us, please contact us using the link on the top left of this page.


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