Cement Tiles Around the World (Infographic)

Cement Tiles Around the World (Infographic)


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What Are Victorian Tiles?

Victorian Tiles

Victorian tiles are a type of encaustic tile that are most notably known for their striking geometric patterns. They are often used for restorations and historical replicas, but many interested buyers are also using Victorian tiles for new buildings and modern style homes. They are both striking and bold as well as intricate and busy, and make for great features to add interest and pattern in more contemporary homes, and complement the historical styles of traditional homes alike.

The History of Victorian Tiles

Encaustic tiles were widely used in the 12th century by monks for their places of worship. Henry VIII closed down many monasteries in the 16th century and greatly diminished the encaustic tile industry for nearly 400 years. At the beginning of the 19th century, encaustic tiles saw a revival and ceramic tile manufacturers emerged and made this material a popular trend for not just religious establishments but also private residences and commercial buildings. The early 19th century through the turn of the 20th century is known as the Victorian period and Edwardian Era, which is why this type and style of tile is referred to as Victorian tiles. They are essentially British floor tiles, and have been used in many halls, conservatories, kitchens, bathrooms, and patios and walkways.

What Are Traditional Victorian Tile Designs?

Many original Victorian tiles were a black and white colored pattern, often in a checkerboard design. Victorian tiles are well known for their geometric floor tiles, usually featuring square, rectangle, diamond, and octagon shapes. Another classic Victorian tile was the mosaic floor tile, which boasted a wide array of rich colors and intricate patterns, like Fleur-de-lis type scrolls, flowers, birds, and literature characters. In addition to the classic black and white scheme, many Victorian tiles were designed in a Harlequin style, using royal colors like blue, burgundy, and white.

How do Victorian Tiles Differ from Other Tile Types?

Victorian tiles have been called many other names, including Cuban tiles, Hydraulic tiles, Encaustic tiles, and Cement tiles. The true Victorian tiles are ceramic tiles made with clays and powdered glazes and fired in a kiln. However, for many people, Victorian tiles are more about the beautiful geometric patterns than the materials they are made from. Cement tiles are made with a mixture of cement, color pigments, sand, and marble powder that is poured into molds. The result is a unique and beautiful tile with amazing geometric designs that is highly durable and won’t show signs of wear as quickly as the original Victorian ceramic tiles.

Where Are Victorian Tiles Used?

Victorian tiles are most famous for the exquisitely tiled floors seen throughout Europe and the United States, but they have also been used to create decorative wall features, fireplace mantels, and patios and outdoor pathways. Victorian tiles turned otherwise plain floors and walls into interesting works of art, and have always been very hard-wearing. Victorian tiles have been used since they were first popular in the early 19th century for creating ornamental floor medallions, courtyards, and tiled rugs and runners. They can separate spaces and give the illusion of multiple types of flooring. Aristocratic homes often had special tiles designed with a family crest or symbol and incorporated them into the floor or wall design.

On a visit to Inverlochy Castle in 1873, Queen Victoria saw the lovely Victorian tiled flooring and wrote in her diary, “I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot.”

Victorian-like cement tiles are also popular for bathroom floors and walls, showers, creating the look of wainscoting or crown molding, and for kitchen floors and backsplashes. They are hardy enough to withstand high traffic areas and won’t fade or chip easily due to the intense manufacturing process.

Where Can I Buy Victorian-Like Tiles?

Victorian-like tiles can be found where cement tiles are manufactured. Granada Tiles carries many styles and patterns of cement tiles, offering those who want the traditional geometric styles of classic Victorian tiles the opportunity to personalize their own from the wide array of shapes and colors available. Victorian tiles were traditionally laid in interlocking designs by grouping four tiles together and rotating each tile by 90 degrees to create a quadrant. Any number of tile shapes, like rectangle or diamond, can create this design, along with one, two, or multiple colors.

Homeowners can also create their own custom tile design if they don’t see a shape, pattern, or color they like on the website. If there’s a specific hue you would like, or you would like to incorporate your own feature tile, family crest, or other emblem, you can work with the designers at Granada Tile to create a design that includes your custom tiles and evokes the traditional Victorian tile.

If you’re ready to design your own Victorian inspired tile, get in touch with the sales team at Granada Tile today, at sales@granadatile.com.

What Are Encaustic Cement Tiles?

Encaustic Tiles

While hardly a modern material, encaustic tiles are very popular in the home decorating and interior design world. Homeowners of all tastes are turning towards tiles, specifically cement tiles, for their unique patterns, vivid colors, and practical qualities. If you’ve been looking into this endearing material, you may have come across varying terms and descriptions, and some confusion over what you’re actually looking for. Some sources describe encaustic cement tiles, and others say cement tiles aren’t actually encaustic. So which is it?

We’ve created this blog post to help clear up any confusion you have over encaustic tiles and cement tiles, and to lay a clear foundation for what products will be best for your home projects and for the look you’re going for.

What Does Encaustic Mean?

The term encaustic means “to heat or burn in” from an ancient Greek word. Encaustic materials are produced through a process which involves heating to seal in the dyes and clays. Traditional encaustic tiles are made using clay and powdered glazes, and are fired in a coal or wood-fired kiln. The firing process heats the clay and powdered colors to seal in the design and create a hard surface. These types of tiles are technically called ceramic tiles, but many sources and even tile manufacturers have interchangeably referred to them as both ceramic and cement tiles.

The Difference Between Cement and Ceramic Tiles

Cement and ceramic tiles may look quite similar to each other, but they are actually made with very different materials and processes. Cement tiles are made with a mixture of cement, sand, pigment, and mineral powders that is poured into a metal mold that forms the pattern design. Ceramic tiles involve clays and glazes that are fired in a kiln.

Many tile buyers have become confused by the ambiguous term encaustic, since it has become normalized to describe both cement and ceramic tiles. When you’re looking at a specific product, you’ll want to do your research and contact the manufacturer to determine whether they are cement or ceramic tiles if you aren’t sure.

You may also find this useful: Cement Tiles vs Ceramic Tiles

Are Cement Tiles Truly Encaustic?

No, cement tiles are not truly encaustic, but it is an acceptable label for cement tiles, also known as inlaid tiles. When cement tiles were first introduced during the mid-1800s, the Victorians thought they looked just like encaustic tiles which have been around for centuries, and mistakenly started referring to them as encaustic tiles also. Since then, the term has been widely used interchangeably to describe these two tile art forms.

The Features and Benefits of Encaustic Cement Tiles

Besides the varying manufacturing processes, you may wonder about the biggest differences between encaustic cement and ceramic tiles and why you would choose one over the other. Encaustic cement tiles and ceramic tiles both come in countless patterns and color combinations. They often feature designs inspired by different cultures and architectural influences. They are also both used in many types of projects, from kitchen backsplashes to floors to outdoor spaces to decorative wall features.

History has shown us that cement tiles typically hold up better than ceramic tiles and display less wear and tear over time. When comparing two different tile floors in Paris that were both installed in the early 20th century, our team found the cement tile to show less fading and wear than the ceramic tile.

When glazed, ceramic tiles are scratch-resistant and waterproof and make great materials for a kitchen backsplash, bathroom countertop, or a decorative wall feature. However, they aren’t the best for high traffic areas like floors, inside showers, or outdoor patios.

Cement tiles are more durable than ceramic tiles and make for the ideal choice for both light and heavy traffic areas in and outside your home. They make great kitchen, living room and bathroom floors, shower tiles, backsplashes, and patios and outdoor showers.

Here are a few more of the unique qualities of encaustic cement tiles which may inspire you to choose them over ceramic tiles:

  • Cement tiles are eco-friendly. Since they aren’t fired, they use far less energy than ceramic tiles and do not emit pollution into the air.
  • Cement tiles use all natural ingredients.
  • Cement tiles are individually handmade to create one-of-a-kind products with their own subtle variations.
  • Cement tiles are scratch-resistant and less likely to cause slip and falls. (It meets the standards for slip resistance established by ASTM (can’t remember what that stands for).
  • Cement tiles are suitable for busy areas, the outdoors, and for decorative features.

Where You Can Find Encaustic Cement Tiles

Granada Tile is the number one online manufacturer specializing in cement tiles. They have their own cement tile designs in a variety of collections and patterns, and will create a one-of-a-kind design for you if you have your own pattern and color combination in mind.

Get in contact with the sales team today at sales@granadatile.com to request a sample tile and begin the process of ordering your own unique encaustic cement tile.

One of the great things about traveling around Europe and Latin America is seeing all the amazing cement tile installations. They show up where you’d expect them—cafes, restaurants, shop and hotel floors—and where you wouldn’t. For concrete tile-philes like those of us here at Granada Tile, it’s those surprising glimpses of cement tiles that are both a treat and an inspiration, and we hope for your as well. On a trip to France a while back, Melanie and Marcos spotted several unique and surprising tile installation that we wanted to share. One happened to be on the side of a brick building in Chartres. There, they saw three cement tile plaques framed with bricks. The tiles were flipped on a 45-degree angle to create a diamond shape and each featured a different design: one geometric, one with curvy strapwork and another with a more traditional pattern. While each was very different, they all had a similar palette that unified and harmonized them.

Chartres cement tile plaques

A trip of cement tile plaques decorates a building in Chartres, France. Cement tiles in unexpected places make a unique design statement. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

Chartres might just have the market cornered on unexpected and delightful cement tile installations. Melanie and Marcos came across another fun outdoor wall tile installation there too. This time, it was below a window and incorporated a group of corner and border tiles to create a rectangular cement tile installation.

tile installation chartres

Below a window in Chartres, a cement tile installation features a surprising use of border and corner tiles. It creates an embroidery-like effect. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

All of this is to say that cement tile isn’t just for your back splash or bathroom—and especially cement tile from Granada Tile. Our concrete tiles are do durable and versatile, they’re a great choice to go pretty much anywhere, inside or out.

Living History: More Sensational Cement Tile from Guatemala

Guatemala, as with Nicaragua, has a robust tradition of cement tile installations. In older parts of its cities and towns, surfaces are covered with stunning cement tile designs ranging from the subtle to the extravagant. A while back, we shared some discoveries Granada Tile‘s Melanie and Marcos found on a trip to the country, and today, because there’s an embarrassment of riches, as far as Guatemalan tile designs go, we thought we’d share a few more.

Spied at a posada in Antigua, Nicaragua, a simple cement tile floor caught Melanie and Marcos’s attention. In two shades, a cream and a terra-cotta, with geometric forms, the concrete tile installation is lovely in its understated simplicity. Diamonds, a few circles and starts complete compose the design and give a traditional terra-cotta-type cement tile installation a bit more than the usual monochromatic squares.

Simple tile floor posada

At a posada in Antigua, Guatemala, a simple pattern of cement tiles covers the floor. Guatemala, much like other Central American countries, has a rich tradition of cement tile. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

From the simple, we do a 180 to the elaborate, with a couple of Guatemalan cement tile installations that are bright, bold and fun. First up is a concrete tile installation on a floor at a hotel restaurant in Antigua. Besides solid mustard-yellow squares, the installation features a wide border surrounding large-scale circles. The color and pattern in the design animates the space.

Tile floor Antigua hotel restaurant.

The bold cement tile installation on the floor of an Antigua hotel’s restaurant provides a bright, dynamic counterpoint to the creamy stucco walls and rough-hewn ceiling beams. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

In an Antigua boutique, Melanie and Marcos came across yet another tour de force of cement tile design. It’s another bold pattern with echoes of the design motifs of several centuries contained within it. It’s geometry suggests 18th-century design, evoking, in particular, the formal gardens of the period. Other details soften it and bring to mind Art Deco design, especially in the fan-like floral motifs that punctuate its corners.

Boutique tile installation

A fresh combination of blue, orangey reds and white makes up the palette of a cement tile installation in an Antigua boutique. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

We hope we provided some tile inspiration for you and gave you something to think about as you plan your cement tile installation project yourself. Be on the look out for a follow up post, where will share how to incorporate some of these design ideas using Granada Tile‘s sensational cement tiles.


Living History: The Cement Tile Riches of Nicaragua

Long-time readers of Granada Tile‘s Cement Tile Blog will know this already: It was walking around Granada, Nicaragua, as a young boy that planted the idea of cement tile in Marcos Cajina’s mind. As the company he and Melanie Stephens founded has grown, the cement tile designs of Nicaragua have been a continued source of concrete tile design inspiration, so today we thought we’d share more tile photos of antique cement tile from Nicaragua.

At a hotel in Nicaragua, Marcos and Melanie snapped a photo of an amazing tile floor. It’s a lively, complex pattern of abstract forms in an earthy palette of reds and yellows. We love how a complementary cement tile border highlights a section of the tile design and creates an inset carpet of concrete tiles. It’s a great design idea, if you’re looking to break up space in a large tile installation yourself.

Cement tile design hotel

A lively and abstract cement tile design discovered by Marcos at a hotel in Nicaragua. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

Here’s another great cement tile installation from a hotel—this time the Gran Francia in Granada. The main tile design features a quatrefoil pattern. Inside the tile design, it’s sprigged with flowers. Around it, a Greek key–pattern border is itself bordered with a checkerboard design. By keeping all the hues in the same family, the mix of patterns remains unified and not busy at all.

Three tile designs in Granada.

The Hotel Gran Francia in Granada, Nicaragua, offers not one but three stunning tile designs in a floor tile installation. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

It seems that hotels might have the monopoly on outstanding cement tile installations, if the photos Melanie and Marcos have shared with us are any indication. In yet another Granada hotel, this time the Hotel Dario, there’s yet another fantastic tile installation. It’s a similarly complex tile installation featuring three distinct concrete tile designs: a large medallion pattern, a Greek key motif and a star motif. The tile designs are rendered more complex with the addition of various colors depending on the location of the tiles. Again, it’s an outstanding tile idea for when you’ve got a lot of space to cover and want to vary the visual interest.

Hotel Dario tile installation.

At the Hotel Dario, the cement floor tile installation takes the cake for complexity. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

Tomorrow, we’ll show you how to get the look with Granada Tile designs inspired by the cement tiles of Nicaragua. You’ll get some great cement tile ideas. 


Living History: Exploring More of the Cement Tile of France

Several months ago, we took you on a brief tour of some truly fabulous French cement tiles Granada Tile‘s own Melanie and Marcos spotted on a trip to France. Of course, being the devoted tile-philes they are, they took lots and lots of tile photos, so we have some more stunning tile pictures to share.

Melanie and Marcos came across a lovely, classic cement tile installation in the northern town of Mont St. Michel. In the tile installation, a complex tile carpet, with a center field featuring a strapwork design, is surrounded by two thin, but equally stunning borders. We love the bold mix of patterns and colors, which has a perfectly French flair—no fear of either!

Mont St. Michel tile entrance

A carpet of cement tiles welcomes diners to a restaurant in the north of France. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

It’s probably no surprise that strapwork patterns figure so heavily in French cement tile design. After all, the pattern was a popular one in medieval times, and the French pretty much wrote the book on that style (Notre Dame and Chartres, anyone?). It seems to pop up everywhere in Melanie and Marcos’s photos, including one from small bookstore in Paris. Paired with a central compass design, it’s sophisticated and simple, with just the right nod to history.

Strapwork cement tile in Paris.

A classic strapwork and compass cement tile design covers the floor in a Parisian bookstore. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

Our erstwhile travelers spied another great cement tile design through glass—still more proof that they keep their eyes trained on tile no matter the circumstances. The combination of realistic and abstract designs is really what gets us going. The central medallions have a jewel-like feel, and we love the way the blueish maple leaves frame the design as does the fretwork pattern that runs around the perimeters of both.

jewel like tile carpet in France.

Deep jewel tones make for an eye-catching tile carpet that was spotted through a window in France. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

Feeling inspired? We’ve got plenty more cement tile designs inspired by French concrete tiles. And, keep a close eye on this space in the coming months—we’ll have more French-flavored tile design to share. Stay tuned!

Living History: More Sensational Cement Tile from Morocco

If you love tile in all its shapes, sizes, colors and media, there are few better places to soak it all up and get inspired than in Morocco. The country has such a rich tradition of tile that it’s impossible to spend any time there without being delighted by its stunning variety. Besides the traditional glazed-and-fired ceramic tiles for which it’s rightfully famous, Morocco has a wonderful tradition of cement tiles too. A while back we shared some tile photos of concrete tiles found around the country. At Granada Tile, we have so so many tile pictures, though, that we thought it might be nice to share a couple more tile pictures with you to get inspired.

We thought this cement tile pathway was totally dreamy. Spotted in Marrakech, it’s a simple tile installation, but its classic decorative motifs make it a knockout and show how fantastic borders can be—really upping the visual ante wherever they’re installed. You can also see just how effective sticking with a simple palette in just several shades of a single color can be.

blue tile

Simple geometric patterns make for a stunning tile installation in Marrakech. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

We seem to be a little obsessed with borders these days. Maybe it was Tuesday’s post featuring all of Granada Tile‘s great cement tile border and corner options, but we can’t seem to get enough of them. If you’re looking for a creative, out-of-the-box way to do a concrete tile border, look no further than this tile picture of a concrete tile floor in a Rabat bookstore. Instead of framing a cement tile installation, the border tiles become the focal point themselves as they snake along the floor against a solid field. The tile design provides just a hint of color and a dollop of visual interest—perfect when you’re interested in making a low-key statement.

Morocco border floor

A subtle tile installation featuring border tiles flows across a Rabat store floor. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

Check back soon for some ideas on how you can bring the look of Morocco into your next cement tile installation using tile designs from our Echo Collection as well as some of our other sensational cement tile lines. Given that it’s a tile hotspot, you won’t be surprised to find many of Granada Tile‘s cement tile designs take their cues from the country.


Living History: A Stroll on Egypt’s Cement Tile

Quick. Name the first thing that pops into your head when you think of Egypt. It was pyramids, right? Or maybe pharaohs? Cement tile, unless, of course, you’re us here at Granada Tile, didn’t make the top three, let alone the top 20. Concrete tile, though, has a long and rich tradition in Egypt. Today, we’ll take you on a tour in tile photos of another facet of Egyptian design.

As is the case with historic cement tile found around the rest of the world, a vast amount of the concrete tile installations in Egypt date from the material’s salad days in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.The tile designs themselves reflect decorative ideas popular throughout the world at the time rather than a particularly Egyptian look.

Up first is a great tile installation from Cairo. At first glance, the tile design seems simple—just a pattern of vary triangles and squares in various colors. Look more closely, though, and you realize just how detailed the tile layout is and how sophisticated the palette. We love tile installations that ask you to study them in order to appreciate how marvelous they are.

Egyptian tile

A simple tile installation on closer inspection reveals layers of geometric complexity. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

Often, the cement tile installations we share with you are decidedly geometric, but every once in a while we run across a few that are less abstract. That’s the case with a stunning tile installation also in Cairo—a lovely tile carpet just five tiles across. The design features stylized flowers bordered in with a vine design in a fresh, springy palette of greens, pinks and yellows.

Egypt 2

A stunning floral carpet of cement tile rendered in fresh, spring-like colors. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

Last but not least, we thought another Cairo cement tile design was especially lovely and unusual. Rather than having a tile installation featuring a central decorative tile design surrounded by a border, this particular example features five parallel courses of tile with daisy motifs. It’s unusual and unexpected and might make for a fantastic cement tile installation idea for your own project.

Egyptian photos 3

Long courses of a daisy-chain like pattern appear in a tile carpet in Cairo. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

Check back in a few weeks, when we’ll show you how to get the look of Egyptian cement tiles in your own tile installations. If you can’t wait, visit our interactive Echo Collection catalogue to get some tile design ideas in the meantime.


Living History: A Walk about the Cement Tile of Guatemala

On their trips around Latin America, Melanie and Marcos have the chance to see stunning cement tile pretty much everywhere they go—given the region’s embrace of the material in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Often, these trips turn into inspiration for new tile designs for Granada Tile, and the time they’ve spent in Guatamala is no exception. No matter where they turn on their visits there, they glimpse concrete tiles that suggest an element or an entire pattern for a tile.

In Guatemala, great historic concrete tiles seem to pop up everywhere, including at a chic furniture store in Antigua. There, the concrete tiles cover the floor of a colonnade setting the scene for the lovely wares. Melanie and Marcos loved the tile installation with its alternating squares of solid and patterned tile bordered by a fretwork tile design.

A historic tile installation in Antigua, Guatemala, features simple solid-colored cement tile squares punctuated by stylized floral tiles. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

A stately pattern of hexagons and squares leads to the altar at historic church in Antigua, Guatemala. The subtle color scheme strikes the right note and the pattern tile design is eye-catching and keeps up the visual interest across the large space.

church tile installation

The couple discovered a stately cement tile installation at an Antigua, Nicaragua, church. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

As stunning as these tile designs, are we feel like we saved the best tile for last. The floor tile installation in an Antigua, Guatemala, theater really knocked Melanie and Marcos for a loop. The contrasting blue seems almost as if it’s inlaid into the tile installation, but it’s really all of a piece. For sheer dynamism, this cement tile installation can’t be beat.

theater tile

In a theater in Antigua, Guatemala, Melanie and Marcos discovered a beyond-amazing tile installation. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

Check back here soon for some ideas on how you can bring a little Guatemalan flair to your next cement tile installation be it for your kitchen tile, bathroom tile or somewhere else, using cement tiles from our Echo Collection.