Nuts & Bolts: Why Cement Tiles?

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Cement tiles are Granada Tile‘s raison d’être, and we talk a lot about their durability and beauty, not to mention their green cred. Why is that, though? What makes cement tiles so special—and a savvier choice than ceramic encaustic tiles for tile backsplashes, bathroom tiles, wall tiles, and the like? Today we’ll tell you. French craftspeople first developed concrete tiles towards 1870s. To create the cement tiles, a mixture of cement, sand, color pigment and marble powder was poured into metal molds, backed with a dry concrete mixture and compressed under 2,000 pounds of pressure. The resulting concrete tiles are left to air cure, which allows them to harden and strengthen.

 A French cement floor tile from the early 1900s. Tile photo, theantiquefloorcompany.com.

Around the same time, encaustic cement tiles were developed around the mid-1800s. Production of those, though, involved powdered glazes and clay, which were then fired in giant wood- and coal-fueled kilns.

 A similar tile design, also French from the early 1900s, but on an encaustic ceramic tile. Note how closely the ceramic and concrete tiles resemble each other. Tile photo, theantiquefloorcompany.com.

These two photos of antique tiles bring us back to our original question: why cement tiles for your tile installation. If they look virtually identical, what gives cement tiles the edge? For one thing, take a look at some French floor tile installations. Up first is a cement tile installation from a Paris stationary shop. While it may be antique, it still looks incredible, keeping its great looks despite thousands, if not millions, of feet pounding it over the years.

 Many decades on, a cement tile floor in Paris retains its beauty. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

Now check out a floor of a similar vintage, this time covered with ceramic tiles. Located in a flower shop, it also has taken a beating over the years—and looks it. You can see a lot more wear and tear and can even spot the clay underneath the pattern.

 Decades of use have degraded the ceramic tile floor in a Paris flower shop. Tile photo, Granada Tile.

Concrete tiles keep their looks, because the tile design becomes part of the tile; it doesn’t just sit on the surface as does the pattern on a ceramic tile. Add to that the way cement tiles are produced. We’re not burning fuels to power kilns. Our cement tiles are cured outside. Bottom line: If you’re looking for bathroom tiles, kitchen tiles, or wall tiles, think Granada Tile’s cement tiles. Not only will they stand up to years of use, you’ll be choosing a material that is easy on the earth. You’ll win, you’re wallet will win, and so will the earth! 

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