ECHO Collection

History of Echo Collection Handmade Cement Tile

History of Echo Collection - Granada TileThe Echo Tile Collection revitalizes an art form that developed in France in the mid-1800's — some say the true origins were in Barcelona — and quickly spread around the world. Unlike hand made ceramic tiles, which are usually hand painted, glazed and fired, decorative cement tiles are made by first pouring a mixture of cement and color pigment into separate compartments in a metal mold (a sort of oversized cookie cutter). This first color layer is 1/8" thick. Next we add concrete and press the tile under 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. This upside down cake is left to cure, creating a remarkably strong and lustrous cement tile. This process requires skill, practice, strength, and perfectionism. Granada Tile employs and provides on-going training opportunities to fine craftsmen who take pride in producing beautiful and durable tiles.

Because of the modest start-up costs, the technique of making mastercrafted cement tiles spread like wildfire to just about everywhere except Australia and the Arctic. You find splendid historic installations from Amsterdam to Phnom Pen, and from Los Angeles to Istanbul.

Not all cement tiles are created equal. Cement tiles are typically handmade in small factories. Conditions, materials and quality control vary significantly from company to company. Granada Tile works hard to bring you the best quality cement tile.

If you are comparing Granada Tiles to other cement tiles, here are some of the things to watch out for:

Visible problems:

  • Varying thicknesses of tile that makes it hard to lay as a flat surface - from lack of consistency in production process
  • Pattern is blurry - from pouring pigment sloppily
  • Major variations with the same color - inaccurate measuring of color pigments or poor quality pigments
  • Chipping around the edges - weak mixture or poor quality control
  • Crumbly on the back (weak tile) - from inconsistent hydraulic pressure or too much sand in the mixture

Invisible problems:

  • Ratio of cement to sand - without the right ratio, the tile will not be strong and durable
  • Quality of the pigments - if cheap pigments are used, colors may fade (even high quality blues and greens will fade in direct sun)

When in doubt, ask for the engineering test reports. These are tests that are performed based on uniform standards by an outside engineering firm. They are a good objective way to insure that specific standards are being met.

Probably because marketers didn't find "cement tile" or "concrete tile" attractive enough, this type of tile has suffered an identity crisis. In the lingo of the tile world, Granada Tile's Echo Tile Collection could be called hydraulic, encaustic, mosaic, French, Belgian, Spanish, Moroccan, Cuban, Nicaraguan, hand made tile, mastercrafted cement tile, and hand painted tile. Some of these names for cement tile are misleading and some are downright wrong.

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 to request a sample tile and begin the process of ordering your own unique encaustic cement tile.

Echo Collection Cement Tile Specifications and Engineering Results

Echo Collection concrete tiles have a smooth surface and are typically square or rectangular. The tiles are slightly smaller than the nominal size to allow for grout. For example, the 8" x 8" tiles are actually 7 7/8" x 7 7/8". They are made with cement/concrete, sand and color pigments and then pressed to 2,000 pounds per square inch. The top color layer is approximately 1/8" deep.

To learn more about how the Echo Collection tiles are made, watch the short video, Granada Tile Revives the Fine Art of Making Cement Tile.

  • Use: Residential and Commercial
  • Installation Locations: Interior and Exterior (except in areas subject to freezing) / Floors and Walls
  • Surface Texture: Smooth
  • Colors: Please see the Echo Color Palette Box available on the samples page.
  • Grouting: Typical grout joints are 1/16". Non-sanded grout is usually preferred. For more about installing Echo Collection tiles, please read the Installing Cement Tile Section.
Product Description Size per tile in inches Thickness Tiles per box Sq Ft per Box Weight per Tile in Lbs. Weight per box in Lbs. Number of Tiles on Pallet Total Weight pallet
Square 12" x 12" 3/4" 5 4.53 8.02 40.08 270 2,235
Square 10" x 10" 3/4" 5 3.36 5.61 28.06 360 2,090
Square 8" x 8" 5/8" 10 4.31 3.01 30.06 600 1,874
Rectangle 4" x 8" 5/8"

Rectangle 8" x 12" 5/8" 5 3.23 5.01 25.05 270 1,423
Hexagon 8" x 9" 5/8"

Square 6" x 6" 5/8" 24 5.81 1.70 40.89 720 1,297
Rectangle 6" x 10" 5/8" 10 4.04 2.51 25.05 300 822
Square 4" x 4" 5/8" 40 4.31 0.75 30.06 2,400 1,874
     Trim Pieces
Surface Bullnose 4" x 6" 5/8" 20
1 19.8

Surface Bullnose 4" x 8" 5/8" 20
1.5 30

Surface Bullnose 4" x 12" 5/8" 18
2.2 40.4

Surface Bullnose 6" x 10" 5/8" 12
2.5 29.9

Stair Tread 8" x 8" 5/8" 5
3.52 17.6

Surface Bullnose 8" x 8" 5/8" 10
3.1 30.86

The slip resistance of the Echo Collection concrete tiles exceeds the recommended standards for accessible areas. In tests conducted according to ASTM (formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials), Smith-Emery Laboratories concluded that the Dynamic Coefficient of Friction, Abrasion Resistance and Absorption properties of the Echo Collection tiles met or exceeded the standards for use in commercial projects.

With the Echo Collection tile technique, Granada Tile can produce and match a wide range of colors. However, because of the nature of the pigments and hand made process used to craft our concrete tiles, some variation in shade or hue may occur. The pigments themselves are light-resistant, but if not properly sealed and maintained, the concrete in the tiles can change color with time and weather. Blue and green pigments are particularly susceptible to fading.

A 50% non-refundable deposit is required for all non-stock and custom orders to begin production. The balance will be paid upon reception of your order. Granada Tile maintains the lawful ownership of all products until they are paid in full. Be sure to read the Terms of Sale before making your purchase.

Warranty Information

Granada Tile will replace or refund the purchase price of any defective tile. However, Granada Tile has no control over and is not responsible for the materials used to install our tile, the method used or the skill of the installer, type of maintenance, usage or amount of traffic. We do not therefore guarantee our tile against chipping, cracking, discoloring, wearing, or scratching once it has been installed. We assume no obligation beyond the purchase price of products supplied by Granada Tile and assume no liability for damages of any kind.