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What Is Encaustic Tile? The Old-School Trend Making a Comeback

Are you looking for intrigue, charisma, and beauty all rolled into one unique design? Allow us to introduce you to the incredible artistry of encaustic tile.

Encaustic floor tiles are a historic decorative tile-making technique experiencing a revival in modern design. In this article, we’ll explore what they are, how they’re created, and the unique characteristics that make them a consistent winner for living spaces around the globe.

What is Encaustic Tile?

Here’s the five-point summary you need.

  1. Originally clay-based, encaustic tiles were popular from the 13th to 16th century. They showed up in all sorts of places, from medieval castles and English monasteries to Gothic churches and the palaces of Tsars.
  2. To make them, artisans pressed patterns into unfired clay tiles with a wooden mold. Then, they poured liquid clay in various colors into the indentations. Tiles were glazed with lead and kiln fired.
  3. Encaustic floor tiles fell out of fashion by the 1500s but had a resurgence in the 1800s. Architects looking for new design inspiration encountered examples of historic medieval tiles and jumped at the chance to resurrect them.
  4. They’re here to impress. Overshadowed by ceramic tiles for a time in the 1900s, these decorative tiles found their way back into the hearts of designers, homeowners, and architects once again in the 2000s. An encaustic tile backsplash lead the way with encaustic floor tiles now being most popular. And we could not be more thrilled.
  5. Today’s encaustic tiles are made from high-quality Portland cement mixtures. They’re also hydraulically pressed rather than fired. This makes them much stronger than their predecessors. They can be used with confidence in both indoor and outdoor spaces.

Encaustic vs Cement Tile: What’s the Difference?

Since traditional encaustic tiles are made of clay, modern cement tiles (also referred to as concrete tiles) are technically “encaustic style.” You’ll see an encaustic tile backsplash is older architecture.

  • The colorful patterns are now created using pigmented cement, which doesn’t wear off like older versions. 
  • Our advanced sealer technology helps make cement tiles even more durable and protects against UV damage and scratches. 

Here’s some trivia that will impress your friends: the term “encaustic” is actually a misnomer. It comes from the ancient Greek word meaning “to burn” (or “burnt in”) and refers to the old Greek enamel technique of using beeswax to paint designs and set them with heat. Victorians thought their clay tiles looked encaustic and started referring to them as such. The term stuck.

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One word: customization. These tiles are the ultimate playground for pro and self-taught designers alike.

Their top qualities:

  • Vibrant colors
  • Multiple sizes
  • Gorgeous patterns
  • Appealing texture
  • Endless customizations
  • Rich global history

Thanks to cement tile’s versatile nature, anyone gets a 100% unique design made to last. No professional design experience is required.

Money-saving tip: While traditional encaustic (clay) tiles can be very costly, our modern cement tiles are just as striking and come more affordable. So, you don’t have to live like a king to get the same cement tile designs that grace historical palaces.

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What Design Styles Use These Tiles?

As you can probably tell by now, encaustic cement tiles are very versatile. Whether you’re renovating a bathroom or building a new condo, these tiles are ready to please.

Here are some of our favorite styles:

  • Spanish: Vibrant tones, elaborate designs – especially in an encaustic tile backsplash
  • Mediterranean: Ornate style, luxurious ambiance.
  • Moroccan: Detailed patterns, historical vibe.
  • Victorian: Intricate details, romantic motifs.
  • Farmhouse: Warm colors, traditional themes.
  • Modern: Abstract patterns, minimalist appeal.

Go high contrast, go subtle, try contemporary or vintage. Whatever you choose, these decorative tiles can fit the look.

Unique Characteristics of Encaustic Tile

From complex Victorian details to bold color statements, handcrafted encaustic cement tiles match any personality and space. They are:

  1. Handmade: No cookie-cutter tiles here – we handcraft every single one, so each is unique.
  2. Rustic: Cement tile’s historical roots shine through in its tones, styles, and textures.
  3. Imperfect: Handcrafted tiles are irresistibly one-of-a-kind. The little variations in texture and color are what make it the “real thing.”
  4. Versatile: If you name a color or pattern variation you want, we can make it. Seriously, it’s that customizable.
  5. Durable: With cement tile, you don’t have to worry about crumbling and fading. When properly sealed and installed, it will last for many years. (It’s easy to maintain, too.)

Encaustic cement tile bridges the gap between old-school artistry and modern design. Try it for your next project – like so many others throughout history, you’ll be glad you did.

Enough Scrolling. Let’s Start a Project Together.

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