Cement tiles, sometimes known as encaustic cement tiles, are not the same as ceramic or porcelain tiles. These tiles are not painted, glazed, or fired in a kiln like glazed ceramic tiles. Cement tiles have a pattern formed by pouring colored concrete into a mold. This one-of-a-kind method goes back to the mid-nineteenth century. 

Cement tiles, sometimes known as encaustic cement tiles, are not the same as ceramic or porcelain tiles.

7 Easy steps to make cement tiles

Step 1: Materials to Purchase

A few components are required to make cement tiles. You'll need to start by getting some high-quality white Portland cement. Marble powder, fine sand, and natural mineral color pigments are also required.

Tools required:

  • Measurement tape

  • Level

  • Tile Cutter or Tile Saw

  • Trowel with a Notch

  • Float for Rubber Grout

  • Goggles

  • Gloves made of latex

  • Sponge

  • Bucket of 5 gallons

  • Tile Spacers

The following materials are required:

  • Tiles

  • Grout

  • Caulk that is flexible

  • Adhesive for Tiles

Step 2:  Examine the tiles

Before starting to mix any ingredients, take a look at the tiles you have chosen. Some important factors to consider are:

  • What is the shape of the tile?
  • What is the size of the tile?
  • What is the thickness of the tile?
  • What is the finish of the tile?

Because cement tiles are handcrafted, the form, color, and size of each tile will vary slightly from one to the next, which is to be expected. It's the variety that makes them so enjoyable and distinct; they're all imperfectly perfect.

Step 3: Demo

Remove any old tile from the walls and make sure your surface is as level as possible. Clear out the area thoroughly before starting on your tiles, and make sure it's clean and ready to get filthy!

Step 4: Preparation for the Dry Run 

If you're installing tile over a concrete slab, be sure it's entirely cured to avoid white efflorescence patches appearing on the tile's surface when water evaporates through it. The tile must be installed on a flat surface that is free of trash, grease, and wax. Cement tile installation is a relatively straightforward operation, but it is essential to plan and measure properly.

  • Find the room's center, this is where you'll start with the main point of the design.
  • Measure the area to be tiled and determine the middle of two opposite walls or sides for a central rug-like design. Snap a chalk line across the length of the area, at the center of the floor, to divide the room or area in half using these points.
  • Then, perpendicular to the first, draw a second chalk line that crosses the first in the center of the room. With a carpenter's square, check where the lines connect to ensure the center point has a 90-degree angled quadrant.
  • Begin by putting a tile at the junction of the lines, then work your way outward toward the quadrant's walls, using the lines as a guide.
  • Do a "dry run" with some of your tiles in a sophisticated floor plan to ensure that your borders will fall where you want them and that any tile you want to be centered in front of a doorway is properly aligned.
  • During this layout practice, avoid stepping on your tile. Make color copies on paper and use these for your experimental layouts as an alternative.

Because cement tiles absorb water, they should be soaked for a few seconds before being put in the thin-set mortar bed. The goal is to keep the tiles from sucking moisture from the mortar and prevent it from fully curing.

A twofold spread of thin-set glue is required for one type of cement tile installation.

Step 5: Tile Cutting and Layout

Make sure you use a level as you put the tiles to ensure the floor is level. A wet saw with a diamond blade may be used to cut cement tiles. This can also save you money by allowing you to develop more complex layouts. If you want a 2′′ x 8′′ border, for example, you may get 8′′ by 8′′ tiles and cut three pieces from each for a reduced price per square foot.

After you've leveled the tile in the thin-set on the floor, scrape away the thin-set directly next to the tile (approximately 1/2 inch wide) with the sharp edge of a tile tool. Excess mortar has somewhere to go when you put your next tile, so it doesn't get pushed up into your grout line.

Step 6: Pre Seal & Grout

Whether using our recommended installation method, or any other, cement tiles must be protected by a sealant or grout-release before grouting the tile. The cement tile is very porous. Grout applied over raw tile can penetrate into the surface of the tile.

Trapping moisture into the installation can cause moderate to severe aesthetic problems, such as ghosting, or a blotchy appearance. The installation will need at least 24-36 hours to cure and dry before the pre-grout sealing. It may take longer in high humidity. The tile should be completely clean as well; any dirt or mortar stains in the tile when sealed will remain there forever.

Follow the mixing instructions on the back of the grout package you purchased. Apply enough grout to cover all of your tile's minor places. You'll want to use a rubber trowel to make a sweeping motion over your tiles, sometimes at a 45-degree angle, to ensure it's properly packed in. You'll also want to make sure your grouted regions are free of air bubbles. Move your tiles along the board and into the open areas.

For joints less than 1/8 inch, use non-sanded grout. Cement tile floors typically have very thin interior grout lines. Use wider grout lines with sanded grout for outside installations or in locations that get a lot of moisture, such as bathrooms.

The grout should be thin enough to completely fill the tiny seams.

Use a rubber float or a rubber squeegee to apply the grout, working diagonally over the joints. Before the grout dries, remove any excess with a moist cloth or sponge. The grout should be sealed once it has dried and hardened.

Step 7: Seal

The mortar and tiles should be totally dry before sealing. It will take 24 hours for the final sealant to cure. Using a grout sealant will help preserve your grout from discoloration and make cleaning easier. The sealer we use always comes with a small paintbrush attached to the top of the container, which you use to paint all of the grout lines.

Conclusion

By the end of the day, tile makers' shirts and aprons are covered in smudges of cement and marble dust, yet they are continually scrubbing and cleaning their molds and workstations. They gather surpluses at each level in order to go on to the next tile with as little waste as possible. Only moisture and time need to be added to the final tiles. Concrete is made up of cement, aggregate (such as sand or gravel), and water. Although the materials in cement tiles are more tightly regulated than in structural concrete, the underlying procedure is the same. Chemically, cement cures and hardens over time. It is not that the cement dries, but rather that it undergoes hydration and carbonation, which are chemical processes that change the calcium oxide in Portland cement to calcium hydroxide, and then calcium carbonate. Encaustic cement tiles are soaked in water after pressing to guarantee proper hydration for curing.