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You probably already know that cement tiles are colorful, fun, and trendy. However, there is so much more to learn! At LiLi Tile, our team is pretty passionate about these little squares (and hexagons, and rectangles, and arabesques)! Cement tiles have a rich history and unique production process that may surprise you. Get ready to impress your friends — and even your interior designer — as we reveal 12 things you didn’t know about cement tile.
Cement tiles are sometimes called Cuban tiles, but they don’t come from Cuba at all! Cement tiles were first used in Catalonia, a region of Spain bordering France, in the late 1850s. A few years later, they made their official design world debut at the Paris International Exposition in 1867. Participants of the design show immediately fell in love with the beauty and versatility of cement tiles, and they quickly spread across Europe. They eventually made their way to Caribbean countries, like Cuba. Today, cement tiles remain synonymous with Mediterranean, Spanish, and Caribbean designs.
It may surprise you, but the process for manufacturing cement tiles hasn’t changed much since the 1850s. While most materials today are mass-produced, LiLi Tiles are handmade — meaning each one is entirely unique! To make our tiles, our team first develops a cookie-cutter-like mold. Once the mold is ready, we carefully pour pigmented cement into each section. Then, the mold is topped off with a mixture of portland cement, sand, and marble powder — creating a durable backing. Finally, each tile is pressed with 2,000 psi of pressure and cured for 11 days. Because each tile is unique, every tile gets carefully inspected to ensure the highest quality before being packaged and delivered to your project.
Unlike ceramic tiles, cement tiles don’t have to be fired in a kiln. During the late 1800s, running a kiln was expensive. So, the energy-free production process was incredibly enticing. Today, the cement tile production process remains energy-free, making cement tile manufacturing sustainable and eco-friendly.
The LiLi Tile Team loves dreaming up new patterns and color combinations. Since each tile is handmade, we wanted to extend the fun to our customers, too! You can create your own tile with us and dream up any color combination or design pattern imaginable. Create a tile for your space that is utterly unique to you.
After cement tiles made their debut at the Paris Expo, the French began refining the process and became one of the leading cement tile producers. Eventually, they brought the technique to Vietnam to pair the French trade with Vietnam’s high-grade cement recipe. From there, Vietnam gained a reputation as one of the best cement tile producers in the world with unmatched precision and quality. We value quality at LiLi Tile, so all of our tiles are produced in Vietnam.
Cement tiles require special grouts and sealers during the installation process because of their special cement construction. Since concrete is a more porous material, cement tile can absorb colored pigments used in traditional grout. Instead, we suggest using quartz-based grouts, which get their color naturally from quartz aggregates rather than dyes. Once your cement tiles are laid, they must be sealed to prevent water absorption and staining. Our favorite sealer is Dry-Treat STAIN-PROOF because it doesn’t affect the color and can be used on everything from floors to showers to backsplashes.
Just because cement tiles are porous doesn’t mean they aren’t durable. Cement tiles are pressed with 2,000 psi of pressure during the manufacturing process. The pressure compacts the cement mixture and gives the tiles enough strength to stand up to anything that comes their way. As a result, cement tiles are perfect for indoor and outdoor use in high-traffic areas.
Once sealed, cement tiles are water-resistant and can be installed in wet areas, including bathrooms, showers, kitchens, and even pool decks. However, they can’t be used in submerged settings, like fountains or pools. Since cement tiles are porous, constant water exposure without proper drainage can cause surface erosion. We recommend using a LiLi Glaze Tile with a waterproof finish for pools and fountains.
Cement tiles are highly durable and non-slippery when wet, making them perfect for indoor and outdoor use. In historic homes, you can find cement tile in courtyards looking just as beautiful as the day it was installed. Some of our favorite projects feature a continuous flow of the same cement tile pattern from the interior to the exterior patio.
Some people are surprised to learn just how easy cement tile maintenance is! After installation and sealing, cement tiles don’t require much care. Simply clean with a pH-neutral cleaner (no ammonia, bleach, or vinegar). We personally love Hillyard Super Shine-All Neutral Cleaner. If your cement tiles get scratched, you can even use 220 grit sandpaper to buff them out.
The sustainability of cement tiles goes way beyond the energy-free production process. Cement tiles are completely recyclable! When we have an accident at the factory, we simply grind up the tile into a cement powder and make a new one. Broken cement tiles can take on a whole new life!
Finally, cement tiles are beautiful. Ok, you probably already knew this one! At LiLi Tile, our team is passionate about color and pattern. We are constantly dreaming up new beautiful designs for you to use in your home. We created LiLi Tile in 2014 because we wanted to add some color and fun to a design world that was becoming increasingly neutral. Now, thousands of people have added a little pop of color to their homes, creating unique spaces with happy vibes.