How Cement Tile is Made

Cement tile is incredibly versatile, a match for most installations. From walls to backsplashes to flooring, our cement tiles can be used to transform any space. If you’re looking to improve a bathroom or shower, cement tiles are one of the best options available for even wet environments, as their matte finish is naturally slip-resistant.

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07 / 07 / 2021

History of cement tile

So what exactly is encaustic cement tile? "Encaustic" is an old world technique for metal enameling and because of similarities in the production process, cement tiles adopted the same name.

The French and Catalans were the first to use the technique in the 1850s, both in France and Barcelona. Complex patterns were inspired by an interest in ancient cultures, most notably early Moorish art. As a result, the tiles spread throughout Europe as a high quality flooring material, then to former European colonies in Latin America, North Africa, and Vietnam.


At Zia Tile, our modern cement tiles are crafted by hand, one at a time, using mineral pigments, cement, a mold, and a hydraulic press. Our cement tiles are each unique, meaning each tile will be one-of-a-kind and subtly different from the next.

In patterned cement tiles, a copper mold is used to make the prints by applying additional pigments. The process is incredibly delicate, requiring skilled artisans with years of experience.

Cement tiles are not fired in a kiln because there is no glaze layer on the surface of the tile. As a result, their production has a much lower carbon footprint than some other ceramic tiles. Not only are they eco-friendly, they are also incredibly durable, lasting well over a century.

Zia is proud to offer an endless array of exclusive patterns and 100+ custom solid colors to choose from. If you're considering a cement tile project, browse tiles and find installation resources right on our website at

How it's made

Cement tiles are made by hand, one at a time, using mineral pigments, cement, a mold, and a hydraulic press.

The pigment composition is a mixture of high quality white Portland cement, marble powder, fine sand, and natural mineral color pigments.The individual patterns are made by manually applying separate pigments, one by one, in a handmade copper mold. It is an incredibly delicate and skilled process that can only be performed by highly trained artisans.

Cement tiles are not fired; there is no glaze layer on the surface of the tile. They derive their durability from the combination of finely dehydrated cement and a more coarse sand/cement layer. The pigment layer is hydraulically pressed into the surface and becomes a part of the tile. The tiles are then soaked in a water bath for 24 hours and then set to dry for another seven days.

Terms of sale

All tiles are hand made with inherit variation from tile to tile. These standard characteristics enhance the beauty and wear-ability of the product. Understanding how tile colors are achieved and wear over time is critical to appreciating the beauty and performance of the tile. All customers are responsible for sealing and protecting cement tile ordered from Zia Tile to ensure that the tiles are maintained correctly. Zia Tile is always here to advise on how and where to successfully install cement tiles but makes no guarantees on performance or maintenance after installation.
In stock tile orders ship within 2 business days of order receipt. Custom cement tile and zellige lead times vary depending on the design and schedule needs of clients. All lead times provided are estimated arrival times to our warehouse in Los Angeles and can vary depending on customs inspections and port congestion. Once orders arrive to our warehouse, additional transit days (typically 4-7 days) are necessary to ship pallet wrapped orders to our customers via LTL trucking carriers. We will make every effort to meet or reduce lead times where possible, but there are no guarantees due to the custom nature of the manufacturing process and inherent challenges with international logistics. All customers are solely responsible for providing measurements and quantities needed for each order. In addition, all customers are strongly advised to order 15% more tile than necessary to ensure that enough product is on-hand to successfully complete installation. Please consult your tile installer to ensure that your take-off quantity and overage calculations are correct. Keep in mind that the price of the overage quantity is minimal in comparison to the cost of rush product and one-off shipping in the event that more product is needed after the original order due to site conditions, mistakes in order quantities, or installation errors. Trying to save a few hundred dollars by decreasing or eliminating the standard 15% overage is the most common mistake customers make when placing orders. This mistake can end up costing 5-10 times more to place small incremental orders AND significantly delay projects by weeks or months! Our website automatically generates a 15% overage calculation by separate line item in the ordering cart. We cannot advise strongly enough to ensure that you have 15% overage on all of your orders to ensure your project is successful!
All orders require 100% payment at time of order placement. Payments are processed online or via phone. Invoices are provided and copies are sent via email as well as available by accessing the Sign In function on our website. Sales tax is applied at the time of payment and paid as part of the original order. Shipping costs are charged with each order. Any changes to orders, shipping dates, and/or shipping methods will result in change order costs that will be determined at the time of the change request.
All sales are final once payment is received. There are no refunds or exchanges after 6 hours of order receipt as inventory is allocated to each customer based on the time the order is placed. Made to order tile cannot be cancelled or exchanged and an order for tile that is marked “in transit” is considered final after 6 hours as inventory is allocated to each customer at that time. Zia Tile does not accept any returns of unopened boxes of tile as we would never sell returned tile that has left our possession to other customers.
All of our orders ship throughout the US and Canada using LTL trucking providers. The LTL trucking company that is contracted to deliver your order will contact you to arrange a specific date and time for curbside delivery. All deliveries are made on a pallet, and each tile box weighs 35-55 lbs, so it is very important to coordinate your tile delivery with your contractor or installer in advance so that you have the proper labor on-site at the time of delivery to move the boxes from the curbside. During delivery, all customers are responsible for inspecting the shipment for shortages or damages against the packing slip and noting those damages with the driver on the Bill of Lading. If there are any issues, please contact Zia Tile as soon as possible but no more than 48 hours after delivery. We will work to replace any items damaged in transit as quickly as possible! Any issues with the delivery must be photographed and noted with the delivery driver on the shipping documentation in order to initiate a claim. Zia Tile must be contacted about any delivery issue or damage within the 48 hour window that North American shipping companies allow to process a freight claim. After that timeframe, customers have accepted their tile and no freight claim, tile replacement, or refund for damage is possible.The claims agents for the shipping company will request photos and written documentation to process the claim. Please take extra time to ensure that this is done effectively during delivery in order to avoid any costs associated with replacement material for your order. Any missed deliveries or delivery refusals will result in storage and redelivery fees paid to the trucking company. The Successful Delivery Checklist: 1. Check all items against packing list during the delivery 2. Take photos and note any damage with the delivery driver on the BOL 3. Contact us immediately if needed!
Zia Tile strongly recommends that all customers heavily leverage a tile installer in the up front planning, measuring, ordering, sealing, and maintenance of cement tile, zellige, cotto, or ceramic products. Leveraging an installer with specific experience who will closely follow the installation and sealing instructions is strongly encouraged. Zia Tile is not responsible for installation, on-going care, or problems arising from any orders after receipt of the product. Detailed installation guides and tile specification sheets are available upon request. Recommended Cleaning Products: General cleaning – Always use pH neutral cleaners such as Miracle Tile and Stone Cleaner. Heavy cleaning and stain removal – use Miracle Heavy Duty Cleaner (Acid Substitute) and follow instructions on label.
Our supply chain is lean, which is why we are able to price our tiles approximately 20-30% cheaper than other suppliers. We will warehouse your product free of charge for 4 weeks. After that time has expired, each order that is held due to customer receiving delays will incur a $300 charge per week. All customers acknowledge and accept the terms and conditions of sale outlined above by placing orders.

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