Concrete Tile

Posted by William Buyok on

Concrete tile offers unique advantages over its more ubiquitous cousin, ceramic tile. In today's post, we share some of the benefits of concrete tile, explain the differences between different types of cement tile, where they can be used, and provide tips for purchasing, installing and maintaining. Are you considering concrete tiles for an upcoming project? Do you have some questions about concrete tiles? Do want to make sure they are the right choice for your home or commercial installation? Read on! You'll find all the answers here.


Concrete Tile is Versatile

One of the biggest differences between cement tile and ceramic tile is that concrete tiles are extremely versatile. Concrete can be formed into just about any shape. Although you'll find square, rectangular, and hexagonal formats, there are many other unique shapes to use, such as our Arabesque styles. You'll also find a plethora of color choices. Most of our concrete tile lines include 60 to 80 colors with the additional option to match and create custom colors (see our extensive Paver Color palette).


Concrete tiles
Concrete tiles for Redbird, a Los Angeles Restaurant, were supplied by Avente Tile
Credit: DTLA Life Magazine, February 2015, p. 1. Photo Credit: Dylan + Jeni

To show how versatile concrete tile are, let's look at a recent commercial project. Avente Tile provided the concrete tiles for the dining area of Redbird, a Los Angeles Restaurant. The tiles are a large, custom picket format designed by the owner based on drawings from this historical location. The original tiles would have been produced in a traditional Spanish-bisque color. For a more contemporary feel, a charcoal color was chosen by the owner and architect. Concrete tiles were a good choice for this installation based on cost, wear, and the ability to create the right design and feel for this hip, restaurant. You can quickly see how cement tiles provide versatile and adaptable design solutions.

Additionally, they can be produced at a very affordable price point with respect to the customization they afford. Without a doubt, there are ceramic or vinyl tiles that cost less; however, you'll forfeit design versatility, stylish looks, and quality. In fact, the cost of ownership over the life of the project will be considerably less for the concrete tiles.


Concrete Tile is Durable for Home and Business Applications

Concrete is one of the most durable and long-lasting surfaces around. I've seen encaustic cement tile floors in Mexico that were over 100 years old and they looked new. Concrete tile floors are an optimal flooring surface for homes, offices, and retail locations. Why? Because they resist wear, heavy foot traffic, stains, and moisture. Similar to natural stone, concrete is porous so it does need to be sealed.

Further adding to concrete tile's versatility is the ability to use them on walls and ceilings, indoors our outdoors. Unlike our plain and patterned cement encaustic tiles, such as our Traditional cement tiles that are a pressed concrete product and not freeze-thaw rated, all our pre-cast concrete products, including Rustic Pavers and Arabesque tiles, can be used in frosty environments.

Concrete tiles
Concrete tiles adorn both the floor and walls of this bathroom.


Tips for Expectations on Using Color Concrete Tile

Concrete tiles provide versatility in shape and colors. However, don't rely on color charts you see on a web site or in a printed catalog. These should help guide you to find a range of colors that will work. The color charts do not precisely represent what the final results will be on your project as monitor colors can be changed, and lighting and other nearby colors can affect the color you see in each photographed image.

Moreover, with integral pigments such as those used on our concrete tiles, the final color will vary depending on the cement color, sand color and the amount of water used in the mix. Always purchase color chips and place with other finishing materials you will be using to ensure you are pleased with the result. Also, expect some variation in color. It can add to the product's richness and complexity - adding additional depth when blended with other tiles of the same color.

Remember, it's best to purchase additional tiles to account for possible damage during installation, transit, or handling. Each batch of concrete is unique and while we maintain consistent standards, cement type and cement brands, as well as sand, aggregate and water/cement ratio will the final impact color. Variations in manufacturing process like curing, timing and sealing during and after the install will also produce different color results.

Concrete tiles
Concrete tiles can be used on walls. The color variation
here creates an antiqued and weathered look.

Many of the colors we offer will exhibit variation in shade and tone like in this concept board for walls. The color variation provides a rustic look so the tile appears to be antiqued and weathered. In the concept, we paired Cotto Dark tiles and molding with our Malibu ceramic tile liner to create a classic, Old-World look that is both rustic and elegant.

Concrete tiles
Manufacturers of concrete tile can apply different surface treatments, making each tile unique and unusual.
Our Leon concrete tile in Hacienda with a Limestone finish.


Quick Tips for a Successful Concrete Tile Installation

Concrete tiles are installed similarly to ceramic tiles. On each product page, we offer detailed instructions on how to install and maintain each tile. However, there are a few important caveats you should keep in mind.


  • Concrete tile is a heavier than ceramic tile. It is important that the installation surface (sub-floor) be level and dry.

  • Concrete tile must be handled with care prior to, during installation and before they are sealed. Most problems occur during installation or immediately after. Avoid stacking the tiles, dropping them, scraping them with a hard, metal objects. Do not allow anything to be spilled on them before they are sealed.

  • Concrete tile is porous. To prevent staining, it's a good idea to seal concrete tile surfaces with a penetrating sealer before grouting. The sealer will act as a grout release. This will also make it easier to spread the grout and assist in cleanup. After the tiles are grouted and cleaned, apply an additional penetrating sealer for protection. You can confirm that tiles have been sealed by splashing water on them. If the water beads up, the tiles are sufficiently sealed.

  • If using colored grouts, use a color that is the same color or lighter than the lightest color in the pattern. Always test a colored grout on a spare piece of concrete tile to ensure the tile surface is not stained. Do not use high contrast grouts on light-colored tiles. In other words, avoid black grout on white tiles.

  • Concrete tiles should be installed with a high-quality, fortified thin-set or tile mastic that will provide adhesion between the tile and the surface you are mounting the tile to.

  • At the beginning of the installation, remove a piece of tile and inspect the coverage of adhesive. Make sure you are getting 90 - 100% of the tile surface covered.


Rustic Pavers
Pre-cast cement tiles, like our Rustic Pavers can be used outdoors,
even in climates subjected to hard freeze/thaw cycles.


Maintaining Concrete Tiles

While not maintenance free, very little care is required to keep concrete tile looking beautiful day-in and day-out. Maintenance requirements depend on the application, and whether they are used for an exterior or interior surface. Concrete tiles used as interior wainscot will require very little maintenance. Tiles used on an interior floor generally require weekly mopping with a pH neutral detergent. Concrete tiles on an exterior surface, like an outside tiled walk, will require regular cleaning and resealing to keep them looking their best.


Concrete tile
Concrete tile create a beautiful, lasting floor for both commercial and residential applications

It's easy to understand why concrete tiles are the material of choice for designers and homeowners for commercial and residential projects across the country. Concrete floors and walls are popping up in retail stores, hip restaurants, business offices, and residential homes just about everywhere. Concrete tile is a great product that offers both design versatility and a long-life for just about any installation. For the price, the product provides a great value that includes the possibility of customization that most other products can't. Whether you use them indoors or outdoors, concrete tiles work with existing architectural elements from traditional to contemporary. Remember, you can use existing designs and colors (as depicted in our catalog), or modify the colors in the pattern to make your home truly unique. The choice is yours!

Feeling inspired? Want to learn more about concrete tiles, concrete tile floors, and view installations? Let us help! Visit our Cement Tile Information Center.

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