Designing with Spanish Tile and Cement Tile

Posted by William Buyok on

Do you love the rich colors and unique patterns of encaustic cement tile? Do you also like the bright colors and stylized patterns found in traditional Spanish tile? Not sure how to use both of them in the same design or room with creating garish results? One of our customers combined both styles and materials when she recently designed the living room of her new contemporary home. We'll show you how our customer did it, and share a few tips on how to use both patterned Spanish ceramic tiles and cement tiles effortlessly.

Note: This post is the second on the Crowell Residence in Houston, TX, showcasing how decorative, patterned cement and Spanish tiles can be used in contemporary design.


Here's the living area that has built-in cabinets around the television. The beautiful room is very contemporary with open space and high ceilings. But, where's the tile?

Spanish Tiles
This Built-in Entertainment Cabinet uses Spanish Tiles for the Counter

Spanish tiles are used on the counter as a way to bring style to this contemporary home without compromising the architectural look, or competing with the surrounding artwork. For the counter, a single row of Spanish Burgos 6"x6" tiles are used along the front of the counter. Brushed Spanish Green field tile and Burgos dots fill out the rest of the counter space. The Burgos pattern is a liner tile, or one that makes a pattern when run as a row, and is a great choice for the counter. Liners are also excellent choices for a backsplash or for tile stair risers.

Spanish Tiles
Spanish Tiles are used to adorn the counter of this built-in entertainment center


Spanish Burgos and Field Tile Used

One of the beautiful things about hand-painted tile is that you can see the brush strokes and the hand of the tile artisan. This is exhibited by the variation in the shade of the glaze's color after it has been kiln fired. For solid, hand-painted tile, where a single color is used, you will notice the brush strokes or "striping" effect. In this installation, the tiles were oriented so the stripes ran the same direction. This is an important detail and works well for this particular installation.<div "="">
Brushed Green
Brushed Green



Cement Tile Fireplace

Cement tile are a great way to add pattern and provide a focal point to the hearth. When our customer purchased strike-offs of these tiles, she didn't think her husband would let her use them. He was afraid it was going to be too busy. I was delighted when I saw these photos and knew she chose her colors and patterns wisely. The light, tan color of the pattern works flawlessly with the base or seat of the hearth and wood floors. Your eye is naturally drawn to it because of the pattern detail.


Cement tile
Cement tile provide focus to the hearth

This was a new installation, so the design could accommodate the tile size without cuts. On existing installations it can be difficult to incorporate a design that could mar the tile's repeat pattern. Good planning and measurements are the key.

Cement tile
Close-up of cement tile surround on fireplace

When designing with encaustic cement tile or Spanish tile, you can do a lot with a little. Placement and color choice is key, whereas the actual pattern is less important. By using tiles that are appropriate to the surrounding architecture, you will be able to add these tiles to just about any room.

Feeling inspired? Want to learn more about cement tile design, cement tile flooring, cement tile patterns, and see completed installations? Let us help! Visit our Cement Tile Information Center.

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