Encaustic Tiles are a great option for those looking to add an antique look to their home or business. These tiles are available in many different shapes and colors that can match almost any décor. The patterns that they offer are also very impressive and can be the perfect way to create an amazing impactful floor. The tiles are very durable and can be used in a variety of applications including residential floors and walls as well as commercial kitchens and bathrooms. They can also be used outdoors in covered areas if properly installed and treated.
Encaustics are made using a carved wooden mould that leaves indentations into the unfired clay body, with each indent filled with a liquid clay slip of a contrasting colour. When the tile was fired, this ‘wax’ hardened and created a glaze that protected the underlying tile surface. These tiles were popular in medieval times and were then rediscovered during the Gothic Revival period, when architects such as Augustus Pugin were inspired by their historic use.
Cement tiles, or encaustic tiles as they are sometimes referred to, have become increasingly popular in modern homes and business spaces. This is partly due to their classic, old-world charm, which can make them a good fit for historical buildings and other impressive structures. They can also provide a more refined look to new construction or renovations of older homes. Many of the patterned encaustic tile designs available today, however, do not evoke such an ancient feel and can work well in any modern design.
The popularity of these tiles has also been helped by the fact that they are not mass-produced and are made in smaller limited batches. This means that each tile is truly unique and has its own individual character, unlike more industrially produced glazed ceramic or porcelain tiles. The artistry that goes into each tile is what attracts many customers and some suppliers will even take bespoke orders from those who crave a one of a kind pattern.
One of the main drawbacks of these tiles, however, is that they are very porous and stain more easily than ceramic or porcelain tile, so care needs to be taken to seal them when first installed and every few years afterwards. They are also not ideal for high traffic areas, such as living rooms or hallways. They can, therefore, be a better choice for powder rooms or around fireplaces.
While it can be easy to overdo the patterned encaustic look, the key is to keep the rest of your materials neutral and simple. This allows the pattern to really shine and will help a room feel balanced rather than busy and cluttered. One of Marish’s favourite pairings is to use a simple subway tile with an encaustic tile, as this is a low-key material that won’t compete for attention. She also suggests bringing a shade from the encaustic tile through into the soft furnishings of the space to pull everything together.