History Of Cement Tile

Concrete tiles began to appear around the years 1855-1875 in Southern France and Northeastern Spain. These tiles were commonly referred to as encaustic cement tile because they resembled the popular encaustic clay tiles of this period. The benefit to the cement tile is they are not fired, and in this period fire and energy were very costly. The cement tiles offered a more affordable and efficient tile using only ground Portland cement, sand and pigments, while still being able to reproduce the same intricate designs.

“Colored concrete tiles were used to cover floors at the beginning of the 20th century. They embodied the creative expression of the avante-garde movement and were selected to serve as decorations in the palaces of Russian czars, and for flooring in homes from the Ivory Coast, to Barcelona, Spain and Berlin, Germany. Through the early part of the 1900’s the popularity of these concrete tiles expanded to the colonies of France, Spain, and Portugal. You could find decorative cement tiles arriving in the USA and Latin America around this time. 

In the middle of the 20th century concrete tiles lost their importance in the wake of the massive expansion of industrial porcelain and ceramic tiles that took their place. Luckily in the early 2000’s, there was a significant increase in demand of authentic products and hand-made cement tiles returned to widespread use. This trend can be seen in many industries in the US, similar to the micro-brew beers becoming more popular than your mass produced standards…cement tiles use a more hand-made craft to their production, and offer the end user a truly authentically hand-made experience.

At the end of the 19th century there were only two factories in Israel engaged in producing cement tiles. The factory of the Shlush brothers Neve Tzedek and the factory of the Templar Hugo Weiland Manshia. Following the massive increase in building and demand for cement tiles more factories were built throughout the world, and today can typically be found in the colonies of France, Spain, and Portugal.