The Pros and Cons of Cement Tile

Cement tile can create a one-of-a-kind look in any room. Cement tile appeared in the 1850’s and was used widely in Spain, Europe and then America. Decorative patterns and durability made cement tile a popular choice in public spaces as well as in the home. Part of cement tile’s charm is its ability to age well. Is cement tile the right choice for your kitchen or bath? Read on to weigh the pros and cons.

Pros:

1. Durability: Made from pigmented cement and a powdered marble, cement tile is usually unglazed, especially porous, and can stain easily if not sealed properly. It must be sealed with several coats of penetrating sealer during installation; and, sealer should be reapplied periodically because of the porous surface of cement tile. The good news: cement tile floors can last 100 years or more with proper care.

2. Eco-friendly: Cement tiles are made of natural components and natural pigments. And, unlike glazed ceramic tiles, they are not fired in a kiln, so no fossil fuels are burned in their production. They are pressed with hydraulic pressure. When used as flooring, they can help to insulate your home. The tiles have a high thermal mass and thus hold their temperature well. That means your home will be cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

3. Customizable beauty: Hand-crafted cement tiles were traditionally designed to create one interlocking design using four tiles. Each tile is rotated 90 degrees to form one design unit. The patterns vary greatly in color and scheme, from florals to modern geometric patterns. Cement tiles can be customizable in color and pattern since tiles can be made in small batches.

Cons:

1. Tricky to install: Installing cement tile must be done properly to ensure the longevity of the tile. Cement tile can be slightly inconsistent in size because it is handmade, which can take longer to get the tile spaced correctly. And yes, a longer install time can result in a larger installation price tag.

2. Sealant and upkeep: Because cement tile is so porous, it absorbs everything around it. Tile installers who will work with cement tile recommend two coats of penetrating sealer – one before the grout and another coat after the grout is applied. The sealer protects the face of the tile from absorbing the grout material. Then, it is recommended that the tile be sealed as often as monthly to prevent stains.

Similar to caring for marble floors, place rugs or mats in high traffic areas. Floors should be swept often to keep tile safe from abrasive dirt and grit. Use products approved for natural stone and marble to clean floors. Never use acidic solutions to clean cement tiles as it will etch the surface.

3. Price: Cement tiles are typically 8×8 inches and run about $15-29 per square foot. Smaller ceramic tiles, in contrast, can run as low as $1 per square foot and typically averages about $5-7 per square foot. Similarly, the cost of installation and shipping for ceramic tile is also usually a bit more elevated than other tile materials.

Cement tile can really add ‘wow’ factor to a room. But does its timeless beauty outweigh the upkeep? Contact us for an in-home or in-store consultation to discuss whether cement tile is the right choice for your bath or kitchen; we are here to help!