What Are Encaustic Tiles
Encaustic (pressed cement) tiles are hand-made today with the same methods used for over a hundred years. The coloured surface is made from natural materials including: crushed marble/granite, colour pigment & cement and the finished result is a slightly-chalky appearance when new that will wear beautifully to a silky patina. This adds character over time particularly if the viewer appreciates the ‘lived’ nature of the tiles and their 'antique' look & feel. Subtle colour variations and mottling within each tile and from tile-to-tile are normal characteristics and do not compromise the performance of the tiles, but does add to their handcrafted appeal.
A Little Morocco's collection of Encaustic Tiles are available in a range of multi-coloured patterns and can be combined together to create classic or exciting original designs.
These tiles are well suited to internal floors & walls including residential kitchens & bathrooms and when correctly installed & treated, selected commercial applications.
Encaustic tiles may also be used in covered, external areas when correctly installed & treated however some colours may possibly fade over time with exposure to high levels of UV light. Using an appropriate UV-resistant sealer may assist. Consult us if your external application will be subject to regular frost conditions.
Laying Encaustic Tiles
Before installation, please store tile boxes in a dry location. Encaustic cement tile installation is a simple process, however care should be taken during handling, cutting & placement of the tiles to avoid damage to the tile surface or edges. Bear in mind that when you are laying a floor or wall with encaustic tiles you are creating a work of art, so plan the layout carefully before commencement.
For best results, tiling work should be undertaken by a qualified tradesperson in accordance with prevailing Australian Standards & safe-work practices.
When installing, please mix tiles from several boxes at a time to have the best possible distribution & blending of the variations in the material.
A substrate-appropriate proprietary tile adhesive must be used and the substrate (and tiles) must be cool, clean, level, dry and be prepared in accordance with the adhesive manufacturer’s recommendations. (Concrete slabs subject to rising damp should have a waterproofing membrane installed prior to tiling). Any dust or residue on the substrate or on the back of the tiles must be removed before installation.
Suggested allowance for a level substrate surface is approx. 21mm below the line of the intended floor (i.e. 16mm for tile and 5mm for adhesive). Information about tile adhesive, grout & waterproofing systems can be found at www.davco.com.au or via the Davco Freecall Technical Advice Line 1800 653 347.
The adhesive mixture must be applied evenly to the substrate using an 8-10mm notched trowel and then tiles carefully positioned & pressed into the adhesive by hand.
Do not use a hard rubber mallet to hit & set the tiles as this may cause micro-cracks in the tiles and leave scuff-marks on the tile surface. Do not ‘spot fix’ the tiles – each tile must be properly supported by an even bed of adhesive without voids. Tiles are best cut with a wet saw and diamond blade, however a segmented dry blade may also be suitable. Correct personal protective gear must be used when operating cutting machinery.
The appropriate joint width between tiles is approximately 1 to 2mm. It is important to ‘work clean’ to ensure any residue of tile adhesive that finds its way onto tile surfaces is cleaned immediately as dried adhesive residue may not be possible to remove from the tile surface. Tile adhesive must be left to cure for at least 24 hours before grouting.
Encaustic cement tiles, while porous, are pre-treated to provide temporary protection during handling & installation. It is important to choose a grout suitable for a 2mm tile joint width (refer to Davco contact info above for assistance). NOTE: Many dark-coloured grouts (e.g. black, gunmetal grey) contain strong pigments of a very small particle size which may permanently discolour the edges of cement tiles, so it is important to test your chosen grout colour on some loose tiles before proceeding. One of the most popular grout colour choices is Davco Colorgrout #49 Light Grey for its tonal neutrality.
Use clean water to wet the tile surface via a damp sponge or spray bottle then apply the grout mixture with a rubber squeegee. Work only a small area at a time and remove all excess grout from the tile surface immediately with a damp sponge. Regularly change the water in your bucket while sponging. Do not allow excess grout to harden on the tile surface. After drying & curing, any minor grout haze residue can be removed using Aqua Mix Nano Scrub & water.
Never use strong acidic or alkaline products to clean grout haze (e.g. Hydrochloric Acid, cement remover, strong detergents, bleach or oils) as they could irreparably damage or attack the surface of the tiles.
Allow the grouted tiles to completely dry before sealing. During the drying stage, it is possible that evaporation of moisture within the adhesive & grout system may leave white salt deposits (efflorescence) on the tile surface. This will usually ‘walk-off’ on floors or can be cleaned with Aqua Mix Eff-Ex.
After the tiles are completely clean & dry, apply an appropriate penetrating sealer which allows moisture-vapour transmission. We recommend Aqua Mix Sealer’s Choice Gold Rapid Cure -- a premium, natural look water-based penetrating sealer to provide maximum stain protection (especially in food preparation & serving areas). Use in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. It may also be used as a pre-grouting sealer if required. In areas with extremely high possibility of contamination from spills, we alternatively recommend a surface-coating sealer (e.g. Aqua Mix Seal & Finish Low Sheen).
Sealers will need to be re-applied at intervals recommended by the manufacturer depending on quantity of foot traffic, cleaning frequency/method and amount of UV light exposure. Before use, always read the product directions and carry-out a test seal on some unlaid pieces to determine desired effect and ease of application.
Where tiles have been installed and further construction is taking place on/around the area, protect the newly-installed encaustic cement tiles with appropriate clean drop sheets. Do not use newspapers.
Regular normal maintenance cleaning is recommended using an appropriate pH-neutral cleaner (e.g. cleaners ordinarily suitable for natural stone & terrazzo floors). Never use abrasive cleaners, chemicals or bleach as over time these may affect the natural colour pigments of the tiles’ surface.
We recommend Aqua Mix Concentrated Stone & Tile Cleaner for ‘everyday’ cleaning and when Spring cleaning or degreasing is necessary, use Aqua Mix Heavy Duty Tile & Grout Cleaner. Before use, always read the product directions and carry-out a test clean on some unlaid pieces or in an inconspicuous area to determine desired effect and ease of application.