behind the scenes: the making of handcrafted cement tile

by clé tile | published: Mar 07, 2023

featuring silky matte finishes and deliciously vibrant, variegated colors, clé cement tile offers the most vibrant colors possible in tilemaking, with remarkable value for the quality and variety they offer.

the secret? the fact that they're crafted by hand.

A floor with cement tiles with a fern design inspired by fashion designer erica tanov.

erica tanov fern in metal + plaster

Square cement tiles create the pattern of an oversized plaid behind a clawfoot bathtub.

mythology dartmoor shade trio in chestnut, forest + army

clé’s cement tiles from the cement standards collection and the new era of cement are made by hand using centuries-old methods. in fact, clé pioneered the use of handcrafted cement tile in the United States by bringing back traditional techniques for a richer, more nuanced tile with greater character and sophistication.

clé’s handcrafted cement tiles are made in a metal mold in a process similar to the lost wax method used in sculpture arts. there is no kiln involved in the making of cement tiles; rather, pigments are hand-poured into a metal mold, topped with cement, and pressed using a hydraulic press. tiles are then put through a water bath before being stacked to dry and cure, a process that helps the pigment develop further. the result: a tile that can stand the test of time and trends–and which only gets better with age.

watch the video and you'll learn:

  • that making cement tile by hand is intensive and laborious–and an artisan skill that requires extensive experience.
  • that cement tiles aren't hand-painted (a common misperception), but are made by pouring pigments into molds. this means that cement tiles are more durable than you'd think, and even ideal in commercial spaces.
  • that a common misperception about cement tile—that there's just a thin veneer of cement––isn't true. in fact, the pigmented portion of cement tiles is +/- 1/8", making for a surface that's very hard, and even capable of being refinished like hardwood flooring. (please use a professional to do this).
  • that cement tiles from clé, unlike many mass-produced tiles on the market, are pre-polished to ensure that tiles feel smooth and silky and pre-sealed for their protection. (keep in mind that even though our cement tiles are pre-sealed, clé recommends sealing cement tiles again after installation to ensure they are evenly sealed and well protected.)
An artisan holds a mold and tools for tile making