cement tile

a romantic kitchen featuring clé zellige square tile in weathered white

clé tile offers a broad range of cement tile–also known as encaustic cement tiles, concrete tiles, hydraulicos, cuban tiles, or simply encaustic tiles. but cement tiles from clé offer a different and higher quality of tile than that available through “big box” stores. 

clé cement tiles are handcrafted by artisans–not machine produced–and feature a silky, matte finish and come in a wide range of deliciously vibrant and variegated colors and patterns. 

clé cement colors range from neutral and subtle to bold and exuberant, and can be matched with Benjamin Moore paint colors for the perfect monochrome pairings. like paint, cement tile can be used to create custom patterns and designs, but the variation and texture inherent in clé cement tile can bring incomparable depth, sophistication, and character to your space.

clé’s extensive set of cement collections include: cinema collection – the new era of cement tile featuring cinema collection-mythology; cinema collection-pavimenti; cinema collection-dolci terrazzo; cement standards; cement solid color shapes; cement forage terrazzo; cement artist collaborations; and tile drops

clé’s collection of cement tile comes in solid colors or in patterns, and is available in squares, hexagons, scallops, rectangles, lanterns, as well as bundles such as star+cross and circle+losange. cement patterned tiles feature a wide range of options, ranging from classic motifs to more modern, geometric tiles that can be arranged in a wide variety of patterns. whether you’re looking for a patterned tile that’s geometric, Moroccan-inspired, traditional, or a solid cement tile that’s artistic and contemporary, each clé cement tile tells a story through color and pattern. 

what is CEMENT tile?

cement tile is relatively new compared to other kinds of tile such as terracotta or stone tile. first introduced as a floor tile, cement tiles (also called concrete, encaustic cement, or simply, encaustic tiles) have since become a staple of the design world–not just for the floor but for walls, showers, fireplaces, outdoor patios, and much more.

cement tiles originated in Spain during the late 1850’s and were exhibited in Europe at the Paris International Exhibition in 1867 by a French company called Garret & Rivet. They soon gained popularity around the world as manufacturers explored new ways to use cement as a design element. from there, they came to North America, quickly spreading to Cuba and Mexico. 

finally, they spread to the United States where, but rather than being made in artisan workshops, they were mass produced.

it took clé to change the future of cement tile in the US by bringing back traditional techniques for a richer, more nuanced tile with greater character and sophistication.

like encaustic clay tiles (the predecessor to cement or concrete tiles), 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. 

hand-made cement molds

hand-made cement molds.

each cement tile is dyed by hand

each cement tile is dyed by hand.

the pigments used in clé cement tiles are composed of a mixture of high quality white Portland cement and natural mineral color pigments. due to the handmade nature of clé cement tiles, the tiles feature variation in depth and tone between cement tiles of the same color. in addition, many tiles will take on a subtly variegated look, again due to the handcrafted nature of the tile. at clé, this is treated not as an imperfection but as a welcome attribute of handmade artisan tile, bringing more visual interest and character into a space, and emphasizing its handcrafted roots.

cement tile versus concrete tile

although the terms cement and concrete are often used interchangeably, they mean slightly different things in the world of construction. when it comes to tile, however, cement and concrete are used interchangeably. 

cement itself is a powdery substance made from a combination of calcium, limestone, shale, slate, and other elements that are heated at a high temperature and then ground into a fine powder. 

when combined with water and additional aggregates such as sand, gravel, or crushed stone, cement becomes concrete. because concrete contains additional crushed rock and stone, it can withstand more weight and is therefore used for sidewalks, building foundations, and other large structures. 

because cement tiles are designed to be thin and smooth to the touch, they are composed mostly of cement paste, with little added aggregate. (somewhat confusingly, this mixture is still often referred to as concrete.) because clé cement tiles are made from pure Portland cement with no added substances, we have chosen to refer to them as such. 

the clé cement tile story 

when clé’s founder, Deborah Osburn, first introduced handcrafted cement to the US over a decade ago, the standard cement tile was black and white, mass-produced and of low-quality. during that decade, clé pioneered a new kind of cement tile with a broader palette and a wider range of pattern, transforming cement tile from a simple construction material to something sophisticated, artistic, and characterful–but which still maintains its durability.

since then, clé has catalyzed the emergence of elevated, handcrafted cement tile, transforming artisan cement tile from a marginal player in the design world to a staple sought after by designers and homeowners all over the world. 

create your own pattern by pairing different shapes and colors

create your own pattern by pairing different shapes and colors. 8x8 squares in barn with 2x8 rectangles in black

the handcrafted nature of clé cement means that colors are variegated, meaning that tiles of the same color may have slightly different (darker or lighter) hues and tones than other tiles of the same color. because clé cement tiles are not mass-produced, each given tile is unique which prevents the appearance of a flat color. instead, the variegation in clé’s handcrafted cement tile brings nuance, sophistication, and depth to any installation.

clé ushers in the new era of cement tile

the new colors of clé’s cinema collection: mythology

the new colors of clé’s cinema collection: mythology

in 2022, clé introduced the cinema collection: the new era of cement. clé’s cinema collection takes a radically new approach to pattern, color, and shape, offering designers and homeowners new options for creating spaces and environments that are vastly more colorful, expressive, and sophisticated. 

clé’s original cement collection–which featured a more muted, monochrome palette–came about as a result of Osburn’s recognition that the American market was not yet ready for the kind of rich, colorful, more maximalist palette beloved in Europe (and which attracted Osburn to cement in the first place.)

but by 2022, Osburn felt that US designers and homeowners had both gained enough experience with handcrafted cement tile and were embracing a more sophisticated approach to color, shape, and pattern. it was time for a radical new vision and approach.

given its size, scope, and ambition, clé’s new era of cement rolls out over multiple years. it began with the introduction of pavimenti, then the mythology collection, and dolci terrazzo, and continues into 2023 and beyond. the cinema collection: new era of cement also includes a completely refreshed color palette of 34 shades, all again matched to Benjamin Moore paint colors. 

what makes clé cement tile special?

clé cement tiles are some of the finest cement tiles in the world. each tile is hand made, one at a time, with natural pigments that are hand-poured into molds and reinforced with concrete. the handcrafted cement tile is then left to cure in a water bath, resulting in a silky, smooth matte surface. 

available in a variety of shapes and patterns, the variegated colors inherent to clé cement set them apart from other cement tiles, and makes clé’s cement tiles some of the most sought after for walls, floors, and beyond. 

clé cement tiles, unlike many mass-produced tiles on the market, are pre-polished and pre-sealed. pre-polishing ensures that tiles feel smooth and silky by eliminating the rough surface that is sometimes present on handmade tiles. pre-sealing helps to protect cement tiles during the shipping process and the early stages of installation. 

please note: 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. we also recommend regular sealing. should they stain excessively (though at clé, we are fans of patina), they can be refinished by a professional. you can find more information on maintenance below. 

clé cement tile: solid colors

cement scallop in federal blue

cement scallop in federal blue. design: mul mac architecture + design / photo: tessa neustadt.

custom checkerboard with 8x8 squares in barn and 8x8 squares in metal

custom checkerboard with 8x8 squares in barn and 8x8 squares in metal

clé cement tiles are handcrafted and feature slight variation in hue, bringing depth and character to your space so even simple solid colors look artistic and fresh.

clé has curated a wide range of cement tile collections. here is a snapshot of our solid color cement tile collections.

while clé offers a curated collection of solid colors in all shapes (4x4 square, 8x8 square, 8x9 hexagon, 2x8 and 3x12 rectangle, 8x8 scallop, and pavimenti star+cross, paradiso octagon+bouchon, circle+losange bundle and lantern shape) on an in-stock basis, it also offers its full color palette of 70 hues in all shapes and sizes on a made to order (MTO) basis. 

cinema collection: pavimenti 

classic and grand meet crisp and modern with pavimenti from our cinema collection. pavimenti cement tiles come in traditional shapes that evoke the grandeur and romance of venetian palazzi: a classic lantern shape in two sizes, as well as three bundles: octagon + bouchon, circle + losange, and star + cross. available in white, charcoal, and flowerpot (terracotta red) they’re romantic and crisply modern, adding a contemporary twist to classic rooms, or a nod to tradition in more modern and eclectic spaces. 

cinema collection: mythology

designed by clé founder and artist Deborah Osburn, the cinema collection: mythology features a panoply of rich, vibrant solid colors sold in distinctive palettes based on formal color studies. these pre-designed palettes–that come in neutrals, shades, and vibrants–each revolve around seven stories: foxglove, dartmoor, flanders, oz, wildwood, wonderland, and salon. 

the result is an expansive collection of 47 original duos and trios that can be arranged in multiple patterns–stripes, checkerboards, or color blocking. clé’s cinema collection: mythology makes choosing color (often intimidating to even the most confident designer) easier, and also allows designers and homeowners to take a single story–expressed in multiple palettes (to avoid a cookie-cutter look)–through an entire space, ensuring a cohesive look and mood. 

clé cement tile: patterned tile

the clé tile cement collection is one of our largest collections, offering a wide range of patterned cement tile including our cement standards, artist collaborations, dolci terrazzo, forage terrazzo (a composite material in which fragments of stone are suspended in colorful cement and then sealed with a satin finish) and tile drops - a limited-edition release of tiles based on what’s on our design radar. 

our collection of cement standards features a wide range of patterns from the basic to the unexpected, browse stripes, zig-zags, geometric patterns, circular patterns, and more to spark your imagination. it is also available in traditional, western, or Moroccan-inspired patterns. below are snapshots of each cement pattern collection. 

dolci terrazzo 

forage terrazzo in mouse 12x12

the colors of clé’s dolci terrazzo collection

drawing on the colorful history of its venetian roots where terrazzo was first popularized, dolci terrazzo features stone aggregate of varying sizes set in colorful cement and is bold, vibrant, and playful - the essence of Italian design. dolci terrazzo is part of the cinema collection and is colorful, durable, and versatile–ideal for almost every surface in homes, commercial, and hospitality environments. 

forage terrazzo 

clé's forage terrazzo tile blends an earthy warmth with a classic mid century modern twist. our forage terrazzo tile is robust enough to be used as a countertop, elegant enough to grace any interior wall and rugged enough for the busiest floors. featuring six earthy clé colors and three sizes, our terrazzo offers the appeal of a solid tile with the added interest of a subtle pattern.

tile drops: granny squares

tile drops are a limited-edition release of our tile inspired by what’s on our design radar. like the fashion and sneaker drops that inspired them, these happen intermittently based on our inspiration. our inaugural tile drop: granny squares pays homage to the latest trends to hit the runways, taking handcrafted to a whole new level: haute cabin core.

fun and cheeky, clé’s granny squares are refreshingly modern courtesy of our palette (white, black, taro, amsterdam, and teal in six different color placements) and our crisp, timeless cement. 

artist collaborations

erica tanov cement fern in metal + plaster

erica tanov cement fern in metal + plaster. design/photo: erica tanov

eskayel cement akimbo in black + white

eskayel cement akimbo in black + white. photo: lisa pollock

since its earliest days, clé has collaborated with artists and designers. drawing from the worlds of art, fashion, graphic and interior design, these handcrafted tiles elevate any space they grace, while maintaining the characteristics of clé cement: durable, accessible, extraordinarily colorful, and surprisingly rich.

clé’s cement tile artist collaborations include tiles designed by artists and designers Erica Tanov, Eskayel, Coletivo Muda, Gachot, and Oh Joy! 

what to expect when designing with clé cement tiles

(floor) cement 2x8 rectangle in basil. design: jr corleto / photo: virtually here studios

when choosing clé cement tiles for your project, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

first, remember that cement colors will be slightly varied, meaning some tiles will be subtly darker or lighter than those nearby. 

this is part of the allure of handcrafted tile, and brings charm and character to your installation. it also means that cement tiles should be evenly blended before installation to ensure a perfectly variegated surface, even for tiles from the same batch. 

be sure to work with a professional tile installer with experience installing cement tiles to ensure that tiles are laid out (taking each tile out of the box) and blending each one properly before they are installed, and make sure to be in attendance during this process: this is an art project, and should be thought of as such. leaving these decisions to an inexperienced installer is a recipe for disaster.

cross 8x8 square in federal blue + white. design: joy studio interiors / photo: small yard flowers 

cinema collection: mythology dartmoor trio in chestnut, forest + army

once the tiles are grouted it is very difficult (if not impossible) to make changes to the installation, so you and your tile installer should double check how the tiles look under different natural and artificial lights before proceeding.  

because clé cement tiles are created with natural mineral pigments, their vibrant colors will stand the test of time and fading will only occur if your installation is exposed to direct UV rays. please note that solid colors and patterns that have blue, green, and violet tones will be most prone to fading in direct UV rays.

cement tile and patina

all cement tile installations will naturally develop a finish that is referred to as patina.

patina is a thin layer that forms naturally through use on the surface of stones, leathers, metals, clays, cements, woods etc., and constitutes a protective coating on the material it covers. due to these attributes, patina has become a celebrated finish and is known to enhance and protect tile installations from wear and oxidation, ensuring that your tiles will last a lifetime, if not longer.

los feliz 8x8 square in metal + white. design/photo: zio & sons.

slant 8x8 square in black + white. design: julian porcino / photo: virtually here studios

patina can take a long time to develop, especially in areas with limited foot traffic–but for places with more significant traffic, it can develop more quickly. while the patina develops, it is still important to protect your cement tile with sealant and clean them regularly. 

all cement tile installations (dry and wet) must be sealed after grouting. if your cement tiles are installed in the shower or areas with heavy traffic (bath and kitchen floors or commercial floors) the tile will need to be resealed once or twice a year.

although patina and sealant will go far to protect your cement tiles, they still need to be cleaned somewhat regularly based on use. clean the surface of cement tiles using soft materials such as a cloth or mop, with a pH-neutral cleaner. read our section on cement tile cleaning and maintenance for more tips on cleaning your cement tile installation. 

where to install cement tile 

2x8 rectangle in federal blue. design: laney la / photo: joe fletcher.

new west pattern nine in black + white. design: mandy cheng / photo: sarah tramp

cement tile is versatile, durable, and can be installed in a myriad of ways, resulting in highly individual, even bespoke designs. clé cement tiles can be installed virtually anywhere, from floors and walls to unexpected spaces like steam showers and fireplace mantels, as long as they are not subject to a freeze/thaw cycle. clé cement tile fulfills the need for a sturdy, hardworking tile that is handmade by artisans and designer approved. 

whether you're looking for a long-lasting and vibrant hue to set the tone in your space or hunting for statement-making patterns, clé cement tiles fit the bill. here is a snapshot of where we recommend using cement tiles: 

  • interior floors
  • exterior floors (non freeze-thaw)
  • interior floors warmed with radiant heat
  • interior walls
  • exterior walls (non freeze-thaw)
  • showers
  • steam showers
  • residential heavy traffic
  • commercial heavy traffic
  • sink backsplashes
  • stove backsplashes
  • fireplace surrounds

a few key points to note for specific areas:

clé cement tile in the shower

2x8 rectangle in black. design/photo: indigo interiors 

8x8 square in federal blue. design: imkm architecture / photo: anita calero arboleda

clé cement tiles are water resistant and easy to clean and seal, making them ideal for showers and steam rooms.

cement tiles are a great choice for the shower or bathroom floor because they offer a more slip-resistant surface than glazed tiles, yet still deliver when it comes to color. for a more detailed look on using cement tiles in the shower, read our post on shower floor tiles.

clé cement tile on the kitchen floor

compass 8x8 square in black + white. design: house of jade interiors / photo: travis j. richardson

oh joy! pinwheel cement hex. design: traction architecture / photo: seamus payne

clé cement tiles bring the charm and authenticity of handcrafted tile to any space, yet are tough enough to use in high-traffic areas. this makes them ideal for the kitchen floor–often one of the most used and abused areas of the home. when sealed, cement tiles are easy to maintain and can be cleaned using a pH neutral cleaner and soft cloth or mop. when properly cared for, cement floors can easily last generations. read our blog post on clé tile for the kitchen floor for more kitchen tile inspiration.

installing clé cement tile outdoors 

clé cement tiles come in a wide range of colors and patterns, and work wonders indoors and outdoors. cement tiles are a great option for outdoor walkways, patios, showers and more, especially suited for places where you need a pop of color or a statement pattern. not only are cement tiles extremely sturdy and easy to clean, but their texture offers a slip-resistant surface perfectly suited for an outdoor shower floor or pool walkway. 

arc 8x8 square in federal blue + white. design: abbie naber / photo: jennifer siegwart

while cement tiles are extremely versatile, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to installing cement tiles outside.

first, cement tiles should not be used outside in climates that experience a freeze/thaw cycle.

second, if you are planning to install cement tiles outside in direct sunlight, clé recommends using neutral colors. solid colors and patterns that have blue, green, and violet tones will be most prone to fading in direct UV rays. however, a canopy or awning that casts shade over your cement installation can do a lot for the preservation of color in hot climates. for cement in colder climates, use tile sealed with waterproof sealants and shielded under a bit of flashing. 

2x8 rectangle in leaf. design: isa bird design / photo: spenser bruce.

xtra credit 8x8 square in black + white. design: jenna cooper / photo: tessa neustadt 

if you are lucky enough to have a transitional indoor/outdoor space (for example, an indoor living space with a wall that opens up to an outdoor patio) cement tile is the perfect choice for a tile that can live both inside and out. unique patterns or bright colors will emphasize the transition from indoors to out, and creates a seamless look that is sure to impress. for more information on installing tile outside, read our guide: tile tips for outdoor living

clé cement tiles: colors and shapes

clé cement tiles are stocked in the following shapes: 4x4 square, 8x8 square, 8x9 hexagon, 2x8 and 3x12 rectangle, and 8x8 scallop with the industry standard thickness of 5/8 inch. our pavimenti collection also includes the following bundles: star+cross, circle+losange, paradiso octagon+bouchon, as well as a traditional lantern shape.

clé cement tiles are available in a wide variety of solid colors, as well as a selection of patterns ranging from the bold and bright to the subtle and traditional.  

our cement colors can be paired with corresponding Benjamin Moore paint colors, allowing for easy comparisons and overall design planning. solid-colored cement tile can also be made-to-order in specific colors if you have something unique in mind. view our full list of available colors to get inspired. 

tips for cement tile installation 

slant 8x8 square in black + white. design: sun soul style interiors / photo: vivian johnson photo. 

erica tanov jacobsen 8x8 square in plaster + black. design: dayhouse studio / photo: spotlight

we always say that any tile project is only as good as its installer. hiring a professional installer with experience in handcrafted cement tile installation is the key to a successful installation.

before deciding if cement tile is right for your project, please consult the material guidelines located at the bottom of each cement product page. our product guidelines for cement tile contains information on technical specifications, grout, material guidelines, and dimensions, as well as frequently asked questions about cement tile installation and maintenance.

while cement tile does not have the extensive size and texture variation found in other tiles such as zellige, there will be moderate color variation, which should be taken into account. 

(walls) 2x8 rectangle in white (floor) dartanian 8x8 square in black + white. design / photo: crutchfield collective

as a result, we recommend that you blend, blend, and don’t forget to blend. ask your installer to lay out the different sections of each part of the installation. they should do this by mapping out a spot on a nearby floor, and after blending all the tiles from all the boxes, they should begin laying out the blended tiles exactly as you would like them.

this is, afterall, your installation "art piece". you should never leave unopened boxes with an installer and expect anything less than a disaster!

note that because it is handcrafted, cement tile will vary from batch to batch. this means that it will be important to order enough overage, as add-on orders from a different batch will rarely match an order of cement that has already been placed, and will make blending more difficult. 

arc 8x8 square in black and white. design / photo: crystal sinclair designs

once your professional tile installer has installed your cement tiles, they will need to trim, grout, and seal the installation. this will ensure that your tiles look their best for generations to come. make sure you and your installer consult the product specifications and material guidelines located on each cement tile’s web page for specific information on installation and maintenance.

if you have further questions, please refer to the cement tile installation guide for more details. read on for an abbreviated guide to cement tile installation:


when it comes to grout, we always recommend working closely with your contractor and installer to pick a grout color that works well in all kinds of lighting, whether natural or artificial, at any time of day. 


clé follows the international model of no trim, but we do give recommendations for alternatives. read our blog post on tile trim for more details on the long tradition of no trim and why we prefer it.


due to the porous nature of cement, all applications (dry and wet) must be sealed after grouting. if your cement tiles are installed in the shower or areas with heavy traffic (bath and kitchen floors or commercial floors) the tile will need to be resealed once or twice a year. 

cement tile cleaning and maintenance 

cement tiles will develop a natural patina over time which will help protect the tile from general wear, however you should still use caution when cleaning your tiles to avoid scratches or chemical stains. read on for top tips on cleaning your cement tile installation. 

  • clean the surface of cement tiles using soft materials such as a cloth or mop.
  • always avoid harsh chemicals and acidic or alkaline cleaning products. 
  • test cleaning products before widespread use.
  • grout lines can be cleaned with warm water and a soft bristled cleaning brush. 
  • immediately clean up spills, do not allow liquids to sit on the tile surface. 
  • stains can be removed with a pH neutral dish soap, hot water, and the scrub side of a sponge.

if your cement tile installation is sealed and refinished by a professional on an annual basis, your cement tiles will last a lifetime even in spaces that experience high traffic or constant exposure to water. for more tips, refer to our previous blog on cement tile cleaning and maintenance 

as a company that embraces authenticity and is committed to keeping handcrafted traditions alive, we want customers to cherish their cement tile as much as we do–and that means knowing exactly what to expect and how to prepare for all the exquisite characteristics of handcrafted cement.

with careful choice, experienced installation, and inspired design, we know you will love your cement tile as much as we do.