How to care for encaustic cement tiles: What cleaning products to use and ongoing maintenance

Encaustic tiles are those beautiful cement tiles (often patterned) you may have seen on Instagram, Pinterest or other design sites.

While they are a gorgeous option — not only for their looks but the way they feel softer underfoot too — they do require more maintenance and care than regular ceramic or porcelain tiles.

Because of the way these tiles are manufactured and their porous material, it’s important to take care when installing them, as well as ongoing cleaning and maintenance.

I have encaustic tiles in my home and struggled to find good information about proper care online so I hope this article helps others who have or are considering getting encaustic tiles.

Encaustic tile feature

Installation

If you don’t yet have encaustic tiles but are exploring this option, be sure to only use an experienced and qualified tiler who understands what products and process should be used.

Encaustic tiles should be sealed before they are laid to minimise the risk of grout or other products staining the tiles during installation — you wouldn’t be the first person to have to rip up a completely new encaustic tile job!

Because of the absorbent quality, the surface of the tiles need to be kept as clean as possible during installation. An experienced tiler would use a damp sponge to wipe away materials as they are working.

Also, just as important is what happens beneath the tiles. A flexible adhesive needs to be used and applied evenly to the substrate using a wide notched trowel. They also need to be gently pressed down and not hammered as this could cause micro cracks.

Grout spacing should be as small as possible — just 1-2mm.

Cleaning

As I mentioned above that these tiles are porous so they need to be cleaned in a similar way as natural stone.

That means, you cannot use any acidic or abrasive cleaners, or products containing bleach.

Use a gentle, pH-neutral cleaner such as those designed for natural stone and terrazzo floors. ‘Aqua Mix Concentrated Stone & Tile Cleaner‘ is a popular everyday option and can be found in most tile stores. Be sure to only use the product as directed and carry out a test clean on an unlaid tile or inconspicuous area to ensure there are no issues.

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Ongoing maintenance

Each year, the tiles should be cleaned with a high quality tile cleaner (non-acidic) such as ‘Stone Deep Clean‘ by Aquamix.

Give the floor two thorough cleans with this product by mixing the solution with water and using a scrubbing brush to remove any marks or grime from the tiles.

Once completely dry, use a penetrating sealer such as ‘Sealers Choice Gold‘ from Aquamix to protect the tiles.

The sealer can be applied by directly pouring small amounts onto the tiles and using a clean cloth to spread and work it into the surface.

Allow to dry for 8 hours. This should be done once a year.

This article isn’t sponsored but advice on proper encaustic tile care was provided by the friendly team at Tile Republic in Canberra. They have a wide range of encaustic tiles to choose from and all the care products mentioned in this article.

I hope this information on how to care for encaustic cement tiles helps you. Do you have any other questions when it comes to encaustic tiles? Post them in the comments below and we’ll be sure to answer them asap!

Photography by Thorson Photography

Encaustic tiles

4 COMMENTS

    • Hi B, good question, at first I would have said I’d absolutely use cement tiles again but after 3 years of having them my answer is a bit different… I still think they are a beautiful tile but I’d be a lot more cautious about where I use them – only on a feature wall or on the floor in an area that doesn’t get much traffic. Despite taking proper care of the tiles, they aren’t a great floor solution for showers or main bathroom floors where they get a lot of use… Hubby and I are already thinking about replacing our bathrooms in the next year or two so we didn’t get the 8-10 year longevity you’d want from a new bathroom.

      In terms of laying them, I don’t think the costs were much different as many of the products were the same – they just need to be cleaned and sealed afterwards. Perhaps some tilers would charge more to lay them than porcelain tiles but I can’t recall us having to pay more (my hubby works with a lot of tilers though so he may have called in some favours). The tile itself is more expensive than most bathroom tiles though.

      Hope this info helps, x

  1. Thanks, your article has given me hope. I have plain grey hexagon encaustic tiles and I wanted to rip them out weeks afterwards but the tiler is worried about the heated flooring underneath. The interior designer said they are a good tile, the bathroom builder and tiler both told me not to do it. Wish I listened to them, especially with 4 males in the house, I never knew wee could splash so far from the loo. The tiles were sealed THREE times and still mark. Thanks for the article I’ll be on my hands and knees trying and hoping the stains come out. Yes, these tiles have made me a crazy woman. I think the patterned encaustic tiles would have been a better choice and more forgiving

    • Oh no, I’m sorry to hear about your stress but I can also relate! Encaustic tiles are beautiful but now I only ever recommend them for areas where there isn’t high traffic/use or on walls (not in the shower). I hope you find this mix of products useful in maintaining your tiles. All the best x

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