Urban Road

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. It’s important to take care when installing them, as well as ongoing cleaning and maintenance. Especially because of the porous nature of these tiles.

I have encaustic tiles in my home and struggled to find good care information online. So I hope this article helps others who have or are considering using these tiles.

Related article: What size should I make grout joints?
Related article: 5 step guide to picking the right kitchen splashback tile

Encaustic tile feature how to care for encaustic cement tiles


If you don’t yet have encaustic tiles yet, be sure to only use an experienced and qualified tiler. They need to understand the tile, as well as what products and installation process to use.

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 (find more info about tile grout joints here).


As I mentioned above, these tiles are porous so they need to be cleaned in a similar way to 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. We recommend you carry out a test clean on an unlaid tile or inconspicuous area to ensure there are no issues.

how to care for encaustic cement tiles

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. Use a soft 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. Use a clean cloth to spread and work it into the surface.

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

Other tips on using encaustic tiles

Having lived with encaustic tiles in my home for 7 years, I can speak from experience when I say they are not an ideal tile choice for main bathroom floors.

Despite using the correct installation method, cleaning and ongoing maintenance tips I’ve discussed in this article, the tiles in my ensuite don’t look anything like they did when they were first installed. So my biggest tip on using encaustic tiles is to choose carefully where you use them!

They are a fabulous option to create a statement wall in a bathroom behind a vanity or freestanding bath but not in a shower. Alternatively, they can also look incredible as an accent tile. For example, you could use encaustic tiles around a kitchen island or possibly as a powder room floor.

Because of the issues of real encaustic tiles, there are many porcelain look-a-like options on the market now. These give you the same look of encaustic tiles but without the cleaning headaches. And often cost a fraction of the price! This may be a good alternative if you have your heart set on an encaustic tile for your main bathroom floor but want to avoid issues down the track.

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!

Check out more building and reno advice here

How to care for encaustic cement tiles
How to care for encaustic cement tiles relies on proper installation, cleaning and maintenance

Photography by Thorson Photography

Gina Beschorner Style Curator

Welcome to Style Curator, your destination for daily interiors inspiration, styling tips, reno advice, home tours and DIY projects!

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    1. I have some encaustic tiles in a kitchen with a few stains and was wondering if a steam mop would be appropriate to use on them?

    2. i have recently bought a large lot of salvaged victorian era encaustic tile- they are quite dirty – i have soaked in plain water, scrubbed them and used fine steel wool and they are still not clean. what product would you suggest i use prior to attempting to install them

    3. Good to read this. Love our black and white tiles in the kitchen. Look stunning but on close inspection, the white bits look grimy and dirty. I steam clean it so I know it’s clean but it doesn’t look clean. Will try some of the special products mentioned but think it is too late and they will remain dirty-looking for the foreseeable future. Haven’t used bleach or vinegar but was considering it. So thanks for that advice. Will swerve that idea

      • Oh yes, avoid bleach and vinegar at all costs! I’m glad you read this article in time 😉 I hope you find these cleaners help to minimise the grimy look you mentioned. Also, avoid rubbing too hard in any one spot as they can show a worn appearance very easily x

      • 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

        • 100% agree on this. WE accidently used shampoo with acid in it, and its etched our tiles (made them white) after just 12 months. Would definitely think twice about using encaustic again. We are getting the tiles honed and resealed to bring the colour back…

          Even though I love the feel of them, nothing beats it. But tough work to maintan!

    4. 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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