Cement tiles pros and cons, plus Q&A with Suzanne Sharp

Cement tiles are the perfect stylish and durable solution to revive your walls and floors.

“Cement tiles work brilliantly because of their crisp and vibrant colours, and distinctive patterns,” says Rob Whitaker, creative director at Claybrook. Popular around the world, especially in Europe, they are available in an array of shapes, patterns and shades. So, you can truly get creative when decorating with this type of tile.

Thanks to their hand-made nature, cement tiles have a charming raw finish. “Usually made with ground marble powders and natural colour pigments on a cement base layer, they have an authentic hand produced feel, too, a skill passed down through generations,” explains Rob.

These decorative solutions are versatile and can be used throughout the home, as well as outdoors. But, we particularly love the way cement tiles look in kitchens and bathrooms.

Decorating ideas with cement tiles

There are numerous ways of embracing cement tiles in your kitchen or bathroom. For example, in your kitchen, you can use statement slabs to make your splashback stand out. Or for a pared-back design, go with geometric cement tiles in muted tones that will complement your units while still adding a subtle dash of interest.

neutral kitchen with cement tiles as splashback
Pinnacle Marigold encaustic cement tiles, £7.20 per tile, from Bert & May in interior designer Emily Rickard‘s kitchen.
blue and green kitchen design with cement tiles
Ombre Green encaustic cement tiles, £240 per sq m, Maitland & Poate.

Another great idea is to inject colour and pattern into your kitchen-diner by opting for funky flooring. If you dare to go bold, you can match your wall tiles to the flooring, too.

Or why not take the same cement floor tiles up on your kitchen island for a chic, café-inspired look?

neutral kitchen with green flooring and island
2LG Marbles Circle Green encaustic cement tiles, £240 per sq m, Maitland & Poate.

Moving into the bathroom, it’s time to let your creativity flow. Have a play with a mix of tiles to find your dream colour combination and laying pattern. Think about the aesthetic you want to achieve – from a boutique-hotel look to a sanctuary-like retreat.

So, this can mean speckled cement tiles on the floor with pared-back designs on the wall or vice versa – or even enveloping the entire room in stylish wall coverings.

calming bathroom with cement tiles on the floor and freestanding bath
Corrugation white tiles, £59.34 per sq m; Corrugation White Ripple tiles, £69.66 per sq m; Kajagoogoo Limahl tiles, £79.50 per sq m; Watergate Claw foot bath, £1730, and Bournbrook Mono floorstanding bath mixer tap in brass, £1495, all from Claybrook.

Zone your space and take your bathroom up a notch by decorating your shower walls and floors with patterned encaustic cement tiles in vibrant colourways – we are fans of daring designs. Choosing bold and bright designs is sure to elevate your mood every time you walk into the room.

walk-in shower with cement tiles on walls and floors
Daisy encaustic cement tiles, £180 per sq m, Otto Tiles & Design.

Coloured grout: click here for everything you need to know

Pros and cons of cement tiles

Cement tiles are renowned for their durability. If installed and cared for properly, they can last for decades. What’s more, thanks to the manufacturing process of cement tiles, even if you chip them or use them in highly used areas, they are able to withstand wear and tear.

“Usefully, due to the technique, the colours and pattern will remain over time even if the tile wears down, as seen in churches where the floors were laid hundreds of years ago,” explains Rob. For example, Otto Tiles & Design’s encaustic cement tiles are 17mm with 7-8.5mm dedicated to the colour layer, which ensures their longevity.

blue kitchen units in neutral and modern room
Navy Blue Stripes encaustic cement tiles, £168 per sq m, Otto Tiles & Design.

Cement tiles are also great for multi-generational bathrooms where the space needs to cater to every family member, as they are non-slip. “When choosing non-slip floor tiles for the bathroom, we recommend our encaustic tiles, which have a matt finish making them naturally slip resistant,” advises Lee Thornley, founder of artisan tile company Bert & May.

However, as they are porous, you need to seal them properly before and after grouting to prevent staining and any damage. “Fitting should be carried by someone who understands both the depth of the tiles, and the sealing process to ensure a quality finish, but once complete they look stunning,” adds Rob.

And, in high-traffic areas, it’s worth resealing your tiles every year or once you spot they need a refresh to make sure they’re properly cared for.

Small bathroom with wall-mounted basin, pink walls, and green cement tiles
Green Otura tiles, £7.20 per tile, Bert & May. Photography: India Hares.

Q&A with Suzanne Sharp

Interiors news alert – Mosaic Factory has joined forces with The Rug Company’s co-founder Suzanne Sharp to launch a new collection of tiles.

Handmade from cement in Morocco, these beautiful tiles are available in nine patterns and a series of colourways. They’re perfect for livening up a kitchen or bathroom, for example. The inspiration for the collection came from Suzanne’s memories of growing up in Malta and Rome, as well as classic 1970s Italian design.

Scroll down to take a look and hear from Suzanne…

Suzanne Sharp in her London studio
Suzanne Sharp in her London studio.

Suzanne, how would you describe your interior design style?

I design with the intention of evoking emotions and creating spaces that resonate with people on a personal level. I pay attention to the width of the space, create comfortable areas using furniture and objects that tell a story, and add a sense of history, nostalgia and personal connection to each room.

Why did you choose cement for this range?

Cement tiles offer a wide range of design possibilities due to their versatility. They can be customised with various patterns, colours and shapes, allowing for creative artisans to use sheets of metal, often brass or steel, to craft the moulds. The metal sheets are carefully cut and shaped according to the pattern design. The possibilities are endless.

Any tops tips for tiling a kitchen or bathroom?

Cement tiles are versatile and suitable for both walls and floors. I am particularly proud of the way that the tiles look in my latest project in Malta, where we tiled the entire bathroom. This creates a cohesive and unified look, making the space feel larger and more luxurious. In a kitchen, I love to tile as much and as high as possible, often combining two different patterns, sometimes even three.

green kitchen with cement tiles on the floor and splashback
Allegra tiles. Prices start from £103.20 per sq m, Mosaic Factory.

Maintenance tips

To ensure your cement tiles last for as long as possible, Otto Tiles & Design has shared its top tips. Here’s a checklist to make the maintenance process easy and effortless:

  • Always wipe spills straight away to avoid stains.
  • For regular cleaning, use water and pH-neutral cleaner.
  • Avoid abrasive or harsh chemical cleaners.
  • In the shower area, use a squeegee after each use to prevent limescale stains, soap scum or mould.
  • Keep in mind that oil stains are very difficult to remove from this material, so you will require a professional cleaning service.
Warm kitchen with terracotta tones and checked fabric
Superstar Visage tiles, £70 per sq m, Claybrook.

Enjoyed this post? Click here for patterned tiles ideas

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