Like natural stone, cement tiles are porous and therefore need to be sealed, using a solvent based penetrating sealer. Unlike topical sealers which create a barrier on the surface of the tile blocking the pores of the concrete, penetrating sealers work by repelling liquids, allowing air to still move through the pores and let the material breathe naturally. This provides lasting protection for the tile while preserving the look and natural integrity of the surface.
When installing in wet areas, waterproofing of your substrate is necessary as is the case for all types of tiles.
Adhesive should be applied evenly on the floor or wall surface, and to the back of each tile using not less than an 8mm notched trowel. A flexible adhesive that is suitable for use with moisture sensitive tiles is recommended. Any residue left on the surface of the tile needs to be cleaned off. Depending on the type of adhesive used, dampening the back of the tile first may be required.
Lay the tiles using hand pressure only using a forward and back motion to enable good contact with the adhesive; by no means should a tool be used, including a rubber mallet, as this has the potential to damage the tile. As the tiles can vary slightly in thickness (+/- 1mm) using your hands to level will ensure a flat surface.
Do check your pattern layout regularly to ensure tiles are laid in the correct orientation. Use a thin grout line when installing cement tiles; 1-1.5mm is suggested. Minimizing the grout line will make the design look seamless and your space look larger.
Tiles should only be cut using a wet saw with a diamond blade.
Following installation, tiles should be left to dry completely before sealing. Do not allow contaminants, including water, to pond on the tiles.
Please note cement tiles are not frost proof and should not be installed outdoors where exposed to extreme frost conditions.
Vintage Tiles does not accept responsibility or liability for tiles once cut or installed.
Athangudi Tile/Encaustic Cement Tile Sealing
Tiles need to be installed on a level, clean, dry surface. If the tiles are to be installed on a concrete slab, ensure the slab is completely cured to prevent white efflorescence spots from appearing on the surface of the tiles. The spots are a result of water evaporating through the tile and reacting with the cement. The powdery residue that remains is easily removed; with routine cleaning of the tiles, it will gradually disappear.
As our tiles are pre-sealed some penetrating sealers are not compatible. We recommend using STAIN-PROOF Premium Impregnating Sealer (formerly STAIN-PROOF Original) or for splashbacks exposed to cooking oil splatter STAIN-PROOF Dense Stone Impregnating Sealer (formerly STAIN-PROOF Plus) both products by DRY-TREAT. Be sure to follow the instructions as supplied. The tiles need to be completely free of contaminants before sealing. A first coat should be applied prior to grouting; the sealer then reapplied after grouting.
We have found that using a white cloth or lamb wool applicator to apply the sealer is the easiest application method. For vertical installations, such as splashbacks and feature walls, applying the first coat prior to installation of the tiles is generally a better option as you don’t get runoff and the sealer has time to penetrate into the tile. This is not essential, just a suggestion. The second coat will need to be applied after they have been installed and grouted. For bathroom installations where tiles are installed in the shower, we recommend applying a further 1-2 coats in this area to ensure the tiles are completely sealed.
Whilst further works are being carried out, take care to protect your tiles by covering with plain cardboard or a heavy drop sheet. Do not affix duct tape, gaffer tape or similar directly onto the surface of the tile as it may discolour or stain your tiles.
• For external installations where there is full and continuous sun exposure, your tiles should first be sealed with STAIN-PROOF Premium Impregnating Sealer (formerly STAIN-PROOF Original). We then recommend applying STAIN-PROOF Color Enhancing Sealer (formerly STAIN-PROOF Intensifia) to provide longer lasting protection from harsh UV light and for superior stain protection. Allow minimum 4 weeks for the STAIN-PROOF Premium Impregnating Sealer to cure before applying the STAIN-PROOF Color Enhancing Sealer. Be sure to follow the instructions as supplied and always test product on a small inconspicuous area first and allow a 24-hour cure time to check results. Please note that the colours within the tile will be enhanced with the use of this product. As this product is quite viscous to buff off the residue will take time, it is however necessary to do so. The surface will feel slightly tacky to the touch for a few days. Full cure takes 3-4 weeks. Additional coats can be applied at any time in the future to a cleaned surface. As each area of installation differs the requirement to reseal varies significantly.
Do not apply DRY-TREAT Color Enhancing Sealer directly to the tiles without first using DRY-TREAT Premium Impregnating
Sealer as the result can be patchy and uneven.
Athangudi Tile/Encaustic Cement Tile Grouting
Due to the porosity of encaustic cement tiles a non-pigmented, cement grout (made from a cementitious powder mix) is recommended in a neutral grey, the traditional shade for these historic tiles. Do NOT use dark coloured grouts as they contain fine carbon pigment, which is very invasive and can cause staining. A popular choice which works well with many of our tiles is Davco Sanitized Colourgrout in a shade called Cashmere. Test your grout selection first on remnant or excess tiles, or a small area of the surface to ensure you are satisfied with the results.
The surface of the tile should be continually cleaned during the grouting process to prevent the grout from setting on the surface of the tiles.
Remember that you need to reapply the sealer after grouting. Make sure the tiles are clean, free of contaminants and fully dry before applying this second coat.
One of the attributes of cement tiles is that they improve with age and wear, developing an appealing patina with time. In heavy traffic areas or those subject to greater wear re-sealing the surface may be required every 2-3 years, they just need a good clean before you re-seal. For other areas, it is unlikely that you will need to re-seal under 10 years.