A Century-old Process

Cement tiles have been around since the mid-1800s. They became very fashionable in the 1870s through the 1930s and if you travel to Europe for instance, you will find many old shops and passageways with “historical” cement tiles from this era. Although they have seen many generations of feet, their colours and patterns still look fresh and lively. This is because the pattern is not painted over the tiles, it is a durable layer made up of cement mixed with pigments.

Installation of tiles
10 Steps to a Perfect Tile

At Mosaico, we follow a manufacturing process that has proven its efficiency. Here are the different steps our master artisans go through to craft each cement tile:

Step 1

We prepare the frame. Tiles are made upside down and hand-poured in heavy frames made of steel. The bottom is always very flat and smooth for an even surface.

Step 2

Each pattern requires a specific mould to be created. As they look very much like oversized versions of the kitchen utensil, they are often referred to as a “cookie cutter”. During the second step, we select the pattern we will use and insert the corresponding “cookie cutter” mould into the steel frame.

Step 3

This is a crucial step, where we prepare the colour slurries by mixing inorganic pigments –
such as iron, cobalt and chromium oxides-, cement, marble powder and water together. Every component is weighed in order to guarantee color consistency and the mixture is carefully mixed to ensure a uniform distribution. The slurries harden very quickly, requiring speed and precision.

Step 4

is when the selected pattern comes to life: now that the colors are ready, we pour them into the matching areas of the cookie cutter and have a first glimpse of the end result. The “color” layer is approximately 3 to 5 millimeters thick, meaning the pattern will be visible for generations to come, no matter how much traffic the tile withstands.

Step 5

It is quick but critical: we remove the cookie cutter straight up and out of the frame. By then the colors have started to harden but it takes skill and precision or you risk smearing the design.

Step 6

It has to do with the core body of the tile: we backfill the tile with two layers of a mixture of cement, sand and aggregate. First a mortar of fine sand and cement that ensures compression reinforcement for heavy traffic and furniture, then a layer of solid concrete made to be strong and porous to withstand impact before and after installation.

Step 7

Now that all the different layers of the tile are in place, we place a heavy steel lid onto the steel frame and press the tile using a hydraulic press, until the different layers become a single tile.

Step 8

Once the tile is pressed, we need to remove it from its steel frame. This is another critical step as the tile needs to be slid off the steel plate very carefully. Any mishandling could break the tile.

Step 9

The tile is now ready to be cured: we start by placing the tile on a drying rack for 24 hours.
The following day we soak the tile in water to achieve water saturation of the piece and guarantee proper cement hydration. The tile is then left to dry for 10 days and individually inspected to ensure the curing process is going well. A hot and humid environment works best, which is why the Emirates lend themselves particularly well to the making of cement tiles.

Step 10

Once the tiles are fully cured and they have reached their maximum strength, we clean them of all cement residues, and they are ready to be carefully packed, shipped and installed.