What to Know about Clay and Cement Patterned Floor Tiles + Our Patio Reveal

If you’ve thought about installing cement tiles or patterned floor tiles of any kind, you are not alone and this post is for you! We will cover the differences between cement and clay bodies, how much cement tiles cost, different layouts for pattern tiles and so much more!

It turns out, I’m not immune to the pattern tile trend. I had been dreaming of a place to use it and never landed on the right spot while we were building. Once we were done and moved in, though, I couldn’t let go of the idea. Enter our side patio. The patio is surrounded on all three sides by floor to ceiling glass, so you can see it from almost anywhere downstairs. At one point we had imagined leaving it just concrete thinking that it might be cool to have it blend into our concrete floors inside, but it never really did that. It was such a different finish and so the space continued to just feel unfinished. Here’s the before:

One hesitation I had with using pattern tile was that I would get tired of it or that it would go out of style. You see the same patterns and color combinations frequently used, so to avoid that we went to local tile artisans, Clay Imports to chat about our options. It turns out, they are endless! We chose the quarter circle tile pattern because I liked the versatility of the pattern. You can lay it so many different ways and end up with completely different looks. (Keep reading below to see the different ways you can layout this pattern tile.) I also really like the roundness of the design as opposed to something with more sharp angles or busyness. We also learned that we could custom create colors and created this color combination to complement the Claire Oswalt painting we have in the hallway that leads to the door to the patio. (You can see the painting in this post.)

Didn’t it turn out so great!? We actually made a game day decision right before installation to change the layout of the tile and I’m so glad we did. I couldn’t be happier with the final result! If you’re looking to purchase patterned tiles, I can’t recommend Clay Imports enough. No one is more knowledgable than they are and they’re so easy to work with. They also have the widest variety of patterns and color options and are so helpful. The Tile Press did our installation and we loved them just as much.

Speaking of tile layouts, these are some of the different ways you can layout your quarter circle pattern tile:

A few of you have sent questions via Instagram about the patio during install, so I wanted to take a minute to answer them all here:

About Clay and Cement Pattern Tile:

What are the differences between clay and cement pattern tiles?

The biggest difference between clay and cement tiles are that clay tiles are fired in a kiln causing them to be much denser and less absorbent. Cement tiles need to be sealed and clay tiles do not need to be sealed.

Both can be used outdoors, but cement tiles need to be properly sealed during installation. Also don’t allow water to sit on cement tiles.

How much do clay and cement pattern tiles cost?

It depends on the artist, shop and detail as well as if it is a concrete or clay body. Clay and cement pattern tiles can range between $7-$15 per square foot.

Are clay and cement tiles easy to install?

Clay Tile installation is comparable to conventional, ceramic tile installation. Cement tiles must be sealed before they can be grouted or the grouting process can stay the surface of the tile. Cement tiles remember are highly porous. Allow the sealant to dry for at least 24 hours before grouting. For more cement tile installation guidelines, ask your manufacturer or see here.

Is clay and cement tile easy to maintain?

Clay and sealed concrete tile floors can be cleaned easily just like other tile floors. You can sweep as you would any other surface and use a mild soap to mop the floor. After mopping, be sure to dry mop up any excess moisture. Concrete and clay tile floors are more durable and last longer than hard wood floors.

Why should you use handmade tile versus machine made?

Choosing handmade tile continues the proliferation of artisanal craft, supports local and small communities and is just special in its uniqueness. You might not be able to tell in a photo if a tile is machine or handmade, but it’s obvious (at least to me!) in person.

Photography by Katie Jameson

Tile via Clay Imports

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  1. I loved the images I saw of your patio so much that I decided to order this exact tile for a small backsplash I am doing (with no previous tile experience)! Do you happen to know if your patio tile was installed with small spacers between tiles or if the grout lines are simply created by the rounded edges of the tile when butted flush with one another? Thanks!

    • Jen Pinkston

      05/27/2020

      Hi John,

      The Tile Press recommends using the 1/16” wedge spacers or the 1/16” T- spacers. They do not recommend butting the tiles together.

      You can see more install guidelines here: https://clayimports.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Encaustic-CLAY-Installation-Roadmap.pdf

  2. This article has been super helpful! We are deciding between cement and clay and I was curious if the clay tile is slippery at all? We have a pool and hoping to prevent accidents!

    • Jen Pinkston

      04/23/2020

      Hey Sarah, we haven’t had a problem with that, but I’m also not sure how often we’ve been out there when it’s super wet. I would call Clay Imports and get their opinion. They’re super knowledgable and I’m sure they’ve done pool applications before! (512) 836-8500

  3. These tiles are looking great. I love the different tile patterns you shared. The combination of blue and white tiles are perfect. You are looking great on the iron chair. Is that table made of marble on which you were laying your feet? Your cushions are also in a beautiful color and look comfortable.

  4. I absolutely love the tile!!

    Jennifer
    Effortlessly Sophisticated

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