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Decorative Tiles: Should I Choose Cement or Porcelain?

Karin Jeske Cement Tile Cement vs Porcelain Tile Porcelain Tile

Love the beautiful patterns that have made headlines throughout the world of decor by a resurgence in the popularity of cement tiles? If you are considering incorporating decorative tiles into your project and are comparing cement with their porcelain tiles with a similar look, here are some things to consider:

What we love about cement tiles

With full disclosure, we will share that we started this company to sell cement tiles only, and we have only recently departed from that commitment.  We fell in love with cement tiles for the following qualities:

  • The ability to experiment and customize - because of small minimum requirements, we can design a myriad of patterns and customize our cement tiles in small production runs.  
  • Cement tiles are each made by hand by pouring colored cement into a mold and then applying hydraulic pressure.  This process results in slight color variations, some fading in direct sunlight and some pattern imperfections within the tile - and like a raw silk fabric, this adds to the natural beauty of the product!
  • Thickness of the color layer - the color is not printed or painted on the surface - it is an inherent part of the tile and will never wear down.
  • Thin grout lines - because of the preciseness of the exterior dimensions of cement tiles, grout lines of 1/16"-1/4" are possible, allowing the pattern to continue from tile to tile without interruption.
  • The matte finish -  we love the feel of cement tiles that provide a super flat surface ideal for floors and walls, indoors or outdoors, including wet areas. 
  • Their beauty is lasting - there are many installations of cement tiles in Europe that are over 100 years old.
  • Versatility - cement tiles can be installed on floors or walls.

Considerations with cement tiles:

  • Some maintenance is needed - cement tiles come with one layer of sealer and should be sealed again before grouting, after grouting, and periodically after installation in high traffic areas.  After installation, cement tiles should be cleaned on a regular schedule.  Click here for installation and care instructions.
  • Handmade imperfection - while this is seen by most as part of the beauty of the product, cement will have some color and pattern variation from tile to tile.
  • They're thicker than most tiles - cement tiles are 5/8" thick.  This is not normally a problem, but it should be understood when planning your installation.

Reasons to choose porcelain:

Porcelain tiles have come a long way.  When we started Tesselle in 2012, the technology to replicate the look of a cement tile did not exist. 

  • Lower cost - because they are mass produced, porcelain tiles are less expensive.
  • Color consistency  - while some porcelain tiles intentionally have color variation as a component of the design, they will not vary across the lot.  
  • Thinner and lighter in weight - porcelain tiles are approximately 1/4" thick whereas cement tiles are 5/8" thick.  In some circumstances, a thinner tile is preferred.
  • Lower maintenance - porcelain tiles will not stain and will provide you with years of worry-free beauty.

Still have questions?  At Tesselle, we are committed to providing you with the best product for your project.  Contact us at or at 951-781-3000.

Photo:  Modda Cinder Cement Tiles, Interior Decoration by Anthology Interiors.

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