Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cuban Tiles

Cuban tiles, as they are known in the United States, are really just encaustic tile made of cement. Encaustic refers to the fact that the patterns or figures on them are produced as part of the material, not applied or painted on. Encaustic tiles are mostly made of clay or cement (as with Cuban tiles). The great part about this is that they last forever. Even if the tile gets worn down from a lot of traffic or chipped somehow, the pattern remains the same hiding the damage!
A traditional floor detail of cement Cuban tiles from Luxetile
They also happen to be a green material as most are done with natural pigments in the mix and won't off-gas or leach dangerous toxins. I love all of the pattern and color these provide! Aren't they fun?
kitchen floor tiles in Cuba from the book 'Inside Havana' -a great book with a link on my sidebar to buy if you're interested.
I worry that the cement would be hard on your feet but you could also use them as a backsplash in kitchens or baths or as wainscotting around a room with wood flooring. Any Cuban interior isn't complete without them. Wouldn't they be great in a hallway? Especially in a mediterranean style house!
A very pretty floor layout from Villa Lagoon
I like that the patterns range from Venetian, Victorian to very modern and in all sorts of colors so they can be used in any style of interior. Where would you use them?
Interior of Cuban Barbershop from Inside Havana
For a great slideshow of a bunch of different historical uses of tile in Cuba, visit El Nuevo Herald
Some sources for Cuban tiles that I could find online are below, no this isn't a paid advertisement or endorsement! I don't think they're available at your local home depot!
Villa Lagoon Tiles
image at top of post from El Neuvo Herald slidehow


Grant K. Gibson said...

LOVE the tiles!
Taking my first trip to Cuba in January 2010 after a trip to Columbia! Can't wait to check them out in person.
Think of the photos!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

wow grant! what agreat trip! whats the occasion?

David said...

Our condo has a covered patio, paved with the dullest off-white "stone-esque" ceramic tile. Something like these would be way more interesting.

Anonymous said...

Never heard of encaustic tiles referred to as "Cuban." Must be a regional thing in your part of the country.

I think of encaustic tiles as Moroccan and associate them with French bistros.

Grant, you may enjoy this source in your neck of the woods.

Scott Fazzini said...

I'm MAD about these beautiful tiles! I especially love the "room scene" photos that you've chosen! The first photo, stair hall, is STUNNING!

Fargerike Dagny said...

Morocco has the same tradition wit concrete patterned tiles, you can check out what the look like on my blog (keyword bathroom). :)

It really does look stunning, huh?

Renée Finberg said...


imagine , i grew up with cuban exiles in miami beach.

and in all the stories they would share about their 'beloved cuba',
not one mentioned these gorgeous tiles.

thank you so much.
they are FABooo


pve design said...

Don't laugh, but we had linoleum in our kitchen that must have been inspired by these... funny, I like it so much better in tile. I want to needlpoint something on canvas like this.

Lundy Wilder said...

Thank you for the kind words about my tile designs at Villa Lagoon Tile. I am in love with this kind of flooring.

If you want to see how the Surf "Agua", (the blue swirl on white), looks in my living/kit have a look at ConcreteCottage.

These tiles were designed for this Gulf Coast residence and are now available to everyone.
We can do custom designs for others as well.
Best wishes, Lundy Wilder

Anonymous said...

I recently did a post on Popham's Morrocan Tiles which are very similar. An interesting difference is possibly the colors. These seem to be more pale and the Morrocan seem to be stronger and more vivid. Possibly just the ones we pick but interesting to compare. I like this post!

alice said...

Very cool tiles! And yes, I've too seen them as linoleum.. much better looking in the real thing!!!

katiedid said...

Wonderful!!!! Thanks for the resource. I have bookmarked it!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

David, these would be great for outdoor uses! Freeze/thaw and other outdoor problems wouldn't affect concrete! I say go for it!
Anon: it's an americanism - there is a whole section about it on wikipedia.
Scott: I thought the first picture would catch people's attention! isn't it amazing!
Dagny -I LOVE moroccon tiles, which i've seen many times, but these cuban tiles are a little different and I had never seen anything quite like them before!
Renee, you grew up in Miami? You've had such a fascinating life -all over the place!
PVE, I didn't know you did needlepoint too -you are very much the renaissance woman!
Lunday -thanks for sneding a message! You did such a great job!
Laura, I can't wait to see your post!
Alice, ya, the design may be the same but the quality with these would be so much more!
Katiedid -hope you can use them in a project and blog about it! I'd love to see what you could do with them!

columnist said...

They are pretty tiles - almost Art Nouveau - a number of Edwardian terraced houses in London had them in hallways. I think if they're in good cindition they do make for very interesting floors in public spaces. I think I would be less inclined to use them in private spaces, such as kitchens, (today). Their reference is almost similar to the Italian use of terazzo, (especially in Venice), but again for me, I prefer to see that only in public areas, such as hallways. Just my personal preferences.

Mr. Peacock said...

What gorgeous tiles!
Some of the patterns remind me of Islamic tile work, but without the quotes from the Koran.
I really like the last one from Aventetile.

Anonymous said...

My interior designer helped me choose encaustic tiles for my foyer and they are amazing. They make a huge impact. When my budget allows, I'm going to replace the boring slate tiles in my kitchen with encaustic ones.

By the way, I bought mine from Villa Lagoon and even though I made my selection based on the patterns and colors available (I fell in love with theirs and they were a good match for my decor), their prices were very competitive and the customer service was great. They kept me informed about the status of my order including expected delivery date, and the tiles even arrived a couple of days early. A great thing when you're trying to coordinate subcontractors.

Love your blog and can't wait to see more about the tiles!

Topsy Turvy said...

Stefan - I love these and just got the shipment for my front entry and two back patios - can't wait to get them installed. They are commonly called Cuban tiles as they were used extensively there, but can also be seen throughout France and Spain. I went into a little grocery in St. Remy and found a beautiful old cement tile floor (distressed by years of foot travel and dirt). Also the b&b where we stayed had them in the ground floor rooms. You can find antique salvaged versions, which are my favorite.


ArchitectDesign™ said...

Anon I would LOVE to see pictures of your foyer! Please email me some!
Lana- what a small world that you just ordered some! I hope you blog about them after they're installed!!!

custardbydesign said...

great post...such colour in those tiles! i'm a sucker for victorian styled hallways but i think i've found a new fascination...

Paul Pincus said...

these tiles are stunning! i love that you're blogging about andrew moore's inside havana. it's a classic. we bought andrew moore's four trees (near ferapontovo monastery), 2004 from his russia series. It's very beautiful but i think the images he captured for havana are more fully realized!

the kitchen, barbershop, and cuban tropical are my favourites.

Ceramic wall tiles said...

I had never heard of Cuban tiles.

They are great; the pictures remind me of old films!



Melanie Knobel said...

Stefan, here you are again today as I do a search for tiles! Again, love your blog and directions. Spoke to villa lagoon today for it seemed like an hour. What a wonderful lady! I've been trying to see if I can find any others less expensive since it will be in my mudroom, but guess we all have to pay for style!
Enjoy kips bay on Saturday!