FAQ about cement tiles
Cement tiles are made out of cement, sand and water, supplemented by a top layer of marble powder and colour pigment. The binding agent of cement provides the hardening of the tile. This is in contrast to ceramic tiles, which are hardened by the clay baked in a kiln.
The development of the cement tile followed in the wake of the industrial production of cement. Cement is a binding agent that has been used in construction works since ancient times. Cement was manufactured on an industrial scale for the first time in England in around 1800. In parallel to this, research was conducted into new applications for cement. It was again in England, in 1836, that the first cement tiles were developed. Belgium followed shortly afterwards with a cement tile factory in Ghent. In the decades that followed, Belgium and the north of France led the way in a flourishing tile industry, not only with cement tiles, but also ceramic tiles with patterns. By 1910, Belgium had over 100 tile factories, working mainly for the export market. This strong competition led to an explosion in models and designs (which David&Goliath is still happy to draw on for inspiration). After the First World War, cement tiles were again popular in the rebuilding process. The Second War meant thing went the other way. The production of cement tiles was still relatively labour-intensive and gradually cheaper industrial alternatives came on to the market. As a result, the cement tile workshops moved to countries with low wages.
Cement tiles are made in moulds into which an upper layer of water, white cement, marble powder and colour pigment are poured first. A frame separates the various colours within a pattern. On top of this upper layer of a few millimetres a mixture of water, cement and sand is poured. The tile is then pressed under high pressure. The cement is the binding agent that provides the hardening. Afterwards, the surface of our cement tiles is gently rubbed clean and treated with an impregnating agent.
Given that cement tiles are made entirely by hand, production is usually in countries where wages are low, such as North Africa, South America or Asia. We have opted for a small workshop in Vietnam that works virtually exclusively for David&Goliath and is able to make our strict quality requirements a reality.
With the exception of cement, all of the ingredients in a cement tile can be found in nature. Production barely requires any energy and takes place in a socially controlled environment.
There are cement tiles and cement tiles, both technically and aesthetically. The cement tiles at David&Goliath are visually different on account of their smooth finish and fine delineation of the designs. There are good tolerances in terms of dimensional stability, as are other parameters such as porosity, thickness of the upper layer and bending strength. Our tiles score better, for example, than Moroccan (often also called Spanish or Portuguese) or Chinese cement tiles. There are major differences in terms of design, too. At David&Goliath you will mainly find our own designs, selected from the old sales catalogue from the 19th century tile factories, or else contemporary designs.
Cement tiles and ceramic patterned tiles are often confused with one another. Ceramic patterned tiles from around 1900 were made in a way comparable to cement tiles, except they are made from clay and baked at a high temperature in a kiln. This makes them even harder than cement tiles, but much more expensive, too. The surface of ceramic tiles is somewhat smoother and shinier than cement tiles. David&Goliath has a limited selection of ceramic patterned tiles, made specially for heavy-traffic public spaces. Their prices are up to 5 times higher than cement tiles.
Leuven (Belgium) railway station: reproduction of historic ceramic tiles by David&Goliath (2014)
To develop its collection of cement tiles, David&Goliath derives its inspiration mainly from the extensive catalogues produced by the 19th century tile factories in Belgium and northern France. In addition, we also regularly ask modern-day designers and artists to develop new models. Our customers also often ask us to design their tiles for them.
A large proportion of our cement tiles are on display at our showroom in Brussels.
From 20m2 upwards, we are able to reproduce an existing drawing or create a new tile for you. The only additional cost is to make the frame (for the design), plus any costs for the mould (for different dimensions). Send us an e-mail with the illustration you want and we will produce a quote for you.
From 10m2 upwards, we can make all our tiles in the colour combinations that you wish to select from our colour palette. You can create simulations with our Floorbuilder©.
The standard sizes for cement tiles are 10x10, 15x15, 20x20 and 30x30cm. In these sizes they are also available in hexagonal and octagonal shapes. Historically, tiles were also available in other sizes, such as 14x14, 16x16, 17x17 or 25x25 cm. If required, we can also make tiles to these dimensions.
Cement tiles are 16mm thick, with the exception of larger sizes (30x30cm), which are 20mm thick. In the 10x10 size, we can also produce them 10mm thick for use as wall tiles. Bear in mind that the thickness may vary slightly (+/- 1mm). Make an allowance for an additional 6 to 8 mm for the adhesive base.
In view of the fact that D&G cement tiles are made entirely by hand, they are never totally identical. There may be small differences in thickness, which should be accommodated with the layer of adhesive. However, in surface area, D&G cement tiles are sufficiently dimensionally stable to be able to lay them with a fine space (1 to 2 mm) between them.