Encaustic Tile: What It Is and Why You Should Use It

By November 30, 2015 December 14th, 2015 No Comments

If you’ve never heard of encaustic tile, you’re not alone. But you’ve almost certainly seen it. From patterned tile floors to colorful backsplashes, this material has beautified homes, churches, and even government buildings for centuries (there’s even some in the U.S. Capitol). And it’s recently become very popular in American interiors.

What Is Encaustic Tile?

Encaustic tile is a ceramic tile with different colors of clay inlaid into a background color to create an image or pattern. So instead of tiles all made of one color, you can get beautiful design with each piece. Plus, individuals tiles can be arranged to create larger patterns, letting you turn your floor—or wall, or counter—into a real work of art.

So if you’re building a home or thinking about remodeling, read on to see why you should definitely consider using this material in your home.


There is no shortage of encaustic tile designs you can use for inspiration for your home. From perfectly modern to Medieval European to stylish Mediterranean, you can find designs and patterns to suit any design taste. And both the individual tiles and the designs you create with them can be as simple or as intricate as you like.


Where can you use encaustic tiles in your home? Let us count the ways:

  • Outdoors, especially outdoor living spaces. It elicits nostalgic images of covered walkways lined with arches, but it’s just as at home in your contemporary exterior. Lay encaustic tile as a patio surface for a space your family and friends will love to spend time in.
  • Entryways. Tile designs have long been popular for open entryways and even courtyards in Mediterranean homes. They can make a smaller entryway look clean and stylish, or a grander entry into a dazzling welcome.
  • Bathroom. Lay tiles wall to wall for dramatic flooring, or let them create contrast as a border along the bath or shower.
  • Kitchen. Another classic location for a tile floor, your kitchen will get a big design boost with encaustic-tile flooring. You can also use it as a backsplash, or even cover a whole wall if you have open space without cabinets. It also makes for a stunning top to a kitchen island.
  • Anywhere else. Inlaid on a tabletop, whether it’s a coffee table, end table, or accent table. If you have a fireplace or hearth, lay encaustic tile at the base and even as a border, or as a unique design above the mantel. Use it as a border to dress up a doorway.


Encaustic tiles that have been around for centuries show that they can take a lot of wear. And since the color is part of the tile itself rather than painted on, it will be visible much longer without fading or wearing off.

And it’s easy to maintain. Encaustic tiles are often tightly fitted together, so unlike traditional tile, there’s no need to worry about the grout between them becoming dirty or dingy over time.

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