Cement tile was first made in Europe in the mid-19 century, notably by the French and the Catalans. Over the years it became popular in many parts of Europe and eventually production began to spread throughout the French colonies to places like Morocco & Saigon.
Still as revered as ever for their beauty, today cement tile is made primarily in Morocco, Mexico & South-East Asia. However, Saigon is known for producing the most superior quality cement tiles. After testing production methods throughout the world, we found that no other place came close to the quality found in Saigon. That’s why we now base 100% of our production there.
Saigon has a rich history of over 150 years perfecting the technique of handmade cement tile. We use only the highest-grade pigments and materials that undergo meticulous quality control. Our factories are family owned where intricate techniques and processes have been passed down through generations of artisans.
We have both large and small factories throughout the region to accommodate high volume commercial projects and smaller projects that need a faster production time. Each cement tile you receive is a genuine artisanal product carefully hand crafted and steeped in tradition.
Are Cement and Encaustic tiles the same?
Cement and encaustic tiles are not the same. People often confuse the two types of tile and commonly refer to cement tile as encaustic, however they are quite different.
Encaustic Tiles date back to the 14th century and are made of two or more colors of clay which are inlaid together making a pattern, then fired, sometimes more than once.
Cement Tiles on the other hand did not develop until mid-19th century and use mineral pigments for the color which are set into a mold at the beginning of the process. The cement is poured on top, then the tile is hydraulically pressed and the tile is cured for several weeks
How are cement tiles made?
Step 1. Pouring the Color
A liquid mixture consisting of white cement, natural marble powder, color pigment, and additives is poured by hand into the divider frame to make the pattern. Different liquid mixtures are needed to create multiple colors in one tile. After all the colors have been added the divider is carefully removed from the mold. The process is incredibly intricate and requires a delicate hand.
Step 2. Adding Cement Layers
A second layer of very fine mixtures of marble powder, sand and grey cement is added on top of the first layer. The second layer is very thin and has the function of absorbing water from the first layer.
Step 3. Hydraulic Press
All the materials in the mold are then pressed by hand using a hydraulic press. Moisture from the liquid colored layer will be absorbed through the dry back layers. All of our tiles are pressed twice to give them added strength.
Step 4. Curing
The tile is then removed from the mold and soaked in water for 24 hours. Once removed from the water the tiles are left on drying racks at room temperature and left to cure for several weeks.
Step 5. Coating and Sealing
When completely dry the tiles are treated with a layer of sealer multiple times to create a smooth surface before they go through a rigorous quality control process. Each piece is meticulously inspected for any imperfections before being packaged to be shipped
Why Choose SABA tiles?
- SABA tiles are thinner than the standard 16mm thickness. Our tiles are 12mm thick which makes both installation and shipping much easier and more cost effective, while also reducing waste.
- SABA tiles are stronger and smoother because the second layer is made with marble powder as well as sand. This increases the tile’s strength while also making the color more vibrant. All SABA tiles are polished and sealed twice before packaging. This makes for a smoother finish and greatly reduces the chance of efflorescence appearing.
- SABA tiles have vibrant colors. We only use the highest quality natural mineral pigments from Belgium and Germany, which makes the color far more consistent, less likely to fade as well as longer-lasting.
- SABA tiles pattern lines are sharp and consistent. Our divider molds are routinely sharpened and well maintained so that colors do not bleed and ruin patterns. Color bleeding occurs when molds are left to get blunt. Our tiles go through a rigorous quality control process where each individual tile is checked twice for any imperfections before being packaged.
- SABA tiles are unique. We don’t carry any other companies’ designs; nor do we sell the traditional patterns commonly found on cement tiles. Apart from a few of our core basic patterns we only design original patterns and are always developing new custom colors for our clients. We have over 75 colors to choose from.
- SABA tiles have short lead times. We keep a large variety of designs in stock so you don’t have to wait. But if you are looking for a special order, we can deliver in less than 8 weeks depending on the quantity and pattern.