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Encaustic Tiles: Should You Embrace the Trend?

By 02/06/2016December 11th, 202087 Comments

Encaustic tile bathroom

From Apartment Therapy

Those of you who have been reading my musings about accent tile for years now could have easily predicted that this post was coming.

Well, here it is.

First, you should know that I did not even know how to say Encaustic before January of this year? I still worry when I say it that I’m not pronouncing it right. The reason I’m telling you this is because until 2016 it’s been a fringe trend. But now it’s here because my clients are asking me about it.

But should you run out and introduce it into your home?

My fabulous design assistant Tricia Firmaniuk is going to tackle this one. And I couldn’t have said it better myself.


Maria and I were having a conversation about the encaustic tile fad trend, and I said, no wait, this is not exactly new. Encaustic tiles have been around for centuries. They come in and out of fashion. Rarely is anything in the design world entirely new.

In my five years of art and design school (and the required art and design history courses) , I learned that, most often, we’ve been somewhere like here before.

A more ornate period in design will inspire a reactively austere period in design and vice versa. The pendulum rocking us back and forth. Keeping us in motion, holding our interest. Now that we have such efficient cultural exchange and global communication plus unforeseen capabilities for material production, this swing of trends has become so accelerated as to become nearly manic. And yet we try to keep up. It’s interesting and entertaining after all. Life is busy, don’t we all need some fast paced diversion?

Encaustic tiles (def.) are creamic tiles in which the pattern or figure on the surface is not a product of the glaze but of different colours of clay. They are usually of two colours but a tile may be composed of as many as six. Wikipedia

Popular in the very ornate Victorian and (more austere but still ornate by modern standards) Edwardian eras, and dating all the way back to Medieval times, graphic encaustic (or cement) tiles are enjoying a revival.

Okay, it’s suddenly a HUGE trend.


Encaustic Tile Trend

From Honestly WTF?

It looks so fresh and new! It’s bold and graphic! And exactly the opposite of trying to make our floors look like the bottoms of ancient wine caves with muddy, blotchy porcelain tiles, in the Tuscan trend right (below)?


Image via Home Bunch Popular look of the Tuscan Brown trend


Encaustic tile kitchen


As much as I welcome the return to ornamentation and rustic charm on the heels of too many slick modern spaces; and as lovely as all of the images of patterned kitchens and bathrooms flooding Pinterest are, this trend makes me uneasy because I can see several ways for it to go badly wrong.

So let’s unpack the potential and pitfalls of this very seductive new (yet old) trend.

Choosing a pattern that doesn’t suit your house

The key is to make sure the pattern and colourway you choose suits the style of your house for greatest success and longevity. If you have a modernist house from the 50’s or 60’s, you might get away with the mod geometry of the trendier patterns. But if you throw these into a new build with builder molding and finishes, it is going to look bad.

mod tile kitchen

From Limaonagua

If your house is more classic and Edwardian in style (think Brooklyn Brownstone below), look to the patterns of that time for inspiration. A patterned floor is an elegant way to add interest to a foyer in this kind of house. Ideally, you would use it in an enclosed space so that your entire decor doesn’t have to answer to it forever.


Brownstone via Apartment Therapy | Entry Hall via FrenchyFancy

Encaustic tile foyer

via Pinterest

Using a colour way that will boss you around

Yes gray might be the neutral of the moment, but remember how we desperately wanted to “warm up” the battleship gray fixtures of the late 80s and early 90s once the Tuscan trend arrived?

When choosing a colourway, make sure it includes white or cream. A little black is a good idea too. This way it will always relate to classic white, cream and black finishes. If your colourway is all grey, or buff, or any mid-tone neutral with an undertone, you will always get bossed around by it.

Encaustic tile bath

Manglola via Tumblr


Mixing it with older fixtures creating the dreaded “old kitchen, new backsplash” look

If you have a standard builder’s grade kitchen and you are looking to spice it up with some patterned tile, think again! You will end up with a look that’s yesterday and today all together. Encaustic tiles have a rich artisanal quality to them, and they will make your generic cabinets look sadder by comparison.

Related post: How to Mix Yesterday and Today in your Renovation

designer kitchen

Walls and Floors Inc.

Beware of cheap, tacky imitations.

Which brings me to my next point, when cheap versions of encaustic tile appear at your local home improvement big box, beware, they have become trendy, ubiquitous, cheaply produced and in the end, tacky. The better the craftsmanship the more enduring the look. Remember your mother’s patterned linoleum in the 70’s? That was going for a Victorian thing.

70s linoleum

70’s Linoleum via Pinterest

How fast trends change

Just think about how your taste in fabric patterns for throw pillows and ottomans flip flops every couple of seasons (I know mine do). Remember how great chevron was seven or eight years ago? And now? Yawn. Right.

Moroccan motifs are certainly classic to encaustic tiles, but will they hold your interest past the next few years? My main concern with this trend is our short attention spans and how fatiguing a strong pattern can be over time.

The point is, this is not a budget and DIY friendly trend.

You really have to know what you’re doing and why like a professional designer, I very nearly put some black, cream and yellow Mexican encaustic tiles on my backsplash last year, and I am so relieved that I opted for classic cream subway tiles instead. Thanks Maria! I LOVE my little vintage kitchen in all of it’s clean (ok, sometimes messy) simplicity.

Related post: The Best Backsplash Tile for your Kitchen

subway tile

Annieolee via Tumblr

We are bombarded with exciting new images and products daily and we are more fickle than ever in our tastes. This is why this blog has always advocated for classic simplicity in fixed elements like tile. This way, you maximize your flexibility to introduce pattern and colours in less permanent elements like textiles.

A great rug is an excellent way to introduce some pattern into your life by the way.

Related post: Bad Design Advice: Fall in Love with all Your Finishes

designer kitchen encaustic                                                             via Pinterest

All that said, if you have the budget to hire a high end designer and create the right setting for the look (and the budget to rip it out when you tire of it); or you are so happy that the Bohemian trend is here because you have always been a little Boho; or again you have always been in love with mod geometrics and are sure it’s not a passing fascination, then by all means, go for it!

geometric tile

Diario Design

I just wanted to make sure we really thought this one out first. It’s a big commitment.

Thanks Tricia!

Over to you! What do you think of this fad? Let’s be clear, that’s what it is. I have been writing this blog for 7 1/2 years and inside that time, accent tile trends have changed four times.

If you would like to transform the way you see colour, become a True Colour Expert.


Related posts:

The Debate on Interesting and Trendy vs. Timeless

Selecting your Kitchen or Bath Backsplash? Accent Tile or Not?

One more Reason you Should Skip accent Tiles Altogether

528 pins


  • Lucy HAINES says:

    Oh my, These tiles have definitely been around for a long time. Here in California so many of the Tuscan houses have them in variety of colors and patterns. They looked great with the heavy Tuscan furnishings but now that the clean look is in my clients do not want to pull out the floor and start over again. The expense is great! It is almost impossible to give them the clean look that they now desire. I am with Maria “keep it simple”. You can always change pillows or even draperies when you get tired of the colors that you now have. I like neutrals and that way you can change paint colors, fabric patterns etc. every five years if you want to keep up with the trends and it doesn’t cost an arm & a leg! However if you love that Tuscan, Boho, or Mediterranean look and want to keep it forever, then I say definitely go with the encaustic tiles because they definitely are beautiful.

    • George G Farrant says:

      Used carefully and cautiously in limited areas – such as entries and hallways – colourful, assertive encaustics can be superb.
      However for those of us who want to use the genuine ceramic inlaid version (and not knock-off printed ceramic patterns) where on earth can one obtain – or have made – true encaustics?

  • Pamela says:

    Love it!

  • Pamela says:

    Love it! But won’t use it because it doesn’t suit my home.

  • Great Post Maria. I have been going back and forth with my clients about the 3D tiles and the heavily patterned tiles. I love them too. As you said it is a FAD and it will go out but if the client is OK with that “Its Fine” .
    Maria, when are you coming to Florida???? I want to be your assistant so badly.

  • Melissa says:

    Just a few thoughts to add for anyone considering these. I have an Edwardian brownstone in the city (built ca. 1899/1900) and have encaustic tiles (geometric) on the floor of my vestibule (area between the double exterior doors and the double interior doors). They are (were?) fragile and over time, you could have some break, so please have replacements and someone skilled to fix it. They also absorb everything (dirty water from shoes, etc.). They are difficult to clean. They must be kept sealed/waxed (over and over and over again). That said, they add charm to an old house and if you pick classic colors/design and put them in an area that could easily be covered (I have seagrass rug covering them for protection), they might work for you.

  • Fran says:

    Too busy for me. Would prefer, as Tricia mentioned, to introduce pattern in textiles like rugs and pillows. Great post!

  • Linda Fitzgerald says:

    A cousin told me that when she was very young and waitressing one summer, the owner of the establishment laid a new floor, that was so geometric that she found herself high-stepping across the room because it felt like it was going to trip her!!

  • Chris says:

    NIce examples and it does look fresh!
    But I think one would quickly tire of it. And they are not the easiest to remove and replace once you get tired of them. I still think wood is the most timeless flooring and can be used anywhere. Ummm…on another note…am I the only one getting tired of seeing black framed doors and windows and subway tiles, open shelves and fig trees in pots?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Haha, in design magazines perhaps but tell me when your neighbour has that look, then we’ll really know that trend should go. Maria

    • Susan says:

      You might be Chris…but I could live with black framed doors/windows and open shelves, etc. forever!!!!…it’s such a comfortable and authentic lifestyle for ease and beauty…truly blissful…just bring in color with a bit of hobo pillows and textural rugs or more sophisticated silks when the mood hits. But then again, I’m still a fan of gray as well 🙂 so that might be the connection.

  • Laurel Bern says:

    Bravo! Perfect answer! I was so curious what you guys were going to say, but have to say that this is my philosophy too. (I wrote a post–link is in my name about encaustic tiles several months ago)

    If something has been here for a while and it’s making a “comeback” then it possibly has legs. And the other point is if you love it, I mean really love it, then go for it! If you’re just sheeping along and following the masses— that’s when I think one needs to take a step back and be careful. Sometimes it’s a fine line though.

    Oh, BTW, got some flack because in that post I wrote a “dear laurel letter.” which 99% are fictitious. And yes, I riffed on the white cabinet, subway tile thing to make my point. A few people took it that I was slamming you which I was not in any way shape or form! I LOVE white cabinets and white subway tile and agree that when it doubt, it’s really the way to go. And there are a lot of designers who recommend it! They were completely missing the point which was that the woman thought she had made a terrible mistake when in fact, she was going with something classic that she loves. Bottom line for me is trust what you love! xo, Laurel

  • Sue Hilbrich says:

    While I absolutely LOVE this look (I have lived in 2 European countries for 8 years), I believe they are best suited to the places you vacation/visit, not my current home in Chicago. And honestly, I like to think…..”in my next life”

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    Great post. Once again…the style of home you have should be your guide in how to decorate it.
    I remember the patterned linoleum of the 70’s. I believe it’s from the Mediterranean trend that was popular then. If we have purchased a home with it now, that’s the first thing we rip out. I see the same thing happening to these tiles at some point.

  • Meger Anski says:

    Only if you are interested in living in a construction zone when they rip it out to install next trend

    Some have higher tolerance for this than others.

    That about sums THAT up. 🙂

  • Liz Okamura says:

    Thinking about black and white tiles I saw at a box store for my small white bathroom. They are inexpensive and I figure that if in a few years they aren’t wearing well, well then out they go. The small white square tile that has been there for ever is looking shabby, so a change is in need!

  • Deborah says:

    Melissa is correct! Too much maintenance, I am the queen of low maintenance. My idea of going wild in the kitchen is changing the grout color on the subway tile to one of the colors I pulled from the counter top. Just sayin….

  • Stacy G says:

    The swinging of the pendulum is a great description. It happens in fashion too which can be maddening, and none of which are “new” but re-invented. With the access of the internet, the exposure tends to make these trends seemingly change overnight, simply because a spotlight celebrity or heralded designer promotes it, if only for a moment. And like sheep, we embrace it too. It reminds me of my little students in class. If one gets up to get a tissue, more than half of the class follows.

  • KATHYSUE says:

    As soon as I saw these tiles pop up in the new model homes where we just purchased, I thought, big mistake on two levels, design and practicality, being ceramic if something falls on them they will chip and since the pattern does not go all the way through the tile, only the layer on top, it will be quite obvious. Also like you Maria, I have seen this come around way too often, it keeps trying to become a classic and it just is not cutting it IMHO. Great post and I so agree with all that has been said!!

  • Farha Syed says:

    As always a great post.
    I agree that if you absolutely love it then go for it.
    I dont see myself giving it as an option to my clients minly because of the style of the houses. I remember Genevieve Gorder put similar tiles in clients house in one of her shows but it suited that style and of course looked fabulous.

    I followed your advice when I was doing my kitchen – the countertops and subway tiles. I wish I had stumbled upon your blog two years earlier and my kitchen and bathroom tiles wouldnt be haunting me. But dont have the budget to do it yet. Maybe in my new home. Everything will be classic and timeless.

    Enjoy reading and learning from your blog.


  • Audra says:

    Perfect advice!

  • Kathy says:

    Got to admit that I loved these tiles from the get-go when I first saw them maybe about 15 years ago. I believe the modern concrete ones are quite different from the old clay ones and are probably more porous, and the designs tend to be larger scaled. They also come in more contemporary and single color designs which can be striking.

    I own a Victorian home, and they could be nice in the entries where the old wood floors haven’t held up well to a century of snow and water, despite large area rugs. Still, for the price, I think I’m going for a stenciled floor with a similar look, which can be changed quite easily and cost a fraction and aren’t nearly as heavy as the tiles.

  • Kim says:

    They remind me of Malibu tiles, so commonly found in older homes in Southern California. They fit perfectly in these homes…You better love them for their historical value because your realtor and your new neighbors will despise you for replacing them. Out of context, I think these tiles could be a costly risk to take. And very bossy, like you suggested Maria.

  • Having just finished a client’s home with Encaustic tile only in 3 of her bathrooms. I must say I love it – HOWEVER – this client is European and travels constantly. We paired this up with gorgeous walnut cabinets and kept everything simple.

    Even the window sills have walnut in the base, the windows themselves are gothic looking, there are beams throughout, we used Kalklitir paint, Moroccan lighting, etc..

    I find when you use Encaustic tiles that it needs to be all or nothing, they can’t simply be thrown in, as you agree in the article.

    My client is very happy with her Morrocan looking home and the encaustic tile fits right in perfectly.

  • Kay says:

    Too busy for me. People who install them will probably have a harder time if they try to sell their house, except in instances where everything is so seamlessly designed that it’s impossible to imagine the house without them. The only picture I really like is the entry hall by French fancy, where the tile looks like it has always been there.

  • Nancy says:

    Ohhh thank you but no thank you.’
    Way to busy / bossy and everything in between for my taste.
    I would be so tired of that so fast.
    Some of them would make a great couch pillow.

  • Sarah says:

    Well written, Tricia!

    I’ve been wondering about this fad and how it might be applied to real-life homes. I think these tiles are beautiful, but I couldn’t live with them.

  • Jo says:

    No thanks, too busy, too geometric. The only one I like at all is the Entry Hall via FrenchyFancy one. I’ll take traditional mosaics (hex, 1×1 squares, basket weave, windmills, etc.) anyday! Good article, informative.

  • Julie says:

    I love it in theory and was considering it as backsplash for a while. Then I noted how busy it looks in the 80s kitchen in “the Americans” TV show and realized it’s just not something I can live with forever, which is about how long my design choices need to last:
    I do think it works better on the floor, and adore some of the above photos. I love brave choices by those who can afford to do it right, and rip it out.

  • Ange says:

    Great article. No thanks , I would get very tired of all that busy tile. Just like the busy granites that are in many kitchens today-just way too much for me.

  • sandyc says:

    Some are lovely to look at now but not forever. If I find myself craving, I’ll put a few together and frame them for a small wall hanging or make a trivet. Then when I get tired of them, I can donate them and go for something else.

  • Carol - Florida says:

    @Jill Sonia Interiors — Yes there is a definite place for it. Your work sounds beautiful. I live in FL and in old South Florida where we still put in Mexican tile floors – that others would balk at. In Central FL we don’t do that. It’s all about the environment, the home, the region your home is in. And is the house “asking for these tiles”? Yes, it just may be!

  • Stacy says:

    I think these are great for entryways or laundry room or even a powder room that otherwise can be so boring. Why not do something a little bold there? But not in a main room or bathroom and definitely not for a backsplash. In other words, if you put it in rooms that you are constantly in, you will tire of it. But I have to say that I chose a pattern very much like the second picture (the bathroom with blue/yellow tile) for my bedroom curtains, and I love them. So for textiles, these patterns are fabulous and lively. But the rest of my bedroom is plain.

  • Pam says:

    No – Never, ever will I use these kinds of tiles. IMO they are horrendously ugly. Would probably make my blood pressure spike….

  • Lisa says:

    I couldn’t agree more. And won’t be installing any encaustic tiles in the near future;).

  • Kimberly says:

    Such a timely post! I was just considering encaustic tiles for my new master bathroom, but in the end decided against them. Decided to go with wood flooring. I know it’s supposed to be a no-no for bathrooms, but I lived with it in another bath for 8 years without issue and just love the look and feel. So much warmer on the toes than tile! Btw, Maria, your side pop-up about your course is adorable. The only pop-up I’ve ever stopped to read because it was so colorful and happy looking 🙂

  • anne says:

    laughing as i read this. as soon as our contractor gets over the flu, he’ll be over here with his crew and a lot-wide dumpster, ripping out 2 bathrooms with the 1970s versions of that tile…on the floors, walls and counter tops. it’s everywhere. the tile is heavy, the grout can’t be cleaned, and the confusing patterns are crazy-making. this is just a fad that looks good in pinterest. in my last house, i put white subway tile on the walls and white six-sided tile on the floor. loved it and i’ll be doing it again x 2. now i just want that contractor to get better and get over here!

  • Renee says:

    These tiles remind me of Morocco, the country of tiles with every permutation of colours imaginable. They can be strikingly beautiful but can overpower after a time. Before installing such tiles, I would recommend buying Moroccan plates to test what it’s like to live with such bold patterns. The plates mimic encaustic tiles but can be put away when one gets tired of them.

  • Thank you for this interesting article. I think using cement tiles is very relevant to where you live. They need to be considered very carefully in Northern America where they don’t really have a historic antecedent and where they can really easily look out of space.
    In Europe there are much more commonly found in old houses and buildings as they were the material of choice about 100 years ago. I am currently based in Madrid and renovating a flat for clients where we found the original encaustic tiles below the newer laminate. We will recuperate and clean as much as we can to use them in the bathrooms and kitchen to keep some original elements. I’ve also used new ones on another project. I think context is really key when using them.
    And yes stay away from imitations as they look dreadful. The real ones are expensive, hard to install and need some caring, but the result is certainly worth it!

  • Virginia says:

    Great article Maria, always on the pulse of things. I was trying to see “How to Mix Yesterday and Today in your Renovation” but unable to bring it up with the link provided in the article. Can you please provide another link?

  • Marla says:

    Love the look of these tiles, but as others have stated you must be careful in their use. I’m just not sure how something that’s been around for over 150 years can be considered a fad.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Great question, the definition of a fad is: an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis in the object’s qualities; a craze.

      As I said in the post, I have been blogging for 7 1/2 years and during that time, accent tile trends have changed 4 times. That is very short lived. A trend usually has a lifespan of about 10 years. As much as everyone talks about the access to information and how things change, the grey trend arrived in 2002 (here in the Westcoast anyway) and it will also have it’s 10 year span before something new comes along.

      And, accent tile installed the wrong way in a builder house will totally look like a fad. Thanks for your comment! Maria

  • Mary says:

    Been around forever here in S California. I’m indifferent .

  • mairi says:

    I’ll stay with ‘slick modern’ I guess. These are too mardi gras for me, a never ending kaleidoscope.

  • carolanne says:

    so funny, we (the sales person and I ) laid out 4, 30″x30″ tiles that had blk & white combinations of these patterns for our kitchen floor a few months ago … then both looked over at my hubby with a big smiles hoping he would love it …. the look on his face was so so funny… we looked at each other and said together… no were not going there, lol … I thought it would be amazing but he reminded me that we were going to live in the condo for a long long time … need to love the design for a long time … so we have amazing grey tiles that we love every day and will for a long long time !

  • Catherine says:

    WOW, Tricia, you are an extremely talented writer and this article was FABULOUS. Thoughtful, interesting, well-researched and, best of all, your writing style is amazing. You’re a very talented person!!

  • Roz Kavander says:

    I used these tiles three years ago. Way ahead of the trend. I think because our world is becoming more culturally diverse, we have to stop and consider that too. My client is a doctor who immigrated from North Africa. She loved these tiles. They made her feel at home by introducing them into the design plan. They went into the entrance hall and the fireplace surround. They are absolutely beautiful and the colour integrate well with the rest of the house. Backsplashes and bathroom tiles are more classic and simple. it taught me a lot about being open to other cultures and mixing it up. The important thing is to make sure the undertones dance well together.

  • You made some excellent points, Tricia. I agree that keeping the tiles mostly (or totally) in neutral colors will add to their longevity. I prefer geometrics to fussy florals and have long loved anything Moroccan or exotic, so I like the look of these tiles. They kind of remind me of the hex floor I did in my 20s bath – it forms a star pattern in black and white, on a gray background. Yes, it’s busy – but it’s also dramatic. In my opinion, the encaustics are best used on a floor, or just a small area like a bar front, rather than a backsplash. If you opt for them, keep other permanent elements simple, with little if any pattern.

  • Mary says:

    Hmmmm, loved the classic Tuscan floor the best. I thought it was one of your favs until I read “muddy and blotchy”. I always say trendy today, tacky tomorrow. The colors are pretty but would never want to be stuck with them for life.

  • There are so many interesting patterns to choose from and most of the time we pick the classic – boring, a bit more plain. These pictures truly inspired me!

  • hilda says:

    wow. I can’t believe this is making a comeback! incredible.

  • Diana says:

    Excellent article. Thanks for your insight Tricia. Always appreciated.

  • Beth B. says:

    Excellent article-thank you! I admit that sometimes I have a hard time differentiating between what is influencing me trend-wise, vs. what I truly love.

  • ann says:

    I think they are beautiful in the right setting. They seem to look best in simply designed rooms. I am considering stenciling my screened in porch floor with that look.

  • ann says:

    I think they are beautiful in the right setting. They seem to look best in simply designed rooms. I am considering stenciling my screened in porch floor with that look.

  • ann says:

    I think they are beautiful in the right setting. They seem to look best in simply designed rooms. I am considering stenciling my screened in porch floor with that look.

  • Beryl says:

    I’m puzzled. You’re writing an article about why encaustic tiles shouldn’t be use yet all your examples are gorgeous. The only ugly room you show is the tuscan brown. If you are trying to discourage the use of these tiles you need to show some bad examples.

    I think what it comes down to is whether or not one has the ability to pick pattern, color and materials well, and if not, stick to basics. The architectural style and period of the home should never be overlooked. And cheap patterned tile is always ugly. Just like cheap faux-stone. That has got to be the worst trend ever!

    • Maria Killam says:

      You’ve said it exactly right Beryl. What is shown in this post is how to do it right. But most people don’t have houses that look like this and if you don’t, then stick to the basics, exactly.

  • Martha A Henson says:

    I still like the muddy, blotchy porcelain tiles. The first Edwardian pattern would be fine. Put the tile on a tray and prop it up on the counter. Or a rug.

  • Audra Post says:

    What are your thoughts on Arabesque lantern tiles? We are in the process of planning a kitchen renovation and like the idea of using this type of tile for the backsplash. Timeless? Too trendy? Thanks!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Just keep them white. they won’t bother you later if you can still change the colours around them. Nothing wrong with that. Maria

  • Carol says:

    I have a 1932 storybook house and have been searching for over a year since we moved in for some color for my kitchen and breakfast room floor. I had my 80’s whitewashed cabinets done over in a yellow and be thrilled to have some old styled patterned linoleum to go with but it doesn’t exist. I am very excited about encaustic tile. I am an artist and black, white, beige and grey are just weak, spineless and oh so boring to me. I get that you have to be careful but if I do it right it won’t look trendy and be replaced. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at kitchen styles from the 30’s to the 50’s where people had a lot of fun and went bold and colorful.

  • Tarielle_au says:

    Just happened to stumble across this post because I am thinking of using these tiles in my bathroom.
    My bathroom is tiny, just 1.5m x 1.5m. I would love to use these tiles in grey, black and white on my floor. On the wall to vanity height I will be using large plain white tiles.
    All the fixtures in the bathroom are black, shower head, taps, hooks, everything. The vanity is white.
    The vanity top will be a lovely rich timber with timber shelves on one of the walls and some lovely grey baskets.

    What do you think of my design and would the encaustic tiles work on the floor?
    I am tossing up between those and some dark grey tiles as a safety back up.
    The bathroom will be completely closed off using a sliding barn door.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Well it’s trendy, but black and white is better than the colourful ones which will dictate the colours of your bathroom forever. Maria

  • Mindy D says:

    I love this tile and have been waiting for it to come in if only so I can find it without having to import from Europe. Moroccan tile and patterned tile in general has always been my favorite for the last 30 years ever since I saw Monet’s House at Giverny, and I thought I would shoot myself in the head if I had to see another horrible beige travertine tile bathroom. Finally some personality out there. I don’t love that it’s gotten so popular, but at least it means there are more options to buy it. Obviously if you are selling your house any time soon you want to go with as boring a color palate as possible.

  • Celeste says:

    We are renovating the main floor bathroom in our 110 year old, four square home. The bathroom has a claw foot tub. Black and white encaustic tiles are in the running for the bathroom floor. We are also considering charcoal grey/black rectangular tiles in a herringbone pattern. The latter tiles are safe. The original floors are tight grain heartwood pine throughout the house. Are the encaustic tiles timeless for this home?

  • Steven says:

    We’re supposed to take advice from someone whose kitchen looks like the bathroom in my guest house? No thanks.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Steven, wow that sounds like a really beautiful guest house 🙂 Thanks for reading my blog. Maria

  • Efrain Cerron says:

    Hi Maria, I’m recently start a business to fabricate encaustic tile in Mexico, and I fill disappointed wen I read a negative comment about this beautiful product, I assume that they didn’t get the Right place to buy their product, in Mexico there is many of places were you can buy this product, however I have to said that most of them don’t have quality,
    PS, I truly believe in the beauty of this product.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Efrain, this is a trend with a short shelf life. Just like every accent tile. It’ll be hot for a couple more years and then it’ll be mostly over. It belongs in very custom situations like I mentioned in this post. Maria

  • Heather MacLeod says:

    My house is my art project, which is why I choose not to live in a gated community with an HOA. What once were considered weeds by most people – and have adorned all of my yards for years- and are now being sold as perennials for “butterfly gardens.” I say follow your artistic self, create your home, and don’t worry about what the next buyer may think.

    • Lauri says:

      I’m with you. I just ordered 354 sqft of custom med grey-blue and white encaustic tiles for my kitchen floor, front entry and basement bath. I chose the colors based on some Parian porcelain wall art I’ve owned since the ‘80s. I bought and painted/glazed new doors for my cabinets in a French vanilla color. The counter to ceiling backsplash behind my open black pipe/aged wood shelving will be white arabesque porcelain tiles that are half plain/half floral embossed. I haven’t touched my kitchen in 20 yrs and now that I’m redoing it, it’s going to be unabashedly an explosion of MY aesthetics because it’s my forever home. Trends be damned!

      PS I’m letting my wasteful lawn be gracefully eaten up by “weeds” with flowers the pollinators love, too. Mowing sucks. 🙂

  • Donna says:

    Hi Maria and Tricia,
    Well written article. It looks like this was originally written in 2016. Now in 2019, what do you think? I am renovating a new home and find it more difficult than renovating a home I have lived in. I don’t know lighting or have a feel of the house yet. I have been shopping for tiles for months now (redoing 5 bathrooms, laundry room and kitchen) and it seems like the encaustic look is revving up. Each time I revisit a store they seem to have more patterns than the last time I visited. For me, I am trying to walk the Style line right down the middle so when I sell the house in 20 years it is still somewhat relevant. But will white subway tile still be relevant? Probably not. So what’s girl to do? My island will be calacatta Caldia and my perimeter quartz (which my husband thinks looks super fake). Backsplash white subway? Or encaustic? Both will be dated in 20 years.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Subway tile is a classic that just happens to be trending right now. Encaustic tile (which you will get tired of 10 minutes after it’s installed) will most certainly be dated in 20 years and is already behind the most current trendy accent tiles which are more geometric.

      Tile stores will continue to sell them long after those in the know stop buying and specifying it.
      Hope that helps,

  • Karen A Hanzel says:

    Oh my Steven…are you speaking of Maria’s or Tricia’s kitchen? I just checked them out and they are both stylish.

  • Diane says:

    Great article with concepts that go beyond choosing tile, thank you so much

  • Irene Newcomb says:

    Encaustic tile was widely used in my country of Costa Rica up until the 60’s. I feel so at home when I enter those old wooden homes and walk down the interesting hallways and into the voluminous dining “halls”. The encaustic patterns are just so graceful and celebratory. In fact, there is still an encaustic tile factory that has been around for a long time (way before it became trendy again) and they supply the old churches with their tile needs. We are lucky in CR to have this resource. Thanks for the great article!

  • Tina says:

    Love, love, love! I took lots of pictures of old encaustic tiles in Europe and dream of doing the floor in my future kitchen. Black and white is my favorite combo.

  • Lorena says:

    I love very ornate things. What is considered a fad in the USA, is not in other countries, which in turn they become classics. Encaustic tiles are beautiful and used for centuries in other countries like Morocco and such.

  • Lisa says:

    I grew up in California and also lived in France where these tiles are practically a neutral and have been around for decades. I think it all comes down to the style of the house. In a new build in Canada they could definitely feel out of place.

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