Puerto Rican Cement Tile

Cement tile has a rich and deep history in Puerto Rico. We have supplied our colorful cement tiles for residences and restaurants in Puerto Rico. We can also recreate antique Puerto Rican cement tile patterns and deliver to the door in PR.  Just send us a photo or browse our existing tile patterns and request a quote.

Traditional floor designs made of cement tiles, “Losa criolla” (creole tile) or “losa isleño” (island tile), as they are called in Puerto Rico, are frequently laid out like a carpet or rug with a coordinating border just as a “Oriental”  rug might.puerto-rican-cement-tile

The technique for making decorative cement tiles was perfected in Europe about 50 years prior and quickly spread to Spanish colonies in the Americas, Asia, and Africa.

A mold, cement, color pigments and water are used to produce tiles by compression in a hydraulic press. As we are always telling our callers, the tiles are not fired or glazed like ceramic tile. They are water and air cured.

Many of the cement tiles now used in Puerto Rico come from Villa Lagoon Tile.  We can arrange shipment of stock tile using several freight lines who have regular service in Puerto Rico. For larger orders, we can deliver a container directly from factory to the island’s ports.

In Isabel II, Vieques take a look at the antique tile floors at the restaurant Conuco.Antique cement tiles at Conuco Restaurant

Villa Lagoon Tile can recreate antique Puerto Rican cement tiles and deliver to your door. Just send us a photo or browse our existing tile patterns and request a quote. We have supplied our colorful cement tiles for residences and restaurants in Puerto Rica.

Cement tile at Pirilo Pizza  pirilo-restaurant-1-VLT pirilo-restaurant-2-VLT

Designer Sophie Aurelie loves Villa Lagoon Tile’s encaustic cement tile (mosaicos hidraulicos) and uses them frequently in her restaurant plans.

Click & Buy this book for the pleasure of seeing hundreds of cement tile patterns from Puerto Rico.

Hernan Moran, author of Puerto Rico Tile Designs, states that cement or hydraulic tiles were first introduced to Puerto Rico around 1900. They were imported by ship from Barcelona, Spain.  The Puerto Ricans found the beautiful and practical  cement tiles to be cooler and cleaner than the old colonial floors made of stone, coral, bricks or wood. In Puerto Rica large numbers of homes and businesses built in the early part of the 20th century used cement tiles, not only for their durability but also for their cheerful designs and colors.

In the early 1060’s the popularity of hydraulic tiles in Puerto Rico started to drop as new flooring materials were introduced and poured terrazzo became vogue. In those days  some of the cement tile manufacturers in Puerto Rico switched to producing “losetas del pais” (terrazzo tiles) and concrete blocks.Many of the tiles in the public and historic buildings are native Puerto Rican designs.

By the 1920’s, there were at least five local companies that were manufacturing these native cement tiles in PR.  We read that Parador Villa Parguera in La Parguera, Lajas, on the southwest coast was a school before it  was a small hotel. The school received donations of leftover tiles from the tile makers, so there is an assortment of over 50 designs in their floors. See here, here, here and here

Today the antique tiles have come to be appreciated again and there is a resurgence of interest.

An example of new cement tile  are the floors through out the new El Blok hotel in Esperanza.


Cambodia’s Antique Patterned Cement Tile Floors

Siem Reap old market area sign The Khmer Rouge may have destroyed much of the population and vitality of Cambodia in the 1970’s but the lovely cement tile floors in the old districts lived through it all.

Siem Reap [siəm riəp] in northwest Cambodia is a town adjacent to the Angkor World Heritage Site, location of the world famous ancient Angkor Wat temple complex. The cafes and shops along the streets in the Siem Reap Old Market district reveal an assortment of colorful cement tile floors in age old patterns.

Cambodian Siem Reap market area
Old Siem Reap market area

Antique cement tile floors in a Cambodian cafe
A swirling hand drawn pattern like this is seldom seen in current cement tile production.
Even hardware stores have classic cement tile flooring like this 3 color pattern.
Antique Cement tile in a cafe in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
This cafe’s antique cement tile pattern with fleur-de-lis and berries is a popular pattern today.
The pattern in this cafe tile is reminiscent of medieval clay encaustic tile in pattern and colors.
Antique cubes cement tile
Antique cubes cement tile in typical popular Cambodian colors

Our quest to explore antique cement tile leads to many surprises. Patterns that were popular a long time ago remain strong sellers today. We love discovering beautiful cement tile installations that are still loved and appreciated in unexpected parts of the world. It seems that while cement tiles were once made commercially in Cambodia, now only one workshop may remain.  Known as Kay Vath’s tile factory in Phnom Penh. The factory and shop is on Russian Boulevard, near Teak Thla market but as the article says, his output is small. Now most new cement tiles are imported into Cambodia but the cheap printed ceramic tiles from China predominate due to the very low cost. Cambodia is in a state of recovery still and has a ways to go.

Our trip to Cambodia and neighboring Vietnam was wonderful and led to many excellent cement tile sightings. We’ll be posting photos of them in the next few weeks.

Hidden Treasures — Old Cement Tile Floors

Our correspondent and fellow lover of cement tile, Russell Mikler in Greece, has been sending us great photos of the tiles he has salvaged from old-old abandoned homes. Some of these old homes have been abandoned for over 35 years.

These red and white cement tiles came from a home built in the late 1920’s that had been abandoned with a collapsed roof. Some of the tiles had even been covered with linoleum in the past. Russell was not able to save all of them due to the roof debris and damage. He salvaged all he could quickly, as the house is now scheduled for demolition. Russell makes table tops with small amounts of reclaimed cement tile.

Click these thumbnails to see the full size images.

Sstacks of reclaimed encaustic tiledirty old cement tiles salvaged

a washed cement tile next to the salvage onesreclaimed salvage old greek cement tileswet cement tiles from scrubbing off years of grime

The photos show how the tiles look before and  after cleaning decades of grime off of the encaustic cement tiles.

Sure there are a few stains, but really they clean up beautifully… these tiles are almost a century old! Bravo to Russell for saving these lovely tiles from being discarded with the building rubble. Wouldn’t the original craftsmen of these tiles be proud to know that Russell cares enough to save their tile and that the cement tile will live on long after the original structures are gone.

antique cement tile before cleaningclassic pattern estrella cement tile rescuedreclaimed encaustic cement tile in Greece

Russell now has a small workshop and makes new tiles in limited quantities. If you  live in Greece and are interested in buying reclaimed old cement tiles let us know.