Manufacturing on
Three Continents
Our new website is live! This is a temporary archive, during the move. Visit the all-new Villa Lagoon Tile.

Antique French Cement Tile Floors

French Cement Tile - Brief History

Before the invention of Portland cement in early 19th century Britain, decorative tile of the type found at Villa Lagoon Tile were clay-based inlaid tiles, called encaustic tile because of their resemblance to medieval enamel tile. While not even these clay tile are truly encaustic ("encaustic" from the Ancient Greek "ἐγκαυστικός" meaning "to burn in"), it is a name that has persisted since the Victorian era.

France was an epicenter of encaustic clay tile design, and many of the traditional French patterns of that medium transferred into the newer process of cement tilemaking, when it began in the mid 19th century. The French name for these new tiles which supplanted their predecessors is "Carreaux de Ciment". Some of the tiles here are clay, and some cement, but it can take careful examination to determine which they are. We have molds for several of these patterns, but can easily reproduce historic designs or original creations.

19th Century French Cement Tile Floors

These floors curated by Sharon Santoni of the "My French Country Home" Blog are absolutely beautiful, and particularly show what kind of value these floors can provide for generations, with the proper care.

Antique French Floor Living Room

Note how the above picture shows the use of different field tiles with layered borders to segent larger spaces. Below we see more of the older techniques of rich layered border design. In this case, it appears that it was used to highlight a long walkway, perhaps a hallway.

Antique French Tile, with elegant flower-pattern border

French Antique Kitchen Floor

Elegant French Decorative Tile Floor

For more of these wonderful floors, check out the "19th Century Floor Tiles" post of Sharon Santoni's blog.

Cambodia and Vietnam

The height of late 19th and early 20th century cement tile use also coincided with the height of French colonialism in Southeast Asia. "French Indochina" covered most of what is today Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, and many examples of these beautiful tiles can be found there today.

French cement tile in Southeast AsiaThis tile floor was found by the author of the LTO Cambodia blog, preserved in the Golden Mermaid restaurant in Phnom Penh. The writer tells us that broken tiles were used to surface the restaurant's bar... giving this marvelous tile a second life.

The English-language blog LTO Cambodia has much more commentary and photography, for anyone interested in life in modern Cambodia, or the preserved art and history of the Khmer people.

Saigon Post Office

In neighboring Vietnam, the Siagon Central Post Office is a stunning example of French influence in Southeast Asia. Built between 1886 and 1891 by Gustave Eiffel (yes, THAT Eiffel), it also presents one of the most well-preserved and most intricate examples of 19th century French cement tile in the world.

In the few square feet shown below, I count the use of at least nine different mold patterns, one of which was poured with two different colorways, along with several sizes and colors of single-color tile.

Stunning French cement tile

We have several other images of these floors on a page dedicated to the Siagon Central Post Office.

The Tower of the Madgdalene

Andrew Gough: from his blog of travels. Look at the intense colors, even in this ancient setting.
From the village of Rennes-le-Château. The Tower of the Magdalene (Tour Magdela).

Ancient French Floors

north african tile floor

Egyptian Tile CLose up

There is a story about the one red section leading people up the stairs.

Egyptian Tile Floor Photos

We can reproduce any antique French cement tile floor for us.

Scroll Down
For More!