There are so many varieties of tiles, one of the lesser known being the encaustic Tile. These are different in the sense that the pattern or design featured on the tile is not created by the glaze, but by diverse shades of clay. A tile can be made from between two and six different colors. The design on the tile appears to be engraved onto the surface and as the surface of the tile is worn down the design stays put. The depth of the deign can vary (some are deeper at a quarter of an inch a some less so and reach an eighth of an inch). There is sometimes a little confusion about the difference between an encaustic tile and a cement tile.
Both types of tiles are unglazed, but they are very different. When cement tiles are used outside they are generally done so in warmer locations, they do not work well in icy conditions. Whereas encaustic tiles are usually frost-proof, which means they can be used outdoors, in colder locations.
You will find encaustic tiles in use in Europe and across North America. With the largest number produced in England. encaustic tiles have been in production since the medieval times and reached the peak of their popularity during the middle of the 1800’s. At this time Mintons Ltd came to the forefront and began to provide robust and ornate finishes for the flooring and walls of many buildings, including palaces and churches. The name “Minton Tile” is renowned and if you head to England you will find many examples of encaustic tiles. This shouldn’t come as a great surprise when you consider the inclement weather in the UK! Minton Ltd is an English company, which goes some way to explaining the popularity of the encaustic tile in England.