How are Mazingira Tiles made?

Known as an ‘encaustic cement tile’, Mazingira Tiles are made of concrete and the colour in the pattern comes from mineral pigments which are mixed and poured into a mould. This method was developed in the mid-19th century and hasn’t changed much since then. For centuries, these tiles have created focal areas on walls and floors.

The problem is that most encaustic style tiles are imported and being from offshore lands, lend themselves to international designs. With the hope to see more local designs in the industry, (and those being locally manufactured) we aim to make this happen.

Mazingira Tiles are individually hand-made using mineral pigments, cement, sand, a metal mould, and a hydraulic press. The colours you see on the surface are not painted on, or decorative surface treatment (like a glazed pattern tile). They are pressed into the tile so that it forms an integral part of the tile. In this way, the pattern cannot be ‘worn’ off by foot traffic.

Traditionally an ‘encaustic’ tile was made from clay, but today, most modern versions of the tile are made using cement. The term ‘encaustic’ these days represents the bold look of the tile rather than the traditional method in which they are made.

Each tile is made upside down in the metal mould. The colours are hand-poured into the different sections of the mould to make up the pattern. Once all the colours are carried out, the mould is removed and a further cement/sand layer is added giving the tile its strength. The tile gets pressed at high pressure in a hydraulic press. Next, the tile gets soaked in a bath of water and finally put on a drying rack where it’s left to cure.

Because of the nature of a handmade product, there may be slight imperfections, like tonal variations. Instead of detracting from the tiles, these imperfections are what give the tiles their character, uniqueness and depth.

The rich colours combined with bold graphic patterns make Mazingira Tiles an attractive choice for contemporary and traditional homes. The durability of the tiles makes them a worthy choice for commercial and residential applications. They can be laid on their own in feature walls, floors or splashbacks or as a collective with complementary ‘neutral’ concrete tiles for surrounding areas to create a decorative look. 

This is what makes Mazingira Tiles unique. It’s the same process that’s been around for thousands of years but with a South African flavour to the design. It’s an art form not everyone can master, but through our skilled craftsman, it’s an art form that lives on.

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