Using Cement Tiles Outdoors: The Importance of Using a Top-Coat Sealant with UV Filters

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Introduction
The presence of cement tiles as floor and wall covering indoors is established and continues to grow as architects and designers find new uses that enhance their projects. To a lesser extent, the uses of these versatile, colorful tiles outdoors are slowly being discovered. Their use on building facades and walls creates a work of art that compliments the building architecture and design. Cement tiles are prominently used outdoors in a few hotels such as the SLS Miami and SLS Las Vegas as pool decking. The stunning addition of patterned tiles in those areas creates a bright colorful background to the pool designs as bathers and sun worshippers relax sipping Pina Coladas.

An important factor to consider when using cement tiles is the use of the appropriate sealant for indoor or outdoor installations. We have conducted tests that provide clear evidence that the use of a top coat with UV filters is vital to maintaining the vibrant colors in cement tiles. Without the UV filters, the colors can noticeably fade in as little as four to five months.

Testing Method

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Dry Treat Stain-Proof Impregnating Sealant
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VLT Grout Release & Top-Coat Sealant

A colorful cement tile was selected and prepared by marking off spaces where two sealant treatments would be applied. A Control section on the tile with no sealant was allotted. The test articles were:

  • Dry-Treat – Stain-Proof, a premium Impregnating/Penetrating sealant.
  • Villa Lagoon Grout Release and Top-Coat Sealant, a co-polymer top-coat sealant containing UV Filters.

The products were applied as directed by the manufacturer. Two coats of the VLT Grout Release/Top-Coat were applied and allowed to dry for 24 hours. The Dry-Treat/Stain Proof was applied in succession 3 times and allowed to dry for 24 hours.

On May 9, 2016, the tile were placed outdoors in an open space, no shade or covering. The tile was exposed to all weather elements present in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The weather there is typically hot, humid, lots of sun and lots of rain. Temperatures ranged from 70 F to 95 F with heat indices of >105 F. The tile was not maintained or cared for in any manner. The tile was often in direct all-day sunshine from May 9, 2016, thru September 21, 2016. Periodic rain and thunderstorms occurred, no hail or other weather events were present.

Results

  • Initially, on the test tile just after application of the Dry-Treat a slight change color (enhancement) was noticed but faded over the course of the 24 hour drying period.
  • The VLT Grout Release/Top-Coat Sealant showed a marked color enhancement that continued through the entire test period.
  • The test tile was brought inside on Sep 21, 2016, after 19 weeks+ 2 days exposure.
  • The tile was allowed to cool to room temperature prior to observations being recorded.
  • The test (Treated) tile was compared to an identical tile (Control) that had been stored in a sealed box in a warehouse. It had never been exposed to sunlight.
  • The Treated tile showed obvious effects of weather. On the Treated tile, the Control section where no sealant was applied showed fading in all the colors except for the white portions of the tile.
  • The VLT Grout Release/Top-Coat treated section of the tile showed no fading and the color remained vibrant and rich.
  • The Dry Treat/Stain Proof/Impregnating sealant showed comparable fading as in the Control (no Sealant section).

Discussion

  • The results of this simple test demonstrate that for outdoor use of cement tile, the VLT Grout Release/Top Coat co-polymer sealant with UV filters prevents fading and we consider it to be a superior treatment than the Dry Treat/Stain-Proof product for outside use.
  • The use of the VLT Grout Release/Top Coat co-polymer sealant provides an appealing color enhancement effect on cement tiles.

The UV filters prevented the colors from fading when exposed to bright sunshine for a long period of time. Though not tested in this experiment, we believe the VLT Grout Release/Top-Coat co-polymer sealant will prevent staining from bird droppings and other organic stains from leaves and natural debris.

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Cement Tile Blows ’em out of the Water, Design by Philippe Starck

One of our most fun projects was making the many patterns of tile that Philippe Stark called for in his design for the SLS Vegas hotel pool area. The project consisted of 2 large ‘rug like’ areas of a patchwork of pattern with a solid color Black tile border around each. This was not our first Phillipe Stark project but it was the largest. We also made cement tile for YOO Panama.

The pool bar at the Las Vegas SLS Hotel is called FOXTAILS. 

SLS Foxtail pool area Las Vegas

Quite a bit of organization was required by us, our tile workshop and the installers. The contractor was Ferraro Marble of Las Vegas and they were great to work with.

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While many of the patterns were traditional designs for which we already had the molds, there were some that we had to make from scratch. The project required many pre-order samples going back and forth as most large commercial jobs do. Once they saw the quality of our tiles and that we were able to tackle this complicated order, everyone was ‘on board’ and the fun began.

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Our factory used color coded sticky tape on the tile boxes to assist Ferraro Marble in identifying which tile was in which box. Even with that help, we know it was a real challenge to follow the designer’s layout exactly.

SLS Vegas dance floor

We also provided the black and white tile used in a chevron pattern on the DANCE FLOOR in the nightclub in the hotel. So many delightful patterns can be created with solid color tiles. We think this is an option seldom explored by many designers. The potential for plaids and large scale repeating or non-repeating patterns is limitless.

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In keeping with the B&W theme throughout the SLS Vegas, the Sundries shop has our black and white cement tile.

One thing is for sure, Villa Lagoon Tile’s Custom Patchwork at the SLS Vegas is the perfect setting for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Models !!

SLS Vegas Patchwork Cement Tile

Turnberry Resort Chooses Villa Lagoon Tile’s Hexagonal “Halo” Cement Tile

turnberry-resortWhen renovations were done at Turnberry Isle Resort Club  our hexagonal cement tiles were chosen for the lively inside-outside CORSAIR Restaurant / Bar over seen by noted chef Scott Contan.

 

 

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Corsair offers a seasonal and rustic menu of American and Mediterranean dishes. The menu changes based on what can be gotten locally.
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The décor, featuring Villa Lagoon Tile’s hand crafted “Halo” hexagonal encaustic cement tile, and menu offerings are united through a sense of understated sophistication.

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The restaurant has a scenic outdoor terrace which provides an ideal place for guests to enjoy picturesque views, the splash of the cooling waterfall  and the diverse tropical vegetation and, of course,  the resort’s acclaimed golf course.


“Find Scott Conant’s hearty, farmhouse-style cooking in a polished, handsome setting.”     
The Miami Herald

“With CORSAIR, Conant again shows why he’s among the city’s best pasta makers.”    Miami New Times

“One of the 10 Hottest New Restaurants in Miami.”    Zagat Miami

Turnberry Resort is in the Aventura Miami area and is a luxury Miami hotel, golf course, and club with a private beach.

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.