For as long as I've lived in Florida, I've been enamored with what's known in these parts as Cuban tile. Cuban tile was all the rage in Florida from the turn of the last century up until the 1950s. The embargo against Cuba pretty much sealed its fate as a lost material until fairly recently.
I live in an old neighborhood and this house is down the street from me.
Wild as it is, all that Mission-style mish mash and stucco is original and that house is about 70 years old. The front porch had been closed in at some point after the advent of air conditioning, but if you look in the door you can see what's on the floor in there.
It's an original Cuban tile floor.
I've written about Cuban tile before though it's been quite a while. All this time, I've been using the terms Cuban tile, encaustic tile and cement tile interchangeably but it's come to my attention recently that encaustic and cement tiles are very different things and to split the hair even finer, cement tile's more accurately called concrete tile. Zoe Voigt, a writer and great friend of this blog, explains the differences thoroughly in an article called The Difference between Encaustic and Cement on Tile Style.
In the comments that follow Zoe's post, Richard Holdshuh explains that cement tile isn't really cement after all. It's concrete. Richard's opinion is backed up in a follow up comment left by Jorge Aguayo of Industrias Aguayo.
Industrias Aguayo is one the world's few manufacturers of concrete tile. From their factory in the Dominican Republic, Aguayo keeps alive the Cuban tradition through a concrete tile series they call Herencia Cubana. That's Cuban Heritage in English.
Bill Buyok, another friend and occasional contributor to this blog, happens to sell Aguayo's Herencia Cubana from his fashionable shop, Avente Tile, on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. I think we can safely call it Cuban Tile 90210.
Bill's Flickr stream is where I got these images of traditional Cuban patterns that are back in production and readily available.
So the next time someone asks, Cuban tile is cement tile and not encaustic tile. And it's not really cement tile either, it's concrete. Got that?