Maintain your tiles the traditional way!
On a visit to Spain a few years ago, I went to the wonderful Museo Adolfo Lozano Sidro, a whole house featuring rooms just as they were 100 or so years ago. The rooms are tiled with gorgeous encaustic tiles, and I puzzled the attendant by quizzing him not about the artist's fabulous paintings (eg below), but about how they kept the tiles so perfectly clean and buffed. To be honest, I did much the same thing when I went to visit my neighbour in the little mountain village where I own a house - and her answer will be revealed later!
The good news is that it is perfectly possible to treat, lay and maintain your own cement encaustic tiles so that, like Señor Sidro's, they will improve over time. Alhambra now stocks excellent maintenance products by Monestir and, after testing them ourselves, we send a full guide to sealing, laying and maintaining encaustic tiles with every order. The information is up on our website, too. Read the guide on our Technical Page
Although we don't recommend tilers, we also offer tips on how to get a good one. See our Questions for Tilers
Encaustic cement tiles are delicate, like natural stone. They must be protected with sealant and should never be treated with harsh cleaners or bleach. But that shouldn't put you off, because if you follow the advice you will be fine. The tiles we supplied Levi Roots' busy Caribbean Smokehouse (above) are testament to that, which was lovely to see.
If you have, sadly, run into trouble, it may not be the end of the world, as we have clever cleaning products to solve most problems.
As for my Spanish neighbour, Ana, she swears by the 3 Brujas (3 Witches) cleaning fluid for marble, granite and ceramics. Perhaps we'll look into getting some next time we visit Spain!