Granada Cement Tile Making Process

Tribal Hotel’s beautifully handmade tiles were crafted locally in Granada, Nicaragua. Each tile is poured, dyed and air dried. Watch the process.

So much went into the concept and design of Tribal Hotel. It was great to explore and source local goods. Nicaragua offers an amazing array of talented master craftsman and artisans. Granada is the absolute best source for the beautiful cement tiles that are all the rage right now with architects and designers alike throughout the Americas and Europe. We designed our tile pattern to reflect the Tribal theme, and had the tile made right here in Granada. It was so interesting to observe the process.

Like many of the world’s most beautiful treasures, the history of patterned cement tiles, or mosaicos hidralico, as they are known in many colonial districts of Latin America, is up for debate. Some think Mexico was the first Latin American country to make them (and Cuba the second), having arrived in Central America through European trade routes. Meanwhile, Spain and France are duking it out for the title of first nation to make them worldwide. There is certainly a visible influence from the Moors.

Whatever the case, there are a few things of which we can be certain. First, these elegant and vibrant tiles can be found across the globe, and the famous “Granada Cement Tiles” manufactured in Granada by local Nicaraguan master craftsman are just beautiful. This stunning colonial city is bursting with historic cement tiles from early 1900s The Craftsman pour pigmented colored cements into sections of the metal molds that are used like giant cookie cutters. Forming the tile’s top layer, the cement is poured to a depth of one-eighth inch. While the cement is still wet, the mold is carefully pulled out so the various colors can join, forming the intricate design. Next, a half an inch of a dry cement mixture is added on top to add bulk and strength. Lastly, 3,000 pounds of hydraulic pressure is applied to draw moisture from the colored cement through the dry backing. The result is a cement tile that is incredibly durable and easy to maintain, and becomes more polished as it wears.

If you too are interested in the local craftsman and artisans of Granada, just ask our tour guides to direct you to where you can see for yourselves their work in process. You will find the artists very proud, and happy to share you with you their work.