Terracotta, commonly associated with pottery and the arts such as the Terracotta Army in China, is a hardwearing and durable product. In our Guide to Terracotta, you'll find out how the material is made, where it comes from and how to care for your tiles in your home.
Formation of Terracotta
Terracotta literally translates as 'baked earth' in Italian and is made by using only clay, water and fire. Typically Terracotta comes from Spain and India and gets its traditional reddish hue from the clay's iron content reacting to oxygen during firing. However the overall colour varies widely across shades of yellow, beige, orange, red, pink, grey or brown.
Production of Terracotta
There are two different production processes to create Terracotta depending on the desired finish. Extruded Terracotta is created using an extruder and works by pressing the clay through a mould with a helix compacting it down; this method has a fine finish and regular shape. Alternatively, the material can be produced manually where the clay is mixed with water to obtain a very soft mud; this soft mud is then used to fill the moulds by hand creating a more rustic handmade aesthetic.
Once the material has been produced, the next step is to dry the product. With the use of tunnel dryers, the humidity of the product diminishes as the material's temperature rises. The dried material is then fired to achieve its strength.
As clay can often be recycled and the production process is developed with a respect to nature, it minimises the impact on the environment.
Benefits of Terracotta
Terracotta's rustic appearance provides an anti-slip surface as well as being hard wearing and durable making it suitable for exterior use.
Did You Know?
Used for building construction and decorative arts around the world since ancient times, Terracotta is commonly associated with pottery and the arts such as the Terracotta Army in China and large vases and sculptures from ancient Egypt, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, West Africa and Central and North America.
To keep your stone in top condition, we recommend protecting the tiles once laid. Please see our Protector Guide which outlines which protector your stone requires.
What different finishes are available?
All our Terracotta tiles feature a flamed surface finish.
Why is it important to seal Terracotta tiles?
As Terracotta is a porous material it needs to be sealed in order to protect its appearance and durability.
How should these tiles be sealed?
As Terracotta is one of the most porous materials it needs more preparation than other natural stone tiles. After laying your tiles but before grouting, we recommend cleaning the tiles and applying a coat of Unpolished Protector to help prevent absorption of grout into the tile. Once you've grouted your tiles, any grout residue can be removed with a Residue Remover and then another coat of sealant can be applied once dry.
To enhance the colour of the Terracotta, a Colour Intensifier can be used after the first sealant coat and then after grouting has taken place.
How much does this stone material naturally vary? And why?
There can be a slight colour variation from tile to tile due to the way the tiles are made, and if you have chosen a handmade finish the tiles won't all be the exact same size.
What size tolerance should there be on this stone if any?
There may be slight differences in size if your tile in handmade. We recommend dry laying your tiles to ensure any small differences in tile size are accounted for.