A guide to using terracotta tiles for the home

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A guide to using terracotta tiles for the home

Natasha Kurien Natasha Kurien
Prestige Falcon City Kanakapura Road Bangalore Modern style bedroom by De Panache Modern
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Clay ceramic tiles for homes cover a wide array of subcategories, the oldest one being terracotta tiles. Terracotta essentially translates to “baked earth” referring to tiles created from a particularly porous and easily shaped clay with a high iron content which gives them their vibrant colour. The clay is fired at a relatively low temperature of around 600 to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Its surface remains quite porous unless appropriately glazed. These tiles are readily available and less expensive when compared to many other forms of ceramic tiles. 

Terracotta tiles have been around for decades, but most homeowners resort to porcelain, vitrified or stone tiles as opposed to terracotta for their homes. The interior designers and decorators at homify often recommend the use of terracotta tiles for flooring as well as roof tiling. Before incorporating them into a home, it is essential to understand its usage, advantages and limitations. This guide will provide all the information on terracotta tiles. 

Pros of using terracotta tiles

Infusing an earthy charm into a home is made simple with terracotta tiles. They are not only easy to integrate into a home but also highly durable and eco-friendly. Terracotta floor tiles are highly durable, scratch-resistant and can last for years to come when maintained well. The tiles need to be sealed with penetrating sealants while the joints between them should be filled with cement grout. As terracotta is made of naturally available materials, it makes for an eco-friendly option. Terracotta is also naturally resistant to mould and bacteria when correctly sealed, making it suitable for the indoors as well as the outdoors.

Cons of using terracotta tiles

Walk in wardrobe Modern style bedroom by De Panache Modern
De Panache

Walk in wardrobe

De Panache

Porous in nature: Untreated terracotta roof tiles and terracotta wall tiles can get damaged easily due to the material being porous in its natural state. It absorbs water quickly, which penetrates its pores giving way to the growth of algae over time and causing long term damage. If the tiles are not sealed they can get permanently marked by oils, vinegar, and citric acid. That’s why it’s advisable to consult a tiler before laying terracotta tiles in the home. Also, be sure that any spill is immediately cleaned to prolong the longevity of these tiles.

Requires maintenance: The texture of terracotta tiles is such that it accumulates dirt very quickly. It is mainly due to its porous nature which is why the tiles need to be sealed periodically to block the pores. Once coated, it prevents the tiles from getting dirty and protects against ruining its colour, specifically in areas of high traffic. Special care needs to be taken for outdoor tiles to make them resistant to water as well as the weather.

Types of terracotta tiles

Terracotta tiles texture is porous when unglazed, but since they do not have a protective coating, it makes them vulnerable to stains as well as scratching, chipping and other wear and tear. Glazed terracotta tiles are coated and hardened by using a vitreous glaze, which makes the tiles water and stain-resistant. Once sealed, they are highly suitable for application even in moisture-laden areas such as the bathroom and kitchen. Glazed tiles might become slippery, so make sure to opt for an anti-slip surface finish. Typically, terracotta floor tiles prices lie in the range of INR 40 per square foot for a brick tile with a thickness of 15 to 35 mm. For roofing, terracotta tiles prices are around INR 25 per square foot for 10 to 15 mm thickness.

How and where to use terracotta tiles

Residential project Modern walls & floors by C J Sheth & Co Modern
C J Sheth & Co

Residential project

C J Sheth & Co

Terracotta has a rustic old world charm when it is used as a flooring material, as it creates an atmosphere that is both rugged as well as subdued. It is also an excellent material for any rustic or natural setting such as cabin style decor. Terracotta tiles are popular in living rooms as well as enclosed porches. They are also perfect for hearth-and-home or earth-tone decor. Terracotta tiles can be used in outdoor applications as well but should be restricted to climates that are not freezing. In colder climates, water absorbed into the tiles can freeze and crack them.

Color variants of terracotta tiles

Bedroom Modern style bedroom by De Panache Modern
De Panache

Bedroom

De Panache

Terracotta is a natural material that comes in colour variants that are determined by the location from where the clay is obtained. Typically, the tiles range from yellow to dark brown with a wide range of reddish hues. Saltillo terracotta is one of the most popular forms which is made from clay that is found in Saltillo, Mexico, and Coahuila. Terracotta tiles are slightly faded in appearance, and every tile is unique as no two tiles look the same. The variation in the colour of each tile imparts an informal look. These tiles are manufactured hand-made or as machine-cut square, rectangular or interlocking tiles and are available in multiple designs and patterns, making them ideal for home interiors or exteriors in sustainable or rustic-style homes.

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