How to Install Cotto Tiles

By Clay Imports

A Step-by-Step Guide for a Successful Cotto Installation


Handmade Clay Imports Cotto tiles are an excellent choice for those wanting a unique and natural look and feel. At Clay Imports, we want to make sure you are enjoying your Cotto tiles for years to come. Let us guide you through the installation process.

What is Cotto tile?

Clay Imports’ Cotto tiles are made of natural clay and produced in various shapes and sizes. What all have in common is the perfectly imperfect characteristics: distressed surfaces, and moderate to high variation in color and shade.

The Preparation

Cotto tiles show variation in color and size. So, naturally, Cotto tiles will not be identical piece to piece. Mixing tiles from different boxes during setting is suggested to produce a beautiful naturally rich appearance. Expect to find a few pieces of tile with minor chips. Though you can sort these tiles out and use them for cuts, including tiles with chips, flakes, and irregularities will emphasize the handcrafted look of your installation.

If properly installed, Cotto will result in a beautiful, durable, easy to maintain surface that can be enjoyed for many years. Also, our high-fired Cotto tiles come unsealed but do require sealer in order to preserve their beauty. We recommend the usage of high-quality penetrating sealers such as 511 Impregnator or 511 Porous Plus.

Installation Materials You will Need

  • - Flexible tile adhesive, suitable for natural stone—we recommend Mapei Ultraflex
  • - Flexible stain resistant grout, we recommend Mapei Ultracolor Plus FA
  • - Grout Release: We recommend Miracle Sealants Grout Release Sealer
  • - Water-cooled tile saw with a diamond blade
  • - Notched trowel 1/2”
  • - Yellow application sponge
  • - Grout trowel
  • - Wax pencil or chalk line
  • - Wedge spacers

Cotto Tile Care and Inspection

  1. Inspect all tiles upon receipt of your order. Expect to find a few pieces of tile with chips and glaze flaking. This is an intentional feature of this product.

  2. Though this product works well in wet areas such as showers and backsplashes, prior to installation, the more porous back of your tile is susceptible to absorbing moisture. Until you are ready to install, do not let your tile get excessively wet. Excessive moisture absorption can damage your tile.
    1. Do not leave the tile outdoors for long periods of time.
    2. Do not let the boxes of your tiles get wet.
    3. Store your tile in a dry area.

  3. Protect your work space. Setting materials can stain your walls and potentially harm your countertop or other surfaces near the installation area. Cover all areas that are susceptible to damage with a durable, protective construction covering.

  4. Prepare your grid. Based on your specific installation, determine how to best design your installation. Draw a grid of the layout on the installation surface.

  5. Prepare your cutting tool. Test your cutting saw to ensure that you are using the right blade for cutting this material. We recommend using a wet saw with a high grade, continuous diamond blade. If you notice excessive chipping, upgrade your blade.

  6. Ensure that the surface you are installing over is well-prepared for tile. The setting surface must be properly cleaned and dry. Do not install over excessive paint overspray, oily or polished concrete or unsecured surfaces. Furthermore, the subfloor should be structurally capable of supporting the weight of your tile project.

  7. Prepare your adhesive. Depending on your specific installation and subsurface, you need to determine which type of adhesive to use. This product is comparable with high grade, flexible thinset and mastic tile adhesive.

Cotto Tile Installation Step by Step

  1. With your 1/2” Trowel, begin spreading adhesive evenly to the installation surface. Spread adhesive in small sections.

  2. Apply a small amount of adhesive to the back of your tile. Note that depending on the type of adhesive you are using, you may need to dampen the back of the tiles to prevent the adhesive from drying too quickly.

  3. Press tile to the installation surface. Adjust the tile as applied pressure to ensure that contact is firm and fluid. Do not let the tile contact the setting surface directly. Ensure that setting the material is completely filling the space between the tile and the setting surface. There should be no air pockets between the tile and the setting surface. When cutting tile with a wet saw, keep the glazed side of the tile facing up when placed on the cutting table.

  4. As the tile is being installed, use your wedge spacer to secure the spacing between the tiles. Clay Imports recommends installing Cotto tiles with a joint spacing of, Min 1/16” and Max: 1/2”.

  5. Following placement of the tile, allow 1 day for the adhesive to fully dry.

  6. Prior to grouting, apply a coat of grout release to the surface of the tile with a clean sponge or non-fibrous cloth. This will ensure an easy grout clean-up.

  7. Apply grout to the tile surface in small sections. Apply pressure, ensuring that the grout is filling the joints completely. Clean the area before applying grout to the next section. Note that this method of installation will result in grout filling the surface pits of the tile.

  8. As the grout dries, a thin layer of grout residue will develop over the tile surface. Wipe away the residue with a clean damp cloth. If you have used a stain resistant grout, there is no need to seal the finished installation. If you notice that the grout is absorbing moisture. The grout should be sealed. If you choose to seal your tile following installation, make sure that the tile is completely dry and clean prior to sealing. We recommend sealing a test area before sealing your entitle project to confirm that the sealer you are using is compatible with your tile.

Final Thoughts

  • - Please be sure to read all instructions on the products used.
  • - For safety purposes, Clay Imports always recommends that you wear safety gear when installing tile. Gloves, safety glasses and close toed shoes can prevent injury.
  • - Mixing tiles from different boxes leads to the best results.
  • - Clean your tile occasionally with soap or a household, non-acidic cleaner, compatible with your tile.




Disclaimer: since the installation of tile greatly determines the integrity of the project and the tile itself, Clay imports does not warranty this product and is not responsible for dissatisfaction of material following installation. Please inspect all tile upon receipt and notify us immediately if you have any quality concerns. This guide is meant to serve as a general resource. Because each project is unique, consult your tile installer before installing your tile.