Everything You Need to Know About Mexican Saltillo Tile

By Clay Imports


Saltillo tile is a unique, handmade clay tile from northern Mexico that has seen a resurgence due to its old world look and feel. Clay Imports has created some of the most unique Saltillo tiles in the world, and with this guide, you’ll learn whether including this tile for your residential or commercial project is a good fit.

How Is Saltillo Tile Made?

Saltillo tile is produced and manufactured in Saltillo, the capital of Coahuila in northwestern Mexico. Just like Champagne can only come from the Champagne region of France, Saltillo tile can only be called Saltillo when it comes from the Saltillo region of Mexico:

 All Saltillo tile is made of terracotta, a naturally occurring red clay. You’ll see the terms Saltillo, terracotta, and Mexican all used together – but It’s important to note that while all Saltillo tiles are made from terracotta clay, not all terracotta tiles are Saltillo tiles!

Saltillo tiles are handmade and fired at a relatively low temperature. The clay is then hand-packed into wooden molds and left in the sun to dry. Once dry, these tiles are stacked in wood burning-kilns where they are fired for 24 hours. The whole process is 100% hand made, giving a distinctive touch to each tile.

Handmade tiles like Saltillo tiles exhibit natural variations, which are inherent traits of the Terracotta they are made of. These variations in color, texture and sheen are not defects but rather a natural part of the product. We highly recommend ordering samples before making a final purchase to confirm and appreciate these natural variations in each tile.

Where Can I Install Saltillo Tile?

Saltillo tiles can be installed indoor and outdoor – the classic example is a kitchen floor, Saltillo gives spaces an old world feel. But we recommend it for:

  • Residential: Bathroom floors, backsplashes, kitchen islands, decorative walls
  • Commercial: Restaurants, bars, retail shop floors
  • Outdoor: Patio floors under a covered area (that aren’t exposed to freezing conditions)

Avoid installing Saltillo tile in freezing conditions, sloped floors in wet areas, and shower floors.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Using Mexican Saltillo Tile?

Here are some of the factors to consider when deciding whether to use Saltillo tile:


  • It’s eco-friendly: Unlike other tile, Saltillo is made of pure clay from Saltillo, and water. It’s organic and biodegradable!
  • Each piece is unique: Each box of tile will have a unique texture and color due to the handmade process. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you’ll even find a tiny paw print from a furry helper in the tile factory.
  • It conceals dirt: Due to its rustic, old world feel and warm tone – Saltillo tile hides dirt well.
  • Affordable: Saltillo tile is more cost-effective than many other more modern tile options.


  • Can be slightly uneven: Each tile is handmade leading to slight size variation. Saltillo floors are more rustic and less even than a machine-made cement or marble tile.
  • Harder to install: Due to thicker tiles and the uniqueness of each tile, installation may require someone with more familiarity with Saltillo tile installation.

How Do I Install Saltillo Tile?

Installing Saltillo tile is very similar to any clay tile with a few unique touches. Because each Saltillo tile differs in size due to firing under an uncontrolled flame, installers maintain a slightly larger joint.

Most of the time, tile is installed with a ¼ inch or ½ inch grout line, but Saltillo can be installed up to ¾ inch.

How Do I Seal Saltillo Tile?

Check to make sure the Saltillo tile from Clay Imports is sealed or unsealed – if unsealed, you’ll need to seal it to make it livable.

Here’s Clay Imports co-founder, Nick Barreiro, on the two different sealer options.

How Do I Clean And Maintain Saltillo Tile?

Saltillo tile is a fairly easy product when it comes to regular maintenance. After all, these tiles have been used for centuries across Mexico.

A standard soap and water combination for mopping is fine. A vacuum cleaner will help keep dust and dirt out of the lager-than-usual grout joints.

If it’s been a couple of years – it's worth checking to see if you need to reseal your Saltillo.

Finally, we recommend taking a look at our Clay Care products. These maintenance items have been carefully tested with our products, and they are designed to preserve your tiles' beauty, ensuring their longevity and durability. From sealers to cleaners, purchasing these maintenance items together with your tiles not only simplifies your order but also prepares you to enjoy your tiles for a long time.

Why Is Clay Imports' Saltillo Tile Unique?

We’re glad you asked.

Because Saltillo is hand-molded, there are a lot of opportunities to put a unique twist on the traditional flat face of each tile.

At Clay Imports, we experimented and created our Antique line of Saltillo by pressing burlap bags onto our wet tiles to create a more textured, distressed look. This yields a whole new aesthetic and looks fabulous in outdoor areas.

exterior patio with saltillo terracotta tile

Saltillo terracotta wall


Fun Fact: Clay Imports was the first company in the world to glaze Saltillo tile! For more than 300 years, people have been firing Saltillo clay in Mexico, but we combined glazing techniques from Morocco and brought it to Saltillo and other parts of Mexico. Glazed Saltillo is now one of our most popular products!

Saltillo glazed tiles in kitchenPhoto and Styling by Lela Day Design | Build by Urban ATX Development

Saltillo glazed tiles on fireplaceDesign by Glynis Wood Interiors

What Are Mexican Saltillo Tile Style Trends for 2024?

Saltillo tile has become one of Clay Imports most sought after products – whether glazed or authentic. Restaurants, retail stores, bathrooms – it’s everywhere! In this article we discuss what are the tile trends for this year.

And if you’re looking for style inspiration, check out our Saltillo tile Pinterest page here. And remember, if you have any questions or require more information, don't hesitate to reach out to us at contact@clayimports.com or chat with us here. 

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.