Tile 101: Terracotta Pavers

By Clay Imports

The Clay Imports Terracotta Paver collection features durable natural clay bricks in several sizes and thicknesses. Each paver is made of 100% natural clay resulting in varying hues of yellow and red clay. It’s the look and the strength you want! Our authentic terracotta pavers are an affordable and trusted alternative to conventional concrete pavers.

Why Terracotta Pavers?

Our earthy Terracotta Pavers offer a stunning aged 'lived in' appearance that is incredibly comfortable to walk on and just gets better with age. Clay pavers are comparable to concrete pavers in durability, color selection, and they maintain their natural beauty for decades.

You may use Terracotta Pavers to design a brick patio, walkway, driveway, or a streetscape. You can also take pavers inside! The rustic and earthy look will bring much character to a mudroom, kitchen, or even bathroom.

Our pavers are suitable for residential applications as well as industrial and commercial projects. Just keep in mind that clay terracotta pavers are not rated frost resistant and require additional maintenance and sealing.

How are pavers made?

Tile makers handcraft this product exclusively for Clay Imports in Saltillo, Mexico, where Natural Clay is hand-packed into wooden molds of the desired shape and size. The shaped clay is then left in the sun to dry. Lastly, dried tiles are hand-stacked in wood burning-kilns where they are fired for over 24 hours.

Size and Thickness Options

Clay Imports’ pavers are available in two thicknesses: The 2” thick paver and the 3/4” thin paver. The pavers are also available in 3 sizes, 4”x8”, 6”x12” and 12”x12”. Most sizes can be produced in either the thick or thin option.

Keep in mind that pavers are handmade products and as such, they can exhibit natural variations, which are inherent traits of natural materials like Terracotta. 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.

How do I install Pavers?

Before Installation

  • Upon receipt of your pavers, inspect the materials. Check for any chipped or broken paver and use them for the edges and borders of your installation.
  • Prepare your installation area. Thick pavers do not need to be installed on top of a solid subsurface; they can be installed directly on landscape sand or gravel. But thin pavers are designed to be installed much like a conventional tile, so you should clean and dust your installation area before installation.
  • Get your installation materials: There are several types of adhesive that can be used for this product, we recommend either Ultraflex (for thin-set installations) or Masonry Mix (for mud-set installation). For thinset installation, use at least a ½″ trowel.

Step by step

  • Confirm that the surface that you will be installing on has been properly prepared. Make sure that the subsurface is clean of debris. If the concrete has been treated with a finishing product, such as a polish, (which could inhibit bonding), we recommend sanding and/or acid etching the concrete prior to the pavers installation. To avoid cracks, it’s also recommended that subsurface fractures and joints are addressed at this time.
  • Apply the adhesive onto the clean installation surface as per the manufacturer’s instruction.
  • Lay the pavers on top of the adhesive and allow 24 hours for all tile adhesive to properly dry. Recommended grout joint spacing for this product is between 3/8” and 3/4”. Herringbone installations may require a slightly larger grout joint.
  • Once dry, apply 1 to 2 coats of sealer to the installed pavers. This will ensure that the grout will not stain the pavers and does not dry too quickly during application.
  • Grout can now be applied to the installed pavers. We'll talk deeply about grouting further in this article, but we recommend Mapei Ultracolor Plus and grouting your project in small sections.

Final Sealing

  • Once the pavers are installed and grouted, a final seal should be applied to the entire surface. As noted above, the specific sealer used can alter the appearance or color of your pavers. We recommend 511 Impregnator.
  • Prior to the final seal, confirm that the project is completely dry. Dry time is dependent on many variables. Do not apply sealer on pavers/grout that is not dry, this can lead to trapped moisture between the surface and the sealer resulting in moisture clouding.

The Saltillo-lined guest-only pool, pool bar, and brick courtyard at St. Vincent Hotel in New Orleans

Sealing & Grouting

Read our blog on “how to seal pavers” here

Indoor Paver Installation

If you are installing pavers indoors, you need to grout your pavers. Note that your terracotta pavers should be sealed before grouting to keep the grout from staining the surface. Make sure to do a grout sample before starting on the full area. Also, seal your indoor paver installation heavily after installation, and after the grout is dry, to prevent any moisture absorption. Do not soak your pavers.

Outdoor Paver Installation

Outdoors, pavers are often installed with no grout between. If this is the case, sealing is not necessary. Non-grouting and non-sealing creates an “impervious surface.” This means the water can go through the joints and then soak into the ground.

Side note: If you are going for a heavy patina look, consider not grouting your pavers (indoors and outdoors.)

Sealer Options

Certain sealers will darken the colors of your pavers significantly. Ask your installer to apply sealer options to sample pieces prior to sealing all pavers. We recommend Miracle Seal 511 Impregnator Sealer for a rich, saturated look. To maintain the natural look of the pavers, we suggest Miracle Seal 511 Porous Plus.

We also 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.

How to order pavers?

Glad to hear that you are considering ordering these natural products! First things first, we recommend reviewing samples prior to purchase. 

Ready to order the full amount? Double-check your measurements, confirm the quantity needed, and please add at least 15% extra for cuts and waste. You can purchase online or email your sales and design consultant. You may also reach out on our general inquiries line at contact@clayimports.com.

DisclaimerThis guide is meant to serve as a general resource. Because each project is unique, consult your tile installer before installing your tile. The installation of tile greatly determines the integrity of the project and the tile itself, therefore, 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.