Tile 101: How to install zellige tile

At Clay Imports, we believe there is beauty in diversity and variation. Every piece of tile we offer is unique. Natural variation is an inevitable and appreciated characteristic of handmade tile. Zellige tiles are no exception. They have high variations in color and size, varying from piece to piece. This is a result of the handmade process and nature of glaze firing.

Mixing tiles from different boxes during setting is suggested to produce a beautiful and natural appearance of the variation of your tile. Details that are more apparent in close-up, will appear subtle when installation is completed. We recommend hiring an experienced, professional tile installer, well versed with handmade tile for Zellige tile installation.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this blog:

PLEASE NOTE that though this tile does not require sealing, using a conventional “grout release” will increase the efficiency of grout application. We highly recommend applying a grout test on a loose piece of tile prior to full grout application.

What materials will I need to install Zellige tile?

  • - Flexible tile adhesive, suitable for natural stone
  • - Flexible grout, we recommend Mapei Ultracolor Plus FA
  • - Water-cooled tile saw
  • - 1/2” Grout trowel
  • - 1/16” Thick tile wedge spacers

Instructions to install Zellige Tile

How to prepare your Zellige tile:

    • - Inspect your order carefully. Clay Imports will not be responsible for material that has been cut or installed.
    • - Blend all Zellige tiles by mixing pieces from all boxes to ensure natural appearance of color and size variation.

    Adhering your Zellige tiles:

    • - Glue the tiles on a flat, dry surface with a high quality, flexible tile adhesive. Use a trowel with recesses of 10-20 mm. (1/2–3/4 in.). Zellige is traditionally laid by hand due to size variation but can be installed using flexible 2 mm. (1/16in.) wedge tile spacers. Due to tight grout joint spacing, adjustments may need to be made by hand.
    • - Remove excess adhesive from between tiles quickly. Adhesive will require at least 24 hours to dry properly.
    • - Clean the tile surface with water after bonding using a sponge and/or cloth. Wring the sponge every time while cleaning the floor. Avoid getting tiles too wet as this may affect later steps. Allow the floor to dry completely.
    • - Once the adhesive has dried, apply grout release.
    • - Tiles should be spotless prior to grouting. After the tiles are clean and dry, apply 1 to 2 coats of grout release to the tile surface.

    After grout release, grout your Zellige tile:

    • - Grout should be applied to tile within 1 hour of applying grout release. Always apply grout to a loose sample tile prior to full application. Pigments from some grouts can penetrate the surface of tile and result in PERMANENT staining.  This is why WE HIGHLY ADVISE AGAINST USING BLACK GROUT. 
    • - Once you have confirmed that the grout is suitable, begin applying to the surface. Only apply small sections no greater than 6 square feet at a time.
    • - Grout should be cleaned from the surface with a damp sponge. Grout will dry on the tile surface if left on for longer than 10 minutes.
    • - For best results, wipe away excess grout at an angle to the tile lines. Continue cleaning until only a mild residue remains on the surface. Caution not to remove too much grout from the surface joints. Allow 24 hours for the grout to dry.
    • - After grout application, clean the clay tile surface.
    • - Following grout application, clean the tile surface thoroughly with a damp cloth. Clean the surface until all grout residue has been removed.

    How To Maintain Your Zellige Tile

      Zellige is a low-maintenance handmade glazed clay tile. We recommend regular cleaning of Zellige with non-acidic cleaning products such as Fabuloso. When using new cleaning products it is recommended you test the product in a small indistinct area prior to full application. 


        We hope this guide helps you with your installation of your gorgeous Zellige tile. As always, if you have any questions email 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.