The Complete DIY Clay Tile Install Guide

By Clay Imports


Clay tiles have variations in colors and size; these tiles will vary from piece to piece. This is a result of the handmade process and the nature of glaze firing.

Mixing tiles from different boxes during setting is suggested to produce a beautiful and natural appearance. Details that can be seen in a close-up, will be subtle when installation is completed.

If properly installed, Clay tiles will result in a beautiful, durable, easy to maintain surface that can be enjoyed for many years. 

We’ve compiled our best product recommendations and installation tips from our experts here to make your project a success one.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

PLEASE NOTE that though this tile does not require sealing, using a conventional “grout release” will increase the efficiency of grout application. It is always recommended to apply a grout test on a loose piece of tile prior to full grout application.

What materials do I need to install Clay tile?

  • - Flexible tile adhesive, suitable for natural stone
  • - Flexible grout, we recommend Mapei Ultracolor Plus FA
  • - Water-cooled tile saw
  • - 1/2” Grout trowel
  • - 1/8” to 1/4” thick tile spacers 

How do I prep for Clay tile installation?

First, do a quick clean and blend of your tiles.

  1. Handle cases of tile with care. Keep all boxes upright. Do not drop cases of tile. Prior to installation, store material in a dry area. Moisture or dampness can damage the tiles.

  2. Inspect your order carefully. Clay Imports will not be responsible for material that has been cut or installed. Throughout the installation process and handling of the tile, be careful not to damage the finished surface, edges, and corners of the tiles.

  3. Clay tile, as a product of clay and natural materials, is subjected to color and shade variations, and it is recommended to mix the tiles from the different cases.

  4. Clay tile is a clay-based product and may have residue on the surface. Before starting the installation, it is highly recommended to clean all tiles with a clean cloth to remove any residue and get a clean tile surface. Please be aware that our tile is a handmade product. Due to this process, slight variations in size, shade, irregular edges and the appearance of fine cracks are inherent to this product and can vary from piece to piece. Prior to installation, we advise a blending of the tiles to create a more aesthetic appearance.

How do I install Clay tile?

Adhere your Clay 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). Use 2 mm (1/16in) tile spacers for best results. Remove excess glue from between tiles quickly. Glue 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.

  • - The 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 the grout release, grout the Clay tile.

  • - Grout should be applied to the 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.

    . Once you have confirmed that the grout is suitable, begin applying to the surface. Only apply small sections of no greater than 6 square feet at a time. Grout should be cleaned from the surface with a damp sponge. Grout should not dry on the tile surface 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 hour for 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.
  • - Maintain your tiles periodically, recommended once a week, with soap and water.

Final Thoughts on Clay Tile Installation

  • - Please be sure to read all instructions on the products used.
  • - For safety purposes, always work in a well-ventilated area. Mixing tiles from different boxes leads to the best results.
  • - During a renovation, covering the floor with a breathable foil for best results. Avoid the use of plastic or cardboard (non-breathable materials).
  • - Avoid cleaning agents that contain acids.
  • - If you are uncertain about what steps to take for your installation, feel free to contact Clay Imports where we can provide our expertise on next steps required.


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.

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