Everything You Need to Know: Fish Scale Tile

By Clay Imports

Abanico Fish Scale Tiles, also known as fan tiles, scallop tiles or mermaid tiles, are an incredibly beautiful addition to any residential or commercial project. 

These tiles will make your backsplash, fireplace, shower, or bathroom wall stand out with their modern tile design. The 1920s Art Deco era popularized this pattern in interior design and its appearance on tiled spaces can be admired in many places across the world.

As Clay Imports has many popular options in this style, we’ve put together a guide on everything you need to know below and a movie!

Where are Fish Scale Tiles made?

We handcraft most of our Abanico Clay tiles in Mexico in the artisanal workshops in the small town of Dolores Hidalgo, just outside San Miguel de Allende.

How are Fish Scale Tiles produced?

Clay imports offer both clay and cement fish scale tiles - each produced differently.

For our cement options:

Cement is pressed into a metal mold and the production process is almost exactly the same as the rest of our cement tile.

For our clay options:

Our craftsmen and women hand cut the shape of the fish scale tile to size. You’ll see in the photo below how they look before their glaze. After firing the initial tile shape, artisans apply solid color glazes and then fire the tile in a large kiln. Following the firing process, each piece is inspected for quality control, packaged, and ready to install!

Freshly cut Abanico tiles prior to glaze application

Which Fish Scale Tile do I choose?

There are a lot of options for color and size for fish scale tile. Clay Imports carries them in either 6”, 8”, or 12”, measured from the tip. We offer a variety of matte, semi-gloss and gloss colors ranging from soothing neutrals to vibrant crackle finishes.

The most popular glaze colors are Turquoise crackle and Aqua Crackle for a beautiful shimmering wall reminiscent of the ocean. For a more muted and calm look, we love our ever popular Abanico in semi-gloss or gloss white. Some of the best patterns include mixing and matching colors - a common combination we’ve seen is cool whites and blues to mimic an ocean-theme.

Abanico Blend
Abanico 3 color blend inspired by the colors of the sea

We offer two different visually pleasing “tip” options: sharp, and flat. While the delicate sharp tip visually creates more flow, the flat edge adds a modern twist. In addition, the flat edge is less prone to breakage during installation.

Fish Scale Tile with Sharp tip

Sharp Tip

Fish Scale Tile with Flat Tip

Flat Tip

Which way does Fish Scale Tile go?

Great question! We hear all the time from customers wondering how to orient this uniquely shaped tile. In short, there are many ways to pattern this tile - it’s all a matter of preference - you can have the “pointed” side pointing up, down or to the side. There’s no right or wrong or up or down.

There are some layout options below - you’ll see there you can mix their orientation to create a more complex pattern.


Design for fish scale tile installation Design for fish scale tile installation Design for fish scale tile installation Design for fish scale tile installation

Design for fish scale tile installation
Like a Mermaid tail, designed by Chelsea Kloss Interiors

Where can I install Fish Scale Tiles?

Again, this will depend on if you’re considering our clay or cement options.

Our clay fish scale tiles are suitable for just about any wall and flooring applications. The natural place for this shaped tile, given it’s gorgeous, wavy movement, is shower walls and bathroom or kitchen backsplashes. This tile can perform in certain outdoor applications as long as it is not exposed to extreme freezing, but this tile is not pool rated.

For cement fish scale tiles, they are more porous and will require sealing and age differently when used in wet areas. We see them used in kitchen backsplashes, bathrooms, fireplaces, and commercial applications.

Lastly, we do offer a unique 12” Saltillo clay fish scale tile in black noir. It’s great for larger spaces and floors.

shower and bathroom with fish scale tiles
Beautiful wavy, seashell design with gold accents by ESS Design Build and Render ATX

bar and countertop with fish scale tiles Lake Flato Architects specified the Abanico Midnight Clay for the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio

Fireplace with fish scale tiles
The oversized black scallop tiles on this fireplace surround give this space much personality. Design by Melisa Clement Design

Can you mix Fish Scale Tile with other types of tile?

With unconventional form, these tiles tend to look fabulous when acting as a statement piece of art. Because the fish scale will tend to be the focal point of a room, it’s best paired with calming, more complimentary surroundings. 

If you choose neutral fan shape tiles, like white or black, consider a natural terracotta or go all in with decorative tile.

Kitchen with fish scale tiles and saltillo tiles
Abanico Smoke kitchen backsplash by Lizzie Clarke Interiors looking fabulous with a Saltillo tile floor

shower and bathroom with fish scale tiles
Swoon-worthy Spanish Modern bathroom design by Melisa Clement Designs

kitchen blacksplash with fish scale tiles
Interior Designer Shannon Edding s and Architect Stuart Sampley designed this dream kitchen with functionality and a little boho in mind

How do I install Fish Scale Tiles?

The fish scale tile installation is comparable to conventional tile installation and should follow whichever material tile you’ve picked (clay, cement, or Saltillo clay). We’ve added a few unique points below:

  • Remove all tiles from the box, lay them out and blend them for a natural look. Expect to find a few pieces of tile with glaze 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. 
  • Clay Imports recommends installing the scallop tiles with a joint spacing of Min 1/16” and Max: 1/8.” 
  • There is no additional sealing required for clay but should seal cement tiles if using in wet areas.

Please refer to our Clay Tile installation road map for details and reach out to us with any questions!

kitchen blacksplash with blue fish scale tiles

What trim pieces can you use with Fish Scale Tiles?

We recommend two trim options for these funky shaped tiles.

Firstly, a special order pencil liner or single bullnose in the same color.

Fireplace with fish scale tiles
Creative mind Curtis Jinkins of Neighborhood Studio trimmed their Abanico Aqua Crackle fireplace with a single bullnose of the same color


Secondly, we recommend finishing the edges with a Schluter trim, more specifically a Schluter Schiene in Satin Anodized Aluminum. This edging is paintable and a neat and clean look to finish your Abanico Fish Scale Tile installation.

shower and bathroom with fish scale tiles
Playful Kid's bath design by Quarterlab Design Build featuring a Schluter trim to neatly finish the window edging

Ready to order the full amount? Double-check your measurements. Clay Imports 6” Abanico Scallop tile converts to 7.5 pieces per square foot. Please add at least 15% extra for cuts and waste.

Do you need to trim pieces? We can take care of this as well. You can purchase online, email your sales and design consultant or reach out on our general inquiries line at contact@clayimports.com or chat with us here.