How To Install Glazed Terracotta Tile

By Clay Imports


Handmade Glazed Terracotta tiles are an excellent choice for those going for a unique, refined look.

And here at Clay Imports, we want to make sure you are enjoying your Glazed Terracotta tiles for years to come.

As we are the originators of glazed terracotta tiles - we prepared an installation guide to ensure your project lasts for many years.

What is glazed terracotta tile?

Glazed terracotta tile is our take on a durable colorful rustic tile. What they all have in common is the perfectly imperfect characteristics: distressed surfaces and moderate to high variation in color and shade.

At Clay Imports, we specifically used Saltillo clay to create our Glazed Terracotta products. We were the first company in the world to glaze Saltillo tile.

For more than 300 years, people have been firing Saltillo clay in Mexico, and we had the crazy idea of asking them how to glaze it based on our travels to Morocco. Next thing you know glazed terracotta tile is one of our best-selling products.

How do I prepare for glazed terracotta tile installation?

Because these tiles show variation in colors and design, they will not be identical piece to piece. Mixing tiles from different boxes during setting is suggested to produce a beautiful, naturally rich appearance.

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.

If properly installed, our glazed terracotta tile will result in a beautiful, durable, easy to maintain surface that can be enjoyed for many years.

What materials do I need to install glazed terracotta tiles?

  • - Flexible tile adhesive, suitable for natural stone
  • - Flexible stain resistant grout, recommended Mapei Ultracolor Plus FA
  • - Grout Release: We recommend Miracle Sealants Grout Release Sealer
  • - Water-cooled tile saw with a diamond blade
  • - Notched trowel 1/2”
  • - Yellow application sponge
  • - Grout trowel
  • - Wax pencil or chalk line
  • - Wedge spacers

How do I install glazed terracotta tile?

First, you'll need to inspect and prepare the order.

  • - Inspect all tiles upon receipt of your glazed terracotta order. Expect to find a few pieces of tile with chips and glaze flaking. This is an intentional feature of this product.
  • - Though this product works well in wet areas such as showers and backsplashes, prior to installation, the unglazed back of your tile is susceptible to absorbing moisture. Until you are ready to install, do not let your tile get wet. Excessive moisture absorption can damage your tile.
  • - Protect your work space. Setting materials can stain your walls and potentially harm your countertop or other surfaces near the installation area. Cover all areas that are susceptible to damage with a durable, protective construction covering.
  • - Prepare your grid. Based on your specific installation, determine how to best design your installation. Draw a grid of the layout on the installation surface.
  • - Prepare your cutting tool. Test your cutting saw to ensure that you are using the right blade for cutting this material. We recommend using a wet saw with a high grade, continuous diamond blade. If you notice excessive chipping, upgrade your blade.
  • - Ensure that the surface you are installing over is well-prepared for tile. The setting surface must be properly cleaned and dry. Do not install over excessive paint overspray, oily or polished concrete or unsecured surfaces.
  • Prepare your adhesive. Depending on your specific installation and subsurface, you need to determine which type of adhesive to use. The glazed terracotta tile is compatible with high grade, flexible thinset and mastic tile adhesive.

Now, you can start to lay the glazed terracotta tile.

  • - With your 1/2” Trowel, begin spreading adhesive evenly to the installation surface. Spread adhesive in small sections.
  • - Apply a small amount of adhesive to the back of your tile. Depending on the type of adhesive you're using, you may need to dampen the back of the tiles (the unglazed clay side) to prevent the adhesive from drying too quickly.
  • - Press tile to the installation surface. Adjust the tile with applied pressure to ensure that contact is firm and fluid. Do not let the tile contact the setting surface directly. Ensure that setting the material is completely filling the space between the tile and the setting surface. There should be no air pockets between the tile and the setting surface. 
  • As the tile is being installed, use your wedge spacer to secure the spacing between the tiles. Clay Imports recommends installing glazed terracotta tile with a joint spacing of, Min 1/16” and Max: 1/2”.
  • Following placement of the tile, allow 1 day for the adhesive to fully dry.

After adhering the glazed terracotta tile to the surface and waiting for it to dry, you can begin grouting.

  • - Prior to grouting, apply a coat of grout release to the surface of the tile with a clean sponge or non-fibrous cloth. This will ensure an easy grout clean-up.
  • - Apply grout to the tile surface in small sections. Apply pressure, ensuring that the grout is filling the joints completely. Clean the area before applying grout to the next section. Note that this method of installation will result in grout filling the surface pits of the glazed terracotta tile.
  • - Optional: If your preference is to leave the natural surface voids unfilled, we recommend using the “grout bag” technique. This technique is similar to a pastry bag technique: fill the mixed grout in a grout bag (or a plastic bag with a small hole in it). Then squeeze out the grout, applying it directly to the joints only. This way, you do not apply grout across the tile face. As with all installations, we recommend you test your grouting technique on a small area before grouting an entire installation.
  • - As the grout dries, a thin layer of grout residue will develop over the tile surface. Wipe away the residue with a clean damp cloth. If you have used a stain resistant grout, there is no need to seal the finished installation. If you notice that the grout is absorbing moisture. The grout should be sealed.


  • - Please be sure to read all instructions on the products used.
  • - For safety purposes, Clay Imports always recommends that you wear safety gear when installing tile. Gloves, safety glasses and close toed shoes can prevent injury.
  • - Mixing tiles from different boxes leads to the best results.
  • - Clean your tile occasionally with soap or a household, non-acidic cleaner.



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.

Leave a comment