How to match my old Saltillo tiles?

Bringing life back to your Saltillo installation

By Clay Imports

Saltillo tiles are well known for their durability and reliability, making them an excellent choice for any project. Their natural earth tones and easy maintenance are characteristics beloved by professionals and aficionados alike. This is why many people seek to maintain the natural aesthetic of their installations by seamlessly blending their old Saltillo tiles with new pieces. In this article, we will explore how Saltillo tiles tend to age and discuss the best tips for achieving a uniform appearance when blending your tiles.

Modern patio design with terracotta tilesDesign by Brooke Irwin

How to tell my Saltillo tiles are old?

As Saltillo tiles age, the terracotta underneath suffers a transformation that changes both the color and texture of the tile. Saltillo tiles are known for their distinctive orange clay tones, often speckled with yellow to red spots. Over time, with regular use and especially when it is not resealed, these tiles tend to develop deeper hues of reds, oranges, and golden colors, while the grout also darkens.

Saltillo tiles will also show with time some imperfections like lime pops or chips. These imperfections are a natural part of Saltillo tile and they are a clear indicator that you have an authentic, handmade product. 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.

Modern interior design with terracotta tiles
Design by Emily Seed Interiors | Architecture by Chelsea Scharbach for Kelsey Harp

In this instance, the customer appreciates a blend of old and new terracotta. Despite noticeable differences in appearance, this choice contributes a distinct charm to the home.

How to blend my old Saltillo tiles with new ones?

The first thing you need to do before even ordering new tiles, is to clean up your installation. This will show you the sheen and tones your tiles have and will give you a better idea of what you’ll need to blend your Saltillo tiles. You can gently scrub with a tile cleaner or with a more aggressive cleaner followed by acetone/water wash. We 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.

Once you have your tiles clean, the next step is to compare your tiles with the Clay Imports terracotta tile that looks more similar to yours. Ordering tiles will always be the best practice; samples will allow you to assess how the variations between tiles harmonize with the existing ones firsthand. You can find our pre-sealed Saltillo tile texture and sheen samples here.

Another option is to consider buying unsealed Saltillo tiles. One advantage of using unsealed tiles to blend with your old Saltillo tiles is their versatility - they can be stained or sealed to match your existing installation more closely. This is particularly useful when new flooring needs to be altered to complement an older Saltillo tile floor. However, when considering unsealed Saltillo tiles, note that they, right out of the box, could have a pastel color and will likely not match the existing floor.

In some cases, if the terracotta tiles have darkened from wear and cleaning doesn't bring back the original color, you might need to experiment with wood stains. You can choose the stain color, play around with how long it sits, where you apply it on the tile, and more.

For the sheen, you may have to compare between using either wax (if you think it's been maintained with wax) or a water-based sealer. Apply wax or sealant (or any desired product) on a couple of tiles to confirm you get the color you need. If you've been waxing, you'll have to stick with this method because sealer won't stick to wax. Take a look at our installation guide for unsealed and organic terracotta tiles for further details, but we highly recommend looking for a professional if you decide to use unsealed tiles.

Choosing unsealed Saltillo tiles would allow the professionals to more closely match and seal your new tiles to the old ones and can assess the cost and time involved with this process, in order to help you decide if this is the best option for you.

How to install terracotta tiles DIYLearn how to install flooring tiles in this article

If you cannot find a perfect match, and you are tiling a new room or area connected to one another, consider a transition or border of a different shape or size of Saltillo tile, then go into the new flooring. We offer pre sealed tiles, both gloss and satin, that may be a good option for this transition.

Modern kitchen design with terracotta tilesDesign by Emily Seed Interiors | Architecture by Chelsea Scharbach for Kelsey Harp

Finally, in some cases, you are never going to get a perfect match that will blend the old and new tiles together. Every batch is different because it is inherent to the way they are made. In this case, your tiles may not be authentic saltillo tiles either: they may be made in other countries, replicas or just extremely worn. In this extreme case, you should consider retiling the whole installation.

Examples of how to blend your Saltillo Terracotta tiles

We get a lot of inquiries about which of our products can be used to blend with the existing terracotta tiles. In this section we’ll discuss a few real examples on the best way to blend the tiles. You can also get in touch with us at, we’d love to help!

How to blend old saltillo tiles
how to blend saltillo tiles
Here, our customer wanted to keep the floor they have, but they noticed some chips and cracks on some tiles. These tiles look a lot like our D’hanis Red Terracotta due to the shape and color, but ours are more red, so they wouldn't be an exact match right out of the box. With that said, here we’d recommend trying a staining technique; they could start with samples to test some methods on and find the tone that looks the way their installation does.
How to blend terracotta kitchen tiles
For this case, the customer was looking for something to match the tiles in their kitchen. These tiles look like natural Saltillo tiles that are already sealed, so we’d recommend ordering samples between antique gloss tiles, smooth gloss and smooth matte in order to find the perfect texture and finish.
How to blend old terracotta tiles
The blending and shapes for this tilework looks tricky. We just released a new type of pressed terracotta tiles that may fit the color, but this would require a heavy custom work, between wax, finishing top coats and a custom cut. Analyzing samples with the help of a professional installer will achieve the best results.
How to blend old terracotta tiles
How to blend old terracotta tiles
Finally, these tiles look a lot like our antique tiles with matte finish, but with heavy wear and tear. You can achieve a similar blend with the linked product, or you can order unsealed tiles and work them in, with staining or whitewash techniques in order to match the finish of the flooring.

As you can see, Saltillo tiles are extremely flexible and you have a lot of resources in order to blend your old installation with new tiles. If you want to know more about Saltillo tiles, take a look at our article on how to spot a real Saltillo tile and the differences between sealed and unsealed tiles. And remember, if you have any questions or require more information, don't hesitate to reach out to us at