Saltillo Tile Color Sealer & Texture Options

A Review of Saltillo Tile Surface Differences

By Clay Imports

Clay Imports’ Saltillo tile comes in different seal and texture finishes. They are made exclusively in Saltillo, Mexico. Terracotta Saltillo tiles are composed of all-natural clay, formed and finished entirely by hand.

Texture options: Smooth and Antique
Sealant options: Gloss, Satin, and Matte

Color Variations

Saltillo tiles exhibit natural color variations, showcasing tones of terracotta, burnt orange, and amber. The yellow and orange shades are intrinsic to the authentic handmade Saltillo tile, influenced by the tiles' positioning in the kiln during firing. This process results in unique color differentiations, where some tiles are closer to the heat source, creating a diverse range of colors. Such variations are expected, typically averaging around 70/30 for the color variation ratio. Colors differ from piece to piece. Natural Color variations occur naturally during the firing process, which creates a range of colors that cannot be controlled. 

Gloss Sealed | An array of shades -- from rustic terracotta to rich ochre to creamy butterscotch -- all with a luxe, glossy finish 
Satin Sealed | 
Muted hues from terracotta to orange to a subtle shade of yellow with a subtle, semi-gloss finish.
Matte Sealed | Hues from blush pink to golden peach to sunny yellow, with an array of variation in every batch.

The choice of sealer will impact the final color outcome. The size and shape of the pieces can influence the degree of color variation, with larger pieces showcasing more diversity compared to smaller ones.

Sealer Options

All Clay Imports Saltillo tile is pre-sealed. Sealed Saltillo tiles are commonly used for floors, kitchen backsplashes, accent walls, and some outdoor areas. Most sealed Terracotta tiles protect the surface from moisture absorption and staining. Durability can depend on the selected sheen. Matte being the least durable and gloss being the most durable. 

Gloss Sealed

Gloss pre-sealed terracotta is the most traditional, and durable Saltillo sealer option, with a high-gloss, shiny finish. Gloss Sealed tiles are coated with 3 layers of acrylic sealer, providing protection against staining and moisture; however, light scratches from everyday use may occur.

For optimal longevity, we recommend sealing with Polish Top Coat (gloss sealant) or Ultra Low VOC Sealant (satin sealant).

Smooth Gloss 12"x12" | Design and Install Jon Nuckels | Photo Nick Simonite

Satin Sealed

Satin sealer offers a comparable level of protection as our gloss seal, with a semi gloss finish. Satin Sealed tiles are pre-sealed with acrylic sealer, providing protection against staining and moisture, however, light scratches from everyday use may occur.

For optimal longevity, we recommend sealing Satin Sealed Tiles with Ultra Low VOC Sealant (satin finish) or Miracle Sealant Porous Plus.

Antique Satin Sealed 3"x12" | Willow House | Photo Claire Shaper

Matte Sealed

Our matte sealed terracotta is pre-sealed during production to protect it from water absorption, creating a raw, but semi-protected finish. However, prolonged exposure to heavy moisture and foot traffic may cause discoloration, darkening, and staining over time.

To increase longevity, we recommend sealing with Miracle Sealant Porous Plus, for a matte finish, or Ultra-Low VOC Sealant (satin finish, darken color) as an added layer of water repellent.

This option might require regular resealing, depending on wear. 

Smooth-Matte-4_x4_-Clay-Imports-Design-by-James-Grey-Homes.pngSmooth Matte 4"x4" | Design James Grey Homes

Texture Options

Saltillo tile texture options are smooth or antique.

Look for unique surface variations and textures, as these are telltale signs of genuine handmade tiles. These beautiful characteristics are exclusive to authentic tiles, like ours.

It is normal to find natural indentations, bumps, divots, scuffs, and variations on the surface. Excess clay or minor chips may be present on the surface, edges, or back of the tile. Irregular marks or lines that resemble fold marks may be present, all of which are common characteristics of authentic, handmade terracotta tile.

Smooth Texture

Smooth Saltillo tiles feature a natural, non-distressed, slightly pillowed surface. While there are visible natural imperfections inherent in Saltillo tile, the smooth texture is much more even than the antique texture.

Design and Architecture Cult Creative | Mya McCabe Photography

Antique Texture

We've created our Antique line of Saltillo by pressing burlap bags onto our wet tiles to create a more textured, distressed look. This yields a whole new rustic, old-world aesthetic and looks fabulous in outdoor areas.

Design by Yardzen for Will Bryant

Feel free to review all of our installation examples for each product for a good understanding of the texture, color and variation. Keep in mind, that it is crucial to blend the tiles during installation to achieve a harmonious appearance.


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