Tile 101: Let’s Talk Terracotta Pavers


Terracotta Pavers are ideal for contemporary spaces and landscape projects.

The Clay Imports Terracotta Paver collection features durable natural clay bricks in several sizes and thicknesses. Each paver is made of 100% natural clay resulting in varying hues of yellow and red clay. It’s the look AND the strength you want! Our authentic terracotta pavers are an affordable and trusted alternative to conventional concrete pavers.

Why and where should you use Terracotta Pavers?

Our earthy Terracotta Pavers offer a stunning aged 'lived in' appearance that is incredibly comfortable to walk on and just gets better with age. Clay pavers are comparable to concrete pavers in durability, color selection, and they maintain their natural beauty for decades.

You may use Terracotta Pavers to design a brick patio, walkway, driveway, or a streetscape. You can also take pavers inside! The rustic and earthy look will bring much character to a mudroom, kitchen, or even bathroom.

Our pavers are suitable for residential applications as well as industrial and commercial projects. Just keep in mind that clay terracotta pavers are not rated frost resistant.

Where and How is it made?

Tile makers handcraft this product exclusively for Clay Imports in Saltillo, Mexico, where Natural Clay is hand-packed into wooden molds of the desired shape and size. The shaped clay is then left in the sun to dry. Lastly, dried tiles are hand-stacked in wood burning-kilns where they are fired for over 24 hours.

What are my Size and Thickness Options?

Clay Imports’ pavers are available in two thicknesses, 2”- the thick paver and 3/4”- the thin paver.

- The thick paver doesn't need to be installed on top of a solid subsurface. It can be installed directly on landscape sand or gravel.

- The thin paver is designed to be installed much like a conventional tile, basically just thinset on top of a subsurface either hardi backer or concrete.

Clay Imports’ pavers are available in 3 sizes, 4”x8”, 6”x12” and 12”x12”. All sizes can be produced in either the thick or thin option.

How do I install Pavers?

Upon receipt of your pavers, inspect the materials. Please note that this is a handmade product. Edge chips, surface fractures, irregular thickness are all inherent characteristics of Terracotta Pavers. For best results, blend materials prior to installation.

The Saltillo-lined guest-only pool, pool bar, and brick courtyard at St. Vincent Hotel in New Orleans.

Sealing & Grouting

Indoor Paver Installation

If you are installing pavers indoors, you need to grout your pavers. Note that your terracotta pavers should be sealed before grouting to keep the grout from staining the surface. Also, seal your indoor paver installation heavily after installation, and after the grout is dry, to prevent any moisture absorption. Make sure to do a grout sample before starting on the full area.

Outdoor Paver Installation

Outdoors, pavers are often installed with no grout between. If this is the case, sealing is not necessary. Non-grouting and non-sealing creates an “impervious surface.” This means the water can go through the joints and then soak into the ground.

Sidenote: If you are going for a heavy patina look, consider NOT grouting your pavers (indoors and outdoors.)

Sealer Options

Note that certain sealers will darken the colors of your pavers significantly. Ask your installer to apply sealer options to sample pieces prior to sealing all pavers. We recommend 511 Impregnator.

Step by Step 

  1. Confirm that the surface that you will be installing on has been properly prepared. Make sure that the subsurface is clean of debris. If the concrete has been treated with a finishing product, such as a polish, (which could inhibit bonding), we recommend sanding and/or acid etching the concrete prior to the pavers installation. To avoid cracks, it’s also recommended that subsurface fractures and joints are addressed at this time.

  2. Get your installation materials: There are several types of adhesive that can be used for this product, we recommend either Ultraflex (for thin-set installations) or Masonry Mix (for mud-set installation). For thinset installation, use at least a ½″ trowel.

  3. Recommended grout joint spacing for this product is between 3/8 and 3/4. Note that Herringbone installations may require a slightly larger grout joint.

  4. Apply the adhesive onto the clean installation surface as per the manufacturer’s instruction.

  5. Lay the pavers on top of the adhesive.

  6. Allow 24 hours for all tile adhesive to properly dry.

  7. Apply 1 to 2 coats of sealer to the installed pavers. This will ensure that the grout will not stain the pavers and does not dry too quickly during application.

  8. Grout can now be applied to the installed pavers. Though there are many grout options, we recommend Mapei Ultracolor Plus. To avoid over drying, we recommend grouting your project in small sections.



Final Seal

Once the pavers are installed and grouted, a final seal should be applied to the entire surface. As noted above, the specific sealer used can influence the appearance of your pavers. We recommend 511 Impregnator. Prior to the final seal, confirm that the project is completely dry. Dry time is dependent on many variables. Do not apply sealer on pavers/grout that is not dry, this can lead to trapped moisture between the surface and the sealer resulting in moisture clouding.

Maintenance Tips

We recommend treating your Terracotta Pavers much like a natural wood floor. Do not clean with hash acid based chemicals. We like cleaning with Fabuloso and, if a sheen is desired, we recommend using a moisturising care product such as Murphy’s or Pledge.

How to order?

Glad to hear that you are considering ordering these natural products! First things first, we recommend reviewing samples prior to purchase. 

Ready to order the full amount? Double-check your measurements, confirm the quantity needed and please add at least 15% extra for cuts and waste. You can purchase online or email your sales and design consultant. You may also reach out on our general inquiries line at contact@clayimports.com.

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