Handmade Clay tile is not rated to withstand extreme freezing conditions. Generally, the more porous a tile material is, the more susceptible it can be to moisture absorption. Damage from freezing conditions occurs when tiles absorb moisture and that moisture then freezes inside the tile. The frozen moisture will expand and crack the surface of the tile.
However, handmade tiles are regularly used outdoors. Proper installation and sealing will significantly increase your tile's resilience to moisture absorption. Whether it is in a pool or a shower, properly installed handmade tiles will endure decades of use. Please follow these steps for optimal results.
Confirm that the surface that you will be installing your sealed clay tile on has been properly water-proofed. We recommend waterproofing with Laticrete 9235.
- Prior to the installation of your clay tile, seal every tile piece with an adequate penetrating sealer. We recommend Prime-A-Pell 200. The most effective method for sealing your tile is to dip the entire body (watch how to dip the entire tile body here), one piece at a time, into a bucket of the sealer. Leave the tile submerged for approximately 5 seconds, then remove and lay it face-up on a flat surface. Allow the tile to dry for at least 1 hour.
- Adhere the tile with a latex/polymer, fortified thinset mortar. Ensure that you evenly spread the mortar on the back of tile, leaving no air pockets. The TCNA (The Tile Council of North America) does not specify the types of tile that latex/ polymer-modified mortar is most suitable for, but it does say that latex/polymer additives allow “specific properties to be imparted to the cement; commonly, freeze/thaw resistance, improved flexibility, and improved adhesion. There are also polymers used to make the cement waterproof or sufficiently elastic so that it acts like an anti-fracture membrane.”
- We recommend installing the clay tile with a 3/16” grout joint. Grout the joints with a polymer-infused mortar, such as Mapei UltraColor Plus. Keep in mind that this is a fast-drying grout, so do not allow the grout to rest on the tile surface, when applying it, for too long. To be safe, apply the grout in small sections to reduce the risk of over- drying.
- Once the clay tile has been installed and fully dried, apply 2 to 3 additional coats of the penetrating sealer to the finished surface. Make sure to wipe away excess sealer from the surface prior to drying. We recommend regular upkeep of clay tile by resealing it at least once a year.
Reading through and following these proper steps will ensure a successful clay tile installation. If you, or your installer, have any remaining questions or concerns, please feel free to contact or visit us during our hours of operation.