An Introductory Guide to Saltillo Tile

We offer four different kinds of Saltillo tile here at Clay Imports. This beautiful tile comes from the city of Saltillo, the largest city and the capital of the northeastern Mexican state of Coahuila. Saltillo tiles are one of two products for which the city is famous. The other product is the multicolored serape worn throughout Mexico.

Saltillo tile is a specific kind of terracotta tile that can vary in both color and shape. However, most of the tiles in this category boast the various reds and oranges that clay is known for. Some of the colors can be very deep and rich, while others are paler and less visually demanding. Every once in a while, you see a beautiful yellow color that adds a warm, comforting tone.

How They Are Made

As clay tiles, Saltillo tiles are very porous. As such, the best artisans are diligent about making sure their tiles do not get soaked with water during the manufacturing process. If the clay contains too much water, it can create problems for the finished tile later on.

Making these tiles is fairly straightforward. Artisans press the clay into a preformed frame made of wood to create tiles of similar shape and size. If uniformity is not desired, another option is to flatten out a portion of clay and then carve the desired shape by hand. These hand-cut tiles are truly amazing.

Once the tiles are formed and sufficiently dried, they go into an oven for firing. Artisans may etch the tiles or paint them prior to firing. They might also reserve painting until after firing. It really depends on the finished look they are after.

Enjoying Saltillo Tile at Home

Saltillo tiles are beautiful in just about any room of your home. Our customers especially love them in kitchens and dining areas. If you are interested in Saltillo tiles, there are some things you should know about enjoying them in your own home.

First, water is the enemy of unfinished tiles. Therefore, we recommend either purchasing a pre-sealed tile or having a professional installer seal the tiles for you. Unsealed tiles really need to be sealed but sealing them is not easy. You really have to know what you are doing.

Once installed and sealed, Saltillo tiles will give you many years of reliable service. We recommend regular cleaning with a commercial cleaning product design specifically for Saltillo. Whatever you do, don't attempt to clean a Saltillo tile with harsh chemicals or detergents. Harsh chemicals can damage the clay and cause permanent discoloration.

If you choose to install Saltillo tile yourself, you may not want to use spacers. Remember that most tiles in this category are not perfectly uniform in every respect. Spacers might throw off the geometric uniformity as you work toward the wall. A better way to go is to use a chalk line and tape measure to lay out a grid over which you will install your tiles.

Finally, do not attempt to strip a Saltillo tile floor in hopes of dealing with stains and then refinishing. Stripping these tiles will almost guarantee a loss of color uniformity. If your Saltillo tiles develop stains, there are ways to treat those stains without stripping the floor.

Saltillo, Mexico is known for its beautiful tile work. You can bring a bit of Mexico into your own home with Saltillo tile. These beautiful tiles add texture, color, and a tremendous amount of character that makes any space look great. If you are interested in learning more, pay us a visit or contact us online.