How to avoid terracotta tile tragedy


One of the biggest trends when it comes to tiles in the kitchen is for terracotta. This rustic, earthy tile made a huge comeback last year and it’s an enduring and practical trend that’s set to last. As it’s a natural product, there are of course plenty of pitfalls that you want to avoid before you go ahead. We asked Ca’ Pietra’s Head of Creative, Grazzie Wilson, for her top five terracotta-related mistakes to avoid to make your tiling project trouble-free…

Ca’ Pietra Marlborough Terracotta Parquet

Mistake #1

Thinking You Can’t Use Underfloor Heating

You can absolutely use underfloor heating with terracotta tiles. Being a porous stone, it means terracotta tiles warm up fast and that heat spreads through your room. Knowing this upfront means you avoid getting everything laid to only then realise that you could have had an underfloor heating system fitted. Because the only thing better than a terracotta floor? A toasty one…

Ca’ Pietra Marlborough Terracotta Parquet

Mistake #2

Not Sealing or Grouting Your Tiles Properly

Fail to prepare then prepare to fail, as the adage goes. It’s one to keep in mind when installing terracotta tiles, whether you’re doing it yourself or getting a helping hand. When it comes to grouting, our advice would always be to grout over the whole surface of the tile to make sure it’s done as thoroughly as possible.

Sealing your tiles is the process that keeps them looking tiptop and protects them so they can be as hardy in your home as you need them to be. Thorough is the magic word again here, specifically a three-step sealing process using specialist products designed to support natural stone. Our tried-and-tested trio work together to make sure your stone is as clean as a button before it’s sealed, then gives it multiple layers of protection to shield it for years to come.
The first step involves deep cleaning so that you don’t risk trapping any dust or grit under the sealant. Next, our Stain Block Eco Sealant should be applied, once before grouting and once after. Allow two hours drying time between coats. Finally, when you’ve wiped away any grout residue the next day, apply the final sealant stage with our Stone Shield Sealant. At least two coats with sufficient drying time in between and ideally up to three days will provide you with the best level of protection. Make sure to top up sealant every few years.

Ca’ Pietra Marlborough Terracotta Parquet

Mistake #3

Misunderstanding That Patina is the Point

There are some tiles in the world that were made to look the very same on day one hundred as they did on day one. Terracotta tiles aren’t quite part of that party. Inviting terracotta floor or wall tiles into your home is to know that they’ll age, evolve and patina over time – it’s wise to know that to be sure you’re a good match before you get tiling. This doesn’t mean to say that after many years of hurly-burly happening on and around them that they’ll have transformed into something completely different, but they will show signs of weathering and their colouring might lighten a touch or become richer. But these are characteristics to be embraced – terracotta tiles live and grow old with you. If you love the look of terracotta but would prefer something that looks the same tomorrow as it does today, then take a look at our terracotta-effect porcelain tiles, something like Brewhouse could be perfect for you.

Ca’ Pietra Brewhouse Porcelain

Mistake #4

Choosing the Wrong Size of Tile for Your Space

Like any other material, terracotta tiles come in all shapes and sizes, from elegant arabesque to geometric hexagonal tiles. You might be drawn to a particular shape and while the heart wants what it wants, it’s important to consider whether that particular form suits the proportions of your room.

For example, if you’re choosing terracotta bathroom tiles for the minuscule downstairs loo and have your heart set on the red brick look, a smaller brick like Marlborough with a tonal grout colour will suit a small space far better. Similarly, in a large kitchen with lots of wall and base cabinets, an island, kitchen table, bar stools and freestanding shelving, there’s a lot to take in.

Ca’ Pietra Marlborough Terracotta Brick

Mistake #5

Using the Wrong Cleaning Products 

Natural stone often asks for very little TLC, so the mistake to avoid is overloading it with chemicals and harsh cleaning agents every day of the week.

The aforementioned proper sealing will lay the foundations you need for caring for your terracotta floor (just be sure to re-seal every three years or so). Otherwise, go easy on it. Vacuuming is all you really need or a stiff-bristled brush and soapy water for muddy paw marks. Mop if you must but wring it out with all your might – the aim should be to not saturate it. And with that underfloor heating system you now know you can install, it’ll dry out in a flash.

Ca’ Pietra Antique Burgundy Terracotta

Ca’ Pietra Recycled Pavers Terracotta Brick

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About Hayley Gilbert

Hayley Gilbert is a freelance interiors journalist with 20 years’ experience in the industry. Specialising in all things kitchens, Hayley has contributed to a wide range of consumer titles such as Beautiful Kitchens, EKBB, KBB, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and Ideal Home, as well as national newspapers including The Sunday Times.... @HaylGilbert /

  Email:  Hayley Gilbert


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