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How to Lay Terracotta Tiles

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Terracotta tiles are ideal for indoor or outdoor use, available glazed or unglazed and they look very elegant and bring a touch of class when laid well. Sometimes handmade they are not always even so require some patience to master the technique of laying them yourself.

You will need:

  • Tiles
  • Tile cutter
  • Grout
  • Tile Trowel
  • Sand and cement mix
  • Breathable drop cloths
  • Straightedge
  • Silicone sealant if laying indoors/barbeque area

Step One

Certain terracotta tiles are porous and act like a sponge. They should therefore be soaked for at least half an hour in water before laying.

Otherwise they will suck all of the moisture out of the sand and cement mixture and become impossible to lay. Find out from your tile supplier whether your tiles need this treatment.

Step Two

Using the sand and cement mix (4:1) spread an area of about three to four square metres about 15 to 20 mm thick.

The sand and cement mixture will thicken quite quickly so it is easier to use it within a couple of hours of mixing.

Keep the tiles as clean as possible by placing the drop cloths over them whilst you are working.

Step Three

Lay the tiles that need to be cut along the edge of the wall, so the cut edges will not be so obvious.

When cutting ensure you mark the tile on the reverse side as any pencil mark may stain indefinitely.

Step Four

Lay the tiles with a space of about 12mm between them, grouting as you go.

Remember the tiles are porous so wipe away any grout residue immediately.

It may pay to consider to not use coloured oxides when grouting as they may also discolour or stain the tiles.

Step Five

Most terracotta tiles will not need sealing but if laid indoors or around areas where stains might occur, it is recommended.

Be sure to use a water-viscous silicone to seal the sub-surface rather than just the face of the tile. If in any doubt of your ability to seal, consult a professional.

Sometimes salt will affect the surfaces of the newly laid tiles. This is called efflorescence and can be broomed off and then hosed down. The more the tiles are washed the sooner the salt stains will disappear.

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