Terracotta Floor Tiles (Design Types & Pros and Cons)

This design gallery showcases terracotta floor tiles, including what it is, their characteristics, edge profiles to consider, glazed & unglazed tiles, and the pros & cons of terracotta tiles.

Dining room with table, chairs, ceiling beams, rug, glass cabinet, pendant light, and terracotta tile floor When you hear the word “terracotta,” what comes to mind? For sure, one of the first things that you imagine is China’s mysterious terracotta army. And this, in itself, will tell you that terracotta goes all the way back in history, and its appeal is still ever present today.

Besides being used to create an artistically realistic army or to build roofs in space, terracotta can also be used as flooring tiles. While terracotta may be a thing of the past created from the perfected millennia-old technique, its popularity today is rising again, especially with the rising trend of overhauled homes with earthy and rusty tiles.

What Is a Terracotta Tile Floor 

Room with rug, cushioned chairs, windows, console table, and indoor plantsThe word “terracotta” actually means baked earth in Italian, which it literally is. Considered one of the oldest ceramic tiles, terracotta is an element of the ancient world, with its beginning dating back to 3000 B.C.E.

Some trace it to around 10,000 years B.C. in China. It was in the 14th century and at the end of the Roman Empire that the popularity of terracotta tiles also declined. 15th-century Europe, primarily in Italy and Spain, brought it back again in full force.

From there, it was used in a variety of ways, from turning into medallions to being used as decor until it slowly declined because of the rise of porcelain tiles.  

With an old-world charm and rustic vibe, terracotta became a favorite for many homeowners because of its unique and historical aesthetics. Considering many remnants of the past in terracotta still exist, it can definitely last for a long time as long as it’s taken care of properly and diligently.

And if you’re actually considering terracotta tiles as you spruce up your own, make sure to explore everything there is about it since it’s more than just a symbol of the old world. 

Characteristics of Terracotta Floor Tiles

Room with white walls, fireplace, mirror, TV stand, television, coffee table, chair, rug, and curtainsTerracotta tiles can be used for your home’s walls, flooring, and countertops, but they’re not something you can work on easily without some experience. You need the help of experts to install them appropriately for your home.

To understand terracotta tiles better, here are some components of terracotta that you have to know about.

Widely varied durability: The durability of terracotta types of floor tiles is widely varied. These can get incredibly durable as their glazed and treated versions but can also be very fragile and easily crack in cold environments because of being unglazed and untreated. 

• High water resistance with treatment and glazing: Similar to natural travertine, terracotta is porous and so requires sealing and glazing. And since this makes the tiles a bit slippery, make sure the floor has an anti-slip surface.

Spanish style bathroom with terra cotta floors and bath tubIf you choose to do otherwise, make sure you don’t expose your untreated and unglazed terracotta tiles to moisture. 

• Cost: Terracotta tiles cost around $3 to $7 per square foot, and having them installed by experts will set you back $1.25 to $2.90 per square foot more, so make sure you have enough in your budget for these amounts. 

• Maintenance: With porous flooring materials like terracotta, sealing is the first step to accomplish. You can use a commercial sealer or linseed oil and turpentine solution, depending on your preference. Use beeswax for a shiny, protective finish. 

• Installation: You can install your terracotta tiles if you’re dealing with machine-cut glazed ones, but unglazed and handmade ones need the delicate touch of experts. 

Terra Cotta Tile Cuts To Consider

Room with fireplace, couch, accent chair, sloping ceiling and windowsWhen exploring every aspect of terracotta tiles, you’ll encounter the different ways in which they are cut. Here are the two main cut styles:

• Machine-cut: The most common of the two styles, machine-cut tiles are more cost-effective and consistent in terms of color and shape. More selection is available, and installation is easier because of their exact shapes. 

• Handmade: Considered to be more delicate, handmade terracotta tiles are crafted by artisans’ hands and so will vary in shape and color.

Much more expensive and mostly found in the Mediterranean and in Mexico, these have unique shapes that make them a bit difficult to install and work with. 

Pros and Cons of a Terracotta Tiled Floor

Room with mezzanine flor, winding staircase and wooden furnitureTo further explore your compatibility with terracotta tile flooring, the next move to make is to weigh its pros and cons. If you will be able to carry on the drawbacks that come with the benefits of having a terracotta tile floor then the next step would simply be to have one installed. 

Pros of Terracotta Tile Floors

Stunning earthy and rustic aesthetics

Relatively affordable, so it won’t be painful to your pocket

Widely varied in floor tile sizes, colors, designs, and textures

Incredible resistance to wear and tear

Extremely low maintenance

Basic cleaning process (Mop, soap, and water)

Eco-friendly, sustainable, and reusable

Durable once sealed and glazed

Versatile in designs and can be used for traditional, rustic, contemporary, and modern styles

Cons of Terracotta Tile Floors

Porous and so can easily absorb water if left unsealed and unglazed

Regular sealing is necessary

Difficult to repair once the tiles are chipped or cracked

Cold climate can lead the tiles to freeze and crack

Installation for handmade tiles can be tricky because of their unique shapes

Discoloration of the tiles is possible

Glazed Terracotta Brick Tiles

Empty room with glazed terracotta floors, doors and wallsIf you’re looking at a terracotta tile that’s been colored or has this transparent coating, then you’re looking at a glazed terracotta tile. You have the option of having your terracotta tiles glazed if you want to add a layer of protection against moisture and liquid on this porous material.

The protective coating gives the tiles a stunning glass-like surface and is applied to the second firing process. You can choose from a variety of glaze levels, including semi-glazed and high-glazed. 

Glazed variety provide the following benefits to enjoy:

Prevents mildew growth and staining

Creates a waterproof surface

Prevents possible water damage

On the downside, though, you also need to expect the following drawbacks:

More expensive than unglazed terracotta tile flooring

Hides the natural beauty of the terracotta

Can be slippery and so requires a non-slip surface

Unglazed Terracotta Floor Tiling

Room with unglazed terracotta flooruing, cushioned sofa, chair and glass doorWith unglazed tones, you won’t see the shiny and glass-like protective coating that’s prominent with their glazed counterpart.

While you can opt to have unglazed terracotta tiling, make sure to still have the material sealed to have a level of protection against moisture. If left unsealed and unglazed, the terracotta will be in its most fragile and vulnerable version.

The reason why homeowners may prefer unglazed terracotta over glazed ones is due to the following benefits:

Features a more natural and earthy look

Less expensive

Not slippery so won’t need to add a non-slip surface

Terracotta Porcelain Tile 

Bedroom with porcelain tiles, bed, pillows, curtain, and windowsIf you want that terracotta look but don’t want all the other characteristics that come with terracotta, one thing you can do is choose terracotta-look porcelain floor tiling. The aesthetics of the terracotta are rustic and seem to have a depth of history filled in each of their pores.

It might be a bit of a challenge, though having to maintain authentic terracotta tiling, especially since you have to regularly seal them to protect them from moisture. This is not the case with porcelain, though.

With the advancement of ceramic product technologies, you can now get the best of both worlds by benefiting from the durability and low maintenance of porcelains and at the same time, the stunning and unique aesthetics of terracotta. 

Terracotta Ceramic Tile 

Room with open shelving, glass jars and white ceiling lightsTerracotta tiles are technically ceramic since they are made from clay. There are many ceramic tiling that are not terracotta but they can also now mimic the aesthetics that come with it.

Similar to porcelain, ceramic tile flooring can now have the aesthetics of terracotta if you are not fond of the natural characteristics of terracotta. 

Terracotta Tiles for Outdoor Spaces

Patio with outdoor terracotta square tiles, pergola, and outdoor furnitureWhile terracotta can be used both indoors and outdoors, you need to take into consideration the different factors that can affect how this tile will function for you. When choosing terracotta for outdoors, make sure to go for the sealed and glazed ones.

There is a high chance that these will be subjected to daily wear and tear from weather elements, including wind and rain. If you want to make them last longer in your porch or garden, make sure to add all the possible protection. Sealing and glazing them will do exactly that. 

Tile Designs for Terracotta

Kitchen with island, stove, bar, stools and butchen block counterNow that you’re set on adding terracotta to your home, you will need to choose the design that will look great and contribute to the general style you have at home.

Considering you are thinking about using terracotta, this means you either like the splash of drama offered, or you’re into something rustic and nostalgic.

And while it’s true that terracotta has this old-world charm, it doesn’t mean that the designs are limited to traditional and rustic styles. To help you decide, here are some incredible designs to consider. 

Terracotta Hexagon Tiles

Room with hexagon tiles, dining set and wall artA Mediterranean-style version is shaped in hexagons. This preference is considered timeless and rustic, considering the first terracotta tiles have been created in this shape.

Installing them on your floor, whether in the living room or in the bathroom, features added aesthetic value as you put together the pieces of hexagon tiles.

While it may be considered traditional by many, you can turn it into a stylish and modern look by pairing it with mosaic tiles. The area where you install both styles will seem like an artistic display of shapes and geometric elements. 

Terracotta Red Tiles 

Open floor layout with red terracotta tiles, pendant lights and white cabinetThese are widely known for their red color, and this is another traditional design you can use if you’re into something quite authentic and old-world. If you want something to take you back to the past and feel the weight of history, these red tiles are the right option.

Pairing them will be a bit of a challenge since not everything will look good with red, but if authenticity is your priority, then the effort that it requires will be worth it. These classic tiles can even take you back to homes with clay roofs in Spain. 

Terracotta Black Tiles

Bathroom with black terracotta, tub, stool and windowIf you want to get out of the mold, go for the bold black tiles. The exact opposite of the traditional and standard red ones, their black version offers a unique aesthetic experience that will stand out with any guest you plan to entertain at home. 

This tiling has this “blackened” and “burned” look that somehow looks both clean and rugged at the same time. They usually come with grouts with darker tones in color, matching the blackness of the tiles and giving them a uniform and deeper hue. 

Terracotta White Tile 

Home office with white floors, sliding door and stone accent wallNot your traditional option, these white tiles come from the fact that many ceramic tiles have this color. Durable and affordable at the same time, these tiles will be a great addition to your modern-style home, whether you choose to install the tiles in your living room or bedroom. 

While not a common choice, white clay tiles are elegant to look at and so would elevate any space you choose to add them to.

The clean and canvas-like color will be more open to color and style matching. And so you won’t have to worry about choosing the right color to match the tiles with. 

Terracotta-Made Hand Painted Tiles 

Outdoor patio with handpainted tile steps and red brick paversNothing makes an object more valuable than adding a personal touch to it. This is precisely what it means when a tile is hand-painted or hand-glazed. 

Such tiles are the ones that came across the hands of talented artisans with years of creative experience and inspiration under their belts. And these years will clearly be reflected in the designs they paint over the tiles. 

Besides the added aesthetics, hand-painted terracottas also have improved resistance to water and staining after the painting job. These tile pieces will feature a variety of colors depending on the artisan, but it also means that they might be a bit difficult to pair with when it comes to styling. 

Terracotta Reclaimed Tiles 

Patio with lounge chairs and stone fenceThese tiles are eco-friendly materials primarily because they are reusable and sustainable. This is why it’s not surprising that you will be able to encounter many reclaimed tiles in the market.

The best thing to do once you decide on reclaimed tiles, though, is to make sure that they are not damaged and to clean and polish them until they look brand new. Most of the tiles come from old buildings, so do not be surprised to find many imperfections in the tiles.

If you believe that these marks add character to the tiles, then this tiling is perfect for you. Make sure you’re aware, though that the maintenance and upkeep of these tiles may be expensive. 

Terracotta Bullnose Tiles 

Stair steps with bullnose terracotta style tilesIf you have a limited budget allocated for your tiles, it will not be a bad thing to go for pre-edged ones. These bullnose tiles would look wonderful in your home.

Whether you plan to use these tiles for your new kitchen island or rustic bathroom vanity, getting the tiles along with the bullnose edge profile with save you the trouble of having to work on the edge or paying someone to do it for you.

Since bullnose edge profile tiles come pre-made, you also won’t have issues about not doing them right and having the curves not balanced on other tiles. 

Mexican Terracotta Type Tiles 

Room with Mexican tiles, sheer curtains and wood plank floorsMexico is a country that treats clay and tile making as the people’s local craft, so it’s not surprising to find incredible clay tiles in this place. In fact, many hand-painted and hand-glazed tile places are created and designed by artisans from Mexico. 

While they may have unique shapes, installing them will be quite a challenge. Mexican baked clay tiles are special and can even be considered collectibles. This is why they are also a bit more expensive than machine-cut tile pieces.

If you plan on installing Mexican clay tiles at home, hire a professional to do it for you since they require a bit of a complex installation process. 

Modern Terracotta-Style Tiles 

Room with herringbone patterned flooring, chandelier, cabinets and couchIf hand-painted clay tile flooring is more rustic, machine-cut ones are more modern. With clean lines and uniform shapes, modern clay tile pieces offer more versatility in compatibility and style.

If you have a modern-style home, normally, this material will stand out due to its traditional and rustic aesthetics. This will be an entirely different matter, though, if you’re working with these tiles. 

Where to Use Terracotta Clay Tiles

Room with ceiling fan, wicker ottoman, accordion windows and dark wood dining furnitureWhen installing them at home, the location will also be a vital consideration. Since they are technically porous in nature, they are prone to absorbing too much water, which may lead to permanent damage.

This is the reason why this material is recommended indoors rather than outdoors, for they would be subjected to weather elements. Freezing temperatures can lead to cracking. 

These can be installed anywhere in your home, and you only need to match the style of the space you’re working on with the ambiance that this tiling is delivering. 

Terracotta Kitchen Tile 

Kitchen with mosaic tile backsplash, folding chairs and wood cabinetsThe kitchen is a battlefield where fire and water are both used in meal preparation. Because of this, it’s important to use materials that can withstand constant exposure to these elements.

And even if they are highly porous, they can still be installed in the kitchen. The trick is to seal and glaze to protect them from elements that can harm them. 

This material will be a great addition to your kitchen, especially if you want your kitchen to have one of the following styles:

Rustic style

Farmhouse style

Mediterranean style

Whether you plan to use tiles for your kitchen flooring or countertops, the material is durable enough for daily wear and tear. Make sure, though, that you seal and glaze them to maintain the high quality of the materials. 

Terracotta Bathroom Tiles 

White bathroom, tiles in chevron pattern and wall mirrorsBesides the kitchen, the bathroom is an area that’s often exposed to moisture, which is a bad thing for porous materials like terracotta. Impervious to water, the glazed variety will be a wonderful flooring for your bathroom.

These tiles can be elegantly paired with wooden cabinets and a mosaic wall, which balances each other in aesthetics. They can also be used as a contemporary and sleek addition to the bathroom. In fact, you can mimic the ambiance of a luxury spa just by using them in your bathroom.

Make sure you use the red ones not just for the authentic look but also for the warm hue and inviting vibe. See more types of bathroom tile ideas here.

Terracotta Living Room Tiles 

Room with blue tinted top tables with mathing blue chairsThe living room is the space for entertaining guests and you will want to create an inviting and welcoming feel to it. With clay-based tiles, you can easily use the rustic and traditional vibe that these materials deliver.

You can even turn your living room into an art exhibit by going all-out authentic with hand-painted ones and matching artistic elements.

You don’t have to use this tiling as flooring, and if you really want to make a stunning first impression, you can use hand-painted ones for a wall accent. 

Terracotta Patio Tiles 

Outdoor area with white furniture, glass windows and outdoor grillThese tiles have limited outdoor applications, but that doesn’t mean that they cannot be installed outside the home. You can install this type of tiling on your patio despite being subjected to daily wear and tear and exposure to weather elements.

This will be a lot better if your patio is still positioned under the roof to protect the tile floor from rain and other similar elements. Using them in your patio will be a bad idea if you live in a cold climate since these can freeze and crack.

If not, feel free just to make sure that these materials are well-protected through sealing and glazing them so you won’t have to replace them often. See more pictures of Spanish tile patio designs here.

What Colors Go with Terracotta 

Room with boxed ceiling, wicker furniture and arched windowsIf you choose terra cotta flooring, you need to find colors that will look compatible with it. While there are different tile colors, red is the standard and most common color. Pairing these tiles with neutral colors is the best option to match. 

To work on your walls and match them with the flooring, here are some colors and respective paints that would look wonderful with them.  


Slipper Satin (No.2004)Farrow & Ball Slipper Satin (No.2004)

Classy Gray (OC-23)Benjamin Moore Classy Gray (OC-23)

Creamy (SW 7012)Sherwin-Williams Creamy (SW 7012)

Beige, Taupes, & Brown

Accessible Beige (SW 7036)Sherwin-Williams Accessible Beige (SW 7036)

Clare Paint Coffee DateClare Paint Coffee Date

Mouse’s Back (No.40)Farrow & Ball Mouse’s Back (No.40)

Room with large wall mural green wall paint and bookshelf

Muted Greens

Mizzle (No.266)Farrow & Ball Mizzle (No.266)

October Mist (1495)Benjamin Moore October Mist (1495)

Tate Green (371674)Rust-Oleum Tate Green (371674)

If you want to be spot on when it comes to matching your tiling with colors in the room, choose the tiling you’re planning to install first. Match them appropriately, especially if you choose bold colors, including white and black. 

Tile Grout Colors for Terracotta

Room with wood bench, fireplace and stone ovenBesides the color of the flooring and other elements around it, you will also need to consider the colors of the grout.

Some of the most common options to consider are the following:

Earthy tone


Burnt-clay color options

How to Clean Tiles Made of Terracotta 

Living room with cushioned couch, pillows, rug, glass and table with ornate legsCleaning your tiling is important to make sure that it can last for a long time. To help you with this task, here are cleaning tips to follow when dealing with this type of material. 

1. Wash the tile flooring with mild dish soap in warm water and scrub lightly with a sponge or mop weekly.

2. Make sure you wrung out both to avoid water excess that can result in water damage.

3. Regularly vacuum the flooring with a soft-bristled brush, but do not use the vacuum attachment.

4. Remove spills as soon as possible to avoid further water damage.

5. Use a neutral cleaner and avoid harsh solutions like those that contain ammonia, vinegar, and acids. 

6. Thoroughly rinse and remove any chemical residue from the cleaner used. 

7. Make sure to thoroughly dry the tile pieces after cleaning. You can use a dry mop, towel, or rag.

Sealing Baked Earth Tiles 

Room without furniture pieces with two windowsCleaning your floor tiling regularly won’t be enough to maintain them. You also need to seal them, especially if you notice some have broken seals. Don’t forget to glaze them afterward, too, for additional protection.

To help you with this sealing task, here are simple tips that are easy enough to follow. 

1. Choose the ideal sealant and sealing method for you (You can ask for some advice from experts).

2. When applying the sealant, make sure to protect the baseboards with masking tape.

3. Apply just the right amount of sealant and cover all the necessary areas that need sealing.

4. Make sure to wait until the tile floor is completely cured. This can take up to 72 hours, or just read the instruction that comes with the sealant for the exact number of curing hours. 

Two of the types of sealants you can use are the following:

• Wax sealants: These sealants do not soak all the way through the tiling and, in the end, leave residue on the surface. If applied in a high-traffic area, they can get discolored after some time. 

• Water-based sealants: Thinner compared to acrylic sealers, these sealants can soak deeper into the tiles and take care of problems and issues with dust particles and discoloration

• Acrylic sealants: Odorless compared to other sealants, acrylic is popular for grouting, jointing, and caulking, and they are also easily paintable and can be used for floor tiles. 

Terracotta Vs Saltillo Tile 

Bedroom with comforter with brick dividerSaltillo tile is a specific type of terracotta tile. That said, you can say that all saltillos are terracotta but not all terracottas are saltillo. Here is a glance at the differences between these two materials. 

Aspects to Consider Saltillo Tiles Terracotta Tiles
Origin Mexico All parts of the world
Cut style Handcrafted only Handcrafted or Machine-cut
Shape Each tile is unique Much more uniformed for machine-cut
Installation It is a little difficult due to uneven shapes and lines Easier for machine-cut
Variety Limited More options to choose from

Some of the specific characteristics of saltillo tiling include the following:

Made in Mexico

Handcrafted and unique in their appearance

Features earth-toned colors, including naturally occurring red clay

Made and fired at a relatively low temperature

This material has indoor and outdoor applications, both residential and commercial. They are popular as decorative walls, backsplashes, countertops, and flooring. They can be installed outdoors on your patio, but only if the patio has a roof. 

If you’re considering saltillo tile floors for your home, here are the advantages and disadvantages so you can weigh if this is the ideal type of tile flooring for you. 

Pros of Saltillo Tiles

• Eco-friendly: Biodegradable and organic, these are made of pure clay compared to other tiling.

• Affordable: They are more cost-effective compared to their alternatives.

• Unique pieces: These are handcrafted one by one, so one tile will be unique and different compared to others. 

• Easily conceal dirt: You won’t have to worry about them looking dirty all the time since these can hide dirt well. 

• Features rustic and old-world feel: These provide warmth and an inviting feel you will want your home to have. If you want your home to feel traditional and rustic, these tiles will be wonderful to add to your flooring. 

Cons of Saltillo Tiles

• Complicated to install: Since these have unique shapes and sizes, they can be difficult to install and might need an expert’s help. 

• Uneven and not uniform: Each tile is handmade by an artisan, meaning you might not find any duplicates. While this can be a good thing, it also means that you will also find it hard to match it with other tile pieces.

See more related content in our article about the Spanish style kitchen designs on this page.

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