Saltillo terracotta tiles are a handmade product. Due to this process, variations in size, shade, irregular edges, and the appearance of fine cracks are inherent to this product and can vary from piece to piece. Expect natural variation in both shade and color; these tiles will not be identical piece to piece. Details that are visible up close, will appear subtle upon full installation. If properly installed, Saltillo terracotta tiles will result in a beautiful, durable, easy-to-maintain surface that can be enjoyed for many years.

  • Matte sealed tiles come pre-sealed, providing moisture protection. However, matte sealer does not offer substantial protection against stains from other sources like stains and scuffs.
  • To avoid this and increase longevity, we highly recommend sealing with our Penetrating Sealant or Miracle Sealant Porous Plus (matte finish) or Ultra-Low VOC Sealant (semi-gloss finish) to protect from staining.

For best results, we highly recommend having a professional handle the installation. Their expertise and experience will ensure that the tile is installed correctly and will maintain its quality over time. For further installation guidelines, reference the Installation Handbook from the Tile Council of North America, TCNA


  • Flexible tile adhesive, suitable for natural stone
  • Flexible grout
    • Mapei Ultracolor Plus FA or Saltillo grout
  • Grout haze remover
  • Grout sponges
  • 3/4” Grout trowel
  • Tile spacers (1/8” to 1/2” recommended)
  • Shims
  • Construction level


  • Handle cases of tile with care and keep all boxes upright.
  • Do not drop or mishandle cases of tile.
  • Prior to installation, store material in a dry area.
  • Throughout the installation process and handling of the tile, be careful not to damage the finished surface, edges and corners of the tiles.
  • If any tiles have imperfections, set them aside and do not install or use them for cuts


  • Inspect your order carefully.
  • You have the responsibility of assessing the suitability of the product before installing it.
  • Clay Imports will not be responsible for material that has been cut or installed.
  • After installation, we cannot accept claims regarding any variations in color and size.
  • If any tiles have imperfections, set them aside for cuts and do not install.
  • CONFIRM that your tile is pre-sealed.
    • Though pre-sealed tiles do not require further sealing, using a conventional “grout release” will increase the efficiency of grout application.
  • For “distressed” Saltillo terracotta tile, identifiable by a heavy textured, pitted surface, note that grout will adhere as a permanent fixture to the surface texture. Consider the above when selecting your grout color.


  • Arrange tiles in the desired pattern to determine cuts needed and spacing for grout.
  • Prepare your grid. Based on your specific installation, determine how to best design your layout and draw a grid on the installation surface.
  • Confirm adequate tile amount, including extras for unforeseen circumstances.
  • If you require additional pieces, please make sure to have them before starting the installation process. Please note that any additional pieces may differ in color from your original order.
  • Saltillo terracotta tile, as a product of clay and natural materials, is subjected to color and shade variations and it is recommended to mix the tiles from the different cases.
    • Before installation, we advise a blending of the tiles to create a more aesthetic appearance.
  • As a clay-based product, there may be clay residue on the surface. Clean all Saltillo terracotta tiles with a cloth to remove any clay residue before installation.
  • Please be sure to read product usage instructions on all materials used for your installation.
  • For safety purposes, we recommend that you wear safety gear when installing tile. Gloves, safety glasses, and close-toed shoes can prevent injury.
  • If installing tiles in an exterior, wet location, or cold climate, proper installation is crucial. This entails specialized waterproofing, a topcoat sealer, and regular maintenance to ensure durability and longevity.
  • Ensure that the surface is well-prepared. The setting surface must be thoroughly cleaned and dried. Avoid installing over oily or polished concrete, unsecured surfaces, or excessive paint overspray.
  • Check your cutting saw to confirm that you're using the correct blade for the material. We strongly suggest using a high-quality, continuous diamond blade wet saw. If you notice excessive chipping, it may be time to upgrade your blade.


  • The substrate and setting materials should be chosen based on your specific situation. Consult with your installer, contractor, or architect to determine the right options for you. . This product is compatible with high-grade, flexible thinset.
  • Be cautious not to apply thinset in areas that are larger than what can be set within a few minutes.
  • Protect your workspace. Setting materials can stain your walls and potentially harm your countertop or other surfaces near the installation area. Cover all areas that are susceptible to damage with a durable, protective construction covering.


  • It is always recommended to apply a grout test on a loose piece of tile before full grout application.
  • Dark-colored grouts that contain pigments can penetrate the surface of the tile and result in permanent staining. We advise against using dark-colored grouts.
  • To prevent grout from sticking during installations, use a grout release. Test grout in an inconspicuous area to ensure desired results.
  • We recommend referring to grout manufacturer guidelines.
  • Depending on the desired look, grout joint spacers up to 3/4” can be used. The average grout line is 1/2” - 3/4”. This grout line accommodates the size variations from tile to tile.
  • If the grout line is too tight the tile could chip at stress points while the grout dries.
  • Narrower grout joints will make the natural variation of the tile more noticeable. Using wider grout joints can help with tile placement and maintaining straight lines.
  • For floors, it is recommended to use wider grout lines to enhance traction and prevent slipping.
  • Wet Areas: We recommend filling any holes with grout using the traditional technique applying grout to the face of the tile to avoid water permeating the tile.

Grout Bag Method

    • If your preference is to leave the natural surface voids unfilled, try the “grout bag” technique.
    • First, mix your grout according to the manufacturer's instructions and fill the grout bag with the mixed grout.
    • Hold the bag at a 45-degree angle and apply pressure to force the grout out of the bag and into the joints between the tiles.
    • Be sure to fill the joints completely, and use a grout float to smooth out the surface of the grout.
    • Wipe away any excess grout with a damp sponge.
    • Buff the tiles with a clean cloth to remove any remaining haze.
    • Allow the grout to set for the recommended amount of time.



Glue the tiles on a flat, dry surface with a high quality, flexible tile adhesive.

  • Use a trowel with recesses of 10-20 mm (1/2 - 3/4in).
  • Ensure that the adhesive is applied to the entire surface of the back of the tile.
  • Remove excess glue from between tiles quickly.
  • Glue will require at least 24 hours to dry properly.


Clean the tile surface with water after bonding using a sponge and / or cloth. Wring the sponge every time while cleaning. Avoid getting tiles too wet as this may affect later steps. Allow the installation to dry completely.


The tiles should be thoroughly cleaned prior to grouting. After the tiles are clean and dry, apply 1 to 2 coats of grout release to the tile surface.


Grout should be applied to the tile within 1 hour of applying grout release. Always apply grout to a loose sample tile prior to full application. Once you have confirmed that the grout is suitable, begin applying to the surface. Note that this method of installation will result in grout filling the surface pits of the tile. (For alternative, See Grout Bag Method)

  • Only apply small sections of no greater than 6 square feet at a time.
  • Grout should cleaned from the surface with a damp sponge.
  • Grout should not dry on the tile surface for longer than 10 minutes.
  • For best results, wipe away excess grout at an angle to the tile lines.
  • Continue cleaning until only a mild residue remains on the surface.
  • Caution not to remove too much grout from the surface joints.


Following grout application, clean the tile surface thoroughly with a damp cloth. Clean the surface until all grout residue has been removed. Allow to completely dry.


Once the installed tile is completely dry, 1 to 2 coats of Clay Care a top coast sealer can be applied to the surface using the sealing guidelines below.

  • When selecting a sealer for your project, depending on the type of sealer you are using, the tile may slightly darken during application.
  • In most cases sealed tiles will lighten once the sealer dries, but in others, where a penetrating sealer is used, the color will remain darker than how it started.


Allow the entire installation area to completely dry before drying or covering the surface.



Confirm that your grout is 100% dry.

  • In most cases, grout will dry fully 1-2 days following installation.


Pour your sealer into a clean plastic bucket. Make sure to keep about an inch of depth of sealer in the bucket.


Lightly dip a portion of a big sponge into the bucket, only allowing one side of the sponge to absorb sealer.


Begin wiping the installed tile with the dampened side of the sponge.


Depending on the type of grout used, you may have to apply extra sealant to the joints.

  • Conventional, sanded grouts are very absorbent.


Evenly coat the entire area.

  • If your sponge starts to deteriorate, replace it, as debris from a sponge can get stuck to your tile.


Allow any installation materials to completely dry and do not walk or cover the surface until confirmed dry.


  • Matte sealed tiles come pre-sealed, providing moisture protection. Our factory, matte sealer does not offer protection against stains from other sources, ie. stains and scuffs.
  • To avoid this and increase longevity, we highly recommend sealing with our Penetrating Sealant (matte finish) or Ultra-Low VOC Sealant (semi-gloss finish) to protect from staining.

Penetrating Sealant Example (matte finish)

Ultra-Low VOC Sealant Example (subtle, semi-gloss finish)


Regularly cleaning your tile is essential to maintain its beauty and prolong its lifespan.

  • Regular Cleaning: Clay tile should be swept, dusted or vacuumed regularly to keep it clean. Use a soft-bristled broom or a vacuum cleaner with a hard floor setting. You can also use a damp mop with warm water and a mild cleaner to remove any dirt or grime.
  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Avoid bleach or ammonia, on clay tile. These can damage or discolor the tile. Instead, use a pH-neutral cleaner. We recommend soap or a household, non-acidic cleaner. This will help remove any dirt, grime, or stains that may accumulate over time.
    • Use a soft cloth or mop to avoid scratching the surface. Simply dampen the cloth or mop with the cleaning solution and gently wipe the tile in a circular motion.
    • For tougher stains, you may need to use a more abrasive cleaner, but be sure to test an inconspicuous area to not damage the tile.
    • Make sure to remove any residue from the cleaning solution. This will help prevent any build-up that could dull the tile's appearance.
  • Clean Up Spills Immediately: Clean up any spills or stains on clay tile immediately to prevent staining. Use a soft cloth and warm water or a pH-neutral cleaner to remove any spills.
  • Prevent Scratches: Clay tile is durable but can still be scratched by sharp or abrasive objects. Avoid dragging heavy furniture across the tile, and use furniture pads to prevent scratches.
  • Use Rugs: Use mats or rugs in high-traffic areas or in areas where dirt or moisture is likely to accumulate, like entryways or kitchens. This can help prevent wear and tear on clay tile and keep it looking new. However, be cautious with rug pads, as high temperatures can cause rubber padding or dots to stick. We would recommend felt or cloth pads.
  • Lime pops: Small lime pops, or divots sometimes appear on the surface of terracotta tiles post-installation, this is a natural and normal characteristic of handmade saltillo tiles that does not affect the durability of the tile. In some cases, a professional can gently grind down the lime pops using a diamond-tipped tool. This should be done carefully to avoid damaging the surrounding tiles. Alternatively, lightly sanding the affected area and resealing it can often revitalize the spots.
  • Wet area: For tiles installed in wet areas such as some flooring applications and exterior applications, we recommend applying a protective sealant approximately once per year. Although not required, sealant provides an extra layer of protection by sealing micropores to keep your tile in pristine condition.


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Disclaimer: Since the installation of tile greatly determines the integrity of the project and the tile itself, Clay imports does not warranty this product and is not responsible for dissatisfaction of material following installation. Please inspect all tile upon receipt and notify us immediately if you have any quality concerns. This guide is meant to serve as a general resource. Because each project is unique, consult your tile installer before installing your tile.