What Are Saltillo Tiles?

There are a number of very attractive types of natural clay tiles from Mexico. Possibly the most famous of these is Saltillo tiles. Saltillo tiles are clay tiles that are sourced from the Mexican city of Saltillo, Coahuila.

They are rough hewn and natural looking and contain cracks, chipped edges and gouges that are all part of the natural beauty and distinction of the tiles. Saltillo tiles have been made using an old-world traditional style of manufacture by hand that is still carried on today.

These tiles are clay tiles that are available in shades of red, orange or yellow or as manganese Saltillo in which manganese is added to the clay when it is wet and it turns a brown color with the shade changing depending on how much manganese was used.

The Mexican Saltillo tiles are a perfect example of how an object does not have to be precisely made for it to be beautiful or functional. Saltillo tiles are roughly hewn with uneven edges and uneven colors. But it is these imperfections that give the tiles their appeal.

The clay to make the tiles is dug from the earth and water is added to humidify the clay. A couple of different types of tiles can be made depending on the methods chosen by the artisans. The first involves pressing the clay into a wooden frame before turning it out where it cures. The second is to simply carve the tile out of the clay to its desired shape.

After the tiles have been left to dry in the sun they are then kiln-fired for up to 36 hours and then allowed to cool for another 36 hours. The tiles may then either be sealed with an oil-based industrial sealant or left raw in its natural state.

One of the appealing aspects of using Saltillo tiles is that the colors within the tiles seem to swirl around and through the depth of the tile.

These tiles are the original terra cotta building materials that have been used for centuries as an attractive hard surface. They will suit any Mediterranean style home and are attractive tiles that will last forever if maintained properly.

The tiles are highly porous and will soak in liquid very easily. As a protective measure they should be sealed so that the moisture from the grout is not absorbed straight into the tile. If it is not sealed it will stain easily and you will find it difficult to get the tile to bond with the mortar. A way in which people go about getting the tile to bond properly is to soak the tile in water until it has absorbed as much as it can and then laying the tiles. The tiles make a good indoor use and can also be used in outdoor situations as long as the area is frost-free.

Another very popular type of tile that originates in Mexico are Talavera tiles.