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Terra cotta tiles are turning up in more homes than ever, according to the latest decorating trends. Because of their versatility and warmth, it’s no wonder that more homeowners are choosing terra cotta over other tiling options.
However, if you’re looking to add terra cotta tiles to your home, here is what you will want to know
The term terra cotta is Italian for ‘baked earth.’ This waterproof ceramic is used for a number of things: pipes that carry water and waste, vessels from drinking or storing, surface decoration as well as a number of artistic pieces and tiling. The brownish-orange color creates a subdued and natural look as opposed to less natural looking design techniques.
The use of terra cotta stretches back through history. Many early civilizations were using terra cotta as a way to produce pottery and sculptures as well as using it in roofing their homes. In the very beginning of this kind of craft, the artisans would bake the sculptures in the sun in order to dry and harden them. As cultures developed, this sun drying technique was replaced by an open hearth of fire and later with a kiln. The reason why the clay would need to be fired so thoroughly would be to create a stronger and more durable material for everyday use.
The most famous use of terra cotta would have to be the terra cotta army as created for Emperor Qin Shi Huang in about 209 BC. These huge terra cotta army figures were created to follow the Emperor upon his death so that he would have an army then as well.
The use of terra cotta is advantageous for many reasons. For one, the terra cotta is a much simpler process. With the use of bolds, the artisans can create one piece and then replicate it as much as they please. The terra cotta is also much lighter than if you were to use other materials. You can also glaze it to change the overall color and texture, or you could create a metallic look. While you would want thicker terra cotta for tiling or roofing that would appear outside of your home, it is still widely used for the outdoors. But with the changing of seasons and weather conditions, you would want to be sure that the piece was dried thoroughly in order to resist cracking and changing.
While most people consider terra cotta to be a warm brown color, almost orange in some lights, there are other options when you choose a glazed finish. You can also incorporate terra cotta tiles into colored patterns, as is seen often in more ornate decorating styles. For example, the outsides of some buildings have been created with terra cotta tiles into the shapes of birds and other figures.
In terms of using terra cotta tiling in your home, you may want to consider installing it as flooring. Not only will this help to warm up any room, but it is also extremely durable under a number of conditions. With the hard surface and resistance to moisture, terra cotta flooring can be both an accent as well as an enduring piece of your home.
The terra cotta tiles that you might want to lay in your home are generally very thin by design (in order to increase their tightness) and will need to be laid in mortar in order to hold their design. After being set into the mortar, the tiles are generally rinsed with buffered acid in order to reduce the residue that might remain – lime, glue, or cement as well. This is one of the main reasons why most people do not attempt to create this look on their own – leaving this kind of work to experienced professionals.
Because of the construction of the terra cotta, there is very little maintenance that is required as it is already water resistant and ready for use. Outside uses of terra cotta tiles will necessitate being treated with water sealing products in order to increase their durability. But as you can see, terra cotta tiles can be used in a number of ways to decorate and add charm to your home.