Individual Tiles Have Character
Saltillo tile usually varies in color and shape, however the majority range from in varying hues of reds, oranges and yellows. These beautiful floor tiles are shaped by pressing quarried clay with a wooden frame (super), or could be carving out the desired shape (regular). Depending on the raw tile’s placement among other tiles at the time of firing, its color ranges from yellow to a rich orange.
Since each piece of standard Saltillo tile is actually made individually by hand with no modern machinery involved, most pieces will have that individual character. The tile is primitive. There are irregularities. You will find small chips, cracks, and bumps. These imperfections merely add character and rustic quality to the floor. If you are lucky, you might even find a few animal footprints in your tile!
With regard to color, lets talk about process a little since this accounts for the major changes you may see from one firing to the next. The tiles are stacked in the caves (kilns) on end which may slightly overlapp so they don’t fall over. Then, before firing, the opening to the kiln is sealed with clay to prevent heat from escaping. The fire is started at the bottom of the cave and fuel is added to increase the heat until the proper temperature is reached. As you know, fire will not burn without oxygen, and at sometime during the firing process all of the available oxygen in the atmosphere in the cave is used up. At that point the flame then seeks the next available source of oxygen (which it finds in the form of iron oxide in the clay tile) and burns it, flashing the exposed surfaces of the tile. The light buff color in the tile is the area that was flashed; the peach color in the tile is the area, which is shielded from the flame by other tiles. You may hear many different stories about different types of fuel used in the firing of Saltillo tile. The original source of heat used for firing Saltillo tile was burning rubber tires. Most of the time, wood is now used to start the process. In the past few years, a variety of fuels have also been used, such as propane, diesel, crude petroleum, etc. The type of fuel used for firing does not directly affect the color of the tile. Heat is heat, much like a gas or electric stove.
The color of the tiles may vary somewhat due to:
- Different ways the tile is stacked in the kiln.
- The way in which the flame/heat is controlled inside the kiln.
- Depending on if a color additive is added to the clay during the manufacturing process
- Whether a slight green hue is apparent from the firing process.
Regardless of your choice of Mexican tile, be it Saltillo, Mission, Talavera or other varieties, you can’t beat these tiling options for creating a traditional, southwestern atmosphere in any room of your house. Our job is to provide a professional installation and then keep them beautiful.
Call us today for an estimate on installing, cleaning or restoring the Mexican Tile in your home or business. Keith Clay Floors is happy to assist you with any questions you may still have about Saltillo tile in general. Call us today, you will be so glad you did.
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