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Why We Love Terracotta

At Reed Harris we’ve had a long standing love affair with terracotta tiles. This hard-wearing and organic material has been around for thousands of years yet continues to look fresh and modern. Our new range of glazed terracotta tiles continues that passion, bringing a new functionality and durability to these beautifully rustic tiles.

The history of baked earth

Terracotta has always blended the aesthetic with the utilitarian, being used for thousands of years to create fertility figures, statues and of course the astonishing Terracotta Army of the Chinese Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE). More functionally, terracotta was widely used for roofing tiles, bricks and water pipes.

Highly ornamented Bengal terracotta temples were the inspiration for a revival of terracotta as a decorative material in the 19th century. Louis Sullivan, the father of the skyscraper, used terracotta extensively to ornament his buildings. It was popular in England too, until the spread of Modernism and the rise in the use of concrete in the 1930s.

Now considered too porous to use for roof tiling, terracotta has found its niche as a beautiful and hard-wearing flooring material.

Rustic beauty

Literally meaning ‘baked earth’ in Italian, terracotta continues to be used for interior floor tiles that lend a rural or Mediterranean feel to your interiors with their lovely range of red and earthy hues. It’s this beauty and simplicity combined with durability that makes terracotta such a desirable option for your floors.

Terracotta tiles are created from brown and red clays coloured by iron ore. The clay is shaped into the desired style and then left to dry. The tiles are then fired at which point they can be left unglazed, but they must be sealed so they don’t stain. Machine cut terracotta tiles have a more consistent look and are easier to install than uneven and rough hewn hand-made styles but lack the same character.

Warmer and more tactile than glazed ceramics and stone, terracotta tiles are an ideal choice for a country style kitchen or a cosy, traditional living room.

Simple elegance

If you prefer your terracotta floors to be easier to keep clean and maintain, then why not consider glazed tiles? Glazing adds a thin layer of glass to the tile which increases its durability and makes it much easier to clean. Glazed tiles also catch the light in a way that can look really attractive.

The latest addition to our terracotta tile range, are our through-colour tiles. These tiles are coloured all the way through the material. This is done by adding the dye into the terracotta mix during the manufacturing process. The advantage of opting for the through-coloured tile is that it’s far less noticeable should the tile become chipped or damaged, since the colour isn’t solely on the surface layer. The gorgeous pale blue triangular tiles in the image below are an example of these tiles.

At Reed Harris we love the warmth and sumptuous vibe that terracotta gives off and the way that it can be paired with a blush pink or spring yellow to create a very contemporary look. Suitable for kitchens, boot rooms and even patios (if you choose a frost proof tile), we stock a huge range of beautiful terracotta tiles in a range of sizes and shapes and we can also create bespoke tiles to order for that special installation.