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Saltillo Tile FAQs

It’s handmade. It’s rustic. Every piece is unique.
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Advice About Mexican Saltillo Tile

Saltillo tile is made from natural clay that is found in the Mexican city of Saltillo. It is handmade and kiln-fired, giving it a unique and rustic appearance. The clay is mixed with water, formed into tiles, and then left to dry in the sun before being fired in a kiln.  The kiln-firing process results in creating a most durable type of terracotta tile.

Saltillo tile is known to be a high-quality, long-lasting, and low-cost flooring choice. Compared to many types of stone products, porcelain, and ceramic tiles, Saltillo clay is inexpensive.


Prices vary throughout areas of the country due to shipping costs.  And prices also vary from the color finishes and patterns.  Overall, a 12″ dimension tile boasts the best value per square foot with many sizes close in the price range.


So how much does Saltillo tile cost? Generally, expect a Traditional Saltillo tile to cost from $2.50-$6 per square foot for full pallet (400 SF) quantities. Manganese, Spanish Mission Red, and Antique Saltillo colors are more expensive than Traditional Saltillo due to increased manufacturing expenses.


Get a Price Estimate for your Next Project – just fill out this short form or call us (512) 260-9111. 


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Handmade Saltillo tile is imperfect.  Due to the handmade nature of manufacturing (that's many generations old), these clay tiles have imperfect, rustic characteristics including, but not limited to, bumps, chips, hairline cracks, irregular markings, pillowing (they are concave and do not lay flat so we advise installing with a back-buttering technique to achieve a level floor), lime pops, size and thickness variations, color striping, imprints, occasional paw prints, fingerprints, and more.   These are not defects. 


Once these tiles are installed, these characteristics give the Saltillo floor the rustic style that homeowners desire.  Anyone who does not prefer an imperfect and rustic style floor with characteristics like these should not purchase Saltillo tile or should order a considerable amount of overage for culling.  Even so, it's impossible to receive handmade Saltillo tiles without these rustic characteristics.


Some people cull out less desirable tiles to be used for cuts. But be weary of pulling out all imperfect tiles to avoid running short on the job site.

Super Saltillo has rounded corners and edges and a smoother surface with some irregularities. Regular Saltillo has sharp corners and edges with more variation in size, irregularities on the surface, and may have chips along the edges. “Super” does not mean “better”.  Both styles are considered rustic and our prices are exactly the same for Super & Regular Saltillo. Want to SEE it? Watch this short YouTube video to see the difference between Super and Regular Saltillo tile.difference between super and regular saltillo tile

Unsealed Saltillo tile is referred to as “Raw” or Terracotta tile.  It may contain efflorescence on the surface. Rustico’s sealed Saltillo tile comes with 5 coats of penetrating sealer applied to the clay. The tile is ready to install. Topcoat sealer is recommended after installation is complete to ensure proper sealing of the floor and to reduce maintenance.

Learn More → Why You Should Buy Sealed Saltillo Tile

Watch this short YouTube video to see the difference between Sealed and Unsealed Saltillo Tile.

This is one of the most common questions that we receive.  Yes! Saltillo tile is Terracotta tile.  But not all Terracotta tile is Saltillo tile. Clear as muddy clay?

Watch this short video to hear the difference between Saltillo & Terracotta tile.


So what is Terracotta tile?  Terracotta tile simply refers to the tile being made from clay (or from the earth).  Clay comes from a variety of places around the world.  But, Saltillo clay is special.  Saltillo clay tile is known to be the most durable clay in the world.  So, you’re fine referring to it as Terracotta tile.  We do too! 


When you’re shopping for Terracotta tile, always look for Saltillo Terracotta tile so you benefit from its properties of durability!


We love when our customers want to know about How Saltillo Tile is Made. 

Saltillo clay is dug from the earth in its raw form. In man-made pits in the ground, water is added to humidify the clay for the curing process. Once the clay has been cured, it is then shaped by hand into molds to give it a desired shape. As these Mexican tiles dry in the sun, an occasional coyote, chicken, or dog may pass by and leave their footprints on a few. This is a mark that you are getting authentic Saltillo tile, contributing to its unique appearance. You can watch the entire process from start to finish in our video, featuring our partners in Mexico.

Learn More → Ultimate Guide to Saltillo Tile Flooring

Facts About Saltillo Tile Shapes, Sizes, & Colors

Saltillo tile is offered in 4 Saltillo Tile Colors

  • Traditional (terra cotta shades)
  • Manganese (browns/Terra Cotta)
  • Antique (Old-world style)
  • Spanish Mission Red (terracotta colors)

Each Saltillo tile has the characteristic of an imperfect tile. The color finishes will have color variations that are completely normal and to be expected in natural clay tiles.

Once installed, the Saltillo tile acquires the unique blend of colors that achieve its authentic, rustic look. With its unique appearance and rustic charm, Saltillo tile has become a popular choice for homeowner looking to add a touch of traditional style to their homes. It is impossible for us to send specific shades of tile. No two tiles will be the same. To obtain more consistency in color, it is advised to over-order and cull through shades of colors on the job site.

Additionally, colors will vary (sometimes drastically, sometimes minimally) from one manufacturing lot to the next.  We do not guarantee color matching because there are kiln-firing elements and weather elements that dramatically affect the finished color of the tile. It is advised to order enough tiles for your project at one time.

No two tiles are the same in size, shape, thickness, or color. Tiles are manufactured from an actual size mold (i.e., 12×12 tiles are made from a 12×12 inch mold). As these tiles are dried in the sun and fired in the kiln, water evaporates, and the tiles shrink down from their original mold size. This is normal.

For example, a 12×12 inch size mold generally produces finished tiles that measure 11.25-11.75 inches. Once these are installed, and grout lines are added, the installed space measures approximately 12×12 inches. Smaller tiles have fewer size variations, and larger tiles have significantly more variations (including size, shape, and overall rustic characteristics & imperfections. These are due to the handmade process of crafting Saltillo tile.)

The same variations occur in tile shapes. Authentic handmade Saltillo tiles do not lay flat. As the water is evaporated in the firing process, the tiles will bow in shape. Smaller tiles will have less bowing than larger tiles. To accommodate the pillowed tile, an installer can simply “butter the back” of the concave shave to fill space with proper thinset and avoid having a hollow spot under the tile. This is standard practice.

It is important to note that once the installation is complete, the Saltillo tile should be properly sealed with a quality topcoat sealant to prevent staining and scuffing. Read more about that on this page!

Saltillo tile thickness varies because the tiles are handmade. Typically, the 12” tiles measure approximately 5/8” thick and 8” tiles measure approximately ½” thick. Tiles larger than 12″ in size will have increased thickness.

The average weight per tile for a 12″ Saltillo is 5.1-5.5 pounds. These are averages.  There will be variations to the metrics provided here. No two tiles are the same. To verify if our tile will work for your space, order samples.

Do you need help deciding what Saltillo tile pattern is best for your project? We’re here to help! Give us a call, send us your floor plans, or email some ideas.  We’ll help you find the perfect Saltillo tile pattern to fit your project space and budget. Our 12x12 Mexican tile offers our best value per square foot but at Rustico Tile, we have many more affordable choices for something decorative, too!

The average weight for a Saltillo floor tile is 5.5 pounds per square foot.

Standard tile sizes approximate weights:

8x8 @ 3.3 pounds
12x12 @ 5 pounds
16x16 @  9 pounds

Contact us for specifications for other shapes and sizes.

A full pallet of tile weighs up to 3000 pounds.

This is a (free) online tool that allows you to see our tiles in your space before making a purchase. It's easy to use. Just upload an image of your room or use an image from our library. Then, select a tile pattern and color. The tool creates a likeness of that tile in your space.  Of course, it's still important to order samples of real tiles to gain the most realistic understanding. Try the Room Visualizer Tool now.

Saltillo Tile Tips: Installation & Maintenance

Watch this short video to learn how to order the right amount of overage for Saltillo tile floors.

Order 15-20% overage for projects using 12" and smaller tiles.

Order 20-25% overage for all decorative patterns & 16" tiles.

Order 30% overage for large format sizes 18" and larger. These require more overage for cuts, waste in shipping, and tile selection due to the increased amounts of rustic characteristics.  Large format tiles also incur more waste in handling and installation. 

Any orders that run short of tile will be required to order a minimum of 200 square feet.  Please be certain to order enough tile initially.

Pro Tip: Many of our clients order excess overage (25-35%) for color selection. Yes, this results in ordering more tiles than you’ll install, but it allows you to sort through colors that you like best for your project.

Pro Tip: Colors of handmade flooring installations will vary (sometimes drastically, sometimes minimally) from one manufacturing lot to the next.  We do not guarantee color matching because there are kiln-firing elements and weather elements that dramatically affect the finished color of the tile. It is advised to order enough tile for your Saltillo tile installation project at one time.

DIY Instructions → How to Install Saltillo Tile    

Yes - watch this video to learn why and how Saltillo tile can be installed outdoors!

Clay flooring can be installed in outdoor areas. This is a beautiful terracotta tile flooring choice on patios, around pools, and outdoors in the sunlight.

For climates with freezing weather, proper precautions must be taken to waterproof the flooring area (water barrier underlayment and topcoat sealer). The surface of the floor must be sealed properly and inspected prior to every winter.

We recommend the application of a waterproofing membrane for any outdoor installation on a concrete slab regardless of the climate.

This is one of  the most popular Saltillo tile questions. These floors do not require specialty grout. Regular mortar mix is our go-to choice for grout.  It works great, looks great, and is inexpensive.

Most of our patterns and sizes are installed with an approximate 1/2″ grout joint.  We do not recommend installing handmade tile with a smaller grout joint due to the variations in size and thickness in the tiles.  But also, expect a wider grout joint in decorative shaped and large format tiles.

When it comes to advice about Saltillo tile installation, it is important to use the right materials. For example, during the process, it is crucial to apply high quality thin-set mortar onto the floor. This ensures proper bonding of the tiles and can prevent any issues in the future, including any issues related to the cement used for the installation.

Apply one of our high-quality topcoat sealers across your finished floor as the final step to installation.  This last coat of sealer also seals grout lines.

Watch this short video to learn more grout choice and width tips!

Yes. A high-quality thinset must be used to install Saltillo tile.  We recommend a semi or full-modified thinset.  Do not use low-cost, cheap quality thinsets.  These will lead to tiles popping up from your subfloor in future weeks/months.

In most cases, we can offer free shipping for installation materials when those are purchased with your tile.  We offer wholesale prices for thinset, crack prevention & waterproofing membrane, and topcoat sealers. Reach out to us for more facts about Saltillo tile.

Clay (terracotta) flooring may be subject to efflorescence, and occasional lime pops. Clean efflorescence off unsealed tiles with V-Scrub.

Saltillo tile questions often include the topic of lime pops. Lime Pops are part of Coahuila, Mexico's riverbed clay. While these powdery deposits in the clay may never expose themselves, they can eventually pop, resulting in a small pit in the tile. To fix, apply a coat of sealer over the chipped area. This adds to the rustic charm of authentic Mexican clay floors.

Lime pops and efflorescence are not defects.

Watch this short video to learn more about proper installation materials for Mexican Saltillo tiles.

To maintain and clean Saltillo tile, sweep or vacuum regularly to remove dirt and debris. Use a pH-neutral cleaner specifically designed for Saltillo floors and mop the floor with a soft cloth or sponge. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they can damage the tile's surface.

How to Buy Saltillo Flooring Samples & Shipping Facts

Saltillo tile is packaged in 48x48x48 inch wooden crates. The tile is not boxed. It is stacked, standing vertically row by row to fill the crate. Move the crates with forklifts and pallet jacks. It is not advised to stack the crates. Approximately 375-400 square feet can be shipped per crate for most shapes and sizes of Saltillo tile. There is a $29.50 fee per pallet.  Returns must be authorized are are subject to a restocking fee.

pallet of saltillo tile

We offer flat-rate sample packs.

  • $35 pack includes 2 tiles and FedEx Ground shipping.
  • Your Fedex Account + $15 packaging fee.

The samples will ship via FedEx ground unless expedited shipping is requested. The sample box cost is credited to orders over 500 square feet.  Returns are not accepted.


There is a 200 square foot minimum for all orders.  At 200 square feet, a pallet is heavy enough to travel safely in shipping.  We do not offer orders at less than 200 square feet due to shipping complications.

If you run short and need more tile to complete a project, we do not guarantee that a new order of tile will match your previous order. This is due to variations due to weather and the handmade nature of manufacturing Saltillo tile. Order all tile needed for your project at one time to save time and money.

A residential delivery includes a liftgate for unloading the pallet(s), and freight companies bill for the service of this liftgate and residential access. We contract with national freight carriers, and insurance is included.

saltillo tile residential delivery

The full-sized freight truck (an 18-wheeler in most cases) will need to have access in and out of the desired delivery location. Inside delivery is not available. Delivery can only be made on a flat, paved surface. 1-2 people need to be available at the time of delivery to assist the driver if necessary. If there are delivery concerns, please contact us prior to the shipping date so we can offer advice about Saltillo tile.

Anticipated delivery issues are much easier and less costly to fix prior to material departing our warehouse. Any changes made to shipping after the material has left our warehouse will incur additional fees.

Freight companies are requested to call ahead to set an appointment for residential delivery. Deliveries are made Monday-Friday.

A commercial delivery is considered to be delivered to any business location with a loading dock or a forklift. If no loading dock or forklift is available, a liftgate can be ordered to unload and incur an additional fee.

Freight companies deliver Monday-Friday during normal operating hours without any call-ahead notice.

Farm/Restaurant/Ranch/Hotel/Restaurant/Resort locations may incur additional fees.

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