How to choose quarry and terracotta floor tiles

Discover the affordable and durable appeal of quarry and terracotta floor tiles for transforming your kitchen, bathroom or hallway without breaking the budget

TODO alt text

Choosing floor tiles and want a natural, hand made look? Hardwearing and durable, quarry and terracotta floor tiles add warmth, colour and character, making them perfect for contemporary kitchens and traditional kitchens, bathrooms, hallways and conservatories.

Quarry and terracotta tiles are available from many tile outlets, with good replica porcelain and ceramic tiles if you want a more affordable, maintenance-free floor. There is also a wide choice in the reclaimed market if you are after a vintage or rustic look. Which to choose? Follow our guide to find the best terracotta or quarry tiles for your home.

How much to quarry and terracotta tiles cost?

If you shop around, you can buy basic tiles for under £20 per m², with the average price being from £40 to £80 per m². You could end up spending upwards of £100 per m² for shop-bought tiles if you are opting for handmade tiles with a particularly unusual finish or colour.

For reclaimed or more unique or unusual tiles you might be looking to pay over £100 per m².

grey quarry and terracotta floor tiles

These striking grey terracotta tiles are from Fired Earth

What are quarry and terracotta tiles made from?

Quarry tiles are made from a mixture of clays, fired at an extremely high temperature. 

Terracotta tiles, on the other hand, is fired at a lower temperature, resulting in a softer tile with a rustic appearance. 

Quarry tiles are very robust and are less porous than terracotta. As a result, they are usually frost-resistant, making them ideal for outdoor use, whereas terracotta isn’t always recommended for outside.

You will find that both quarry and terracotta tiles come in a range of colours, from warm red and gold through to heather tones, brown, grey and black. As well as their traditional square appearance, they come in a brick form and other shapes, such as hexagonal, sometimes with decorative colours and inserts to create patterns. Choose anti-slip surfaces for wet areas and bathrooms.

Terracotta floor tiles by Topps Tiles

Terracotta tiles from Topps Tiles

(Image: © Topps Tiles)

The benefits of quarry and terracotta tiles

Front path with tiles by Walls and Floors

These stunning Cava Quarry tiles by Walls & Floors are actually porcelain, but give the look of quarry – plus they can be used indoors and out

(Image: © Walls and Floors)

What are the downsides of terracotta and quarry tiles?

If they are bought unsealed they must be treated, or they will stain easily. Any china or glass that is dropped on them is almost certain to shatter, as their surface is very hard.

Where to lay quarry and terracotta tiles?

Terracotta and quarry floor tiles are ideal for high traffic or wet areas, such as kitchens, hallways and bathrooms. They can be laid outdoors, too, but check that the tiles you are considering are frost-proof.

Kitchen floor tiles by Walls & Floors

These Victorian unglazed hexagon clay tiles from Walls & Floors, they have a soft and subtle finish

(Image: © Walls & Floors)

Are quarry and terracotta tiles compatible with underfloor heating?

There is now no reason you can’t lay a quarry or terracotta floor in an in any other room if paired with underfloor heating. They heat quickly and hold warmth, so you won’t have to worry about getting out of bed, or the bath, on to a cold tiled floor.

Original style earthworks quarry and terracotta floor tiles

Original Style’s classic handmade terracotta tiles 

Can you lay quarry or terracotta tiles yourself?

Laying quarry or terracotta floor tiles is no more difficult than fitting any other tiled flooring, so this will depend on your skill and experience. Read our guide to tiling a floor to learn more.

If you are laying unsealed tiles, then it is essential to allow the moisture to be released prior to sealing and/or glazing, and this could take several days. Moisture levels will depend on the depth and material of the subfloor, and the depth and moisture content of the tiles and adhesive, so take advice from your installer or supplier.

The colour and tones will vary from batch to batch so ‘shuffle’ the tiles for a mixed balance and expect minor chips and blemishes in some ranges; this is part of their natural appeal.

quarry and terracotta ceramica ellas millenium floor tiles from the wellington tile company

Made by one of Spain’s oldest manufacturers of terracotta, Ceramica Elias tiles at Wellington Tile Company

Where to find a reputable tile fitter

Ask your supplier if they provide a fitting service or if they can recommend local tradespeople for the job. Personal recommendations are often the best option. Otherwise, check out websites such as ratedpeople.com and checkatrade.com. The National Institute of Carpet and Floorlayers can provide you with a list of its members. It is advisable to choose a tradesperson or company whose main business is tiling or floor laying and who will want to trade on their reputation.

How to maintain terracotta or quarry tiles

Once they are sealed, you can treat them with a wax or sheen product after they have been laid. Your supplier will be able to advise on suitable ranges and also recommend the best cleaning product – any that aren’t recommended could leave behind a film, which could attract dirt. Different sealants and finishes can affect the colour and tone of the tiles so it is imperative to check first. Sweeping regularly will keep loose dirt away.

Take a look at this step-by-step guide on looking after your terracotta and quarry floor tiles.

More tile know how: