One of the most beautiful and unique natural stone flooring are Saltillo tiles. This is due to their imperfections that give them the unique beauty that you do not find in most other stones.
Saltillo tiles are handcrafted down in Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico. The clay that the tiles are made out of are pulled from natural clay deposits within that region, which has one of the finest natural clay deposits throughout the entire world.
After they pull the clay from the earth, it is then cleaned and sifted. This process is very important as the more “clean” it is the better quality it is. There are many Saltillo tiles on the market today that are made with “unclean” clay, which means they did not clean and sift the clay like you are supposed to. This makes the quality of that tile much less than those that take the clay and run it through a machine that sifts and cleans the clay.
After the cleaning process, the clay is mixed with water and by hand, not with a machine, the wet clay is shaped and formed into a tile. This makes every tile unique and have its own character. You will find that the tile is primitive and has irregularities, but that is what adds to the natural beauty and uniqueness. You may even be one of the lucky ones to find some animal paw prints in the clay.
Once the clay tiles have been shaped how they want, they are then placed out in the sun to dry. This process can be delayed if there are rains, but once they are dried, they are then placed into these cave-like structures that work similarly like a kiln.
All of the tiles are stacked within these kilns or caves so that they are slightly overlapping one another. This helps prevent them from falling over during this process. The opening to the kiln must be sealed shut with clay so that this prevents any heat from escaping.
The kiln is then fired up. The fire starts at the bottom of the kiln and fuel is added to increase the heat until it hits the desired temperature. It is common knowledge that fires feed off of oxygen and without it cannot continue to “live”. All available oxygen is quickly consumed by the fire which makes the fire seek out more. The next oxygen source the flames will find are in the tiles themselves, which is iron oxide. Once the flames find this source it causes flashing along the surfaces of the tiles.
These flashes are what gives the tiles their different, unique colors. All the ways to effect the colors of the tiles are by how the flame or heat is controlled inside the kiln, how the tiles are stacked, and whether or not there were color additives added to the clay during the manufacturing process.
Saltillo tiles are unique in their own way by how they are created. No other natural stone has this process, though each are unique and have their own natural beauty. Adding Saltillo tiles to any floor in your home will bring warmth, beauty, and character.
When in doubt contact a professional, contact us today to schedule your appointment to polish your natural stone flooring or if you have any questions.
Floor ReNew Houston
Natural Stone Restoration
4530 W. 34th Street Suite C
Houston, TX 77092