All About: Terracotta Kitchen Floor Tiles

Kitchen Flooring Spotlight

If you've already renovated a kitchen or are just beginning the process, you know how overwhelming the details can be. Our Fittings and Material Spotlights are quick guides to basic kitchen fixtures to familiarize you with terminology, pros and cons, and relevant reader reviews. Today we look at terracotta floor tiles. How do they perform and hold up in a kitchen?

Material: Terracotta

Overview: Terracotta ("baked earth") is basically a hard, fired unglazed clay. Its distinctive feature is its reddish-brown color.

Associated with: Rustic, Southwest, Mediterranean, Old-World styles

Pros: Made of natural materials that are very durable; a variety of finish styles available (none to high gloss); warm and earthy feel; suitable for indoor and outdoor uses; resistant to mold and bacterial growth.

Cons: Very porous, absorbs moisture quickly. Especially susceptible to citric acids, alcohols, oils, and vinegar, which can leave spots. Must be sealed annually to prevent staining, discoloration, and cracking.

Installation: Tedious and a bit complex, according to various sources. Professional installation highly recommended.

Cleaning: Use mild dishwashing liquid, warm water, and a soft cloth to clean up spills. Damp mop, dry immediately. Grout is prone to staining, so also needs to be scrubbed periodically.

Price range: $3 - $7 per square foot.

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Kitchn Reader Reviews:

I have terra cotta tiles on my kitchen floor (they were put in by the previous owner) and while they are pretty, they are absolute dirt and dust magnets. Within a day or so after mopping, they are dirty again. I don't like being barefoot in my kitchen because the tiles get gritty so easily. It's a shame because I love the warm color, but if I were redoing the kitchen, I would use some other flooring. - learp17
I enjoyed living with terracotta tile in a rental. Because it is porous, it has a bit more give than porcelain, i.e. it is not as hard on feet and legs. Seal it regularly to keep it unstained. We inherited some non-removable stains in our rental. -wig3000
For indoor use... you would really need a good sealer, to keep it from staining and discoloring. I am not sure I would put it in a kitchen, unless you were using reclaimed terra cotta. The new manufactured materials are not as nice... there are a few porcelains out there that look like terra cotta, and are much easier to take care of. -rrogers

Readers, do you have terracotta tiles in your kitchen? Share your experiences, both good and bad, below in the Comments!

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(Images: 1. Pieter Estersohn for Elle Decor; 2. HGTV)

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