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.
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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