Today terracotta is as popular as ever. It is being used as a material to enhance the outdoor design of the home. It is surprisingly versatile, ranging in many colours from salmon to brown, red to pink and a multitude of earthy colours in between, resulting in a truly relaxing feel. These colours are possible by mixing the iron oxide present in terracotta tiles.Terracotta Tiles: ‘Terracotta’ is a term which means ‘baked earth’. In fact, it has been the base material of many ceramic products from as long ago as the ancient people of China and the Roman Empire. During these times terracotta was being used as part of water pipes and sculptures.
What terracotta tiles would I recommend? In selecting terracotta tiles I would pick a nice, traditional warm red color. It is also important to avoid the problems that many Asian terracottas have had with water absorption and cracking due to heat expansion. The best example of quality terracotta comes from Sicily – an island off the Italian coast. Many environmental factors such as the temperature and the clay used effect the quality of the end product. The volcanic conditions of Mount Etna contribute to a unique blend of two natural elements – clay and volcanic lava sand. This mixture ensures that the product has a high resistance to wear and to changes in temperature. Additionally, the Cotto Furnò factory in Sicily also uses a permanent treatment.
What is this treatment? This treatment is known as KWIKDRY and is a water-repellent, biodegradable treatment obtained by means of innovative techniques and equipment, through a manufacturing cycle by immersion. This treatment was implemented by Cotto Furnò with the aim to satisfy their customers while respecting the environment. The treatment is invisible and permanent, it does not create a film surface and it allows for the natural transpiration of the flooring. The solution used for the treatment is odourless, colourless, totally non-toxic being a water-based, solvent-free solution.
The main advantage of the treatment is deep and permanent protection against efflorescence. It dramatically reduces the level of absorbency of the surface avoiding the rising damp and protecting the tiles during the laying and sealing phases.
The main economic and technical advantages of this treatment are:
- Considerable time saving during laying and treating operations
- Ease of sealing the joints and of subsequent surface cleaning
- Absence of efflorescence on the surface of the tiles
- High water proofing and resistance to dampness coming from below
- Resistance to alkaline solutions and deterioration
Is it worth the extra $’s? The simple answer is yes. Let’s face it – laying costs are normally around $40m2, so it’s worth laying a good quality tile. In many shops, the inferior Asian terracotta sells for $40m2 and the Sicilian or Italian terracotta at around $100m2. TFO on the other hand has the Italian Sicilian terracotta for less than $30m2. Not only that, but at the time of writing this article, TFO carries the matching bullnose – perfect for steps or around the pool.
Definitely, terracotta tiles are among of the best tiles available for the outdoor areas of your home. The effects of this are amazing and you will love the look of your home even more after installing the tiles.