Limestone Learning Center

The History of Reclaimed Terracotta

Terracotta’s Humble Beginnings

Terracotta is a brownish-red earthenware, or clay, that has long been used for building a large variety of things. Its origins are traditionally traced back to China, Greece, and Egypt (10,000-7,000 BCE), but grew as a staple in home building in Europe. Now, stonemasons are recovering terracotta tiles, tediously salvaging them from farmhouses, historical buildings, and chateaux.

Southern Europe

Terracotta is as old as people themselves, and it was the only clay product used until around the 14th century. While found across the globe, reclaimed terracotta has a very specific source. The origins of popular, modern-day terracotta can be traced back to the classical architecture of southern Europe, which includes Italy, France, and Spain – though it has been found in Mexico and California as well. For past generations, terracotta was used for sculptures, pottery, and general construction. Now, these Southern European tiles are being reclaimed. Impression sources our reclaimed terracotta from Burgundy and Provence in France.

The Terracotta Process

Terracotta’s original process is more than beautiful; it’s impressive. Each individual tile is formed by hand, shaping it to fit a desired mold. It is known for its moldability and ease of manipulation, which is what made it so popular. Then, terracotta must be fired to a temperature between 1,000 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit in order to harden it. This process lends itself to terracotta’s name, as terracotta comes from the Italian words for “baked earth.” While naturally porous and lacking a natural glaze, it was common place to glaze clay terracotta pieces, forming what is referred to as earthenware pottery. Reclaimed terracotta faces an equally tedious process. Each tile is recovered, hand cleaned, and hand refurbished. Tiles can only be finished one at a time, and no two look the same.

Diversity in Tiles

Because terracotta comes from clay in the earth, its color is dictated by composition of surrounding soil and land. Terracotta inherently has a high degree of variation in color, size, and texture. Depending on iron content, terracotta may appear cream, tan, dark brown, yellow, red, orange, pink, or grey. Additionally, these hand-crafted tiles were made into many different shapes, and every tile is unique. Common shapes are square, rectangular, hexagon, and parquet.

Why Reclaimed Terracotta?

Choosing reclaimed terracotta has always been a beautiful option, and its popularity has spiked in recent years. Reclaimed terracotta brings a charming aesthetic to any home. It’s both rustic and elegant, embracing the beauty of historical masonry. These tiles are the perfect option for anyone seeking a culturally rich, European look. Most of all, reclaimed terracotta is original. This stone goes above and beyond when it comes to being a stand-out feature. Even if other people have reclaimed terracotta tiles, the tiles are each individual, making your reclaimed terracotta tile piece one of a kind.

Impression’s Reclaimed Terracotta

Terracotta is beautiful and versatile, and Impression has seen it popping up in kitchens, bathrooms, foyers, wine cellars, patios, and more. It completes any room, adding stone without lessening the coziness and warmth. Impression is proud to make reclaimed terracotta masterpieces for our clients every day. Impression provides reclaimed terracotta inlaid tiles, reclaimed roof tiles, and new clay roof tiles. If you’re looking for tiling with a rich and warm ambiance, look no further: Impression’s reclaimed terracotta is just what you need.

Learn More