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The Nature of Talavera Mexican Ceramic Tile


About Mexican Tile

Mexico is world renowned for its skillful artisans in a wide variety of fields. Mexican writer Alberto Ruy Sanchez Lacy called Mexican tile a “chosen skin”. Tiles have embellished numerous public and private spaces throughout Mexico. A glimpse anywhere in Mexico, particularly in the central states, shows the widespread use of talavera tiles decorating a broad range of spaces from kitchens, fountains, facades, interiors of luxurious hacienda homes to churches. It is through traditional artifacts, such as handcrafted tiles, that one can perceive an artisan’s sensibility, and creativity. Handcrafted ceramic tile is a rooted cultural heritage in Mexico, since its practice of making it began in the late sixteen century. Mexican ceramic tiles have actively played a distinguished role as an important utilitarian and decorative element in Mexican architecture.

Mexican tile is functional, beautiful, and practical, it provides a long lasting wall or surface that is easy to care and maintain. You can install Mexican tiles in virtually any area you want to enjoy their warm and beauty.


The tiles are made from clay dug out of the ground and fired to a temperature at which the clay undergoes chemical changes and becomes permanently hard. Then the tile is glazed and decorated by hand, and fired once again to give it its final and lively finish. Its physical characteristics make Mexican tiles particularly attractive and distinctive. Mexican tiles are concave (not perfectly flat). They are characterized as unique, irregular, functional, and expressive.


Where to install Mexican Tile


Talavera tiles can be installed in kitchen back splashes, bathrooms, fireplaces, fountains, patio benches, counter tops, stair risers, and main entrance doors. Our tile offers a limitless array of design expressions and aesthetic solutions for almost any construction project.  For further details please contact our customer service toll free number at 1-619-710-8885 or email us.


How to Install Mexican Tile


Before making any arrangements for the installation with your tile contractor or tile installer, make sure that you thoroughly inspect your order of Mexican tiles from Tierra y Fuego. Check for quantities, designs, colors, and damage that may have occurred during transit. If you notice any discrepancies call Tierra y Fuego’s customer service line at 1-877-945-4900.

The following instructions are provided as a courtesy only. Tierra y Fuego cannot be held responsible or accountable for information derived from the use of these instructions. Contact your professional tile installer for advice.


Installation Procedure


Preparing the Wall for the Installation of Mexican Tile:

Since Mexican or Talavera tiles are handcrafted; each tile is unique. It is recommend to pull out tiles from different boxes and laid them out before they are installed. Tiles should be shuffled from different bundles to acquire the desired effect.

Mexican ceramic tiles can be installed directly on drywall, plaster, or for moist areas, onto "green" drywall or cement backer board. Green drywall is specifically designed for use in bathrooms. It is similar to working with ordinary drywall, but it's specially formulated to resist moisture. Green drywall is recommended in a kitchen or bathroom installation where the environment may get moist, but it is not recommended for areas that will be wet at all times.

Cement backer board is actually made from a fiberglass mesh and Portland cement, so it creates a moisture barrier. It is available in 1/2 and 5/8-inch thick sheets (similar to drywall), and is usually sold in 32 or 36-inch wide panels that are 5 or 8 feet long. Cement board is cut the same way as ordinary drywall. The installer scores it with a utility knife and then snaps it at the line. It is then screwed to the underlying studs, with the screws at about 6 inches apart. It is recommended to use special galvanized screws that won't rust. The seams are finished with a fiberglass seaming tape. Cement board is the recommended option in a shower installation, and even makes sense if installed for a back splash close to a sink.


Choosing a Grout Line & Color for your Mexican Tile Installation:

The grout line recommended for installing handcrafted Mexican ceramic tile is of 1/8 inch or greater. Deciding on the grout line size depends on you and your tile installer. Tip for choosing a grout line size: group several tiles together by arranging them with different separations for the grout, until you find a separation for the grout that will work for your tile project. Some tile contractors will not work on a tile project that requests a grout line of less than 1/8 inch. </em>We believe that to better appreciate the full effect of mexican tile, the smaller grout line, the better. The type of installations with almost no grout line can be seen in most old constructions. The tiles are arranged in a way that they are touching each other. In this case the installer needs to shuffle the tiles constantly to acquire the desire effect.


The right grout color will depend on your color preference and also on the area to be tiled. Typically the most commonly used color for the installation of Mexican tile is an off-white grout color.


Laying Out Your Mexican Ceramic Tile Pattern:

 Locate the center of the wall and with a carpenter's level mark intersecting plumb (vertical) and level (horizontal) lines. Dry fit the first row of tiles by starting at the center and working your way to the ends of the wall. The tiles at both row ends have to be approximately the same size, so you may need to adjust the vertical reference line to make sure the rows match up.


Installing Mexican Ceramic Tile:

Start in the center, on one side of the reference line, apply a coat of tile setting is applied with adhesive to a square area of about 3' by 3'. Care should be taken not to cover the lines. Spread the adhesive with the smooth side of the notched trowel, and then go over it with the notched side to create ridges in the adhesive. Since our tiles are warp or concave, you need to add adhesive to the back of each tile as is being attached to the surface to be tiled. This will support the tile and will prevent it from breaking under pressure. This must be done particularly if the tile is going to be installed as a floor accent.


Firmly press each tile in place and give it a slight twisting motion to be sure it makes good contact with the adhesive. As you work your way along, place tile spacers on all four sides of each tile, so the grout lines will be consistent. Take your time and work on the wall in three square foot sections.


At the end of a row or around fixtures, you'll probably need to cut some tiles. The use of a wet saw ceramic tile cutter is the easiest tool to make straight cuts on ceramic tiles. Using this tool, score the cut line on a full tile and then snap the tile along the scribed line. Smooth the edge with a #80 grit sandpaper, the edge of a cut ceramic tile is very sharp.


Cutting irregular shaped tiles or around obstructions will require using "tile nippers". These are a heavy-duty hand tools that are used to "nip"or bite off little pieces of a tile, one at a time, until the needed shape is cut.


Grouting Mexican Ceramic Tile:

After the tiles have all been installed and the adhesive dry up, for at least 24 hours. It's time to grout the tiles. Depending on the width of your grout lines, you will need to choose either sanded or non-sanded grout. If the spaces between the tiles are bigger than 1/8", use sanded grout. Sanded grout actually contains sand particles that help make a stronger the grout joint. Because mexican tile is irregular, most tile contractors use 1/8 of inch or greater grout line. However, if less than 1/8 of an inch is preferred; use non sanded grout.


Remove all your tile spacers and mix the grout following manufacturer's directions. The grout mixture should end up with a peanut butter-like consistency. If you're grouting in a bathroom or kitchen area, be sure your grout includes a waterproofing agent. Ask or read the manufacturer&rsquo;s information to be sure you get the right grout.


Using a rubber float, apply the grout at a 45-degree angle to the grout lines. Press firmly; you want to get grout all the way down to the bottom of the seams. Work in your 3' x 3' areas to be sure you get uniform coverage of all the grout lines. Wipe off any excess grout with a wet sponge and clear water.


After the grout has been let to dry for about 30 minutes, go back over sections with a soft cloth and buff away any grout haze. Let the grout dry for a day and again buff away any grout haze that has appeared.

It's also a good idea to apply a grout sealer after a week or so. This will prevent any dirt or stains from getting into the grout and ruining the appearance of your tiled area.


Please Note: You may notice the crazing effect after the tile area has been grouted or during the grouting process. This is a natural and inherent attribute of Mexican tiles. The crazing effect becomes pronounced with time or if you use contrasting color grout. If you rather not have this finish, we recommend you purchase tiles from any of our other ceramic tile collections.


How to care for Mexican Tile


For routine cleaning of Mexican tile use a mild cleaner and water.  Never use abrasive cleaners or bleaches because they will eventually eat away the glaze of the surface.