What do I do about chips in my terracotta tile? This is a commonly asked question that we receive from people here at Rustico Tile and Stone. First and foremost, chips in saltillo tile are most often absolutely normal and to be expected.
Things like chips, hairline cracks, lime pops and irregularities in color and size are part of the rustic characteristics that most people seek out in this handmade tile. With that said, this doesn’t mean that you have to like these characteristics or live with them in your terracotta tile floor. But, you must understand that they are not defects. If you find these attributes to be less than desirable, cull through the tiles and use the ones that are most preferred.
Now, to those of you who like these elements of authentic saltillo terracotta tile, there will be times in which a tile has chipped after it’s been installed. There are really only 2 ways to effectively remedy the chipped terracotta tile. 1) Pop out the tile and replace it with one that has a smaller or no chip. This involves carefully hammering out and removing pieces of the affected tile. Next, the existing thinset should also be removed so that a fresh surface is accessible. Once completed, a fresh coat of thinset should be applied and the new Mexican tile set in place. Allow to dry and then apply grout. Clean it up, allow it to dry, and then apply the topcoat sealer across the new tile and grout.
The other way in which a chip in a terracotta tile can be repaired is subject to conflicting opinions. In a nutshell, a bit of fresh grout can be mixed in with some terracotta tile colored stain. Then, the grout can be applied in the area of the chip, smoothed out and left to dry on the terracotta tile surface. Once it’s dry, the entire tile should be sealed again. Personally, I think this just makes the tile look “patched”. I prefer to see people either live with the exiting chip as part of its rustic appeal or replace the terracotta tile. These just lend themselves to the rustic charm of authentic terra cotta floor tiles.