Fort Worth Brick and Tile

Saltillo Tile

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The Process of Making

Saltillo Tile

This product has been made for generations by the Tlaxcaltecas Artisans since 1577 from Saltillo Coah, Mexico.  This is the genuine article; beautiful, distinctive, and authentic.  This clay exists only in Saltillo, and is not found anywhere else in the world.

 

It all starts in a high mountain basin in the Central Mexican city of Saltillo.

In the basin there are layers of a sandy clay that is loaded into wheelbarrows

and hauled to the mixing pit.

The clay is placed in a soaking pit to soften for one day before it is thoroughly

mixed with hoe and foot.  Approximately one day's tile molding needs are mixed

(between 500 and 750 square feet).  At the end of the day the process begins again

by filling the soaking pit.

A pre-soaked wood mold is filled with the thickening clay.  The clay is then hand-

pressed into the mold.  The molded tile then takes shape and is allowed to set for

approximately 45 minutes.

When the clay is firmer, the tile surface is flattened and smoothed with a water

saturated wood trowel.  This a difficult process because it must be timed so that the

clay is not too tacky nor too stiff.  This is how the "regular" square tiles are made.  To

make "super" square tiles a press is used on the tiles when they are semi-hard.

After the process of shaping the tiles they are left to dry in the sun anywhere from

one to three days.

  

(Picture on left is "Regular" Saltillo. Picture on right shows "Super" Saltillos being stamped out of "Regular" Saltillos)

When the tile is dry enough to pick up, it is stacked on edge in order circulate air on

the backside of the tile.  The dry tile is stored on edge awaiting complete drying and

placement in the kiln.  Hand-stacking in a honeycomb pattern in the kiln is a very

labor-intensive job and significantly affects the finished product.  Historically, Saltillo

tile has been fired with almost any combustible refuse available but tires were most

commonly used due to the sustainable heat.  The kiln water smokes for 4 to 8 hours,

fires for 18 to 24 hours, and cools for 72 hours before unloading.

When unloading the kiln the initial tile selection is performed.  Under and over-fired

tile is removed.  Exportable product never exceeds 85 to 90 percent of the kiln load

and frequently is much less.

After that the tile is then inspected again and loaded onto flatbed trucks

and shipped directly to us!

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Copyright 2004-2016 Fort Worth Brick and Tile. All Rights Reserved.