About quarry tiles
Quarry tiles are notable for their deep brick red appearance. They’re made from natural clay, which is kiln fired, they are generally square or rectangular in shape and around 8 inches across. Style-wise they offer a rustic aesthetic and are a popular choice for flooring in kitchens and bathrooms, particularly those in the ‘farmhouse’ style. Over the years quarry tiles have been used in commercial buildings such as schools as well as frequently in homes. As you might expect from their use in public spaces, they’re hardwearing and cheap, sometimes lasting for hundreds of years, although often hidden underneath newer flooring.
How are quarry tiles made
Traditionally kiln fired to imperial standards, the most common sizes for quarry tiles are 6×6 inches and 8×8 inches. Keeping the tile size small and manageable means that, if damage does occur, drop in replacements are fairly straightforward to obtain. Whilst they’re most commonly found in brick red, they can also be made in black or white and laid in patterns. It’s possible to create variations in the shade of the tiles with minor adjustments to the temperature at which they’re fired.
Quarry tiles in the home
Quarry tiles offer a strong surface, like other fired tiles they’re resistant to water, especially when professionally sealed. They can be a good choice for bathroom flooring because they offer a degree of grip a little beyond alternative options. Since they’ve been around for so long there are many quarry tile floors out there hidden beneath years of dirt and dust. Some have been damaged by being laid on unsuitable surfaces such as sand and timber, which don’t prevent moisture from degrading the tile from the underside. Quarry tiles need to be laid on a stable concrete sub-surface and held in place with good quality adhesive, done right this ensures an even and stable finish which will last for decades.
It’s not uncommon for some quarry tiles to be buried underneath subsequent flooring installations. Vinyl flooring or even just additional tiling sometimes hides marvellous century old quarry tile flooring just waiting to be shown off. Where once quarry tiles were thought of as unremarkable, nowadays we recognise their historic value and restoration of neglected tiles is an increasingly popular choice. Their resilience means the results are often outstanding.
Maintaining quarry tile floors
As with all types of tile, it pays to keep an eye on the grouting holding the tiles in place. The softer grouting can be vulnerable to liquids so it’s always advisable to avoid letting any sort of spillages soak. Whilst the tiles are fairly resistant to liquid damage, degradation of the grout can loosen the tiles over time and this movement can lead to chipping and trip hazards. When properly sealed quarry tiles can last decades without damage, but when used in busy areas you should double check the sealing holds up to the activity and, if necessary, employ professional help to top up the seal.