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The Many Uses of Terra Cotta

According to Wikipedia, terra cotta is a ceramic. Meaning “baked earth” in Latin, terra cotta can be used for vessels, water and wastewater pipes, and surface embellishment in building construction. As a general term, “terra cotta” also refers to all items made out of this material. The term always alludes to its natural, brownish-orange color.

Homeowners usually think of terra cotta as something found in garden design, like pottery; however, terra cotta has been used for many other things, including sculptures, bricks, and roof shingles.

Terra Cotta in Construction

In construction, moisture is the enemy over time. Heat, sun, settling, air pollution, and freezing temperatures contribute to deterioration – not so for terra cotta. It is waterproof, fireproof, durable, and easier to handle than stone, brick, or block. It adapts well to most any architectural design and is easy to clean and maintain. Its use is found all over the world and this has been the case for centuries. In the United States, you will find it incorporated in the construction and design of such buildings as the Wrigley Building in Chicago, the Union Trust, and now, the Guardian Building in Detroit, Carnegie Hall, and the Woolworth Buildings in New York.

Terra Cotta Roof Tiles

Terra cotta roof tiles have proven their worth by enduring the test of time. Besides being durable, they are extremely beautiful and add a distinct ornamental appearance to a home or building. They are smooth and made in a variety of shapes, patterns, textures, and colors to cover a flat or sloped roof. The most common roof tile colors are red-orange, blue, green, deep purple, deep brown, and pale pink. Because of their wide variety, they go with many design styles, such as Southwestern, Mediteranean, Tuscan, Spanish, and Asian styles, just to name a few. Something to be aware of when using these tiles is that, although they are durable once installed, they are extremely delicate during installation. Because they’re kiln baked, they’re almost glass like. For this reason, consider using a professional for installation, repair, or maintenance work.

Decorative Terra Cotta

Terra cotta tiles used in flooring or decorative design come glazed or unglazed and range in either natural earthtones like gray and brown-yellow to most any shade of red. If you decide on installing terra cotta flooring tiles, you can leave them raw, but most often they are finished with a top sealer. Remember that they are a clay, and because of this, they are very porous and absorb fluids like a sponge.

Decorating with terra cotta brings an aesthetic element to your interior or exterior style. Terra cotta comes glazed in bright colors and painted designs and unglazed with natural or reddish shades. Terra cotta can be found as wall tiles, pottery, and art work.

Whatever you find appealing about terra cotta, be it for roofing, flooring, or decorating, it will only add style, grace, and warmth to your home, inside and out.

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