Terracotta Garden Paving
Terracotta Stone Floors
Perfect for both interiors and outdoors, our terracotta tiles, bricks and flagstones are hand made in our Shropshire head office site.
Modelled from original reclaimed terracotta tiles and bricks, our tiles enhance stone floors and patios with the warmth and richness associated with terracotta paving and flooring.
Call 01978 710 000 to speak about terracotta with one of our paving & flooring experts, or complete this short form for a call back.
Terra Cotta translates literally from the Latin terra cocta ‘baked earth’. Today, it is a term which use to describe fired or baked clay.
Developed for thousands of years, terracotta has an interesting history and has been used throughout the world for religious symbols, as a vessel for cooking and carrying and in latter times as a range of building materials, such as bricks, floor tiles, and roof tiles. Examples of early terracotta can be traced back to 3000 BC.
Crudely speaking, terracotta is refined mud with very few impurities. It can be shaped when wet and left to bake in the sun (in hotter climes) or it can be kiln fired, and baked until set hard. Here, we take a look at the history of this fascinating and versatile material.
Terracotta Tiles a ‘Potted’ History
Three thousand years ago, at the start of the Bronze Age, terracotta figurines were used in fertility rites and the ancient Greeks mass produced decorative cast and fired terracotta figurines. Later the Romans also made a large number of figurines often with religious overtures and the early Chinese used terracotta for sculpture and tombs.
Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, wanted an army to defend him in the afterlife. He assembled together the most knowledgeable experts in ceramic and terracotta art from his newly united Empire and presented them with the challenge of creating such an army.. When the Emperor died in 210 BC he was buried in a mausoleum guarded by an astonishing 8000, (yes, eight thousand) life-size soldiers, all baked from terracotta. Known as ‘The Terracotta Army’, these soldiers are now displayed in Xian, China. You may also be interested to learn that they were the inspiration for the most recent ‘Mummy’ film!
Terracotta continued to be used for figurines and decorative reliefs and there are examples of terracotta Buddhist figures dating from the 12th century. By the 14th century, Europeans were using terracotta for artworks and sculpture and it was often glazed and painted.
Terracotta tiles have been used since ancient times for traditional roofing styles and elaborate sculptural decoration. In more modern times they were used extensively for town buildings by the Victorian’s. They are now considered too porous for roof tiles but are still popular as floor and wall tiles and for outdoor paving.
Terracotta Masters at Westminster Stone
With a passion for paving, and a love of the Mediterranean and French architectural style, John Clifford, Westminster Stone’s Managing Director searched far and wide for antique tiles which could be reproduced with all the rich patina, character and colour that is found within reclaimed terracotta tiles.
A number of other retailers were importing reclaimed tiles at the time including Fired Earth, Artisans of Devises and Mandarin Stone but they were extremely expensive at around £80.00 per square metre and this was over thirty years ago!
Westminster Stone’s challenge was to accurately reproduce terracotta tiles with the same beautiful colour tones, and aged patina, but also offer them to professional designers at a fraction of the price. However, this wasn’t the only incentive for prospective buyers, reproduction terracotta is also frost proof (useful for UK gardens) doesn’t need to be treated with boiled linseed oil, is suitable for use with underfloor heating and offers a continuity of supply if you want to add to it at a later date.
As with all of the products that Westminster Stone make, each tile is handmade by experienced craftsmen. A subtle pitted surface ensures every tile replicates the originals exactly and care is taken with the colour and tone to create the perfect burnished terracotta appearance. Each tile is the same in size and depth which makes laying them very simple but each has a different patina to give a natural ‘aged’ appearance.
The success of Westminster Stone’s terracotta range led to other suppliers copying their lead but with limited success:
Stonemarket – Terrascina
This product was always too orange in colour, and not sufficiently ‘antique’ and was dropped from the Stonemarket range around 2010. It was available in both Country Red (rusty red) and Olde London.
Bradstone Tile Paving – Mellow Terracotta Diamond and Square
Bradstone’s terracotta tiles were available in two shapes, square and diamond with compatible dimensions so they could be used separately or combined to create a pattern. The range failed to make impact and is now discontinued.
Rogers Gardenstone – Siena Terracotta Tile
Once known as Rogers Concrete, the new Gardenstone terracotta tile range is now made for Rogers by Westminster Stone.
The success of Westminster Stone’s terracotta products has seen the Old Provence collection evolve over the past 30 years to include ranges for both indoors and out plus a selection of ‘roman’ style tiles as part of the National Trust Collection. Terracotta adds a taste of Mediterranean warmth to patio’s and terraces and creates that cosy ‘cottage’ feel for interior spaces.
Attractive, hardwearing and easy to maintain, terracotta is as popular today as it was centuries ago and Westminster Stone’s mastery with reproduction stone means you can have all the beauty of reclaimed terracotta with modern day advantages!