ZELLIGE TILE INSTALLATION
Printable Installation instructions PDF
Zellige is a traditional Moroccan tile handcrafted with non-refined natural clay from the Fez region. It is a low-fired terracotta that may be used for all applications, including floor/wall, interior/exterior and water treatments (such as pools). Zellige owes it distinctive appearance to slight variations in size, color and other imperfections.
Each Tile is Unique
Each Zellige tile is unique, with color variation between each tile. This variation is due to the ancient glazing process in which raw materials are in use. The process of firing Zellige tiles often causes crazing on the surface of the glazed tiles. Crazing is a common occurrence in handmade tiles that produces an intricate network of small hairline cracks. Zellige tiles are hand chiseled and therefore size variation is common. Be prepared for some variation in width, length and thickness.
Due to the raw materials and timeless methods of making Zellige tiles you will receive tiles that are pitted through the glaze and many of which will contain cracks, crazing and edge-chipping. These tiles are perfectly fine to be installed and will give the traditional Zellige finish.
Upon receiving your tiles, carefully inspect your order, keeping in mind that Zellige Tile’s signature appearance comes from color variation and chipping. Riad Tile can’t be held responsible for tiles that have already been installed.
DO NOT install from unblended boxes. Zellige tiles from many different boxes should be mixed to achieve the best overall blend of color and imperfections.
Zellige is a glazed terracotta that does not need to be sealed. For Unglazed Natural Zellige ONLY we recommend using a penetrating sealer (Miracle 511 porous plus) to protect the tile prior to grout and again after grout as unglazed terracotta is porous and absorbent.
Sort – Blend all boxes for shade variation
Soak – Soak each tile in water for 1-2 minutes
Prep – Level walls and clean off any dust or debris
Trowel – Apply one layer of adhesive on the wall
Butter – Apply another layer of adhesive on the back of the tile
Place – Set tiles into the wall adhesive one at a time
Space – Zellige’s uneven edges require the use of wedge spacers
Cut – Either snap with a tile cutter or slice with a wet diamond blade
Grout – Grout glazed tiles with Mapei Ultracolor Plus FA and Unglazed Natural tiles with Mapei Flexcolor CQ. Grout will also fill pits, chips and cracks
Clean – Remove excess grout and grout film
Zellige on Floors
Zellige tiles can be laid on floors, in light traffic areas where the tiles would not be exposed to heavy impacts. Particular attention should be paid to the application of the adhesive on the floor and back of the tiles to ensure perfect bonding between Zellige tile pieces and subfloor.
Zellige In Wet Areas
For surfaces in direct contact with water (such as swimming pools, shower floors and walls, fountains) ensure the surface the tiles are laid on is waterproof, stable and rigid prior to the installation of the Zellige tiles. Use adhesive cement and grout fit for these wet spaces.
We recommend Mapei Ultracolor Plus FA grout for glazed tiles.
For Unglazed Natural Zellige tiles we recommend Mapei Flexcolor CQ grout.
Zellige tile can be laid in several ways based on design preference. The traditional (and most common) method for installation does not use standard grout joints; tiles are instead laid edge to edge by hand with minimal grout spacing.
Zellige tiles can be easily cut as needed with a traditional tile cutter and snapped apart, or a diamond blade can be used for more exact cuts and mitered edges. Use wedge spacers as needed in areas to align naturally uneven edges. Grout open, uneven edges or gaps where they appear.
Minimal maintenance is required on Zellige tiles. Mild soaps or neutral cleaners should be sufficient for most cleaning. Unglazed Natural Zellige tiles should be sealed on an as needed basis with Miracle 511 porous plus.
Zellige will wear over time depending on site conditions. This wear should be expected and give the tiles a beautiful look.