How Cotto is Made

Cotto (derived from the Italian terra cotta or ‘baked earth’) is part of a long linage of fired clays that date back to the dawn of civilization itself. From Egyptian water jugs to Chinese roof tiles to Roman bricks – terra cotta has been part of the human story for as long as we’ve had an alphabet. The materials that go into making our Cotto haven’t changed much over the millennia, but the way in which they’re fired has evolved; from kiln furniture to mold designs to firing method, our handmade and high-fired Cotto is our modern take on an ancient world tradition.

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07 / 13 / 2021

Cotto – a Terra Cotta love story.

We make Cotto in Mexico, a country with an incredibly rich history in ceramic arts. The techniques to manufacture our modern terra cotta have their roots in the arrival of the Spanish and the establishment of San Miguel de Allende in 1551. A UNESCO World Heritage site, San Miguel is arguably one the most important colonial cities in all of the Americas, and it is covered in historic terra cotta. From ancient roof tiles to 400 year old floors, this is a city that takes fired clay to a whole new level – and is the fitting home of our Cotto line.

How It's Made

Made from locally sourced organic clays, our hand crafted Cotto elevates the storied tradition of terra cotta. Each clay formulation is mixed with water and blended to the ideal consistency. The hydrated clay mixture is pressed to shape in a mold and allowed to dry for 1-2 weeks until the right moisture level is achieved for firing. It’s also at this point that wood ash is added to the surface of our ‘Fired Earth’ tiles to give them their distinctive surface coloration. An important note here – this process is highly dependent on the weather; San Miguel has a distinct rainy season that can delay drying times by quite a bit! Once dried, tiles are brushed and stacked, ready for the kiln.

Unlike most Cotto or tradtional terra cotta, we high-fire our clay at 1260° Centigrade (2300° Fahrenheit). What this means is that the terra cotta becomes ‘semi-vitrified’, increasing in density and decreasing in porosity. Special kiln furniture is needed at such high temperatures to ensure the tiles don’t warp or bend. It is also the most difficult step in their manufacture, requiring a skilled technician throughout the day and a half firing period. The result is an incredibly durable, highly unique tile that is unlike any other terra cotta on Earth.

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Terms of sale

All tiles are hand made with inherit variation from tile to tile. These standard characteristics enhance the beauty and wear-ability of the product. Understanding how tile colors are achieved and wear over time is critical to appreciating the beauty and performance of the tile. All customers are responsible for sealing and protecting cement tile ordered from Zia Tile to ensure that the tiles are maintained correctly. Zia Tile is always here to advise on how and where to successfully install cement tiles but makes no guarantees on performance or maintenance after installation.
In stock tile orders ship within 2 business days of order receipt. Custom cement tile and zellige lead times vary depending on the design and schedule needs of clients. All lead times provided are estimated arrival times to our warehouse in Los Angeles and can vary depending on customs inspections and port congestion. Once orders arrive to our warehouse, additional transit days (typically 4-7 days) are necessary to ship pallet wrapped orders to our customers via LTL trucking carriers. We will make every effort to meet or reduce lead times where possible, but there are no guarantees due to the custom nature of the manufacturing process and inherent challenges with international logistics. All customers are solely responsible for providing measurements and quantities needed for each order. In addition, all customers are strongly advised to order 15% more tile than necessary to ensure that enough product is on-hand to successfully complete installation. Please consult your tile installer to ensure that your take-off quantity and overage calculations are correct. Keep in mind that the price of the overage quantity is minimal in comparison to the cost of rush product and one-off shipping in the event that more product is needed after the original order due to site conditions, mistakes in order quantities, or installation errors. Trying to save a few hundred dollars by decreasing or eliminating the standard 15% overage is the most common mistake customers make when placing orders. This mistake can end up costing 5-10 times more to place small incremental orders AND significantly delay projects by weeks or months! Our website automatically generates a 15% overage calculation by separate line item in the ordering cart. We cannot advise strongly enough to ensure that you have 15% overage on all of your orders to ensure your project is successful!
All orders require 100% payment at time of order placement. Payments are processed online or via phone. Invoices are provided and copies are sent via email as well as available by accessing the Sign In function on our website. Sales tax is applied at the time of payment and paid as part of the original order. Shipping costs are charged with each order. Any changes to orders, shipping dates, and/or shipping methods will result in change order costs that will be determined at the time of the change request.
All sales are final once payment is received. There are no refunds or exchanges after 6 hours of order receipt as inventory is allocated to each customer based on the time the order is placed. Made to order tile cannot be cancelled or exchanged and an order for tile that is marked “in transit” is considered final after 6 hours as inventory is allocated to each customer at that time. Zia Tile does not accept any returns of unopened boxes of tile as we would never sell returned tile that has left our possession to other customers.
All of our orders ship throughout the US and Canada using LTL trucking providers. The LTL trucking company that is contracted to deliver your order will contact you to arrange a specific date and time for curbside delivery. All deliveries are made on a pallet, and each tile box weighs 35-55 lbs, so it is very important to coordinate your tile delivery with your contractor or installer in advance so that you have the proper labor on-site at the time of delivery to move the boxes from the curbside. During delivery, all customers are responsible for inspecting the shipment for shortages or damages against the packing slip and noting those damages with the driver on the Bill of Lading. If there are any issues, please contact Zia Tile as soon as possible but no more than 48 hours after delivery. We will work to replace any items damaged in transit as quickly as possible! Any issues with the delivery must be photographed and noted with the delivery driver on the shipping documentation in order to initiate a claim. Zia Tile must be contacted about any delivery issue or damage within the 48 hour window that North American shipping companies allow to process a freight claim. After that timeframe, customers have accepted their tile and no freight claim, tile replacement, or refund for damage is possible.The claims agents for the shipping company will request photos and written documentation to process the claim. Please take extra time to ensure that this is done effectively during delivery in order to avoid any costs associated with replacement material for your order. Any missed deliveries or delivery refusals will result in storage and redelivery fees paid to the trucking company. The Successful Delivery Checklist: 1. Check all items against packing list during the delivery 2. Take photos and note any damage with the delivery driver on the BOL 3. Contact us immediately if needed!
Zia Tile strongly recommends that all customers heavily leverage a tile installer in the up front planning, measuring, ordering, sealing, and maintenance of cement tile, zellige, cotto, or ceramic products. Leveraging an installer with specific experience who will closely follow the installation and sealing instructions is strongly encouraged. Zia Tile is not responsible for installation, on-going care, or problems arising from any orders after receipt of the product. Detailed installation guides and tile specification sheets are available upon request. Recommended Cleaning Products: General cleaning – Always use pH neutral cleaners such as Miracle Tile and Stone Cleaner. Heavy cleaning and stain removal – use Miracle Heavy Duty Cleaner (Acid Substitute) and follow instructions on label.
Our supply chain is lean, which is why we are able to price our tiles approximately 20-30% cheaper than other suppliers. We will warehouse your product free of charge for 4 weeks. After that time has expired, each order that is held due to customer receiving delays will incur a $300 charge per week. All customers acknowledge and accept the terms and conditions of sale outlined above by placing orders.

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