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Always open several boxes at once and randomly mix zellige tiles with multiple tones and textures. Each hand-cut zellige tile is unique and contains subtle variation in both color tone and size. Crazing, pits, corner chips, and small hairline cracks are expected with zellige tile and are an important part of their desired natural aesthetic. For those customers that are new to zellige tile, these imperfections can be surprising as they are unlike any other tile. It is important to be prepared in advance and work with an experienced installer that knows how to properly install zellige. After grout is complete with any zellige installation, these natural characteristics and uneven edges create the charm of authentic zellige tile.Read article
Traditional zellige tile will have approximately 15-20% of these perfect imperfections. If a more uniform look is desired, we suggest increasing the order size by 20-25% to reduce the amount of variation installed during installation. Then, set the control sample range of tile with your installer to only install tiles that fall within the desired color and texture range.
For zellige, the highest quality of clay must be used and is found in the Fez region of Morocco. Once found, in underground mines or open pits, this clay is soaked in water until it reaches a soft texture. The clay is then filtered by hand to extract impurities like rocks and branches. After filtering, a skilled craftsmen flattens the clay into square shapes by hand, ensuring it is compact and with no air bubbles in it. The square raw clay tiles are then sun-dried on a rooftop.
After the tiles are well dried, another skilled craftsmen applies the glaze colors by hand, one-by-one, to only one side of the tiles. Once dried, the tiles are meticulously stacked in a natural olive-pit fired kiln. In these traditional Moroccan kilns heat circulates unevenly, imbuing each handmade tile with its own unique tone, texture, and color. This perfect imperfection is what sets Moroccan zellige apart from every other tile on Earth.
Once fired, a skilled artisan will use a medieval tool called a ‘menkach’, a combination of an axe and hammer, to cut and shape each tile into the desired shape. This intricate process involves great patience and skill. The final result is Moroccan zellige tile with both tonal and size variation, along with small chips, pits and cracks that are to be cherished and celebrated.
For placing the tiles:
High quality medium-bed thin set mortar
MapeiUltracolor Plus FA Grout
Tile cutter and/or water-cooled tile saw with diamond edge blade
The surface should be well prepared and leveled before placing the zellige.
Soak glazed zellige tiles in water for 1-2 minutes to ensure tiles properly adhere to tiling surface. Do not soak our Unglazed Natural zellige in advance.
Evenly apply a layer of thin set to the tiling surface.
Butter the back of each tile with another layer of thinset.
Place tiles one by one into wall adhesive.
Zellige tile can be spaced in several ways based on design preference. The traditional (and recommended) method for installation does not use standard grout joints; 4×4 tiles are instead laid edge to edge while other shapes are laid by hand with minimal grout spacing.
Zellige tiles can be easily cut as needed with a traditional tile cutter and snapped apart. A diamond disc can be used for more exact cuts and mitered edges. Wedge spacers may be needed in areas to align naturally uneven edges. Grout open, uneven edges or gaps where they appear.
Once the tiles are placed, spread grout with a rubber spatula, filling all spaces and gaps between the tiles and any surface pits, chips and cracks. The preferred grout specification is Mapei Ultracolor Plus FA grout. Unglazed zellige requires MapeiFlexcolor CQ grout.
The grout color should be matched as closely as possible to the color of the tile.
After a brief drying, carefully remove the excess grout with a damp sponge.
Polish the tiles afterward to remove any remaining grout film.
All grout should be sealed after installation.
Zellige is a glazed terracotta that does not need to be sealed. For Unglazed Natural Zellige only we recommend using a penetrating sealer to protect the tile prior to grout and again after grout as unglazed terracotta is porous and absorbent.
2×6 glazed zellige are the preferred size and shape for floor installations. All unglazed zellige shapes can be used in floor applications due to their higher COF. Particular attention should be paid to the application of the adhesive on the floor and back of the tiles to ensure perfect bonding between the tiles and concrete slab.
Zellige tiles are commonly used in pools, shower walls, fountains, spas, and bathrooms. Ensure that the surface of each area is stable and waterproof prior to starting the installation. Use adhesive cement and grout appropriate for use in wet areas. Pool installers should always seal pool and spa waterline grout lines after any tile install is complete, including zellige, due to continuous water exposure.
Our Unglazed Natural zellige is the only zellige tile that requires sealing. Seal the unglazed zellige once before grout with 511 Porous Plus which acts as a grout release, then again after grout is complete with Fila Matte Wax topical sealer following the sealant manufacturer’s application instructions.z
Zellige tiles are glazed and therefore do not require sealing, as they are protected from water and staining. Mix the tones and shades from different cartons to achieve harmony within the color hues and surface variations. Evenly apply flexible adhesive for ceramics on a well prepared and level surface and also on the back of the tile. For surfaces in direct contact with water - shower walls, shower floors, pools, spas, fountains, etc. please ensure the base surface is waterproofed before installing zellige tiles.
For areas where tile is continuously submerged in water like pools, spas, and fountains, always grout and then seal with 511 Porous Plus after installation is complete to seal the grout lines that are exposed to continuous moisture. For 4x4” zellige on walls, no grout line is needed (place edge to edge), but we recommend that seams, chips and pits are hand grouted with a very liquid joint cement in a neutral or matching glaze color. After drying, remove excess cement with a damp sponge & remove any remaining blemishes as soon as possible by hand. For on-going cleaning, simply use mild soap or a neutral pH cleaner.
We’ll ship handmade cement tile and zellige anywhere that FedEx, UPS, DHL, and any LTL carrier can reach! If you live in Alaska, Hawaii, or anywhere outside of the continental United States, please email or call us for a custom freight quote as those are high cost delivery areas that will incur additional shipping costs.
All normal tile orders will deliver using LTL carrier service and are curbside delivery. The LTL trucking company that is contracted to deliver your order will contact you to arrange a specific date and time for curbside delivery.
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. Any issues with the delivery must be photographed and noted with the delivery driver on the shipping documentation in order to initiate a claim. The claims agents for the shipping company will request photos and written documentation to process the claim. Please take the time to ensure that this is done effectively during delivery in order to avoid any costs associated with replacement material for your order. Ensure that you have someone on-site to accept your delivery as any missed deliveries or delivery refusals will result in storage and redelivery fees to the trucking company.
Contact us within 48 hours after your delivery and we will work to replace any items damaged in transit as quickly as possible!
The Successful Delivery Checklist:
Check all items against packing list during the delivery.
Take photos and note any damage with the delivery driver on the BOL.
Contact us immediately if needed.
We encourage all customers to order samples through our website by clicking on the Request a Sample button each tile page. It is important to evaluate tile selections by first placing samples in the actual space where you plan to install to evaluate color, texture, and lighting in your space prior to placing an order. All cement tile and zellige sample orders are limited to up to 4 per tile design, and customers may order up to 10 samples total. We make every effort to ship all samples within the same shipment, but some samples may ship separately if specific samples are out of stock at the time the order is placed.
Some samples of special order tiles may be available and are limited to 1 sample per customer due to the limited amount of special order tile samples we have on-hand. Frequently, special order sample tiles will have a lead time that matches the order lead time listed on each individual tile page. All of our solid color cement sample requests are fulfilled in 4×4 solid sample color tiles. The first 5 samples in our online cart are complimentary. Subsequent samples are $3 each and shipping is $8 for every 3 tiles shipped. Our samples typically ship out 2-3 business days after order receipt via FedEx, UPS, or USPS ground.
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions regarding samples.