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MattGallivan

Adobe Earthen Floor Tiles

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Hi all, 

I've purchased and read the practical potter book and read many articles online and i am still lost. 

I want to make rustic clay floor tiles for my kitchen, i have no access to a kiln.

I have looked into air drying clay and clay mixed with paper, below i have a few questions if somebody could give some answers i'd appreciate it.

1. Would air drying clay be suitable for floor tiles in my kitchen? if so, which type/make of air drying clay do i need to use?

2. I've read about paper/straw added to wet clay which reduces wrapping and adds strength, could i use this method without a kiln for floor tiles? and what type of clay do i need?

I hope to take this up as a hobby and experiment with other methods.

Many thanks

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You'll need to find some way of firing them in a kiln.  If you don't, they'll turn to mud every time they get wet, and will make a huge mess in your home.  They'll also be a source of silica that can build up in your lungs. Unless fired fairly high, they'll also be weak structurally, even with straw or paper in them.

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Why don 't you buy a bag of clay and play around with it,  make some tile and try sealing it.   When I built my house I bought Mexican Saltillo tile for less than  two dollars a square foot,  I would have to pay more for the clay  where I live and still have to make the tiles and fire them.   Even fired the tiles can be very fragile .   Denice

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If you're applying linseed oil to something like adobe (unfired clay with straw), I don't think it would be anywhere near durable enough. It'll crumble and make a muddy mess, like Liam said. You'd never be able to clean it.

This is one of those things where I think you'd spend ten times more trying to do it yourself. I know of experienced clay workers making tile for a backsplash, but not floor tiles. It's usually too much area to cover, and durability is a huge consideration. Unfired clay of any kind just isn't going to hold up. I agree with Denice that Saltillo tiles might be your better bet.

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We've tiled (or retiled) several bathroom floors, kitchen floors, and an entry way. Our research indicated floor tiles are rated for durability; we wanted a high rating for the kitchen. Tile that wears well are typically porcelain clay with a tough glaze. One notices, right away, that tough tiles take much longer to cut with a wetsaw.

That said, you might consider making your own accent tiles, and use commercial tiles for the field? Any road, may I suggest strong and tough clay, and a tough glaze as well - you've some research to do! 

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5 hours ago, MattGallivan said:

Hi all, 

I've purchased and read the practical potter book and read many articles online and i am still lost. 

I want to make rustic clay floor tiles for my kitchen, i have no access to a kiln.

I have looked into air drying clay and clay mixed with paper, below i have a few questions if somebody could give some answers i'd appreciate it.

1. Would air drying clay be suitable for floor tiles in my kitchen? if so, which type/make of air drying clay do i need to use?

2. I've read about paper/straw added to wet clay which reduces wrapping and adds strength, could i use this method without a kiln for floor tiles? and what type of clay do i need?

I hope to take this up as a hobby and experiment with other methods.

Many thanks

Hi all, thanks for replying, you've been helpful,

My idea was to have an earthen floor/adobe floor but in tile instead of a screed. Why cant i use an earthen floor method for tiles and seal with linseed oil? Am i missing something? 

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@MattGallivan, is this what you are thinking of making: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthen_floor but instead of a flat single slab making tiles from it? I would think that the edges of the tiles would be susceptible to crushing and chipping. When I did a quick google search of adobe floors there were quite a few articles that came up on several detrimental health effects from them.

(edit: I'm editing the title of this thread to better reflect the question)

Edited by Min

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32 minutes ago, Min said:

@MattGallivan, is this what you are thinking of making: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthen_floor but instead of a flat single slab making tiles from it? I would think that the edges of the tiles would be susceptible to crushing and chipping. When I did a quick google search of adobe floors there were quite a few articles that came up on several detrimental health effects from them.

(edit: I'm editing the title of this thread to better reflect the question)

Hi Yes spot on. I wanted to mix clay with straw to create a floor tile. I haven't read about the health problems associated with it i will look into that... 

Many thanks 

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Unfired tiles are not strong like a big solid slab of clay would be. Any unevenness underneath them will cause them to crack. As Min said, the edges will crack and chip. It'll be a mess.

Linseed oil goes through a period where it goes rancid and stink as it dries. You won't want to be in that space while that's happening. It can take a week or two for the smell to dissipate. I would find a different type of oil that won't go bad.

You'll have to reapply the oil periodically. For oiling butcher block countertops, the rule is several coats right away, then once a week for a month, then once a month for a year, then once a year from then on. I would imagine the same would be needed for your floors, as a minimum. The floors will receive a lot more abuse than most countertop surfaces. I wouldn't even try it if you have dogs. It probably won't be completely water tight, either, especially if you get scratches in it that go through the finish. Retaining moisture can cause mold growth.

If you're wanting to do this because of the look of the finish, I would look into a stained concrete finish. It will be far more durable.

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