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Tile School: How to Choose the Clay Body that is Right for You

By Kali

Tile School: How to Choose the Clay Body that is Right for You


You may or may not know that we make two different clay bodies: one is a Recycled Clay and the other is a White Clay. Both come in a wide array of colors, shapes and sizes, but it is important to be aware of their differences when determining which to choose for your project. Below we will outline how these two materials vary, how the materials affect color and glazes and what applications they work best for. 

What We're Made Of: 

The make up of these two clay bodies is where their differences begin.  Our Recycled Clay Body is hand made with locally sourced materials, including: post-industrious granite dust, post-consumer porcelain and recycled glass dust (all these things are what make it red). You will have more size options with our Recycled Clay, as recycled materials will always be slightly more durable and able to be produced into larger shapes and sizes. 


Our White Clay Body is made of just Kaolin (a type of soft, white clay used to make porcelain) and fine sand. You can see in the infographic below that our White Clay can be installed in almost all the same places as our Recycled Clay, with the exception of pools and steam showers. It is also helpful to us if you let us know if you are installing tile in a shower setting so that we can be sure to seal it before sending off to you. White Clay will require regular sealing while Recycled will not. 



Color and Finishes: 

These materials define how colors appear on the tile; colors will unsurprisingly seem a bit more saturated with the white clay showing through the glaze. The finishes also vary between the two clay bodies. You likely know about glossy and matte finishes, but you also have the option of engobe, crackle and patine. Below, we'll tell you a little bit more about the lesser known finishes: 

Engobe: If you like the vibrancy of color on a White Clay but prefer to use Recycled, you can choose one of our engobe glazes. Engobe is where we put a white primer on our red clay and then the colored glaze on top; this results in a beautiful watercolor-esque effect. You can see in the image below how the same color glaze looks on our White Clay (left) and our Red Clay (right) with engobe. 


Tile Shown: Left, Powder Blue on White Clay, Right, Crater Lake on Recycled Clay. 

Crazing, often referred to as "crackle" is a natural process that occurs in ceramics. These "cracks" in no way reflect the strength of the tile, it is simply a reaction that the heat produces while the tile is in the kiln. You will see this in varying degrees on our white clay body, as well as our engobe glazes. If you're not crazy about crazing (which is totally fine), you should probably stick to our Recycled Clay body and opt for gloss or matte glazes. You can see the how crazing compares to engobe and a basic glossy finish in the image below. 


Tile Shown: Turquoise (gloss) on Recycled Clay, Caribbean on Recycled (engobed, note the variation) and Cerulean on White (note the heavy crazing). 

Patine is where we highlight the crazing with a black stain on our White Clay. We do this for three of our colors, Foggy Morning with Black Patine, Ultra Cream with Black Patine and Basil with Black Patine


Tile Shown: Foggy Morning and Foggy Morning with Black Patine, both on White Clay. 

Still have questions about our clay bodies? Simply call, chat, or fill out our Design Assistance Form and one of our talented Design Consultants will get back to you shortly.