Fashioned by hand or shaped by machine, informal terra cotta tiles bring warm, earthy colors and textures to outdoor rooms. Perhaps because of their natural tones, these fired clay tiles seem at home with a wide range of house styles. Hand-made terra cotta tiles have a rustic beauty that suits traditional patios and courtyards, but their rather soft, porous composition makes them unsuitable for cold- or wet-weather applications.
By contrast, most manufactured tiles are impervious to water and have a strength and durability that tolerate a variety of outdoor conditions, including frost. Unglazed versions with matte or gritty surfaces aren't as slippery when the surface is damp or wet. Machine-formed terra cotta tiles, both domestic and imported, are available in an impressive array of patterns, colors, and textures that can evoke images of ancient Rome or complement even the most contemporary architectural design.
One of the oldest building and paving materials known to man, ceramic tile proves to be a substantial, practical, and beautiful choice by today's standards as well.