Tile 101

Everything You Need to Know About Zellige Tile

As our Zellige collection is expanding, we’re taking a moment to explain the unique qualities of these authentically handcrafted tiles, and how you can use them to enhance your tile design. Read on to learn about the history and making of these handmade Moroccan tiles and shop our four new colorways: Azul, Dirty Blue, Shamrock and Turquoise.

A gif of a kitchen backsplash featuring four Zellige colors: Azul, Dirty Blue, Shamrock and Turquoise.
Featuring: Zellige Azul Gloss, Zellige Dirty Blue Gloss, Zellige Shamrock Gloss and Zellige Turquoise Gloss.

What are Zellige Tiles?

Carefully crafted by skilled artisans in Morocco, every piece in the Zellige collection embodies true organic beauty with striking variations in color and surface texture. Adhering to traditional processes of hand-molding, hand-cutting and hand-glazing, each tile showcases one-of-a-kind character.

History of Zellige Tiles

Thought to be influenced by Byzantine mosaics, handcrafted Zellige tiles originated in North Africa in the tenth century. The process of molding, hand chiseling and glazing the tiles has changed little in the last seven centuries.

A flat lay of dark blue Zellige tiles in square, mosaic and small subway shapes.
Featuring: Zellige Azul Gloss subway, Zellige Azul Gloss Square and Zellige Azul Gloss Mosaic.
It's better in real life. Order $3 samples.

How Zellige Tiles Are Made

The key to making Zellige tiles is high-quality clay. All of our authentic Zellige tiles are made using clay from the northeastern Moroccan city of Fez. The clay is mixed with water and sent through a filtering machine to remove any impurities. Newly cleaned, the clay is moved to pools for three days for water to filter through and then left out to dry for another three days.

Once it is ready, the clay is placed in brick-shaped molds for three to six days resulting in rock-clay bricks that are passed through rollers to thin and smooth them. The clay bricks are then cut with molds to achieve the final shape. Only then is the clay fired in the kiln for 12 hours at 900 degrees celsius. After the clay has been fired, it is hand chiseled by a skilled artisan to achieve an angled edge for easier installation. They are then hand-painted and glazed and placed in holding racks to dry.

This bright and charming kitchen features white Zellige tile backsplash and open white shelves.
Featuring: Zellige White Gloss. Design by Fox Homes.

Designing with Zellige Tiles

Zellige tiles are ceramic and can be used on walls, floors and in wet areas. The hand-chiseling and hand-glazing process will result in tiles that are uneven and vary in surface color and surface texture. Embrace these imperfections! It is the tile’s one-of-a-kind quality that makes Zellige tile authentically luxurious.

Our Zellige collection tiles are available in a variety of shapes, including: square, petite subway, mosaic and cross and star. The bathroom below displays the variation in tone among a single colorway (Alabaster) and how glossy and matte Star and Cross tiles can be installed together for added interest.

Ready to embrace these perfectly imperfect tiles? Shop our Zellige Collection to find tile to fit your style. For even more inspiration and information, set up a free design consultation to get advice from our tile experts.

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