Quarry tiles are a building construction material, usually 1/2 to 3/4 inches (13 to 19 mm) in thickness, made by the extrusion process from natural clay or shales.

Sizes and shapes

The most traditional size in the US is nominally 6 inches by 6 inches by 1/2 inch thick. Other common sizes include 4 inches by 8 inches and 8 inches by 8 inches.


Traditional quarry tiles were unglazed and either red or gray in color. However, modern “decorator” tiles come in a variety of tints and finishes. Industrial quarry tiles are available with abrasive frit embedded in the surface to provide a non-slip finish in wet areas such as commercial kitchens and laboratories.


Quarry tiles are extensively used for floors where a very durable material is required. It can be used either indoors or outdoors, although freeze-resistant grades of tile should be used outdoors in climates where freeze-thaw action occurs. They are used less often as a wall finish and is occasionally used for countertops, although the wide grout joints can make cleaning of countertops difficult.


For floors, quarry tiles are usually set in a thick bed of cementitious mortar. For wall applications, they can be set in either a thick bed of cementitious mortar or a thin bed of mastic. For both floors and walls, the joints between tiles are usually grouted with cementitious grout. Grout joints are traditionally about 3/8 inch in width. Matching trim shapes such as coves, bases, shoes, and bullnoses are available to turn corners and terminate runs of the tile.

Copyright Ian Taylor and The Tile and Stone Blog.co.uk, 2013. See copyright notice above.