The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Quarry tiles lifespan

junehawk's picture

Quarry tiles lifespan

How often do you replace your quarry tiles?  I bought two last week and treated them like some recommended by heating them up 350F for an hour and then 500F for half an hour.  One broke on the first day I actually used them and the other one broke today while I was arranging them for a second use.  It took no force at all, it just snapped.  Is this normal?  Is there anything I can do to make them last longer?  TIA



PaddyL's picture

Yes, that's happened to me too.  I got so tired of replacing the darned things that I finally gave up and just baked on an upturned baking sheet, metal, preheated in the oven.  Works for me.

JERSK's picture

   I've been thinking about using quarry tiles for an experimental oven I want to build. The thicknesses I've found vary from about 1/4"(decorative wall tiles) to 1/2-3/4" for flooring tiles. I'm assuming thicker would last longer, but I'm not sure. I might go to a commercial hearthstone. It's really not that expensive and should last better. Metal won't work for what I want. I think I can get a 16"X24" hearthstone for under $40.00. What thickness tiles did you guys use? Has anybody had good luck with them?

junehawk's picture

The tiles I bought are about 1/2 inch thick and they were the only ones Home Depot had.  I looked in Lowes but they didn't have any unglazed quarry tiles.  I'm a bit disappointed by the breakage to be honest, I was expecting them to last longer.



PaddyL's picture

The ones I used were pretty thin, probably 3/8", and I ended up painting pictures on them, rather than waste them all in the oven.  As our oven stands now, door falling off, no broiler, I wouldn't bother with them again until we get a new stove.  But I had trouble with pizza stones splitting on me when we had a decent stove, so I honestly don't see the point.  And lately, I've been trying to bake soft crusted breads which don't require any special oven treatment, just a rub of butter when they're still hot.  One of the reasons I'm here so much, rather than in the kitchen, is our pitiful stove.  The other reason is that I love bread, the mixing of it, the baking of it, and the people like me who love the same things.

Loafer's picture

Most of the breakage that you will see will happen right away. You might not see any more breakage for quite a while.  If you move them while they are warm or hot, they'll be much more likely to break. I never bothered to try and warm them at 350 first, I don't think that makes much difference, they will absorb heat at the same rate either way.

 I'd imagine that you got a box of them (Were they the Saltillo brand from Home Depot?) and that you have a few extras for replacements.   Replace the ones that break the first time round and maybe you will end up with a set that are pretty tough.



Oldcampcook's picture

I have been baking on my HD unglazed quarry tiles every weekend for the past month.

I did not 'break them" in and I have not had one break YET! (knock on wood!)

I just looked and I did not see a brand anywhere on them.


Aussiebaker's picture

I've been using unglazed floor tiles that are 13mm thick for a few years (I started using them for pizzas before using them more recently for bread). The only breakage I've had was due to ill-treatment on my part. I thought I'd experiment with speeding up the heating process and put one over a very very low gas flame. After 10 minutes I thought I'd up the heat a bit, and it went off like a firecracker. Of course! I still don't know if it would have been successful if I hadn't tried to speed the process up and just kept the heat low.

Mine are still going strong, and I've even cooked tandoori chicken on them in a weber BBQ. Not bad. I've never broken them in.

After the breakage, I wanted to replace the one I broke and found it difficult. The thicker unglazed terracotta tiles appeared to have gone out of fashion. I found them at a shop that had them in a dusty box out the back. Perhaps the newer ones are thinner and more fragile? It must be very disappointing to break so many.

I'm also using a small steel barbecue plate that fits in my oven. It heats up much, much faster than the terracotta floor tile. Baking results are pretty fair. No breakages there - although you'd have to watch your toes if you dropped it on your foot!

krekdayam's picture

Failure of tiles (or anything else, for that matter) can only occur when the stresses are greater than the capacity of the the materials to withstand the stress.

(the camel can hold 100000 straws, with 100001, its back breaks).

You have two choices to avoid breaking tiles, ... minimize the stresses, or increase the strength of the tile. Increasing the inherent strength of the tile is not very likely after it is manufactured.

Stresses in tiles can come from two principle sources...

1) differences in thermal expansion between the inside and the outside of the tile (especially for thick tiles) or from the top to the bottom (if heated only on one side). This is called thermal shock. Otherwise,  

2) the effect of residual moisture inside the tile, Upon heating it vaporizes, causing internal pressure greater than the stress it can withstand: net result.... failure of the tile.

In case 1) above, with thermal expasion differences, slower heating will help avoid the cracking, especially in thicker tiles. If the entire tile heats up at the same rate... there is no difference in thermal expansion, so there are no stresses, consequently no failure of the tiles. This resoning explains why throwing ice water on a hot tile might cause it to shatter.

In case 2) above, which seems to be the more typical case. the secret to success would be to slowly bake the tiles at ever increasing temperatures, with the maximum temperature being the hottest you will ever use the tiles....the hottest possible temperature of the oven.  The exact time necessary for this to occur depends on how thick the tiles are, after all, the idea is to bake the water out, and that depends of diffusion.. the thicker the tile, the more time it will take, and the slower the tiles should be heated.

Without having "wet" tiles to even attempt the test, I'd would guess that for "normal" tiles around 1/4 inch thickness

1 hour at 100C, 1 hour at 125 C, 1 hour at 150 C, 1 hour at 175C, 1 hour at 200C and so forth ... until you have reach your ovens maximum temperature.

Because of something called fracture toughness, tiles that are scratched are much more likely to fail than smoother tiles when subjected to these stresses. (Dont gouge your initials into the tiles)

Back in the USA, I had tiles that lasted at least 10 years, so I am surprised at the bad fortune of this group

I offer a money back guarantee on my explanation... if it doesnt work, I ll return all the money you paid for my opinion.

ejm's picture

We keep our at least 10 year old bread stone propped up against the wall in the kitchen. A couple of years ago, it was broken by my cat racing around after a mouse. (Nobody was home... we found the stone lying flat on the floor smashed into three pieces - one large triangle, two small triangles. The mouse was lying on the floor. We still don't know if our cat killed it or if it died of fright when the stone fell.)

I have continued to use the stone. It's still stored propped up against the wall (with the pieces balanced together). When I want to use it, I just carry the  three pieces  to the oven, put them back together as best I can, preheat the oven and bake. No problem.