Terracotta, from the Latin terra cocta (literally "cooked earth") has provided builders with a durable structural and decorative material for thousands of years, indeed historians tell us that it was being produced for use in construction as early as 1400BC.
Architectural terracotta - made from a fine blend of clays and furnace-fired until vitrified – was used extensively in external wall facing applications from the 19th century onwards. Glazed and unglazed terracotta panels provided an attractive, durable and inexpensive protective skin to cover or complement brickwork, and evidence of their remarkable durability can be clearly seen on the exteriors of many Victorian buildings.
Terracotta continues to give today’s buildings real warmth and character with its beautifully rich, earth-tone colours. This intrinsically traditional material is now being used in conjunction with new modern methods of construction to provide innovative, aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly cladding solutions.
The inherent plasticity of the material before firing means that it can be easily extruded or pressed into large format panels, usually hollow inside to reduce weight and cost. With technological advances in manufacturing, terracotta panels are relatively economical to produce, compared with other natural cladding materials
Although made from clay (which is porous), terracotta becomes almost impermeable after being subjected to exceptionally high temperatures. It is also strong, durable, durable and resistant to climatic extremes. Thanks to its natural composition and the temperature at which is fired during the production process, it is also inherently fire resistant.
These attributes all combine to make terracotta ideally suited for use in modern ventilated façade systems.