Our Process

California Museum of Science and Industry terra cottaFor over 135 years Gladding, McBean has taken its vast, rich clay reserves and created infinite design possibilities for our customers worldwide. This time-honored craftsmanship and expertise handed down from generations, combined with modern technology, and has produced exceptional clay products that will last for years to come.

Our long history and reputation is the result of working hand-in-hand with the customer every step of the way, ensuring satisfaction from conception to completion of every project.

We understand construction schedules and the need to meet tight deadlines. For over a century, our reputation has been to meet those deadlines on time, every time.

Terra Cotta University

We greatly encourage contractors, engineers, architects and planners to tour our facility in order to better understand the process of manufacturing terra cotta products. 

Our ProcessWe work hand in hand with the Design/Build collaboration team to offer our expertise and knowledge to a group project.

For further terra cotta education, Gladding, McBean also offers seminars that are AIA certified, focusing on the intricate manufacturing process and material and application specifications.

Signatures in Clay

For centuries, terra cotta has been used as a reflection of the personality of an architect more than any other building material. This versatile and highly adaptable medium allowed architects and designers to literally shape the landscape of cities across America.

Terra cotta, meaning “burnt earth,” is an exceptional product providing the flexibility to be molded and shaped to mimic any material or design. Whether reproducing a historic building facade in need of renovation or creating unique elements on a new design, the qualities of terra cotta make any detail a possibility. Its high compression strength allows for high load bearing capacity and its low moisture absorption make it an ideal material to withstand even the toughest climates. Our products have decades of proven performance in areas prone to heavy freeze/thaw elements.

Our Process

Details, Every Step of the Way

Our custom renovation and restoration projects begin with our team of experts analyzing the fragments obtained from the jobsite. In fact, our on-site technical assistance ensures that a member of our team is involved in the project, every step of the way.

Each piece is laser scanned at our state-of-the-art facility, creating a computer-generated image of the object.

This technical advancement allows our team to work with the highest degree of accuracy for exact size and shape reproduction. 
Computerized aided set drawings and section details provide accurate information and control to assist in every step of the fabrication and installation process.

The Artisans

Throughout the years, Gladding, McBean artisans have styled and crafted work for some of the most historic and beautiful buildings in the world. The fine workmanship from the modelers at Gladding, McBean can be seen in the complexity and detail of every piece they create. Many of the craftsmen working in the facility today are 4th generation employees, some that have over 40 years experience. Hand sculpting allows each piece to be uniquely tailored to capture and create even the finest of details.

Our Process

Modern Technology

Modern technology in the form of Extrusion and RAM press has helped speed the production process of many of the standard modular shapes. Our standard die shapes catalog offers endless design possibilities. This process allows for a more cost effective way of producing standard units in a time efficient manner, while maintaining the consistency of the materials. Certified testing equipment in our in-house testing laboratory, guarantees our products are ready to withstand decades of the elements before leaving our facility.

Our Process

Glazing & Firing

If the design of terra cotta allows for endless creative possibilities, so too does the color and textures at your disposal. Rich glaze colors and unique textures are what Gladding, McBean is known for. Whether accurately color matching an existing project or selecting a new texture and color laboratory can match any customers’ needs. 

Our mobile color-tracking unit allows our team to accurately analyze colors on the job site. Computer-aided scanning enables each color to be broken down from an intricate color blend. Our large kilns provide a state-of-the-art firing process that maintains product and color consistency throughout your order.

Over a Century of Excellence

In July of 1928, San Francisco Examiner columnist Ernest Hopkins wrote “with clay from a hole in the ground in Lincoln, California, the modern city of San Francisco has come.” Our past speaks for itself, and with our rich clay reserves, we will continue to be at the forefront of architectural development for years to come. 

Whether it is preserving our nation’s landmarks or helping blaze a trail of design into the future, Gladding, McBean has the experience to provide any project with the utmost attention it deserves.