We love the excitement of diving into a new renovation project, but when it comes to materials, it’s not just about looks–especially with tile. Pattern and color aside, at Grow House Grow we focus on two types of tile: handmade cement and handmade clay.

While cement and clay are similar in appearance once installed, there are some differences to consider when selecting the right one for your project. Here’s a side-by-side breakdown:


  • Matte Finish
  • Thicker 5/8ths inch depth
  • Porous and must be sealed (similar to stone/marble)
  • Will wear into a space and develop a patina over time
  • Made by pouring natural pigments, marble powder, and Portland cement into a mold and compressing  
  • Pigment depth of 1/4th inch allows for heavy tread that can be lightly sanded/refinished if necessary (appropriate for high-traffic areas)
  • Water-cured and not fired (which is friendlier in terms of emissions)
  • Should be cleaned and maintained with pH-neutral cleaners only (no acids or bleach)
  • Exceeds industry standards for slip resistance (CoF)
  • With care, can last forever


  • Satin finish
  • Thinner 3/8th inch depth
  • Non-porous, no sealant necessary (i.e. ideal for a backsplash)
  • Won’t patina or stain
  • Made by screen printing non-lead glazes onto the surface of clay
  • Thin surface pigment depth may show light wear after many years of heavy use
  • Kiln-fired
  • May be washed with standard cleaners (no acids)
  • May be slightly slippery when wet
  • Designed to biodegrade after 150 years

Aside from the above, their similarities are notable. Each can be used on the floor and on the wall, and both are appropriate for residential and commercial projects.  While we don’t recommend our tiles in pools or fountains, they can be installed in wet areas with the correct installation practices. Both are also known for their handmade natural variation, and character-adding colors and patterns.

Because the finished look is so similar between the two, the choice often comes down to personal style and maintenance level. Do you pine for the romantic promenades of Barcelona? You’ll love the way cement gently ages. Do you feel refreshed in a modern space that sparkles? Clay will keep like new. Our recommendation is to err on your personal taste, and the unique use and feel of the space you’re tiling. 

As always, you can check in with us at info@growhousegrow.com with any questions as you might have as you wade through the decision making process. We’re here to help!

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