Unglazed vs Glazed Terracotta Tiles

Terracotta tiles are a traditional, environmentally-friendly flooring product that offers a more natural finish when compared to other types of tiles. Terracotta tiles are made of baked clay, thus falling under the ceramic tile category and come in two different finishes, glazed or unglazed depending on the use the tiles are intended for. Although terracotta tiles are less cold under our foot and are more comfortable, they are also less durable and more prone to stains due to their porous nature.

Glazed Terracotta Tiles

Glazed terracotta tiles have a colored vitreous coating that allows the creation of a wide range of colors, shades and shines. The typical glazed tiles with a non transparent coating are also known as the 'cottoforte' tiles and are mainly used for indoor flooring while only rarely for cladding. Moreover, glazed tiles come in a variety of different finishes ranging between semi-glazed to highly-glazed. However, glazed tiles which tend to be more durable and with lower moisture absorption levels are very well suited for outdoor footpaths and patios. Moreover, since they come in many different shades and colors they can be applied in any combination you like, all you need is to use your imagination.

Unglazed Terracotta Tiles

Unglazed tiles are not covered by any coat and thus tend to have a more rustic appearance preserving their natural coloring. Additionally, since they are not covered, they tend to be porous and may deteriorate quicker than the glazed terracotta tiles. An example of unglazed terracotta tiles are the Tuscan and Florentine terracotta and are particularly aimed for indoor flooring. More importantly, unlike in glazed terracotta, this kind of tile needs to be covered by a sealer to reduce water absorption especially if used in bathrooms or in areas which would be constantly wet.


Terracotta tiles come in many different sizes and are generally either square or rectangular. However, the most important thing about terracotta tiles is that you can use your imagination and mix different shades and shapes together to create a pattern.

Pros and Cons

The major difference between glazed and unglazed terracotta tiles are their final result and durability. Glazed terracotta tiles would be protected and hardened by the coat of vitreous glaze that gives them the shiny finish. On the other hand, unglazed tiles have no protective coating, leaving the porous tile exposed to weathering and wearing. Hence, unglazed tiles tend to be a bit more fragile and more easily stained than the glazed type. In fact when applying unglazed terracotta tiles to a floor, it generally needs to be sealed to reduce water absorption. Moreover, unglazed tiles tend to deteriorate quicker in colder climates. On the other hand, glazed tiles not only have a smooth and glossy finish but resist stains much better. However, with glazed tiles one has to be careful because too-smooth a surface can get slippery when wet and thus cause accidents.  Therefore unglazed terracotta tiles which are not so smooth are more slip-resistant.

Terracotta tiles are one of the oldest decorative type of covering available on the market. You can choose between hand made terracotta or factory made ones which are cheaper. You can also choose between different finishes and a huge variety in color shades. Moreover, glazed terracotta tiles come in a variety of finish so that you have an immensely wide variety with which to cover any surface you want.