The Difference Between Carrara & Calacatta Marble

So you’ve been Googling the difference between carrara and calcutta and you’ve come across this blog post.

Well look no further I’m here to answer that for you today.  Carrara is a grayish marble with grey veining and Calcutta is a city in India.

Don’t worry you’re definitely not alone if you were calling it calcutta, it’s a very common mix up!


It’s actually called Calacatta.

Where Are They From?

Carrara marble is named because it is only found in Carrara, Italy. I wondered if calacatta marble comes from somewhere called Calacatta in Italy but no such place exists unfortunately, turns out calacatta marble comes from Carrara too.

Carrara is a pretty tiny place, pretty much just this dot on the map of Italy. They’ve been digging up carrara marble since the time of ancient Rome, kinda hoping they don’t run out, but if they do (incoming shameless plug) Classic Ceramics does happen to sell some pretty realistic looking carrara and calacatta porcelain tiles.

map of italy


Calacatta and Carrara Marble, What is The Difference?

Carrara tends to be a grayish white base colour with soft grey veining. Calacatta is much whiter and usually (but not always) thicker grey veining.

Carrara marble
Carrara marble
carrara marble slab
Carrara marble slab


Calacatta marble slab
Calacatta marble slab

As seen in the above photo calacatta marble can also have gold colouring throughout the stone.

Calacatta marble benchtop
Calacatta marble benchtop

Calacatta is rarer and the more premium and expensive of the two marbles. As a general rule the more white the marble is the higher the price.

Buy stone tiles online.

Tiles FAQ

A list of frequently asked tiling questions.

Q: Are porcelain tiles easy to clean?

A: Yes, under normal circumstances glazed porcelain tiles are almost impervious and will not stain.

Q: If I seal an unglazed porcelain tile, will it still maintain the unglazed look?

A: If you use a penetrating sealer it will protect the tile with minimal change to the appearance.

Q: In a small room should I use a large tile or small tile to make it look bigger?

A: Large tile.

Q: How do I clean natural stone tiles?

A: Mild soap and water. Avoid abrasive cleaners or acidic cleaners such as vinegar as they will likely remove any sealer previously been applied.

Q: What is the best type of grout to use?

A: Epoxy grout is the best, it is stain and mould resistant.

Q: What is a rectified tile?

A: A rectified tile is first baked in sheets, then cut to size AFTER coming out of the kiln. This is why it can be calibrated to exact specifications. Rectified tile can be installed with “credit card” joints as small as 1mm”. Most other tile is first shaped and then baked afterwards in a kiln, so it often has as much as a 3 to 5mm or more difference in size between tiles in the same box.

Tribecca Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain Tiles Vs Natural Stone

Currently the natural stone look is very popular for walls and floors, whether you choose real stone or porcelain that looks like stone this article will explain the differences so that you can make the best decision.

Appearance: There have been advancements in porcelain tile printing technology to imitate the genuine stone. The patterns are no longer stamped on with a roller but with high definition ink jet. With stamps there would only be so many stamp patterns before the pattern on the tiles would repeat, with modern methods, no two tiles will be the same.

Below are some examples of porcelain tiles made to look like marble and stone.

porcelain tiles

Mirage Jewels Tiles

Triboo Porcelain Tiles

As you can see, some porcelain tiles can be made to look very realistic.

Genuine stone patterns and colouring on the other hand can be more varied and unpredictable than porcelain, some areas of marble for example may have a lot of veining and other tiles have barely any, this variation can at times be part of the appeal of natural stone.

As natural stone tiles are quarried not manufactured, each batch of stone tiles will likely look noticeably different from an earlier batch carved from a different location. Batch colours do vary in porcelain also but to a lesser degree.  In some cases certain shades of stone can be mined to extinction!

Maintenance: Genuine stone is porous and needs to be sealed on an ongoing basis, especially highly polished stone will readily absorb any liquid spilled onto it. The time between sealing depends on the foot traffic the tile receives and can range from annually to five yearly.  Glazed porcelain is non-porous and requires no ongoing maintenance.

Strength: The breaking strength of porcelain is stronger than natural stone. Natural stone will wear over time (which is why it needs ongoing sealing)

Cost: Natural stone is typically more expensive than porcelain. The sealing procedure of natural stone also adds an additional cost to the installation.

Stone Art – From Ancient to Modern

Stone and mosaic art works have been made from stone for thousands of years, most people would have seen pictures of ancient Roman mosaics such as the one in the above picture. Each tiny piece cut by hand as one pixel to make up a larger picture.

Ancient Techniques

While computer controlled technology has allowed for the production of extremely accurate cuts to produce beautiful stone ‘medallions’ with no gaps, some mosaics are still made by hand today by skilled artisans over many many hours. Check out the slideshow below for an example of a hand cut and assembled stone mosaic of Napoleon made recently.

napoleon-portrait-stone-mosaic-art-work-p259845-3B napoleon-portrait-stone-mosaic-art-work-p259845-2B napoleon-portrait-stone-mosaic-art-work-p259845-1B


This video below is a fascinating look at how mosaics are still made today from start to finish in some parts of the world.

Modern Techniques

Modern methods for creating ‘marble medallions‘ out of stone use computer controlled waterjets to cut marble into complex designs and curves which can be slotted together like a perfect jigsaw puzzle. Check out the video below to see an example of what is achievable today.

We at Classic Ceramics have own range of stone art tiles called Petra Antiqua. Petra Antiqua in Italy produce a massive range of cut and engraved stone tiles, many of which are embedded with gold or silver glazes. Actually, their range is so extensive that we’d have to have a showroom with their tiles alone if we were to display all of their range. While we can’t stock all their range, we can order in any design if you have time up your sleeve.

Check out the picture below to see an example of what we have on display, for more like it, visit Classic Ceramics in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.

Petra Antiqua Engraved Stone Tiles


Powdery Residue On Tiles – Efflorescence

Have you ever seen a white stain on concrete, bricks or tiles? It is not a problem with the tiles but a problem with the foundation and it is called efflorescence. It is caused by moisture with dissolved salts coming to the surface and evaporating, leaving behind the salts.

tile efflorescence

Causes of Efflorescence

One cause for efflorescence appearing is tiling on top of a newly laid concrete slab which has not yet fully cured. If using a porcelain tile, it is impenetrable so the moisture is not coming from the tile it is coming up through the grout and spreads out over the tile surface from there. To remove the powdery residue don’t mop it with water, as it will just dissolve and will crystallise again when dry, you should scrub it off and sweep it away. In this instance of efflorescence due to ‘green’ concrete there is not much you can do to completely stop it, you just need to wait until it stops coming on it’s own.

Another cause of efflorescence is groundwater with salts seeping up into the concrete or bricks, this form of efflorescence is more damaging and can rot concrete and bricks.



There are also acidic chemicals available specially for removing efflorescence but efflorescence may continue to return so long as the source of the water penetration is not addressed.