Natural stone and porcelain tiles are popular hard flooring choices but which one will you go for?
If you want something that has a feel of its own, natural stone would be the choice as it will mesmerise you with its uniqueness or you could go for porcelain tiles that gives a uniform and somewhat clean look. Will you go for Elegance or Practicality?
It will all come down to one’s personal taste and life experiences but here are some insights you need to know and understand before making a decision.
Longevity and Sustainability
Being manufactured products, porcelain tiles go through a vitrification process giving them the capacity to endure high levels of foot traffic while having a unified look through controlled production ensuring the same quality and appearance is maintained. They are highly scratch and stain resistant and could last up to 20 years. However during it’s lifespan, it can crack, scratch, chip, completely get damaged and they can never be renewed or restored.
Natural stone on the other hand are naturally occurring and are homogeneous. Surfaces such as marble may take on a darkened look after some years but being a homogeneous material, it can be restored back to its original look. Its strength varies and does not break easily. With the required periodic restorative work, proper care and maintenance, natural stone floors can last a lifetime.
Price and Installation
The cost of porcelain tiles may vary but it is most often more affordable compared to natural stone tiles. The actual costs would depend on the design-layout and the brand being purchased. Tile Installation cost is mostly fair but it is imperative that you appoint a professional tiler to achieve good outcomes. Most porcelain tiles are readily available in tile stores. They can also be installed in one and a half working days in a standard sized room provided there are no special requirements i.e. substrate preparation works, waterproofing, etc..
Natural stone tiles are far more expensive as compared to porcelain tiles. Thier cost has many variables most often depending on the country of origin, the grade, the size, the thickness, etc.. Further to this, installation works has to be done by a Stonemason or a very experienced tiler. Natural stone surfaces will need to be either pre-sealed or sealed during installation and will need lots of attention to detail. Tiling will be a slow process selecting the right tile for the right spot due to the unique characteristic of each tile. It has a high price when it comes to restoration and upkeep. Natural stone tiles are harder to source and have production and logistic challenges due to their size, thickness and surface finish. Besides it being a natural commodity, its scarcity is an important factor and not to be taken lightly.
Resistance to Staining and Scratching
Porcelain tiles are highly stain and scratch resistant. It is not often that the surface needs sealing and protection as compared to natural stone. Stone types like marble, limestone and travertine which are all calcite based materials will react with acidity and get etched on contact. Somewhat damaged. They are soft stones as compared to granite or quartz which can be much harder than porcelain. The mohs scales will show you the hardness reading of each stone type and this will be important when selecting natural stone tiles and at which location it is going to be used at. All natural stone tiles will need to be sealed to stain proof them.
Porosity and Maintenance
Porcelain Tiles are non-porous in nature and absorb very little or no liquids at all. This is because of the vitrification process it goes through. Hence, they are easy to maintain with approved cleaning products. Ask us about our Lithofin range of porcelain cleaning and sealing products from Germany.
All natural stone types including marble, granite, onyx, travertine, etc.. are all porous to different degrees. Some are highly porous while some are truly dense. The volume of penetrating sealers used to seal natural stone tiles differs heavily within the range of 2 - 30 m2/ per litre. Ask us about our 5-star stone cleaning and sealing products from Lithofin - Germany.
It is important to note that natural stone is a high maintenance surface and it will need lots of care along its lifespan as compared to porcelain surfaces.
Slip Resistance And Tiling Location
When choosing between porcelain tiles and natural stone, one of the things that needs to be addressed is where it will be installed. Porcelain tiles come with slip resistant ratings and you should consult the tile manufacturer or supplier on this before tiling as per the required location. There will be a suitable slip resistant rating for every location you wish to tile including that of wet and dry areas for both internal and external. When compared to natural stone tiles, finishes such as chiselled, exfoliated, flamed, sawn or even honed will greatly contribute to making the floor or pavers slip resistant. Weather and external influences will wear-out natural stone floors and pavers more quickly to that of porcelain tiled floors. Again it comes down to having additional costs of periodic refurbishment tasks as compared to porcelain tiles.
Look and Richness
The elegance and richness of natural stone surfaces like marble cannot be questioned. Even though, porcelain tiles can have the faux – marble effect apart from its many other effects, it cannot surpass the beauty of natural stone. Each slab of natural stone has its own unique characteristics and no two will look identically the same unless or perhaps it has come from the same block.
Being man-made, porcelain tiles are consistent across their manufactured batches. It is reliable and has the look of uniformity with hardly any visual imperfections.
Porcelain tiles offers different great designs, colours, prints and textures. In fact, they even take the look of natural stone like marble. However, with advanced technology, porcelain tiles provides more design options making them more dynamic and trendy and gives us the option to customize our own designs.
Natural Stone has its own unique natural finish, texture and character and with thousands of natural stone types to choose from. A huge task for a natural stone enthusiast when choosing as he or she is truly spoilt for choice.
When choosing between porcelain or natural stone tiles, think of your budget, the design you like, its locality and overall practicality. Both these hard floor surfaces are very different and their differences are not often showcased to the consumers by the seller.
The question now remains, will you go for Elegance or Practicality?