There are so many flooring options that it is easy for consumers to get confused—especially if this is your first ever remodel or build. But if you have narrowed down your choices to either natural stone or porcelain tile, which one do you choose? Here are three considerations that can help you make a decision.
1. Consistency vs Uniqueness
Most porcelain tiles are made to emulate natural stone—they can be made to look like marble, travertine, slate, limestone or stained concrete. Similar to natural stone, porcelain tiles come in different finishes, such as glazed, polished, and matte. And because porcelain tile is produced in a factory, there is greater consistency on the color—the sample in the store will be exactly the same as the tile you purchase. But when attempting to replicate the texture of natural stone, there is always a pattern in porcelain tile that can be spotted by a trained eye.
The very definition of natural stone is that it is something that comes directly from the Earth. This results in every piece being unique, creating a truly one-of-a-kind result when installed. However, the color of natural stone can vary depending on the quarry and how deep they have dug out. It is very important to get a current sample of the natural stone because the color can be different—sometimes drastically—from the display swatch.
2. Level of Maintenance
Porcelain tile is not porous and is extremely hard to chip or scratch—this means that it will not show wear and tear. While the grout does have to be sealed with a penetrating sealer to prevent stains and discoloration, the tile itself does not have to be sealed. This matter of fact results in a flooring that is relatively low maintenance.
On the other hand, natural stone can scratch and even stain depending on the material. Flooring made of natural stone must be sealed. When it is cleaned, it is important to use a specific stone cleaner as to not strip the sealer from the stone. Perhaps it definitely requires more maintenance, but natural stone tends to have a higher degree of character and inherent beauty that is hard to duplicate.
3. Cost Over Time
Generally speaking, natural stone is more expensive than porcelain tile. Not only does it typically carry a higher material cost, natural stone is more expensive to install and has that recurring expense for ongoing maintenance. In addition, the rarer the stone is and the fewer imperfections it has, the higher the cost will be.
What Tile Is Right For You?
Making the choice between natural stone and porcelain tile often comes down to a balance of having a truly unique flooring versus the cost and effort to maintain it. While porcelain tiles may have looked cheap in the past, tile companies have stepped up their game and now manufacture some great looking porcelain tiles. A fact that exists in direct response to consumers becoming busier and no longer having the time to maintain their floors. Not to mention that they do not want to worry about scratching or staining the tiles.
But many people find natural stone captivating with a character imbued from the Earth that can’t be reproduced by man. For them, the uniqueness of each stone and the natural beauty outweighs the cost and effort to maintain it.
Ultimately the choice is up to you, but knowing these three differences can help guide your decision. And if you are looking for an interior designer that has years of experience in guiding clients through these choices—and many others—my team at Lori Caldwell Designs would love to help.
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