If you are planning a home renovation project or you’re just looking to add something authentic, long-lasting, and utterly beautiful to your home design, then we have a suggestion for your – stone.
Decorating your home with stone offers the perfect balance of old and new, natural and modern, and will add extra comfort and belonging to your living space. However, we should note that not all stone veneer is the same. The choice of stone will widely depend on your personal preference and taste, your chosen project, and of course, a few additional important factors.
There are two main categories of stone – natural stone and manufactured or artificial stone (it can also be seen under the name veneer stone). Although the manufactured stone industry has evolved drastically over the years and is now the main competitor to natural stone, it is still not enough to replace it. Regardless of you have decided to use stone for exterior cladding, fireplace redesign, or for the creation of a stunning interior stone feature wall, you will need to choose the right material.
In this article, we’ll go through the main differences between natural stone and artificial stone in order to shed some light on the topic and help you make the right choice.
Buckle up, here we go!
What is Natural Stone?
Before we go into the factors differentiating real stone from veneer stone, we wanted to define the two.
Starting with natural stone, it is 100% collected directly from the earth, without having anything added or removed from the material. The color you see on natural stone tiles are its pure shades, with no extras.
Depending on the manufacturer, the shape of the stone can be its real and original one but it can also be carved to fit a certain shape, preferred by the client. For example, the shape can be carved into building blocks, stone sheets for wall décor, or flooring tiles. The diversity is rich, offering a solution for every taste.
What is Manufactured Stone?
On the other hand, manufactured or an artificial stone is a whole different story. As we mentioned earlier, there are several different names used for manufactured stone that may appear as a bit confusing at first. To quickly review, manufactured stone, artificial stone, veneer stone, and cultured stone all mean the same thing – manmade stone.
Manufactured stone is essentially engineered stone, which is created with the purpose of imitating real stone. Cement, aggregates, and iron oxides are mixed together and processed until they come to a structure that resembles natural stone.
So why mix these three materials?
The purpose of using cement is to add stability to the final stone, while iron oxides are the ones that offer color pigments to the product.
Now that we’ve introduced you to the two main stone categories, it’s time to move on into the more specific part of this article – the actual comparison.
Natural Stone vs. Artificial Stone
Although artificial stone’s main purpose is to duplicate real stone, there are a number of factors separating the two stone types apart.
For starters, the trained eye will find it easy to tell manufactured stone and real stone apart purely based on visual characteristics.
One of the most astonishing factors for choosing natural stone for your next renovation or redesign at home is that no two pieces are the same – literally. The color palettes are extremely diverse and rich, while the texture will instantly make you feel at home.
Natural stone’s visual characteristics are so unrivaled that it can be said they are among the most important factors contributing to the higher price of the material.
On the other hand, artificial stone can easily be replaced via sophisticated technology. The color richness is also more intense when compared to real stone. You can choose a wide array of styles and patterns to suit the interior of your home.
You may be wondering what the difference between natural stone and artificial stone is when it comes to things like size, weight, or thickness. Real stone, in most cases, varies in size but is much heavier when compared to manufactured stone. In fact, it is nearly twice the weight!
When it comes to artificial stone, it can be found in sizes from 2 inches thick and reach 8 inches. For those looking for thinner options, you can benefit from a thin stone veneer, which offers sizes between one and two inches thick. And for the home designers or homeowners looking for something more substantial – manufactured stone gets as large as 14 inches in diameter.
Choosing between natural stone and manmade stone will also depend on your end goal and planned project.
For instance, if your design requires more authenticity and uniqueness, the most suitable option would be real stone. The most commonly seen projects involving natural stone include pathway redesign, stone flooring, and different types of wall décor or installations.
What’s different in artificial stone is that it does not have enough strength to be used structurally and cannot be chosen for building purposes. In other words, it can be said that manufactured stone is not as reliable when it comes to building installations. It’s worth noting that although it can carry its own weight, it is not great with extra weight.
For this reason, artificial stone is not a good option for flooring.
Price of natural stone and manufactured stone
You might be surprised by what we are about to tell you. The price difference between natural stone and artificial stone is sometimes not that significant.
And here’s why.
We noted earlier that the technology behind the creation of man-made stone has drastically evolved in time, meaning that it now costs more to produce tailored and personalized manufactured stone. The quality of the material will also be high so when comparing the cost of natural stone and veneer stone – the difference can’t really be felt.
In addition, transporting real stone and artificial stone costs a similar price, even if manufactured stone doesn’t weigh as much as natural stone. However, there is one area where natural stone is better in cost when compared to manufactured and that is maintenance.
The cost of maintaining real stone is lower than that of manufactured stone. This comes from the fact that it can be pressure washed clean. In comparison, manufactured stone won’t be able to take on high pressure or manual scrubbing. In other words, it takes more effort to be cleaned.
Resilience or durability is another main factor to consider when comparing the two types of stone for your home décor. And it is certainly not one to underestimate.
When looking at natural stone and manufactured stone in the long-term, their durability is quite different. A number of real stone solutions are less porous in comparison to real stone, which contributes to stronger durability over time. It is also worth mentioning that factors such as rain, dirt, wind, or direct sunlight can seriously affect the quality of manufactured stone in a longer period of time. It is likely to start deteriorating and it may change its color.
In fact, sunlight is the most serious factor influencing the quality of stone over time. Man-made stone is most often tinted with paint, which exposes the stone to a higher chance of suffering from faded colors, especially when being exposed to sunlight. When planning your next outdoor stone installation this may be an important factor to keep in mind. It is advisable to use natural stone for external house projects.
The process of installing natural stone vs artificial stone is also different. Artificial requires lath, scratch coat, mortar, and possibly grout in order to reach the dry-stack appearance desired. When planning the stone installation it is also important to remember the difference in weight and density. Due to its light-weight nature, artificial stone is much easier to cut and manage, when compared to real stone. This also makes artificial stone a preferred solution for DIY projects.
On the other hand, real stone can be directly applied to concrete, stone, or block. If you have a smooth surface to work on, you can use a metal lathe and a scratch masonry coat to set up the surface for thin sheets of stone to grip. You will also require grout to be placed between the stones. However, real stone is not a good option for drywall installations. It also requires more effort to cut and manage.
We’ve gone through some of the main differences when it comes to natural vs artificial stone. Although some of these may be vivid from the start, others may involve a bit of additional research to discover. However, all of them are equally important and should be carefully observed before making any decisions on the choice of material for your home transformation or renovation.
We hope that you’ve found the list useful and are now more prepared to take on the challenge of home redesign. Please check our currently active sale for available price discounts.