If you’re relatively new to the world of stone but are on your way to starting your next home renovation project, you might find yourself in a bit of a tricky situation. Although there is a vast range of information online about the different types of stone, it can be difficult to gather everything in one place and make a decision on the stone to use in your next home interior or home exterior project.
There are so many different opinions when it comes to stone that if you haven’t actually seen and felt the benefits of each type, choosing is probably not going to be an easy task. To make things easier and to offer you a chance to truly enjoy renovating your home, we’ve prepared a comprehensive guide to natural stone vs. any other material. We will look at its distinctive features and advantages, mention potential drawbacks and see how all of the mentioned above relates to other types of stone.
Types of stone
For starters, it’s worth going through the different stone types before we clarify the differences. The most important thing to remember is that there are two major stone segments – natural stone and artificial stone. You can also come across artificial stone as engineer stone, manufactured stone, or man-made stone.
Some of the most common natural stone types include:
On the other hand, if you’re looking for artificial stone, the options you will be provided with are porcelain and ceramic.
So far so good, but how does natural stone compare to manufactured stone? To answer this question we’ll have to cover a few prevailing questions and compare natural stone to artificial stone in the process.
What is natural stone?
The name says a lot and suggests that this type of stone is naturally formed by nature as a result of natural processes. Natural stone varies significantly in color, shape, size, and texture. It is a highly preferred product thanks to its uniqueness and authenticity. You can be certain that no one else on the planet will have the exact same natural stone like you. Its beautiful imperfections make it absolutely special.
You can see natural stone taking an active part in different interior styles and also incorporated in exteriors as support or décor. Its uses are widely stretched and merely infinite.
What is artificial stone?
On the other hand, the second main type of stone is artificial stone or the one manufactured by man. It can be shaped into any form desired, colored into any preferred color, and copied as many times as necessary. Engineered stone can be defined as any material with stone-like properties that were made in a controlled environment.
To make artificial stone, experts do use a certain quantity of natural stone usually but it is combined with other products, which are man-made.
When making a decision about which stone type to choose, it is likely that you will ask yourself a number of questions regarding quality. Based on top features to consider, we’ve prepared a quick overview.
One of the most obvious differences between natural stone and manufactured stone is the way they look. Both appealing, there are some important distinctions to make between the two. With the development of technology, engineered stone is becoming more and more realistic, resembling natural stone. A rich color palette is made possible thanks to the sophistication of machinery.
However, the original is always more attractive, especially for those who appreciate authenticity. Natural stone certainly doesn’t fall behind an engineered stone in terms of available colors. The richness of nature makes these stone tiles a real gem. The appearance of natural stone keeps changing over time, making it flexible, innovative, and adaptable to modern needs.
If you go browsing for natural stone, you will discover a huge diversity of nuances, shades, speckles, veining, textures, and more. On the other hand, artificial stone is associated with repetition and color consistency. It is easy to achieve an identical look of artificial stone, which could be both a positive and a negative aspect, depending on the personal preferences of the person who will be using it. There are a number of artificial stones, which are sold with a hand-painted finish, which is intentionally provided to get the result of a unique appearance.
The common belief is that natural stone is more expensive when compared to artificial stone, due to its originality and uniqueness. You may be surprised to find out that this may not always be the case. Often, man-made stone turns out to be less affordable and not so accessible. It takes a lot of effort, energy, and machinery to produce artificial stone. This puts additional pressure on its cost as the investment made needs to be returned. For stone manufacturers to be able to make a profit, they sometimes increase their prices to reach higher scopes of natural stone tiles.
However, let’s not forget that artificial stone is about 30% lighter than natural stone and every tile has an identical design. From a practical point of view, its installation is bound to take less time and be at a cheaper price.
Often, the overall cost of your stone project will depend heavily on the chosen design and the specifics. Will the stones need to be further processed to make your dream home a reality? How much waste are you expecting to get from stone that you are unable to use after you finish the renovation?
Another important question to examine when comparing the different types of stone is their durability. Will the product last for a lifetime or will you have to plan another home renovation in a few years to substitute old stone with new?
When comparing natural stone and artificial stone in terms of durability, natural stone will always win. It is easy to maintain and will last for ages. Just imagine the constructions of ancient civilizations, which all used natural stone as a basic foundation. So many monuments have been created using natural stone and they are still here to remind us of what once took place in history.
Natural stone is popular for being less porous. In addition, all it takes to take care of it is a pressure wash. Contrary, man-made stone is not as tough and is likely to get damaged if pressure washed of scrubbed manually.
The final major question we will look at is stone’s versatility and practical use. What can you do with natural stone and artificial stone?
Well, artificial stone can be used for pretty much anything. It can be installed on a range of substrates that don’t have to be structural. Wood frames and masonry are not the only options to choose from. On the other hand, the product is not ideal for cladding but natural stone is a perfect choice. In addition, if you are looking to apply stone around swimming pools, it is advisable to use natural stone rather than artificial stone due to its properties.
When thinking about your next home transformation with stone, keep in mind that artificial stone’s biggest advantage when it comes to installation is that it will not need sealing, while natural stone will. However, during the process, artificial stone may lose some of its beautiful colors as a result of the chemical processes involved in sealing. From natural stone, there are granite options, which also don’t require any sealing so it is your decision to make which one would best fit your home.
Looking at stone flooring, working with natural stone is certainly more time-consuming and demanding. If you opt for artificial stone, the product is usually available in stores and ready to install. To top things up, the process will only take between one and two days. Natural stone will need to be pre-ordered, specially prepared, and the installation will take longer. However, seeing your home with natural stone flooring is extremely rewarding and eye-pleasing.
Making your choice
The world of stones is rich and diverse, full of options to choose from and decisions to make. Now that we’ve covered the basics when it comes to natural stone being compared to other types of stone, we hope that making a choice or your next home design project will be easier and less stress-consuming. If you are working with a professional stonemason or stone veneer expert, it may be useful to organize a casual consultation to get more opinions on the difference between natural stone and artificial stone.