Many porcelain tiles are made to look just like natural stone tiles. If you want the style of marble or limestone in your house, will porcelain tiles do the trick, or should you invest in the real thing?
While the similarities may fool you, there are certainly differences between porcelain and natural stone tiles. The more you know about stone tile vs porcelain tile, the better you'll be able to decide which one is right for your project.
What's the Difference Between Stone and Porcelain?
Stone tiles are just like they sound: pieces of stone that are quarried from nature. Marble is one of the best-known types, but stone tiles come in all sorts of varieties. Others include onyx, limestone, travertine and slate.
Porcelain is a category of ceramics, and, like many ceramics, it's made of clay. For porcelain, manufacturers typically use kaolin clay, which is a very fine-grade material. It is shaped into tiles and hardened at temperatures that are well above 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Take a look at this video to learn more about the differences between stone and porcelain tiles:
Comparing Stone and Porcelain
To help you decide whether to use stone or porcelain for your project, it's smart to consider each material feature by feature.
On average, putting in a porcelain floor costs between $8 and $15 per square foot. For a marble floor, the cost may be between $9 and $24 per square foot. These prices include both the materials and the installation.
Yes, porcelain tiles typically start at a lower price, but the entry-level price for stone tiles isn't much higher. Also, although porcelain tiles cap out at a lower price than marble, there's plenty of overlap in these two price ranges. You may spend less by installing porcelain, but you may not.
With either variety, keep in mind that intricate patterns, high-end materials and specialized artistry may raise your total cost above these average figures.
You might get more for your money if you install stone floors than if you choose porcelain. On average, porcelain floors bring in a return on investment (ROI) of 55%. The ROI for stone floors starts around 55% but can be as high as 70%.
Marble is sometimes an exception to that rule, though. While it can still increase the overall selling price of your home, its ROI often clocks in under that of porcelain tile.
Both materials can be quite durable. Porcelain's manufacturing process renders it quite hard, and it is in stone's very nature to withstand the elements.
Exactly how durable each is can vary from one variety to the next. For example, some porcelain tiles are rated for outdoor use, but others aren't. Limestone is a harder stone than travertine.
One thing to note is that damage that does occur is usually easier to repair in stone tiles than in porcelain. Stone can be refinished, but scratched or broken porcelain tiles may need to be replaced.
The more porous a tile is, the more readily it will hold onto stains.
Because porcelain is made with ultra-fine clay and fired at extremely high temperatures, not much soaks into it. The layer of glaze on most porcelain tiles further contributes to this quality.
Stone, on the other hand, can be quite porous. Fortunately, applying a sealant over the walls or flooring will help protect the material from spills.
The same qualities that determine whether tiles will absorb stains also factor into whether they can be used in damp areas. Tiles that soak up moisture will eventually damage the surfaces on which they sit.
Porcelain tiles are excellent at keeping out moisture. Grout can soak up liquid though, so the grout lines may still need to be sealed.
Most natural stone tiles do need to be sealed. When sealed, they can be used in many of the same areas as porcelain tiles, including the bathroom, the kitchen, the laundry room and the swimming pool.
Porcelain can be made in any color. It can also be designed with various patterns. Some of these are made to mimic natural stone, and they do a quite good job of it.
With stone tiles, you're limited to the colors found in nature. The benefit of stone, though, is that each quarry offers its own unique shade and veining pattern. Plus, even the most well-crafted porcelain patterns may not be able to match the depth of design that natural stone tiles inherently possess.
Both porcelain and stone floors can be swept and mopped. You can use nearly any cleaner on porcelain but should choose cleaners that are neither acidic nor alkaline for stone tiles.
Many types of stone need to be resealed regularly to keep them from soaking up water or stains. Porcelain itself doesn't need to be sealed, but the grout may occasionally require resealing or replacement.
Stone vs Porcelain: The Choice is up to You
Hopefully, this stone tile vs porcelain tile guide has helped you gain a clearer understanding of which one will work better in your house. Ultimately, the decision often comes down to personal preference.
Either can be a long-lasting, water-resistant surface that contributes to your home decor. Choosing porcelain may lower your project costs or provide overall convenience, but nothing can compare to the classic, one-of-a-kind beauty and investment of natural stone tiles.
If you decide that stone tiles are the right option for you, schedule an appointment with Artsaics to start planning your customized tile project.