Porcelain v Natural Stone – Which is Best?

Porcelain v Natural Stone Image

Porcelain v Natural Stone – Which is Best?

Here at Caledonian Stone, we can’t give you an answer as to which option is best between Porcelain & Natural Stone Paving. There is an array of different positives and negatives to each option and one might suit the needs of your project better than the other! In this blog, we will go over the good and bad of both paving choices and hopefully help you make an educated decision for your new garden patio!


When we talk about natural stone and porcelain, we have to consider a few different factors that will vary between the 2 options. These factors are durability, maintenance, longevity, finish & colour options, installation and price.

 

Durability, Maintenance & Longevity

RECYCLE GRAPHIC

Due to porcelain paving being man made rather than a naturally occurring element such as sandstone, granite or slate, it means the creation of the paving can be manipulated in such a way to ensure it has specific properties like being non-porous and having high durability. Making it a very desirable option. Unlike natural stone, porcelain is more eco-friendly. The production of porcelain involves the combining of a few raw materials such as clay & sand along with 100% recycled ground tile bi-products which are then heated to very high temperatures to compress and seal each slab to reinforce and strengthen, removing the need for it to be sealed or polished with any harmful chemicals which will further reduce the length of the project and costs as a whole.

 

DENSITY GRAPHIC

For exterior use, any paving option should have a low water absorption rate. This means the tile should be low to non-porous and have high density to prevent water absorption. Water absorption in your paving is not desired and can cause cracking or algae growth and ultimately mean your patio will need replaced much sooner!

Porcelain being non-porous, means that it has less than a 0.2% water absorption rate. Whereas the water absorption rate of limestone can be up to 12%. This is an important factor to consider when choosing a material for your patio especially if you live in a climate with a lot of rain, you may want to choose porcelain. Exposing any outdoor paving material to repeated moisture as well as recurrent freezing and thawing cycles, will have an affect on its overall durability and longevity, if it has a lower density.

 

R11 SLIP RATING GRAPHIC

Porcelain also boasts a certified slip rating which natural stone doesn’t. Our outdoor porcelain paving is consistently rated at an R11 on the anti-slip scale. This means that come rain, ice or snow, your patio will be safe for traffic with no risk of slips or falls. Being weather resistant is also beneficial in the summer as porcelain paving will not change colour in the sun over extended exposure like natural stone would.

Natural stone is rarely different from its naturally mined state so does require regular maintenance as well as extra time spent sealing and finishing after it has been laid to be safe and slip free. While natural stone is not slip tested, depending on the type of stone, will determine its slip resistance. For example, a riven sandstone will have a good amount of texture to prevent slips whereas a honed sandstone will be smoother a less slip resistant. Natural stone is mined from quarries all around the world and takes thousands of years to form. This is often overlooked when we see the finished marble countertops or outdoor patios today, it is easy to forget where this beautiful material originated.

 

CHEMICAL GRAPHIC

A lower density paving like natural stone, will also encourage the growth of algae & mould as water is absorbed under the surface and trapped, causing bacteria to grow and spread and ultimately ruin the look of your beautiful patio. Regular cleaning using specific stone patio solutions is required in this case and can cost a lot to maintain!

Porcelain does not require any regular maintenance or special solutions. A simple hose down to remove surface dirt or debris is sufficient in renewing the sparkle your patio had on day one! This can be done as and when needed but is not a requirement for its longevity.

 

Finish & Colour Options

Due to the increasing demand for porcelain, there is an ever growing range available to suit every preference. Here at Caledonian Stone, we have a vast range of different porcelain options for your project. Anything from our modern & contemporary Trafalgar Range to a more natural & timeless option like our Carlo Range. Whatever your preference on colour, you’re sure to find something you like!

Trafalgar Beige Porcelain Paving Carlo Rust Porcelain Paving

Natural stone paving comes in a variety of different options – granite, sandstone, limestone & slate. Each one boast an array of naturally occurring colours & finishes. Despite being limited in options compared to porcelain, if you prefer a more natural and rustic look, natural stone is the option for you. Each paver has its own texture and finish so you will never get 2 the exact same! This is what some people love about natural stone and prefer the untouched look!

Desert Sand Sanstone Paving Midnight Black Limestone Paving

 

Installation

Installing both porcelain & natural stone takes a lot of skill and practise! We always recommend hiring a professional landscaper to complete the task for you so you can ensure you will get the most out of whatever paving choice you go with. It is important to follow a series of steps in order to make your patio safe & secure. Look out for our detailed blog on How to Lay Porcelain Paving coming soon!

When installing porcelain, the tiles are typically thinner & more lightweight but denser at around 20mm in thickness than a granite or sandstone slab. This means that extra care must be taken to prevent breakages and ensure the laying on top of the subbase is safe & has a high level of sturdiness & binding to ensure longevity. Porcelain is most commonly calibrated in a way that each edge is smooth and uniformed, making for easier laying and an overall professional and polished look. It can be simple to cut porcelain should you need a rounded edge or nicely finished step.

Natural stone, being the naturally occurring option, is often more uneven and can be harder to get a levelled surface during installation. Stone paving is recommended to be from around 18mm-20mm in thickness to ensure it withstands in high traffic areas like patios and driveways. Our natural stone products here at Caledonian Stone are calibrated within this range. Natural stone can be easier to cut than porcelain however, as the rougher edges and unpolished look of the slab means there is some leeway with imperfect cuts and joints. Dependant upon the requirements of the project, sometimes the quicker option.

Cost

Porcelain is known to be the pricier but more quality option from around £37 per m2 + vat as it takes more production than natural stone, however, due to its increasing popular demand, it is becoming more readily available and production of it, more mainstream.

Natural stone was always the popular ‘go-to’ option when thinking of an outdoor patio paving material from around £34 per m2 + vat – simply because it was the only one, however, with porcelain taking over the market, you can now achieve the exact same look of natural stone with all of porcelains benefits.


Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the question of – Porcelain or Natural Stone? – they can both be suited to different projects with different requirements. We can’t ignore the beauty of Natural Stone however, we do believe Porcelain boasts more benefits and is the more superior & durable option. If you are thinking about a new patio and would like to hear a bit more about our paving options, get in touch with one of our paving experts today!

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