Natural stone paving slabs used to be the go-to option for patios. Now, porcelain tiles have joined the mix – but do they provide a viable alternative to tried-and-tested stone slabs, or perhaps an even better option?
In recent years, external porcelain tiles have come on leaps and bounds. The new breed of textured, natural stone effects provide a tough and practical surface – and their looks are convincing too. Here, we compare stone and porcelain paving, to help you make the best choice for your patio, path or pool surround.
Pros of Natural Stone Tiles
Natural Stone Aesthetic:
Being entirely authentic, natural stone slabs create a completely natural look.
Design options for Natural Stone:
Stone pavers are offered in many different shades, finishes, formats and materials. Limestone and sandstone are the most popular options, but others include slate, granite, travertine and marble. NB. We recommend a minimum thickness of 20-40mm for outdoor installations.
Durability of Natural Stone:
Stone is a hardwearing material. Some types of stone are more robust than others because they’re denser.
Practicality of Natural Stone:
Stone pavers generally have a textured surface, so they provide good grip underfoot.
Natural Stone Maintenance:
Stone pavers are easy to look after. We recommend sealing with a water-based protector after installation. Regular sweeping and periodic cleaning with a suitable detergent will maintain the stone’s aesthetic and non-slip surface. We recommend LTP’s ECOPROTEC range of eco-friendly, water-based sealers and maintenance treatments.
Eco credentials of Natural Stone:
Stone is a completely natural green building material. Stone tiles and paving slabs don’t require any other materials and stone can be quarried sustainably. It is also recyclable – and reclaimed stone pavers are also available.
Cons of Natural Stone Pavers
Moisture and UV resistance:
Most stone is slightly porous and it will need to be protected from water and stains, to maintain its just laid look. Stone can also be damaged by frost and is prone to algae, moss and black spot, which can make the surface slippery. UV-rays can also cause stone to fade; this is more noticeable with darker stone. However, all of these issues can be addressed by treating the stone with a suitable sealer to protect it. Faded surfaces can also be restored with treatments like ECOPROTEC Blackstone Sealer & Restorer.
Pros of Porcelain Tiles
Porcelain Tile Aesthetics:
Good quality porcelain pavers can create a very realistic natural look with a contemporary twist, choose from our; concrete effect porcelain for porcelain tiles that closely resemble natural stone.
Porcelain Tile Design options:
External porcelain tiles are offered in many different colours, finishes and formats. Stone effect porcelain and wood-effect porcelain tiles are the most popular options for hard landscaping projects. NB. We recommend a minimum tile thickness of 20mm for external installations.
Durability of Porcelain:
Porcelain is incredibly hardwearing, colourfast and is resistant to most stains, scratches, moisture and frost.
Practicalities of Porcelain Tiles:
Textured tiles provide grip underfoot. Look for designs with an R11 anti-slip rating.
Maintenance of Porcelain:
External porcelain tiles are easy to look after. They don’t need to be sealed and will benefit from application of a pre-installation barrier treatment. Regular sweeping and periodic cleaning with a suitable detergent will help prevent dirt and residue from building up. We recommend LTP’s ECOPROTEC range of eco-friendly, water-based sealers and maintenance treatments.
Eco credentials of Porcelain:
Porcelain tiles are made from clay, finely-ground sand and a mineral called feldspar. They do not contain VOCs. Their production produces little waste and raw materials can, potentially, be recycled.
Cons of external porcelain pavers
Staining during installation:
Porcelain can be prone to staining during installation; grout and resin can be difficult to remove from the face of the tile, especially in surfaces that have a very pronounced texture. To prevent this, we recommend pre-treatment with ECOPROTEC Porcelain Tile Protector.
Porcelain vs Natural Stone Tiles & Flagstones; Which is Best?
Both stone and porcelain pavers provide a great option outdoors. Stone tiles require a little extra care after installation, whilst porcelain tiles can be more susceptible to issues during installation. But, in each case, these can be easily overcome by using the correct treatment, be it a pre-installation barrier, sealer or cleaner. At the end of the day, it’s really down to personal choice – do you prefer the real mccoy or its contemporary alternative? For more advice, read our blogs: Using stone flooring outside and How to choose porcelain tiles or how to choose limestone tiles if you’d prefer natural stone. For inspiration and to shop, see our Floors & Wall tile collections.
To discuss your next landscaping project – and the different options for paths, patios and pool surrounds – contact the Indigenous team by calling 01993 824200, email [email protected] or visit the showroom.Back to News