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Porcelain Tiles vs Natural Stone: Which is Best?

Very often in life we want the real deal – the authentic product, not the fake. But when it comes to flooring, and practical considerations are thrown in, making a decision can require more thought.

This is especially true when it comes to the natural stone tiles v porcelain tiles, which are manufactured with many advantages of their own over genuine stone.

Do you follow your heart, and go for traditional stone tiles, or weigh up the apparent performance benefits offered by a stone-effect?

How Stone & Natural Effect Tiles Have Improved

It used to be a fairly straightforward decision because natural effects weren’t very realistic. They tended to have a plastic appearance, with lots of pattern repeats.

However, today, stone effect tiles are highly sophisticated and it can sometimes be quite difficult for the untrained eye to spot the difference between a stone and stone effect.

As well as stone and marble effect porcelain, there are also concrete and cement finishes, as well as woods and metals – all in a fantastic array of colours and textures.

The Benefits of Porcelain Tiles

Here are some of the biggest benefits of using porcelain tiles over natural stone or wood.

Multiple Effects & Finishes to Choose From

Raw concrete and cement, for example, can be very tricky to install or ‘pour’ into place, so a concrete effect porcelain tile finish offers a very convenient alternative, while still maintaining desirable contemporary concrete finishes for your flooring and walls.

Wood effect floor tiles have also found their place in bathrooms, where real wood can be unstable and problematic if it becomes wet; like all porcelain finishes, they’re water-resistant and there are lots of great textured finishes which provide good grip too.

Porcelain tiles are also available in traditional, natural stone effects to give you an authentic look or with patterns for those looking for something a little more distinctive for your tiled surface.

Light, Easy to Install & Handle

Porcelain can be lighter and easier to handle, so the installation process is more straight forward – although professional installation is always recommended, especially with large and thin formats.

No Sealing Required

Porcelain doesn’t generally need to be sealed (unlike stone tiles that should generally be sealed). after it’s been laid and, going forward, tiles are very durable and easy to maintain with a broom, vacuum and mop and bucket as necessary.

Thin Enough to Use Anywhere

If you were looking to achieve a poured concrete effect but lacked the space to install the real thing or wanted a wood effect floor installed over underfloor heating then porcelain is for you.

The thin depth of the tiles mean they can be installed easily over underfloor heating without impacting overall space.

They are also thin and light enough to use as wall tiles where traditional stone tiles would be too heavy or too thick to install successfully.

Strength & Durability

Porcelain is incredibly durable due to the process it undergoes during manufacture.

The minerals used during manufacture are fired to incredibly high temperatures which helps ensure that the finished tiles remain strong long after installation.

The high breaking strength of porcelain tiles can be attributed to the minerals used that make up the tiles.

Stain & Water Resistant

Unlike some natural stone tiles, that can easily be stained or absorb moisture porcelain has a very low rate of water absorption.

This makes porcelain ideal for use in wet rooms bathrooms or kitchens but also a good option for use outside.

Easy to Clean & Maintain

As well as low water absorption making the tiles a better choice for use in kitchens or bathrooms it also means that when the tiles pick up spillages, drips or leaks they are much easier to clean than some natural stone and organic wooden floors.

Porcelain tiles can normally be wiped clean with a damp cloth or mop and bucket as the size of the spillage dictates.

Even more damaging stains can generally be removed with the right tools and cleaning materials quite easily, so you needn’t fear permanent damage of your floors and walls.

Here is more information and advice on cleaning porcelain tiles.

Why Choose Porcelain Tiles?

These various practical features make porcelain a very versatile material that can be used across pretty much every surface.

Very large formats look great across expansive floor areas because there are so few grout lines to interrupt flow, and they work equally well when hung on a wall.

They can also be used outside, so are a great choice for seamless installation from kitchens, living areas and even outside to create patios or terraces.

If porcelain sounds like the perfect choice for you, here’s how to choose porcelain tiles and what to consider before you buy them.

Natural Stone Tiles

But, if you’re a purest, or nothing compares to a real stone floor.

Installation can be a little more labour intensive and a degree of TLC will be needed along the way, but real stone, to a certain extent, ‘live and breathes’.

It’s incredibly dense and hardwearing; it will stand the test of time and it ages beautifully. There are also an endless amount of materials, like limestone tiles, terracotta tiles and marble floor tiles, formats and finishes to choose from, to suit all interior styles and settings. And, there’s something about a material that’s been hand-finished, the detailing is evident. It has soul.

And whilst a stone floors patina will change over time, that’s part of its charm.

It ultimately depends upon what your priorities are as to whether you choose porcelain tiles or natural stone flooring.

For soul and feel, in my opinion, you simply can’t beat the genuine article – but those porcelain effects have certainly come on leaps and bounds and shouldn’t be ignored!

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