Let’s start with why not natural stone?
Natural stone comes in a variety of patterns, materiality and beautiful colours, most of our man-made tiles are derivatives of some type of natural stone. So what’s my issue with it? Natural stone is typically more expensive than porcelain, if you’ve got a tight budget, natural stone will, more likely than not, break it. Pricing fluctuates dramatically depending on what stone you’re interested in, what size and its current popularity, but overall it’s average cost does not fall below the cost of porcelain tiles. It also fluctuates in colour, just because you see one colour on display, does not mean that is what you’re getting, and sometimes the colour isn’t just a stones through away.
Natural stone also requires maintenance! Yes- I said the ‘m’ word, maintenance, every home-owners’ nightmare. It’s not a lot of maintenance, it requires sealing upon initial installation, and resealing is typically advised every three to five years on horizontal surfaces (flooring and, unrelated to this topic, countertops) and longer on vertical surfaces depending on location and frequency of use.
Not a lot, right? So fine, let’s say you’re willing to spend the money and put in the effort every three to five years for up-keep. Most natural stones are very porous, this is why sealing is recommended, but if the seal wares away or if a spot was missed during sealing, that stone can stain. Bits of dirt and debris will go into the pores of the stone and there is no way to get it out again. Light stone and red wine are the worst combination, if spilt wine isn’t cleaned up quickly enough, it’s your new accent colour! Where ever it may land.
Finally, the last downside of natural stone is its hardness, or lack thereof. It makes the stone great for cutting, but because of its porous character it is more likely to chip.
So what’s left to say about porcelain tile? Basically everything opposite of natural stone. It’s harder so it’s less likely to chip, it has no pores so it will not stain, it’s severely more affordable and it comes in every shade, pattern and colour that natural stone comes in PLUS many more. What I’m trying to say is if you get porcelain, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone (actually many more but I couldn’t help myself!) Now a days it’s pretty typical to see a variety of porcelain tile that looks like natural wood like hardwood flooring or barn-board.
In addition, one of the newest innovations are porcelain slabs, these are giant slabs of porcelain tile that you can use as backsplash, countertop, flooring or for shower walls. This gives a beautiful seamless finish, no need to grout meaning easier to keep clean! They look incredible and have a huge impact on the space due to their oversized pattern and seamlessness. But once we get into these sizes, it’s not very likely that budget is an issue any more.
Don’t be mistaken, I think natural stone has its benefits such as if you manage to chip it, the colour and pattern goes all throughout the thickness of the stone, so you may not notice it (unless you already knew it was there!) Natural stone has its place in the world, it’s traditional, you can get more jagged veneers for fireplaces or accent walls. I’m sure it will make a dramatic comeback in some new and innovative way, I guess what I’m saying is, that time is not now!