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Natural Stone vs. Man-made Stone - Facts to Consider - July 18, 2014

One question that comes up most with our clients is whether it is better to use natural stone or man-made stone. Here are some facts to consider when you are designing or remodeling your space.


Price vs Quality

Before you even start, you should have a price range for your project in mind. Natural stone is more expensive than man-made, but the price of the stone also varies depending on the kind of stone you pick and the brand you choose. You can go with a cheaper alternative, but you will find you get what you pay for. Natural stone can last a lifetime if maintained properly saving you money in the long run.

Let’s take a look at the man-made options...

Options for man-made stone include Corian, quartz surfaces, cultured marble, and concrete. If you like natural stone, then you shouldn’t even consider Corian or cultured marble. They’re priced about the same as natural stone, but look like plastic, nothing like natural stone at all.

Concrete gives you many design options and is not terrible as an alternative, but there is a lot of upkeep. It is definitely a high-maintenance product and has been known for cracking and color changing. They stain very easily if it isn’t sealed well, but even citrus juices or other acids will etch them which will mean polishing and re-sealing.

Quartz surfaces are the closest to natural stone. They consist of 93% natural quartz, polymer resins, and other various natural stone products. There are 10 year warranties in most cases for quartz and for the most part stain and impact resistant. You will most likely not get a warranty for natural stone so that is the biggest difference here. We commonly use Caesarstone as the desired choice for man-made quartz slabs.

Porcelain is an alternative that should be considered for its durability, versatility and low maintenance. They are great for bathrooms, kitchens and outdoor areas. Design-wise this allows you to create continuity between indoor and outdoor kitchens. Today’s porcelain has improved with new technologies making it heat and scratch resistant like granite and non-porous like quartz. One benefit is that you could have the same color and pattern on the floors, walls and baseboard.

What are the advantages to natural stone?

With natural stone there is granite, marble, soapstone, limestone, onyx and slate. Granite is the most popular and most practical. It can be used for working areas or places with high traffic. Perfect for kitchen applications, granite is heat proof up to 350 degrees and is very low maintenance. The darker the granite the harder it is in most cases and while you can cut on it, you might leave some scratches. You’ll find you might only have to seal it every 3-5 years. Each countertop is unique – no two slabs are exactly alike, even if you have the same color stone.

Travertine is a natural, rustic product that is similar to limestone. It is easy to clean and can add a nice matte modern finish. It is affordable and can be used in many high traffic areas in your home. Travertine is not resistant to acid spills so that is something to keep in mind.

Take a look at the applications...

It will be important to consider where you want the stone to be and the design of your intended space. If you are working with a kitchen, are you an avid cook? Do you have a lot of kids that spill? You want a material that will work with your lifestyle. Countertops are one of the first things people look at when they walk into a kitchen. A truly beautiful countertop can make less expensive cabinets look better and expensive cabinets look amazing. Countertops are undoubtedly the focal point of any kitchen.

In a bath, it’s the overall look from the sink to the shower or tub and everything in between. Plus it gets more personal as you yourself will be spending a lot of time in here and want it to be not only comfortable but pleasing. Bathrooms require a material that will resist moisture, but the look and feel is something to also think about. Do you want something more rustic and textured or smooth and glossy? Whether you choose natural stone or man-made will need to clean showers, vanities and sinks regularly to keep soap scum away. Acidic or harsh cleaners should definitely be avoided with natural stone.

While man-made stone is not ideal for the kitchen, it is seem more commonly in office or commercial buildings since it is less expensive. Many will choose man-made for desktop surfaces since they are engineered to be completely smooth with no small pits or pock marks. Man-made stone also offers the ability to create truly custom pieces and a more unified look to your design.

No matter what your choice is, Picasso Tile & Stonework works with your budget and design to achieve the look that you want. Specializing in custom tile and stone installations for residential and commercial projects, our team of highly skilled individuals is here to help!