Whether you are redesigning a kitchen or remodelling an entire home, the type of material you choose for your countertops and floors set the tone for the entire project. A key decision is choosing between natural or engineered stone. This will often come down to cost, practicality, and a designer's personal preference.
Engineered stone has come a long way in the past few years, often requiring a double take even for the trained eye. Understanding the facts about each stone type will not only help you make better decisions for the project, but help you impress your client.
Let’s start by defining the differences between the two stones, then dive into the pros and cons of each.
As the name suggests, natural stones exist in nature. They are created as a result of various minerals and molten lava fusing together over time, giving each stone its own distinct texture and pattern. The colour of natural stones depends highly on where they were quarried.
Pros of natural stone
- There are endless options available so you are sure to find the right stone for your project
- No two slabs are the same, so each piece of marble in your project is unique;
- Natural stone tiles and slabs outlive most other materials;
- This material is durable, solid and hardwearing;
- You can cut and carve natural stone into any shape ;
- Natural stone slabs and floorings are easy to clean and maintain; and
- Nothing screams luxury like marble.
Cons of natural stone
- If you ever need to replace a floor tile or a part of your countertop, there is no way to find an exact match for the existing stones. This is particularly true for granite and marble;
- Natural stones are more expensive than engineered stone;
- They require ongoing maintenance and annual sealing;
- Most natural stones are very porous, which makes them susceptible to staining and discolouration; and
- Repairing chipped stone can be rather difficult or even impossible, in some cases.
Engineered stone is a man-made alternative for natural stone and is created in factories. They comprise both natural elements (ground natural stone) and artificial elements (adhesives such as polymer resins and pigments).
Engineered stones are quickly gaining popularity for their uniform colouration, durability, and budget-friendly options. Unlike natural stones, the engineered stone tiles and slabs are available in a wide variety of hues with even pigmentation and uniform pattern. They are also seamed and uniform in thickness.
Pros of Engineered Stone
- Engineered stone tiles and slabs are customizable in design and size;
- You can buy this material in a wide range of colours and designs;
- If you ever need to replace a piece of your countertop or a floor tile, you can easily purchase its replacement from the market as long as it’s from the same batch;
- Engineered stone is not porous, which makes it impervious to stains and discolouration;
- Engineered stone is easy to clean and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance;
- It is more affordable and just as durable as marble; and
- Some engineered stones are even harder than the natural ones.
Cons of Engineered Stone
- Engineered stone is not easy to shape, so are not ideal for curved surfaces;
- Engineered stones do not have any unique characteristics, so designs tend to look more uniform; and
- Engineered tiles are prone to chipping if the edges aren’t installed correctly.
When selecting the material for your countertops, splashbacks, walls or floor, you should opt for one that will add a beautiful finish to your design and meet the clients requirements. As you can see both natural and engineered stone are beautiful, so it’s important to consider the usability, budget and overall design aesthetic you’re going for.