Inspiration / Natural vs Engineered vs Porcelain Stone

Natural versus Engineered versus Porcelain Stone

With the wide range of stone selections on the market today, the differences can be overwhelming when deciding on a stone product that matches your application. As technology has progressed, stone manufacturers have continuously developed new and improved ranges of stone slabs to meet the consumers functional yet aesthetic requirements. Now, with endless options of quartz engineered stone available, a relative newcomer has joined the market; porcelain stoneware.

 

 

What does it mean for a material to be natural, engineered or porcelain?

Most stone materials can be classified into three main groups:

1. Natural Stone. This means that large blocks of raw stone are cut from a mountain or quarry, processed into slabs and sold to stone fabricators as natural marble, granite or quartzite slabs.

2. Engineered Stone. For engineered surfaces, the same natural materials such as quartz are processed by compressing the material into a denser and less porous slab improving the durability and consistency of the slabs.

3. Porcelain Stoneware. To produce porcelain involves an even more technologically advanced production process as raw clays and materials are compressed then subjected to a firing process at over 1100 °C. Although the process is more advanced, the resulting surface is incredibly resistant to wear, mechanical stress and thermal stress.

 

So, what are the main differences?

sometext Florim Stone Marble Statuario used as an amazing feature benchtop.
Designer Credits:Michael Cooper Photography:Mark Scowen

 

 

Aesthetic Consistency

Although the beauty from natural stone is obvious, this stone type contains large variation in aesthetics due to the many factors of its product. These include the quarry location, climate and how the stone has been formed. Unlike porcelain or engineered stone, this prevents natural stone manufacturers from guaranteeing a certain look of the slab.
However, by pressing natural materials to form engineered stone and porcelain, the end user is given the choice of guaranteed custom colour and surface texture as well as being ensured with a consistent quality and look throughout the entire slab.

Performance Differences

Again, the processing of raw materials to form a slab or tile causes the porosity and material strength is greatly enhanced compared to natural stone slabs. Although engineered stone is still slightly porous (this can be easily solved by stone sealant that does not affect the surface texture or look) the porosity is far superior than natural stone. This makes the care and maintenance of natural stone a somewhat substantial task as any moisture such as water, wine or fruit juices can badly stain and tarnish the slab. With porcelain which is compressed then processed through controlled furnaces, the material is given even more qualities which make it resistant to mechanical and thermal stress and wear.

 

Customisation

Your natural stone slab will be unique…just like a fingerprint, so there’ll always be an element of surprise with your natural stone slab. However, the engineered stone and porcelain ranges today can provide you nearly the same uniqueness. With widespread colour options available the end-user is also given guaranteed colour consistency as well as opportunities to customise your texture, finish, thickness and composition.

With some porcelains, the surfaces are subliminally printed onto for even greater customisation. In fact, Florim, a porcelain manufacturer produces a Marble Collection where the beautiful marble veining is created from the processing of natural materials.

 

 

So, what should I go for?

Each stone type varies in their aesthetics, performance, customisability and maintenance which allows you to choose the stone that best suits your lifestyle.

Natural stone is beautiful, raw and unique yet the maintenance to keep the surface looking pleasing must be considered. Pleasing to the touch, natural stone will have a natural undulating surface and texture in combination with its uniqueness.
Engineered stone and their wide range of consistent surface colours give you the opportunity to match your surface to cabinetry, sink ware, tapware or handle-ware. This stone type contains the natural texture of stone with less porosity, higher material performance and aesthetic consistency.
Finally, porcelain is perhaps the most forgiving and functional yet beautiful and customisable. This surface will maintain a consistent look over its long lifetime due to its strong resistance to any form of wear. Not only does porcelain boast material superiority but also offers possible range of choices guaranteeing attention to detail, stylistic research and tailoring.