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Stone vs. Porcelain Tile

Natural stone and porcelain tile are popular flooring choices for both residential and commercial use.  Both offer a level of natural beauty, bringing an earthy feel to any space where they are installed. While porcelain tile and stone may look very similar, there are a few key differences that you may want to consider. 


Stone Tile

Natural stone has been used as a building material for centuries.  A trip to Europe will have you walking on centuries-old stone tile floors.  Stone varies in hardness. A non-polished finish (such as honed) is recommended when installing a soft stone, marble or limestone, on a high-traffic floor.  Sealing tile with a top quality sealer is recommended. You will be able to remove any stain from a properly sealed stone. Whether Igneous, Metamorphic, or Sedimentary all stone has been created over millions of years and every piece is unique making every installation one-of-a-kind.


Porcelain Tile

Porcelain is the hardest and densest of the ceramic tiles.  To be classified as “porcelain” a tile must have an absorption rate of 0.5% or lower. (In a recent test by the TCNA of close to 1500 tiles labeled, 23% of porcelain did not meet the criteria.)  Unglazed (also called through-body or full-body) porcelain tiles are extremely durable and are commonly used in high-traffic commercial applications such as malls and airports. Almost all porcelain tile sold for residential use is glazed.  The PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) rating of 0 through 5 is a good indicator of the durability and suitability of a particular tile for each situation. For a high-traffic area, a 4 or 5 is recommended. With the latest technologies, glazed porcelain tiles mimicking natural stone can sometimes fool a tile professional into thinking it is real stone. 


The Differences

Maintenance and Durability – Porcelain tiles are easy to keep clean and allow the use of a wide variety of cleaning products.  Softer natural stones are susceptible to scratching and etching but properly sealed are very stain resistant.  Most sealers need to be applied at least once per year. There are sealers available that last 15 years and beyond per application.  Stone should always be cleaned with a PH neutral cleaner.


Installation – In general the installation of stone requires more time than porcelain and in many cases requires more experience. 


Cost – Generally speaking natural stone costs more than porcelain.  Though, there can be exceptions.


Contact Artistic Tile

Depending on your preferences, both natural stone and porcelain tile are great options.  If you need assistance choosing between the two, the experts at Artistic Tile are here to guide you!  Fill out an online contact form, give us a call, or stop by our tile store in Nashua to get started today!


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