Natural Stone Vs. Ceramic Tile – Which One is Better for Your Home
Mar 28, 2023
The history of human civilization is providing adequate evidence of the use of ceramic tiles. Humans are accustomed to ceramic tiles for almost 4K years. For instance, decorative tiles found in Persia, mosaics were evident in Spain. The renaissance Italy was famous for majolica floor tiles.
Antwerp has known for its beautiful faience. The Netherlands remains points of interest for its tile iconography. China-pottery made from China Clay is the foundation product for the evolution of ceramic tiles manufacturing processes.
Today, the significance of ceramic tiles is increasing thanks to its pricing and enhanced manufacturing technologies. Let’s comparison the merits of ceramic tiles versus natural stones.
Fortunately, we have discussed many basics for the current post in a previous post, “Internal Paving – Merits of Natural Stone vs. Manufactured Materials” so, it is useless to repeat the same basic here. Instead, I prefer to go up and see some advanced things in the current comparison of different construction materials, and one is natural while another is manufactured.
Types of Ceramic Tiles in a Nutshell
Fundamentally, ceramic tiles are natural material at the core. It is clay particles found on Earth. When different impurities or minerals are mixing up with the Clay during the manufacturing process of ceramics, some distinct differentiations spur up. For example,
Glazed Ceramic Tiles contain glaze to make it sturdy, waterproof, and stain-resistance material for the construction industry and pottery industry. The higher percentages of silica like minerals in glazed ceramics make it glossy and create an impervious seal over the surface.
Unglazed Ceramic Tiles consist of sediments like impurities instead of glaze. It renders the outcome from the Kiln very porous in nature and dull in appearance. Thus, unglazed ceramics are exhibiting most of the properties of natural stones like rustic beauty, permeability, etc.
Terracotta Tiles is a unique red Clay found in Mexico and some regions of Europe. When terracotta Clay used in manufacturing the ceramic tiles, it generates distinct hues and patterns; thus, an attractive appearance. Being an unglazed material, terracotta tiles also require regular sealing programs and follow the maintenance procedure required for the porous material.
Porcelain Tiles are a kind of ceramic tile but lack impurities and are processed under high pressure as well as temperature to make it tougher material than ceramic. We have discussed porcelain tiles frequently before so, I avoid diving deeper.
Types of Natural Stones in a Nutshell
In a previous post, “How Natural Stone is Made – All You Need to Know” and “10 Types of Natural Stone That Can Be Found in India and Their Uses,” we have accustomed to different siliceous & calcareous dimensions stones. In a nutshell,
Siliceous stones types mostly used in the industry are:
Calcareous stones type mostly found in the market are:
Ceramic Manufacturing Process
When we look at the chemical composition of the body/bisque of the Clay used in the manufacturing process of ceramic, the different material comes out at different heating and pressing parameters.
We have seen before that the ceramic manufacturing process and content of raw material yield products with different properties and use purposes. For example,
- Earthenware Ceramic products are the outcome of the Clay fired at lower temperatures compared to other processes. It also has high impurities hence, high porosity.
- Stoneware Ceramic products come with standard processes & containing vitreous or semi-vitreous materials. It has medium levels of impurities or mineral content; hence, medium porosity.
- Porcelain Ceramic products require a higher temperature than normal products and contain a high content of Kaolin. It has the lowest impurities; hence, the lowest porous products.
However, the construction industry mostly uses stoneware and some earthenware ceramic category of products and processes. We have already discussed porcelain products in previous blogs so, I avoid repeating the same here.
Pros & Cons of Ceramic Manufacturing Process:
- It requires a high-temperature Kiln process. It means it burns the fuel and emits gases like carbon dioxide in the air.
- It also needs manufacturing setup and structure, including machinery for processes like temperature, pressure, and molding, mixing, coating/glazing, packing, and so on.
- It lets you offer a consistent product with the desired customization in colors, patterns, shapes, sizes, and styles to meet bespoke orders.
- Clay is almost everywhere available on the planet and processes it anywhere.
Natural Stone Obtaining Process
We know natural stones are made by Mother Nature itself with a lot of prolonged processes and yield igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks as raw material. It means nothing is in the hands or under the control of human beings in natural stone making processes. What we are doing:
- Quarrying the natural rocks from quarries located in specific regions.
- Shipping raw material to cutting and processing units.
- Preparing commercially applicable products of natural stones in manufacturing units.
- Distributing the end products to the supplier and retailers in the market.
Here, low and green energy consumption involved in the shipping and cutting units for natural stone producing processes. When we use natural stones, we use entirely green and natural products with natural beauty.
Properties of Ceramic Tiles vs. Natural Stones:
Let’s discuss various physical, chemical, and engineering properties of both kinds of material in this comparative study.
Porosity & Water Absorption
- High porosity ceramic tiles have a high water absorption rate – 10 to 18% and known as earthenware. The earthenware category of ceramic tiles is suitable for wall cladding.
- Low porosity tiles are with less than 3% water absorption capacities and known as stoneware tiles, which are best for countertops, floors, and outdoor paving.
- The lowest porosity ceramic is known as porcelain, with less than 0.5% water absorption and excellent material in the dimension industry.
- The porosity of natural rocks varies from calcareous to siliceous types of rocks. The calcareous natural stones have comparative higher porosity with a high absorption rate than siliceous natural stone products.
- Low porosity stones like quartzite and granites are excellent choices for flooring, countertops, and exterior paving.
- Medium to high water absorption materials includes both categories of stones, including sandstone, slate, and limestone, which are a better choice for exterior applications. Marble has high porosity and soft, so it is a better choice for interior applications.
Strength & Hardness
Fundamentally, the porosity of the material is directly related to the density of the mass. It means if unglazed ceramic is low in density index so, low in the strength and harness parameters like modules of rupture, compressive strength, and load-bearing capacity. The reverse is true for low porous glazed ceramic tiles and porcelain. These materials are competing with natural stones despite the compact sizes.
We know that most of the natural rocks are porous less or more by nature. Quartzite and granites are low porous due to the high density and presence of quartz/silica. Whereas, marbles and limestone are softer material due to the presence of calcites & organic substances in its composition. Thus, siliceous stones are suitable for external uses, while calcareous stones are beautiful with interior usage.
Despite high hardness and strength like durability parameters, glazed ceramic tiles have a moderate lifespan compared to natural stones. Blunt forces and brittle nature render the ceramic material less durable against sturdy natural stone types.
We have discussed a lot about the durability of natural stone in a post, “The Durability of Natural Stone – All You Need to Know.” According to it, natural stones are durable and long-lasting (longevity) material.
The production process of ceramic tiles involves heating of the Clay/body at a range of 1K to 3K+ temperature. Low permeability and glaze or Kaolin like constitutes make ceramic and porcelain good heat resistance material for kitchen countertops like spaces.
All types of natural stones are not good at heat resistance, but selected kinds of stone types let you serve your purposes. Granites are excellent choices for the kitchen, while sandstone is the best material for hot regions for exterior applications like patio paving and decking.
Non-glazed ceramic tiles are poor at stain resistance due to high porosity and water absorption rate. However, glazed ceramic and porcelain varieties are completely staining resistance. Such varieties never need sealing or coating like processes and never get deep stains.
Calcareous stones are inferior at stain resistance, but siliceous stones, mainly granites, and quartzites, are better in performance.
Sandstone, slate, and marbles require regular sealing program and provide sufficient stain-resistant material for outdoor applications.
Ceramic is an engineered tile. So, you can easily make its surfaces anti-skid to use in wet areas and outdoor applications like swimming pool decks, paths, and so on.
Natural stones need various treatments to get surface finishes. Apart from glossy surfaces, most of the stone finishes end in slip-resistant material for interior and exterior uses.
Ceramic tiles are human-made material. It means you can get enough variations in colors, grains, patterns, and styles. You can mimic wood, plastic, and natural stone materials by adding desired pigments and decorating stuff in the body or the post-production processes.
Natural stones have natural beauty, which is unparalleled at all. None human-made material can yield natural stone-like unique materials. Grains, veins, and patterns are nature-born. Different hues and shades due to variations in minerals and compositions give natural stone some high aesthetic values.
Ceramic tiles have a moderate lifespan and low aesthetic value compared to natural stone products. Thereby, it has low property value or reselling value in the property market.
Natural stones are alluring in appearance. They are durable and long-lasting when used in a property. They always increase the reselling value and aesthetic value of the property when used appropriately.
We know ceramic tiles are brittle and breakable against the blunt forces. So, any mistake during the installation process results in severe damage hence increases the overall costs of installation. It means you cannot think of a DIY route for your projects.
Many natural stone outdoor applications encourage DIYers like path and patio paving. However, interior decoration demands skilled stonemasons. The installation cost of natural stones mainly depends on the intricacies involved in the project.
Cleaning & Maintenance
We know glazed ceramic tiles and porcelain are impervious materials. You even never require regular sealing and coating programs. Simple cleaning and washing are enough to keep tiles vibrant. Of course, unglazed material demands the same routine for cleaning and maintenance you need for the natural stones.
Cleaning and maintenance of natural stones depend on the types of stones. Calcareous stones demand more attention and regular cleaning, washing, and sealing programs. However, most of the siliceous stones need fewer intensive programs and easy to clean and replace.
What Is the Best? Ceramic Tiles or Natural Stones?
We have gone through almost all aspects of info required for the comparison shopping for the dimension stones/tiles. So, we can draw the following conclusions based on it.
- Ceramic proves the best choice when you need it for a moderate lifespan project, and the cost is one of the top priorities.
- Natural stones are cost-effective only when you need them for a long-term project and wish to improve your property values/reselling value.
- If you are running after the natural look-n-feel, natural stones can give natural beauty along with several advantages in terms of aesthetic value.
- You can take advantage of natural stones only when you make the right choices out of a long list of different types of natural rocks.
If your concerns are quality material and the right guidance along with it, World of Stones USA is an ideal destination for it.