Natural Stone vs Engineered Stone – Which is the Best Option?
To the untrained eye, there is hardly any noticeable difference between natural stone and engineered stone. Consequently, many homeowners are unaware that they are purchasing materials manufactured from a lab when they are shopping for countertops. Granite countertops are constructed using slabs of granite rock sourced from natural quarry sites, however, on the other hand, engineered stone countertops are created in a factory, using both natural and human-made materials.
Natural stone and engineered stone are both aesthetically pleasing and durable, however, you have to note the essential differences between the two options. In this article, we will be discussing these differences and help you to decide which material is most ideal for your needs, preferences, and budget.
Choosing Between Natural Stone and Engineered Stone
When selecting the material for your countertops, splashbacks, walls or floor, you’ll be wanting to opt for one that will add a beautiful finish to your abode. Aside from that, you need to think about the durability of the material to withstand your daily use. It would not make sense to buy expensive and exotic stone when you are going to use the material in an area with high-traffic, likely causing damages beyond repair.
As its name suggests, this material is a naturally forming stone. That said, natural stone has existed for thousands of years, and stone suppliers quarry them from different locations around the globe. It is worth noting that the area from which the material is sourced can be a significant determinant in the colour and type of the stone. Moreover, every slab of natural stone is unique with no two pieces ever being exactly alike.
What are the Advantages of Natural Stone?
One of the great qualities of natural stone is its resistance to scratches, stains, and chipping. However, it is important not to confuse ‘resistant’ to the prefix ‘proof’. This is a common misconception about natural stone, so it is essential that you choose a material that will suit your lifestyle.
When you shop for natural stone, you will be able to choose from a broad spectrum of colours, styles, types, patterns, porosity, and price. Its vast and varying range of veining and colours are what makes it entirely different from engineered stone. What’s more, you can expect every slab to be a beautiful piece of art painted by Mother Nature. As we’ve mentioned, no two pieces are ever alike.
Since the material is an item that forms naturally, it is continuously evolving. Moreover, natural stone is abundant around the world, making it a sustainable resource. Since it’s comprised of one pure ingredient, natural stone allows us to lessen our environmental footprint while helping local and global industries. Of course, we can always recycle damaged slabs and turn them into engineered stone.
Here at Aurora Stone, we provide pre-treated natural stones that feature low porosity. The only maintenance you’ll need to perform is wiping spills immediately to avoid stains, and every six months or so, you’ll also need to reapply a sealant. With proper maintenance and care, natural stone can last a lifetim. However you can always ask a professional to repair scratches and chips.
What are the Disadvantages of Natural Stone?
When it comes to natural stone, the price is often not the determinant of function or quality. There are many expensive materials that are more porous, making them softer and prone to scratches, so you should not depend on price alone when choosing the best material for you. It’s also worth noting that natural stone materials can be weighty, so if you’re using it for cabinets, you must ensure that you have a sufficient structural reinforcement put into place.
You also have to consider the natural qualities of the material, and therefore you must not expect to get the exact piece you see in a showroom. The colour, veining, and brightness may vary, depending on where the slab was cut from and how that cut was made. Here at Aurora Stone, we can gladly provide you with more detailed photographs of the tiles. If you wish, you can even visit our showroom to look at some of our sample countertops.
First released in the market in the late 80’s, engineered stone is a human-made product which consists of natural stone aggregates, resins, and colourants. Manufacturers developed this due to the demand for a denser product that offered a more consistent look. It is worth noting that the primary ingredient of most engineered stone slabs is quartz—a highly durable mineral.
It is true that engineered stone is generally more affordable than natural stone. However that is not always the case. Various factors determine the price of the material, and one of these include the applications’ design. Keep in mind that the layout of your kitchen largely determines how much material will be wasted, therefore affecting the overall price.
What are the Disadvantages of Engineered Stone?
Some people do not like the uniformity and colour of engineered stone, claiming that it appears to be ‘too perfect.’ For them, the unnatural appearance is unsightly. It is important to note that this is not necessarily true and it is based solely on personal preferences. So, if you are someone who prefers more unique pieces, an engineered stone may not be ideal for you.
It is true that engineered stone is highly durable and resistant to scratches and chips, however, when it gets damaged, the slab can be challenging to repair. You should also know that with engineered stone, the seams can be more noticeable. Therefore it is essential to hire an expert installer who can lay the material seamlessly.
So, which is better—natural stone or engineered stone?
As you can see, both materials have their advantages and disadvantages. Suffice to say, no one type of product can be considered ‘better’ than the other. If you’re choosing natural stone over engineered stone, or vice-versa, you’re mainly choosing based on your definition of value and quality.
On the other hand, if you’re still having trouble determining which material would be ideal for your countertops, do not hesitate to contact Aurora Stone today! Our knowledgeable and friendly sales team will gladly answer your enquiries and provide you with a free quote!