Natural stone’s beauty and character are incredibly well known and desired. Many people want the look of real stone in their homes, but in some cases may not want the upkeep that may go with it. For this reason, there has been an explosion of new products in recent years meant to look like stone, but without the upkeep or maintenance. For some people, this may seem like the best of both worlds, and while using many of these materials is the right fit in some cases, there are other situations in which they just don’t compare to the real thing.
The most commonly known man-made material that looks like stone is quartz. This product is made up of about 90% real stone, mixed with resins and pigments for durability. Quickly catching up in popularity with quartz is porcelain, and a new ceramic slab material used on countertops.
All of these materials are scratch resistant, stain resistant, and fairly low maintenance, making them excellent choices for kitchens and other high traffic areas. Unfortunately, while they are often created to look like real stone, they usually lack a lot of stone’s character.
For example, polished porcelain can achieve a nearly glass like finish. But without the pores of natural stone, which is what gives a polished marble or granite depth, the light reflects so much off the surface that it obscures the veining or color of the product.
Ceramic slab and quartz materials may have less of a high polish to them, but their coloration is extremely controlled to within a tight ratio. There is none of the unpredictability of natural stone, which is part of what makes real granite, marble, and limestone so attractive. While there are homeowners who want that tightly controlled coloration, in many homes the material may end up looking a little flat without any of the natural patina that makes stone so beautiful.
While man-made alternatives to natural stone definitely have their place and their following, for others there is nothing like the depth, beauty, and character of real stone. Be sure to pay close attention to the material you install in your home to get the perfect fit for your design.