The word “natural” in natural stone conveys a sense of tranquility and smooth indestructibility, so for luxury products it is often the client’s first preference. However, porcelain is another strong, eye-catching material to work with, and it may sometimes be a better choice than natural stone.
Over a number of years working with hotel specifiers and contractors, we found that whilst natural stone is beautiful and long-lasting, porcelain is both of these and more.
Another one of the biggest advantages of using porcelain over natural stone is the ease of care and the lower levels of maintenance required. Porcelain is much easier to look after, because it is fired at a very high temperature which makes it tougher, resilient to scratches and abrasion. Porcelain is a lot harder wearing than natural stone, and so tends to last longer.
Natural stone is a great conductor of heat and, along with porcelain, can work very efficiently with underfloor heating. On the other hand, porcelain is frost-resistant and retains its colour even in direct sunlight, making it a perfect material for outdoor projects. Porcelain is resistant to moisture which keeps it in condition much longer and also makes it much harder to stain.
Another major advantage of using porcelain over natural stone is the uniformity of the sample from one batch. Natural stone is unpredictable in colour, tone and pattern, but a cut of porcelain delivered to site will look identical to the sample that the order was made from.
The intricate veins and whirls of real stone cannot be predicted or changed but can be beautifully imitated by porcelain. Porcelain is also not limited by the narrow range of colours that natural stone occurs in – porcelain can be manufactured in all colours.
There was a time when porcelain came printed and pixelated, but we can now replicate natural stone so well that it would take an expert to recognise natural stone or a porcelain stand-in. Porcelain perfectly imitates natural stone.
Finally, sometimes budget constraints can limit the specifier’s preferred choice or material. However, with the technological advances in today’s porcelain industry, budget no longer has to be seen as a restricting factor on a project.