Engineered Stone vs Natural Stone: What's your pick?

Mar 29, 2022

Interior is a genuine reflection of one’s personality and getting it right is a challenge. It is something which is intertwined with your everyday life; which elevates your mood and engages with your mundane duties. Therefore, one needs to be very careful in designing and selecting correct elements that evoke the sense of surprise, beauty and authenticity besides being practical.

We’ll talk about one of those frequently used materials in this article; stone. The discussion spans over different types of stone in terms of manufacturing, their magical quality and setbacks and how aesthetically they can pair back into your interior with the other elements.

We think, selecting stone is a crucial step while designing a space, since stone slabs are large in size and fixed as once installed, one doesn’t tend to change it anytime soon.  It is true that choosing the perfect stone for your home seems daunting with so many options available. However, a few variables that you need to consider while purchasing stone are  the stone pattern, whether it is more calm or more busy? Is it more uniform or does it have bold sections? When looking at natural stone, the pattern of the slab can vary from bundle to bundle. The colours can even vary based on the quarry location and lot number of that particular cut. On the contrary, engineered stone can be found with a uniform pattern and colour.

Let’s dig deep into the matter and understand which stone suits the best for a bespoke interior and which one is a big no for the other kind!

Natural Stone

Natural stone is a diverse building material that occurs in a range of stunning options such as: granite, marble, sandstone, travertine, and limestone. It is a beautiful material that is ideal when you want to make a statement with a unique surface found in nature. When designing your countertop, fireplace, stairs, or other interior space, natural stone can always be an option. Beyond choosing the colour and finish, you’ll also have the opportunity to choose an edge detail in order to achieve the depth and interest of the space.

Generally, they are found to be heavier when compared to engineered stone and are more resistant to external factors as they have been formed under variable climatic conditions. The colour variation and pattern difference in natural stone can be of one’s boon while the other may discard it. However, in our sense, natural stone always brings in the classic touch to a space and enriches with its grandeur.

Next, we would like to discuss some of the natural stones which are used abundantly.

Granite

Granite often makes an appearance in every household owing to its superior resiliency, beauty and longevity. What Makes Granite So Consistently Popular? Fully-formed granite is nearly as durable and long-lasting as the steel beams of a skyscraper. Therefore, it's a top choice for countertops and tiles, as well as plenty of other construction projects. Because it's a naturally-forming material, it offers a greener, more eco-friendly alternative to other materials. Besides, it offers various hues along with patterns like grains, veins and clouds.

What Are the Applications for Granite?

From kitchen counters to the pyramids, granite is a stone with nearly infinite possibilities, as it is naturally non-porous. While It's being sculpt able, it’s being used as countertops, curbing, paving stones, building stones as well. The resilience and enduring elegance of granite agrees well with the functionality of a house.

Marble

Is it time that you install marble in your kitchen?

Marble is a natural stone which is beautiful, elegant, and unique. It has exceptionally high thermal conductivity. The rock can retain its coolness for longer than practically any other kitchen surface, making it  ideal for kitchen countertops.

The color ranges from white to black with different tints and hues that carries across the entire interior. Since, the kitchen is at the center of a family life, it needs that extra care while curating and marble countertops no doubted elevates the mood of the kitchen. The subtlety of the surface, the calmness in its patterns and the cool it retains throughout makes it more than something merely functional.

It's a unique and distinctive material that transcends interior design fads and can last for hundreds of years. Therefore, it is the time to install this quintessential stone in your home interior.

Limestone

Limestone is a sedimentary rock formed in clear, warm, shallow marine water. It  is either organically formed from years of buildup of shell, coral, algal and other debris or chemically formed by the precipitation of calcium carbonate from lake or ocean water. The appearance and characteristics of the stone vary depending on the presence of certain materials.

Limestone comes in white, yellowish white, pink, light red and sometimes in black capturing a very enchanting feeling. However, it is restricted within a few limitations as well. The stone is less durable and more susceptible to scarring than marble or granite. It is also very vulnerable to acids, which could etch the surface and leave permanent damage, if not sealed properly.

Limestone is comparatively a delicate stone which needs resealing every year so that it doesn’t catch any stain and needs to be cleaned with a special combination of chemical cleanser. In spite of the shortcomings, the stone adds sophistication to any interior, thus retreating a space.

Engineered Stone

While the world is advancing with technology, the stone industry also didn’t hold back from experimenting with something new: creating stone. Yes, you heard us right. There is a break from the idea of quarrying stone naturally only and curating stone with natural stone chips bound with resins and additives under certain heat and pressure. These man made stones are classified as engineered stone. The perks of these stones lie under the fact that they are customizable and possess better physical properties than their parent materials.  The color spreads out uniformly, the pattern and finishes follow continuity which evokes the sense of cohesion in a space and brings in success while tied up with other elements in that space.

On a basic level, they weigh lighter than natural stone. Owing to the manufacturing process, they are comparatively less susceptible to heat, scratches and are stronger than their parent material. The application of these stones are similar to their parent material but with more variety and choices.

Porcelain Slab

Porcelain countertops have a beautiful appeal, besides being  durable and versatile. It is made of fine clay and a mineral called kaolinite. Feldspar, silica, and mineral oxides present in the clay improve the strength and determine the color. As porcelain is an engineered stone, patterns and colors can be added during the fabrication process. It can be of solid color or resemblance of marble, wood grain, concrete finishes or rusted steel. It appears quite natural and coordinates well with the interior without the fear of it getting scorch marks when hot pans are placed on top of it.

Considering the pros of the stone, porcelain has a wide variety of applications. It can be used in both kitchen countertops and bathroom vanity. The material is a beautiful addition to high-end restaurants and hotels and also used as a backsplash.

Solid Surface

Another name in the engineered stones list is solid-surface, which consists of mineral dust (mostly marble) mixed with a variety of plastic resins. The finished countertop has a slightly softer feel to it and the main appeal is that it is easy to fabricate and can create invisibly seamed countertops.

The areas of application of solid surface ranges from furniture, Countertops, Wall tiles, washbasins to bathtubs in any sector of buildings; be it residential, commercial, institutional or hospitals.

The crafted stone is highly durable, non-porous and anti-microbial along with aesthetical benefits. Solid surface is not well known for stain resistance and excessive heat can damage the surface or create dent. However, the stone can be buffed if it gets scratches. The catch of a solid surface is its flexibility in terms of acquiring shape. Therefore, it is a good fit to your interior without  a second thought.

Stone Finishes

After choosing the preferred stone, it is the time for understanding finishes that adds an extra layer of beauty in your design. There are several ones available and you need to be thoughtful about what finish suits your design ideally.

For example,

  • A glossy elegant look can be achieved by polished stone finish. It enhances the properties and color of natural stone surfaces. Interior floor, wall dressing,  kitchen and bathroom countertops are the places where polished stone find their niche. However, its minimal slip resistance disqualifies it from outdoor paving uses.
  • A honed finish provides a flat, dust free finish by removing scratches, etches and abrasions on natural stone surfaces. It is perfect for lobby floors and other high foot traffic areas.
  • A tumbled finish is obtained by tumbling stones in a solution of mild acids, small pebbles, sand and water to wear and soften them. This process gives their surfaces a scuffed and weathered look, which is highly suitable for decorative purposes.
  • A flamed finish results from heating and cooling stone intensely, resulting in  gentle rustic coloration of the stone. It is a perfect choice for outdoor projects like hallways and entrances.

This is a brief summarization of types of stone, their pros and cons along with no. of finishes. Now, let’s take a look at some of the projects and understand how a piece of stone slab sits just right in one space and refreshes the atmosphere.

The image illustrates a kitchen interior with wooden cladding that is accentuated with a dab of deep blue tiles. In order to neutralize the starking blue, the white marble is used as the countertop. The widespread veins on the marble balances out the dense patterns of the blue tiles and also the monolith juxtaposes the several sections of the cladding material.

The white themed kitchen achieves the classic look through the inclusion of the light and the granite countertop. While the busy grains of the slab are in contrast to the plain monochrome, it does not disqualify the theme. The slab steals the show with its fine polishing and seamless appearance that elevates the space to the next level.

The image is the definition of minimalism that gets justified with all the elements used in a correct manner. The one that encapsulates the majority of it is the porcelain slab with clear cut edges and fine textured surface. The stone slab appears to be soft in look and feel and definitely a win-win situation in the given context.

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Ranjinee Mallick

The pen is mightier than the sword. I take this very personal. I read more books, articles and write more than designing spaces. Got all the passion to keep up the zeal till I’m able to hold the pen!!