Few materials are more beautiful and durable for the home than natural stone or tile. There is a place for stone or tile in just about every room of the home, and a bathroom without even a small area of tile is still a bit unusual. Here are the pros and cons of natural stone and tile:
Natural stone is carved out of the earth, while engineered stone is made of powdered stone, resin and pigment and allowed to cure in forms, much like concrete. Natural stone can be igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary. Igneous stone is formed in or around volcanoes. Granite is this type of stone. Metamorphic stone is formed, over eons, out of another type of stone. Marble, for example, is formed out of limestone. Sedimentary stone is made of layer upon layer of sediment, also laid down over eons. This is sandstone.
The benefits of natural stone begin with its beauty. Colors range from dazzling white to velvety black. Thanks to accessory minerals, stone can be variegated, with stripes, clouds and veins.
As it’s already millions of years old, natural stone are durable and quite likely to last longer than the house. Stone is also heat resistant and easy to clean. Many types of stone are cool to the touch, which makes them ideal for rolling out pastry dough.
One con of natural stone is that most types need to be sealed every few years to protect them from stains and spills. One of the few natural stones that doesn’t need to be sealed is soapstone, though it benefits from being rubbed with mineral oil. Natural stone is also expensive and can crack or chip. Since each piece is unique, it can be hard to fix without the repair showing. Natural stone is also hard, glassware, ceramics and bare feet.
Glazed ceramic tile is made from clay that’s been fired at high temperatures. Clay that is rich in a substance called kaolin and fired at very high temperatures results in porcelain. Tiles that have been fired at lower temperatures result in ceramics such as terra cotta, which is popular for flooring. Because this type of tile doesn’t have a hard glaze like porcelain, it needs to be sealed like natural stone.
A benefit of ceramic tile is that it’s found in a nearly endless variety of colors, patterns and textures. It can be expensive or inexpensive and installed by a DIYer or a professional. Since the color is baked in, it doesn’t fade in sunlight, and is famously water and heat resistant.
The cons are that tile is often installed with grout, which is very porous and needs to be sealed. Individual tiles tend to be brittle, even though they can be replaced.
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