Porcelain vs. Natural Stone: Which is the Better Choice for the Exterior of Your Home?
If you’re a home builder, you know the ideal material for the exterior of a house is one that can do everything. If you’re a homeowner, you want a material that looks great and requires very little maintenance. There is a material covering all of these factors, but it’s probably not one that you’d ever guess. Porcelain is very durable and can be used outside, even for the east coast’s harsh winters. Low maintenance and durability make porcelain one of the best materials for a patio or backyard.
With modern manufacturing processes and equipment, today’s porcelain can match the likes of natural stones like marble and travertine in elegance and class. It can provide a luxe look with optimal durability and very little maintenance. Let’s take a closer look at what makes porcelain an ideal choice for the exterior of your home, along with the pros and cons of using natural stone.
What is Porcelain?
The term porcelain refers to a series of ceramics made from a selection of materials, including kaolin and a wide range of minerals. The combination of materials is baked at high temperatures, which gives the porcelain its signature glassy quality. It comes in both unglazed and glazed varieties.
Porcelain is known for its versatility, durability, and visual appeal. Due to its many varied characteristics, porcelain is regarded as “the superior ceramic.” It’s strong yet delicate. Its translucent or white coloration takes pigments and glazes well so that you can decorate it in any way imaginable. It also has an impermeable surface that’s highly resistant to chemical and thermal shocks.
The Difference Between Porcelain and Natural Stone
Granite, sandstone, and slate are three of the most popular natural stones for a home exterior. Marble and travertine have been gaining a lot of popularity amongst homeowners who are looking for more luxurious options. Natural stone is durable and hard-wearing. It can withstand harsh climates for a long-lasting option.
Unlike natural stone, porcelain is a manufactured material that’s making its way into the spotlight for home exterior design thanks to its many positive characteristics. Its affordability and ability to mimic the look of many types of natural stone well while requiring much less maintenance make it appealing to many people. It’s also non-porous and extremely tough. In addition to its ability to withstand harsh weather, it can also withstand extreme temperatures and won’t become too hot in the sun.
While the two share many similar characteristics, the main difference is that natural stone is naturally derived from the earth, where it’s formed naturally. On the other hand, porcelain is a manufactured combination of clays, minerals, and other materials. There are benefits and downsides to both. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of each.
Porcelain vs. Natural Stone: Pros and Cons
Porcelain and natural stone are both popular options for decorating a home exterior. However, each one comes with some upsides and downsides. It would help you to consider the pros and cons of each while keeping your vision in mind.
Pros and Cons of Using Porcelain for Home Exterior
Favored for its versatility and affordability, here are some of the main pros and cons of choosing porcelain for your home’s exterior.
- High-quality porcelain tiles can look and feel just like natural stone
- Available in a wider variety of colors than natural stone
- Virtually impervious to moisture
- Extremely resilient
- Requires very little maintenance
- Due to its lack of pores, installation can become complicated because it can be hard to get adhesives to bond to the tile
- Installation of porcelain requires the use of grout, which requires more maintenance than the porcelain itself
Pros and Cons of Using Natural Stone for Home Exterior
Favored for its timeless style and high level of elegance and luxuriousness, here are some of the main pros and cons of choosing porcelain for your home’s exterior.
- Every piece is unique
- Provides a level of elegance and luxury that’s hard to match
- Raises the value of a home
- It helps make a home more marketable
- Among the most expensive materials available
- Due to the natural irregularities in the surface, installation requires thicker adhesives
- It needs to be installed by an experienced professional. Some types of natural stone, especially marble, will warp if used with the wrong adhesive
- Restrictions in color palettes based on the variation of stone
- Stone is porous and sensitive to moisture, making it prone to staining
- Require regular sealing to stay moisture-resistant
How to Care for Porcelain Outdoors
Porcelain is gaining popularity as an ideal low-cost, low-maintenance alternative to natural stone for home exterior. While it’s easy to care for, it does require some maintenance. Here’s how to care for porcelain to keep it looking fresh.
How to Clean Porcelain
One of the most appealing things about using porcelain for a home exterior is that it’s easy to maintain. If hard water deposits or mildew cover the surface, you can remove them with a simple multipurpose spray cleaner. While porcelain itself can withstand harsh chemicals, acids, and ammonia, it’s not recommended to clean with these agents as they can damage the glazed surfaces and grout surrounding the tiles. The grout is actually more delicate than the porcelain, so you should choose cleaning products compatible with the grout you used. If you use unglazed porcelain for your home exterior, it should be cleaned regularly with neutral-pH concentrated tile cleaners. Whether glazed or unglazed, you should always dry porcelain after washing it.
How to Prevent Scratches and Stains
Porcelain is scratch- and stain-resistant, but it isn’t wholly damage-proof. Try not to expose the surface to permanent dyes or inks, and if the surface is exposed to either, rinse it immediately and clean well with an approved cleaning product. To resist scratching the surface, don’t use abrasive cleaning tools. It’s best to sweep or wipe the surface to remove dust and debris before you clean it.
While porcelain doesn’t require sealing, if you have grout or joints installed with the porcelain, you’ll need to seal those areas. If wax, sealer, or any other floor finishes get on the porcelain surface, you can remove them using an undiluted sealer and adhesive remover. Just apply a liberal amount to the surface and let it sit until the residue on the surface softens. Then, you can wipe it away with a sponge or cotton towel. For stubborn spots, use a non-scratch nylon scrub pad.
Grout is an integral component of porcelain installation, but it requires more maintenance and care than the porcelain itself. Be sure to follow the appropriate installation, upkeep, sealing, and cleaning measures to keep the grout clean and well-maintained.
How to Care for Natural Stone Outdoors
Natural stone provides a durable and elegant option for a home exterior, but one of the downsides is the amount of maintenance it requires. Here are the care and maintenance basics for natural stone on your home’s exterior.
How to Clean Natural Stone
Finer-finished natural stones like marble, travertine, sandstone, and granite require regular and gentle care to stay looking their best. Keep dirt and water off the surface by sweeping, wiping, and dusting regularly. It’s helpful for you to clean it with a specially formulated outdoor stone cleaner. Highly porous stone requires regular surface sealing. If mold and mildew penetrate through the stone’s pores, you can clean them out with a 50/50 solution of water and bleach. You can prevent this from happening by keeping the stone free of moisture, debris, and dirt.
How to Prevent Hazing
The color of natural stone can fade and change after prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. You should always shade the stone wherever possible. Use awnings over walls and a patio roof or umbrella over a deck or patio. Using these protective covers will also make the surface easier to clean as they’ll shield it from debris and dirt as well.
How to Prevent Stains (You can also use Drytreat Sealer)
One of the downfalls of using natural stone to decorate your home’s exterior is that it stains easily. Even wet leaves can leave stains on the surface. If you have a countertop where you keep candles, use a tray under them to prevent oil stains and wax residue. Don’t leave garden tools or any other metal materials prone to rust on the surface because the rust will stain the stone. To clean off stains and rust, spray a 3- to 4-percent hydrogen peroxide mixture on the stain and rub lightly with a granite cleaning pad or soft nylon brush. Let it sit for 24 hours, rinse with water, and dry immediately.
Style Ideas for Your Home Exterior
From stone wall cladding to porcelain pavers and tiles for outdoor patios, there are so many options for styling your home exterior with porcelain, natural stone, or a combination of surface types. One of the most significant features of porcelain is that it can be made to mimic the look of several natural stones, so you can even save money and time on maintenance by using a combination of porcelain and natural stone. Here are some popular style ideas for your home exterior.
Porcelain tiles are an ideal choice for flooring and pavers. They can be made to look like any natural stone but are much more versatile and easy to maintain. They also don’t get as hot in the sun like some natural tiles do, which will keep your space (and feet) feeling cooler on the hottest summer days.
Stonewall cladding provides a chic and rustic touch to an outdoor space. Natural stones like slate, granite, and sandstone offer classic options for outdoor walls, while marble and travertine can be used in areas where you might want a more sophisticated finish. The style options are virtually endless, with many sizes and colors of natural stone to choose from. You can opt for a mix of smooth, large-cut stone pieces for a unique effect or use small stone slabs to give the wall a textured 3-D design.
Due to its high stain-and scratch-resistance level, porcelain is an ideal choice for outdoor tabletops and countertops. Smooth, finished porcelain tiles can create just as elegant a surface for patio spaces as natural stones like marble can. If you choose a natural stone like marble, you’ll have to be very careful about spills, stains, and rust spots as natural stone is prone to stains. It also needs to be sealed regularly, which is time-consuming and will require you to shut the entertainment area down for a couple of days when needed.
There are so many ways to use porcelain and natural stone for your home’s exterior. You can decorate the entire exterior of your home in stone, install an entire patio space with flooring, walls, and countertops in various types of porcelain and stone, or add some elements of porcelain or stone to a garden. Before you consider which kind of material to use, consider factors like budget, how much time and effort you’re willing to invest into maintenance, what the climate is like where you live, and your overall vision for the exterior of your home. You can find both porcelain and natural stone in a wide range of colors and sizes, but natural stone is generally more expensive and can be more difficult to source. If you’re looking for a versatile, low-budget, low-maintenance material that’s easy to find, porcelain is your go-to.