Is natural stone or ceramics better?
Let’s get it out of the way: the question is purely rhetorical and has no definite answer. Or rather, it has many answers in favour of… both solutions!
That’s how it really is: there are a thousand reasons for choosing marble or natural stone and just as many for opting for ceramic or stoneware. Let’s try to shed some light on the matter and understand how to make the right choice that fully corresponds to our project and our idea of the final product, taking into account all the variables that revolve around this important decision.
What are the variables involved?
When choosing one material over another, it is a good idea to first of all carefully examine the variables that can influence our choice. We have a project, we have an idea, we know above all the context in which this project or idea will be placed and what our personal budget (or our client’s) requirements are. Well, now is the time to focus on the four variables that will make us make the right decision:
Let’s start with the price
If you have a limited budget, ceramics or stoneware are undoubtedly the best choice. Even if there are very affordable stones and marbles on the market (up to a few dozen euros per square metre), ceramics and stoneware remain truly unbeatable: there are some very respectable products with prices that can even be less than 10 euros per square metre. Clearly, if the price variable is essential for our project, stoneware and ceramic tiles will be the right answer to our needs.
How important it is to be resistant
As far as the resistance variable is concerned, it is important to know what the material will be used for, because if we are talking about stoneware we can count on a rather high resistance index, while with ceramics (especially handmade ceramics) resistance is certainly lower. As for stones and marbles, if resistance is a determining factor for our project we will have to choose the right material. In general, but especially in the latter case, it is essential to rely on the advice of experts in the field.
Among the characteristics related to resistance, there is also porosity, i.e. the ability of the material to retain dirt and stain. Also in this case, there are many products for treating ceramic, terracotta, stone and marble surfaces, suitable for protecting them from the aggression of external agents.
Is it just a question of aesthetics?
Looks also count. And indeed, variable aesthetics is often the first factor to guide the desires and dreams of potential customers. Even though ceramic products have reached very high levels of aesthetic quality in recent years, the beauty of natural stones, marbles, onyx and quartzite remains unmatched. It is a bit like exhibiting the original of a painting or a copy, even if it is printed perfectly: it is still a copy and the final effect is visible.
What if I say sustainability?
The sustainability variable offers a range of possible readings, some of which have yet to be explored. But even here we can give some concrete answers. If we talk about quarries, marble, but also earth or clay (used to make ceramics and stoneware) are all extracted from hills or mountains, with the effects on the landscape and ecosystems that we know well. However, as with the trees from which parquet is made, if work is carried out that alters the system but allows it to be partially or totally restored, the impact can be reduced in both cases. The real difference lies in the production systems. Marble and natural stone are ready to use: they just need to be cut and polished. Ceramics and stoneware, on the other hand, need to be fired at high temperatures (over 1,000 degrees centigrade) before being cut and polished, with the consequent emission of CO2 into the air.
In the end, is it also a question of weight and size?
There are also other aspects that are often cited in favour of one or the other category. To tell the truth, these are usually arguments that are used by the seller to convince you that what he is proposing is the best choice for you. One of them is the weight: but be aware that there are lightweight products (up to 4 mm thick) in both categories. Another is size: the only limitation here is transport, but generally the largest sizes are found in natural stone and marble and do not involve ceramics and stoneware.