Stone vs Porcelain

“Whats the difference? Natural Stone Marble vs Marble look porcelain tile:”

Bright white kitchens and crisp clean bathrooms seem to fill the pages of interior design and home decorating magazines. Among the various materials available, choosing to use natural marble and marble look tiles, those looks are very simple to accomplish for every client. One question that comes up more often than not is what is the difference between the marble look tiles and the real thing?


There are several factors to consider when weighing the options of going with a porcelain tile that is meant to look like marble versus using the natural stone. Cost of course is a main concern for most. Stone will always be priced at least 20-30% more its porcelain counterpart. This is due to the careful extraction and processing nature of natural stone. Whereas porcelain is a manmade product and therefore easier to produce, natural stone is carefully carved out of the earth then taken to a processing facility for cutting and sorting. The cost for a porcelain marble look tile can start at around $3.50 per square foot while a natural stone marble will start at about $15-$20 per square foot. This estimate however, can fluctuate depending upon the size, style, and manufacturer.


The marble veining that you see on porcelain tiles is created using an inkjet printer. During this process a certain tile can have upwards of 200 different variations that will be printed on the individual tiles to give it the look of a natural stone product. On the other hand, because natural stone is a product made my nature, the color and veining can vary much more per tile than a porcelain will. While a porcelain product will have the same color tone throughout and have varying veining, a natural marble can have pieces that are darker, lighter, more and less veining, or no veining at all depending on the stone and size. If you do not like the idea of having a mix or light and dark tiles with that variation, then porcelain may be a better option for you due to the consistence of color tone.

Installation and Maintenance

Across the board porcelain tile will be much less maintenance as well as less to install than a natural stone. Porcelain is virtually maintenance free aside from your “normal” cleaning routine where natural stone requires more attention. Natural stones need to be sealed and cleaned with specific cleaners formulated for natural stone products. Of course the factor of maintenance is relative to the client’s expectations and understanding, because while natural stone does need to be sealed, the installer will seal it initially and then it only will need to be sealed once a year afterwards.

The beautiful look of marble can most certainly be achieved by using a porcelain tile product. Porcelain can be considered as providing the same aesthetic of stone without the added maintenance. While natural stone comes at a higher price, it does offer a beautiful mix of variation in texture and appearance in color. Which will you choose?