Natural Stone vs Marble Look Tiles

There is an ongoing debate on the difference between natural stone vs marble look tiles. Thanks to today’s technology we are seeing the most popular stones replicated into the most realistic looking marble look tiles.

Natural stone and marble look tiles are made with very different materials. The look and feel of both materials are very different to each other. Take a look at the differences and similarities we have put together to guide you on your next choose when choosing between natural stone and marble look tiles.

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How are they made

Natural Stone

Natural stone is sourced from some of the best quarries around the world. Every piece of stone that we sourced is unique and individual. Meaning no two pieces are alike for any home or project.

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Marble Look tiles

Marble look tiles are produced from tile manufacturers across the world made to replicate marbles delicate veining,  intense shading, and detail that you find in real natural stone products.  Combing the appeal and functionality of a porcelain tile. Marble look tiles are made from clay or a mixture of clays and other materials, which are then kiln-fired, are considered to be a part of the larger classification called “Ceramic Tiles.”  The tiles are then divided into two groups; porcelain tiles and non-porcelain tiles also known as ceramic tiles. For more information read more on our ceramic vs porcelain tiles blog.

Featuring DC Architecture private residence with our calcatta marble tiles & mosaic feature tiles

Featuring DC Architecture private residence with our calcatta marble tiles & mosaic feature tiles

Difference in finishes

Natural Stone

A variety of finishes apply to Natural stone. Different finishes provide different results, for example, slip resistance, chemical resistance and other external factors that can affect its functionality and durability.

The main finishes you will find for Natura stone are polished, honed, antique, bush hammered, exfoliated (flamed), sandblasted and natural cut.

Polished Natural Stone

To give the lush shiny look of polished natural stone uses an array of techniques; buffing polishing powders and compounds, grinding with diamond abrasives, crystallization and applying barrier coatings. Polishing the surface helps to emphasize and brighten the surface giving it a mirror-like effect. This helps to intensify the stones natural colours, patterning and veining within the surface.

Honed Natural Stone

A honed finish is opposite to polished The surface is smooth without reflection hitting the surface. The matte-like appearance is very popular for its natural finish. This type of surface can be used in indoor and outdoor areas.

Antique Natural Stone (Tumbled)

Antique says it in the name itself, an antique finish helps to achieve an aged appearance by imitating use and wear effect.  To give the stone an “aged look” they dull the surface with an acid wash to form a distressed look. The surface is then brushed with mechanical wire bush to make the stone smooth and slightly restore the colour.

Bush Hammered Natural Stone

The bush hammer technique is adopted by stone masonries used to evenly texturized the stone surface. This makes the surface perfect for high traffic areas for its non-slip, rough-like surface.

Exfoliated (Flamed) Natural Stone

A popular finish for outdoor areas, a flamed finish is renowned for its non-slip properties.  High-temperature “flames” have direct contact with the surface of the stone which creates thermal shock and causes the inherent crystals to fracture, resulting in deeply textured surface ideal for external surfaces.

Sandblasted Natural Stone

Similar concept to bush hammer finish, a sandblasted finish creates a finely textured surface.  This is achieved by applying a high-pressure jet of small bullets against the surface. This treatment softens the colour and characteristics of the original stone.

Natural Cut Natural Stone

As the name says, it is cut manually by hand to achieve a rustic feature. A natural cut stone surface is primarily used for feature cladding and cobblestones.

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Marble Tiles

Marble look tiles can be made from two different materials; ceramic tiles and porcelain tiles.  Thanks to technology we have access to a variety of shapes, size and colours, not to mention the different finishes. When choosing tiles for your home it is important to consider the look and feel you are going for. Whether be a shiny gloss look, matte understated look, a smooth velvet look or even a textured finish to evoke character in your project.

Here are the different types of finishes you can find in marble look tiles.

Polished Marble Look Tiles

As the name suggests, after being fired, the tile is polished by a machine to give a mirror like finish and rectified by squaring the edges of the tile. The shiny look of the tile gives a rich high-end appearance making your floor not only look flawless but extremely durable. The best way to look after your polished floors is with a steam mop to prevent any water marks or streaks.

Semi Polished Marble Look Tiles

Semi-polished tile also known as “Lappato” retains elaborate techniques to achieve a polished tile surface. The tile is lightly polished, using the same process as polished porcelain. However, the layer of the glaze is very thin in comparison to the full polish finished.

Lappato is a semi polished tile that retains elaborate techniques to achieve a polished tile surface. As stated by Australian Tile Council; High-quality porcelain and ceramic tiles does not require any further treatment after polishing. Some lower density polished porcelain tiles must be sealed, depending on the manufacturer.

Matte Marble Look Tiles

Matt finish tiles also known as “unpolished” are incredibly stylish and on trend today.  This particular product comes out of the fire kiln in its natural form with no further treatment or processing required. The rough appearance is a popular choice to achieve a traditional and natural look whether it be indoors or outdoors. Matte tiles are a very durable product that makes a perfect floor option indoors and outdoors for its grip-like finish in dry and wet environments.

Glazed Marble Look Tiles

Glazed Porcelain tiles are a dense tile surface with a high degree of durability being suitable for light and heavy traffic. The glaze is put onto the product before firing, making the product one of the strongest on the market. Some varieties in glazes itself are determined on how light or dark the glaze is. The lighter the glaze, it generally tends to be a harder surface in comparison to darker glaze tiles.

Spazzolato Marble Look Tiles

Spazzolato is commonly known as a brush finish, is a process of brushing the surface to give the tile a textured yet smooth, more structured look.

Anticato Marble Look Tiles

Anticato finish is a surface that creates an “aged” appearance by its matte like texture.

Rullato Marble Look Tiles

Rullato- also known as “rolled,” a common application for outdoor areas, a stylish contemporary interpretation of the industrial look.

Bocciardato Marble Look Tiles

Bocciardato commonly known as “bush-hammered” surface is great for high traffic areas with high slip ratings and is frost resistant.

Naturale Marble Look Tiles

Natural or Naturale is a versatile design which is suitable for all wall and floor tile applications. This type of product comes out of the kiln in this form and undergoes no further processing.

Featuring our Apuano Collection

Featuring our Apuano Collection

Pros & Cons of Natural Stone and Marble Look Tiles

Natural stone and marble look tiles both have many pros and cons, but in the end it comes down to your choice and what suits your lifestyle. Here are our keypoints to consider.

Marble Look Tiles

Pros

  • Easy to maintain
  • Diverse and affordable
  • Durable and hardwearing surface for all indoor and outdoor applications
  • Moisture resistant
  • Good for low to heavy traffic areas
  • Allergy friendly
  • Temperature and chemical resistant
  • Wide variety of colours, patterns and finishes
  • Less susceptible to water

Cons

  • Harder to install in large sizes
  • Difficult to maintain grout lines
  • Can be cracked or chipped of heavy objects have fallen onto the surface

Natural Stone

Pros

  • A variety of different styles of natural stone eg. marble,  granite,  travertine,  limestone
  • Luxurious look and feel
  • Durable and hardwearing
  • Increases resale value
  • Unique surface – not pieces are alike
  • Wide variety of colours and textures
  • Will not collect dust and allergy friendly

Cons

  • Tend to be pricey
  • Easily scratched if not regularly sealed and maintained
  • Varying porosity depending on finish
  • Require regularly cleaning
Featuring our White Experience Colleciton

Featuring our White Experience Colleciton