House tiles: porcelain vs real stone – advice and anecdotes requested!

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  • House tiles: porcelain vs real stone – advice and anecdotes requested!
  • Markie


    We’re getting the house done up, and flooring questions have come to the fore.

    Regarding kitchen and bathroom floors, the big one is do we go for porcelain or natural stone tiles?

    My wife would like a high gloss white tile for the kitchen and darker shades for the bathrooms, but so they are of the same style or look – colour excepted. The kitchen and utility room will have underfloor heating.

    I’m currently in favour of porcelain as it seems less hassle, a kind off it and forget option. The architect is pushing for stone, saying that the way it looks makes up for any added maintenance.

    It’d be great to hear your thoughts on this.


    Premier Icon steveb

    Avoid anything with surface texture unless you like scrubbing.
    The GF has heavily textured fake limestone floor tiles in kitchen & hall. A nightmare to clean and look grubby again very quickly.
    Its a top priority to rip them up and replace.

    I get to work in quite a few luxury properties and have seen my fair share of porcelain v stone over the last few years.

    I would go porcelain every time, true natural stone looks very nice but it simply doesn’t outweigh the fit and forget nature of the porcelain, easy wipe clean and a lot less liable to staining, re your underfloor heating they’re also less likely to crack which seems to happen more often with natural products.

    Fwiw I fitted black granite tiles to my kitchen floor and regret it to this day, they’re an absolute pig to keep clean and seem to look messy 10 min’s later, suppose thats two kids 5 and 3 for you though! 😆


    Thanks both. We made the textured mistake in our previous house – hence the high gloss angle now!

    Great to hear the ‘experience with both’ angle pocketrocket, thanks. It seems that towards porcelains top end they can look very natural until you get quite close.

    Is marble any better than other natural stones (I can’t quite see why it would be, but I’ve been told to ask!)?

    Any more thoughts / advice appreciated!


    We went for ‘Papyrus honed limestone’ in our kitchen by Mandarin Stone in Cardiff. They are very smooth. Need sealing during installation and waxing before use. Now we wash it about once a month and wax every 6 months. Have had the odd stain leave a very slight mark but it’s not really noticeable.

    Not cheap at all, (cost about £80/sqm when you include the adhesives etc) and that’s excluding fitting which I did myself.

    TBH they look stunning and really set our kitchen off. Not a single regret and we spent weeks deliberating ourselves.

    I went round a colleagues last week and he has marble and they look great too.



    Thanks for that Mattg73.

    Funnily enough we’re heading to see Mandarin Stone in Bath next week – and that price is in line with the nice porcelain stuff we’ve seen. I do like the idea of marble!


    I hummed and harred about this for quite a while when fitting out our house. I was very much in favour of natural stone (it’s real, innit), and if we could, would’ve gone for actual flagstones. But with a basement underneath, they weren’t an option, so it was a choice of honed slate or ‘slate-alike’ porcelain.

    Our contractor says that some tilers don’t like porcelain because it’s harder and hence harder to cut. But as above, the more fit-and-forget nature is a bonus, as are the regular sizes (natural stone has more variation in size) and finish. And if you shop around for a high-quality porcelain, some actual give you a lot of the look and feel of stone in texture and finish.

    Mattg: was a bit thrown by your costs, until I reread and saw it was /sqm (thought it was /sqft). About par for the course, I think?

    I tile for a living, as well as install kitchens and bathrooms.

    I prefer the natural stone look and have slate myself which is pretty easy to maintain.

    Polished Porc is very hard waring and easy to look after but VERY slippery when wet, I’d avoid anything with too light a colour or grout unless you like cleaning a lot.

    Travatine and Marble look great when laid but can look grubby quickly and are quite soft so expect scratches. They will need refinishing once a year to keep their good looks. also the lighter coloured grout generally used on these tiles tends to stain fairly quickly too.

    Given your parameters i’d probably go with Porc for the kitchen and stone for the rooms with less traffic, or porc in those too.

    BTW Porc isn’t ‘that’ much harder to work with if you have the right kit and know what your doing with it. a lot of novice tilers struggle however, natural stone is harder to lay than Porc if that’s a consideration.


    Ideally avoid Travertine or Limestone in the kitchen. We usually recommend Porcelain for kitchens now, because of it’s durability. A pale limestone will show up the marks a lot more, and is relatively soft. There’s loads of limestone look-a-likes available now. The benefits of porcelain, with the look of stone, with none of the upkeep.

    At the end of the day, it’s all personal choice, but I’d be going for porcelain or if you want stone, a marble or granite.

    Edit – What B-S said!


    +1 for anything natural.

    I relaid the original flagstones in my Orkney croft, centuries of wear had polished them to a shine, dead easy to keep clean, but possibly a bit too rustic for an urban setting.

    Premier Icon blurty

    Big (16″ + sq) porcelain tiles are difficult to lay over an existing floor, unless the floor is bone flat.

    In a kitchen, don’t use white grout.

    Stone needs sealing/ re-sealing/ looking after

    400mm’s aren’t too bad but 600mm+ needs to be pretty damn flat or a fair bit of prep work before you start wether on Porcelain or stone. +1 don’t use white grout on floors!


    Do you mean porcelain or ceramic ? I advise all my customers against porcelain in any area where staining may occur, they will need sealing before fitting and once a year after, definitely not a fit and forget solution. some of the natural stones actually need less maintenance.


    I would suggest natural, but avoid anything too plain, pale or shiny. We went for pale Portuguese limestone, it looks stunning and although well sealed it has been stained by red wine. Natural stone with a pattern is a great option as like pub carpets, a pattern hides a multitude of sins. A few marks are characterful, I think it’s getting better with age.

    We had polished marble in our last kitchen and the walkways became dull with traffic and a crazy dog.

    Anything with a print or surface finish can wear off or chip, if its the same all the way through its got to be better, hasn’t it?


    Thanks all.

    Blazin-saddles and Tom83, appreciate your thoughts from the pro side.

    Nicko74, nice to know we’re not the only ones to have struggled with this!

    Nice fire mcmoonter! Natural really is my inclination but it’s a hard sell! The house is 1810 and the general aim of the renovation work is ‘toned down period’. That said, the kitchen will be glass walled / alu framed so can afford to step out from the look of the rest of the house. My wife really wants it to look clean and sharp.

    The room is quite big and will be newly built, so 600s are what we’re planning for.

    Dropoff, I’m pretty sure I mean porcelain, but equally had thought porcelain didn’t stain!

    Cheers bobalong, so many things to consider! I think Mrs Markie is committed to large plainish whitish tiles, so it’s really about finding the best look there – I may try to push for a heavily veined marble, classic style!


    Here’s a pic of ours, just before a deep clean and seal. The sealing made it a warmer colour. Our house is an 1860’s but I think it works. To keep it soft and not feel like a villa we had oak door thresholds put in, it works to devide the space up well.
    [IMG][/IMG] One with a bike in for good measure!


    we agonized over the choices for some time before going with porcelin.
    No regrets at all. It has a stone-like textured face, so isn’t uber slippery as smooth finished tile can be. Our whole house is tile (lots of area rugs)and with 2 dogs it sure makes cleaning up when they come in after a rain much easier (although it’s been so long since it rained, I can hardly remember) 😆


    Looks great bobalong, really like the subtle changes in each stone with the light on them!

    Cheers busydog – one day I hope we’ll be getting a dog, so I guess I should be considering that too!


    Be aware that there is solid porcelain which is one colour all the way through and tends to come from Italy and there is glazed porcelain which has a thin colour surface on it and comes from China. The latter is okay in low wear areas such as bathrooms but buy the proper stuff for heavy traffic areas.

    Obviously big price difference between them but as with most things, you get what you pay for!

    Porcelain is 30% harder than granite btw


    Thanks Rockape, I’ll add the solid / glazed bit to my things to look out for list!


    Well, we went to see a stone merchant in Bath today. I went in believing porcelain was the way for us, I came out converted to stone… marble ahoy!

    Thanks again all – in due course it’ll be a ‘what sealant for…’ thread!


    That’s odd! You went to see a merchant and he sold you on his product.:)
    Most manufacturers like to have their own unique fitting and sealing instructions. If you have questions regarding any man made tile or remanufactured stone, you need to ask the manufacturer or look at fitting instructions. Also, any fitter worth a damn can fit whatever you choose. If the floor is not flat, you make it flat.


    I went for porelain in my flats bathroom. First time I had ever laid tiles and I thought they were actually very easy to work with (providing you have have a diamond wheel to cut them) as I managed to cut them round the toilet, sink etc.

    I didn’t bother sealing them at the time (probably should get round to it) and I assume they are solid as the colour is the same all the way through when you polish any cut edges.

    Really glad I fitted them, one of my favourite features of the flat.


    porcelain** every time.. unless you are looking at a honed stone product and have the money to do that!

    ** full colour body only.. the term porcelain is as wide as the word bike… there are porcelains that are like a halfords special bike and some like a full carbon downhill bike.. and all manner in between. Porcelian is a bit to generic.

    Full colour body porcelain is hard as nails and installed well, will never crack.
    Full colour body porcelain is as good as impermiable.. so wont stain

    AVOID cheap porcelian that has the appearance of pattern or texture applied as a print.. not sure what I mean? look closely.. you can see it on cheap tile. its like dot matrix printer application of colour.. like looking at large pixels.
    Generally evident on porcelain where the surface colour is different to the colour of the porcelain making up the tile.

    Also, check for cupping on large format tile. Particularly important if laying in anything other than soldier course. You can check this by laying 2 tiles face to face and see if they rock against each other.
    Your installer will have a hard time.. or you’ll end up with a dissapointing install.

    Also, if you’re splashing out on underfloor heat in the kitchen and utility.. do the bathroom too! Nothing worse than plodding into teh bathrom on a cold night and getting cold feet. Bathrooms the first place I’d do underfloor heat… plus you’re sparkys already coming to do the wiring.. may as well add another bit of time to his bill and get it all done 😉

    Marble sealant? Lithofin Stain Stop is the best, I wouldn’t think about anything else!

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