When choosing materials for patios, walkways, and other outdoor living spaces, two of the most popular options are natural sandstone and porcelain paving. Both come with their own set of advantages and downsides to weigh when deciding which is better suited for your needs and preferences.
Porcelain is a better choice for low maintenance durability as it is virtually non-porous and stain resistant, whereas sandstone is preferred when seeking genuine natural stone beauty that features mesmerizing earth tones, textures and variation unique to each slab. Both make attractive patio pavers with porcelain favored for simplicity and sandstone chosen to mimic raw nature.
Sandstone is naturally dense and hardwearing, formed over thousands of years of geological shifts and compression. When properly sealed and maintained, natural sandstone can withstand decades of weather and regular foot traffic without significant damage. However, the porous nature of sandstone makes it susceptible to etching and scratches, especially from acidic substances like wine or tomato sauce. Resealing the surface periodically can help minimize this effect.
Porcelain paving, on the other hand, achieves its renowned strength through an industrial manufacturing process of extreme heat and pressure. The resulting material is non-porous and highly scratch and impact resistant. Porcelain tile stands up well to heavy use in high traffic areas, and can even support the weight of vehicles when made thick enough, making it suitable for driveways. The densly fired clay surface is almost impervious to damage over time.
A major downside to natural sandstone's inherent beauty is its tendency to absorb moisture. Water can penetrate the surface and get trapped within the stone, leading to possible staining, erosion, and freeze damage if left unsealed and unprotected. So while beautiful, sandstone requires diligent sealing and maintenance to prevent long term water deterioration.
Conversely, the production process of porcelain paving creates an entirely non-porous surface that will not absorb liquid. Any staining agents remain superficial, unable to penetrate beyond the outermost layer of the tile. So stains on porcelain tend to wipe away rather than seep in over time. This water resistance provides peace of mind against moisture damage.
Ease of Maintenance
The porous qualities that make sandstone vulnerable to water also require ongoing diligence to keep it looking its best. Reapplying protective sealant every one to two years is crucial to prevent staining and diminishment of the vibrant colors. Unsealed sandstone can also develop clinging algae or moss over time, necessitating thorough pressure washing and scrubbing to rehabilitate the paved surface periodically.
Porcelain’s impenetrability again proves advantageous when it comes to keeping it clean. The material is almost effortless to maintain free of dirt, debris and stains with little more than wiping with a damp cloth. No sealants to reapply, no pressure washing required. Porcelain's resilience provides many years of durable, uncomplicated beauty.
For those drawn to the genuine natural beauty of stone, sandstone offers mesmerizing diversity in striking striations, swirling mineral patterns, and rich earthen hues. The unique variations that develop over thousands of years lend authentic charm and visual interest. Paired with its soft texture, sandstone brings the tactile essence of raw nature to your living space.
While unable to fully replicate the complexity of real stone, porcelain tile has improved dramatically in emulating the look. Layering techniques in production can mimic subtle granularity and mottled veining for convincing depth and dimension. Consistent coloring across tiles creates a cleaner, more uniform aesthetic than sandstone’s varying shifts. The choice comes down to favoring real natural variation or deliberate manmade replication.
Installation and Cost Considerations
Installation is another area where the two materials differ markedly. Soft and relatively simple to cut to size, sandstone pavers don’t require specialized masonry blades or other expensive equipment. The pavers adhere well with basic mortar and techniques accessible to motivated DIYers wanting to save on installation costs. Porcelain’s extreme density, on the other hand, makes professional installation the wiser choice unless you have access to diamond-tipped cutting tools.
In terms of bottom line value, sandstone is generally the more budget friendly option per square foot, Paving shopper have many affordable options to choose from. Porcelain’s pricing has become markedly more competitive over recent years, but the initial material outlay remains more costly than comparable sandstone. Of course, porcelain’s virtual nonexistence of ongoing maintenance costs helps mitigate some of that over time. Resealing sandstone, troubleshooting stains, and cleaning grime buildup all add up incrementally each year.
Ultimately both sandstone and porcelain paving offer viable solutions for beautiful outdoor living areas. Prioritizing aesthetics, maintenance commitments, installation methods and budget will determine which makes for the optimal choice on a project by project basis. Consult with knowledgeable landscaping professionals to weigh the pros and cons in relation to your specific needs. An experienced eye can discern which material aligns with your space and lifestyle for many years of enjoyment ahead.
Is sandstone or porcelain easier to clean?
Porcelain patio slabs are generally much easier to clean than sandstone. Porcelain's non-porous surface means debris and stains sit on top rather than absorbing into the tile. Simple wiping with mild detergent or a damp cloth keeps porcelain clean. Sandstone's more porous nature causes spills and dirt to penetrate deeper, often requiring thorough pressure washing for cleaning patio slabs. Harsher cleaning methods can damage sandstone over time. However, sealing sandstone creates a protective barrier that facilitates easier ongoing cleaning and stain removal. Both materials benefit from gentle cleaning practices without harsh chemicals. But porcelain's impenetrability makes it simpler to wipe tidy.
Which is more durable, sandstone or porcelain paving?
Porcelain paving is the more durable choice. It is virtually impervious to scratches, impacts, and deterioration over time. Sandstone is also durable but requires sealing and care to prevent damage.
Which material is more water and stain resistant?
Porcelain tile is non-porous and highly water/stain resistant, so spills and moisture stay on the surface. Sandstone's porous nature allows liquid and staining agents to absorb into the stone over time if not properly sealed.
What patio material requires less maintenance?
Porcelain is extremely low maintenance, only requiring occasional wiping with a damp cloth. Sandstone needs re-sealing every 1-2 years and can develop algae/moss growth without proper sealing.
Is sandstone or porcelain cheaper to install?
Sandstone is the more budget-friendly material, and often easier for DIY installation. Porcelain's extreme hardness usually necessitates hiring professional tile setters with specialized cutting and laying tools.
Does sandstone last longer than porcelain paving?
With proper sealing and maintenance, sandstone can retain its integrity for decades of use. But porcelain's resilience to chips, scratches and stains gives it the edge for longevity over an extended lifetime.
What kind of tools are needed to cut porcelain pavers?
Cutting porcelain typically requires a wet saw with a diamond blade designed for hard stone tile. Specialized blades reduce chipping and fragmentation of the densely fired material.
Can you pressure wash sealed sandstone?
Yes, periodic pressure washing combined with re-sealing helps keep sandstone clean and vibrant over its lifetime. Take caution not to damage porous edges and corners.
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