If you love the look of natural stone and have done a recent renovation you surely battled the question of whether to actually use natural stone or go with a porcelain tile that looks like natural stone. My simple answer is, 'Do you mind putting in some elbow grease twice a year?' Perhaps my longer answer will help clarify my simple answer.
Marble, is a natural stone, by nature it's porous and will absorb the environment. Because of this feature it is recommended to put a sealant on the marble twice a year to prevent staining and even dulling of the beautiful marble. For those that love the look I often suggest finding a use in a low traffic area so you can enjoy the look while decreasing the chances of it staining or dulling.
Enter porcelain tile looking marble. It's more durable, easy maintenance because it is not porous like natural stone and therefore less likely to stain, and can be used outdoors and in high traffic areas because of this feature. It comes in a matte, semi-polished and polished look to accommodate all design needs and like it's natural counterpart is offered in all the various sizes.
So knowing this why would you ever use marble? The answer is quite simple because nature never makes 2 tiles the same and therefore provides a uniqueness that porcelain can't replicate.
Having said that porcelain can be done up to mimic the look very well, so if you decide on porcelain keep the following in mind:
- PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) Rating will help you know the quality of the porcelain. A '0' rating is very thin and should only be used on walls. A rating of '5' is your thickest most durable rating and is a great choice for high traffic areas.
- Rectified Edge - all this means is the tile is cut more precisely making sure all the tiles are of equivalent size. This allows you to use smaller grout joints < 1/8" because you do not have to compensate for irregular sized tiles. It creates a better visual as the tile almost appears as one sheet. Plus less grout in my mind is always better.