Outdoor Porcelain vs. Natural Stone – What is the Difference?

No longer content to surface their decks and patios with concrete, interlock or pressure-treated lumber, people are seeking better options. In the last few years, outdoor porcelain tiles and natural stone pavers have become the go-to option in hardscape construction, reducing workloads and increasing home values at the same time. 

Both outdoor porcelain tiles and natural stone offer plenty of advantages, but many people don’t know their differences. Of course, every homeowner has their preferences, wants, and needs, and your choice may come down to the application at hand. Still, you’ll need to understand why one option is better suited to your project & lifestyle. 

What are Porcelain Tiles?

A relatively recent addition to the hardscape market, porcelain tiles are often confused with ceramic, but they could not be more different. Porcelain tiles are made of fine clay that is seared to temperatures higher than 2,000 degrees. Anything that can withstand that kind of heat is sure to be durable. Tiles are manufactured to be slip-resistant and replicate the look of natural stone, concrete or wood.

What are Natural Stone Pavers?

Sometimes confused with concrete pavers, natural stone pavers are usually made of shaped pieces of flagstone, limestone, granite, or other natural stone. Because each piece comes from actual rock, each paver will possess a distinct appearance, with unique colouring, texture, and weathering. Natural stone is well known for its timeless beauty and durability

Outdoor porcelain tiles and natural stone pavers have many similarities, but they tend to differ in four key areas. Here’s a rundown on their differences:

Installation and Cost

Outdoor Porcelain TileVS.Natural Stone Pavers
Porcelain tiles are lighter and easier to transport. They’re easier to manage and can be installed using a pedestal system, which could not be more convenient.
Using a pedestal system to install your porcelain tile can be a relatively easy job that one or two people can handle without the need for heavy equipment.
Because porcelain tiles are manufactured, their consistent shape and size make them easy to work with. 
Natural stone is often more expensive, primarily because it is quarried. Pricing includes the cost of materials, the fabrication process, and transportation of weighty materials.
Installation of natural stone pavers is labour-intensive, requiring extensive excavation, fill, disposal, and higher transportation and labour costs.
Because natural stone pavers are thick, heavy, and irregularly shaped, installation can be labour intensive.


Outdoor Porcelain TileVS.Natural Stone Pavers
Outdoor porcelain tiles require almost no maintenance. Simply give them a good power washing once a year to return them to their freshly-installed good looks.Porcelain is also UV-resistant, so it will not fade over time.Natural stone may require sealing and even regular scrubbing to prevent discolouration and mildew, salt, or moss build-up.Because stone is porous, stains may be permanent.


Outdoor Porcelain TileVS.Natural Stone Pavers
There is something to be said for uniformity. Some love it, while others do not. Thanks to a controlled manufacturing process, porcelain tiles are consistent and durable while offering virtually any look and feel you want to achieve, even that of natural stone.Quarried natural stone is utterly beautiful and timeless. No two stones are the same, creating a unique look for your projects.

Water Absorption

Outdoor Porcelain TileVS.Natural Stone Pavers
Porcelain tiles absorb almost zero moisture, less than 0.1%. This is important when considering materials that will undergo freeze/thaw cycles during Canadian winters.
Because they are moisture-resistant and non-porous, porcelain does not stain and maintains its slip-resistant properties. This makes porcelain perfect in settings where safety is an issue, like around the pool.
Natural stone pavers have tiny holes that make them prone to staining and absorbing moisture. While you can apply a sealant, this will add to your annual maintenance chores and expense.
Natural stone has a higher water absorption rate than porcelain. This can make them prone to mildew, lichen and mould, resulting in slippery surfaces

Still not sure which choice is right for your project? Reach out to us at Stonedeck.ca for expert advice and the latest innovative products to improve your outdoor living space.