Natural stone vs. ceramic - The battle of the titans
In the world of interior design, our customers, builders and designers are often faced with the decision of which material to choose for a table. Nowadays, you are spoiled for choice between plastic, natural stone, wood, glass and ceramic - in this article we would like to focus on comparing natural stone and ceramic, as these two materials are often mentioned in the same sentence. Many people still confuse ceramic with natural stone or don't know the difference.
In addition, many providers deliberately mislead their customers by advertising their products with a “marble look”. Customers then often pay the price for real marble and receive artificial ceramic that has simply been printed with a marble look. We shed light on the matter and want you to be able to make an informed decision.
Because both materials have their advantages, today we would like to take a closer look at natural stone and ceramics and highlight why we focus on natural stones.
To do this, we first look at the origin of the two materials.
The origin – natural stone from the earth, ceramics from the oven
The most obvious difference between natural stone and ceramic lies in their origin and the manufacturing process.
Natural stone, as the name suggests, is extracted directly from the earth and created by nature - over several million years. Natural stone is a material that is 100% natural and is created through geological processes. Oceans and sands merge, lava cools, and sediments mix, creating unique works of nature that we can mine in quarries today.
On the other hand, we have man-made ceramics. Ceramics were created and used in ancient times by the Ancient Egyptians and the Greeks. Today we can still find shards and remains of amphorae from this period and can therefore draw conclusions about life in antiquity.
Do you still remember those 1-2 days in elementary school when you lovingly shaped a ceramic ashtray for your non-smoking mother, which you then painted in style? You had to wait an agonizing 2-3 days until the work of art was “fired” and you could receive it in all its glory. You also created ceramics there.
Ceramics are usually made from clay or other natural materials, which are then fired at high temperatures, sometimes multiple times. While ceramics undoubtedly contain natural components, it is created through human processing and energy.
Speaking of energy consumption – how do the materials perform in terms of sustainability?
Sustainability – Natural stone is the more environmentally friendly choice
A crucial factor that distinguishes natural stone from ceramic is its sustainability in terms of processing and manufacturing. Natural stone is a naturally available raw material that renews itself - admittedly over a very long period of time, but it is still renewable and consistentif you handle natural stones consciously. No energy is required for the processing of natural stones; transport is still mostly carried out using fuel-powered vehicles such as vans or ships.
In contrast, producing ceramics requires not only the mining of large amounts of clay and other raw materials that are not easily renewable, but also an energy-intensive manufacturing process. The firing process required to produce ceramics uses significant amounts of energy and produces emissions. The transport of ceramics also leaves an ecological footprint, which is why the material clearly has to take a back seat to natural stone in terms of sustainability.
In addition, natural stone is also more durable than ceramic. This is evident not least in the archaeological finds that we still excavate today - we mostly find the ceramics in shards, while sarcophagi, furniture and statues made of natural stone are often still fully intact.
Natural stone can last for centuries, even millennia, while maintaining its beauty, quality and robustness. Ceramic products can also be sturdy for many years, but they can break, scratch and wear over time, especially under heavy use. Natural stones are also more durable than ceramic products because they are considered to have more emotional and monetary value due to their history, uniqueness and origins. With a table made of real natural stone, you will be less willing to sort it out or throw it away than with a product made with “artificial” ceramic.
And how do the materials compare in terms of aesthetic aspects?
Aesthetics and uniqueness – The beauty of natural stone
Another factor that sets natural stone apart from ceramic is its natural beauty and uniqueness. Each natural stone is unique, with individual color nuances, textures and patterns that are unique to the world. You can compare natural stones to fingerprints, so to speak. This gives each of our natural stone design objects and tables an emotional aspect that not only creates appreciation but also value.
Tables and furniture made of natural stone retain their value well and can even increase in value. Have you ever seen a ceramic item in an antique store? No? We neither. Antiques made of marble and other natural stones, on the other hand, are de rigueur in every antique store.
Although modern ceramics now imitate the look of real natural stones in a way that is confusingly similar, natural stones still exude a timeless elegance that is difficult to imitate. The special feel and effect of a real natural stone simply cannot be copied. Marble & Co. give every room a unique atmosphere.
Ceramics can undoubtedly look excellent, but they often appear more artificial in their appearance and undoubtedly do not have a unique factor. The patterns and colors of ceramic tiles are often more uniform, repetitive and less fascinating compared to the natural variations of natural stone.
And what is more practical and easier to maintain?
Care and maintenance – Ceramic is a little less demanding
We're being very honest in our comparison - some natural stones, like marble or limestone, may require a little more care and attention than ceramic in general.
Nevertheless, natural stone is generally an easy-care and fairly uncomplicated material. Certain natural stones, such as quartzite, are also naturally resistant to scratches and heat and can be easily cleaned. Quartzite, for example, is without question easier to care for and maintain than ceramic. Because: Ceramic, depending on its quality, can be more susceptible to scratches and may require special cleaning and care products. It can also break much more easily than solid natural stone.
When it comes to care and maintenance, it depends on the material, the quality and the exact natural stone: Quartzite is easier to maintain than ceramic. Marble can be more demanding to maintain than high-quality ceramic (which, by the way, is now usually just as expensive as real marble). However, inferior and cheap ceramic can also be much more susceptible to scratches and dirt than high-quality marble. You can find everything you need to clean marble and natural stone in our large Marble Care Guide.
Our conclusion: The superior choice – natural stone
In the debate between natural stone and ceramics, natural stone is the superior choice for us when it comes to sustainability, aesthetics, value retention and durability.
The natural beauty, sustainability and uniqueness make natural stone a high-quality material that has rightly dominated the interior and construction world for several centuries.
So if you are faced with the choice of which material to choose for your table, you should definitely consider relying on the timeless elegance, individuality and sustainability of natural stone. Your investment will pay off in the long run, and you will be able to pass on your unique natural stone piece to your great-grandchildren if you wish.
Feel free to browse through our extraordinary range of unique natural stone pieces, which we produce locally for you in Saxony-Anhalt.