How do I know the difference between granite and porcelain granite lookalike?
Granite is a natural product and is known as an igneous stone. Formed by magma and cooled to become solid, granite is one of the strongest natural stones used in construction. As granite is a natural product, the variations within each and every piece of stone cannot be artificially duplicated. There are multitudes of granites across a broad spectrum of colours and patterns.
A granite lookalike is a porcelain tile. The granite pattern is digitally printed and then fired. With a porcelain tile the colour does not go right through the tile (unlike natural granite), it is only on the glazed surface, and any chips on the lookalike will be clearly visible and the whole tile will need replacing. Porcelain lookalikes can be a good representation of natural granite, but are limited in colour and variation.
Durability & Strength
When it comes to durability and strength granite is one of the hardest natural substances found on earth. Both granite and granite lookalikes have high hardness ratings and are scratch and dent resistant.
Granite lookalike porcelain tiles are virtually maintenance free. They are impervious to water. However, where Granite tiles are maintained properly they will outlast porcelain tiles. We do recommend sealing and regular cleaning.
Installation costs are comparable.
Coping and Tread Tiles
Most granite products include ready-made coping and tread tiles. Porcelain lookalikes generally need to have specially fabricated coping pieces manufactured.
Granite lookalike tiles do have a variety of sizes but they limited because they are manufactured in factories where the production is set to certain sizes and thickness. Natural Granite comes from a quarry and can be cut to any custom size and thickness. While standard sizing is generally 600x400mm with either a 15mm or 30mm thickness, larger format tiles are becoming more popular and you can always custom order your granite to a size to match your project needs.
Will natural granite always be more expensive to buy than porcelain granite lookalike?
Natural granite can range anywhere from $50 per sqm to $180 per sqm (plus GST), depending on availability, quality, size and country of origin. Porcelain lookalike granite also varies greatly, ranging from $40 per sqm to $120 per sqm (plus GST). A good quality porcelain granite lookalike can cost more than a natural granite tile or paver.
For example, recently a granite lookalike tile had been specified for a project where the cost was $72/sqm. A natural granite was presented as an alternative, providing the same look, and it was at a cost of $54/sqm.
Does it usually cost more to install natural granite?
There are different things to consider when installing natural granite vs granite lookalikes.
For example, the type of equipment the tiler would need to cut the stone is different to that of a porcelain. Specific adhesives and silicones need to be used when installing natural stone, including granite, as stone is porous. It is also recommended that granite be sealed, whereas granite lookalikes don’t need sealing.