Porcelain vs Sandstone Paving — What’s The Difference & Which Is Better?

Porcelain vs Sandstone Paving — What’s The Difference & Which Is Better?

Porcelain vs Sandstone Paving — Which Is Better? Read our guide and find out:


Table of Contents

- Which is more hard-wearing?

- Which requires the least maintenance?

- Which lasts longer?

- Which is the most water resistant?

- Which doesn’t scratch as easy?

- Which is cheaper & easier to install?

- Which has the most colours to choose from?

- Which is more eco-friendly?

- Which looks more unique?

- Which is more fire-resistant?



Porcelain vs Sandstone paving — which is more hardwearing?


Porcelain paving is one of the toughest, most durable, most hardwearing materials you can find for your patio or landscaping designs. Porcelain isn’t a natural stone found naturally in the earth, like Indian sandstone. It is created as a mixture of sand, clay, and other minerals are heated together in a high-temperature kiln. 


Porcelain is quite deliberately made to last. It is resistant to water, staining, frost, and (to an extent) algae, lichens and moss. We calibrate our porcelain to a thickness of 20mm — which is tough enough to take the weight of vehicles without you having to pay to make it extra thick.


However, Indian sandstone is no pushover either. It's naturally very strong and well-suited to the UK weather. And if you take good care of it, your sandstone paving slabs will last for decades. Sandstone is also tough enough and thick enough for your driveway, and indeed most commercial projects too. 


Our verdict: Both types of paving slabs are strong and durable. But since porcelain is manmade to be ultra-strong, it takes the winning medal here. 




Which requires the least maintenance?


Sandstone requires very low maintenance and it’s super easy to clean — a pressure washer will soon get rid of any blemishes without hurting its colour or finish. Though we would recommend that you seal your sandstone to get the most out of it.


Sealing not only helps to prevent staining and the growth of moss and algae, it can also enhance the colour of your sandstone slabs, making them look even more beautiful. You might have to seal your stone every 1-2 years for maximum protection. 


(There are lots of reasons why you should seal sandstone — and especially if your sandstone is of a lighter colour — check out our ‘Does Indian sandstone need sealing before laying?’ and ‘Should you seal your paving slabs?’ articles for more information.)


Porcelain on the other hand is deliberately engineered to be tough. It does not need sealing at all and is resistant to moss and algae growth, acid, chemicals, salts, oils and more. It can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. And does not absorb water, so if it does stain, they are likely to be skin-deep and easily removed. There is a motto with porcelain: “fit and forget”. 


Our verdict: Porcelain is the clean winner here as it requires virtually zero maintenance. 




Porcelain paving vs Sandstone — which lasts longer?


Both porcelain and sandstone paving slabs, if laid properly, can last a long time, perhaps up to 30-50 years or more. 


The difference is that sandstone will need maintenance, whereas porcelain is a material you can “fit and forget”. 


If you use a cheap installer and neglect your sandstone, it may begin to look unsightly after 2 years — and be utterly dead at the end of the decade. (Read more about why cheap paving is a big mistake here.)


Our verdict: Both sandstone and porcelain are winners here. If you look after your sandstone properly, there’s no reason why it can’t last up to 50 years.




Which is more water resistant?

Porcelain is super resistant to water. According to this study, porcelain has a water absorption rate of <0.5% — making it more water resistant than sandstone paving, which is known to be porous, and has a water absorption rate of about 1.7%. 


A low-absorption rate means that porcelain won’t be subjected to staining, moulds, and bacteria growth on the surface. If you were to leave your sandstone unsealed for a year or more, it could soon become discoloured and blotched due to water penetration. 


Our verdict: Porcelain is the clear winner here. 




Sandstone paving vs Porcelain — which doesn’t scratch as easily?


Sandstone is softer than porcelain — which is manmade to be impervious to scratches. And so sandstone is the more prone of the two to dents and scratches over time. 


But sandstone is no pushover. And if you take good care of it, there shouldn’t be much of a problem. 


Our verdict: Porcelain is tougher than sandstone and doesn’t scratch as easily. But if you take good care of your sandstone, there shouldn’t be much of an issue. 




Porcelain vs Sandstone paving cost — which is cheaper and easier to install?


Sandstone is cheaper than porcelain to buy, starting at around £28.00/m2. Whereas porcelain starts at £34.95/m2


Porcelain is also dense and hard to cut, and can be difficult to install without expert help. 


The more expensive packs and installation costs of porcelain might put some people off at first. But remember that porcelain does not require much maintenance after it is laid down, unlike sandstone. Over the decades, those maintenance costs will add up. 


Our verdict: Sandstone is cheaper by the pack and is relatively easy to cut and to lay down without the help of a professional. Sandstone is our winner here. 




Which has the most colours to choose from?


Indian sandstone is readily available on a gorgeous spectrum of colours including Kandla Grey, Raj Green, Mint Fossil, Modak Indian and Cotswold Yellow


Discover more Indian sandstone colours here. 


Porcelain on the other hand, tends to be limited to creamy whites (Crest Alpine) and grey tones (ranging from Crest Silver to Frame Groove). 


Our verdict: Porcelain is great for modern, sleek, interior designs. But when it comes to vibrant bursts of colour, colours that fit well in both traditional and modern plans, sandstone is the clear winner. 




Porcelain or Sandstone paving — which is more eco friendly?


Both are quite eco-friendly. Indian sandstone is a natural stone and quarried from the Earth (in India, hence the name). The extraction process is about as green as it can get — using low amounts of toxic chemicals, glues, acetone and so on. Sandstone is also often reclaimed and reused quite a lot. 


Porcelain, while manmade, is made out of clays, common rocks (like feldspar and quartz) and water. All of which are readily available in most parts of the world. Meaning porcelain can be made where it needs to be, lowering transportation costs and carbon emissions. 


Our verdict: There is no clear winner here. Neither is very bad for the environment, and both porcelain and sandstone have their drawbacks and advantages. 




Which looks more unique?


Sandstone is an organic natural product of the Earth. When you purchase it, you’re buying slabs that have been forged over deep time for hundreds of thousands of years — along with all of the stresses and scarrings involved in its formation. 


The result is a beautiful array of colours and patterns that are truly unique to every single stone. No two paving slabs of sandstone are the same. And we actually recommend that you mix different packs before laying, to create a patio that’s rich in these intricate patterns. 


Porcelain on the other hand, is manmade. And though it can be made to look like a natural stone with irregular patterns, it won’t have the truly unique appearance of sandstone. 


Our verdict: Sandstone comes out top here. Porcelain can be manufactured to look relatively distinctive, but every piece of sandstone is ‘designed’ uniquely by Mother Nature, over hundreds of thousands of years. 




Indian Sandstone or Porcelain — which is more fire resistant?

Sandstone is non-combustible and fire-resistant, which is one of the reasons behind why it is so popular as a building material and even for fireplace hearths. It’s also naturally dense. So even if there was a fire, it would take a long time for the flames to ‘eat’ through the slabs. 


Porcelain is also fire-resistant. It won’t catch fire and will inhibit the spread of fire in the event of an accident. Porcelain is also a good type of stone to use for the floor of that fire pit you’re planning. 


Our verdict: No clear winner here. Both sandstone and porcelain are fire-resistant and will work to stop fire from spreading. 




Key takeaways:


  • Porcelain is manmade to be very strong, meaning it requires little maintenance and is resistant to algae, moss, water and sunlight.

  • Sandstone is cheaper to buy in packs and easier to lay without professional help, and is available in a greater variety of colours — but will need maintenance on a semi-regular basis.

  • Both are eco-friendly and fire-resistant, and strong enough for driveways, areas of heavy foot traffic and both interior and exterior living spaces.



Still undecided about Porcelain vs Sandstone paving? Then we can help. 


If you’ve still got questions then please contact us today. Our specialists will be happy to help. 


In the meantime, check out our Indian sandstone paving category page and our Italian porcelain paving category page to check out the types and colours of slabs we have available

View our Indian Sandstone paving collection 
View our Italian Porcelain paving options here



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