Modified Fireplace #626 in Riviera Beige French Quarter

Natural Stone vs. Cast Stone

Natural stone and cast stone have distinct characteristics. If you’re currently doing research for a project, it’s feasible that you’ve heard either one of them mentioned. To that end, let’s start with a couple of quick definitions: 

Natural stone is millions of years old. It’s quarried from the earth and has gone through many natural changes over time. 

Cast stone is a type of precast concrete designed to simulate different types of natural cut stone. 

Now that we have a basic understanding of these two kinds of stone, let’s learn more about the properties of each.

Natural Stone 

When it comes to natural stone—like most building materials—there are benefits and drawbacks to using it. Let’s discuss. 

Natural Stone Pros

Natural stone is relatively strong, stable, timeless, and durable. Have you ever marveled at the  beauty and longevity of national monuments and works of art that are centuries old and haven’t aged a day? You can thank the powers of natural stone for that. 

The benefits of natural stone include:

  • Natural stone will appreciate in value when used properly
  • Natural stone is very eco-friendly
  • Natural stone resists natural elements
  • This material requires minimal maintenance
  • …And natural stone offers almost limitless design options. 

Natural stone comes in various shapes, sizes, colors, textures, and patterns. You can use natural stone as a building material for both the inside and exterior of your home, from kitchen countertops to an outside fireplace and walkway. In fact, for those that are focused on sustainability, natural stone building materials are the most eco friendly option.

There are a variety of natural stone types that make for great building materials. Popular natural stones for interior design include:

  • Granite – You’ve probably heard someone marvel over a granite countertop on any given HGTV show. Granite is a highly prized material in the design world as it is available in a variety of colors and textures. Additionally, it’s the commercial catch-all name that encompasses rocks including anorthosite, gneiss, granodiorite, diabase, monzonite, syenite, and gabbro. 
  • Marble – Luxe natural stone marble is used in both architecture, interior design, and in towering statues you may find in a museum. Famed buildings like The Supreme Court and the Taj Mahal are made of marble, but you can source this material to use for something as simple as your bathroom sink. Like granite, marble is also available in a variety of colors. 
  • Limestone – Limestone is similar to marble in that both stones are made from calcite, but limestone is more porous and is a sedimentary rock, while marble is a metamorphic rock. There are numerous varieties of limestone, all with different purposes. Travertine is an example of a limestone variety that can be used as an attractive material for flooring or walls. 

There is a stone that is perfect for almost every application out there. It can be considered a one-of-a-kind building material, and in fact, hand-carved natural stone is a true work of art

However, it’s impossible to find tiles, slabs, and architectural elements that match exactly. In that way, natural stone is similar to fingerprints, in that no one has the same one, and that is something that makes this material one of a kind. 

There are many natural causes that affect the graining and coloration of stone over time. They include mineral deposits, underground springs, temperature, and seismic shifts. These occurrences are impossible to re-create and can only be done by Mother Nature herself. All of the “imperfections”—what you may think of as character and charm—are unique reflections of the stone’s “life.”

Natural Stone Drawbacks 

On the other hand, there are some disadvantages, both perceived and real, of natural stone. 

One of the greatest drawbacks to using natural stone is that it can be expensive, depending on the type of stone used, and, many times the final product received doesn’t look exactly like the sample. There are generally requirements in maximum sizing and length, and the material cannot always be seamless.

Cast Stone 

What is cast stone? Cast stone is reconstructed stone that is made to look natural through a highly refined process. Depending on what project you’d like to tackle and what your budget and personal style is, cast stone may be the perfect material for you. 

Cast Stone Pros 

In terms of cast stone, there are a few positives. 

Quite often, it is considerably lighter and can be easier and quicker to manufacture and install than its natural stone counterpart. In many cases, it’s less expensive than natural stone, but by no means is that always the case.

Cast stone is often made by mixing natural elements like quartz, granite, limestone, or marble. Cast stone mix is then pushed through molds to give it a look that resembles the density and texture of natural stone. Unlike natural stone, cast stone can be manipulated to be a certain size, shape, and color, which means if you like things to match, this could be the best material for you. 

Cast Stone Drawbacks  

There are a few drawbacks when considering cast stone. 

For example, cast stone struggles to achieve the same level of detail as carved natural stone. There is only so much you can capture with the precast molds that produce the product, whereas the possibilities are endless when you have a sculptor carving natural stone. 

The hardness and density of natural stone and the artistic expression of the artisan doing the work add immeasurable value that simply cannot be achieved with the cast stone counterpart. It can also be quite challenging for a cast stone producer to achieve a genuine visual interpretation of veining and overall stone “movement.”

Natural Stone Vs Cast Stone: Which to Choose?

From durable physical properties to pricing to aesthetics, there are distinct differences between these natural building stones and artificial stone, although they both have upsides depending on your project and personal style. 

You’ll want to consider all these factors before your decision is… cast in stone. 

If you need assistance deciding which stone product is best for you, the experts here Materials Marketing are ready to help. We have 10 showrooms around America and our designers can assist you in creating your own natural stone floor, fireplace, mosaic, or whatever else you’re dreaming of.  

Stop in and visit! By the way, all the images in this post are, you guessed it—natural stone!

 

Sources: 

  1. Geology.com. Uses of Granite. https://geology.com/articles/granite
  2. Geology.com. What is Limestone and How Is It Used? https://geology.com/rocks/limestone.shtml 
  3. Geology.com. The Many Uses of Marble. https://geology.com/rocks/uses-of-marble
  4. Monarch Metal Fabrication. Understanding the Difference between Cast Stone and Precast GFRC. https://monarchmetal.com/blog/understanding-the-difference-between-cast-stone-and-precast-gfrc
  5. Sullivan Engineering. Cast Stone Vs. Natural Stone. https://sullivanengineeringllc.com/2016/10/28/cast-stone-vs-natural-stone/
  6. Sun Precast Co., Inc. What is Cast Stone? https://www.sunprecast.com/product/what-cast-stone
  7. Use Natural Stone. Know Your Rocks: An Overview of the Geology of Natural Stone. https://usenaturalstone.org/geology-natural-stone/

Subscribe to our Newsletter and stay up to date on Materials Marketing news, special products, and designer tips!