Natural stone vs cultured stone cladding: which is better?

*Left: Travertine silver cross cut wall cladding. Right: Wyoming natural stone wall cladding.

Homes exist to make us feel proud every time we step inside, so it’s no wonder stone cladding, with its attractive appearance and high desirability, has remained popular for decades. When cultured stone veneers first appeared, they started to take natural stone’s pole position in the market for reasons including cost and versatility. Now, natural stone cladding is often the preferred option once again, but what’s the difference between the two? And, which will work best for your home?

Natural stone cladding is made from real, quarried stone sliced into thin pieces to make veneers, whereas cultured stone cladding is manufactured mostly from concrete with a few extra materials to convey the image of natural stone. At first glance, the two products seem almost indistinguishable, depending on the quality. However, they are completely different in many ways.

At Mataka, we’ve imported handpicked quarried stone from various countries for over 15 years to manufacture high-quality natural stone cladding in Perth, and our products add a touch of luxury and elegance to any home.

However, we understand that you need to know the difference between our biggest contender before deciding which to purchase, which is why we've detailed the pros and cons of each in this article.

There's actually little difference in cost

Cultured stone was born in an era when natural stone could only be sliced to around four inches thin. At the time, natural stone was expensive to extract from the ground as well as transport because of its heavy weight. Cultured stone, being a thin layer of a treated concrete look-a-like, was much cheaper than natural stone, making it more accessible to the masses.

The natural stone industry soon found a way to compete with its new rival, with state-of-the-art saws able to slice stones to a fraction of the size previously possible. Thanks to this new cutting-edge slicing technique and advances in the quarrying industry, natural stone cladding in Perth is now similarly priced to cultured stone veneers.

Additionally, the installation and transportation costs of both natural and cultured stone are relatively similar. Cultured stone is a little more lightweight than its natural counterpart, but natural stone veneers are still light enough be transported without footings. Cultured stone may be a little easier to install than natural veneers, but that’s not an issue if you allow us to do the hard work.

Quality is the biggest determining factor in price regarding both natural and cultured stone cladding, the latter of which can be found cheaper if you're willing to settle for a mass-produced appearance, which neatly brings us to our next point.

Cultured stone can never match natural stone's authenticity Admittedly, high-end cultured stone looks almost indistinguishable from natural stone cladding at first glance, especially from a distance. However, if you buy cheap cultured stone attempting to save cash, you won’t have something that’s truly unique.

Cultured stone veneers are made by pouring concrete into pre-made designs, and if you look carefully at a complete wall, you’ll probably find two or more identical stones. If you purchase expensive cultured wall cladding - which can, surprisingly, cost more than natural stone in certain situations - the stones may have been hand-painted to achieve a unique look.

However, there's no reason to pay attention to such details with natural stone cladding because each stone is hand-picked, completely unique, and cut by hand before being put into place to achieve the desired pattern. It's impossible to slice cultured stone because that would reveal the ugly inner concrete beneath the paint.

Let's talk durability and versatility

Both products in question fare well in terms of durability, and you can expect either to last for years with little-required maintenance. However, natural stone won’t fade with sunlight during your lifetime at least, but because its cultured counterpart is usually painted, colours will likely fade after a few years, especially if used outdoors.

On the other hand, cultured stone comes in a broad spectrum of colours while natural stone is limited to the colours which nature gave it. If colour is a crucial factor in your design plans, then cultured stone might be your best option.

Of course, natural stone is still versatile because it can be sliced and chipped by hand to form unique patterns, and colours hugely vary even if we have little ability to alter them.

Both cultured and natural stone can be used for a range of purposes, whether it's indoors or outdoors, to create a wall feature or a complete display, or to decorate a wall or floor. However, because cultured veneers are the lightest option, you can attach them to weak, thin walls and ceilings depending on the product.

The verdict

As you can see from the pros and cons detailed above, both natural and cultured stone cladding in Perth can be excellent products, depending on your requirements.

Cultured stone is easier for amateurs to install, can be used for slightly more purposes due to its light weight, and comes in a broad range of colours. However, patterns are rarely unique, it doesn’t look authentic upon close inspection, and colours will likely fade with time.

Natural stone cladding, on the other hand, always looks unique, retains its colour, and won't need replacing for at least your lifetime if well-maintained. It can’t, however, be used on thin, weak walls or ceilings because it's heavier than its cultured counterpart.

Here at Mataka, we naturally favour natural stone, but that’s because we believe you can’t beat authenticity. You'll never visit a house with identical natural stones or find duplicate shapes on veneers anywhere in your home.

All of our stones are handpicked and sourced from numerous countries to ensure quality and beauty, and our cladding is timelessly stylish, undeniably luxurious, and environmentally friendly.

Check out our range of natural and Travetine stone wall cladding, or contact us to find out more about our high-quality products or visit our showroom to see them for yourself.

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