24 . 02 . 20

Natural Stone vs Cast Stone - what's the difference?

When choosing which materials to use in your next project there are many factors to consider, especially when it comes to stone.

Natural stone has traditionally been held in high regard as a premier building material reflecting character, stability, and grandeur, but is it the best fit for your project? We've taken a look at the main differences between natural stone and cast stone, as well as some of the benefits and drawbacks of each ...

The term ‘natural stone’ refers to any product that is quarried from the earth.

It is widely recognised that natural stone is a strong, stable and timeless building material. Popular natural stones including, granite, marble, limestone, travertine, slate and sandstone, have been used as building materials for thousands of years, creating some of the most famous historic structures, monuments and works of art around the world.

As a natural material that has gone through many changes over time, natural stone offers variations in both colour and grain pattern, which when used correctly requires minimal maintenance.

Cost is usually the most prohibitive factor when deciding to use natural stone on a project. The process of extraction, cutting and finishing the stone can be comparatively more expensive and time consuming than producing cast stone. In addition, while locally sourced UK stone options are available, popular stones from abroad are often imported from China, Italy and Turkey, increasing the carbon footprint of the material.

Cast stone is an appealing alternative to natural stone, produced in moulds using high quality fine and course aggregates, designed to simulate natural cut stone. It can be manufactured to produce architectural features that will enhance new buildings or match existing stonework on restoration projects and is regularly used and accepted in areas with sensitive planning constraints.

As well as being both superior in strength and comparably more cost-effective, there are several additional benefits of using cast stone over natural stone:

  • Specifying cast stone allows the designer the ultimate freedom to achieve the aesthetic they desire without restriction. Using the highest quality moulds made from solid timber, steel, fibreglass or polyurethane allows us to achieve crisp arises, beautiful curves and fine decorative details.
  • Using specialist mixing methods in both or wet cast and semi-dry products achieves consistency in stone colour, free of the naturally occurring variations or imperfections found in natural stone. In addition, the reduced moisture absorption of cast stone results in improved freeze/thaw durability over natural stone.
  • Manufactured in the UK, cast stone can be produced and delivered to site in a much shorter time frame and requires minimal maintenance during its lifetime. Steel components such as reinforcement and fixings can be included in the product during the casting process, making it possible to produce structural stone that negates the need for any additional support, bringing significant associated construction and economic benefits.

Often, the choice between natural and cast stone products comes down to personal preference and the constraining parameters of each individual project, such as time-scales and budgets.

If you would like to speak to a specialist to discuss the benefits of cast stone in more detail, contact us here.

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