When it comes to home construction and design, natural materials are always best, right? Well, maybe not all the time.
While many natural materials are known for their superior quality and style, sometimes the manufactured alternatives can be just as good (or even better) than the real thing.
If you’re in the process of building or updating your home and considering which materials offer the best value in terms of quality, affordability, and aesthetics, here’s a run-down on how some of the faux alternatives stack up against the natural alternatives.
Polished Concrete Floors Vs. Concrete-Look Tiles
Polished concrete is dominating the world of the interior design of late. A hard-wearing, low-maintenance flooring option that provides a clean, minimalist look complements todays’ contemporary styles perfectly.
However, polished concrete floors can have some downsides. Not only is there the potential for cracks to appear if the concrete isn’t installed correctly, but it can also be challenging to know exactly what the finished product will look like. Installation can also take some time—after your contractor prepares the floor, they’ll need to pour the concrete and leave it for several days to allow it to set before polishing and sealing it. For this reason, it’s not uncommon for the process to take up to one week to complete the installation.
Suppose you’re looking for an alternative to polished concrete flooring. In that case, many terrazzo tile designs or something like these concrete-look Australian made tiles can be an excellent option that offers a similar aesthetic.
While the cost will largely depend on your tile choice, tiles are often easier to install and can generally be completed in a couple of days. As an added benefit, they’re also resistant to temperature changes (which can lead to cracking in concrete), are chemical resistant, and more environmentally friendly than concrete.
Natural Timber Vs. Composite Timber
When it comes to your choice of decking, it’s easy to assume that nothing could beat natural timber. However, composite timber decking is fast becoming the preferred option.
Generally constructed from a combination of wood fibers and recycled plastic, composite timber is gaining popularity because of its low-maintenance properties. Unlike timber decking, which often requires annual sanding and staining, composite timber is much more hard-wearing. In contrast, composite decking tends to require cleaning every couple of years without any need for sanding or staining.
While composite timber is likely to cost more upfront, if you’d prefer not to have to do any significant maintenance, it can prove to be the smarter option.
Natural Stone Vs. Engineered Stone
Choosing the right kitchen countertops is always a big decision that will make a big statement about the style and quality of your home, and natural stone has always been considered the most desirable ‘luxury’ option. However, natural stone often also comes with a hefty price tag. Each slab can also have some natural variations that make it difficult to know exactly what the finished countertop will look like.
These are two factors that have made engineered stone an increasingly popular option. The engineered alternatives are often significantly cheaper than natural stone, but you also have a much clearer idea of how the slab will look. Porcelain is an example of an engineered alternative that is even harder than some natural stones, making it scratch, stain, and heat resistant.