What is the difference between limestone and porcelain?


One of the most critical decisions of the design stage of your project will will be choosing which type of flooring to use. There are many factors that will play into the decision on flooring, particularly as this is a foundational element of the home. We find that clients often have a dilemma in choosing between limestone and porcelain so we wanted to share a few key differences of these two flooring options.

Babington Natural Limestone | HM Flooring Library

The key difference between limestone and porcelain is that limestone is a natural product whereas porcelain is a man made product.


Limestone is a sedimentary rock predominantly formed during the Jurassic period by deposits of shells collecting on the sea bed that were then compressed together over time. As a natural product, there is real beauty in the shell and fossil patterns and nothing that is man made can ever truly live up to the uniqueness of natural side.

As with many things in life, what makes limestone great is also what makes it weak; as the limestone is quarried from the ground, the geological variations will cause inconsistencies in the markings, colour, pattern, texture and veining. So when you look at a sample of limestone it is only a guide as to the final look of the stone. At HM we only keep small stocks of samples so that they are always up to date and represent the latest quarry supplies that arrive from all over the world.

Brampton Natural Limestone | HM Flooring Library

One factor to also consider with limestone flooring is that it is an inherently porous surface so it will require a sealant treatment to applied to it, not only to help prevent stains that could occur, but to also protect the tile surface, ensuring its longevity.

There are several different surface finishes for the limestone tiles, so below we have noted a guide to these:

I) ETCHED FINISH   The etched finish is created by sand blasting which makes the stone surface less slippery, gives a softer more muted finish and is particularly appropriate for harder stones that are used outside and pool surrounds. The overall look of etched limestone is sleek and smart.

II) HONED FINISH   The honed finish is created by a high-speed mechanical action that leaves the surface smooth and flat. The overall finish achieved can vary from glossy to matt depending on the density of the stone.

III) TUMBLED FINISH   The most popular finish for our natural stone – a tumbled limestone has softly rounded edges. The exposed surface grain of tumbled limestone is created by a mechanical process that recreates the effect of action of the sea on beach pebbles.  


Porcelain tiles are made up from a mix of clay and minerals that are then fired at very high temperatures which gives this type of flooring its hard-wearing and durable reputation.

As a result, natural effect porcelain tiles are a popular alternative to limestone as it is an extremely hard wearing and durable flooring material. It can provide you with some highly effective imitations of marble, travertine or other stone patterns, colours and textures with plenty of choices to match any design. Whilst limestone will evolve over time, porcelain retains its pristine look.

Wilton Porcelain | HM Flooring Library

With it being almost impossible to stain, whilst also being scratch-resistant and frost-resistant, it makes porcelain an incredibly easy to maintain flooring choice. One mustn’t also forget its resistance to harsher cleaning agents, meaning the upkeep of your porcelain floor is one less thing to worry about.

For more information about the stone flooring we offer, click here, or for advice on which tiles to choose, we are pleased to offer you design advice at any stage of your project.

Please contact us by email to info@hmflooringlibrary.co.uk or call us on 01371 821300.

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