When it comes to creating the perfect outdoor patio, one of the most important decisions you’ll face is selecting the right material for your hardscape. Your new patio is going to be a permanent fixture in your outdoor space, so making the right choice when choosing a hardscape product is critical

In Northern Michigan, natural and manufactured stone stand out as the most popular choices, each with its own unique set of benefits and considerations. Let’s explore the differences between natural stone and manufactured stone so you can make a wise choice when selecting materials for your outdoor patio.

Natural Stone vs. Manufactured Stone

Natural stone, prized for its timeless beauty and durability, is a popular choice for outdoor patios and walkways. Quarried from the Earth, natural stone varieties such as limestone, sandstone, bluestone, and slate offer a range of colors, textures, and patterns that add character and charm to any outdoor setting.

Manufactured stone, sometimes referred to as faux or cultured stone, is a man-made alternative to natural stone that also offers unparalleled versatility and consistency. Crafted from a blend of cement, aggregates, and pigments, manufactured stone is designed to mimic the look and feel of natural stone while offering greater affordability and easier installation.

Selecting the right stone for your outdoor project is really important, which is why we wrote two blogs about it covering color and texture, as well as durability and budget.

circular patio with chairs and small stone wall

Cost of Natural Stone vs. Manufactured Stone

When making the choice between manufactured stone and natural stone, budget is one of the main determining factors. Carefully planning the budget for your landscape is essential to having a successful landscape installation. Selecting a product that goes over your budget for hardscape materials means other important items from your landscape plan may have to be cut.

Natural stone is almost always more expensive than manufactured stone. The product itself does not necessarily cost a significant amount more, but the installation tends to be much more extensive.

Natural stones are cut from nature, not made in a factory. As a result, they are often uneven and come in varying sizes.

Choices and Customization Options between Natural Stone and Manufactured Stone

Both natural and manufactured stone offer a wide variety of product choices. Natural stone tends to have more unique colors, textures, and patterns, with no two pieces of stone looking exactly alike.

Manufactured stone often mimics the look of natural stone, but the beauty of natural stone always shines through. However, this uniqueness can also lead to variations in appearance and consistency after your patio is installed. Natural stone is also limited to what is available at the time, meaning your favorite choice may be difficult to find in stock and fees for custom cut orders and shipments can begin to add up.

custom bluestone patio

The choices among manufactured options have grown tremendously over the past few years. Nearly any pattern and color combination found in natural stone is replicated in a manufactured option.

Manufactured stone provides greater uniformity and consistency after your project ins installed. Its versatility allows for intricate designs and patterns as well.

Durability of Natural Stone and Manufactured Stone

In terms of durability, natural stone boasts exceptional strength and resilience, capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions and heavy foot traffic. Its longevity often outweighs any additional initial costs, making it a more cost-effective investment in the long run. Natural stone can be easily stained, so it is important to consider how you plan to use your patio and keep in mind that wrought iron furniture or red wine spills can mean big stains that cannot be removed. We typically recommend homeowners that who select natural stone order a few replacement pieces for this reason.

Manufactured stone is lighter in weight and easier to handle during installation, it does not always offer the extended durability of natural stone. However, improved production methods are closing the durability gap between manufactured stone and natural stone quickly. Be sure to select a landscaping company that only works with high-end manufacturers to avoid fading or less-durable stone.

aerial photograph of brick paver basketball court with custom key

Choosing Between Natural Stone and Manufactured Stone for Your Outdoor Patio

When it comes to choosing between natural stone and manufactured stone for your outdoor patio, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of each material carefully. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to which product is best.

It is important to partner with a landscape contractor that keeps your preferences and budget in mind throughout the design process. Don’t hesitate to ask to see and touch samples of both natural and manufactured stone. Consider what it will feel like if you plan to walk on the stone with bare feet or if the stone sits in the sunlight all day and is too hot to touch, sit on, or walk on. Selecting the right material can really make or break your outdoor project, so take your time and exhaust your options.

Whether you choose natural stone or manufactured stone, the key is to carefully consider your options, weigh the pros and cons, and select the material that best aligns with your aesthetic preferences, budget, and long-term goals. With the right choice, you can create an outdoor patio that not only enhances the beauty and value of your home but also provides a welcoming and inviting space for outdoor entertaining, relaxation, and enjoyment.

Ready to get started designing your outdoor patio project? Fill out our contact form and meet with one of our experienced landscape designers.

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