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Natural stone is prized its distinctive beauty and the sense of peaceful tranquility it creates, but there are also many practical benefits to using Natural Stone in your home. Natural Stone products are more durable than many artificial products, often lasting for decades with very little maintenance. With Natural Stone there are no worries about exposure to harmful chemicals in the home or released into the environment during production or disposal. Why invest time and money into a look-alike? Natural Stone is the real thing that the artificial products try to emulate.
Natural Stone products include Granite, Marble, Limestone, Travertine, Slate, Quartzite, Sandstone and Onyx.
For maintenance-free elegance and durability, granite is unmatched. Its incredible strength and density makes granite the perfect choice for massive structural work – walls, monuments and supports. Though it is the hardest of structural stones, the amazing variety of mineral-rich colors and natural patterns gives it ornamental value as well. Granite products are ideal for flooring, countertops, vanities and decorative exterior applications.
Prized for its timeless style, texture and high-gloss polish along with a rich palette of beautiful colors, marble has a place anywhere in the home. Available in solids or dramatic veined varieties, marble may be carved or sculpted in many ways, making it one of the most versatile decorative stones. Often seen as a symbol of luxury, modern technology brings beautiful marble products even to budget-conscious homeowners.
Also referred to as Verde Antique, Serpentine Marble is a dramatic green color with strong white veining.
Formed over thousands of years of sedimentary deposit and compression, slate splits naturally into beautifully textured layers. The various shades of slate products – brown, yellow, dark gray, pink, lavender and more – may even occur within the same piece of stone. Durable and stain-resistant, slate products are often used for flooring, cladding and landscaping.
Shimmering and sparkling with tiny quartz crystals, Quartz is a rock similar to slate with a medium grained texture and incredible durability. Differing mineral content creates many color variations, from the sedate white, gray or beige to more adventurous shades of purple and pink. Quartzite is widely used for wall veneers and decorative tiles. A naturally non-skid texture makes it a perfect candidate for flooring indoors and out, including areas with heavy traffic and exposure to the elements.
With a uniform texture, an appealing variety of colors and finishes, and weather resistant durability, it’s easy to see why sandstone productshave been used for thousands of years for walls, floors, and pavers. As with other types of rock, its variations result from differing mineral composition – there’s a sandstone product to match any décor.
The muted, soft tones of limestone are perfect for today’s casual and comfortable lifestyles. Available in hues of soft beige and tan, either polished or honed, limestone products are ideal for bathrooms, fireplaces, countertops and flooring in low-traffic, informal areas.
Valued for its banded, pitted “distressed” appearance, travertine adds rich, distinctive character to a variety of indoor and outdoor building projects. Its patterns and veining effects were formed by hot spring water percolating through underground limestone. When used for interior applications, travertine is often filled with cement, grout or resin and sealed to create a smooth, stain-resistant surface.
Shell Stone is a sedimentary stone similar to limestone, with many small shells embedded and visible upon its surface.
A translucent stone with a glossy, polished surface, onyx is composed of crystalline silica and closely related to agate, a semi-precious stone. Often found in caves, onyx is formed by the slow flow of cold, carbonated spring water. Onyx is available in pastel shades of yellow, brown, green, orange, and white.
Cantera is a sedimentary stone that comes from the riverbeds of Mexico. It is used extensively for architectural columns, moldings, and for pavement tiles.
The most important difference is this – Natural Stone is a product of nature, and Ceramics are man-made. Most man-made materials cannot compare in durability to natural ones. While damaged ceramic tiles usually need replacing, natural stone usually needs minimal restoration if stained or scratched. Other differences are explained below:
Low absorbency, thin and lightweight, corrugated backing
Have only one plain finish and practically no edge finishes.
The sizes in ceramics are restricted and patterns are very uniform and geometric.
Differs from category to category
Acid sensitivity varies from stone to stone.
Have a whole spectrum of finishes like Polished, Honed, Antiquated, Tumbled, Leather, Rugged (Split face, River Rough, River Wash, Flamed) and more. Different types of edges like beveled, bull-nosed etc. are possible.
No size restriction. Available in huge slabs as large as 125′ X 75′ or in small tumbled mosaic pieces of 1”x 1”. Natural, random patterns are found in Natural Stones.
Natural Stone can be used on nearly every surface both inside and outside the home, including floors, kitchen countertops, vanity tops, bathrooms, patios, walkways, fireplaces, facades, wall cladding, and garden landscaping.
Countertops in kitchens and bar areas are often exposed to acidic substances such as lemon, vinegar, alcohol, and tomato sauce. Knives, dishes, pots and pans, and other implements may cause scratching of lesser materials. Granite is the hardest and densest of all natural stones – the feldspar content keeps it water resistant, and the silicates it contains won’t react with acid. These properties help Granite resist staining and retain its fine luster over a longer period of time than ceramic tiles or other stones.
Although Marble is commonly requested for countertops in bars and kitchens, marble’s high carbonate content makes it vulnerable to acidic substances.
The family or living room in a home is a place for peace and relaxation, and the soft, muted tones and textures of limestone or travertine are the perfect touch. Available in shades of beige, tan, yellow and gold and processed with a tumbled or antiqued texture, limestone complements all types of furniture and upholstery.
Homeowners often enjoy bathrooms with bold colors and smooth, flowing patterns. Marble is the perfect choice for this application due to its wide spectrum of available colors. It also lends itself well to carved patterns and details, creating both traditional and artistic designs. While kitchen countertops are often exposed to acidic substances, bathroom countertops are more likely to be exposed to alkaline products, which do not react with Marble.
The earth tones and rustic look of slate create a comfortable, natural look that is right at home with exterior landscaping and interior garden designs. Slate is naturally slip resistant, even when wet, and is much less likely to show dust and dirt than polished granite or marble. It’s also relatively low priced, which makes it a great choice for large, informal areas.
Cost of processing is also a factor. Since natural stone has been used as a building material for thousands of years in many locations overseas, those areas have a long-established system for quarrying and processing these stones which is efficient and economical.
Natural stone from different areas contains a varying mix of mineral deposits and rock formations. For example, the mineral Mica may be found more frequently in some areas, which means that the rock from that location will contain bigger shiny crystals than we would find in places where less Mica is found. Some countries quarry more limestone than granite. Therefore, stone from certain places may be better suited for one application than another. Natural stone qualities and characteristics differ due to geological formations, not geographical boundaries.
Stone Size and Thickness
- Standard stone tile sizes include squares of 4”, 6”, 8”, 12”, 16”, 18”, and 24”.
- Standard thickness for 12” square tiles is 3/8”.
- Standard thickness for 16”-24” square tiles varies from 0.5” – 0.75”.
- Slab sizes vary from 104”x70” to 125”x80”. Smaller sizes are available as well.
- Thickness of slabs is generally —————
- Slates and Quartzites are produced in nominal sizes, not exact sizes – a 12” square tile may actually measure 11.87” square.
Tile size is a personal choice, but should be proportionate to the size of the room. Smaller spaces should use smaller tiles in order to make the most of the stone’s color and other qualities.
Granite is a natural stone, and Corian is a man-made material. As a plastic-based material, Corian is more prone to scratching, deformation and loss of finish due to heat. Granite is more durable, easy to maintain, resistant to scratches and stains – and much more appealing to the eye. Granite is available in a wider range of colors than Corian, and costs less as well.
Thickness tolerance varies from stone to stone. Slates generally have a tolerance of 0.38”, and granite tiles have a tolerance of 0.06″.
Stone Care and Maintenance
Impregnator sealer consists of microscopic balls of silicone that attach themselves to crevices inside the stone. These balls become a permanent part of the stone, and act as a waterproof shield.
There is no set rule on how often to seal your natural stone. Sealing can be as frequent as six months for higher traffic areas on marble, slate, travertine, and limestone or every couple of years for granite countertops. Also some sealers provide for only a single application every ten years. Please review the guidelines for each individual sealer.
If your marble tiles, travertine tiles or granite countertops have a stain, consult a restoration professional. A Poultice kit is another stain removal option, this product can be found at most home improvement stores.
Porcelain tile does not need to be sealed. However, it is recommended that the grout be sealed or a pre-sealed grout used.
The tiles themselves do not need to be sealed; however the grout should be sealed to prevent stains. Because of the amount of grout and the small size of the mosaic tiles, it is easier to seal the entire surface or use a pre-sealed grout.