Natural stone is the most aesthetic and eco-friendly construction material known to mankind. There are many types of natural stone, each with distinguished properties and advantages. Some are ideally suited for larger applications, while some are better for aesthetically highlighting areas of your home. So what’s best for your home project? To help you decide, we’ve compiled the following information to ease you in your decision.
A dense coarse-grained rock and one of the most beautiful natural stones in the world, granite consists mainly of quartz, alkali feldspar, and plagioclase feldspar, all of which contribute to the stone’s color. The dark brown, dark-green, or black is due to the presence of such minerals as hornblende and biotite mica. The molecules of these minerals entwine in a way that makes granite extremely hard, difficult to damage, generally impossible to scratch, heat resistant, and durable, making it an ideal choice for flooring, wall cladding, pillars, kitchen counters, vanity tops, paved paths and any imaginable outdoor application.
Granite is resilient and can last decades on end, is easy to clean and maintain, all without compromising its visual appeal. It creates a luxurious, spacious feel in any home. Granite gets its glossy finish from high-powered polishing tools and fine grit diamond tools. It is available in honed (unpolished) and flamed (rough textured) finishes as well, to suit varying decorative tastes. Granite has a timeless quality about it; it’s more or less always en vogue.
With advances in technology creating a revolution of sorts in quarrying and fabrication, coupled with ever-expanding applications, costs are reducing everyday, making granite an affordable alternative to manmade stone industries that generate tons of in-disposable waste.
Its elegance is legendary. Architects of yore used marble to its best effect, making the most of its strength, beauty, changing hues with light and weather, and its versatility in sculpture. Once associated with the rich and famous, donning the homes and palaces of nobles and royalty, marble is now affordable yet maintains its luxurious appeal. It is popular as elegant flooring or as facades, both interior and exterior. Perhaps no other material adds so much prestige to a home as marble. It is used practically everywhere: outdoor fountains and statues, indoor fire surrounds, Jacuzzis, as inlays on furniture, countertops, bar counters, and much more. Marble can certainly be used in sanitary environments since it traps little to no dirt and never gathers mold.
Marble flooring is best in low traffic areas, so as to avoid stains and scratches, and, like most exterior stones, can lose its color in a highly polluted environment. It is easy to maintain though; all you need are the right applications and some simple equipment to restore it to its original sheen and condition. Please see Tips for Cleaning Marble for more information.
Marble is essentially limestone – calcium carbonate that crystallizes gradually over time – and comes in many forms: calcite, from calciferous limestone, dolomite, from dolomitic limestone, serpentine, or green marbles, and travertine, or sedimentary limestone. Thousands of years ago, heat and pressure in the earth’s crust caused metamorphosis of limestone to form large, coarse grains of calcite. The byproduct contains impurities that contribute an interesting array of colors in marble. In its purest form, marble is white, while hematite adds a reddish color, limonite adds yellow, and serpentine, green.
Because marble is difficult to separate into sheets of equal size, it is mined carefully, without the use of explosives, which could shatter the rock. Thus, experts use channeling machines, which cut grooves and holes in the rock, to lift it carefully.
Sandstone is created when layers of varying mixtures of sand, quartz, pyrite, and feldspar harden under pressure and form a larger sedimentary stone. The color of different sandstones can change depending on the impurities laced throughout the stone (usually caused by other minerals, like iron oxide), but is generally found in cream, grey, red, brown, or green. The stone requires little finishing, if any at all, can be bought ready-to-use. Once popular in constructing houses particularly facades, today, sandstone is ideal for flooring or outdoor paths.
Perhaps the most versatile of natural stones, slate easily splits into thin, durable sheets, making it ideal for roofing, flagstone, facades, and high-water areas like showers and pool surrounds. Some slate slabs, consisted chiefly of clay, are also popular in flooring and, sometimes, as counter tops. Additionally, slate is durable and waterproof. Made primarily from grains of mica and quartz with small quantities of chlorite, hematite, and other minerals, it is usually grey to black in color. The color may vary though, becoming red or purple, if adulterated by the presence of other minerals.
A porous rock with many cavities and holes, travertine originates from limestone formed over a long period of time and is available in a diverse range of colors, from ivory to golden brown. For practical use, its holes are filled using cement (grouting) or chemical fillers like polyester resins, or left unfilled for aesthetic appeal. Grouting travertine in different colors gives an amazingly unique effect to your flooring. Travertine is best on floors, vanity tops, wall cladding, fireplace surrounds and furniture.