"Natural Stone" refers to a number of products quarried from the earth, used over many thousands of years as building materials and decorative enhancements. These products include Granite, Marble, Limestone, Travertine, Slate, Quartzite, Sandstone, Adoquin, Onyx, and others. They are more than just rocks – natural stone is hand selected from the best, most consistent sources for durability and beauty. Natural stone products differ in composition, color, and texture even among pieces from the same source. This is usually considered a benefit, lending itself to one of a kind designs and distinctive, dramatic applications.
In past eras, Natural Stone has mainly been used for large-scale construction and in formal applications such as churches and government buildings. It has also been used for road construction and monuments. For residential construction, wood and brick have been the traditional choice. However, there has been a growing trend in recent years to use Natural Stone in residential construction for both structural and decorative use. Popular applications include entryways, atriums, bathrooms, fireplaces, floors, countertops, and many other surfaces.
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.
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 products have 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.
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.
Natural stones are quarried directly from the earth's crust, and every piece is unique. The only processing they need is shaping into various forms, sizes and finishes.
Stones that are harder and denser are more difficult and expensive to quarry and process. Quarrying methods vary as well; stones may be quarried below ground, which is more expensive than above ground. Also, since natural stone is quarried all over the world, long distance shipping factors into the price.
The larger the stone, the more difficult it is to process, handle, pack, and transport. Larger sizes also tend to have a higher amount of waste compared to the part that is used, which makes them more expensive.
The availability of a particular stone is the most important factor in determining price. However, handling and transportation cost does drop slightly for a larger quantity. The best way to reduce cost is to find a stone dealer who is running a special on a particular product.
Marble is considered one of the softer natural stones. Bullnose marble tiles are rounded tiles used for corners and edges. It is advised that marble bullnose tiles be fabricated by a professional using a grinder and bugging pad.
Polished flooring may be used in a commercial application if the floor is unlikely to become wet and slippery. It is advisable to have the floor material professionally tested prior to installation. Sealers are available that can improve the slip resistance of the surface without removing its gloss.
A honed finish creates a soft, matte, appearance that is more suited to casual, comfortable environments than a formal, polished surface.
Travertine is characterized by the presence of many tiny holes, caused by trapped gas bubbles during its formation. This creates a porous, uneven surface, which is referred to as Unfilled Travertine. When these cavities are filled with cement or another material, the result is called Filled Travertine and may be honed and polished to provide a uniform surface similar to marble.
Slate with a heavily cleft finish may create a tripping hazard. Most slates are lightly clefted and suitable for flooring in kitchens, bathrooms and on patios. A pallet of slate may contain a few pieces with heavy clefting, but these are generally not used for the flooring installation.
Creating an installation without visible grout joints is difficult, but if the surface of the floor is straight and the tiles are perfectly cut, very little grout should be seen. A professional, experienced installer should be chosen to create this look.
Natural stone is available in a nearly endless variation of colors, patterns and veining. These may include shades of beige, gray, gold, red, pink, blue, and green.
The criteria for selecting stone color will depend on the application. Color choice can make a room appear larger or smaller, formal or warm and inviting. Consider the following characteristics: >Lighter colors tend to make a smaller room seem larger. >Dark colors tend to make a room more intimate and cozy. >Solid colors, smooth and polished tiles show more dirt and require more maintenance. >Patterned material, usually in a honed finish, is one of the easiest to maintain. >Dramatic patterns can help highlight and accent portions of the room, including architectural features.
Each stone is unique, and some types of stone display more variation between the pieces than others. Granites show little variation in color, but may have differing patterns and grain density. Slates tend to show a wide variation in color, even within the same pallet of stone.
The neutral tones found in natural stone include beige, tan, and cream. Most people enjoy these colors, and find that they complement all types of furniture and fixtures.