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Natural Stones

 

Natural Stones

Granite characteristics include strength and durability. It's a unique and elegant natural stone. It's also one of the oldest, hardest, and strongest stones available.

The looks obtained from using granite are versatile. From an unassuming elegance to a bold "look at me" statement. That means it is at home in a country farm house as well as in a modern high rise. It's all about the color and texture you choose.

The term granite is derived from the Latin word granum meaning grain. It is full of small and large grains of crystals. This stone starts out as a molten mass of magma and then forms into the rock granite as this magma cools deep within the earth. Granites are classified differently in scientific and industry terms.

Granite is a highly durable siliceous stone. The main minerals in true granites are silicates, feldspar, and quartz. The most important mineral is quartz. It's not granite without quartz.

Compared to marble, it is more resistant to the acids found in lemons, vinegars, and cleaning products and usually will not etch.

Granite characteristics make this stone virtually scratch proof. It will not scratch even when directly cut on. Things such as keys, coins, utensils, and appliances won't scratch it either. In fact, granite will actually dull your knives. Little slivers of the knife can become embedded in your stone. This is very noticeable with the darker stones so make a note if you are using your stone as a cutting board.

The characteristics of granite also make this stone heat resistant. It can withstand heat up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. It also has a lower water absorption rate when compared to marbles and Limestone. The crystals in darker stones are smaller or finer making it harder for any liquids to penetrate.

It is most commonly used for countertops, flooring, window sills, shower surrounds, islands, fireplaces, bar tops, benches and monuments because of its outstanding durability.

There are hundreds of colors and patterns to choose from. From simple whites to multi-color patterns, you can find all the colors of nature (and some you will swear couldn´t possibly be natural) in granite. There is truly a color for everyone.

The texture or pattern of the stone is what will most likely influence which granite you choose. Some granite is speckled or have little flecks of color here and there while others have veining running throughout similar to marble.

Figure out what your preferred color is and then look at textures or patterns in this color range. The pattern will change the whole look and feel of your room.

Marble

Marble is an elegant natural stone rich with beauty. It offers a unique look and feel that has been used in palaces, temples, and sculptures for centuries and now is used for countertops, fireplace surrounds, flooring, sinks and vanities. It possesses a truly timeless beauty that will always be a classic.

Marble is formed from limestone. The heat and pressure in the Earth's crust changes the texture and the composition of limestone to form large grains of calcite. This is called re-crystallization. Many natural stones, including limestone and travertine, are referred to as marble because the surface of the stone can be polished to a high gloss finish. True marble is produced through the changes in the structure of the stone due to metamorphic events.

This is a calcareous stone consisting mainly of the mineral calcite. Marble is highly reactive to the acids found in vinegar, orange juice, and lemons. These acids will etch the stone and leave dull marks or rings.

Compared to granite, marble is a softer stone. It should not be cut on because it will scratch easily. But, it's not as soft as soapstone.

This natural stone is best used where it won't to be subjected to frequent use and abuse.

There are many choices in marbles rich color tones. The purest form of marble is white. There are creamy neutrals and warm subtle earth tones, from golden hues to jet blacks. The color and veining of each and every stone is unique. You can find a variety of looks in Marble. From dramatic veining with contrasting colors run throughout the marble to a more harmonious tone on tone veining. Some marbles are so delicate that they even transmit light when back lit.

The surface of marble can be finished in a variety of ways. The choice of finish can achieve a casual or formal look.

A polished surface finish will be reflective and shiny. This type of finish will help protect the surface of your stone by sealing open pores and making the stone less porous.

It can also be honed which is a matte like finish. It is not shiny or reflective like a polished finish is.

An antiqued or tumbled finish will weather or age the stone. Marble is a beautiful and durable natural stone. Think of your lifestyle and where you want to use it before deciding on marble. If you absolutely love the look of marble and are comfortable with the maintenance, choose marble. You will be glad you did.

Limestone

Limestone conveys calmness and serenity. It combines subtleness and sophistication to offer a soft and elegant natural stone that is rich in natural history.

Limestone is layered and formed from the skeletons and shells of sea creatures that lived in warm seas millions of years ago. It will often contain seashells and fossils embedded in the surface. It is a unique natural stone and at times, contains visible mysteries of our past within. If limestone re-crystallizes or "changes its structure", it turns into Marble.

Limestone is a calcareous stone which is highly reactive to acidic substances such as vinegar, wine, lemons, etc. The stone will react negatively to these acids by etching or dulling and showing rings.

Limestone varies greatly in hardness, density, and porosity from stone to stone. Some Limestone is very soft and should not be cut on. Things such as coins, keys, and knives will scratch the stone's surface. Other Limestone are very dense and hard and can be finished to a polished or a glossy shiny surface. Softer stones cannot be polished to this high gloss finish.

Some Limestone is very porous (soaks up liquids) and needs to be sealed. The porosity will vary depending on the type of limestone. Examine the back of the stone. If the surface appears open or sponge like, this is a sign that the stone has a high rate of absorption. It is porous and will show stains easier. Once a stain is absorbed, it will be much harder to remove.

Limestone is used for kitchen islands, range hood covers, vanities, and for limited countertop use. Fireplaces, statues, columns, steps, pool decks, paving... It comes in slabs (large pieces/blocks of stone) or in tiles. Limestone is versatile.

Usually Limestone is lighter in color. The colors are soft and earthy. Light creams, ivories, and smoky gray/blues, pastel shades from yellow to pink are available.

Think about the surface finish you want for your stone. It will impact your look and feel.

When honed or polished, the look becomes more refined. Honed is the most popular finish for Limestone, but keep in mind the harder types of limestone are capable of a high gloss polished finish. A flamed surface finish has a rustic feel. Tumbled limestone has an aged and antique feel. It feels lived in and comfortable.

Even though limestone may require occasional sealing and more frequent dusting to prevent scratching, it is a beautiful and durable natural stone. It will last your lifetime. Use great care when choosing limestone. Think of your lifestyle. Think of how you want the stone to look 5 years. With the choice of Limestone you will, over time, develop a natural worn patina creating an old world charm.

Travertine

Travertine stone is soft and delicate in appearance, which offers a feeling of tranquil serenity but with the power to invoke a casual formalness with its simple beauty.

Travertine stone is a form of limestone. It often forms near hot bubbly mineral rich springs. Gas bubbles become trapped and create a pitted surface on the stone. These pitted surfaces can be filled with an epoxy or dust resin. Filling the small holes and pits gives the travertine a more finished look.

This is a calcareous stone. It is highly reactive to the acids found in lemons, vinegar, alcohol, etc. These acids will etch the stone by leaving marks and rings. Similar to limestone, travertine also varies in hardness, density, and porosity. Some travertine stones are harder than others.

The stone surface can also be left in its natural state with the small holes and pits unfilled. This is a warmer aged look which will acquire a beautiful patina over time. Leaving the stone unfilled will affect the durability. It will attract dirt much easier than a filled travertine.

Travertine colors are in warm earthy tones. From the softest ivories to the palest creams. Rich shades of golden honey and silvery greens to deep mocha browns. Travertine never appears as one solid color. The color tones vary and veins or bands of contrasting color run throughout the stone. No two stones or tiles are alike.

Travertine can be used for countertops but it's not recommended. It is easy to scratch and etch. It works well for backsplashes, sinks, floors, fireplace surrounds, tub surrounds, vanities, end tables and smaller spaces. This stone seems to open up small areas and makes them feel more spacious and airy.

The surface finishes for travertine stone vary. Only the harder types of travertine are capable of the polished/high gloss finish. This stone will never achieve the same glossy finish that granite will. A honed finish is the most popular type of finish. It's not a shiny and reflective finish. More of a matte or a sheen finish. Tumbled travertine makes the stone appear scuffed, weathered or aged. Talk to your fabricator/installer about the different types of finishes they may provide.

Creating a unique look with travertine stone is simple. Mix and match with other natural stones for a more dramatic look and feel. Or, use it alone for sheer simplicity. This natural stone will give you years of beauty to enjoy. Using travertine stone is only limited by your imagination and a little common sense.

Soapstone

Soapstone is a soft and warm stone that has been used for centuries in our homes. It's smooth, slippery, and silky. This stone is a traditional and old fashioned natural stone with a charmingly rustic look, yet rich looking, which makes it versatile enough to fit a modern home.

The colors of soapstone are both rich and beautiful conniving harmonious calm. The hues range from ash gray to smoky blue-grays or even a rich charcoal black. Some stones have flecks of green and blue and contrasting veins twisting throughout the stone.

There are actually two types of soapstone. Both types of Soapstone are a siliceous natural stone which consists mainly of talc and chlorite. The artistic soapstone which is used for carvings and sculptures contains higher talc content.

Whereas the other type of soapstone, also known as steatite, is used for architectural purposes. It is used for countertops, island tops, sills, flooring, and shower stalls, sinks, vanities and fireplace hearths just to name a few. Architectural soapstone contains a lesser amount of talc. The more talc the stone contains, the softer the stone is.

Since it is a siliceous stone, it is unaffected by acids contained in items such as wine, lemons, vinegar, etc. It is also a nonporous stone and will not absorb liquids and stains like other natural stones will. It is also heat resistant. Setting a hot pot on your soapstone countertop won't scorch it or burn it. These are just few of the reasons it's the countertop of choice in science labs. Special cleaners aren't required with this dense stone. Soapstone weighs an average of 20 lbs. per square foot!

However, it is a soft stone, softer than other natural stones. In fact it's so soft it can be scratched with a fingernail, so if you choose a soapstone counter top, do not cut on it.

Over time, the edges will soften and you'll start to see small nicks, scratches, and indentations. If you like the aged antique look, the patina of this natural stone might be perfect for you. It will age gradually and gracefully.

If you don't care for the small nicks and scratches, a little mineral oil or a light sanding will smooth out the stone.

Mineral oil is used to enhance and deepen the color. The stone color becomes more dramatic. Mineral oil also helps darken the stone evenly and bring out its natural beauty. The use of mineral oil isn't mandatory. Soapstone will eventually take on its own patina with time and use. It will darken with age. Usually it takes about a year to realize the full depth of color of your soapstone.

Soapstone will last many lifetimes if treated with care. It will develop its own unique patina based on you and your lifestyle, making it a very personal choice for your project.