Few materials offer the longevity of natural stone. From the Coliseum and Parthenon to the Taj Mahal, ancient buildings made from stone, though weathered, are still standing. And while stone requires maintenance to sustain its natural beauty, its content is unmatched by any other product.
From a tumbled, rustic look to a sleek, modern design, natural stone can match any décor. It also can match any personal cleaning style. Some stones require a dry environment and regular maintenance. Some may be fine in a moist environment. Other stones require very little in the way of maintenance. It is very important to think about where in the home (or commercial area) this stone will be, how much traffic it will see and how much maintenance you are willing to invest. Here, we offer a simple guide to break down some basic rules for using natural stone in your home.
Granite is an igneous rock ranging in color from near white through the spectrum to black. It consists primarily of quartz, mica and feldspar, which adds to the amazing death of color and sparkle. It is the hardest architectural stone and is difficult to scratch and stain, making it perfect for countertops, pastry surfaces, fireplace surrounds and high-traffic areas in the home. Avoid using ammonia-based cleaners, instead using gentle cleaners according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of calcite and dolomite. Marble is softer than granite and comes in a wide spectrum of colors with veining running through the slab. Even though it is softer than granite it is still ideal for use throughout your home. Marble is ideal for pastry surfaces in the kitchen, backsplashes, floors and tabletops. Wiping marble with a damp cloth will keep it clean and cleaning up spills quickly will minimize any “beauty marks” caused by usage.
Travertine is a type of crystalline limestone with a unique layered structure containing pores and cavities. Depending upon the finished product, those pores may be filled or left unfilled. Travertine comes in a spectrum of warm, neutral earth tones making it a popular stone for interior flooring, but it can also be used for countertops and in bathrooms.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed of calcite and dolomite (which often comes from the shells of marine animals). Limestone is also softer than granite but has a more uniform appearance with less veining and comes in polished and tumbled varieties. Limestone is suitable for interior and exterior applications including flooring, wall, backsplashes, fireplace surrounds, pool tiling and in bathrooms.
Slate is metamorphic rock derived from shale. Slate is composed of mica, chlorite and quartz, and is available in cleft-finished tiles. The spectrum of slate is typically darker, rich colors, but it can range from grays, blacks, greens, blues and purples. Because of it strong nature, it is often used in exterior use on patios and as cladding, but it also is perfect for indoor flooring including mudrooms, kitchens and other living areas.
Onyx is a semi precious, sedimentary, layered stone that is translucent. Contrary to the popular description of onyx being black, this stone is more often found in white and pale pastel colors. Due to its translucent nature, onyx can be backlit to create a dramatic effect. This makes it perfect for bar countertops, vanities, and bathtub surrounds.
Soapstone gets its name because it has a “soapy” feel due to its talc-rich properties. It is currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity and is being used for kitchen countertops and farmhouse sinks, but it is also ideal for use around hearths and fireplaces. It is heat resistant and easy to maintain. It is recommended to use a stone enhancer and sealer on soapstone.
Choosing the right natural stone for your home is not as tricky as it seems. While some natural stones work better in different environments, often it can come down to color and look.
You may be thinking “green” or environmentally-friendly as you select products. If you love the look of natural stone but would prefer something more sustainable, consider quartz, which can be made from recyclable material, but has the look of stone.
Virtual Kitchen Design Tool
Want to see how your space will look like before you start your next remodeling project? The Arizona Tile website features the Just Imagine™ Visualizer Tool where you can upload a photo of your own space to try out different tile designs, countertops, backsplashes and surfaces before you commit. Try it out and let us know what you think in the comments below!