Natural Stone & Slate
The beauty of natural stone is that no two pieces are ever the same. Each piece has natural characteristics such as color, veining and markings, as well as hardness and porosity. Variations in natural stone are to be expected and enjoyed. Natural stone is the best choice for the customer looking for the aesthetic authenticity that only stone can provide.
When choosing natural stone tile, please keep in mind the following:
- The samples you view at your retailer may have completely different veining patterns or color variations compared to the stone installed in your home. It is best give yourself enough time to allow the showroom to order a current sample.
- Be aware that irregular markings, lines, veins and crystallization are not cracks or imperfections, but rather a natural part of the stone’s beauty.
- Please remember that it is not possible for you to hand select your natural stone; variation should be expected. Many retailers offer premium stone lines, which will have been pre-sorted to ensure a consistent grade of quality and color. If this is important to you, you should expect to pay more.
- Natural stone varies in hardness, which is the scratch resistance of a mineral.
- Stone is extremely dense yet also porous; to prevent stains it must be sealed with a penetrating sealer. Regular maintenance and care are essential to the lifespan of your natural stone.
The most common natural stone tiles are:
- Marble: A crystallized limestone. Marble comes in many different color variations and usually displays a prominent veining pattern with luxurious swirls and patches of contrasting color. It is characteristically soft and easily scratched or etched by acids. It is most often used for fireplace surrounds, furniture surfaces, interior floors and walls and bathroom vanities. Finishes used on marble are polished, honed, brushed and tumbled. Penetrative sealing is recommended.
- Granite: The hardest of all natural stone, granite shows very little porosity and is practically impervious to scratches and burns. Popular for use as kitchen countertops and bathroom vanities, it can also be used for floors, tabletops and fireplace surrounds. Finishes used on granite include flamed, honed, polished, suede and sandblasted. Penetrative sealing in recommended.
- Limestone: Softer than granite, limestone’s most popular use is for flooring, both in residential and commercial application. Some of the harder limestones are suitable for countertops. It is most often beige or cream in color. Finishes used on limestone include honed, polished, flamed and tumbled. Limestone is sensitive to acidic attack. Penetrative sealing is recommended.
- Travertine: A beautiful variety of limestone, travertine most commonly has a creamy, golden or reddish color. It is formed through the accumulation of calcite from hot springs, and therefore contains holes that were formed from water flowing through the stone. Travertine is available with the holes filled (with synthetic resins or cements) or unfilled. Travertine is most commonly used for residential wall and flooring applications and as backsplash material. It is available in honed, polished, brushed, chiseled and tumbled finishes. Penetrative sealing is recommended.
- Quartzite: Quartzite is a very fine-grained, strong, dense type of sandstone. It has a rich, crystallized appearance. While most often white or light grey, it can be found in a variety of colors. Quartzite can be used for both interior and exterior flooring applications. Quartzite is available in natural (cleft) and honed finishes. Penetrative sealing is recommended.
- Slate: A metamorphic stone that has a sheet-like structure. It is composed of clay, quartz and shale, and comes in a multitude of colors including reds and greens. Slate has a low porosity and is therefore highly stain resistant. Slate can be used for paving stones, roofing, floors and countertops. It is available in natural (cleft), suede and honed finishes. Penetrative sealing is recommended.
The most common finishes for natural stone are:
- Honed: Provides a flat to low sheen gloss. This surface is very smooth, but often porous. This texture is common for high traffic area. Honed stone colors are not as vibrant as a polished stone.
- Polished: A glossy surface that wears away with time due to heavy foot traffic and using improper maintenance procedures. The reflectivity of polished crystals brings out the brilliant colors and grains of natural stone. The shine comes from the natural reflection of the stone's crystals, rather than from a coating.
- Flamed: A rough, very porous surface that is developed through intense heat. During fabrication, the stone is heated up and the crystals begin to pop, thus forming a rough surface.
- Tumbled: A slightly rough texture that is achieved by tumbling small pieces of marble, limestone, and sometimes granite to achieve an archaic or worn appearance.
- Brushed: Obtained by applying hard plastic or metal brushes to the stone surface, which removes the softer part of the stone and wears out the surface, giving it a look similar to that of antique finishing.