Frequently Asked Questions
- How does natural stone compare to solid surface or other engineered stone?
Natural stone is elegant, durable and each piece has a distinct design that makes it ‘one-of-a-kind.’ That means the stone that you choose is distinctively yours. Manufactured stone products are made with stone fragments held together by an epoxy or resin and colored with pigments. These products can have the look and feel of stone, but they are mass-produced and not ‘one-of-a-kind.’
- What is Natural Stone?
“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.
- Why should I use natural stone in my home?
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.
- What are the different kinds of natural stone?
Natural Stone products include.
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.
Care and Maintenance
- How can I fill the natural voids and holes in travertine tile if I want a smoother surface?
Part of the beauty of travertine tilles, is the natural composition causes small voids and holes. If however, you want a smoother surface, the best way to fill the holes is to use a sanded grout in a color as close to the travertine as possible.
- What can I use to clean travertine, marble, or granite tiles and slabs?
Neutral cleaners are needed to clean natural stone tiles. Acidic or alkaline cleaners should be avoided as they can open the pours of the natural stone and change the color of the surface.
- How do I remove ring marks and other stains from marble, granite, travertine and other natural stone surfaces?
If your marble tiles, travertine tiles or granite countertops have a stain, consult a restoration professional. A Poultice kit is another stain removal option, this product can be found at most home improvement stores.
- What care and maintenance of the stone products are recommended?
Stone surfaces are very easy to maintain. Clean stone floors with warm water and a mild liquid soap. Never use acid cleansers or abrasive chemicals on stone. Natural stone should be sealed after installation and every one to two years thereafter, depending on its application.
- Why does granite need to be sealed?
All natural stone including marble and granite, must be properly sealed to protect againt staining. Without proper and regular sealing, granite and other natural stones are pourous and can absorb spilled substances and leave unsightly stains and marks.
- What is thermal or flame finish?
Tumbling stones in a solution of sand, water and mild acid creates an old world, weathered look. Typically sizes of 5/8" X 5/8" to 6"X 6" and sometimes even 8"X 8" are true tumbled pieces. Larger sizes are given a "Tumbled" finish, manually. Very small pieces like 5/8" X 5/8" & 1" X 1" are usually, mounted on 12" X 12" meshes for ease of installation. Most commonly used size is 4" X 4" and it is used in straight & diamond patterns, or as accent pieces. When mixing different size tumbled pieces, the look may vary.
- What are different kinds/types of stone finishes?
The different types of stone finishes include:
Unique to slate, it has a slightly uneven surface that is still usable for flooring. This finish cannot be created, but occurs naturally as the layers of slate are quarried. One side (back side) can be gauged to facilitate ease of “thin set” installation. Some marbles, sandstones and limestones are available with heavy clefting, suitable for wall installations only.
Grinding, sanding, and buffing produces a high gloss, mirror-like surface.
Grinding and sanding produces a smooth, yet not glossy finish. This is best for low maintenance, high traffic applications.
A flamed surface is achieved by subjecting the stone to the high temperature flame of a torch and burning most of the carbon content, leaving textured quartzites with gentle coloration.
This is a rough, but tidy look created by applying a high pressure blast of sand to the stone’s surface.
This finish is often given to granites, and provides a non-slippery surface while retaining the coloration and grain structure of the stone.
Available only in Melange marble, this finish gives the stone a suede look and feel. This texture is smooth and slip-resistant.
Tumbling stones in a solution of sand, water and mild acid creates an old world, weathered look.
Mainly used for cladding, this is achieved by splitting stone either by hand or by machine so that the surface exhibits a natural quarry texture. It has a flat back and uneven front surface, and creates the uneven look of protruding bricks.
This is achieved by cutting quarried marble or stone parallel to the natural bedding plane.
The cross-cut method involves end-cutting blocks of travertine to display a less linear, more rounded “wavy” pattern.
Opposite of cross-cutting, the veining of the stone is shown as a linear pattern.
Any stone used as a decorative facing material as wall cladding which is not meant to be load-bearing. Veneer may be made from different finishes, such as split face, cleft, honed, polished, flamed or tumbled.
Gauged vs. Ungauged
Slate is cleft out of blocks to form tiles. When it is cleft by machine or saw, it is gauged because a uniform thickness is formed. Ungauged stone is hand-cleft and its thickness may vary up to 5/8 of an inch.
- Why are some finishes preferred for a particular application?
There are three important reasons for choosing one finish over another in certain applications:
When choosing flooring, it's important to choose a slip-resistant surface for outdoor applications where the floor may become wet. Highly polished surfaces should only be used for interior floors. Also, highly clefted, uneven surfaces may cause a tripping hazard when used for flooring.
Softer, less dense stones such as marble or limestone are unsuitable for high traffic areas because they will quickly become dull and will need frequent restoration to maintain their finish.
The application should be consistent with the type of finish selected. A rough finish such as flamed would be a poor choice for countertops, due to the difficulty in cleaning it. Clefted material should not be used for tabletops, because it would present an uneven surface.
- What are general recommendations for installation?
- Open all boxes and mix up all of the pieces before installation. This will help to create a visually pleasing distribution of stone variation.
- A good installer knows that green marble and some other stones require water-free epoxy thin-set.
- When stone is installed on a concrete slab at ground level, ensure that a proper moisture barrier is in place prior to installation.
- What is blending? When is blending recommended?
Because stone is a natural product, there is always some variation within a selection. By sorting out the stone tiles before installing, it is possible to place the tiles on the surface before installing, blending the varying colors, grain, and veining as desired.
- Can I specify that there be no grout joints?
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.