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What Are The Differences in Natural Stone

Aug 4, 2008
Stones of the past seem to be the future! Stone is a product of nature and its appearance is a result of millions of years of geologic change and mineral composition. Extreme color variations, as well as variations in veining, shade, finish, texture, strength, hardness and density are all characteristics of natural stone. Some stones may contain a resin filler to fill in the natural fissures or pits in the stone's surface. Special care is required for maintaining natural stone. Check with a local sales representative regarding the special needs for your stone selection. With proper care, its beauty will last a lifetime.

(Igneous Rock) Granite began as liquid magma in the earths core and is comprised mainly of quartz, feldspar, mica and other minerals. It's high compressive strength, hardness and durability make it an ideal choice for flooring and counter tops as well as exterior applications.

Marble & Onyx:
(Metamorphic Rock) Marble is formed from Limestone that has been heated by the earth's core and changed into a crystalline structure. It is valued for its rich, beautiful colors and unique veining.

(Sedimentary Rock) Limestone is comprised mainly of calcium carbonate and is the result of millions of years of sea shells and bones of sea creatures settling on the ocean floor. You can sometimes notice the fossils when examined closely.

(Sedimentary Rock) Travertine began as Limestone and is a result of hot springs in the earth's core. After the water evaporated, the layers of dissolved limestone and minerals gave the stone its banded appearance. The characteristic holes in the stone are a result from gas bubbles which evaporate and form crystals in the cavities. These cavities are sometimes left as is for a more rustic & antique look or filled with a tinted epoxy and honed for a more solid surface effect.

(Metamorphic) Slate is formed from compressed layers of the sedimentary rock shale that can be split to reveal beautiful colors and textured surfaces. Slate can be split and left with its natural cleft surface or gauged for a more consistent thickness.

(Metamorphic) Similar to slate, quartzite contains 95% quartz and a higher concentration of mica which gives it a sparkling texture.

The current trend in stone is definitely travertine - as old looking as possible. There are several things that can be done to stone to create new finishes. Here is a list of popular finishes:

This can mean different things to different manufacturers. The surface is usually brushed or honed with different pads, creating an old look. Sometimes the surface is acid washed, exposing a dimpled surface (this works especially well with travertine). The edges tend to have a chipped or tumbled look. Basically the stone looks like it's been around a while.

Wire brushes are used on the surface to create an undulated look.

There are various methods used to produce this look, but basically the edges come out chipped. Generally the surface of the tile is honed or brushed.

Basically the same as chiseled, but the chips aren't as deep.

A matte surface is created similar to polishing, minus the last few pads.

High Hone:
A matte finish with a soft sheen, between honed and polished.

Pads are used to create a glossy sheen on the surface of the stone.

Stones are put in a big cylinder and tumbled with other stones and smaller stones to create a rounded edge and softer finish. Length of time in the "Tumbler" determines how rounded the edges are. Softer stones, such as travertine, tend to have a more rounded edge than harder stones, such as marble.
About the Author
Bruce Mendes has been in the retail trade business for 15 years specializing in flooring and cabinetry. He has a high end showroom in Central Ohio and a web presence at . If you have any questions or comments you can email him at
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