Tips On Buying A Natural Stone
Choosing the correct natural stone for your project is not always an easy task. What should you look for in a stone? Which characteristics should you be concerned with? What are the most important steps to follow when choosing a natural stone? Which type of stone fits your project the best?
All these are frequent questions and we are going to explain you everything you need to know. The key to choose the right stone is to gather the most information possible.
LSI Stone offers a vast variety of stones, the most commons are granite, marble and limestone. But how can you tell the difference between them?
Limestone is classed as a sedimentary rock. It is formed on the surface of the Earth by the process of sedimentation, with several minerals or organic particles coming together that form a solid sediment. Usually limestone has high to medium porosity, which means that the type of finish varies depending on the type of surface. Limestone is mainly whitish, although it may be tinted by impurities.
Granite it’s made of quartz and feldspar, which are harder than glass. It doesn’t split into layers, and the minerals are held tightly together in an interlocking. That’s why this stone is suitable for most surfaces and finishes. So, when it comes to staining and etching, Granite is not affected. Usually represents a grainy appearance and can be pink or varying shades of gray, depending upon its minerals composition.
Marble is a mineral that is made up of calcite (calcium carbonate, CaCo3). Marble comes from dolostone (limestone with dolomite) or limestone. It is a non-foliated (cannot be broken into layers) metamorphic rock that is white when pure and is stronger than the rock from which it forms (parent rock). Due to chemical impurities in the parent rock, marble can take on colors such as green, pink or black. Like limestones, marbles are sensitive to etching and staining, so the finish must be in accord to the type of surface
Combine beauty with Design
When looking for the perfect stone, the first consideration is: how will it look? The right stone defines the look of your building, living room or bathroom. Choose the design, colors, and styles that you desire and gather that information to obtain the first step of your selection.
What are you looking for in your project?
You should try and match the properties of the stone to what fits better in your project.
- Durability, Stain and etching
For example, if you’re looking to buy a countertop for your kitchen, one of the main characteristics you might require is durability. In this case, we do not recommend soft finishes, like honed, meaning that the surface of the stone has been ground to a smooth, flat, consistent surface. If you wish to use marble on a well-used kitchen countertop, be sure to seal it properly to inhibit staining agents from being able to seep in. The more absorbent the tile or stone, the more likely it will stain if not sealed. On the other hand, etching is caused by acidic liquids coming in contact with acid-sensitive stones, that’s why Marble is rarely recommended for areas that are subjected to dangerous factors.
Staining is linked to porosity—in other words, how much open space exists within the solid matrix of the stone. Thankfully, the high pressures that bind rocks into solid forms tend to squeeze away most of the pore spaces. But different stones have been subjected to different amounts of squeezing, and thus, porosity varies among stone types. Limestone, for instance, is the most absorbent stone due to its high porosity, so it’s not recommended for kitchen countertops, for example. Marble comes next. Granite is the least porous stone, making it the least absorbent and the most suitable for surfaces like countertops.
- Hardness, Traffic, and Resistance
For flooring, the stone used needs to be resistant to dirt, to spilling and has to have a certain finish so that it can handle the traffic or usage that it will be subjected to. The softer the stone-marble for example, the more inappropriate it is to use on those areas. Each type of stone has different levels of hardness. Some types of limestones are not recommended to use on surfaces with a lot of traffic because it’s the a soft stone. But, for example, a specific limestone can be harder than another. In other hand, marble is harder than limestone, so it’s more appropriate for surfaces like flooring.
In some cases, the weather is also an important feature, especially for external cladding and external flooring, such as the building’s façade. When the externals of the buildings are vulnerable to weather conditions, for example, extremely cold, humidity, rain, extremely hot, etc. you need to keep in mind the stone’s characteristics for the most suitable option. To make sure what type of stone is suitable, it’s recommended to take the defrost test into account, for example.
So, before going to look for the perfect stone, try and gather as much information on these topics as possible, depending on your project goal. In this way, it’s easier for you and for your suppliers to choose the right stone.
What type of finish should I use?
The surface of natural stone can have a variety of finishes. It is important to choose the right type of stone, depending on your project and the features mentioned above. Using different techniques and mechanical processes, natural stone can be adapted to interior and exterior applications.
For example, soft finishes like honed, flamed and splitted, which are more smooth tend to absorb more. So you should avoid them on surfaces with a lot of traffic and in staining areas. This apply especially to limestones and marbles. This factor also varies with the durability and the porosity of each stone. Each stone has its own characteristics so not all finishes are suitable for every stone. For instance, the flamed finish can only be used on hard stones.
For surfaces subject to other factors, such as the exterior part that is most exposed to erosion, for example, finishes like bush-hammered, honed, sandblasted or brushedare recommended.
The polished finish consists on brushing the slab with a range of brushes and the result is a slightly undulating surface. For this reason, it is suitable for surfaces like bathrooms and kitchen tops, because it doesn’t absorb as many impurities as other finishes.
Maintain your natural stone
The natural stone you choose for your building, kitchen or office is an option that will give you many years of beautiful product.
This simple option requires simple care and maintenance to help preserve its beauty for generations to come.
Be sure to understand the maintenance requirement of the tile or stone you select before you buy. To read more about how to maintain your natural stone, read our article on How to Clean Natural Stone.
Now that you know what you want, ask for it!
The next step is to transmit all the information about what you gather and think it’s appropriated to your stone supplier. If the research was done well, the supplier will find your match much easier. Ask for stone samples and try them in your project, by experimenting and testing it with different materials. Send us an email letting us know what type of stone are you looking for!