Shop wiser with this information on natural stone styles
The good news is that natural stone is one of the most beautiful, durable and functional flooring products you can put in your home.
The challenging news is that no two natural stone floors are identical. Each displays its own unique colouring, veining and natural characteristics like hardness and porosity.
That fact, plus all the types of natural stone, their variety of styles and multitude of colours, patterns and finishes can overwhelm even the best of shoppers.
That’s where we, and this section, come in.
Here we’ll explain the wide world of natural stone styles – you’ll learn about the popular and practical types, the highly sophisticated and low upkeep styles, plus get “need to know” information on making the smartest buy.
So read on – and start dreaming about the natural stone style you’d love to see in your home and in your budget plan.
First, understand the natural stone floor tile sizes
In general, they are 12”x12”, 13”x13”, 16”x16”, 8”x18 and larger.
Natural stone also comes in mosaics which are made up of pieces 3” or smaller and are often attached to a mesh backing.
Know that there are two types of edges for natural stone floor tile: a polished bull nose edge that has a rounded or curved appearance, or a polished straight 90 degree edge that gives a more contemporary feel.
To help you understand the types of natural stone, here is a glossary of terms.
There are two basic types of stone used in construction:
* Natural stone such as marble, granite, or limestone.
* Agglomerates (Manufactured stones) that consist of natural stone chips suspended in a bonding, manufactured material.
Natural stone can be placed into three classes
IGNEOUS ROCK is formed when molten rock (called lava or magma) cools and hardens. Granite is an example of an igneous rock.
SEDIMENTARY ROCK is formed from biological deposits that have undergone consolidation and crystallization. Limestone and sandstone fall into this category.
METAMORPHIC ROCK is created when other kinds of rocks are changed by great heat and pressure inside the earth. Marble, slate and quartzite are examples of metamorphic rocks.
Here are the names and definitions of some of the more popular natural stones:
GRANITE is an igneous stone that is extremely hard, dense and resistant to scratches and acid etching. It is the smart choice for flooring and in food preparation areas. Hundreds of varieties of granite exist.
SANDSTONE is a sedimentary stone that is primarily composed of loose grains of quartz sand that are rough in texture. A number of varieties are available.
LIMESTONE is another sedimentary stone; it’s formed from calcite and sediment and comes in many earthen colours.
MARBLE is a derivative of limestone. It is a metamorphic stone that can be polished. Marble is characteristically soft and easily scratched or etched by acids. There are numerous types of marble from around the world.
TRAVERTINE is a crystallized, partially metamorphosed limestone, which because of its structure, can be filled and honed and is dense enough to be a type of marble.
SLATE is a metamorphic stone that has a sheet-like structure. It is composed of clay, quartz and shale, and comes in a multitude of colours including reds and greens.
AGGLOMERATE STONE is a manufactured stone made from natural stone chips suspended in a binder such as cement, epoxy resins or polyester.
The most well known agglomerated stone is poured-in-place terrazzo, used in construction for centuries.
Today, some of the most popular manufactured stone products are quartz products.
These products offer the look of natural stone but are stain and scratch resistant, offer consistency and strength, and require virtually no upkeep.
Now, let’s examine some of the most popular natural stone types used today, and provide you with some application suggestions.
Granite stands up to life and hard living.
Of all the natural stone, granite is one of the hardest and densest, second only to diamond.
Made up mostly of quartz and feldspar, it resists staining and scratching better than any other natural stone, making it an ideal choice for your meal preparation areas.
In fact, granite is durable enough for virtually any application.
It’s beautiful in foyers, bathrooms, libraries, or as an accent with other natural stones.
The earth produces granite in a variety of colours such as rich browns, vibrant golds, warm creams and cooler blues, greens, grays and decadent black.
Marble is the monument to refinement.
Marble has a legendary elegance. It was used in ancient cultures because it was soft enough to be worked with tools but hard enough to last centuries.
Once relegated to only the rich and famous, marble can be used in a variety of applications throughout your living spaces.
Marble is a crystallized limestone that is not as hard as granite.
It’s available in numerous colour choices and usually displays a prominent veining pattern with luxurious swirls and patches of contrasting colour that make marble famous. Sophisticated grays and whites to a wide range of earth tones in both light and dark colours are the most popular.
Organic, original and outstanding, that’s limestone.
Limestone has a subtle, casual look and is actually a “young” marble.
It is created by the accumulation of organic materials such as shells and coral that gives it a unique, natural look.
This more porous stone comes in a wide range of neutral colours from ivory to soft grays to golden browns.
This spectrum of colours makes limestone a flexible design solution for flooring and walls.
For unique, inspired designs, travertine triumphs.
A member of the limestone family, Travertine shares some similar traits such as being soft and porous.
Travertine is formed with many small cavities and holes that can be filled in with cement or resin, or left unfilled for a textured surface.
The surface is then polished creating different looks from honed to highly polished. The filled-in areas stay dull which creates an interesting contrast. Travertine can also be tumbled for a rustic, old world look.
Travertine can be applied throughout the home and also creates a beautiful backsplash. Its colours are generally earthy and warm and complement both warm and cool designs.
Inside or outside, slate meets the need.
Slate is a versatile flooring product that gives a natural, rustic and colourful appearance to any living space.
Apply it to interiors and exteriors, in fact, it’s the ideal product to bring the outdoors inside your home.
Slate has a natural “clefting” along the surface that gives this stone its unique textural, layered look but is also available with a smooth surface.
This stone is made up of clay and shale, which is very dense.
Slate is water resistant for exterior installations such as patios and pool surrounds.
Slate colours range from rich reds, oranges and golds to mauve, lavender, green, blue, black, rust and brown.
If you desire texture in your flooring, no other natural stone has the dramatic texture and colour of slate.
We finish this section with the word on finishes
All natural stone is fabricated with a specific type of surface finish.
Some typical finishes are: polished, honed, acid-washed, saw-cut refined, flamed, split-faced, tumbled and brushed.
A polished surface creates a beautiful glossy shine from the natural reflection of the stone’s crystals.
This mirror-like shine is achieved using progressively finer polishing heads during the polishing process, similar to the way that sandpaper smoothes hardwood furniture.
The finer the sandpaper, the smoother the surface
The polish may last a long time or may be unstable depending on the type of stone.
Granite, marble and limestone are frequently polished, and require varying degrees of maintenance to preserve the shine.
A honed surface provides a flat, matte or satin finish, creating a more informal and softer look.
This finish is created by stopping short of the last stage of polishing.
A honed finish shows fewer scratches, and requires very little maintenance.
Marble, limestone, and slate are the best choices for a honed finish.
An acid-washed finish is shiny with small etching marks (pits in the surface). This finish shows less scratches and is a lot more rustic in appearance than a honed finish.
Most stones can be acid-washed but the most common are marble and limestone. Acid washing is also a way to soften the shine on granite.
Saw-cut refined delivers a matte finish. After initial cutting, the stone is processed to remove the heaviest saw marks but not enough to achieve a honed finish.
A flamed finish is created by heating the surface of the stone to extreme temperatures, followed by rapid cooling. The surface of the stone pops and chips leaving a rough, unrefined texture.
This process is usually done with granite. Flamed granite has a highly textured surface, making it perfect for spaces where slip resistance is required. Like shower areas.
Split-faced gives you a rough texture, but one not as abrasive as flamed.
This finish is typically achieved by hand cutting and chiseling at the quarry, exposing the natural cleft of the stone. This finish is primarily done on slate.
Tumbled delivers a smooth or slightly pitted surface, and broken, rounded edges and corners.
There are several methods used to create the tumbled look.
3/8” thick tiles can be tumbled in a machine to achieve the desired look, or 3cm tiles can be tumbled and then split, creating two tiles that are tumbled on one side.
Marble and limestone are your key candidates for a tumbled finish.
Brushed features a worn-down look achieved by brushing the surface of the stone, simulating natural wear over time.
The world of natural stone is wide with types, styles, colours, patterns and finishes. We hope our explanation here of this world has provided you with a better understanding of the beautiful differences and distinctions of natural stone, and made you a wiser shopper.