1.Q.IS NATURAL STONE A GOOD CHOICE FOR HOME USE?
A.YES. Natural stone is a terrific (not to mention beautiful) material to use in all areas of your home. Knowing different types of stone, their finishes and applications will help you to make an informed decision on which stone is best for your project.
2.Q.CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENT FINISHES FOR STONE?
A.There are many finishes and options available. Here are most widely used:
Polished – A high gloss surface. Honed – Smooth with squared edges and without a polished surface. Tumbled – Lightly tumbled to achieve rounded edges and a surface that is not as smooth as honed. Antique Tumbled – Medium tumble edges and surface to achieve a slight rustic look. Cobbled or Distressed – Heavily tumbled edges and surface to achieve an aged or ancient look. Brushed – Acid washed and wire brushed for a smooth textured surface. Flamed – Blow torched for a rough textured surface.
3.Q.DOESN'T STONE STAIN? I DON'T WANT STAINS!
A.YES. All natural stone can stain and etch (a dull spot in a polished or honed surface), including GRANITES. Sealers DO NOT prevent staining as they are a moisture barrier only, yet they will help to give you a small amount of time to wipe up spills. It is nearly impossible to prevent staining or etching, but serious stains can be almost completely removed and any etching can be resurfaced if either is truly bothersome to you. To help keep a perspective on choosing to use natural stone, remember following:
1.For centuries, many European countries have used natural stone from floor to ceiling, inside and out. The stone becomes stained, cracked, pitted…and that is why we love it! These characteristics only make it that much more beautiful. (Only we Americans get uptight about such things!) 2.Because stone is quarried from earth and not "man" made, it is improbable to ever find two exact matching tiles or matching slabs for that matter. One slab may even look different from each end of itself. That is also beauty because each piece is different, but when pieces are put together as a whole it is a masterpiece! (Be sure to purchase enough to complete your project as you may not be able to get more from same lot.) 3.Stone is timeless. It does not get dated like 70's Avocado Green and Harvest Gold décor did. 4.Stone will last longer than any of us will. There are centuries old castles, made of 100% stone and still standing today! 5.It is a natural resource that will never run out. 6.The more it is used, faster a "Patina" (light sheen on surface) will develop. The "Patina" will also aid to prevent staining to a lesser degree.
4.Q.WHAT IS THE BEST STONE TO USE IN MY HOME?
A.It is really a matter of choice and look you want to achieve. These are questions to ask yourself when making your decision: Is it beautiful to you? Do you love it? Could you live with it for years? The best advice that I can ever give to anyone choosing stone is: Go with what you are drawn to from beginning. First, because you will only spend a lot of time and become confused when laboring over "right" decision by looking at many different stones and colors; secondly, you will probably not be happy with your selection if you have to settle on something else. Reviewing following most used stone types will help when you are ready to make your choice.
GRANITES – Granites usually have a "spattered" or "swirled" grain and can contain many colors (minerals). Generally, granites have a polished finished and have a "busy" look, but to keep up with current trends, more manufacturers are producing honed (smooth & unpolished) and flamed (rough textured) surfaces. Granites may be purchased in slab and dimensional tile form and can be used in almost any application. It has become ever popular as it is being used frequently in newly built tract housing, apartment/condominium complexes and commercial buildings. Granites are imported from many countries and have just as many colors and sizes to choose from. A note in using polished granite is to know that it can be slippery to walk on until a patina builds on it. As with any other commodity, stone is also graded for quality standards. Be wary if it is extremely inexpensive…(less than $7.00 per square foot unless you are buying a large quantity.) The price ranges in granites can be anywhere in between $8.00 to $90.00 per square foot, depending on color, rarity and where stone comes from. The "blue" stones, containing minerals/gems such as sodalite are usually in higher priced ranges.
LIMESTONES – There are many types of limestone available and vary to many degrees, depending upon where it comes from. Unpopular to belief, limestone is also a perfectly suitable stone to use in all areas of your home. Most limestones have softer earth tone colors; may contain a "swirl" veining movement throughout; can contain fossils; or may have a light speckled grain. Limestones, just like granite or any other natural stone can stain, etch or get scratched, but again, you should not use natural stone if this will bother you. Limestone also is widely available in dimensional tile and slab form. This stone is used most frequently in higher-end homes, architectural designs and commercial applications as it is easy to work with, colors are muted compared to granites, it is available in as many finishes and textures as granite and it is still relatively new to market. It is still considered to be a "custom" choice, as it has not reached overuse level of granite. Some limestones from countries such as France and Portugal can be somewhat porous but are perfect for flooring, backsplashes, fireplace surrounds and outdoor uses. Limestone from countries such as US and Israel (Jerusalem Stone) are generally heavier and usually as dense as granite, which makes it suitable for almost every application.
SLATES – Slate used to be used mainly for chalkboard, billiard tables, science lab areas and roof tiles. However, in recent years it has become more popular for residential use in most applications, with exception of fabricated counter tops. Slate tiles are generally rough in surface texture, with exception of tumbled version. Most slates are available in a wide variety of sizes in dimensional tiles; a few in slab form and most can be gotten in crates of random pieces like flagstone. It is a perfect stone for water areas such as showers & spas, patio/driveway areas, pool surrounds and roofing applications. Most slates contain a huge variation of color, even within same lot and some will even look to have been stained from spills of red wine, which is not case. This is caused from earth minerals such as iron and only adds to beauty of stone. Slate holds onto heat well, which is another reason besides being fire proof; it is widely used as roofing material. (Use light colors in outdoor areas where you may be walking barefoot!) Since slates have a softer property, be aware that it can shale off surface more easily. This will not harm it per se, but may cause you concern if you are not aware that it happens. One of difficulties of slate is that it is varied in thickness. Because of shale properties, it is very difficult to cut evenly. Generally, manufacturers will cut them with a "gauged" thickness or "sawn back" treatment, leaving one side smoother. Because of varied thickness between each piece of tile, specific sized installations may be more of a challenge, so expect your installer costs to be a bit higher. Slate itself is generally a less costlier stone. Expect anywhere from $4.00 - $8.00 per square foot, dependent upon grade and country of origin. Again, beware of any extremely inexpensive prices and be sure to check quality of slate to be sure that it has not been filled with dyes. Test by holding a piece under running water for a few minutes and also by putting a few tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice on it and wiping off. If any color comes off, return it immediately! Just a note: I only recommend using any acidic solution on stone in this instance for testing purposes only.