Natural stone products, such as granite, marble, limestone, and slate are quarried from the earth. Depending on the stone, they range from moderately soft to extremely hard, and some natural stone may require sealing. One of the benefits of natural stone is that its beauty and design are inherently natural; because it is not made from a human process, every design and pattern within natural stone is unique.
Sometimes you will hear this stone referred to as “Travertine Marble” or even marble but travertine is its own breed of stone. Travertine is created when mineral rich water evaporates over many years and the minerals are deposited in layers. Travertine has many voids and holes so the floor tiles are filled with a resin filter of about the same color.
When To Use - Travertine is a good all purpose stone for home floors. It is suitable in kitchens and bath areas when properly sealed. It can be used in light commercial areas but should not be installed in high traffic commercial areas as the stone is soft and can wear over time. Travertine also works well for walls, countertops, and backsplashes.
Like Travertine, limestone is formed when minerals are deposited but it occurs under water. The minerals often mix with the shells of sea creatures so most limestone contains a fossil record of the sea floor from millions of years ago. Limestone has less large holes than travertine, but typically has higher porosity or microscopic holes. Larger holes in floor tiles are fitted with a resin filler of a similar color to the stone.
Marble starts life as limestone but then is subjected to heat and pressure deep underground where it re-crystallizes into a dense stone. Holes can occur in marble, these are filled at the factory with an epoxy filler of a similar color to the stone. Marble is distinct for its natural veins and depth of color.
When To Use - Marble can be used in residential and light commercial interior applications. Marble will wear, so use in high traffic areas is not recommended. Be careful when using polished stone; it is very slippery when wet.
What To Watch For - Like all stone, marble has significant shade variation. Make final selections from the actual material you will be buying, not just a piece or two in the showroom.
Natural slate is a metamorphic rock that cleaves naturally into smooth-surfaced layers. It is quarried and split along its natural cleavage planes and then the floor tiles are machined on one side and they have a flat surface for installation. However, slate is not gauged to an even thickness like travertine and limestone. There is a lot of natural size and thickness variation inherent in slate.
In addition to size variation, the color in slate is very random.
Granite is a very hard rock that has mineral inclusions giving it color and depth. Granite tiles are cut, rectified and polished. Although Granite has less variation than other stones, there is still range for each product.
When To Use - Granite is a good choice for residential and commercial walls, countertops, and floors. Care should be taken when used as flooring, polished granite is very slippery when wet.
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