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Material Basics

What is Natural Stone?

Picking the Perfect Stone: Natural Stone Range

When it comes to modern design, there are numerous stone materials and finishes to choose from. Natural stone offers a unique aesthetic and wide variety but can be daunting.

What is Natural Stone?

As the name implies, natural stone isn’t man-made. Rather, it’s derived from products that have been quarried from the earth. These types of materials have been used for millennia as both foundational and decorative elements for buildings. Natural stone is typically utilized in tile formats or fabricated into countertops and vanities.

Each type and variant of stone is the result of mineral compositions and geological processes that have been taking place for eons. There are three primary rock types, each forged by physical changes, whether melting, eroding, cooling, compacting, or deforming:

  • Sedimentary – These rocks are formed from pieces of previously existing organic materials. Sedimentary rocks are divided into three types: classic, organic, and chemical. For instance, limestone is formed from chemical precipitation.
  • Metamorphic rock – These rocks have morphed from their previous state due to intense and long-standing pressure or heat. There are two classes of metamorphic rocks: foliated and non-foliated. For example, granite is a foliated rock, whereas marble is a non-foliated rock.
  • Igneous rock – These rocks are formed by an intense heating and cooling process. Granite, diorite, and obsidian are natural volcanic igneous rocks.

What Are Types of Natural Stones?

Currently, there are several different types of natural stone available. Each one has its own unique properties that differentiate it from the others. Varying qualities include color, texture, absorption, luminosity, veining, porousness, and grade.

Common natural stone types include:

  • Marble – Arguably the most famous and luxurious natural stone, marble has been long associated with a classical and stylish sensibility. This soft and beautiful stone has been the go-to material for sculpting and architecture, long associated with a Roman/Italian design. A marble tile will add sophistication and elegance to a kitchen countertop or stone floor. The only drawback is it is prone to staining, discoloration, and it is expensive.

    Popular marbles include:
    • Danby
    • Carrara
    • Montclair
    • Breccia Fiore
    • Pearl
    • Dourdan
    • Cafe noir
    • Menorca
    • Sable
    • Breccia Nuvole
    • Nero
  • Granite – A natural igneous stone, granite is a popular cast stone choice and widely available natural stones in use today. It’s incredibly durable and hard, meaning there’s little to no maintenance or upkeep required. This combination of beautiful aesthetics and ease of use makes it ideal to use in all areas, especially the kitchen.
  • Limestone – As one of the most diverse stones on the market, limestone balances durability with a style, making an optimal natural stone for both indoor and outdoor projects. A sedimentary rock, pure limestones are white (or almost white). Impurities like sand or iron oxide can give it different colors and textures.

    Types of limestone include:
    • Lombardy
    • Riviera Beige
    • White
    • Paloma
    • Cream
    • Pewter
    • Charcoal
  • Travertine – A type of limestone, travertine is a sedimentary rock that is often mixed with calcite to give it the unique swirls and movement associated with its distinctive character. It has a soft touch and fibrous appearance, which makes it ideal for floors and bathroom countertops.

    Types of travertine include:
    • Seville
    • Maderno
    • Priva Vera
    • Vintage Vein Cut
    • Latte
    • Latte Vein Cut
    • Carmel
    • Tuscan Cotto
  • Quartzite – This natural stone has become quite popular in modern interior design. It’s one of the hardest and most durable stones, which helps it resist stains and wear and tear. This makes it optimal for kitchen countertops.

Tips for Selecting Natural Stone: The Range

One of the most important elements when selecting natural stone for a project is a stone’s range. Typically, customers should expect a variation in color or shade. However, the characteristics of natural stones’ range are storied.

For instance, a stone’s range can showcase a significant color change. Take Nero Marble’s bright white veins, for instance, which stand out starkly against an inky, black field. A range can be dynamic and energetic, like Breccia Fiore Marble’s thin, rust veins sporadically overlapping on a patterned background. Or a range can be narrow and subtle, like Cream Limestone’s slight changes in taupe and beige.

It is important to remember that natural stone is a product of nature; the beautiful marble floor, the amazingly dramatic limestone fireplace surround, the lustrous granite countertops are still, at their essence, just large pieces of rock dug out of the ground.

But how does this inform a natural stone project?

First, always ask to see examples—either photographic or physical—showcasing the range of the natural stone being considered. Afterward, ask about potential changes since those pieces were quarried and how those changes may impact the appearance of the stone.

Request a recently quarried sample of the stone to see the variation and veining in person. If possible, view the sample at various times of day in the installation location to see any changes in the stone’s appearance with changes in light. In addition, be sure to look at the variety of stone finishes that work best with your desired stone.

DDS—All of Your Natural Stone Needs

There are several different types of natural stones available to the public. But how do you determine which works best for your application?

Our professionals can provide the expert advice and design eye you need to select the optimal natural stone for your project. Do you want to check out and feel these stones for yourself? We provide free samples upon request.

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