RESOURCES

Natural stone is an ideal choice for countertops and flooring
because of its natural beauty, uniqueness, and durability.

At Nature of Marble, we want you to be well informed about natural stone,
so we hope you’ll take a moment to review the information below.

There is a variety of natural stones each having their own unique characteristics, making it harder or softer. Depending on the area, purpose, and design preference, some stones are more ideal than others. Marble and other soft stones are preferably used in bathrooms while harder stone like granite and quartzite is used for the kitchen.

The stone types listed below are classified as mineral. They contain quartz, feldspars and silic. Mineral stones were originally produced by volcanic activity.

Granite

Granite is an igneous rock of volcanic origin, usually containing 10 to 50 percent quartz, at least 50 percent feldspar and some silica. Most granites are resistant to abrasion, weathering and chemicals. Feldspar give them their color. Volcanic flows that cooled slowly have larger crystals; flows that cooled rapidly have much smaller crystals. Granite is a very hard substance and is not susceptible to scratches. While not ideal to work on because it will dull knife blades, it will take normal wear and tear very well. Granite resists heat too, so its use near a range or cooktop is ideal. When you have to set down a hot pan fast, granite can take the heat without being damaged or weakened. In the bathroom, placing a hair tool on it that is still warm won’t be a problem. Granite can be very resistant to stains and won’t absorb liquids when it is properly sealed. Ask your professional installer to seal it correctly so that it maintains its attractive good looks, or you can seal it yourself using a professional grade sealant available at most home improvement stores. 

Quartzite

Quartzite is a sedimentary rock composed of fine grains of quartz sand (0.6mm to 2mm diameter) bonded by a cementing material, commonly silica, iron oxide or calcium carbonate. Quartzite is usually very dense, hard to scratch and abrasion resistant. It often features veins and complex color patterns similar in appearance to marble. Like all natural stones, quartzite must be sealed periodically to protect it against wine, citrus, coffee, and other would-be stains. Ask your professional installer to seal it correctly, or you can seal it yourself using a professional grade sealant available at most home improvement stores. Note: Quartzite is not the same as Quartz. See “Quartz” description below.

Soapstone

Soapstone is a serpentine containing talc which makes it feel like a bar of soap. The talc also makes it easy to scatch, a characteristic preferred in rustic décor. Soapstone is often used as countertops in chemistry labs, where its resistance to acids is important, and in or near fireplaces where its unique heat-retention characteristic is valued. Soapstone won’t etch from acids and stains can be rubbed out easily. However, soapstone is more vulnerable to scratching. Fortunately, because it is so soft, scratches can be sanded out fairly easily.

Listed below are considered organic. They contain calcium, typically from the shells and bones of fish. Limestone is the mother stone of marble, travertine and onyx.

Limestone

Limestone is a sedimentary rock consisting chiefly of the mineral calcite. It often contains fossils or shell formations, formed as bones and shells of fish accumulated on the sea floor. Over millions of years, some ancient sea beds are now above-ground hills and mountains, thereby facilitating quarrying. Limestone is used for paving, wall cladding, and other applications both indoors and outdoors. It is not recommended for use in bathrooms or kitchens because even water can cause stains under certain conditions and the material can be vulnerable to scratching.

Marble

Marble is a metamorphic rock consisting of coarse grained re-crystallized calcite. Most Marbles were originally limestones that underwent tremendous pressure and heat, causing the limestone to melt then re-crystallize. In most cases the resulting stone, marble, is more dense than limestone. Although marble makes a beautiful countertop, there are some drawbacks to be aware of. Marble is porous and fairly soft, therefore can scratch and stain. Also, marble will etch when exposed to acidic products like wine, lemon, vinegar, etc. Consider these factors when using marble for your countertop material, especially in the kitchen. Ask your Nature of Marble stone consultant for tips on proper marble care and sealing.

Travertine

Travertine is a sedimentary rock and is a type of limestone that is formed by evaporation of hot water containing dissolved calcium, thus leaving finely crystallized calcite deposits. These deposits accumulate in horizontal layers over thousands of years. The holes in travertine are the pathways for the water as it passed up from the geothermal springs below. Its natural color is white. The other colors come from chemicals in the water and other debris, including ash from fires and volcanoes, animal remains and vegetation. Travertine is very durable, often used for exterior wall cladding and paving installations around the world.

Onyx

Onyx is a compact sedimentary rock and is a type of limestone that formed by evaporation of cold water containing dissolved calcium, leaving a translucent variety of calcite, often in the form of stalagmites and stalactites inside caves. Its natural color is translucent white. The other colors usually come from minute concentrations of chemicals carried by water dripping into the cave. Onyx is extremely dense but lacking in bending strength. It is often used for interior counters, wall claddings and flooring.

Natural Quartz

Natural Quartz is a metamorphic stone that originated as sandstone. Natural Quartz is distinctive in that it offers a vast array of colors and patterns that occur in nature so that virtually every slab is unique. It is recommended that you seal Natural Quartz to protect its surface.

Man-Made Quartz

Man-Made Quartz is an engineered stone manufactured from ground quartz (about 94 percent), combined with polyester resins to bind it and pigments to give it color. Some quartz materials also contain small amounts of recycled glass or metallic flecks for visual appeal. The resins help make these counters stain and scratch resistant – and because they are nonporous, they never need to be sealed. Made from one of the hardest minerals on earth, quartz countertops are arguably the most durable options for kitchens.

Fine Porcelain

Porcelain tile is a type of ceramic tile, though it is made from finer, denser clay and is fired at higher temperatures. Additionally, porcelain tile is tougher, more scratch resistant, and more durable and resistant to stains. Porcelain tile can be used anywhere you want an excellent performing, good-looking surface. It works great in kitchens as countertops or wall coverings and is also a good choice for showers and bathroom walls. Where it really shines, however, is in flooring. In high traffic areas, porcelain floor tile is an excellent choice and will out perform other tiles in both long-term appearance and durability. Some porcelain floor tile is made to look very similar to natural stone and there are wood-like porcelain floor tiles that look astoundingly like real wood floors, but with the durability and easy care of tile. Cleaning porcelain tile is a breeze. Its surface absorbs very little moisture, so spills that might seep into another material and cause a stain can easily be wiped up with a damp cloth. To maintain it, porcelain generally only needs to be cleaned with water or a mild detergent. It is the perfect material for those who want good looks with very little effort.

This information was provided by the MIA+BSI, America’s leading trade association for the natural stone industry with more than 1900 members in 55 countries representing every aspect of the natural stone industry. www.marble-institute.com

Get to Know Your Stone

The first step in proper stone care and maintenance is to understand your stone’s geological classification and composition. This information will help you to identify what cleaning products to use and how best to care for your natural stone.

Natural stone is categorized into three basic geo-logical classifications by their respective formation processes: Sedimentary, Metamorphic and Igneous. Additionally, stones in each category can be either Calcareous or Siliceous.

Calcareous stone is composed mainly of calcium carbonate, a chemical compound commonly found in natural stone, shells and pearls. Calcium Carbonate is sensitive to acidic solutions so mild, non-acidic cleaners are recommended.

Siliceous stone, as the term implies, is one composed primarily of silicates, such as quartz, feldspar, mica, etc. As such, a siliceous stone is generally resistant to most acids found in kitchen settings, although acidic cleaners are still not recommended, as these stones may contain trace levels of minerals that are acid sensitive.

The following chart will be a helpful guide:

How to Prevent Staining of and Damage to Natural Stone

SEALING

Sealing is a common step taken on some stones as an extra precaution against staining. In fact, the sealing products used in the stone industry are “impregnators” which do not actually seal the stone, but more correctly act as a repellent rather than a sealer. Sealing does not make the stone stain proof, rather it makes the stone more stain resistant.

When consulting with your stone supplier, you may find that many stones do not require sealing. However, applying an impregnating sealer is a common practice.

When considering sealing, remember that sealing the stone does not make the stone stain proof, it makes it more resistant to staining.

If a sealer is applied in a food preparation area, be sure that it is non-toxic and safe for use.

Consult with your supplier or sealing manufacturer specific to the type of sealer and frequency of use recommended.

EASY CARE TIPS AND PRECAUTIONS

To get the longest life and preserve the beauty of your natural stone, follow these simple tips:

Coasters: Use coasters under all glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices.

Trivets: While many stones can withstand heat, the use of trivets or mats is recommended.

Dust Mopping: Dust mop interior floors frequently using a clean non-treated dry dust mop. Sand, dirt and grit are abrasive and can damage natural stone.

Mats/rugs: Mats or area rugs inside and outside an entrance will help to minimize the sand, dirt and grit that may scratch the stone floor. Be sure that the underside of the mat or rug is a slip resistant surface.

Vacuum cleaners: If used, be sure the metal or plastic attachments or the wheels are not worn as
they can scratch the surface of some stones.

Spills: Blot the spill with a paper towel immediately. Don’t wipe the area, it will spread the spill. Flush the area with water and mild soap and rinse several times. Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth. Repeat as necessary.

Natural Stone Cleaning

• Clean stone surfaces with a neutral cleaner, stone soap, or a mild liquid dishwashing detergent and warm water.

• Similar to any item cleaned in your home, an excessive concentration of cleaner or soap may leave a film and cause streaks. Follow manufaturer recommendations.

• Use a clean rag mop on floors and a soft cloth for other surfaces for best results.

• Rinse the surface thoroughly after washing with the soap solution and dry with a soft cloth.

• Change the rinse water frequently.

• In the bath or other wet areas, soap scum can be minimized by using a squeegee after each use. To remove soap scum, use a non-acidic soap scum remover or a solution of ammonia and water
(about 1/2 cup ammonia to a gallon of water). Frequent or over-use of an ammonia solution may
eventually dull the surface of some stone types.

• In outdoor pool, patio or hot tub areas, flush with clear water and use mild bleach solution to
remove algae or moss.

Cleaning Products

• Many suppliers offer products used for stone cleaning.

• Avoid cleaning products containing lemon, vinegar or other acids, as they may dull or etch calcareous stones.

• Never use scouring powders or creams on natural stone – they often contain abrasives that may scratch the stone surface.

• Many commercially available rust removers (laundry rust stain removers, toilet bowl cleaners)
contain trace levels of hydrofluoric acid (HF). This acid attacks silicates in addition to other
minerals. All stones, including granite and quartzite, are likely to be damaged if exposed to HF.

• Never mix ammonia and bleach. This combination creates a toxic and lethal gas.

General Questions

What’s the difference between marble and granite?
Although both are stones and both are quarried from the earth, granite and marble (and marble’s relatives – limestone, onyx and travertine) are very different from each other. The greatest difference lies in the porosity, softness and durability of marble when compared to granite. See “Understanding Types of Stone” on our website for more detailed information.

Why are some stones more expensive than others?
Availability, locations of quarries in the world (due to transportation expenses), the rarity of the color, and the amount of labor required to extract the stones all affect the price of natural stone. Higher price doesn’t always mean higher quality. All natural stones that Nature of Marble carries – regardless of price – meet our high quality standards.

What is “honed” stone?
Granite, marble, or limestone that is honed has a matte or satin finish, rather than a highly reflective polish. One feature of honed marble is that it doesn’t show etching as readily, or wear patterns on floors. It is preferred by some because “honed” stone has a less formal, softer matte appearance than polished stone.

About Granite

Why is granite good for kitchen counters?
Granite is highly resistant to scratching, cracking and staining, and is impervious to heat. Daily kitchen activities pose no problem and it can take a hot pot without the use of a trivet. This makes granite an ideal choice for countertops.

Can granite be damaged?
Like any solid surface, high impact blows can harm granite. Because of its crystalline structure, it can chip if subjected to sharp hard objects. But repair is possible – a chip can be filled with a granite dust and epoxy mixture.

Can granite crack?
Usually not with ordinary use. Granite is most susceptible to cracks during shipping and installation. Normal use will not overstress this durable material. Normal use does not include standing on the counter tops!

Can you scratch granite?
In general, it is very difficult to scratch. Granite is one of the hardest stones in the world and is highly resistant to scratching with ordinary use. A knife blade will not scratch granite. It can be scratched by another piece of granite or with specially sharpened tools designed to work with granite like tungsten and diamond blades.

Can I cut on my granite countertop?
Only if you want to ruin your good knives! Granite is harder than your knife blades and will dull them very quickly if you use the countertop as a cutting surface. Always cut and chop on a wooden or plastic cutting board.

Does granite stain?
In general, no. All stone, however, is porous to some extent, but granite has very little porosity. A few colors may absorb some moisture with prolonged contact compared to others. For example, a puddle of water left on the counter, for some colors, may show a dark spot when the water is wiped away. Usually, no evidence remains once the liquid is removed and the granite dries. A stone sealer is highly recommended for all granite after installation. Some stones are more porous than others, so it is important to use a penetrating sealer to prevent stains from oil, wine or other liquids from soaking into the surface.

Does granite burn?
With ordinary use, granite generally resists burns, so it is usually OK to set hot pots or pans directly from the stove or oven onto granite. However, it’s still advisable to use trivets to protect the stone’s surface as a precaution.

How do you take care of granite?
Warm soapy water will do the trick. Or use cleaners specifically formulated to help clean and protect stone surfaces.

I’ve noticed some granites have pits on the surface – will I have these on my kitchen counters?
Granite, which is crystalline in structure, always has tiny pits – spaces between the various mineral crystals. Granite sometimes has natural fissures as well, which may look like cracks, but are not structural defects and are a naturally occurring result of the immense heat and pressure that formed the granite eons ago. These characteristics are part of the natural beauty of stone and will not impair the function or durability of the material. A product of nature cannot be expected to look manmade.

Will my kitchen have seams?
Due to the limitation of slab size, seams on a granite countertop are necessary and sometimes unavoidable. On average, granite slabs are approximately 110″x66″, though in some colors, 120″ slabs are not unusual. Extremely large islands may either require a seam, or color selections will be limited to those slabs that have longer lengths or widths. A good place to incorporate seams is near sinks or cook tops. This will help to cover most of the seam, leaving a minimum amount in view. The visibility of seams will depend on the granularity, color and pattern of the stone. Our sales associates will help to explain the seam process in further detail to you.

Will my countertops overhang the cabinets?
Most counters overhang by 1 1/2″, which is standard. This may be changed for whatever reason due to cabinet configuration, cabinet installation and/or personal tastes.

Can granite cantilever?
You can cantilever granite up to 12″ with sufficient support on the fixed end and with a large enough piece. Never cantilever unsupported granite where it might receive excessive stress like someone sitting on a counter or stepping on a counter to change a light bulb. You must have support underneath for these situations.

About Marble

Can marble be used for kitchen counters?
Yes, but be aware marble (and limestone and travertine) are calcium carbonate, and their polished surface is more vulnerable to household acids including vinegar, mustard, catsup, citrus and a host of other food-related products. These acidic substances cause a chemical reaction, which will remove the polish. Additionally, marble and limestone can be scratched more easily than harder stones such as granite. Marble does make a perfect pastry slab; its perfectly smooth, cool surface is ideal for rolling out dough and pie crusts.

What is etching?
Etching happens when acid in some form comes in contact with a polished marble or limestone surface. This causes a chemical reaction, which removes the polish, or roughens the surface of honed marble or limestone. Granite is impervious to common household acids.

What’s the best way to clean marble and other soft stones?
The old rule of thumb is never to use anything you wouldn’t use on your hands. Never use powdered cleansers or abrasive pads to clean your stone. Even “soft scrub” type cleaners contain pumice, which is powdered volcanic stone, and might damage your stone countertops or floors. Never use any product which is acidic; this includes substances like ammonia or many common liquid cleaners such as Windex. You should always use sealers and cleaning products designed specifically for natural stone.

What is limestone?
Limestone is sedimentary rock consisting mostly of organic material such as skeletons and shells of marine creatures and sediments. It is formed by material that settles to the bottom of bodies of water, and over millions of years, solidifies into solid rock. Earth movements over extremely long periods of earth’s history can lift limestone miles into the air. The summit of Mount Everest is limestone that started out on an ocean floor.

Can I use limestone in my kitchen?
Like marble, polished limestone is highly susceptible to surface changes or damage from kitchen acids including citrus juices, vinegars, mustards, and so forth. Unsealed, some of the more porous limestones can be subject to stains. If the limestone is polished or semi-polished, you will see a rough spot where the substance sat on the stone. Limestone can scratch easily as well.

Source: The Natural Stone Council http://naturalstonecouncil.org

Stone and the Environment

As a natural product, stone is inherently earth-friendly. Natural stone currently offers many attractive, environmentally friendly attributes, including an enduring life-cycle, durability, ease of care and maintenance, recyclability, and quarry and manufacturing best practices.

Using natural stone shows that you take responsibility to care for the earth by actively striving to preserve, restore or improve the natural environment. Conserving resources, preventing pollution, and minimizing waste are some ways the stone industry is working to be eco-friendly through green building.

Why Build Green

Constructing buildings in an environmentally-considerate way requires careful thought and planning. However, the payback from a green building far outweighs this price. Conventional building practices consume large quantities of energy and water, while generating excessive air emissions and waste streams; these impacts are also caused by product manufacturing. Moreover, indoor air quality can be impaired when unhealthy building materials are employed.

Implementing green building techniques reduces impacts on the environment and human health during both construction and operation of a structure, as well as during production of building materials. If this harm is not reason enough to build responsibly, consider the financial aspect. Resource consumption and medical care can become expensive for the builder, the material manufacturer, and the employer of those working in the structure.

In order to decrease costs and to be good stewards of the earth, the Natural Stone Council (NSC) has invested much time in determining how to best represent the stone industry in the green building arena.

The Natural Stone Council aims to further position Genuine Stone® as a preferred sustainable building material by:

• Using the five key LEED® rating system categories as a guide to credibly and transparently
substantiate that stone is a natural choice in building green

• Transparently communicating the environmental benefits of Genuine Stone use as found from extensive research by a third party

• Working with an advisory council consisting of leading green architects, designers, and specification writers with intimate knowledge of Genuine Stone and its uses in building and landscaping

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