Marble, granite, limestone, travertine and slate are all commonly used in the building industry today, both commercial and residential. They are all natural stone quarried and processed into slab and tile. Standard size for stone tile is 12” x 12”. Some stones are also available 16” x 16”, 18” x 18” and 24” x 24”. Slab sizes average about 5’ x 9’ x 3/4” thick.
All of these stones are porous. Although all of these stones offer a luxurious, beautiful and practical surface, they have different properties that make them more or less practical for certain areas.
Marble is a calcareous stone. It generally has a high gloss finish. Because the composition of the stone is mostly alkaline it reacts with acids such as lemon, vinegar, tomato and some cleaning agents. marble must be treated with care to keep its high gloss finish. Marble is recommended for light use areas such as bathrooms, fireplaces and furnishings.
Granite is chiefly stone composed of quartz, feldspars, mica and hornblende. It is resistant to acids and does not scratch easily with everyday use. Granite is very durable. For these reasons it is recommended for kitchen and high traffic floors. Granites have a characteristic granular appearance.
Limestone is similar to marble. The usages are the same as marble. Some limestone can be polished to a high gloss finish and some can not.
Travertine are also similar to marble but when formed water was trapped and as the water dissipated holes were left. This gives travertines a characteristic look with linear crevices and pitting that can be left as is or filled. If left unfilled, travertine may not be suitable for horizontal surfaces.
Slates are shale rock that has metamorphosed. Choices of color in slab are limited. Slate generally comes in 12” x 12”, random, patterned, irregular, gauged and ungauged. Slate has more rustic, informal appearance. Slates are commonly used for decks, walkways and flooring.
Granite, marble, limestone and travertine counters all need to have solid support to within 3 inches of the edge when dealing with 3/4” thick stone. A sudden, jarring impact can be most damaging, even with some of the thicker stones.
Because all of these stones are created by nature, they do not have the uniform consistency of man-made products. Big blocks of stone are taken from the quarry, sliced into slabs and one side of each slab is polished. Pitting, fissures, dry seams, etc. are common in natural stone and most stones have some natural “flaws”. The available slab sizes vary from stone to stone therefore creating the varying need for joints.
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