Tips for Choosing your Stone
Location of the stone will determine which stone to choose and how it will need to be treated. Considerations:
- Will the stone be indoors or outdoors?
- Will the stone be in a wet area or dry area?
- Will there be constant foot traffic?
- Will the stone be exposed to the elements?
- Will the stone be exposed to spillage of acidic substances?
- Does the stone need to be slip resistant?
- Will the stone be exposed to the build up of soap scum?
- Will the stone be exposed to constant heat?
- Will the stone suit its surroundings or decor?
Kitchen areas are subject to constant spillage of acidic substances so they require stone that is hardwearing and resistant to absorption. Marble will etch with acidic substances, which are often found in the kitchen. Granite is scratch and heat resistant, virtually non-absorbent once sealed, resistant to most chemicals and a better choice for the kitchen than marble and limestone.
Bathroom areas are subject to the build up of soap scum, oils, dirt and mineral deposits from water so they require stone that is fairly resistant to absorption and can be easily cleaned. Smooth surfaces such as polished marble, limestone or granite are ideal. The size of the tile is also important, particularly where drains are located. Small tiles are more easily laid when the fall towards the drain is steep.
Foyers, elevators, stairs and showrooms
Foyers, elevators, stairs and showrooms are subject to constant foot traffic but polished marble, granite or terrazzo will still work well in these areas with regular maintenance.
Outdoor areas will weather if exposed to constant sun, rain, pollution and chemically treated pool water so a stone that wears well, is slip resistant and has a matt finish such as sandstone is ideal.
Structure will determine which stone to choose as the weight of the stone must correlate with the architectural design. The size, area and height of the structure are also important as these may affect whether the stone can be easily accessed for polishing, sealing or cleaning. If the structure is very high or is a vertical wall it may be difficult to clean or polish.
- Will the stone be required to support a structure?
- Will the stone be capable of supporting a structure?
- Will the stone be accessible for its required maintenance?
- Will the stone be suited to the size or area of the structure?
- Will the structure such as cupboards be capable of supporting the stone?
- Will the stone be too thick or thin
Colour may be determined by the stone you choose, or alternatively the colour you require may determine your choice of stone. Slate is usually dark in colour, granite varies from beige to black, marble varies from white to black, onyx comes in a variety of beautiful translucent light to dark colours, sandstone and limestone are usually light coloured. The colour and stone choices are endless.
- Does the preferred stone come in the required colour?
- Is the space where the stone will be installed large or small?
- Does the colour appear to enlarge or reduce the space?
- Is there much natural light or is it a dark space?
- What type of artificial lights will be used that may affect the colour?
- Are the ceilings high or low?
- Will there be more than one colour used?
- Will the colour tone in with other colours in the room?
- Will the colour show scratches, stains, dirt or dust?
- Does the room need to feel warm or cool?
- Does the colour suit the purpose of the room?
Pattern will be determined by the type of stone chosen. Marble has a veining effect, whereas granite has a more flecked appearance. Some marbles are more veined than others. Keep in mind that variations between tiles and slabs due to minerals and reflection is what gives natural stone its appeal and sets it apart from manmade materials.
- Will the pattern match with the rest of the décor?
- Will the pattern blend with adjoining areas?
- Will the pattern appear to enlarge or reduce the size of the room?
Finish will be determined by the purpose of the stone and the type of stone chosen. Marble can be polished to a high gloss whereas sandstone cannot. A marble vanity in a bathroom would look appealing with a high gloss, whereas an outdoor, sandstone area would be better left matt or textured to enhance slip resistance. A low sheen finish is practical for a high traffic area, whereas a high gloss is ideal in a low traffic area and in a shower.
- Does the stone have a functional or aesthetic purpose?
- Will the stone be exposed to water?
- Does the stone require slip resistance?
- Will the stone be subject to dirt from foot traffic?
- Will the area be subject to high or low foot traffic?
- Will the stone take a polish?
- Will the finish compliment the décor?
- Is the stone in a bathroom where soap scum may build up?
- Is the stone in a kitchen where acidic liquids may be spilled?
Quality and quantity of the stone chosen are important.
- Is the colour of the slab fairly consistent or does it vary greatly from one end to the other?
- Do the tiles have a smooth arris (edge) or a sharp edge (sharp are cheaper)?
- Are there enough slabs in the same stone with the same colour and design to complete the job?
- Is the stone thick enough for the job as a thin slab may not be strong enough?
- Does the stone have a manufacturers seal applied in the factory?
- Are there holes and fissures in the slab and have they been resined for extra strength? (Dark drip marks on the rough edge of the slab means it has been resined)
- Is the gloss finish consistent or are there small dull parts? (Some minerals in the stone will polish differently to others. Look across the slab and check reflection)
Maintenance is an important consideration, as it will determine the true cost of the stone. If the correct stone is chosen with an appropriate finish, maintenance will be manageable and affordable. If the wrong stone and finish are chosen maintenance could be costly and ineffective. If design aspects override practicality then maintenance costs must be budgeted for. A high gloss finish may be desired on a marble floor in a foyer with high foot traffic therefore the cost of regular polishing or resurfacing must be taken into account.
- How often will the stone need to be cleaned?
- How often will the stone need to be sealed?
- How often will the stone need to be repolished?
- Are special products required for regular maintenance?