Limestone

  • Limestone is a sedimentary stone
  • It is a soft, porous stone primarily formed from calcium rich organisms like seashells and bones
  • It has a smooth surface and can vary in hardness
  • It contains the mineral calcite however some limestone also contains magnesium, which makes it harder and allows it to be polished to a high gloss like marble or homed to a semi-gloss or matt finish
  • The harder limestone is also more weather resistant
  • It is used in kitchen benchtops, fireplaces, floors, bathroom vanities, ornamental pieces, interior and exterior wall cladding and paving as it is easier to manipulate than harder igneous stones such as granite
  • Colours are usually soft and include grey, light beige to tan, white, pastel pink, green and yellow
  • It will absorb oil, water and other liquids therefore it must be protected with a penetrating sealer
  • Softer varieties of limestone are not recommended for high stress areas
  • It can scratch and will etch when exposed to acidic substances such as juice and wine
  • It has a rating of 3-4 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness

Travertine

  • Travertine is a sedimentary stone
  • It is a soft, porous stone made from calcium and usually found near natural hot springs
  • Over time layers are formed and carbon dioxide bubbles become trapped forming the holes which are commonly seen in travertine
  • It is used for kitchen benchtops, bathroom vanities, for shower walls and floors, interior and exterior wall cladding, exterior tiles, living room and foyer floor tiles, paving and curbing, furniture and feature walls
  • Colours are usually cream, ivory, beige, brown, pink, red and gold
  • Like marble it can be polished to a high shine or honed to a semi-gloss or matt finish
  • It will absorb oil, water and other liquids therefore it must be protected with a penetrating sealer
  • It can scratch and will etch if exposed to acidic substances such as juice and wine
  • It is not a hard wearing stone however if the holes are filled with cement or resin the travertine can be honed or polished and used in high traffic areas
  • It is particularly popular with designers for its creamy colour, texture and feel and its luxurious look
  • It has a rating of 3 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness

Sandstone

  • Sandstone is a sedimentary stone
  • It is a soft, porous stone formed when sand containing a variety of minerals including quartz, pyrite, iron, silica, calcite and some organic matter which are cemented together by pressure
  • Other minerals, which give sandstone its character and add colour include mica, hematite, feldspar, ilmenite and clay
  • It is used mainly to produce interior and exterior floor tiles, paving and walls and was commonly used in the 1800’s to build large buildings and bridges prior to the use of reinforced concrete
  • Colours are usually cream, brown, red, grey and sometimes green but can vary depending on the minerals covering and cementing the sand, for example sandstone that contains iron will be red to brown, whereas sandstone with a silica content will be more white.
  • It is a strong, weather resistant and durable stone with a matt finish
  • It has excellent slip resistance and is suited to pool areas, driveways and courtyards
  • It is porous and susceptible to staining and therefore must be sealed with a penetrating sealer
  • It is particularly popular with designers and architects for its matt finish and reddish brown swirl patterns and its long term durability, especially in commercial buildings
  • It has a rating of 3 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness

Granite

  • Granite is an igneous stone
  • It is an extremely hard, course grained stone formed through the slow crystallisation of magma below the Earth’s surface
  • It mainly contains the minerals potassium, feldspar and quartz with small amounts of mica
  • Most of the continent is made of granite
  • It is one of the most popular building materials in the world and is commonly used indoors for kitchen benchtops, bathroom vanities, floors and furniture
  • Outdoors it is used in large structures such as bridges, monuments, retaining walls and steps and in large public floor areas due to its solid character and ability to withstand deterioration
  • Colours are usually shades of black, grey, brown, red, pink and yellow, which are determined by the minerals trapped when the stone is forming
  • It is extremely heavy so its weight must be considered when choosing an application
  • It will not etch and is resistant to staining, although prolonged exposure to oils can cause discolouration
  • It has a rating of 5.5 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness

Basalt

  • Basalt also known as Bluestone is an igneous stone
  • It is solidified magma, formed when lava from a volcano reaches the Earth’s surface and cools quickly within days
  • Most of the earth’s surface and the ocean floor is mainly made of basalt
  • Colours are variations of blue/grey, green/grey, grey and black
  • It is a hard stone commonly used as road base, for street pavers, building veneers, flooring and other construction applications requiring stone with strength
  • It is extremely durable, has a non-slip surface, can withstand very high temperatures and is resistant to corrosion, etching, weathering and chemicals
  • It is commonly seen in a residential setting used outdoors for driveways, pathways, ponds, around pools, on outdoor walls and in foyers of commercial buildings
  • Although it is hard wearing it is still susceptible to staining and requires sealing with a penetrating sealer
  • An enhancing sealer can be used to darken and enhance the colour of the stone
  • It has a rating of 6 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness

Slate

  • Slate is a metamorphic stone
  • It is a fine-grained stone formed under the ocean when layers of sedimentary rock, clay, shale or quartz are compressed under low-grade heat and pressure
  • Due to its layering slate can be easily split, exposing a range of magnificent textures
  • It is mainly quarried in Africa, China, Brazil, Italy, USA, UK and India
  • It can range from very soft to hard depending on its origin
  • It was traditionally used on roofs as shingles, in blackboards and for headstones
  • It is now used for outdoor paving around pools, on driveways and for floor and roof tiles
  • It is heat, fire and weather resistant and highly resistant to acidic liquids
  • There are some softer slates that can break, chip and scratch so the environment must be considered when choosing a slate
  • It can absorb water therefore a good quality penetrating sealer will provide added protection and strength
  • An enhancing sealer can also be used to darken the grey colour
  • It has a rating of 5.5 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness

Marble

  • Marble is a metamorphic stone
  • It is a soft, porous stone formed in the earth’s crust from limestone reacting to the extreme heat underground but not directional pressure
  • It mainly contains the minerals calcite and dolomite, however impurities in the original limestone recrystallise to form other minerals that create a variety of colours in the marble
  • It is used in many building applications including kitchen benchtops, bathroom vanities, shower and bathroom walls, floors and spas, living room and foyer floors, reception desks, furniture, ornaments and headstones
  • Colours range from whites with black veins to red, black or green with white veins
  • White marble contains more calcite, yellow marble contains limonite, reddish marble contains hematite and green marble contains serpentine
  • Veins are created when minerals in the stone liquefy due to the heat in the earth’s crust, then flow through the stone and solidify as the earth cools
  • It is used by designers for its beauty and ability to achieve a mirror finish when polished
  • Although it is fairly resistant to erosion and fire it is not an ideal surface to use as a kitchen benchtop or bathroom vanity where acidic substances are commonly used
  • Sealing with a penetrating sealer is recommended
  • It has a rating of 3-5 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness

Onyx

  • Onyx is a metamorphic stone
  • The layering occurs in limestone caves when water drips over limestone and redeposits forming stalactites and stalagmites
  • The name onyx has Greek origins and means claw or fingernail which has a similar translucent appearance to onyx stone
  • It is used to make tiles, tables, hand basins, vases, bowls and ornaments, bars and feature walls that can be backlit, as the light will shine through the translucent stone
  • It is known for its opalescence, spectacular patterns and vibrant colours
  • Colours range from earthy reds, browns and greys to a variety of pastel greens, creams, gold, amber and white
  • It is a soft, fine-grained stone made from calcium layered under extreme heat and pressure
  • It is a popular choice for designers and architects when a point of difference is required to lift the profile of an establishment or home
  • It is mainly found in the USA, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, India, and Africa
  • It is not a stone that should be subject to hard wear
  • It must be sealed with a penetrating sealer otherwise stains can be difficult to remove
  • It etches with acidic liquids such as juice and wine and must be maintained with care due to it’s delicate layers
  • Onyx is usually highly polished to bring out the beautiful patterns and colours in the stone
  • It has a rating of 6.5-7 on the Mohs Scale of hardness

Serpentine

  • Serpentine (Green Marble) is a metamorphic stone
  • It is formed in the earth’s crust during low-grade metamorphic conditions
  • It is often used for furniture, ornaments and jewellery as it is soft and ideal for carving
  • It is a soft, silky feeling stone
  • Thin slabs of serpentine may be used for wall panelling and stair treads
  • Colours are usually yellowy green, olive, dark green, brown, grey and black depending on the minerals in the stone
  • It usually has a white vein and an opaque to translucent look once it is polished
  • The pattern in the serpentine is said to resemble a serpent’s skin, hence its name
  • It’s translucent and opalescent green look is sometimes mistaken for jade
  • Its green colour is mainly due to the magnesium content
  • Unlike other metamorphic stones such as marble and limestone, serpentine is not affected by acidic liquids and therefore can be used for kitchen benchtops although this is not a common application
  • Although it can be polished it has a waxy lustre rather than a highly reflective glossy finish
  • It is commonly called ‘marble’ or ‘green marble’ in the stone industry
  • It is rated 3-6 on the Mohs scale of hardness

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