Since ancient times we are using natural stones as a premium construction material. After the invention and propagation of cement-concrete based materials, we experienced a slowdown in the use of natural stones. Recent improvements in quarrying, cutting, and supplying technologies, natural stones are no more a luxury material for our homes.

We use RCC for the construction of frames and stone veneers to decorate the spaces further without struggling with whole stones as stacked structural elements. However, natural stones are excellent options, manufactured tiles, and cement-concrete mortar are ultimate competitors of stones in many respects.

It creates a lot of confusion for homeowners as well as contractors to take right decisions regarding stones. To help them out, here, I am going to give some useful tips when choosing natural stones the best ways.

1. Choose Right Stone Types for Right Places

Fundamentally, we know natural rocks are of three main categories based on their origins. Igneous rocks, sedimentary rocks, and metamorphic rocks. We use all three types of rocks in our construction projects under the titles of different species.

For commercial purposes, we classify rocks into two major classes based on the minerals they contain. Siliceous & calcareous. Siliceous rocks contain silica/sands as the main mineral. Calcareous rocks have calcium compounds as a principal component. I think these short & sweet understanding help you to make the right selection for your natural stone needs.

Let’s see which stone type is suitable where in your spaces in the following table.

Stone Types Interior Spaces Exterior Spaces
Quartzite Kitchen countertops, cabinet-tops, tabletops, floors, and other heavily used surfaces. Façade, porch, and patio paving. Pool decks, paths, walkways, and driveways.
Granite Same as above Same as above
Travertine Same as above Same as above plus stone furniture.
Slate Kitchen countertops, fireplace facing, and floors Façade & patio paving, paths paving, pool decks, and Roofs.
Sandstone Structural elements in stacked walls, trims, and pillars. Also in floors Architectural elements in stacked walls, trims, and posts. Patio paving. In stone-based furniture.
Limestone Same as above Same as above
Bluestone Same as above Same as above
Marbles Mostly for flooring in all interior spaces. Wall cladding for luxurious homes. Structural elements like columns. Pool and patio paving, exterior wall cladding, windows sills, and headers.
Flagstone Wall cladding for classic & rural homes. Patio, pool, and path paving.

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2. Create Aesthetic Appeal for Spaces Using Natural Stones

Stones have natural beauty and capabilities of creating natural aesthetics. To create an appealing look-n-feel, you must run a theme. Your theme may contain matching or contrasting colors.

It may have similarities or dissimilarities in patterns of stones. You can go for right finishes applied on the surfaces of stones. You may have similarities or variations in textures of the stones.

Let’s check these significant aspects, which are contributing to an aesthetic appeal for your spaces.

3 – Selection of Appropriate Hues of Colors of Natural Stones in a Theme

You will find a whole spectrum of stunning colors and their hues in natural stones of different varieties. What you take care of while selecting the colors of your rocks? Below are useful hints for it.

No.1:

Darker shades of colors are advisable where chances of frequent staining are high, for instance, various countertops, including kitchen countertops, cabinet tops, dining tabletops, and basin tops. Don’t worry if the rests of ambiance have brighter colors because it can give you a contrasting appeal.

No.2:

Dark colors easily hide watermarks, fingerprints, and a layer of dust on the surfaces. If you have an outdoor barbeque or kitchen facilities for frequent parties, dark hues are the right choices.

No.3:

Brighter colors have a spatial property that it can expand the small spaces into psychologically large. It also can create a calm ambiance when applied in large or open spaces surrounded by natural greenery. Thereby, garden patios and swimming pools tend to be white or very bright colored.

4 – Selection of Textures & Patterns of Natural Stones in a Theme

During various geological processes, natural stones acquire distinct patterns and textures. Grains and veins formation decide these things at a greater extent.

 Grains

Veins

Now, let’s see how the size of grains and colors differentiate the natural stones in the following table. Igneous rocks like granites are typical examples of grain variations.

Coarse-Grained Mid to Fine-Grained
Light Colors

Granite

Granite

Medium Colors

Syenite

Diorite

Dark Colors

Gabbro

Basalt

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5 – Selection of Right Effects of Natural Stones in a Theme

The amalgamation of grains, veins, and background textures and patterns often resulting in fascinating effects in your natural stone applications. Some common effects are:

Rustic Effects of Natural Stones:

It is a natural and earthy effect. The texture is prominent on the surfaces of stones. Colors look earthy.

Casual Effects of Natural Stones:

A synergy runs among the floor, steps, walls, pillars, and structural features when you use natural stones.

Warm Effects of Natural Stones:

The entire ambiance seems welcoming and warm.

Inviting Effects of Natural Stones:

Travertine floors, wall cladding with granite stones, and stacked stones in pillars/columns exert inviting impacts on the mind of onlookers.

Elegant Effects of Natural Stones:

Fine-textured marbles leave elegant effects to your façade.

Now, it is up to your taste, and you can create desired effects with single stone types or multiple stones types in your exterior natural stone application projects.

6 – Make Right Choice for Natural Stone Surface Finishes to Create Viable Spaces

We know that we cannot use natural stones directly without giving any treatment to its surfaces. At present, a couple of different finishing treatments given to the commercially available natural stones in the market. So, you have to select the right treatments for your applications.

Natural Finishing:

Typically, it is the absence of treatment to leave a stone in natural status. Flagstone in path or patio paving is a suitable application for it.

Polished stone Finishing:

You can get glossy shining surfaces with highlighted colors and texture. It is ideal for interior decoration.

Tumbled Stone Finishing:

It simulates aging effects and generates antique look-n-feel.

Bush Hammered Stone Finishing:

It generates different sizes of craters in uniformly distributed patterns. Thereby, we can get non-slip surfaces ideal for external footprints.

Sandblasted Stone Finishing:

It generates comparatively small craters to highlight stone colors. It also uses in skid-free surfaces generation.

Mushroom Stone Finishing:

It offers stones with rustic appearance with irregularities and relief.

Leather Stone Finishing:

It creates undulating surfaces with soft, warm, and smooth touch.

Flamed Stone Finishing:

It brings a slight roughness on the top layers of the stone surface and renders it useful for outdoor applications.

Sawn Stone Finishing:

It yields surfaces with small furrows and undulations to give it a matte tone. So, it becomes ideal for external paving.

Honed Stone Finishing:

It gives a matte, flat, or satin looks and suitable for stepping stones and in staircase applications.

7 – Check the Hardness of Natural Stones According to Applications

The hardness of stones means its capacities to be scratched. So, don’t use it for strength or durability because all these terms are different from each other. Only harder material can make a scratch on the surface of the softer material. Let’s see how we will check it practically.

How will you test your stones?

The following table may help you to test the Moh’s scale of the rocks. The scale is devised to rank the hardness of the physical material.

Minerals in Stones Moh’s Scale Hardness Test
Talc 1 Easy to scratch with thumbnail
Gypsum 2 Tough to scratch with thumbnail
Calcites 3 Easy to cut by a knife
Fluorite 4 Somewhat tricky to cut by a knife
Apatite 5 Difficult to cut by a knife
Feldspar 6 Tougher to cut by a steel knife
Quartz 7 Not to cut by a knife
Topaz 8 It can scratch glasses or softer material
Check hardness of sandstone by creating scratch on the glass surface. It indicates that it is harder than glass. Similarly, check harness of marble by making scratch using steel knife so we can say marble is softer than steel.

Now, you should have one thing that is clear in mind. You will not use softer stones where foot traffic is high. The same goes true at the places where various activities are taking place and can increase the chances of making scratches on the surfaces of your stone floors, walls, and other architectural components.

Whereas, harder types of stones like quartzite, granite, and slate are ideal choices for exterior applications like patios, paths, driveways, pool decks, and porches. So, siliceous tones are befitting for outdoor uses. Calcareous stones like marbles and limestone are excellent choices for interior decorations.

8 – Examine the Durability of Natural Stones

To measure the durability of the stones, we used, to apply three main metrics or parameters, which are:

  • Splitting: Most of the stones have layers and Slate, or Schist has pronounced. If bonding between the layers is weak, it can comfortably apart. So, be careful while selecting stone types and quality and use such stones in the chosen spaces or purposes.
  • Crumbling: Stones have grains mean pockets of a particular kind of mineral deposition in a specific fashion. If grains have loose bonding, you can pry grains out of the solid rock. Therefore, try to avoid such stones or pieces in a lot.
  • Cracking: Some cracks in the rocks occur naturally that is called Fissures while human originated breaks are pure cracks! Be cautious when you notice a substantial crack in the ready to install stones, a fissure may not harm you unless it runs throughout the mass of the rock.

9 – Look at Stain Resistance Properties of Natural Stones

Stains on the stone surfaces can spoil the appearance of the stone and need the care to prevent it right from the selection process. If you understand the staining process scientifically, you can select the right stone types for different spaces according to the chances of getting stains.

Three main aspects fix the stain resistance of natural stone, and those are:

  • Water absorption
  • Composition of stone
  • Appearance of stone

Now, staining occurs due to spills and some chemicals. Here, the liquid is the main form of staining. Thereby, stain absorption directly correlates with the water absorption capacities of the stones.

Siliceous types of stones are highly resistant to staining due to their acid resistance capacities. Calcareous kinds of stones like marbles have high acid sensitivity due to their CaCO3 compositions.

Stone Types Water Absorption Typical Range (In Weight %) ASTM

Spec.

Standard Requirements
Granite 0.8-1 C615 0.40
Marble 0.8-0.04 C503 0.20
Sandstone 12-0.3 C616 8(S)

3(QS)

Limestone 26-0.08 C568 12(LD)

7.5(MD)

3.0(HD)

Slate 6-0.3 C629 0.45

Therefore, you must avoid acid-sensitive stone types in high stain prone areas like indoor/outdoor kitchens or barbeques. Similarly, highly granular and darker shades of stones can easily hide the minor stains like granites. Thus, such stones types and darker shades are preferable for high staining prone areas.

10 – Measure Strength Properties of Natural Stones

Stone has to bear the life, and static loads in construction and strength of the rocks determine its appropriateness. Two kinds of tests are carrying to assess the strength of a rock, compressive strength, and flexural strength.

Compressive Strength:

It is a measurement of the crushing load. High compressive strength means rocks can withstand high pressure and cannot be crushed easily.

Stone Types Typical Compressive Strength (MPa) ASTM

Spec.

Standard Requirements
Granite 300-100 C615 131
Marble 150-80 C503 52
Sandstone 120-10 C616 27.6(S)

68.9(QS)

Limestone 150-4 C568 12(LD)

28(MD)

55(HD)

Slate 200-25 C629

High foot traffic areas need stones with high compressive strength. Outdoor pavers for paths and driveways demand such stones.

Flexural Strength:

It tests the rupturing capacity of rocks against bending strength. So, a high value indicates that stones will not bend and break easily.

Stone Types Typical Flexural Strength (MPa) ASTM

Spec.

Standard Requirements
Granite 30-6 C615 8.3
Marble 22-6 C503 7
Sandstone 15-3 C616 2.4 (S) – M0R

6.9 (QS) – MoR

Limestone 21-2 C568 2.9 (LD) – MoR

3.4 (MD) –MoR

6.9 (HD) – MoR

Slate 50-15 C629 49.6 (MoR)

Mostly driveways in outdoor applications and stones used as structural elements require high flexure strength to withstand against a high load.

11 – Consider Wear & Tear Aspects of Natural Stones According to Applications

Judging wear & tear means determining the lifespan of the natural stones. Abrasion of stones can take place due to scratching, scuffing, wearing down, rubbing away, or marring like processes.

Stone Types Typical Abrasion Index (Ha) ASTM

Spec.

Standard Requirements
Granite 50-150 C615 25
Marble 15-50 C503 10
Sandstone 4-24 C616 2(S)

8(QS)

Limestone <1-20 C568 10
Slate 4-20 C629 8

When you evaluate resistance to abrasion, consider the following things first.

  • Stone surface finishes
  • Foot or vehicle traffic
  • Tracking of particulates
  • Adjacent surfaces

We have seen different types of stone finishes, which are actively playing in establishing a high abrasion rate if a selection is right. If the surface finishing is wearing down the life of the stone cuts considerably.

Similarly, a high traffic area and the presence of environmental factors like dirt and sand grains can deteriorate finishes rapidly. Lipping and trip hazards also determine the abrasion rate of stones.

Where to Apply Abrasion Index?

Abrasion Index Appropriate Uses
< 8 Good for interior or light exterior applications
8-12 The right choice for light exterior or commercial paving and interior flooring.
12-25 Suitable for general outdoor or commercial and indoor applications.
>25 The best selection for all types of applications, including high traffic exterior or commercial flooring.

12 – Consider the Costs of Natural Stones According to Applications

The cost of natural stones for your projects much depends on two things. Vicinity of stone supplier and installation charges. Fortunately, with the advent of transportation and shipping technologies as well as facilities, we can get our orders quickly even from the offshore suppliers with competitive rates.

Online web portals and mobile apps have made life easy for homeowners and contractors to get the best deal with high bargaining with a few clicks or taps. Similarly, you can auction your installation contract online or initiate negotiation with your known contractors online and obtain the best perks.

Conclusion:

World of Stones USA is an ideal destination to get cost-effective natural stones for your outdoor applications. You have enough opportunities to explore a massive inventory of stones. Moreover, you will get free of charge consultation services to obtain the best selection according to your bespoke requirements and budget. Would you like to start a consulting session with our expert stone consultants?

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