Natural stone has been the premium building material of choice since the beginning of time.

Quarried from rock beds formed over millions of years, natural stone used in residential and commercial settings comes from all parts of the world, including Italy, Spain, the United States, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Israel, Turkey, Greece, India, Mexico, Germany, Taiwan, Russia and Norway, among others.

Marble and Granite, two of the most popular stones among homeowners, are quarried in the form of huge blocks, some weighing up to 35 tons. These blocks are cut into slabs generally " or 1" thick and the faces are polished to the specified finish. The slabs are then carefully crated and shipped to fabricators worldwide (like us) who process them into the final product.

Whether you're building a new home or remodeling, natural stone offers you unparalleled beauty, permanence, and uniqueness - and adds true value to your home.

Because stone is a natural, not manufactured, product, no two pieces are alike, which means each finished countertop, wall, floor, mantle, table, or sill in your home is distinctive and matchless.

And, unlike synthetic imitations, natural stone can be three-dimensional and used as columns, statuary, balustrades, doorjambs (thresholds) and even furniture pieces. When used in exterior applications, natural stone has also proven superior to manufactured or engineered stones in withstanding the effects of nature.

How to Choose the Right Stone for Your Home

You have many options when it comes to beautiful, long-lasting natural stone for your home's interior: granite, marble, slate, travertine, limestone, onyx and quartzite, just to name a few. Choosing a natural stone for your home is a very personal decision, much like selecting wallpaper or artwork.

While there are scores of natural stones to consider, some are better suited than others to particular uses in and around the home. The following information, along with our staff and your architect and/or designer, can help you explore your options and offer guidance on the right stone for the right project.

Factors to Consider in Selecting a Natural Stone:

Color

Natural Stones are available in a beautiful spectrum of colors. Colors in granite and marble, for instance, can range from soft beiges and whites to pinks, classic black and whites to rich corals, greens and multi-colors. Marble traditionally features swirls and "veins" of color, while granite has a grainy flecked or pebbled appearance.

Unlike the repetitive sameness of materials produced by machine or assembly line, natural stone's naturally varied appearance has a wonderful character and creates a one-of-a-kind effect everywhere it is used.

Finish

Natural stone can be polished, honed, or flamed (among other finishes):
  • A polished finished on the stone has a glossy surface that reflects light and emphasizes the color and marking of the material.
  • A honed finish is a satin smooth surface with relatively little light reflection.
  • A flamed finish is a rough textured surface.

Usage

The harder the stone the more it resists abrasion. One measure of a natural stone's strength is its Measurement of Hardness (MOH) rating, on which 1 is the softest and 10 is the hardest. On the MOH scale, most marbles rate "3" and quartz-based granites rate "7." Using a softer stone simply requires the homeowner to use gentler cleansers and more frequent dusting to prevent scratching.

Marble

Ideal for foyers, bathrooms, floors and hearths
Marble is found in the mountainous regions of Canada, Italy, Germany, Spain and the United States, among other countries worldwide. Because of its beauty and elegance, marble is a popular choice for counter tops, floors, foyers, fireplace facings and hearths, walls and windowsills.

Marble adds a sophisticated element to your home, and its wonderful appearance, superior engineering characteristics, and ease of maintenance make it a natural choice for floors, wall coverings, table tops, and bathroom walls, floors, vanity tops, tub decks and showers.

Marble should be cared for as you would a fine wood finish. Using coasters on table tops and cleaning up spills immediately will preserve marble's natural beauty.

Another option for marble-loving homeowners is using another natural stone - Serpentine - for kitchen counters. Sometimes called the "green" marble, serpentine is not a true marble but offers a marble-like look. And, because it is magnesium-silicate based, it is not sensitive to citric acid and other kitchen spills.

Granite

An excellent choice for kitchen counter tops, floors, and other heavily used surfaces.
Granite, quarried from the mountains of Italy, the United States, India, Brazil, Norway, Russia, Sri Lanka, China, Africa and dozens of other countries around the world, is one of the most popular natural stones on the market.

Available in a striking array of colors, granite's durability and longevity make it ideal for kitchen counter tops and other heavily used surfaces, including table tops and floors.

While some synthetic surfaces scratch easily and melt under hot cookware, granite resists heat. Granite is also one of the most bacteria-resistant kitchen surfaces, and it is not affected by citric acid, coffee, tea, alcohol, or wine. It is also nearly impossible to scratch, and with proper cleaning, will not stain under normal use.

A leading consumer magazine recently compared granite with engineered stone, ceramic tile, laminate, butcher block, and other manufactured surfaces. Granite received the highest overall performance rating as a kitchen counter top material.

Because of its exceptional strength, granite is well suited for exterior applications such as cladding, paving, and curbing.

Travertine, Limestone & Slate

Beautiful enhancements for your home

Travertine, limestone and slate are other examples of natural stone frequently used in residential applications.

Travertine is a type of limestone and is one of the most popular natural stones for interior and exterior wall cladding, interior and exterior paving, statuary, cubing and interior counter tops.

Limestone is widely used as a building stone because it is readily available and easy to handle. Popular applications include counter tops, flooring, interior and exterior wall cladding and paving.

Slate, typically available honed of left with its natural cleft finish, is a popular flooring material and is often used for exterior paving stones, or pavers. Other slate applications include kitchen and bathroom counter tops, fireplace facings, table tops, and roofing.

Q: We're remodeling our kitchen and installing new counter tops. Synthetic counter tops are cost comparative to granite, but how do they compare in the long run?

A: As the saying goes, imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Counter tops made from acrylic and other manufactured materials may have the "look" of granite, but the similarities end there. For resistance to bacteria, heat, scratches, stains and overall performance, granite is unsurpassed.

Q: Is there any truth to the rumor that granite emits dangerous levels of radon gas?

A: No, this is completely unfounded. Not a single instance of radon has been reported to the Centers of Disease Control in Atlanta. Nevertheless, the Marble Institute of America consulted several of the nation's leading scientists in geology and geochemistry to evaluate the issue, and spoke with the major granite quarries and producers in the United States. Research has shown that actual levels of radon gas emissions from granites are insignificant and generally represent no threat to the health and well-being of people who live or work in buildings with granite counter tops, floors, tiles, or any other granite furnishings. View a detailed report conducted on Radon Gas in relation to Granite Counter tops.

Q: Is it true that granite counter tops can harbor bacteria?

A: Absolutely not! In fact, there has not been a single case of bacteria growth on granite reported in the US by the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. Nor do you need a disinfectant cleaner made especially for granite so that bacteria does not grow in your counter tops.


This brochure has been reproduced with permission from The Marble Institute of America

Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. The Marble Institute of America

About the Marble Institute of America

Founded in 1944, the Marble Institute of America (MIA) is the leading resource for information and education for the natural stone industry. MIA members include marble, granite, limestone, sandstone, and other natural stone producers and quarries, fabricators, installers, distributors, and contractors around the world.

The association publishes a monthly newsletter, markets a range of technical publications and consumer pamphlets on natural stone, sponsors meetings and seminars on industry-related topics, both business and technical, provides educational programming for architects and construction specification professionals, and conducts an annual Pinnacle Awards competition that recognizes outstanding natural stone projects worldwide.

For more information, contact MIA at 440-250-9222, e-mail info@marble-institute.com, or visit the association's web-site at www.marble-institute.com