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Tips for selecting Natural Stone

view:author:Magic Stoneupdate:2012/12/17

Stone is a natural product. But perhaps more important, it is a product which is still in a state of nature. Its performance as a building material, whether in tile, slab or any other form, is entirely determined by the materials that comprise it and the natural forces that have brought it into being. For this reason alone, it is not just interesting but essential to understand the characteristics of any stone you intend to use for any purpose.

The general term for this material is dimensional stone, natural stone or, most simply, stone. You will often hear any polished stone referred to as marble. This is not always correct. Misidentification of a particular stone can pose problems, especially during the maintenance process. It is not important that you know the precise commercial name of a particular stone; there are more than 8,000 varieties, so being absolutely sure of that can be difficult. What is critical is that you know what type of stone you are dealing with.

Basic Stone Classifications Most of the stone used today falls under one of three major classifications. All three have to do with the origins of the stone, that is, how it was formed.

The first classification is igneous. This literally means formed from fire. An igneous stone was once a molten, flowing mass. All of its impurities were burned out, and as it cooled it became very dense and hard. The material that is commonly referred to as granite falls under this classification.

The next stone classification is sedimentary. This material was formed as a result of minerals and clays being deposited in such areas as old river bottoms or flood plains. Over time and through very little mechanical action, this mixture solidified. If pressure and heat were applied, this mass would be changed into marble.

Sedimentary stone is generally more porous than marble or granite. It is also much less dense. Limestone and sandstone are the most common representatives of this category.

The third classification is metamorphic. The term denotes that it has undergone a change. Stone of this type is formed of a mixture of clays, carbonates and other minerals which has changed under intense pressure and heat inside the earth. A crystalline structure has typically been formed. Marble is the most common example of a metamorphic stone. Stone in this category tends to be more porous and less dense than igneous stone.

These three major classifications can be broken down into groupings or types of stone whose names are much more familiar to us. Granite, marble, travertine, slate, limestone and sandstone are types of stone that we run across on a regular basis. Here is a brief and very basic guide to the most commonly found types of natural stone. Please bear in mind that these are not exact, geological definitions; they are the ones actually used in stone trades.