For millions of years, a combination of heat and pressure created blocks of natural stone, including granite, marble, travertine, limestone, and slate. As the earth’s crust began to grow and erode, it pushed minerals up from its core, forming massive rock deposits, which we refer to as “quarries”. These quarries are found in many countries throughout the world such as: Italy, China, Spain, India, Canada, Mexico and the United States.
At the quarry, giant blocks of stone are cut out of the earth with diamond studded, high-speed equipment. This diamond wire cutting system has revolutionized the extraction process; a once laborious and time-consuming manual task.
The slabs are then sent through a polishing machine that puts the desired finish on the piece. Most of these polishing machines can produce a number of different finishes, from a rough, rustic texture to a mirrored polish. These options are another one of the beauties of natural stone. During this stage, the slab is also calibrated, meaning its surface is worked down to a relatively uniform thickness across the length of the material.
At the next stop, the fabricator’s facility, the slab is customized for specific installations. Edges are shaped and polished. This is done with a series of small saws, or router bits, which are, again, diamond studded and water-cooled.
Installing this type of floor is heavy, difficult work; labor intensive and extremely exacting. It’s simply not for the do-it-yourselfer. We strongly recommend you call upon reliable stone floor installation professionals to install your stone floor. That way you can be assured of a beautiful, efficient and correct stone floor installation.
Because the number of natural stone choices, patterns, colors, textures and price points can intimidate even the most experienced shopper.
First, remember that typical natural stone floor tile sizes are 12”x12”, 13”x13”, 16”x16”, and 18”x18.”
Next, you should be aware that there are two types of edges for natural stone floor tile: a polished bull nose edge that has a rounded or curved appearance, or a polished straight 90 degree edge that gives a more modern and clean look to your space.
However, while installing natural stone flooring is a skill that is developed through years of experience, your understanding of the basics of floor installation will increase your knowledge of the process, and enhance your confidence in the installation professionals working in your home.
There are two basic types of stone used in the building industry:
* Natural stone such as marble, granite, or limestone.
* Agglomerates (manufactured stones) that consist of natural stone chips suspended in a bonding, manufactured material.
Natural stone can be grouped into three classes.
Igneous rock is formed when molten rock (called lava or magma) cools and hardens. Granite is an example of an igneous rock.
Sedimentary rock is formed from biological deposits that have undergone consolidation and crystallization. Limestone and sandstone fall into this category.
Metamorphic rock is created when other kinds of rocks are changed by great heat and pressure inside the earth. Marble, slate and quartzite are examples of metamorphic rocks.
Here are the names and definitions of some of the more popular natural stones:
Granite is an igneous stone that is extremely hard, dense and resistant to scratches and acid etching. It is an ideal stone for use in flooring and in food preparation areas. Hundreds of varieties of granite exist.
Sandstone is a sedimentary stone that is primarily composed of loose grains of quartz sand that are rough in texture. A number of varieties are available.
Limestone is another sedimentary stone, it’s formed from calcite and sediment and comes in many earthen colors.
Marble is a derivative of limestone. It is a metamorphic stone that can be polished. Marble is characteristically soft and easily scratched or etched by acids. There are countless types of marble from around the world.
Travertine is a crystallized, partially metamorphosed limestone, which because of its structure, can be filled and honed and is dense enough to be a type of marble.
Slate is a metamorphic stone that has a sheet-like structure. It is composed of clay, quartz and shale, and comes in a multitude of colors including reds and greens.
Agglomerate Stone is a manufactured stone made from natural stone chips suspended in a binder such as cement, epoxy resins or polyester.
The most well known agglomerated stone is poured-in-place terrazzo, used in building for thousands of years.
Today, some of the most popular manufactured stone products are quartz products.
These products offer the look of natural stone but are stain and scratch resistant, offer consistency and strength, and are virtually maintenance free.
Now, let’s take an even closer look at some of the most popular natural stone types available today, and provide you with some recommended applications.
Of all natural stone, granite is one of the hardest and densest, second only to diamond.
Made up mostly of quartz and feldspar, it resists staining and scratching better than any other natural stone, making it an ideal choice for your kitchen floor.
In fact, granite is durable and wearable enough for almost any application you can think of.
It’s beautiful in foyers, bathrooms, libraries, or as an accent with other natural stones.
Mother Nature produces granite in a variety of colors such as rich browns, vibrant golds, warm creams and cooler blues, greens, grays and decadent black.
Marble has a legendary elegance. It was used throughout the ancient world because it was soft enough to be worked with tools but hard enough to last through the ages.
Once considered the domain of the rich and famous, marble can be used in many flooring applications throughout your home.
Just what is marble you may ask? It’s a crystallized limestone that is not as hard as granite.
Marble comes in many different color variations and usually displays a prominent veining pattern with luxurious swirls and patches of contrasting color that make marble famous. Sophisticated grays and whites to a wide range of earth tones in both light and dark colors are the most popular.
Limestone has a more subtle look and is actually a “young” marble.
It is created by the accumulation of organic materials such as shells and coral that gives it a unique, natural look.
This more porous stone comes in a diverse range of neutral colors from ivory to soft grays to golden browns.
This range of colors makes limestone a versatile design option for flooring.
A member of the limestone family, Travertine shares some similar characteristics such as being soft and porous.
Travertine is formed with many small cavities and holes that can be filled in with cement or resin, or left unfilled for a textured surface.
The surface is then polished creating a different looks from honed to highly polished. The filled-in areas remain dull which creates an interesting contrast Travertine can also be tumbled for a rustic, old world look.
Travertine can be used in flooring in numerous rooms in your home and can also make for a wonderful backsplash. Again, the colors are generally earthy and warm and are at home in both warm and cool environments.
Slate is a highly versatile stone that gives a natural, rustic appearance to any room.
Slate can be used for interiors as well as exteriors, making it the perfect product to bring the outdoors inside your home.
All slate has a natural “clefting” along the surface that gives this stone its unique textural, layered look.
This stone is made up of clay and shale, which is very dense.
Slate is water resistant, which also makes it ideal for exterior applications, such as patios and pool surrounds.
Slate colors range from rich reds, oranges and golds to mauve, lavender, green, blue, black, rust and brown.
If your style is about texture, no other natural stone has the dramatic texture and color of slate.
We hope that the information we’ve featured here leads you to a better understanding of how this beautiful and versatile product is created and underlines the fact that ancient, elegant, well-chosen stone flooring can help make your home.
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