In an era when the home is as much sanctuary as it is shelter, there’s something undeniable about the classic beauty of natural stone. Nothing is more durable, impressive or easier to maintain. And with plentiful resources and reasonable pricing, what was once considered a building material for the elite is rolling its way into homes like never before.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder—and there’s a lot to see with natural stone. Here are the basic varieties used in residences today:
The comeback king of natural stones, granite has become the popular, all-purpose choice for those seeking a sleek, sophisticated look. When it comes to durability, granite is indeed rock solid. It doesn’t scratch or chip and it’s practically indestructible. Sold as blocks, slabs and tiles, granite can be used for everything from countertops and showers to floors and walls.
Every weathered limestone is one of a kind; each is rough, fractured and marked in its own striking way. Although somewhat absorbent, limestone’s pores can easily be filled with grout—lending an Old World look and added durability. Available in tile, slabs, cut-to-size pavements and flags, limestone is ideal for flagstone patios, sills and flooring.
Soft and charming, travertine’s wide range of creamy neutrals and patterns are a designer’s dream. “In the past, people used travertine for fireplaces and mantels,” says PetraSlate’s Jamie Helmer. But with its deeper range of colors, it’s perfect for a sleek, symmetrical floor.”
What is actually metamorphosed limestone or dolomite, marble’s elegant beauty often comes with a hefty price tag. Blocks, slabs and tiles are perfect for most all interior and exterior applications including roofing, flooring, sills, railings and countertops. Luckily, this gorgeous stone needs little maintenance, but some stains (makeup, nail polish) can be irreversible.
Slate is actually more susceptible to breakage than most people think. It’s particularly is sensitive to extreme heat and frost. In purple, blue, black, gold, copper and silver, slate has always been used in roofing, shingles and ceilings. Thanks to an expanded color palette and resistance to water and staining, it’s also making an appearance in backsplashes, showers and floors.
Sandstone is available in tile, slabs and blocks—and it’s so versatile, uses are limited only by the imagination (think roofing, flooring and wall-cladding, just to name a few). Whether you’re dealing with an interior or exterior application, it’s best to lay sandstone flat, just as it was formed at the bottom of a river, lake or ocean.
Soapstone is easily carved, making it a truly artistic medium. But it’s also dense, nonporous and impervious to staining, making it architecturally sound. These days, you’ll find it everywhere, from sinks to fireplaces to countertops. It’s heat resistant and can take a screaming-hot cookie pan without batting an eye.
Read the full story in the December 2005 issue of Log Home Design.
Buechel Stone photo