Before you can appreciate the beauty of natural stone it is important to know where it comes from and how its made. Natural stone began forming millions of years ago, deep beneath the surface of the earth. Huge blocks of stone are created from millions of years of heat and pressure. 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”. At the quarry, these large blocks are cut out of the earth and taken to a separate place where they are turned into slabs.
Different natural stones are formed by different methods. These different methods cause the many different looks of natural stone like granite, marble, travertine and slate. Below are some important terms that help understand how each rock is formed:
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 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.
All of these formative processes give natural stone the characteristic that we call range. Range is the spectrum of color and variation of color in each piece of natural stone. This is what gives natural stone its artistic qualities and value. The value lies in each piece due to the fact that no two pieces of natural stone will ever look the same. The millions of years that it took to form each piece ensure this.
When shopping for natural stone, some people ask for each piece to look uniform. This is impossible. If you want a natural stone that does not have a lot of range you do have options, but each piece, if examined closely, will have its own unique stamp from mother nature.
Embrace the beauty of natural stone and don’t be afraid of range! The more range a stone has the more unique it is to you and your home. Why not have the most unique piece of stone you can find to set yourself apart?