Questions to Ask When Selecting Stone

A newly installed natural stone slab can be absolutely stunning, but look worn and dull a year or two later. The location and intended use of natural stone makes a big difference in the longevity of its elegance. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself as you consider what type of natural stone to select.

What appeals to you aesthetically?

Think about the grain and sparkle of granite, the lazy ribbons of veining in marble, the aquatic elegance of limestone, the unpredictable charm of travertine, the backlit mystery of onyx, or the velvety ruggedness of soapstone. While you should select a stone that you admire, your decision should not be based on appearance alone. Your next step is to consider whether the stone you want will hold up to its intended use and purpose.

Where do you plan to have the stone installed?

The place your stone resides will determine what kind of use it gets. Will it serve as a rarely-used conference tabletop? Will it be a vanity top for a bathroom several teenagers share? If special consideration is given to select a stone that is appropriate for its intended use, then untimely wear patterns or damage can be avoided.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the stone?

Some stones are harder than others. For example, granite generally ranks at a 7 on the Moh's scale of hardness, but marble usually is about 4. The softer a stone is, the easier it is to scratch. Obviously, harder stones should be used for areas that see higher traffic and use.

Some stones have higher calcium carbonate content than others. The higher the calcium carbonate content, the more prone a stone is to etch damage from acidic substances. So if you are selecting stone for a bar top that will be exposed to a lot of acid from fruit juice or wine spills, your best bet would be to shy away from selecting a stone with high calcium carbonate content.

What are your expectations?

In Europe, natural stone is scratched, etched, and worn, and people don't seem to mind. Like your favorite blue jeans or comfy pajamas, signs of wear to you might simply mean you are putting your stone to good, practical use. Soapstone is a great choice for people who want laid-back, casual elegance, because it tends to looks better with signs of wear.

For people who prefer immaculate, luxurious stone, signs of wear will be considered unacceptable. If your expectations are high, and you select backlit onyx, for example, simply keep in mind that a restoration contractor will need to perform regularly scheduled refinishing services to maintain a flawless factory finish.

Do you have questions?

Natural stone professionals can help point you in the right direction when it comes to stone selection. Tell us what types of stone are aesthetically appealing, where you plan to have the stone installed, and what kinds of expectations you have, and we can help you select the most appropriate stone.

This is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of Surface Care PRO Partners.