STONE KNOWLEDGE

Stone Character

Movement in stone is in reference to its character of grain pattern; where the veins swirl irregularly due to the massive forces at work while it was forming in the earth. These characteristics can be so drastic from one end to the other that it is hard to believe it is the same slab. And yet other slabs have very subtle movements that are most noticeable when you look at them from different angles changing the light reflection. Because granite is a natural product that is subject to variation, no two stones are exactly alike. This means selecting your slab is a very important and personal process that takes a great deal of consideration, since our showroom samples cannot be an exact duplicate of the stone that will be used on your project. The composite of minerals, the quarry it was mined from and finishing process play a large part in the appearance of stone. We have gone to great lengths to provide stone samples for viewing on a monitor screen that are as true in color and texture as can possibly be found, but cannot be absolutely correct due to variations in computer systems, monitors and software compressions.

Granite, in its crystalline structure, will always have tiny pits, which are spaces between the various mineral crystals. Within the stone sometimes you will find natural fissures, which appear like cracks, however these natural characteristics are not structural defects they are a result of the immense heat and pressure that occur when it is formed. These distinctive features are part of the beauty of stone and have no negative affect on the function or durability of the material. Natural product should not be expected to look manmade, it takes away much of the character that makes it unique. Samples are just a small portion of what a full slab looks like and can never be a good representation of what the entire slab will look like. This is why we require slab selection at the stone yards.

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These slabs will again look different in the light and color of your home; at minimum it will appear lighter or darker, so keep this in mind. There are hundreds of stone colors to choose from and all are beautiful, but not all would/could be suited in your home. Viewing our stone selection can give you an idea of what to expect.

Stone Comparisons

Facts determined in lab studies show that granite is the most durable stone available. Under abrasion tests it proves to be the most resistant to scratches. All heat tests showed maximum resistance to damage from extreme temperatures found in kitchen use. Further tests revealed that man-made stone will catch fire when in contact with a flame. Marble Institute of America and scientific theory posted that the youngest granite is 750 million years old, so that speaks to its durability. Some designers report that it is impossible for man-made stone to match the beauty of natural stone, because the unique variation available within each stone offers extremely vivid colors and a very rich look that are impossible to duplicate. Once a high gloss polish is achieved, it will last as long as the stone, counting in eons. Stains in granite are limited to its ability to absorb oil which usually darkens the stone but can be removed. This eliminates the threat of permanent stains. Although pricing, for both natural and man-made stone, are on the higher end of the countertop market, the durability of granite is the most “cost effective” choice. It will retain its beauty and hold its value longer than any other countertop and this goes for normal wear and tear of the rough and tumble household.

So for maximum security against the threat of damage to a life-long investment, granite has become today’s top choice for home owners, designers, architects, contractors and cabinetmakers. Granite is unyielding to permanent stains, abrasions and extreme heat. In addition to its natural born qualities of color, pattern and shade, you can be assured your countertop will be unique unto itself. The most common question we hear during stone selection is about the difference between marble and granite.

Let’s start by saying they are very different from each other. Granite which is formed deep in the earth’s mantle, under extreme pressure and high temperatures, is a very dense and damage resistant stone made of quartz, which gives it these qualities. Marble, travertine, limestone, soapstone, onyx and slate are lacking the quartz mineral that is most suitable for durablility requirements. Although they have been used in kitchens for centuries they are not recommended in kitchens intended for maximum durability, due to their lack of the quartz mineral. Stains are more difficult to remove than with granite and their surface is more vulnerable to household acids including vinegar, mustard, catsup, citrus and a host of other food-related products. These acids cause a chemical reaction that may remove the polish. Additionally, they can scratch more easily than granite. Marble is sometimes desired in the kitchen as a pastry slab.  Its smooth, cool surface is ideal for rolling dough. Some green stones are not true marbles. They are made of a different substance called serpentine and do not etch or react to acids the way limestone and marble do because it is harder. Natural stone and acrylic have only one thing in common; they are installed in the same location.

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Acrylic has many uses, but will never allow the carefree durability of quartz and granite. A quality of acrylic is its ability to be extremely consistent in color matching. Every square inch is an exact match to one another and there are also colors not available in natural stone.  Seams are made using a liquified material which combined with its remarkable color consistency makes them virtually invisible. While the seams on a granite countertop are more noticeable, not all counter tops require the use of seams. The size of slabs available today also helps avoid not having seams. Quartz composites are known by many names. They are primarily made up of more than 90% quartz and usually 6-7% resin material. With this type of material there is no possibility for staining, therefore sealing is not necessary.

Stone Elements

Unique and sophisticated are the most appropriate words to describe the beauty of natural stone. The varieties of minerals that complete the stone vary in properties and color, making stone exceptionally beautiful. Flecks of quartzite, bronzite, garnet, and other materials sparkle and illuminate the material.  Each stone is completely distinct, none will have the same pattern, veining, or defining marks as another, the results will be truly unique.  Three different types of stone are formed to create the various stones used in projects today.

Sedimentary rock is located on the uppermost part of the crust. It is formed when an original rock has been destroyed due to weathering. The sediments are transported by water (rivers, streams, or oceans) or wind, and then buried. After the rock was buried, the tiny pieces of sediment bond to form limestone, sandstone, and travertine.

Metamorphic rock is formed when rock that is buried deep in the earth comes in contact with heat, pressure, and chemically active fluids. This process results in a more strongly bonded, dense stone. The heat creates veining that is present in many stones. Marble, quartzite, and slate are formed through this metamorphic process.

Igneous rocks are found deep in the earth’s crust; they are formed by the cooling and solidification of molten rocks. As the rock cools, crystals form and grow until the molten rock turns into stone. If the cooling occurs slowly, large crystals are formed. If the cooling occurs quickly, smaller crystals are formed. This process is responsible for producing granite, which is made up of orthoclase feldspar, quartz, plagioclase feldspar and ferromagnesium.  The changes in color result from the minerals involved in the rock formation. These minerals also determine stone hardness. On a scale of 1-10 (diamonds being hardest), granite is a 6-7 and marble is between 3 and 5.  The majority of stone come from Italy, Spain, Turkey, United States, Mexico, China, Taiwan, India, Greece, Canada, France and Brazil.

Durability

Etching occurs when an acid comes in contact with the polished surface of softer stone like marble or limestone. This chemical reaction actually eats the stone in a very short period of time removing surface of the stone and destroying the polish, the surface will then be rough or honed, depending on the strength of acid and time left on stone. These acids will have no effect on granite what so ever, and that’s the glory of granite, some green marbles are also resistant to etching. A growing concern with the increased use of granite is whether or not bacteria can live in it. The use of granite continues to be approved for applications in the food and medical industries, as well as home use. And a matter of fact is the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has no records of granite harboring bacteria, and has no reports of people becoming ill from bacteria in granite. With regular cleaning, granite is far less likely to support bacteria than butcher block or even other countertop materials. For those of concern, the largest known host for bacteria is wood located around the sink area. We are often asked if granite can be stained, and the answer in general, is no. However since granite, is porous to some extent, but much less than other stones, it can be penetrated by oil thus causing a dark stain. Some colors may absorb some moisture more than others, causing a dark spot that will dissipate within a day, having no long term affect. One example is a puddle of water left on the counter for a period of time, may show a dark spot when the water is wiped away. So as with any rock when it is wet it is darker until it dries completely.

Usually, no evidence remains once the liquid is removed and the stone dries. The use of high quality stone sealer can greatly reduce if not eliminate these concerns. Another common question is whether granite can crack under normal use; not if it is installed correctly. Cracks found in slabs are usually caused during shipping and handling of the material. But once properly installed it is virtually impossible to crack, because any type of normal use cannot overstress the durability of this material. Be advised, although most countertops could handle it, standing on them does not constitute normal use. So now you are wondering can granite be scratched, well yes diamonds can easily scratch it. You have to understand granite is one of the hardest stones in the world, but under extreme misuse it can be damaged. It will resistant to scratching with normal use, and even some misuse, because it is the toughest stone available today. A knife cannot scratch granite, as the quartz in the stone is harder than metal. It is usually scratched by another piece of quartz stone. So if you’re thinking of cutting on the stone, we don’t advise this, it will dull your knife. Marble and other softer stones on the other hand do not have the quartz mineral that is so beneficial to resisting scratches and are more likely to be damaged by sharp objects. You’re probably wondering if granite can burn with a pan or a flame. Torches used for fabrication, in excess of 1000 degrees can cause the stone to pop loose; this is the technique used to create a flamed surface. But it never really burns or even catches fire. So no you can’t burn granite with any normal use. It is absolutely fine for you to set hot pans on granite, it acts as a hot pad, just be advised the stone can be hot to the touch, causing injury. It is such a comfort to know that your investment cannot be ruined by accidents like setting a hot pan on the counter or spills that cause stains and that granite resists scratches caused by normal kitchen use. Your only real threat is chipping, which will not happen under normal use, this usually occurs when a heavy object hits a square edge of the stone. If this happens, rest easy because we can repair it.