Natural Stones

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Natural stone is a geographical list of stone used for decorative purposes in construction and monumental sculpture; currently or historically produced in various countries. In addition hardstone carving uses many types of gemstones.

The dimension stone industry classifies stone based on appearance and hardness as either "granite", "marble" or "slate".

sssssss The granite of the dimension-stone industry along with truly granitic rock also includes gneiss, gabbro, anorthosite and even some sedimentary rocks.

Uses for granite include architectural stone (construction, flooring, cladding, counter tops, curbing, etc.), raw block and monument stone for the funerary trade.

Dimension stone is natural stone or rock that has been selected and fabricated (i.e., trimmed, cut, drilled, ground, or other) to specific sizes or shapes. Color, texture and pattern, and surface finish of the stone are also normal requirements. Another important selection criterion is durability, the time measure of the ability of dimension stone to endure and to maintain its essential and distinctive characteristics of strength, resistance to decay, and appearance.

Quarries that produce dimension stone or crushed stone (used as construction aggregate) are interconvertible. Since most quarries can produce either one, a crushed stone quarry can be converted to dimension stone production. However, first the stone shattered by heavy and indiscriminate blasting must be removed. Dimension stone is separated by more precise and delicate techniques, such as diamond wire saws, diamond belt saws, burners (jet-piercers), or light and selective blasting with Primacord, a weak explosive.

A variety of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks are used as structural and decorative dimension stone. These rock types are more commonly known as granite, limestone, marble, travertine, quartz-based stone (sandstone, quartzite) and slate. Other varieties of dimension stone that are normally considered to be special minor types include alabaster (massive gypsum), soapstone (massive talc), serpentine and various products fashioned from natural stone.

A variety of finishes can be applied to dimension stone to achieve diverse architectural and aesthetic effects. These finishes include, but are not limited to, the following. A polished finish gives the surface a high luster and strong reflection of incident light (almost mirror-like). A honed finish provides a smooth, satin-like ("eggshell"), nonreflective surface. More textured finishes include bush-hammered, sandblasted, and thermal. A bush-hammered finish, similar to a houndstooth pattern, creates a rough, but uniformly patterned surface with impact tools varying in coarseness. A sandblasted surface provides an irregular pitted surface by impacting sand or metal particles at high velocity against a stone surface. A thermal (or flamed) finish produces a textured, nonreflective surface with only a few reflections from cleavage faces, by applying a high-temperature flame. This finish may change the natural color of the stone depending on mineralogical composition, particularly with stones containing higher levels of iron.

The most easily-accessible general (non-graphic) references are the latest Minerals Yearbook Chapter (production and foreign trade, with statistics), and the latest (Issue 31) Dimension Stone Advocate News (new "building green" developments and demand statistics); see below. The most comprehensive, graphic references are Natural Stone Database by Abraxas Verlag (, "Dimension Stones of the World, Volumes I & II" (Marble Institute of America) and "Natural Stones Worldwide CD" (Abraxas Verlag GmbH).

Why Choose Natural Stone?
Natural stone is held in high regard as a premier building material because it reflects unique character, stability, and grandeur. Variations in natural stone’s broad range of color, pattern, and texture are visually interesting and impossible to replicate. And, because it comes from the earth, from eco-friendly compositions, it is a natural choice.

The diversity of natural stone products encourages limitless design potential. Aesthetically, what you do with stone is as varied as your imagination. Its many factors in the way stone formed within the Earth contribute to its varieties and enhance the creativity it provides – something that cannot be duplicated in a laboratory or come from a mould.

Natural stone exhibits a durability not found in other building materials. There is an emotional connection to buildings and monuments built in stone that carries a great deal of meaning due to enduring history and a legacy of mankind through the ages.

Green Attributes:
Natural stone products like those created in granite, marble, limestone, slate and sandstone, among others possess innate characteristics that contribute toward LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) or LEED intended construction. Consider stone’s low embodied energy, ready availability as a naturally occurring material - often locally (within a 500 mile radius of the project), no off-gases to impair indoor air quality, high thermal capacitance, and exceptional durability for low maintenance and structural permanence. Using natural stone for your projects shows that you care about the environment and consciously strive to preserve it. See more below.

Design projects should stand out and reflect the passion, taste and personality of the designer. Natural stone is a one-of-a-kind building material that sets you apart from others because it can’t be mimicked, manufactured, or faked.

The value in natural stone is more than a monetary measure. It involves longevity, ease of maintenance, permanence and stability that far exceed initial investment. Utilizing natural stone is now more affordable than ever due to advancing stone quarrying and processing technology that has improved efficiency over the years. New automated machinery allows fabricators to cut natural stone thinner, faster, more consistently and at less cost than in times past. Development of anchoring technologies and systems make installation easier, quicker, and more secure. In addition, natural stone is simple to care for, has an appearance that literally improves with age and can last a lifetime.

Natural Stone