For creating surfaces with unrivaled beauty and durability, natural stone such as marble and granite have been preferred choices for thousands of years. Precision-cut slabs or tiles of either are synonymous with royalty, wealth, and elegance.
How Marble and Granite are Formed
Granite is an igneous rock; formed over eons of time. Molten lava is forced in layers between solid rock which then slowly cools and solidifies. This allows base minerals such as quartz, feldspar, and mica within the rock to crystallize separately.
This process gives the stone its textured beauty and differing vibrant granite colors; including red, black, beige, brown, ivory, and blue stone. Granite is a much sought-after building material, second only to diamond in hardness; making it highly durable and scratch resistant.
Marble, on the other hand is a metamorphic rock. It starts out as limestone, a sedimentary rock. The limestone is transformed into marble over time, by great heat and pressure or chemical reaction deep beneath the earth.
As with granite, there many different types of marble; named for the location of their quarries. For instance, Paros and Pantelli from Greece, Carrara Italian marble, Danby from Vermont, and Yule from Colorado. Marble also offers a variety of stunning colors; including blue marble, white marble, and black marble.
The Building Material of Choice
Used for millenniums in palaces, cathedrals, and temples, marble and granite are the contemporary preference for a multitude of applications. Including a natural marble countertop, a marble floor, granite counter tops such as a granite kitchen counter or bathroom counter top, granite flooring, or even a granite kitchen sink or marble sink in the bathroom.
Used in these as well as other applications, marble slab or granite construction offers stunning beauty, kitchen design flair, and durability for any bathroom or kitchen remodeling project. Homeowners can select from a nearly infinite variety of granite counter top colors at the local granite supplier.
But the bathroom and kitchen are not the only places to benefit from the attractiveness of these natural stone choices. Marble tile complimented by a marble table top can give a contemporary design old world flavor. A marble coffee table top or marble dining table top blended with exotic wood makes it highly desirable for even the most discriminating interior design theme.
Cost and New Innovations
The high degree of difficulty in cutting and forming natural granite or marble into slabs and tiles attribute to the higher granite counter top cost. Such applications have traditionally been considered luxury options for the wealthy elite.
In recent years, however, innovations in technology have produced cultured granite and cultured marble products. Cultured stone, also known as faux stone, is made using smaller bits of the stone; bound in a clear polymer resin, giving it the appearance of a natural stone slab. This technology has brought forth an explosion of affordable cultured stone products for any number of domestic applications, such as granite counter tops or any other kind of counter top construction.
While cultured stone is more stain resistant and may be manipulated into nearly any color or pattern, it is not as hard or durable as the natural stone. In addition, recent overseas sources for natural stone have made it comparable in price to cultured stone. Bringing it within financial reach for more homeowners than ever before.
Tips for Homeowners
The following are tips for homeowners considering a natural marble or granite renovation project:
- Marble and granite have similar characteristics which require special care and maintenance to prevent staining and discoloration. Calcite is an absorbent mineral commonly found in marble and granite. It is highly reactive to acids such as orange and lemon juice, soft drinks, and certain cleaning agents. In addition, because of the absorbency of some granite slabs, oils can seep into the stone. Special care must be taken to avoid permanent staining from these items.
- The Oil and Lemon Juice Test can help homeowners determine the absorbency or reactivity of a stone slab before purchase. Mix a few drops of lemon juice and cooking oil together; apply a drop or two on the stone sample you are considering. Wait for 5 minutes. If it turns dark almost immediately, there is a high amount of calcite in the stone. Avoid it altogether. If it takes 30 seconds or longer to turn dark, the stone is probably adequately sealed with a sealing product. If it takes 5 minutes or longer, or does not change at all, the selection is a winner!
- When undertaking a project using marble or granite tile, make sure you obtain enough tiles from the same lot for the entire project. If you run short and try to match it later, chances are the new batch will not quite match the first.
- Natural stone tile for floors differs from tile for counter tops or walls. When tiling a floor or patio, make sure you purchase only tile intended for that purpose. Since tile used for counters or walls often is a thin â€œveneer,â€ using it for flooring may result in cracking or breakage. On the other hand, using floor tiles on a counter will provide an especially resilient surface.
Professional Installation Strongly Recommended
Installing a marble or granite counter top requires a high level of expertise. Improper installation techniques can easily ruin an entire slab of stone, requiring the time and expense of obtaining a replacement. For that reason, hiring a qualified general contractor or specialty contractor for the job is highly recommended.
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