20 October 2023

What is Natural Stone and Where Can You Use it?

Stone materials offer a timeless and natural beauty that can enhance almost any situation.

Natural stone materials and products are all around us and used in a vast array of ways for construction, architecture and for decorative purposes. They are found in the Earth’s crust and are quarried or mined to create so many of the objects we see and use around us every day. Natural stone materials are valued for their durability, aesthetic appeal and also for their unique characteristics which come from their variation in colour, texture, pattern and also their versatility to be used for so many things. This blog will look at some of the most common types of natural stone products and where they can be used both for interior and exterior spaces.

Common types of natural stone products

There are so many different types of natural stone materials, and some of them can be used in their purest form, while others need to be added to, or altered, in some way to enable them to be used for the intended purpose. Some of the most common include:

  • Granite – formed from the cooling of magma deep beneath the Earth’s surface, granite is composed mainly of three main minerals – feldspar, quartz and mica with other minerals and trace elements. Depending on the mineral composition and area of the world where it is mined it can come in a range of colours and patterns – it is usually speckled or mottled.
  • Marble – naturally extracted from quarries around the world, marble is formed from limestone which has undergone a metamorphosis of intense heat and pressure in the Earth’s crust which causes the limestone to recrystallise and results in the veining and crystalline structure of the stone.
  • Slate – a fine-grained metamorphic rock, slate is characterised by a distinct foliation which means it can be easily split into thin, flat sheets or layers. It is durable and highly water resistant and can be found in an array of colours.
  • Limestone – a sedimentary rock formed from the accumulation and compaction of mineral and organic particles over time, it is primarily composed of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). The texture of limestone can vary from fine to coarse and there is a wide range of colours available.
  • Sandstone – also a sedimentary rock but formed from sand-sized mineral grains, usually feldspar, quartz and mica cemented together by minerals like silica, calcium carbonate or iron oxide. The variety of colours is influenced by the types of minerals present in the sand grains and cementing material and its texture is generally coarser feeling gritty to the touch. More porous than limestone it can be more susceptible to weathering and erosion.
  • Onyx – a translucent stone with unique patterns and colours this material is perfect for decorative applications. Onyx is formed in the cavities of volcanic rock, typically as stalactites and stalagmites and can range widely in colour. With a smooth and fine-grained texture, it is suitable for many decorative purposes.

Another common stone product is quartz which is created from natural quartz crystals but is formed in a manufactured process that uses natural stones – around 90 – 95% – but adds resins, polymers and pigments to bind the natural quartz into a slab or sheet of material.

Where can you use natural stone materials?

Thanks to their durability and beauty, natural stone materials can be used in a plethora of different ways – really, your imagination is the only limit! Some of the most common uses for stone materials are:

  • Worktops – a very popular option for both kitchens and bathrooms as they create a durable and elegant surface, and the sheer choice of colours and materials means there’s something for everyone’s taste.
  • Flooring – used for covering floors since the days of cavemen, natural stone can be made into slabs and tiles to create stunning entryways, kitchens, bathrooms and living areas to suit your design choices and even work with underfloor heating.
  • Wall cladding – stone veneers and tiles can cover interior and exterior walls to create a stunning aesthetic appeal, from traditional to modern and can also create great insulation to keep heated or cool air inside. Natural stone wall cladding for showers is popular as it is waterproof and still gives a stunning aesthetic.
  • Fireplaces and staircases – other popular uses for natural stone products are in creating luxurious interior features such as a statement fire surround or an elegant staircase.
  • Outdoor uses – natural stone materials are enduringly popular for outdoor patios, pathways and garden features such as walls, edging and decorative pieces as well as surroundings for swimming pools and ponds. Some types of natural stone are ideal for these uses as they are naturally non-slip which is ideal in a potentially wet area.
  • Furniture and décor – the beauty of natural stone can be used to create smaller pieces of furniture such as tables, lamps and even sculptures and monuments. Stone can be used to curate floor patterns as well as tiles for flooring, walls and splashbacks.

The most important thing when selecting stone materials for a project is to make sure you have the right type of stone for the application. The properties of each type of stone need to meet the purposes of the situation to ensure you have the best results in terms of performance as well as aesthetics. For example, a porous sandstone would be hopeless in a shower tray as it would soak up water, erode and ultimately leak and a highly polished stone surface would be slippery and dangerous leading to nasty accidents in the same setting.

How Impala Stone can help you with your natural stone products

With over four decades of experience in the stone materials sector, we have a vast amount of shared expertise to support all of our clients. Whether you’re in the trade or a private individual, you will want to ensure your project is completed with the highest-quality materials and the right ones for the job. Our expert team are on hand to discuss the requirements of your project and help you to find the exact stone product you’re looking for from amongst our vast array of materials. Our team will love nothing better than to help you – and our client reviews will testify to our top level of customer service and satisfaction.

Get in touch today to get the advice and support you’re looking for, select some free samples and receive a no-obligation quote.