What is Natural Stone?

What is Natural Stone?

Ruins of Palmyra in Syria

Throughout history, human beings have made use of natural stone for their social and cultural manifestations. The greatest legacy we have received from our ancestors derives from their use of stone. It is through the use of natural stone that we have found out most of what we know about their way of life.

The Lost City of Petra in Jordan

The term natural stone includes all those stony products traditionally used by men in the construction industry, including those used in decoration and indoor flooring and walls. The applications of this material are manifold and, as is the case with other materials, new products and applications are continuously found. However, natural rock is more than just a mere construction element to be used for a given work. It is a product that is full of symbolism, has excellent durability and great plastic beauty. This has been proven by stonework carried out by human beings throughout History.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Features and Properties

The most relevant characteristics of natural rock are hardness, resistance to different stress types, composition, porosity, color, and durability. The latter is perhaps the most important technological feature. There are numerous architectural remains where stone has been the only remaining material, which demonstrates it stability at real scale.

The best uses of natural stone require good knowledge of its properties, which are determined through testing. The European standards of these products establish the specific parameters to be determined in the laboratory, namely,

  • Petrographic analysis to determine composition and structure.
  • Resistance to bending stress.
  • Resistance to compressive stress.
  • Resistance to impacts.
  • Slip resistance.
  • Resistance to thermal changes.
  • Frost resistance.
  • Resistance to SO2 (sulphur dioxide) pollution.

For natural stone to be used correctly, these and other complementary characteristics should be determined in a laboratory.


Different Types of Natural Stone

Natural stone, a collective name for innumerable types of stone, is quarried worldwide. Since no two regions on earth have precisely identical geological composition or forces, each type of natural stone, as well as, each stone within a specific type is unique. This implies that even natural stone of an identical type varies vastly. Natural stone is one of the best looks for the exterior of a home. It’s beautiful, luxurious, and it last for years and years. Some of the most notable homes and buildings have been constructed out of natural stone, and they stand the test of time. When choosing the exterior material of your home, it’s important to consider things like climate and the structure of your home – if it is able to support the weight of a stone exterior. But if it can, it is one material that will create a stunning appearance to your home. Most stone types can withstand just about any type of weather element it is exposed to, which only adds to its attractiveness. The only thing standing in many homeowner’s way when deciding on the type of exterior for their home, is money. Natural stone can be quite a bit pricier than other types of exteriors, but the longevity and durability, along with the beauty that a natural stone can offer, can be worth the price in the end.

Some important types of natural stone used in the construction sector include Marble, Limestone, Travertine, Onyx, Granite, Quartzite, Sandstone, Soapstone, and Slate.


Natural Stone Comparison and Stone Types









Low Maintenance

Stain Resistant

Scratch Resistant

Chemical Resistant

Heat Resistant

Solid Structure

Wide Range of Colors





Marble, a type of metamorphic rock, consists mainly of dolomite or calcite, or a mixture of these carbonate minerals. Marble is essentially metamorphosed limestone, and its characteristics are similar to that of limestone. It’s used in similar applications as well. Nevertheless, marble is more esthetically valuable and is available in a broader range of colors.

Marble is regarded highly for its strength, beauty, and resistance to fire. This natural stone is used widely in buildings, sculptures, and monuments. Large marble blocks are used for columns, flooring, and other areas of buildings. It’s suitable for flooring, roofing, wall-cladding, and other interior and exterior applications.


Limestone, a type of sedimentary rock, presents an earthy appearance. It’s available in light and dark shades. Although most limestone is gray, several colors from white to black are available. Since limestone can be carved easily, it’s a highly preferred building stone. The surface of this natural stone can be polished smooth or textured. Limestone is not as dense as granite or marble. It’s vulnerable to stains and scratches. Limestone is used for ornate stonework, wall cladding, flooring, vanity tops, and furniture.


Travertine, a type of limestone, is soft and porous. It presents an unusual crystallized appearance. Its surface isn’t uniform and has pits or voids. A polished or honed surface is achieved by filling the surface voids. The cavities are filled with colored epoxy, matching Portland cement, or polyester resins. The cavities are also left unfilled to give a more rustic appearance. Since travertine can be easily stained and scratched, surface sealing and special care is mandatory for its maintenance. Travertine is used for fireplace surrounds, vanity tops, furniture, wall cladding, and flooring.


A compact sedimentary rock is a type of limestone that formed by evaporation of cold water containing dissolved calcium, leaving a translucent variety of calcile, often in the form of stalagmite and stalactites inside caves. Its natural color is translucent white. The other colors usually come from minute concentrations of chemicals carried by water dripping into the cave. Onyx is extremely dense but lacking in bending strength. It is often used for interior counters, wall claddings and flooring.


Granite, a type of igneous rock, contains three main minerals—plagioclase feldspar, alkali feldspar, and quartz. It’s extremely dense and hard. Speckled minerals within granite give the rock its distinctive appearance. Granite is the perfect choice for kitchen and bathroom countertops and flooring in high-traffic areas because it’s stain, scratch, and heat resistant.

Granite is one of the most renowned, most durable, and most pristine building materials. It withstands the elements exceedingly well. This natural stone suits your home’s interior as well as its exterior.


Quartzite is one of the hardest natural stones and is known as a cleaved stone and offers a rustic type characteristic to the stone. It has a similar look and durability to marble, but is different in many ways. One of quartzite’s greatest qualities is the sparkle that it illuminates at its surface. It’s unique in its look and extremely durable so that you can count on it being as beautiful and in as great condition years down the road, as it was when it was first constructed.


Sandstone consists of feldspar, minute grains of quartz, and other minerals. It includes rock fragments or organic matter as well. Pyrite, quartz, or calcite is the mineral that binds the grains together. The color of sandstone varies from gray, cream, brown, green to red, depending on its composition. Reddish-brown sandstone, labeled Brownstone, was widely used in residential construction. Sandstone is suitable for your home’s interior and exterior. It’s used as flooring and paving material.


Soapstone is a serpentine containing talc white makes it feel like a bar of soap. The talc also makes it easy to scratch, a characteristic preferred in rustic décor. Often used as countertops in chemistry labs, where it’s resistance to acids is important, and on fireplaces where it’s unique heat retention characteristic is valued.


Slate, a type of metamorphic rock, is extremely dense and durable. It’s among the world’s earliest natural products. This natural stone is available in earthy tones. Slate comprises grains of quartz and mica, plus small amounts of hematite, chlorite, and other minerals. The surface of this stone is naturally textured unless a honed finish is achieved. Slate is available in gray, black, red, and purple. The construction industry has been using slate for roofing because it is weatherproof and long lasting. Slates are used for roofing, flooring, and countertops.



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