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Granite

Granite is an igneous rock found at the Earth’s surface. Granite began as a liquid magma that slowly cooled over tens of millions of years in the center of the Earth. Due to extreme pressure, slow cooling and time, granite is very, very dense. It is an almost impenetrable product requiring very little maintenance. Granite is harder than limestone, travertine, slate, and marble and is the best product for kitchen countertop applications.

Finishes: Honed, Polished, Flamed.

Marble

Marble is a metamorphic limestone. High heat and pressure will crystallize limestone, resulting in marble. This heat and pressure combined with the flow of water in the Earth’s crust over millions of years, results in the wide veining characteristics and color variations found in marble. The crystalline structure allows the marble to take a high polish, bringing out the color of the other trace elements in the stone. Marble is generally harder than limestone and travertine, but softer than granite.

Limitations: Marble is not recommended for kitchen counters due to the possibility of staining from acidic products found in food preparations. Cooking items such as wine, pasta sauce, and fruit juices can cause damage to the stone that sealers cannot protect.

Travertine

Travertine is a sedimentary rock that began as limestone. The porous nature of limestone makes it a great reservoir for liquids. Heated by the Earth’s inner core, water rises as steam or hot mud baths, such as geysers. This hot liquid dissolves the limestone and rises to the Earth’s surface forming mud beds. After enough time passes, the mud bed cools and crystallizes to for a solid stone called travertine.

The characteristic small holes or cavities found in travertine are a result of the cooling process. Sometimes those holes are filled before the product is honed or polished. Fill material is generally material dust from the cutting process and mixed with hardener. Unfilled travertine is quite beautiful and unique. Travertine is harder than limestone, but softer than marble or granite.

Finishes: Honed, Polished, Brushed, Chiseled, and Tumbled.

Limestone

Limestone is a sedimentary rock formed at the bottom of lakes and seas through the accumulation of silt and organic matter. Over millions of years, layers build up adding more weight. The heat and pressure generated by the weight causes chemical reactions to take place, thereby hardening the sediments into solid stone. Some limestone does not take a high polish; it is commonly found in a honed finish. It’s most common uses are wall cladding and paving.

Slate

Slate is a rock that forms from the low-grade metamorphism of the sedimentary rock shale. The alteration of the shale by heat and pressure produces partings that give slate it’s layered characteristics. The wild range in colors found in some slates is the result of the stone being exposed to different atmospheric elements allowing them to oxidize.

Types: Gauged/Calibrated (refers to squareness and uniform thickness) or Ungauged/Uncalibrated (more natural look, but less consistent characteristics)

Consultation

Tile Pro offers a wide range of tile consulting services. Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer needing advice, or have a problem installation needing professional assessment, we have the experience to help! We can even help coordinate with related trades to make your new install or repair as hassle free as possible. We can also evaluate your current structure to make sure that tile is the best option for you.

Our consulting services offer the following:

• Initial consultation of all phases of your project.
• Follow-up consultations with demonstrations at some or all phases of your project, which could include:  Budget, Material List, Prep Work, Shower Waterproofing, Setting/Grouting Techniques, or a List of Trusted Subcontractors.

Selection

Millions of years in the making, natural stone is a beautiful, one-of-a-kind piece of artwork formed in nature. No two pieces are exactly alike. Variations in color, shading, particle size, veining and patterns are normal and to be expected making natural stone so unique. It simply cannot be duplicated by man. Just as humans have characteristics and markings that make each one of us unique, natural stone also has “character marks” that sets one particular piece of stone apart from the others. These character marks are not flaws.

The Marble Institute of America’s position is that there exists no such thing as a “bad Stone”. There exist however, inappropriate selections for a given application, and also unrealistic expectations of a given stone type in a specific application. Selections of natural stone types are available to satisfy all users, but the proper research must be completed to assure that the selected stone will perform in service with the desired behavior. Should you find the markings in a piece undesirable for a particular application, discuss it with your installer. Although your installer may be able to work around a particular piece, it is not guaranteed and it may be best for you to select another stone.

When purchasing natural stone tiles, be sure to purchase extra. Should you need to replace a tile in the future, it is highly unlikely that you’ll be able to match your original tiles. Current material could possibly be taken from a different part of the quarry where the color and movement may have changed or perhaps come from a different quarry than your original tile. It is also possible that the look of the material in the quarry changes to a degree that a particular stone is deemed “no longer available”. Plan ahead and order extra tile.

Maintenance

New Installation: Sealing is highly recommended on newly installed natural stones. Select a high quality sealer to provide maximum surface stain protection.

Pre-Grout Sealing: Pre-sealing natural stone prior to grouting can make the grouting application much easier and will help protect all natural stone surfaces from grout pigment staining during the installation and grouting process.

Sealing: Once the grout has properly cured it is recommended to seal the stone with a high quality penetrating sealer. Generally, stone sealers are designed to penetrate the stone leaving a no-sheen, natural look and provide protection from liquids that would otherwise absorb into and possibly stain the stone. Various maintenance products are available to enhance and highlight the character and beauty of the stone while sealing at the same time.

Regular Stone Care: Interior natural stone floors should be frequently cleaned using a non-treated dry dust mop to remove dirt and dust that may scratch the surface of the stone. Mopping with a stone cleaner is recommended for routine cleaning. It is important to use a stone cleaner that is specifically designed for your particular stone. Never use vinegar or cleaners containing acid or bleach.

Maintenance Products: It is always recommended to test a small area before using any stone sealer, cleaner, or maintenance product. It is also recommended to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and wear the appropriate protective clothing to provide a safe installation.

Do: • Dust mop floors frequently • Clean surfaces with mild detergent or stone soap • Thoroughly rinse and dry the surface after washing • Blot up spills immediately • Protect floor surfaces with non-slip mats or area rugs and countertop surfaces with coasters, trivets or placemats

Don’t: • Use vinegar, lemon juice or other cleaners containing acids on marble, limestone, travertine or onyx surfaces • Use cleaners that contain acid such as bathroom cleaners • Use abrasive cleaners such as dry cleansers or soft cleansers • Mix bleach and ammonia; this combination creates a toxic and lethal gas • Ever mix chemicals together unless directions specifically instruct you to do so

History

Natural stone was formed and developed as a result of millions of years of geological changes that took place in the earth’s crust. Thousands of varieties exist in numerous vibrant colors with many different characteristics. Experts believe there are hundreds of stones which are yet to be discovered. It is estimated that approximately 7000+ different types of stone exist in the world and 700 types available in the U.S.market today. Out of these, only 200 stones account for 80% of total wholesale sales. Because natural stones are quarried from the earth’s crust they are products of nature. Each piece of natural stone is unique in its own way.

Another common term for natural stone is “dimensional stone”. Natural Stones existed even before man appeared on the face of this planet and are found in many regions of the world including Mexico, U.S., Canada, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Portugal, Russia, India, China, Taiwan, Egypt, Peru and other countries too numerous to mention. Generally, only those natural stones that can be quarried economically are used. Some natural stones are too brittle, while some are too hard or simply cannot be extracted from the earth safely and economically. Ultimately the cost of some stones is a direct function of the difficulty of quarrying and processing the material and not necessarily a function of its physical beauty and performance characteristics. Basically, the natural stone qualities and characteristics differ by geological areas rather than geographical areas.

During the quarrying process, large blocks of stone are cut from various places in the earth’s crust, primarily from mountainous regions and transported to processing factories. The processing factories cut the raw blocks of material using gang saws with multiple diamond-tipped blades to produce slabs of varying thickness. The slabs are generally face polished or honed on one side, depending on the desired finish required. The slabs may then be cut into strips of desired widths and lengths producing tile, depending on the desired finished product.

Characteristics

Porosity: While there are many variables between different types of stone, there are some common characteristics. The most important common fact is that ALL stone is porous. Sedimentary is more porous than metamorphic, which, in turn is more porous than igneous; but all are porous to some degree.

Color Variation: The very essence of natural stone offers a realistic feeling and proximity to nature. Natural stone gives the classic look and beauty of endless variation. Each stone is unique in its own way. The variation of grain structure and veining formations differ from stone to stone. Granites mostly show very little variation in color, but may show variations in pattern and grain density. On the other hand, marble shows wide variations in color and veining formations. Likewise, travertine is fairly consistent in colors with hints of graining individuality. One must embrace and understand the concept of variation, since no two pieces are exactly alike.

Affordability: Natural stone offers an elegant, luxurious appreance and has recently shed the image of being affordable to only the elite and is emerging as an affordable finish to the average customer.

Finishes

Polished: High glossy surface acquired through the use of diamond abrasive technology. Diamond abrasive technology over the past 20 years has dramatically increased the ease of polishing stone and facilitated higher standards of quality finishes.

Honed: Smooth, matte finish obtained with the use of diamond abrasive technology. This finish in natural stone is generally considered to be a 600 grit scratch pattern on the abrasive scale. It does possess angular reflectivity and is best for low maintenance and heavy traffic applications.

Natural Cleft: A finish unique to slates that has an uneven surface, yet is usable for flooring. This finish is created in the quarrying process through splitting or breaking the stone along its layers. One face (the backside) is generally gauged smooth with the use of diamond abrasive technology to facilitate leveled flooring.

Tumbled: An old world, weathered look given to tile by tumbling in a drum with a solution of water, sand and mild acid. Pieces of stone in a ¾” thickness are usually tumbled and then sliced down the middle, producing two pieces. Larger size tiles are given a “tumbled” finish manually. Tumbled material is not designed to be measured in exact dimensions, but offered in rustic nominal sizes within acceptable limits.

Brushed: A finish that is achieved through the use of steel brushes under the polishing wheels, achieving a slightly textured surface similar to the look of leather.

Split-Face: This finish is an uneven surface mainly achieved through man-made splitting technique. Its look resembles the natural cleft finish and is mainly used for wall cladding.

Edge Finishes or Profiles: There are various edge like, chiseled (chipped), pillowed, bullnosed, beveled, chamfered, etc.