The “10 commandments” of natural stone

Choosing the right natural stone can be daunting. There are so many things to consider: physical properties, aesthetic, maintenance, suitability, availability… just to mention a few. Here’s the “10 commandments” of natural stone to help you make an educated decision.

 

  1. In very cold and rainy weather conditions, avoid using polished or fine honed finishes for external floorings, which would otherwise be very slippery and potentially dangerous. Flamed, sandblasted or bush-hammered finishes are better options. You can also apply an anti-slippage finish to the stone o avoid casualties, especially within commercial environments.

  2. To avoid slippage on staircases and areas that can get wet and potentially slippery (e.g. entrance areas), you can apply anti-slip stripes made of 2-component epoxy, containing corundum. Anti-slip agents enable roughening up of the polished surface to increase grip.

  3. To avoid efflorescence, salt and moisture stains, natural stone can be protected on the back side and flanks with an alkaline-resistant special coating in conjunction with silica sand.

  4. If you are using soft natural stone – such as limestone – for external cladding in a cold climate, take extra care to follow the right criteria. Generally, never use soft and less dense stone for external flooring: the cracks and holes within the stone would collect water that, once frozen, grows in mass and causes the stone to break. Always check whether the stone you want to use for external applications is frost resistant.

  5. When deciding on the sizes of natural stone for cladding or staircases, also consider factors such as transporting, handling and installing the stone. There is no doubt that larger stone panels look better, but do not forget to ensure the stone can be taken to site and consider that the man power required might push the installation costs over the roof.

  6. When choosing natural stone for countertops and working surfaces, go beyond the aesthetic and consider the physical properties of the stone, its maintenance requirement and the lifestyle of the users.

  7. For countertops smooth finishes are preferable to rough finishes, which are more difficult to clean.

  8. Fountains are amongst the most complex decorative elements to be produced. Often they are made of concrete and then finished/cladded with stone elements. Although a cost-effective and easier solution, often the end-result is compromised: the joints become more visible after a short period of time due to water penetration effect. This problem can be avoided by using solid and well-sized elements eliminating the joints to a minimum. Alternatively, it is advisable to bond the stone cladding on a fountain and fill the joints with 2-component- epoxy adhesive so that no efflorescence from the cement will appear.

  9. When using under the floor heating with filled natural stone (e.g. travertine), there is the risk that the filler would pop up due to the heat. This is not a defect. Especially with water-based under-floor heating, simply test it before installing the stone tile so that the concrete settles down. This way the risk of the stone cracking is highly reduced.

  10. Some natural stone are stronger than others. A way to improve strength and performance of weaker stone consists of resining the face or reinforcing the back with a net, that can be removed after fabrication, if needed, depending on the use.

 

Note – The ones above are only guidelines. Each material has unique composition and characteristics, which need to be considered when choosing a material. To search for your ideal stone, click here.

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With over 10 years of experience within the industry, Paolo is an expert tile and stone consultant. Driven by the passion of what is aesthetically pleasant and at the same time practical in everyday life, Paolo has a strong voice within the marketplace and he is not afraid to use it.