Natural Stone is not manufactured; it is a product of nature. Blocks are removed from the quarry, slabs are cut from these blocks, and the slabs are further fabricated into the final stone to be installed. Each block is different; each slab is different. Skillful blending or matching of the dimension stone blocks, veneer panels, tops, etc., results in a beautiful blending of nature's variety and man's design. In contrast to the uniformity of materials produced by machine or assembly line, stone's naturally varied appearance has wonderful character. "Uniformity of material," when applied to natural stone, is a term of relative value that needs to be understood when making a selection.
Granite, Marble, Onyx, Slate and Travertine are some examples of Natural Stone Products.
Common finishes for Natural Stone Products include polished, honed, tumbled and antique brushed.
This term usually refers to slate stones. It means a cleavage face formed when the stone is split into any thickness.
Before making final selection of a stone, take wastage into account to make certain there will be enough material to complete the project. An often-forgotten fact is that the material from a quarry today may be different from what was available six months ago. Further, there may be more than one quarry of the material. It is always recommended to order what is typically referred to as “attic stock,” a small amount of material to be kept on the side if future repairs are needed.
The final look of mixed tiles may fall short of appearance expectations, especially if the stone is variegated and veined. The installer should mix tiles from different boxes during the installation to achieve a more even, visually pleasing result in the finished surface. The homeowner should always look at the natural stone with the installer before the installation takes place. Moreover, it is highly recommended that the homeowner gets involved and discusses the stone layout with the installer in details to prevent misunderstandings from occurring.
Use coasters under all glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices. Many common foods and drinks contain acids that will etch or dull the surface of many stones. Do not place hot items directly on the stone surface. Use trivets or mats under hot dishes and placemats under china, ceramics, silver or other objects that can scratch the surface.
Dust mop interior floors frequently using a clean, non-treated dry dust mop. Sand, dirt and grit do the most damage to natural stone surfaces due to their abrasiveness. Mats or area rugs inside and outside an entrance will help to minimize the sand, dirt and grit that will scratch the stone floor. Be sure that the underside of the mat or rug is a non-slip surface. Normally, it will take a person about eight steps on a floor surface to remove sand or dirt from the bottom of their shoes. Do not use vacuum cleaners that are worn. The metal or plastic attachments or the wheels may scratch the surface.
Most stones are porous and readily absorb liquids and moisture. Materials like limestone and sandstone are extremely absorbent, whereas granites and serpentine (green marble) are denser, but will still absorb liquids that are allowed to remain in contact with them for extended periods of time. The use of a sealer will help prevent staining in most situations. Even a sealed surface can stain if left in contact with a staining agent for a long period of time. Therefore, all spills should be wiped up as soon as possible, and coasters or napkins should be set when serving food or drinks on a stone bar, table or countertop. Soft drinks, coffee, tea and fruit juices contain mild acids and can etch the polished surface of a stone and stain quite rapidly. These should be cleaned off immediately with mild soap and warm water.
A sealer cures as a film on the stone surface. Since the material is actually covering the stone, the appearance of the stone surface may be altered by the application of this type of product. This material will provide somewhat of a sacrificial layer over the stone, and will absorb most of the wear on the countertop. Since the sealer is softer than the stone, normal use of the countertop will result in abrasion of the sealer surface and dictate reapplication to maintain the original luster of the surface. A properly applied topical sealer will normally reduce, although not eliminate, the vulnerability of calcareous stones to attack from mildly acidic solutions.
General Precautions: When any surface protection product is used, care must be taken to read and follow the manufacturer's written instructions accurately. This will provide the greatest benefit from the application and will guarantee safe handling of the product.
Clean stone surfaces with a few drops of neutral PH stone cleaner available at retail stores or at your local tile and stone dealer, or a mild liquid dishwashing detergent and warm water. Use a clean rag mop on floors and a soft cloth for other surfaces for best results. Too much cleaner or soap may leave a film and cause streaks. Do not use products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids on marble or limestone. Rinse the surface thoroughly after washing with the soap solution and dry with a soft cloth. Change the rinse water frequently. Do not use scouring powders or creams; these products contain abrasives that may scratch the surface.
In the bath or other wet areas, soap scum can be minimized by using a squeegee after each use. To remove soap scum, use an approved non-acidic soap scum remover available at retail stores or at your local tile and stone dealer.
After installation and throughout the life of the travertine floor, some of the fill may become loose depending on the foot traffic and/or because of sharp objects in constant contact with the floor (for example, heels, dog toe nails, etc.). This is a natural occurrence and can be solved by re-filling the tiles where needed with a non-sanded grout. This is part of the regular stone maintenance and pores are a natural characteristic of travertine.