Select Page

Natural stone is a creation of nature. Like so many natural formations, every piece is unique and matchless. Within each piece of stone also lies the history of one particular place on our planet. Today’s limestone floor for instance, was once a mass of tiny sea creatures, then an ancient seabed, and after millions of years of uplift, a mountainside where the limestone was discovered in our day.

Your natural stone was cut out from a mountainside originally in huge 50,000-pound blocks of stone. The blocks were then sliced into slabs which were then refined to give its natural colors a mirror like depth, smooth soft surface or left slightly rough to enhance its rich natural texture.
The luster, hardness, colors and variation are all indications of the stone’s mineral composition and origin. This unique blend of characteristics is what makes your natural stone a one-of-a-kind, beautiful yet practical surface for your home.

There are two factors that determine stone’s characteristics.

Origin – How was it made?

Composition – What is it made of?


Igneous Stone – “Born of Fire”

Granite comes from igneous rocks, formed slowly, as it cooled deep underground. Their minerals look like small flecks typically spread consistently throughout stone. Some other types have veining (linear waves) like marble. They are hard (cannot be scratched by steel) and dense.

Sedimentary Stone – “Cementing of Grains”

Sandstone and limestone would fall into this category. These stones are formed through the compacting of grains or pieces of any kind of existing rock material. These existing rocks may have been weathered, transported, deposited and then cemented over millions of years by the movement of the earth’s tectonic plates. From the formation of the continents to an earthquake or volcanic eruption, all these events have helped form this stone. Sedimentary stones may even contain fossils or other distinct features formed at the time of deposition.

Metamorphic Stone – “Changed in Structure”

Marble and slate are metamorphic stones. They were formed at extremely high pressures and temperatures below melting. The presence of swirls, linear patterns or banding is a key characteristic. Slate is a fine grained, metamorphic rock, which cleaves in flat, almost smooth pieces. Marble is a metamorphic limestone that loses the fossils and other features during the recrystallization.



These stones are made mostly of quartz-like particles called silica. They are very hard, durable and generally acid resistant. Examples: granite, sandstone, slate and quartzite.

Calcium Carbonates

The minerals in these stones were formed under pressure over millions of years from the bodies of tiny fossilized creatures. These stones are softer, less durable than silicates and acid sensitive. Examples: limestone, marble and travertine.


Natural stone is found in countries all over the world… from Angola to Zimbabwe. Depending on the type of stone, it is found within the earth, mountains, low lying areas such as plains, or former sea beds where the collection of sediment has occurred.

Your stone selection probably started with a sample chip, but that’s not where it started for us. It all goes back to the earth. While the finished product may be glamorous, the task of finding and selecting and processing natural stone to bring it to the final application is a long and arduous process.

Natural stone is mined in quarries all over the world. Blocks of stone are cut from the earth. Then the selection process starts to find the right blocks.

Once selected, blocks are loaded on trucks and shipped to a factory to be cut to our specifications. The processing of natural stone is one of the most critical steps that ultimately lead to customer satisfaction.

After processing, selecting and inspecting the final order, the material is packaged, loaded into containers and delivered to the closest dock. It is then placed onto a steamship: destination USA. After arrival, usually at Port Elizabeth, New Jersey, the container is unloaded from the steamship and goes through US Customs inspection. Upon clearance, the container is delivered by truck to our warehouse.


Natural stone is defined by its inherent qualities and its performance over time, when used in various applications. We will examine the qualities that define each type of stone applications.


Natural stone has varying levels of hardness as classified by Moh’s Scale of Relative Hardness. The harder stones will better stand up to frequent usage and heavy, hard or sharp objects. Therefore, harder surfaces would have fewer scratches over time or none at all. However, some homeowners, like Europeans, desire the worn, lived-in look and therefore welcome the signs of everyday usage. Think about your personal preference for stone appearance and select the stone with the appropriate level of hardness.


Although we usually think of stone as “hard,” it is a porous material. Natural stone has varying degrees of porosity depending on the type of stone. If left unsealed, spills and everyday messes can easily penetrate the surface. The liquid eventually evaporates but the stain is left behind.

Acid Sensitivity

Highly acidic substances such as orange juice, coffee and wine will also etch acid sensitive stones and leave a dull mark. Acid resistant stones such as most granite and quartzite, slate, soapstone, and sandstone will not etch. Stone with high calcium carbonate content, such as marble, limestone, onyx and travertine will etch in varying degrees.

Freeze/Thaw Factor

Some stone, such as granite is very versatile and can be used for exterior applications in a freezing climate, as well as for interior applications. Other stone, such as travertine does not endure well the freeze/thaw cycle and will not be appropriate for exterior applications in a freezing climate.

Natural Stone Countertop Sanitation

Consumer is offered a wide range of surface materials for use in countertop applications. Once installed, these countertop surfaces will be exposed to a variety of contaminative substances. Therefore, surface cleanability (how easy one can remove contaminants from the surface utilizing normal reasonable cleaning practices) has become key safety issue to the consumers.


In this chapter we have tried to answer the most frequently asked questions regarding natural stone.

Where is Natural Stone Found?

Natural stone is found in countries all over the world… from Angola to Zimbabwe. Depending on the type of stone, it is found within the earth, mountains, low lying areas such as plains, or former sea beds where the collection of sediment has occurred.

Where is Granite Mined?

Granite is quarried from the earth with specialized equipment and machinery. It is found all over the world. A few parts of the world where granite is quarried: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Finland, India, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Ukraine, USA, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

How Long Will My Natural Stone Last?

Take care of your Natural Stone and it will last for generations. Some Natural Stones are already over 2500 million years old when quarried from the earth.

What is Quarrying?

A quarrier extracts natural stone from a quarry. A quarry is the location where a deposit of stone is extracted from the earth. Quarrying is the stone extraction process.

Is Natural Stone and Engineered Stone (Quartz) the same thing?

No. All Natural Stone is a product of nature. It is formed over millions of years within or on our earth’s surface through changes in heat and pressure. It is quarried from the earth in blocks of stone. Engineered stone is manmade. It is manufactured in factories and is made of crushed natural stone and then bound together by acrylic or polyester resins.

Is Quartzite the Same as Quartz?

No. Quartz is engineered (man-made) stone, which usually contains 90-97% of natural stone. The rest is colorants, glues and other binding chemicals. Quartzite is 100% natural stone, mined as any other natural stone.

Why Does the Color and Texture of Natural Stone Vary?

Natural stone is a product of nature and subject to variations. Characteristics such as veining and mineral deposits will affect each piece. Stone will not only vary from quarry to quarry but from stone to stone. All Natural stone is unique… no two stones are alike.

What Special Care Does Natural Stone Require?

Apply a sealer if needed and clean your stone regularly. Don’t use acidic or abrasive cleaners. Visit our Care & Maintenance page.

How Often Do I Need to Seal my Countertop?

This depends on the sealer you choose. Some sealers need to be applied every 6 months to 1 year. Others last for 4-5 years, or even every 10 Years!

What Are Samples?

Granite samples are small tiles used to compare colors and patterns. (like a color chart except the stone tiles are larger) Small pieces of granite which are left over from your job can also be referred to as samples. You could take a sample piece with you shopping to help match curtains, knobs, rugs, or whatever else you can think of to your granite countertop.

What is a Backsplash?

Backsplash is the area behind and above your countertop. It prevents water and oil from splashing onto your walls (sheetrock).

I Heard Natural Stone Harbors Bacteria. Is It True?

Today’s consumer is offered a wide range of surfacing materials for use in countertop applications. Once in service, these countertop surfaces will be exposed to a variety of contaminative substances. The key safety issue to the consumer is the degree of cleanability of the surface material, that is, how easily any contaminants can be removed using normal and reasonable cleaning practices.

The following study by Dr. O. Peter Snyder of the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management used E. coli bacteria as its contaminating agent. The findings of the report show significant cleanability advantages of natural granite countertops over almost all other commonly found countertop surface materials. Don’t believe everything you hear. Read the results of this study on countertop sanitation, E. coli and various countertop surfaces. Decide for yourself.

My Stone Contractor Recommends a Different Type of Stone for My Project?

Usually your contractor will only recommend a different stone if the one you choose is unsuitable for your project… too delicate or hard to work with.

  • Get a second opinion. It’s important that you get what you like. If you absolutely love a particular stone and could care less about the maintenance or possible headaches, just go with that stone. Just know you’ll have to sign off on it.
  • Choose a different stone. Your fabricator should be able to suggest a similar stone which is better suited for your project.

How Much Does a Granite Countertop Cost?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions. And, the answer varies. Stone is usually quoted by the square foot and the cost depends on several things:

  • Your geographical location.
  • Actual stone you choose to use.
  • Special edges, full backsplashes, and arches or radii add to the cost.
  • Using an under-mount sink rather than a drop-in sink entails more polishing; therefore, this also adds to the cost.

However, compared to other countertop materials granite is one of the most affordable options. Refer to Granite Countertops.

Is Natural Stone a Good Choice for Home Use?

Yes. Natural stone is material you may use in all areas of your home. Knowing the different types of stone, their finishes and applications will help you to make an informed decision on which stone is the best for your project you may.

What Finishes is Stone Available in?

There are many finishes and options available. Here are the most widely used: Natural stone is very adaptable and can be processed in a variety of finishes to achieve a particular effect.

There are many finishes and options available. Here are the most widely used ones:


A high gloss surfaces. Less water absorbent than honed and textured finishes.


Honing removes the gloss from the surface, creating a soft matte look. Surface remains smooth to the touch.


Variety of methods are used chemical (acid wash) or mechanical to achieve a textured surface. There are different levels of brushing – from the subtle satin or leather finish to deeper brushing, creating a different effect of texture.


Blow torched for a rough textured surface, more appropriate for exterior applications. Surface is usually brushed after flaming, when used for interior application.


Slightly tumbled to achieve rounded edges and surface that is not as smooth as honed.

Water Jet

Various designs are etched into the surface of the stone using water jet. It is usually a custom finish, not a standard offer.

Does Stone Stain?

Yes. All natural stone may stain and/or etch (a dull spot in a polished or honed surface) to a certain degree. To educate yourself about the stone selection process read Stone Selection Guide. To determine which stone will best meet your needs review the articles Material Considerations Guide and Applications Guide on our website or visit the product page of the specific stone search product and find out the required details. Care & Maintenance will help you to anticipate the level of care your stone will require, and how to maintain it once installed.

Regardless which stone you select for your project remember ALL NATURAL STONE NEEDS TO BE SEALED.

While the Sealers will not completely prevent staining in the pore porous, stain prone stones, it will help to give you a small amount of time to wipe up spills.

Why are Certain Stones More Appropriate for Kitchen and Bath Flooring?

In choosing a stone it is important to consider how the stone will change over time. Many of the more porous stones will stain easily and unfortunately, even the best impregnators may not be good enough.

Why Are Certain Stones More Practical for Use in the Kitchen Tops?

The answer lies in the difference between the basic stone groups, their chemical composition, hardness, porosity and acid sensitivity. The Material Consideration Guide will help you understanding how your preferred stone will perform over time and how much maintenance your countertop will require. It will help you to select a countertop material that is best for your needs. As a rule of thumb countertop material that will perform well in the long run, without major changes in appearance and wear, and will require minimal maintenance is considered the practical choice – the industry accepted most practical stones for kitchen countertops are most granites, quartzite and soapstone. Marble and limestone are beautiful but will require much higher maintenance and patina over time.

If you want a stone that will require minimum maintenance, select one with high abrasion resistance (minimal or no scratching), minimal acid sensitivity (minimal or no etching) and low porosity (minimal or no staining). If minimal maintenance is of extreme importance to you, maybe natural stone is not the best kitchen material for – consider The Benefits of Engineered Stone Countertops or Porcelain Countertops.

Marble vs Granite Countertops


This is a personal decision taking into consideration the aesthetics of the stone and your tolerance to maintenance. Marble is more delicate natural stone when compared to granite and many people prefer marble, for its veiny exotic look and lack of grains. However, marble will scratch, etch and stain. If you absolutely love the marble look but would like to avoid the care and maintenance issues associated with marble – we have the following recommendations:

  • Use quartzite, which has the aesthetic look marble but qualities of granite.
  • Use dolomite marble, which will scratch, etch and stain to a much lesser degree of the typical Calcium Carbonate marble.
  • Finally, you may use to quartz or porcelain, which have the marble look coupled with superior performance – White Marble and its Alternatives.

What Stones Do You Recommend for Kitchen Countertops?

Each client has different aesthetic preferences and tolerance to stone maintenance. From the previous topic, we know marble and limestone will require more maintenance and will scratch etch and stain. It is a personal decision where you need to reconcile your aesthetic preferences with the more practical performance expectations from your countertop. An important consideration will be your lifestyle – do you have kids, do you like to cook etc.

Ultimately you may decide that you would like to look into alternatives to natural stone, such as quartz or porcelain – Engineered Stone Countertops, Porcelain Countertops.

Our website has several articles which look into the practical and aesthetic consideration when you are selecting the best stone your needs and the various practical implications of your selection. They also compare one stove vs another.

GraniteGranite Countertop,

MarbleMable Countertop, White Marble Countertops vs Alternatives, Marble vs Quartzite, Marble vs Granite

Soapstone – Soapstone Countertop

Quartzite – Quartzite Countertop, Quartz vs Quartzite

Sandstone – Sandstone Countertop

Also, articles taking into consideration your lifestyle

Kids Friendly Countertops

Kitchen Countertops for the Cook

Green Countertops

Why Does My Granite Stain?

Remember, many are porous, especially the popular swirl varieties. These swirl types are often not even true granites (more artistic license). Geologists use the term gneiss. Gneiss is usually made of the same material components as granite, only the stone cools more quickly in the earth’s crust. Their swirls still show the movement of the stone’s active molten history. The important part is that these stones, with smaller crystals, are more porous than granites with large crystals. Impregnators are needed to reduce staining.

Can I Get Stains Out of My Stone?

We rarely meet a stain that cannot be removed. Removing a stain is a three-part process:

  • the first stage involves identifying the stain
  • the second stage involves loosening or dissolving the stain
  • the third stage involves lifting the stain from the stone

We don’t suggest you get too sophisticated if you are doing this yourself. But before calling for help, try a simple colorless dish washing detergent. For more information read the article on Stain Removal in our Care & Maintenance Guide.

Do You Recommend Polished Floors in Commercial Spaces?

There are two considerations when specifying polished stone on commercial floors:

  • Slip resistance – polished floors generally do not pass industry standards testing for slip resistance, unless treated with certain floor finishes made for that purpose.
  • Wear from traffic – all polished stones will lose their polish unless there is a constant maintenance program including the use of chemical finishes that will protect the finish.

This can be expensive over time and require stripping and reapplication from time to time. In our opinion, if the owner wants a polished finish floor, it is important that you discuss the maintenance requirements before specifying.

How Do I Make Sure That the Stone I Specify Will Be Available When Needed?

If you know when the stone is required, you should communicate this to the stone supplier. A trustworthy supplier will give you reliable information regarding the stone’s availability. If this is a fast track job, and the material is in stock, we will put the material on hold for a month until a final commitment is made. Communication between the specifier and the general contractor or owner is often important in order to meet job delivery requirements. If material needs to come from overseas, we generally assume that it will take around a month to get to our warehouse. If it takes the factory one to two months to produce the stone to specifications, then a lead-time of two to three months would be common. This is a typical availability situation but will not be the case in all situations.

How Does an Impregnator (Sealer) Reduce Staining?

The solid part of silicone impregnators are microscopic balls of silicone that attach themselves to the crevices inside the stone. These balls of silicone are negatively charged, which means they repel each other so that they cannot combine in one big ball of silicone. Once they are attached to the stone, these balls become a permanent part of the stone, and give out a magnetic charge, which creates an invisible “umbrella” between the balls. These microscopic umbrellas act as shields when a much larger drop of liquid lands on them. They hold the liquid up and prevent it from penetrating the stone.

The liquid part of the impregnator is usually either mineral or water based, and acts as the carrier that brings the silicone to the stone and makes it penetrate deep into the stone. The most effective impregnators use mineral spirits and have the smallest particles of silicone.

When Designing Your Project, Can You Mix Stone with Other Materials?

Absolutely! The possibilities are endless. You can incorporate natural stone with ceramic, porcelain, glass, and terracotta. Anything you can think of, even mixing different types of natural stones together.

Natural Stone offers endless beautiful and practical possibilities. The most important thing to consider that stone is a product of nature and is perfectly imperfect. The imperfections create the unique, one of a kind look, that you cannot find with engineered product. The most important thing is not to confuse imperfections for defects.

The Material Considerations Guide, it will help you find out what imperfections you may expect in natural stone and help you develop well informed expectations, which will ultimately affect your happiness and enjoyment of your selection.


Please note that the information on this page is a general summary of industry-accepted standards and tips regarding natural stone considerations, applications and care. We have compiled this information to help you in your stone selection and care. MGSI is not involved in geological testing and has no formal proof of the information presented in the article and relies on industry wide information and standards. MGSI will not be responsible for any direct or indirect claims and damages, resulting from the improper application and/or interpretation of this information. Please note that natural stone varies substantially. Ask your stone specialist what works best for your project

  • Print Friendly, PDF & Email