Floors & Kitchens Today Blog

2019 Guide to Natural Stone (Uses, Materials, Costs, & Maintenance)

Jan 3, 2019 10:37:44 AM / by Robert Lewis

 

We see them all the time in the yards we wish we had and the kitchens of our dreams - the beauty of natural stone can be used in so many places around your home. Its resilience, variety, and durability lend any home the character that lasts a lifetime.

On top of the many benefits of natural stone covered in this article, it adds considerable value to any home where it’s installed. Let’s go over everything you need to know about natural stone.

Image of Granite Samples

 

Areas of Discussion

  1. What Can You Do With It?
  2. How Much Does It Cost?
  3. A Little More About the Materials
  4. Care and Maintenance
  5. Going All In or Still Looking? Here’s More Stuff!

 

What Can You Do With Natural Stone?

 

It’s more like what can’t you do with it?!

 

Natural stone is an incredibly durable and valuable asset to your home. However, you do get what you pay for (we will be covering that shortly). I say that because it is not typically seen as a quick solution to something nor is it seen as a cheap alternative to something. It’s the real deal.

 

So real that it has been used for thousands of years way back to ancient Egyptians among the wealthy and elite. Even back then it was seen as a symbol of status and the same notion is carried to this day where natural stone immediately adds value to any home it’s in!

You too could have the same amazing countertops the Egyptians had - but wait. There’s more:

 

  • Backsplash
  • Outdoor walkways
  • Outdoor patio
  • Pool Area
  • Bathroom
  • Countertops
  • Fireplaces
  • Literally Anything!

 

 

How Much Does Natural Stone Cost?

 

No matter which of the projects above you have planned, you could expect a price range from about $12 to $20 per square foot.

 

Beware the Short Answer!

 

I can’t stress enough how much the price can dramatically vary depending on what you’re using it for, how much you need, what type you get, the installation process and the maintenance required for such a great product.

 Backsplash image from Floors and Kitchens Today

The versatility of natural stone can be stretched to many areas of the home, refer to the list above. But when you get more specific and intricate with details, the amount of labor goes up. When labor goes up, the price goes up.

For example, if you want a mosaic pattern on your floor or a backsplash in the kitchen, it requires the stone to be cut individually and specifically for the project which takes up a lot of time. The amount of detail you want would add to the installation costs.

 

We are starting to see how many factors go into the final costs of a natural stone purchase, no matter where it goes in the home. At the very least, my goal is to set you up for success with all the information you need to get a better idea on what your final cost might be.

 

A Little More About The Materials

 

The softer the stone, the more delicate it is.

 

The stone is ranked by the Mohs Hardness Scale. It ranks every stone on how hard it is which relates to how susceptible it is to scratching and other damage. Every stone is ranked on a scale of lowest to highest (1-10). You can expect pricing to follow the hardness. The harder a stone, the more expensive. Here are some common stone rankings.

 

 

  1. Talc (1.0) - Talc is at the bottom of the list. I just put it here because it is the softest. Period. You would never use it for home remodeling purposes.
  2. Marble (2.2 - 5.5) - Marble is very soft. It starts as Limestone but is then re-crystallized and softened due to intense heat and pressure in the Earth.
  3. Limestone (3.0 - 4.0) - Limestone is formed over millions of years at the bottom of rivers and other bodies of water.
  4. Travertine (3.0 - 5.5) - Travertine is limestone that is formed in hot springs. Because of the heat and water, travertine is naturally pitted with holes that add to its aesthetic.
  5. Slate (6.0) - Slate is a natural mixture of clay, quartz, and shale that is made under intense pressure underground.
  6. Granite (6.6 - 8.5) - Ahh, granite. The thickest, hardest and one of the most popular of the stones used for home remodeling.
  7. Diamond (10) - Because why not? If I’m putting Talc on this list I’m going all out. Fun Fact: The equipment used to mine the stone from quarries often uses the diamond to cut the stones listed above. That’s how hard it is!

Here is an idea of where certain stone material can be found.  A visual representation might help support an idea of why the stones are as hard as they are and how their made: 

 

 Screenshot (26)

 

To put the hardness of stone into perspective, think of the softer stones as the ones more susceptible to damage.  In that case, stay away from putting softer stones in heavy traffic areas and always do your best to protect the floor by using area rugs under heavy furniture or pads under the feet of furniture.  

 

Alternatives

 

There are alternatives to natural stone such as porcelain and ceramic options. They average $2-3 cheaper per square foot than natural stone and require less upkeep.  

Natural Stone

 

They require less upkeep because they have a better time handling some of the abrasive materials that natural stone can’t be exposed to such as cleaning solutions, abrasive sponges and even certain foods (some examples include oils or acidic fruits that could damage stone but not porcelain or ceramic).

The grout is the part of porcelain and ceramic tile that you need to keep an eye on.  Grout is very porous which makes it susceptible to moisture damage if left exposed to water for an extended period of time.  

Porcelain and Ceramic counter tops are super popular choices as alternatives that look just as good as natural stone and, in certain aspects, can even be more durable! 

 

 

 

Care and Maintenance

 

We have reached the most important part of this whole piece. The care and maintenance of natural stone should be factored into your final price. Think of it like this:

 

The more daily use the natural stone sees, the more upkeep it needs.

 

Many natural stone purchases require annual sealing in order to maintain the warranty. The natural sealer protects the stone from wearing away from abrasive materials like acidic foods, ammonia or bleach.

Many stones that are popular to use around the home are porous. Because of this, the stone can soak in moisture which can cause cracks to pop up. The pores also make it easy for the stone to stain - so remember to make sure it is sealed properly and taken care of so it can last you a lifetime.  Quick daily cleanings and spot cleanings will go a long way in preserving the strength of the stone.  

 

Here is what is recommended when cleaning your natural stone:

  • Clean up spills immediately. 
  • Make sure the surface is dry after washing.
  • Wash with specific, manufacturer recommended stone soap.
  • Sealing the stone (in certain parts of the home more so than others - the kitchen) is recommended.

 

There are Topical Sealers that coat the surface to prevent moisture from getting into the stone.  These sealants are usually made out of a plastic mixture that will require it's own maintenance to keep it strong and durable so it does it's job of protecting your natural stone.  

Impregnators are solutions that get under the surface of the stone and repel moisture and oils from seeping into the stone.  This type of sealant does a good job at keeping moisture out and if moisture is on the inside of the stone, it will not keep it inside.  Repelling moisture and allowing the stone to breathe out any inside moisture is incredibly important in keeping the longevity of the stone.  

The more traffic the stones sees, the more often you should seal it.  Every 6 months to one year is typically advised for regular sealing depending on use.  Around the end of the year holiday season then again around spring cleaning season are good markers to get the stone re-sealed.  Keep in mind that sealing your stone will add to the final cost.  You'll need to buy the sealer and it is usually $1.25 per square foot for installers to seal the stone.  

 

Anyway,

  • Don't use acidic anything! Period! No vinegar, lemon juice, bleach, ammonia, bathroom cleaners, or anything like that.
  • Don't use anything abrasive like steel wool sponges or something like that.
  • Don't use vacuum cleaners that have plastic beaters, you could scratch the stone.  
  • And please don't mix cleaners together.  The last thing we need is mustard gas surrounding your neighborhood because you had to clean your counter tops.  

 

Going All In, Or Still Looking? This Might Help…

 

The goal here is to give you the information you need to familiarize yourself so that you can make the best choice for your needs. This article is our launchpad to use to continue your research and get in touch with the professionals who can walk you through the buying process.

 

Speaking of research, here is some more content to binge so you can learn more about natural stone and how to make it work for you.

 

 

Related Content

How Much Does it Cost to Replace Flooring? (A 2019 Comprehensive Guide)

A Very Handy Cleaning Guide for Anything Natural Stone

The Essential Guide to Waterproof Vs. Water Resistant Floors

 

 

 

Robert Lewis

Written by Robert Lewis

Digital Content Manager - Floors and Kitchens Today