There are different types of natural stone, and engineered stone that range from soft minerals, to sturdy, man-made stone. Familiar stone types may have decorative features like those of marble and granite, which contribute to their popularity in usage around homes and offices.
Other types of natural stone may be favored for their rarity, as well as exterior applications in the case of slate. Man-made materials like concrete were made for outdoor applications, while glass is better suited for table tops and decorative purposes.
In this article, we go in depth to the different types of stones, and how each type is used in architecture, metallurgy, or other common use cases.
The Two Main Types
There are two main types of stones: natural, and engineered. Natural stone can be sedimentary stones, or minerals formed from volcanic material. Either way, these stones possess organic elements that come to light in the Earth's surface through mining and quarrying.
Engineered stones, on the other hand, are those that are man-made to provide more durable, heat-resistant, or otherwise improved versions of natural stones based on specific requirements in architectural uses.
Marble is a metamorphic rock made up of crystallized minerals. Minerals are mainly composed of calcium carbonate, as well as other accessory minerals that make up the different colors, patterns, and veining distinct to marble types in different quarries.
Marble is mainly used for countertops in homes and offices, as well as flooring, walls, and building materials to create a natural and refined look to a space.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock, accumulating sediments from various natural elements to form rock beds of pure limestone. The tiny, sedimentary pieces broke off natural elements, and eventually solidified into limestone that presents the layered look of limestone pieces.
Travertine is a type of limestone that has a mineral composition sourced from natural springs. The resulting stone shows off fibrous patterns formed by these minerals in a crystalline formation. Homes with travertine tend to prefer a tumbled finish, which provides a rustic view of the limestone.
Both limestone and travertine are popular materials to use in both homes and offices. These are permeable, so water passes through easily; yet, the stones are frequently used as bathroom tiles, outdoor tiles, and bricks for swimming pools.
Onyx is a silicate material that is most notable for its jet-black coloration, although other hues exist as well. The classy black luster of onyx is much sought-after by designers, as the stone is popularly used in jewelry settings, for floors, walls, and designer countertops.
Granite is made from liquid magma cooled very slowly. The stone contains high concentrations of silica, as well as alkali iron oxide to get the peppery, grain-like patterns. Considerably more durable than marble, granite is hailed for its hardness and water resistance.
Similarly to its natural stone counterparts, granite has many uses in architecture, particularly as kitchen countertops, lounge tables, and bathroom sinks. The igneous rock
Quartzite is mainly used in metallurgical applications, although the stone has made its way into homes and commercial spaces as well. Like its name suggests, quartzite is mainly made of quartz, which created new crystalline formations within the stone as it solidified over centuries.
Compared to other types of stone, soapstone is a relatively soft stone. As the stone is rich in talc, one of the softest rock formations, and the stone is mainly used for carving, sculpting, and decorative pieces. The famous Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro was carved entirely out of soapstone.
Another member of the metamorphic stones is slate, which originates from sedimentary stone and volcanic ash. The fine-grained metamorphic rock is most popularly used as roof shillings, but has risen in mainstream usage as serving plates for gourmet food.
ColorQuartz is a brand of quartz stones that feature fine-grained stones with nearly-infinite designs that may mimic other kinds of natural stones. The engineered stone is perfect for use in kitchens and bathrooms, as well as for flooring and vanity tops.
Neolith is a sintered stone made from various other minerals that lend their colors and properties to the material to form a surface that is scratch-resistant, water-resistant, and easy to maintain. Neolith is best used in kitchen applications, but can also be used in bathrooms, outdoors, and as coffee tables.
Crystalline stone is a category of natural stone that is more akin to crystals like amethyst and quartz. Crystals typically have a geometric shape, with flat surfaces across several facets. Crystals are frequently used in jewelry and home decor, but their use as furniture material has increased in popularity due to the supposed homeopathic effects.
Crystalline varies in hardness, density, color, and appearance based on the type of crystal used in stoneworks. Countertops made of quartz are arguably more durable than amethyst slabs, but the latter provides a striking violet hue that needs to be away from UV light. Each crystalline material differs in its attributes.
Glass is a common material used in a multitude of applications from practical to decorative. The clear, crisp, transparent look of glass is unmatched by any other stone - natural or engineered, but the material is easy to shatter.
Glass is often used for windows, drinking glasses, eyewear, vases, jars, and many more practical and design use cases. The stone is made through heating up sand, limestone, or soda ash to a melting point to get the clear, crystalline properties distinct to glass.
Concrete is one of the most known types of engineered rocks, as the material typically lines roads and pathways, as well as sets the foundation for structures like homes and buildings. Created by making a paste out of cement, concrete hardens like rock, but is not a true rock formation nonetheless.