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Choosing and using Natural Stone


Commercial or construction use of stone

Architects, specifiers, designers, clients; choosing and using stone is an experience and one for which we recommend you ask for professional advice. Stone is a naturally occurring material and as such, has to be chosen like no other building material. Stone Federation members are fully trained, experienced and competent professionals who should be consulted as soon as you decide to use natural stone on your project. They can advise you and prevent any costly mistakes being made before it is too late.

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Domestic use of stone

Using stone in your home or property can enhance your living space but you must be aware of the questions to ask when making your choice of stone.

Stone, correctly selected, can enhance the value of your property and be durable, and virtually maintenance free. However, incorrectly selected it can cause you problems. By purchasing stone you are making an investment so protect your money and get the right advice. Stone Federation suggests you always consult the experts first.


There are many different classification schemes for stone, which have prompted the industry to simplify descriptions. This has led to many problems when, for instance, a stone laid as a granite tile is actually found to be a different stone type altogether and does not perform as expected. The British Standard BSEN12440 (Denomination of natural stone) addresses the classification problem and insists upon the correct identification of stone type and origin. For the purposes of this guidance however, the simplified descriptions remain and it must be stressed that all stones should be considered individually for their merits in whatever use they are being considered for.


The term granite tile has been applied to almost any igneous stone that can retain a polish. True granites provide many of these stones but other types of igneous stone that may fall into this classification include syenites, gabbros, dolerites, and diorites. The metamorphic stones gneiss, schist and granulite are frequently also included in this 'granite' classification.

The formation of these igneous rocks by the slow cooling of molten minerals such as quartz stone, feldspar and hornblende has resulted in a wide variety of colours and grain patterns.

In the United Kingdom the quarrying of granite is concentrated in a small number of locations. Those of particular importance may be found in Devon and Cornwall, Cumbria, at Peterhead and Aberdeen and on the east coast of Scotland.

The main sources for imported granite are Scandinavia, South Africa, Sardinia, Portugal, Spain, India, North America, China and Brazil.

The interlocking crystal structure imparts both the high strength and low porosity necessary for a wide range of applications other than just flooring; these characteristics are also important in allowing successful use of slabs that are thinner than other types of stone.

The immense colour choice includes fine and medium grained silver grey from Devon and Cornwall and fine grained pink from Scotland, whilst other countries provide dense, very fine grained materials with reflective crystals such as larvikite (e.g. blue and emerald pearl) from Norway; reds from Scandinavia and India; large grained brown from Finland; yellows from Brazil; and the delicately mottled greys, fawns and pinks from Sardinia.

The surface finish affects the appearances of granite and those available include sawn, flame textured, dolly pointed, fine axed, rough punched, honed, bush hammered and water jet. It is in the gloss polished form, however, that these granites reveal fully their colours and grain patterns.

Very hardwearing and physically strong, granite tile is largely unaffected by erosion, pollution or atmospheric attack. Facades are generally self cleaning, although eye level areas benefit from occasional cleaning as for glazing. A polished finish is almost indestructible.



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