Natural stone has been used by the construction industry for hundreds of years. Its durability, versatility, and unique look make it the perfect choice for your DIY project, whether laying tiles in your home or paving slabs in your garden. These benefits are in addition to the increased environmentally friendliness that comes from using natural products over manmade ones.
Travertine or Marble?
There are many options to choose from - limestone, jura limestone, travertine, marble - all with their own characteristics and look, which make some types more suitable for your project than others. Understanding this will assist in your decision making, but once you have decided, consider the source and be conscious of where your stone is coming from, as it will not only affect the look of your finished project, but also how long it lasts. Tiles made from high quality natural stone will stand the test of time better than those produced from low quality stone.
Limestone under pressure
Natural stone comes from nature. It is formed over millions of years from mineral deposits compressed together under pressure; it can be sedimentary, igneous, or metamorphic. Limestone for example, is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of calcium carbonate, the main source of which is ocean lifeforms, such as shells, coral, and algae. Travertine and Jura are also types of limestone, but formed under different conditions. Travertine originates from hot mineral springs; the hot, mineral rich water passes through the limestone, evaporates and leaves behind carbonate deposits, making travertine a porous stone. Jura limestone, formed during the Jurassic period, is characterised by the presence of ammonite fossils. Marble, on the other hand, is a metamorphic rock that forms when limestone is exposed to extreme heat and pressure.
The unique beauty of stone
These formation processes are what give natural stones their unique characteristics. Calcium carbonate, in the form of calcite and aragonite, is the main component in limestones, but they will also contain a percentage of other minerals and impurities present within the sediments, such as dolomite, quartz, clay, sand, silt, and iron oxide. These are responsible for the unique colourings seen in natural stones. Formation conditions such as the pressure, pH, and water temperatures also impact characteristics such as hardness, grain size, strength, and porosity, of natural stone as it forms. Given that environmental conditions vary from place to place, it follows that natural stone sourced from one quarry will differ from that sourced from another. Even stones from a single area will vary in colour, but this is one of the attractive qualities of natural stone.
Know your source
Sourcing natural stone from reputable, knowledgeable, distributors, such as Travertine Direct, will ensure that you get high quality natural stone that is fit for purpose, looks great and lasts. Purchasing low grade natural stone may save you money in the short term, but for example low grade travertine is likely to have a higher porosity, will be weak and crack easily. Stone with a high absorbency will, over time, take on a damp, dirty appearance, and stone with a low flexural strength is more likely to fail or delaminate, which occurs when the layers separate, causing sheets of stone to come away. Low quality stone is also likely to be at risk from erosion and frost. If water between grains in the stone freezes it expands and then contracts, causing strain, and eventually weakness.
Natural stone is quarried, finished, and cut to size. From an environmental perspective, some quarries are better than others, with best practices involving methods of conserving resources, minimising waste, and preventing pollution. When cut, high quality natural stone tiles should be consistent, in terms of size, shape, and thickness across all tiles. This ensures they will sit properly when laid, and there won’t be excessive gaps in between that may cause issues later on.
Travertine Direct source only 1st grade quality tiles and we personally visit the quarries we buy from.