There are many types of stones that can be used for countertops and construction purposes? This post goes over the most used stones, their pros and cons, and more.
Natural stones are used in a wide range of ways when it comes to homes because of their durability and aesthetics. There are several main types of stones that contractors and designers use when building or renovating a home, and each one is more suitable for certain purposes than other ones. Engineered stones are also available for those who want a genuine stone look without the stress and sometimes tedious upkeep of real stone.
Whether you’re building your dream home or just designing your dream kitchen, you’ll need to know which stones are best for construction and which ones are ideal for things such as countertops. Keep reading to learn about the various types of stones and how they’re used.
Types of Stones Commonly Used for Countertops and Construction
From durable building stones like granite and basalt to weaker decorative stones such as gneiss and marble, there are various types of natural stones to learn about for your next project. Let’s explore them below!
Granite is incredibly popular for countertops but is also a great building material in both small and large-scale construction projects. It’s one of the most versatile natural stones in terms of practical use and appearance.
For example, granite can be found in seemingly endless colors and patterns, which is one reason it’s so popular for counters and interior design elements. It’s also incredibly durable as a building material, with crushed granite being used in base materials for foundations, sewage systems, and even in highway and road construction.
Granite is a light-colored Igneous rock, which has very obvious large grains that give it its well-known appearance. It’s mostly composed of quartz and feldspar, with minor amounts of minerals such as mica. The composition of granite gives it a red, pink, white, or gray color with darker connecting grains throughout.
Quartzite is commonly used to make countertops because of its durability, resistance to chemical weathering, and high-end appearance that’s similar to marble and granite. It’s also used in other decorative ways like feature walls. In its crushed stone form, quartzite is used in construction for railway ballast and even roofing tiles.
It’s usually available in neutral colors such as white or light gray and often has pink, reddish-brown, yellow, or gold hues.
This metamorphic stone is incredibly dense and heavy, but also brittle and not easily workable. The composition of quartzite gives it a hardness of about seven on the Mohs Hardness Scale, as well as its characteristic granular texture and veining appearance.
As you may have guessed, marble is most commonly used in countertops and ornamental ways. It’s popular for decorative purposes because of its well-loved crystal and sparkly appearance but also for its longevity and ability to be cut or carved. It’s also easy to polish, which makes it easy to maintain.
Crushed marble is also used as a construction aggregate and is mostly used as a fill for building foundations, roads, and railroad beds.
This metamorphic rock is formed when limestone is subjected to and altered by intense heat and pressure. The process and mineral makeup of marble make it one of the most multi-use, durable, and beautiful types of stones available.
Basalt is another natural stone that can be used for a wide range of purposes, both in construction and functional, yet decorative pieces like countertops. It has a distinct matte finish and rich dark gray-black colors. Basalt also has minimal patterning and fine grains.
It’s used in construction as aggregate for roads, concrete, asphalt pavement, railroad ballast, and much more.
This igneous rock is very strong with a compressive strength of 150-190 MPa. It’s made up of plagioclase and pyroxene minerals, and is usually referred to as “lava rock.”
Dolomite isn’t too well known for its use as a countertop material, but it’s slowly gaining popularity because it often resembles marble, yet is more durable and less expensive. It’s also a more chip and scratch-resistant material than marble, which makes it a well-rounded choice for those looking to upgrade their counters.
It’s also used for a wide range of construction purposes, such as roads, pavements, sidewalks, and concrete. Dolomite is a very hardy natural stone with lower solubility, making it resistant to rain and soil.
This is a sedimentary stone that acts in a very similar way to limestone. Dolomite is usually white, light gray, or light brown and is often referred to as “dolostone” or “dolomite rock.”
Limestone is a versatile and easily workable soft stone that is most commonly used in construction. With the right type of limestone and proper sealing, it can be used to make countertops, though.
This is a natural stone that can be used as a raw material in cement and is often used in ceilings, floors, cladding, and even bathroom vanity tops.
Limestone is a sedimentary stone that’s usually formed from organic marine debris and is mostly composed of a calcium carbonate mineral called calcite. There are many types of limestone, but the most commonly used are white or gray in color, though black and shades of yellow and red are normal depending on the minerals it contains.
Similar to limestone, sandstone is a versatile sedimentary stone with many different types of uses. It’s most loved for its use in construction and not so much as a countertop material because it’s incredibly porous, like limestone. However, when sealed well the right type of sandstone can be used for counters and other kitchen uses such as tile.
Sandstone is mainly suitable for construction purposes and is well-known for being a building and paving material. For example, it can be used to make asphalt concrete and can be an excellent choice for building retainer walls, cladding, columns, and more.
This is one of the most varied types of stones with seemingly endless color options depending on the minerals in it. Sandstone is typically composed of sand-grain-sized minerals like feldspars, mica, silica, and quartz.
Travertine is a type of limestone but is much softer and less durable. It’s also incredibly porous because it has lots of pitted holes and cavities from the way it’s formed. Since it’s a very soft stone it’s not suitable for heavy construction or countertops that get a lot of use.
It can be used in lighter construction, such as wall cladding, ornamental flooring, vanity tops, and so forth.
When it’s in its purest form, travertine is mostly white but is most commonly found in neutral and earth-tone colors due to the minerals in it. Travertine is popular because of its gorgeous patterns and texture, which make it ideal for statement pieces.
Slate is one of the most popular and durable types of stones to use in construction, interior design, and of course countertops. It can be cut into slabs, tiles, or crushed for a wide range of uses. Slate is a long-lasting, fire and water-resistant, natural stone which is why it’s been used for centuries and is still popular today.
It’s commonly used in roofing, flooring, facing stone, wall cladding, patios, pavements, and more. Slate also makes a great material for countertops, vanity tops, and backsplash tiles. It’s a gorgeous material to use in any space indoor or out, because of its dark rich colors, which range from grays to blacks.
Slate is a metamorphic rock, with very fine grains and delicate patterns. It’s mostly composed of clay and micas but can also contain quartz, feldspar, and other minerals which dictate its overall appearance and strength.
Often referred to as “marble onyx,” this is a natural stone that has veining similar to marble but is completely unique in its translucency. It’s incredibly fragile and typically reserved for ornamental or decorative pieces.
It can be used as a countertop when reinforced with a strong backing like fiberglass and sealed properly. People have even used onyx for flooring, wall panels, tables, fireplace surrounds, and so forth. This is one of the rarest (and most expensive!) types of stones but isn’t ideal for construction.
Onyx is formed from dropstone deposits in limestone caves and is technically classified as chemical sedimentary stone. It has many colors from yellows, oranges, whites, purples, and greens and is well- known for its swirls and heavy veining.
Soapstone is most commonly used for countertops but has some other valuable uses as well. Because it’s naturally heat-resistant and incredibly durable, it’s an excellent choice for fireplaces, sinks, floor and wall tiles, and facing stone. Not only that, but it’s nonporous and easy to care for.
While it’s not used for many construction uses, it’s still a desirable material for contractors and homeowners looking for a beautiful and nearly maintenance-free countertop or similar uses.
Soapstone is a metamorphic rock and mostly composed of talc, but can also have minerals like mica and quartz. Its colors are a range of grays and blacks, which get darker over time.
Gneiss is relatively unheard of since it’s technically classified as granite. Even though they’re composed of the same minerals, they have different levels of hardness with gneiss being more durable.
This unique stone can be used in both constructions and as a material for countertops. It’s great for flooring, landscaping, paving stones, exterior applications, and even road construction. Because of its aesthetics, it’s most commonly used for interior design purposes like countertops, tiles, feature walls, and vanity tops.
Gneiss is known for its visually appealing swirls, bands, and wide range of colors. It’s easy to see why this is one of the most unique metamorphic rocks.
Engineered Options (Stone/Quartz/Porcelain)
Man-made stone options also make a great countertop material. These are made with both natural rocks and engineered materials to achieve an organic appearance and modern convenience.
Engineered stones come in various colors, designs, and patterns which are all designed to look like the authentic stone you’d find in nature. They’re made for the sole purpose of being used as a countertop, and the surface of the engineered stone counters is usually polished or sealed so that they’re not easily scratched, stained, or cracked.
The most common engineered options are stone, quartz, and porcelain. They’re made with an organic substance, such as loose quartz that is naturally found in quartzite, and then manufactured with synthetic binders like resin. They can also have added pigments and different types of materials like glass for added durability.
Engineered stone, quartz, and porcelain are all great options for beautiful, yet functional countertops that are made to look like the real thing but easier to maintain and care for.