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Things you should know about your choice of stone

Make an informed choice through product education

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Also check out our numerous Frequently Asked Question pages where you can get answers to some of the more common issues.

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Mixing Materials


Grouping Materials

The use of non-stone materials in grouping with stone isn’t innovative. In the late 1800s and early on in the 1900s, a lot of buildings were designed combining stone mosaics with both glass and ceramic. A general tradition through the early 1900s, with the building of a lot of our state capitals and regional buildings, was to design the first floor and lobby areas with elaborate stone floors, walls and interiors and then use other materials such as ceramic and glass on other floors. This tradition can be seen in a large number of our government buildings.

The designs of these interiors need careful design, grouping the stone materials with the non-stone materials with an inconspicuous changeover. In history a lot of of the non-stone materials were used to impersonate stone. Scagliolia, a plastering technique, was used widely and could with no trouble be seen as stone. Concrete surfaces were often made to look like real stone. Even timber surfaces were painted to look like stone. Nowadays, it is ok for the non-stone materials to show their individual attributes. The distinct colours and texture of non-stone materials with the attractiveness of real stone are found in almost all our new buildings and are also found in the home.

The draughtsman and designers who use these combinations need to be completely memorable with the properties of the character materials and any possible problems that may happen when combining them. The subsequent problems should be well thought-out when designing with unlike materials.

Stone and timber

Timber and stone grouping are frequently used for flooring and walls. The warm feel of wood combined with the style of stone balance each other. These materials vary significantly and allowances have to be made when designing with these combinations. Many wood floors have been planned with stone inlays only to be overwhelmed with cracking of the stone surface due to the expansion of the wood. Adequate expansion allowances must be well thought-out.

Staining problems

Do you need to stain the wood before installation or after? Stone is a porous material and wood stains will penetrate deeply into the stone’s surface. This is particularly challenging with the darker stains. Prefinished timber may be a safer choice.

Wood can also become stained, by the polishing of the stone surface. Oxalic acid is found in most marble polishing powders and is the same acid used to bleach wood. The designer must state complete protection of the dissimilar materials to avoid these problems.

Refinishing Problems

Many designers take no notice of the fact that these materials will need to be refinished at a later date. The refinishing techniques for wood and stone are very different. Wood requires dry sanding whereas stone requires wet sanding. Could the water used to refinish the stone damage and bow the wood? Will the sanding of the wood spoil the stone?

Many patterns with wood and stone groups make it tricky if not unworkable to refinish these materials. Check with with a stone and wood professional. A great designer will think about the refinishing needs of the valued materials.

Maintenance Needs

How will the resources be maintained? The wax and polishes used on wood may not be suitable for the stone surface. Can the wax be applied to the wood simply, avoiding the stone surface? How will the stone be cleaned? Will the, stone cleaners have an effect on the wood? Should the stone be sealed? A careful deliberation of the maintenance needs of the design is essential.

Stone and Metal

Brass, aluminium, stainless steel and copper are often used in mixture with stone. Stone water fountains often contain metal sculptures and reservoirs. Metal separating strips are frequently found between stone tiles. Metal and stone can be used successfully together but the following should be well thought-out in the design.


Metal can also stain stone. Bronze and copper will deposit an ugly green tint to the stone surface. This is especially true in exterior projects where bronze plaques, flagpoles and sculptures that are located on stone surfaces.

Metal cleaners used will also cause staining. It may be essential to seal the stone to aid in removal of any potential staining. Iron containing metals may also rust. Rust is readily absorbed into stone surfaces and is extremely complicated to remove.


Like wood metal surfaces can also expand. This is particularly true if the metal is exposed to hot temperatures. Metal expands quickly when heated and can cause cracking in neighbouring stone surfaces. It is vital to design sufficient room for expansion.

Refinishing and Maintenance

The refinishing and maintenance needs for metal and stone also differ. The refurbishment of metal requires strong acids, which can spoil the stone surface. Metals are typically coated for protection. Will the appliance of the coating harm the stone? Will metal cleaners harm the stone? Certain stone cleaners can also spoil the metal surfaces. Metal surfaces are without difficulty scratched and will require repeated refinishing.

Combining stone with other materials is becoming more popular. The designer needs to study the materials to be used and fully understand their individual properties. Expansion, wearablity, installation specifications, slips resistance, refinishing and maintenance needs are factors that need to be well thought-out before a design is finished. No longer is aesthetics the dictating issue.

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