Who will win the great man-made vs. natural stone debate?
By Scott Harris
We continue to see choices for building materials, and especially hard-surface options multiply like rabbits.
So which is the right one?
Every sales professional we lend our ear to has a script expressing why their product or material has superior virtues over the competition. Listening to everyone can be confusing, so how do you fairly find the unbiased truth?
Ladies and Gentleman, please take your ringside seat. The 16-time, welterweight, national champion: Man-Made is challenging, the undefeated, centennial heavyweight, world champion: God-Made. The judges will weigh in; but first, we are going to size up the competitors and allow you to make your own choice for what is best for your life and projects.
Quartzite: A newer material to the marketplace, but also one of the oldest of materials, quartzite is actually the perfect hybrid. Call it “Limestone 2.0.” This material once started as sand at the bottom of the world’s oceans where the weight of the water and time created what we refer to as sandstone. Add a twist and a slide of the earth’s tectonic plates and let some silica grains find their way in and voila, you have cemented ancient sands into one of the most durable materials of all.
Insider Tip: While this product has been used for centuries as roofing tiles, flooring, and hardscape, due to its extremely high resistance to exterior weathering, it also can be used for kitchen counters for the serious chefs looking for a (nearly) bullet- proof countertop!
Granite: Granite is created with as much as 60 percent quartz and other naturally occurring materials. Your granite was forged from fire during the solidification of the Earth’s magma under the greatest of pressure. This tough formation process created one of the most resilient materials in use today against stain, heat, and other damage.
Insider Tip: While an impressively tough material, its vulnerability is the microcosms that form between grains retaining bacteria. To remedy this, use a high-quality stone sealer. To test if its time to reseal, simply pour a couple of drops of water on top; if it beads up, then you have a protected seal. However, if it soaks in after a few minutes, then it is time to be reapply. Now you have a nearly perfect material and teammate.
Marble: This is easily on of the most ubiquitous and sought after, natural hard-surface materials. Marble’s mysterious formula starts with pure limestone that crystalizes over time. Add in Earth’s random deposits of natural clay, silt, sand, and iron oxides, and let a world of natural colors and markings evolve into an epic slab of marble. Some will argue this should make it to the list of semi-precious stones!
Insider Tip: The biggest topic concern in using marble is, “But does it STAIN?” While the answer is “Yes,” this varies greatly depending on the marble selected. You can have the beauty of natural marble with the durability and stain resistance of Quartzite by simply adding a nearly invisible, polyethylene film protection offered by manufacturers such as ‘StoneGUARD’ or TuffSkin.
Porcelain: The recipe sounds likes a witch’s brew: Blend a cup of ballclay, a pinch of bone & feldspar, and finish it with a dusting of alabaster. Heat in the caldron to 1400o, and you have one of the most used and durable man-made materials.
Insider Tip: Porcelain tiles are known for being the perfect solution to high-traffic areas and are highly moisture-resistant. This is the perfect option for having a material that you can carry from indoors through the outdoors and have it wear equally well all year long.
Ceramic: This is a material made of Earth’s clay hardened by heat. What makes this material so beautiful is the beauty of the glazes and patterns applied.
Insider Tip: If you have allergies, this may be
the perfect material choice. The hard-glazed, solid surface does not hold or attract dust, dirt, pollen, or other allergens. Now, instead of using facial tissue for your nose, use them to wipe away stray particles that land on the material to create an allergy free home.
Composite & Engineered Stones: Composite stones are made from slurry of quartz and resin in a similar manner to how its natural counterpart was formed. For the environmental shopper, this is a guilt-free option made mostly of reclaimed natural materials.
Insider Tip: Ask for cultured grain or book- matched slabs, and make your project look like it is straight Hearst’s Castle.
After a well-played match, the judges have deliberated and have ruled that the battle of Man- Made versus God-Made materials is a tie because the competitors are too similar. They are simply an amalgamation of natural materials that were made either through the course of random movements in the Earth’s crust or controlled moments in a factory. The question is, with so many great options, which one will you select?