The natural stone is not only a decorative but also a functional finishing material. Depending on the selected type, it can be used for the effective finish of the flooring, walls or stairs. A properly selected stone can also be used to make a kitchen countertop, a fireplace or furniture. Certain types of stone can be used in exterior works, such as building façade or pathways and decks.
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Stone is the work of nature. It has unique properties which are shaped by the type and the combination of the minerals present in the stone. Contrary to the other building and finishing materials, the natural stone is unique and impossible to be fabricated. No other material is available in such array of colors and patterns, and it still can be finished in many different ways or even left unchanged in its natural shape.
The natural stone is safe for the users. It does not contain any components which could affect our health and wellbeing. For that reason, it can be used in the kitchen or bathroom. Furthermore, it is a fireproof material which does not emit any harmful substances when in contact with fire.
The natural stone is obtained in large blocks and then cut to the desired shape. Thanks to that method, the size of the slabs is only limited by the size of the extracted block and not the size determined by the production machines. The shape can be adjusted to the requirements of a design. The modern machines used in finishing stone can cut along a curve and cut out certain elements inside of it; therefore, a desired format and shape can be obtained.
The natural stone is a long-lasting material and definitely a lot more durable than most of the finishing materials available in the market. The additional value of stone is in the fact how beautifully it ages. A subtle patina or slightly rubbed off surface make it look more beautiful and add character to it. Due to its durability and low abrasiveness, stone is the best material for flooring. Floors made with granite or similar, solid stone do not show much traces of wear even after tens of years of use.
The natural stone is actually an economical finishing material. Independent studies indicate that stone is not more expensive than the comparable synthetic materials if we consider a thirty year or longer use. The relatively high purchase cost is compensated by the durability of the material and the low cost of its care and maintenance.
Before we determine the rules and the methods of caring for the natural stone, it is important to identify its biggest “enemies”.
- The first one is weathering. It is a natural process of breaking down of rocks in the result of insolation, daily changes in temperature, water freezing within the cracks in rocks, and the works of living organisms.
- The second harmful to the natural stone process is erosion. It is the direct effect of the polluted atmosphere as the active, inorganic compounds, including gases or acid rain, react with the rocks as well as the changes in rocks caused by microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, algae and lichens. Erosion affects the technical parameters of stone as well as its appearance causing discoloration, gypsum efflorescence, patina, and in extreme cases, the gradual breaking down of stone.
- The third group of risk is caused by the direct human activity leading to the possible mechanical as well as chemical damages.
The extent to which the stone is resistant to these external factors depends largely on its parameters, particularly its hardness, porosity and water absorption. Regardless of the indicated risks, the natural stone is one of the most durable and resistant to damage materials used in building and interior design. In order to be able to appreciate the beauty of the stone for many years to come, all we need to do is apply simple caring procedures and acquire a basic knowledge of the possessed stone.
The everyday care can be done with natural methods with the use of water or water with some detergent. A soft cloth, such as microfiber, cotton or paper towel is needed to clean stone. There is a large selection of chemical products in the market designated for the special care of stone which can be used for washing, polishing, protecting against scratches, removing residues, and creating anti-slip films, etc. Prior to applying those products, it is worth testing them on a stone sample, because certain negative consequences may not be reversible.
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