Marble is a metamorphic, crystalline rock formed by the intrusion of an igneous rock into a limestone stone mass. The heat and pressure of such an event alters the original molecular structure of the calcite present in the limestone and causes re-crystallization of the calcite and the formation of new minerals. The result is marble with the much appreciated characteristics of heavy veining and wide range of colors. Marble surfaces take a high polish but are not very hard and scratch easily. Its natural composition makes marble an easy target for acids normally found in food and cleaning products. The acids etch the marble surface, damaging the polished finish. Marble is a porous stone and requires preventative sealing with silicone-based impregnators. With proper maintenance using neutral products, marble performs extremely well. It is not recommended for use in kitchens.
Granite is an igneous rock, formed mainly by the crystallization of once molten material under conditions of extreme heat and pressure. Commercially, various stones of volcanic origin with different characteristics from true granites, such as pegmatite, diorite, larvikytes (labradorite) and syenites, are also sold as “granites”. The properties of granite that make it the ideal stone surface are its hardness and inherent resistance to acid – granites are not “attacked” by the acids normally present in foods and cleaning products. Yet granite is a porous stone and requires proper sealing.
Quartzite (Metaquartzite), composed of more than 90% quartz, is formed from the metamorphosis of sandstone. Its crystals are tightly fused forming a hard, crystalline rock. It is an evenly textured stone, medium to fine grain, sugary in appearance, and pale in color.
Although quartzite has an extremely hard, scratch-resistant surface, it is also very porous and absorbent. By properly sealing the surface with a silicone-based impregnator, quartzite is an excellent surface for both bathrooms and kitchens.
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Onyx belongs to the family of chalcedony, a micro crystalline variety of quartz. Other varieties of chalcedony include Jasper, Carnelian, Agate and Tiger’s Eye. Commercially, transparent to opaque stones characterized by alternating, parallel bands of color, are known as Onyx. Most of the Onyx sold in the word today is quarried in Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and Mexico.
Onyx colors may include white, red, blue, green and brown (dark brown to very light beige). The variations of color are attributed to impurities such as iron, aluminum, and nickel present in the stone. Onyx is often used in jewelry because of its many colors and ability to polish to a high luster.
Its vitreous and brittle nature makes Onyx prone to cracking. New resins available in the marketplace today correct this problem and allow the ‘miracle of technology’ to produce slabs 10 feet long and 6 feet high, and only ¾’” thick. Onyx does not perform well under situations of intense use or in high traffic areas. Use should be limited to private areas.