Proper care and maintenance of natural stone begins with the right stone selection. To begin it is important to carefully select your fabricator, as they should be able to assist you in choosing the appropriate stone for the environment it will be installed.
In 1812 a German mineralogist devised the Mohs Scale of mineral hardness, based on ten common or most readily available minerals.
This scale can be used today to help one decide on a stone to have installed. Harder stones, those with a higher Mohs number, are less susceptible to scratches, whereas those on the scale with a 5 and lower can be more easily scratched by sediment and grit.
Consider the following common minerals for examples:
Calcite based stones include marbles, travertine, limestone, etc. They are commonly found in kitchens, however, they require a higher level of special care because they scratch easier and easily etch with acid. They are more porous, so allow liquids and other contaminants to more easily penetrate their surface. You can combat this by consistently keeping the area clean, using a cleaner on any stains, and keeping up on the stone’s seal.
Quartz-based stones include granites and sandstones, and these stones are typically used for countertops, flooring, showers, and vertical surfaces, as they are not vulnerable to acids and scratching.
Simply put, high traffic areas should use a harder stone, and lighter traffic areas can tolerate a lighter stone. Surfaces that will come in contact with water often should also use a hard stone. However, if you are willing to put in the work to care for a lighter stone in a high traffic area, you can make the stone beautiful as well.
The level of care and maintenance you are willing to put into the surface is really the determining factor in which stone is best for you. Lighter stones simply require more work to care for, while harder stone need less work.
Selecting the right stone may be a difficult task if you do not have the right information on what is most appropriate for its location, but an educated, professional stone fabricator can help you select the right stone for you and your space.