Natural Stone Selection

Using natural stones for your home is the perfect way to getting the most out of your interior design theme. Natural stones are great for just about any room in the house. From the classical use around fireplaces to installing natural stone bathroom shower enclosures, stone is the ultimate solution to your design needs. Best of all, stone can look good in all lighting conditions, from the open window to florescent lighting fixtures. Use this guide to using natural stone in your home and you’ll be on your way to getting the perfect stone for your design.


Marble is basically a form of limestone, a metamorphic rock that has been pressed into layers over the years. Marble is characterized by colored veins that dominate the rocks surface. The red, yellow, green and blue hues are caused by different chemical compositions in the rocks layers. All of these different colored stones can be mined all over the planet. Marble is as hard as or harder than granite. It can be stained or scratched on the polished surface and scratches are easily seen with most light fixtures. Surfaces can also be stained or pitted from acids from fruits or vinegar.

Limestone and Travertine

Similar in chemical composition, these two stones both contain about 50 percent calcium carbonate. If magnesium is present, then it is called dolomite. When calcium carbonate crystalizes it is called travertine. Travertine is formed from underground mineral springs. The holes and pits found in travertine are formed when heat causes bubbles to rise to the surface and become trapped in the stone. Limestone and travertine vary both in porosity and density, so they work great in wet locations like bathrooms. These stones look best under a bright lighting fixture.

Quartzites and Sandstones

Sandstones are soft and porous stones that are best used in dry locations. Sandstone and quartzite can absorb moisture and humidity from the room so a proper sealant is required. Quartzite is older sandstone that has additional traces of mica or feldspar. Since these stones can’t be polished like marble or granite, they are often left rough. This creates a textured stone or tile. Pendant lights and other accent lights work best with these stones.


Granite includes several species of stone. True granites as well as gabbro are igneous stones that began as magma under the earth. The difference between granite and gabbro is the amount of silica. Gabbro has less silica while marble has more. Cheaper gneiss stones are similar to granite but are actually a metamorphic rock and not true granite. These stones come in colors ranging from green, red, black and white. Highly polished slabs look great under heavy ambient and natural light fixtures.

Eric is a contractor who also writes for Arcadian Lighting which is a great resource for lamps and light fixtures around the world!

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