Stepping onto the benefits of marble and graniteBy Isabel Berenguer Asuncion
Philippine Daily Inquirer
In the building industry, granite and marble are very commonly used, and yet often, with a lot of confusion. While they are both slabs cut from blocks of stones—both hard, both attractive and both workable into many surface elements—their qualities and applications can be quite different. Here are a few nuggets on what makes them so:
• Granite is a very hard material and was used to build structures in the times prior to the development of reinforced concrete. Many old edifices used solid blocks of granite that made them hardy and durable. Marble, on the other hand, was used more for its aesthetic qualities.
• Because of its very high compressive strength, granite is an ideal material for walkways, or as pavers for driveways (if cost were no issue). Marble is more brittle and will crack more easily on a horizontal exterior surface, especially if not installed on a plumb surface.
• Because of its hardness, granite withstands weathering better than marble. It is a better option for use as exterior cladding on vertical surfaces. Marble, on the other hand, picks up dirt quickly and is sensitive to pollutants in the air.
• Because granite is harder than marble, it is best used for high traffic areas, work surfaces, or other horizontal surfaces. It also does not react severely to acids and other chemicals as sensitively as marble does. It is more dense and hardly has any pores or openings, making it more ideal in environments where sanitation is important.
• Although both are hard surfaces, moisture and water can still be absorbed by both. Never use these stones without a clear sealer as a topcoat. Reapply a coat after a few months of use to ensure water tightness. When light-colored stones are used, seal all the undersides before installation as the stone can react to the cement bedding or concrete slab and develop discoloration.
• In terms of its aesthetic qualities, marble is softer to the eyes because it is slightly translucent and reflects light. While granite is very solid and opaque, marble’s veining can be seen running as shadows or silhouettes underneath the topmost surface of the stone. It is this transparent quality that produces marble’s “softness” and elegance.
• The veining of marble is free flowing as against granite’s more consistent pattern, making it appear more organic and natural. The regular distribution of quartz and other minerals in granite make the pattern or texture less natural—that is why it is easier to manufacture synthetic granite than it is synthetic marble. While marble has many color and grain variations within a slab, granite is homogenous and can be mimicked through mechanical means. It will take an artisan to faithfully mimic marble.
• Because of its varied colors and patterns, marble is used more frequently in decorative applications, or as the main feature of an area. When in a deep color or in a heavily veined slab, it can act as a dramatic accent. Granite is more effective for decorative purposes when used in a pattern or combined with complementing colors or textures. On its own, its appeal is quite utilitarian.
• Granite’s hardness allows it to be worked and finished in different textures: a high polish, a matte or “honed” finish, a textured or “flamed” finish, a heavier texture or “hammered” finish, or a ribbed finish achieved by running the slabs through grooving machines. Marble can be polished to a shine but it can never be brilliant as granite. It can be honed to emphasize its patterns, or “acid washed” to naturally erode the minerals and create texture along the veining.
Both stones are widely used because they are durable, and fortunately, because they have the quality aesthetic appeal that enhances the spaces they are used in.
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