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Common Stone Types & Technical Stone Research Results

The following information has been reproduced with permission from the Natural Stone Council
website (
Material Fact Sheets
Designers are more frequently being asked to identify green building materials but do not always have
the needed information. Using the life-cycle data, material fact sheets describing several stone types
are being generated to provide useful information in this selection process, among other information.
The one-page (double-sided) documents will summarize the current market for stone, regions of
deposits worldwide, physical properties, applicable ASTM standards, as well as environmental data
and human health considerations. Material Facts Sheets for several of the most commonly used
stone types are listed with the descriptions that follow.
Life-cycle Inventories
To accurately assess the environmental profile of Genuine Stone products, impacts over the entire life
cycle of these products must be identified. Information characterizing stone fabrication was amassed
through a rigorous survey of the industry, and life-cycle datasets have been established for granite,
limestone, sandstone and slate quarrying and processing operations. The datasets can be
downloaded from the links below or the University of Tennessee Center for Clean Products
website (click here).
Life Cycle Inventory reports for several of the most commonly used stone types are listed with the
descriptions that follow.

The only natural stones harder than granite are diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. Therefore, choose
granite when permanence, enduring color and texture, and complete freedom from deterioration and
maintenance are prime requirements. Granite is highly heat, scratch and stain resistant, and is
commonly used to face commercial and institutional buildings and monuments. It is unequaled as a
material for fireplaces, steps, road and driveway curbing, terraces, and to pave plazas and public
spaces. Granite is the traditional favorite of countertop materials for its unique colors and patterns,
proven durability and lasting value.
Granite comes in hundreds of different colors and is quarried in such places as the United States,
Canada, Brazil, China, Africa, Norway, India, Argentina, Portugal, Italy, Finland, Russia, Spain, Saudi
Arabia, and more. For more on Granite properties and use,
Granite Material Fact Sheet
Granite Life Cycle Inventory
Granite Specifications for Architectural Granite Brochure (NBGQA)
For more information on Granite,please search Granite in the BSI Member Directory (link) and BSI
Online Buyers’ Guide (link) for specific Granite suppliers. And, visit the National Building Granite
Quarries Association website

This grain stone has a very uniform texture and grade, and has gained worldwide acceptance as a
premier dimension stone. Limestone weathers naturally over time and its color mellows and blends
into a pleasing natural patina. With no artificial coloring agents to fade and no reinforcement rods to
rust, the appearance of limestone actually improves with age.
Limestone exhibits no preferential direction of splitting and can be cut and carved in a wide variety of
shapes and sizes. Thus, it can be sawed, planed, turned on a lathe or hand worked to match the
requirements of demanding architectural designs. Limestone has proven its use from simple treads
and pavers to landscaping structures and bridges, to soaring cathedrals over and over again.
One benefit that has made limestone a choice product is the consistency of deposit. While subtle
color and grain differences are present, limestone is extremely homogenous for a natural product.
This is important, not only for the current project being built, but particularly when future expansions
are contemplated.
For more Limestone properties and use,
Limestone Material Fact Sheet

Limestone Life Cycle Inventory

For more information on Limestone, please search Limestone in the BSI Member Directory (link) and
BSI Online Buyers’ Guide (link) for specific Limestone suppliers. And,visit the Indiana Limestone
Institute website

Most people are familiar with marble. From Greek statues to Roman baths, it has been used for
centuries in just about every possible interior and exterior application. Marble is relatively hard, but not
as hard as granite. Marble basically classifies into four groups which include: Groups A, B, C, and D.
These merely indicate fabrication ability, which is based on the materialís level of hardness. It is very
popular for fireplaces, bar-tops, and bathrooms, and comes in a wide range of colors.
Marble has the same general properties of limestone and can stain, etch or scratch, but only becomes
more beautiful over time and use. Most marble has veining mineral deposits throughout. It is generally
thought to be from Italy, but in actuality it is quarried all over the world. Tumbled marble has become
extremely popular in the United States in the last few years for backsplash, flooring and shower
areas. For more on Marble properties and use,
Marble Material Fact Sheet
Marble Life Cycle Inventory
No Life Cyle Inventory report has been published yet by the Natural Stone Council.

For more information on Marble, please search Marble in the BSI Member Directory (link) and BSI
Online Buyers’ Guide (link) for specific Marble suppliers. And, visit the Marble Institute of America

Composed mainly of sand-size mineral or rock grains, most sandstone is composed of quartz and
feldspar – two of the most common minerals in the earth’s crust. Like sand, it can be any color, but
most commonly comes in tan, brown, yellow, red, gray and white.
The stone generally has a uniform texture and it is somewhat soft, making it user-friendly for a variety
of applications. It is favored for wall claddings and flooring because of its low absorption rate, high
compression strength, and aesthetically pleasing appearance. For more on Sandstone properties and
Sandstone Material Fact Sheet
Sandstone Life Cycle Inventory
For more information on Sandstone, please search Sandstone in the BSI Member Directory (link) and
BSI Online Buyers’ Guide (link) for specific Sandstone suppliers.

Slate is a metamorphic rock that is dense, strong, acid resistant and non-absorptive. It is impervious
to freeze/thaw cycles and has been used in construction for thousands of years. It is the material of
choice for discerning architects, designers, contractors and builders.
Slate produced in North America comes in a variety of colors, including black, gray, green, purple and
red. Many of these slates are available with mottling of more than one color and some of these slates
include a color weathering characteristic which adds warm earth tone hues.
Most commonly used for interior floor surfaces or exterior landscaping, slate also serves as a durable
and stain resistant counter top, beautiful pool coping, shower enclosure, pavers, building cladding,
and spectacular, fireproof roof covering that can last the life of the building.
Slate Material Fact Sheet

Slate Life Cycle Inventory

For more information on Slate, please search Slate in the BSI Member Directory (link) and BSI Online
Buyers’ Guide (link) for specific Slate suppliers. And, visit the National Slate Association website