metallic epoxy marble countertop design
21
Sep

The Best Natural Rock Materials For Your Home (Part Two) | Blog Post #24

Is there such a thing as the best natural rock for your home? If you’re leaning towards natural rock for your house, today’s post is right up your alley! In the second and final instalment of this two-part series, we explore another set of natural rock media commonly used for interior surfacing and how they stand up against one another.

If you have not already seen it, check out part one here!

Between Rocks

Our criteria for judging today’s selection of natural rock media is the same as part one – common hazards in a house include physical trauma, spilt beverages or food, bacteria or mould growth, and harsh cleaning chemicals. Today, we explore four new types of rock media.

zoolander miner
Let's get to the bottom of the natural rock selections shall we?

Corian

We know, calling corian natural is a bit of a stretch. Corian is a material invented by DuPont. It is made of acrylic polymer, a synthetic binder, and alumina trihydrate, the rock part of the equation. Alumina trihydrate is extracted from bauxite ore, which is a sedimentary rock with a high aluminium content.

Corian Top
Corian is a man-made material, however, it is one of the more common countertops in Singapore. ©wickes

Physical Resistance: 3/10
Unfortunately, corian is pretty lacking in its physical durability. It has a hardness of 2-3 on the Mohs scale of hardness, marginally stronger than your fingernail. This means it scratches easily. It is also not the most resistant to physical impact.

corian crack
Cracks in corian countertops happen more commonly than you may think. ©washingtonpost

Stain Resistance: 8/10
Corian is entirely non-porous and installed in full slabs. The material is highly stain-resistant and waterproof. However, prolonged exposure to dark liquids like tea can cause light brown stains to form. Resurfacing the material easily removes the stains.

corian sink stains
Watermarks and stains will come on over time, especially from tea or coffee residue. Proper cleaning is advised to keep it fresh and stain-free!©washingtonpost

Biological Resistance: 8/10
This category indicates how prone the material is to hosting bacteria and mould growth.

Corian is a wonderful material in this regard, being non-porous and seamless. Neither organic debris nor bacteria are trapped on the material and it can be cleaned easily.

Chemical Resistance: 7/10
Corian has high resistance to chemical corrosion and will suffer anything from gentle cleansers to bleach. However, solvent-based cleansers have been known to damage the material.

Marble

Marble is a form of limestone that, under extreme heat and pressure, has been transformed into a mix of crystallised minerals. This gives the material its coveted and characteristic look, putting it in a class of its own for aesthetics. However, marble is severely lacking in its practical aspects.

marble countertop
Ahhh, marble. One of the most highly sought-after, expensive, and high-ses material in the market in terms of maintenance. ©ariastonegallery

Physical Resistance: 4/10
Marble is often compared to granite, since both are the most common whole-slab rocks used. However, marble’s physical durability pales in comparison, with a miserly rating of 3-5 on the Mohs scale. It’s reputation as a ‘soft stone’ comes from its tendency to crack or chip under impact.

marble cracked countertop
As with expensive materials, tender love and extra care is required marble to last©chipfix

Stain Resistance: 3/10
Marble is highly porous and slightly absorbent. It can be physically stained by trapping sediments from dark liquids or dirt and chemically stained by a whole host of substances, even ones as mild as slightly alkaline water. Marble with a high iron content acquires rust stains in a humid environment.

water stains on marble
The porous properties allow liquids to seep into the pores of the marble, leaving stains and discolouration. ©lifeingraceblog

Biological Resistance: 3/10
The many pores on the surface of marble trap organic debris that feed and shelter bacteria and mould. Without constant, thorough cleaning, marble surfaces – especially in the kitchen and bathroom – can quickly grow a layer of black scum.

Chemical Resistance: 3/10
Marble has a high content of reactive minerals, making it a nightmare to clean without specialised marble cleansers. Your only options, besides the former, are pH-neutral gentle soaps and a soft brush or sponge.

cleaning gently
With gentle cleaning, frequent polishing and timely maintenance, your marble will still be able to last for years to come. ©giphy

Slate

Slate is naturally formed from clay or volcanic ash compressed under extremely high heat and pressure. This process forms a fine-grained and homogenous rock that has characteristic rock layers.

Slate kitchen countertop
Rustic and unique, slate countertops look gorgeous and classy on its own due to the way it is formed. ©pinterest

Physical Resistance: 4.5/10
With a rating of 5 on the Mohs scale, Slate is fairly scratch-resistant. However, it doesn’t hold up well to impacts and may break off in flakes or chips when struck from certain angles.

Stain Resistance: 4.5/10
Slate has fewer pores than marble and is passably stain-resistant in day to day use. However, dark liquids like coffee or wine can still stain light coloured slate.

Biological Resistance: 4.5/10
Owing to its lower porosity, slate does not trap as much organic debris or bacteria as marble. However, it still requires regular cleaning to avoid a build up of scum.

Chemical Resistance: 6/10
For a natural rock, slate has a wonderfully high chemical resistance. In fact, its chemical resistance is so cherished that it is frequently used for laboratory bench tops. Strong household cleansers should not prove an issue for the material.

Travertine

Travertine is an interesting form of limestone that results from accumulated minerals around hot springs. It has been used in the construction of many famous historical sites in Rome such as the Colonnade of St. Peter’s Square and the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.

travertine-tile-countertops
Travertine is not as common in Singapore as compared to marble or other materials©innonpender

Physical Resistance: 4/10
Much like marble, its historical significance was a matter of availability and aesthetics. Travertine has a rating of 3-4 on the Mohs scale. It scratches and chips as easily as marble.

Stain Resistance: 3/10
Travertine is a highly porous material that absorbs liquids such as wine or coffee. It stains readily and darkens as it traps dirt.

Biological Resistance: 4/10
Almost as porous as marble, travertine will trap organic debris and bacteria unless it is polished and sealed. Regular cleaning is recommended to prevent build-up of scum.

Chemical Resistance: 3/10
Travertine is composed almost entirely of calcium carbonate, a rather reactive mineral that puts it in the same class as marble for chemical resistance. Only special cleansers or gentle, pH-neutral soaps should be used on the material.

And a Hard Place

Natural rock media is most valued for its characteristic look and unique aesthetic. However, you are always left juggling between cost – good marble can get expensive – and durability in each category.

counting money gif
The decision between expensive and practicality is one not to be rushed. ©tenorgif

Having seen most types of stone media, you may have made up your mind one way or another. If stone is not for you, you may wish to consider metallic epoxy, an objectively uncontested material for interior surfacing. Besides rating incredibly highly in EVERY category, the material offers a vast expanse of design options, limited only by your imagination. Head over to the rest of our blog for more on what metallic epoxy is, how it is installed, and how it ranks against other materials.

If you have not already seen our previous posts on vinylhardwoodlaminate or marble, check them out for a more informed decision on home refurbishment or interior surface material choices!

Also, check out these other posts!

The Three Best Materials For Your Bathroom

The Three Best Materials For Your Kitchen