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What is Sandstone, Soapstone and Limestone?

Since these materials are widely different in origins and properties, there will be a sub-breakdown below where their unique properties are discussed while their commonalities will be discussed here. Sandstone, Soapstone & Limestone all are natural products; they are not cultured or manufactured materials nor are they a highly polished or finished stone such as granite. As with all natural materials, there can be a high degree of variation from one block of stone to another. While our professional fabricators are skilled at closely matching pieces for color and consistency, every piece is unique and there may be variation from one piece to another. These variations are one of the properties that lend these materials their beauty are are generally not a concern. If you or your client wants a more consistent appearance please consult us as there are certain materials that have a minimal variation that we may recommend. These variations are due to two different factors, the first is the formation of the stone which will determines the grain and color and will be elaborated on below. The second factor is that many stones posses inclusions; inclusions are pockets of minerals that were trapped in the stone during its formation. Minerals such as iron, manganese, silica, calcite, etc. can create spots of crystals and or black & white spotting in the stone. All of these properties will vary greatly depending on the specific material. Additionally, certain materials may contain dry-checks. Dry checks are material pits and pockets in the material where the stone did not fully form. The dry checks are patched by our fabricators using color matched fillers. These dry-checks are seldom distinguishable and do not affect the strength or integrity of the stone in any way. Finally, before going into their individual properties it is important to note that Sandstone, Soapstone and Limestone are quarried differently than granite and as a result the potential slab sizes are shorter; a low end of six feet to a high end of 8 or 9 feet is common for most material types. Our fabricators are skilled at placing joints in a fashion that either hides them as much as possible or locates them in an aesthetically pleasing manner. And now for the breakdown on each stone type:

How does Sandstone, Soapstone and Limestone compare to Marble or Granite?

Sandstone, Soapstone and Limestone compare vary favorably to Marble and Granite in a number of ways. Many of our materials have very unique grains and movement which make them a suitable aesthetic replacement for Marble and Granite. Additionally, most of our products have little of the drawbacks that are inherent in Marble and Granite such as their susceptibility to etching, and in the case of Marble fragility. While Marble and Granite products have become so common they are now a commodity, our products have a unique and uncommon appearance and with the exception of Limestone are not a common sight. Even the Limestones that we do carry are rather unique and rarely seen outside the regions in which they are quarried. As a company we specialize in high quality custom applications of unique products and our taste in materials reflect that. As such, we do carry a few rare marble and granite types that reflect that philosophy and if you'd like to learn ore about them please contact us.

Will Sandstone, Soapstone or Limestone Stain?

Untreated Sandstone, Soapstone and Limestone in their raw and unprocessed form are all susceptible to staining to various degrees. We use several proprietary techniques to impregnate the materials with protective agents in order to make the finished product extremely resistant to stains. In unfinished material the ability to take a stain is actually an asset as opposed to a liability because it allows us to alter the colors and shades of the stone more to the clients desire before locking it in with the above process. The degree to which we can alter color is directly related to porousness and Limestone and Sandstone are the most amenable to change whereas Soapstone is much less so. In addition to impregnating the pores with protective agents we also seal and then wax the surface. As long as simple maintenance is followed and the sealed layers aren't penetrated by physical damage, stone products will remain impervious to stain and water damage for many years.

How vulnerable is Sandstone, Soapstone or Limestone to chemical damage?

Before going further, we would like to emphasize the fact traditional stone products such as marble, granite, slate and even ceramics and plastics share many of exact same weaknesses, if not more so than our products. Also, many of the negative affects associated with exposure to these compound takes place slow enough for the agents to be removed before damage takes place. Please note that every compound known to man, barring the noble gases, is vulnerable to certain tailored chemical reactions and there are chemical reactions that can cause damage to any product made by man or nature. However, unless otherwise noted, virtually none of these precise reactions are likely to occur outside of a laboratory and if you are in a situation where our products are exposed to these materials you have far more pressing concerns (survival). The only household situation in which extremely harsh chemicals are likely to contact our products is if the owner uses chemical drain cleaners / unstoppers. To date we haven't experienced issues resulting from this but we still recommended the *NO DRAIN CLEANING AGENTS WHATSOEVER* are used in a stone sink. Drain cleaners contain extremely potent combinations of dangerous acids or bases. If you need to de-scale pipes, we recommend removing the drain trap and pouring it into the pipe using a funnel or if the problem is in the trap, to soak it in a container and rinse before re-installing.

Due to the manner in which finish or products with impregnation of the pores, wetting agents, sealants and wax, even the more vulnerable products have a certain degree of resistance to problem substances. The final phase of waxing not only creates a polished luster, but creates a sacrificial integument that takes the brunt of most chemical weathering. If the stone has been exposed to a damaging substance and has created a noticeable cosmetic defect, it is usually possible to repair it by reapplying a wax coat to the surface. As we recommend annual or semi-annual waxing as proper maintenance for our products, permanent damage is rare. As long as there is no physical damage penetrating through wax, sealant and impregnated layers of stone, the product will be highly resistant to staining and etching; in 50 years we have had less than 5 instances of problems with properly maintained stone.

We advise that clients refrain from using stripping agents (acetone, turpentine, etc.), very harsh cleaning products containing sulfuric, formic, nitric, phosphoric and high concentration acetic or hydrochloric acid - also known as muriatic acid, and hot oil based products. If our products are exposed to any of these chemicals, immediately clean them up with a towel and repeatedly wash the site with water to dilute the agent in question. In the event of exposure to hot oil clean the spilled oil up immediately and wash the site with soap and water repeatedly; dish soap is the best as it is the most effective at breaking up the surface tension so that it can mix with water. In an acid spill you can dilute the acidity with milk or baking soda; NEVER use ammonia as this can create deadly gases. Chemical damage is highly dependent upon the type of stone itself and the bulleted breakdown below will describe each type of stone's particular vulnerabilities:

How vulnerable is Sandstone, Soapstone or Limestone to physical damage?

Although the actual physical processes that determine strength are rather complex, in general terms, stone is considered a very strong compressive material and a moderate to weak tensile material (depending on the stone type). This means that supported stone can have large weights placed on top of it without crumbling. When heavy objects are placed in between two supported edges, the tensile strength of the stone comes into play and the stone is more vulnerable to snapping. In general usage this is not a problem because in everyday use very little weight is placed on these types of structures. A household example would be a decorations placed on a cantilevered hearth. If you or your client have special needs, such as supporting a heavy statue on this type of structure or an architectural style demanding large and heavy "floating" slabs, then we can embed steel supports into the stone to increase the tensile strength. Stone is roughly equivalent in this regard as concrete, and "rodded" stone is equivalent to rebar-concrete. In situations where a ledge of stone is cantilevered or floated, please contact us to determine how thick the piece must be or if steel rods must be embedded in the material to give it increase strength. Impact damage can occur but is rare in a household setting; dropping a skillet or butchers knife with enough force could crack, gouge or chip stone. We have seen gouged and chipped stone but it is rare and generally easy to repair. The following is a list of unique properties of each type of stone we sell in regards to strength and damage susceptibility.


Can Sandstone, Soapstone or Limestone be used in ________ application?

Sandstone, Limestone and Soapstone are all appropriate for uses as furniture components, hearths, mantels, internal cladding, countertops, vanities, wall tiles, wainscots, accents, ceiling tiles, tub tops, tub surrounds, shower seats, shower curbs, thresholds, sills, lintels, backsplashes and carved sinks. Applications where wear and tear, as well as weathering, is expected should try and use a material more suitable to that environment. The following is a list of what materials we recommend for these specific applications. Please keep in mind that if certain materials are desired for aesthetic reasons, they can usually be used but at the consequence of increased maintenance and periodic refinishing:

How do I maintain floors, countertops, walls, etc.?

For day to day maintenance of spills or accumulated dirt and debris, wash our products with soap or a gentle detergent and water; DO NOT USE HARSH ACIDS OR STRIPPING AGENTS, please see the F.A.Q. section for Chemical damage above. Hot oil spills, and strong acid spills should be cleaned up immediately and the area repeatedly washed with soap and water until no residue remains. Before leaving the factory, pre-fabricated products go through several rigorous processes that fill the pores, "wet" the stone (if desired), alter color (if necessary), machine the proper surface texture, seal the finished surface and apply layers of protective waxes. Since damage and weathering affect the stone from the outside-in, the first protective layer is the wax applied at the factory. Wax functions as a sacrificial layer that will slowly wear away with standard wear, tear and weathering instead of the more permanent under layers. As a result, we recommend that clients apply a clear paste wax to our products once a year on average, or as needed. When our product needs re-waxing you will notice a muted gloss finish when light is reflected off the surface at an angle. Re-waxing is as simple as polishing the product with paste wax (such as Minwax™ Clear Paste Wax) using a rag until no excess product remains on the stone. If maintenance has been neglected or scratching, stripping or heavy wear has occurred, the product may need to be re-sealed prior to re-waxing. Products manufactured on-site, such as irregular flooring and cladding or other products that we install outdoors are usually sealed after installation to help protect grout joints that will be exposed to weathering. In addition to the daily maintenance we recommend for indoor products, given the more extreme conditions, we recommend outdoor products undergo a yearly resealing and waxing if it has an applicable surface finish (rough or natural surfaces are generally not waxed). The type of sealer depends upon the finished appearance of the stone (gloss or no-gloss) and we recommend that you contact us for written or verbal maintenance instructions for individual applications.

Will stone products crack? Can I use stone products on a cracked foundation slab?

Stone flooring products installed with mortar and thinset are very strongly bonded to their underlying structures; if stone is installed upon a cracked slab or, if the slab cracks after installation the cracks can propagate through the stone. Like a chain, the point were the crack will form is the weakest portion of the entire mass. If there is a grout joint at the location of the underlying crack, the crack will propagate through the joint and not the stone. If the crack forms under a slab and goes along the grain of the stone the crack will occur there. When stone and concrete are used in combination with materials that expand & contract at different rates there is a potential for a crack to form. Cracked slabs will continue to crack as they age which will propagate upwards even on a newly floated floor. As a result of these weakness we STRONGLY recommend that isolation barriers be installed underneath all stone floors, especially when expansion & contraction or existing cracks are expected to be a problem. Isolation membranes are extremely effective at preventing cracks from forming in our products. Since countertops, tub tops, etc. are installed upon cabinetry or an isolated structure with slightly flexible bonding materials, cracking is not an issue that must be taken into account. Please keep in mind that all stone and ceramic materials in this application share this problem and it is not unique to our products. Please consult with us for more information or advice on how to deal with unique problems your structure may have.

Do stone products contain VOCs? Are there alternatives?

Volatile organic compounds are a topic of increasing concern as their health risks have become known. The reason volatile organic compounds are a reason for concern is because they are extremely effective at penetrating barriers and they carry other substances with them. Many stages of our finishing processes use compounds that are technically classed as VOCs; basically any chemical that is made from organic (carbon containing) compounds that evaporates at room temperature is considered a VOC. The exact properties that make VOCs a subject for concern make them extremely useful for our processes. Because these compounds are volatile and penetrative, they quickly penetrate stone while carrying useful polymers, wetting agents and sealers and then very quickly evaporate. While the products are curing in our factory, the majority of the VOCs will out-gas, leaving very little of the compounds remaining once dry. Almost all materials, even treated natural ones, used in a new house will out-gas VOCs to a certain degree. While our materials will out-gas, it will do so much less than most glues, paints, sealants, synthetic materials, treated natural products and other materials used in the construction process. If you are especially sensitive to VOCS, we can substitute VOC based treatments with with water based compounds. However, while we have 50 years of experience in how traditional treatments will perform over time, we do not have long term data on water based compound performance.; so far results have been satisfactory but, we lack data to make solid guarrantee about future performance. Often, the VOC problem can be satisfactorily reduced simply by allowing the materials to cure longer before installation. Please contact us for material safety data sheets and for specific solutions that make our products suitable for individuals with VOC sensitivity.

Do stone products have a warranty?

Here at Loveless Stone & Tile, Inc. we are proud of the quality of our materials and craftsmanship and we warranty all of our products unless specifically noted otherwise. We will gladly repair any product defective in either workmanship or materials within a period of 1 year from the date of delivery and completion of said project. Ordinary wear and tear and unusual abuse or neglect not accepted under warranty, and products
must be maintained per our maintenance instruction. Exceptions to our warranty relate to clients using our materials in manners that we explicitly recommend against. Please contact us to learn more about our warranty and how it protects you.