&noscript=1 /> What is Natural Stone? Stone Definition & Types | StoneImpressions

As artisans of natural stone, we are often the go-to place for people who want answers to the following questions:

  • What is natural stone?
  • Why is natural stone unique? 
  • What are the different types of natural stone?

And these common inquiries make sensenatural stone is not a material that everyone is well-acquainted with!

So, today we are here to bring you up to speed on the natural stone information you need to know.

From definitions and makeup to application and categories, discover important natural stone facts, below! 


Natural Stone, Defined 

Natural stone refers to organic rock that is quarried from the earth and used for building or decorative purposes




What is Natural Stone Made Of?

Natural stone is an organic, solid composition made up of one or more minerals


How is Natural Stone Made?

Like all rocks on Earth, natural stone was formed thousands of years ago. 

After our planet originated, mineral gases filled the Earth. Over time, the planet cooled and those mineral gases condensed to form a solid mineral core and crust. 

Eventually, pressure, expansion, erosion, and heat morphed the Earth’s crust into enormous rock beds. Even now, some of those massive rock beds serve as the quarries from which we mine natural stone. 

The term stone not only references the material’s unique, natural makeup but also calls attention to its intended end-use. 

After being quarried, stones undergo sizing and shaping so they can be used in certain applications. For example, stones can be molded into paving stones, floor stones, wall stones, or decorative stone tiles once quarried.




Natural Stone Variation 

What truly makes natural stone beautiful is its inherent uniqueness.  

Stone is a product of nature, and because of this, no two pieces are entirely alike. 

Even though two pieces of stone might look quite similar on the surface, minute variations are present within the material that make each piece one-of-a-kind.

Variations may occur in the stone’s color, shade, veining, markings, texture, movement, or finish. 

If you see these kinds of variations in your natural stone do not be alarmed! Variations are not defects, but rather innate characteristics of the material that give it complex character and charm. 


Types of Natural Stone

There are a number of natural stone varieties, including:

The chart below outlines some of the most common natural stones used in building and design, along with their different properties:

Stone Type Picture Application Characteristics
Granite Granite Natural Stone
  • Kitchen countertops
  • Flooring
  • Heavy-use or heavy-traffic surfaces
  • Exterior cladding
  • Paving
  • Durable
  • Strong
  • Abrasion-resistant
Marble Carrara Marble High Veining Dark Veins
  • Countertops
  • Flooring
  • Fireplace facings
  • Walls
  • Windowsills
  • Tabletops
  • Vanity tops
  • Vanity backsplashes
  • Warm
  • Sophisticated aesthetic
  • Easy to maintain
  • Well-suited for wet areas
Sandstone Sandstone Natural Stone
  • Sills
  • Coping
  • Watertables
  • Exterior cladding
  • Exterior applications
  • Durable
  • High performance
  • Lower bending strengths


Quartzite Natural Stone
  • Kitchen countertops
  • Stairsteps
  • Wallcoverings 
  • Flooring
  • Roofing
  • Decorative applications
  • Formed from sandstone
  • Exceptional strength
  • Dense
  • Hard
  • Abrasion-resistant
  • Durable
Travertine tumbled unfilled light travertine
  • Decorative applications
  • Bathroom flooring
  • Shower walls
  • Powder room flooring
  • Kitchen backsplashes



  • Type of limestone
  • Acid-sensitive
  • Different finishes available (polished, honed, brushed, tumbled)
  • Variety of natural, earth tone colors
  • Not as hard as granite or as soft as marble
Limestone Limestone (Capri)
  • Kitchen backsplashes
  • Bathroom flooring
  • Shower walls
  • Powder room flooring
  • Decorative applications
  • Variety of natural, earth tone colors
  • Soft to the touch
  • Moderately durable
  • Resistant to mold and bacteria


What are Natural Stone Tiles? 

Now that we have covered the basics of natural stone, let’s turn our attention to natural stone tiles.

There are no surprises here; natural stone tiles are exactly what they sound like. They are stones that have been quarried from the earth and shaped into tiles used for building and design.

At StoneImpressions, we offer decorative, patterned tiles on a variety of natural stone tile bodies, including:

* Dappled and Linen textured surface tiles are recommended for vertical installations only.

Common Finishes

One thing you probably noticed in the list above is that several StoneImpressions’ tile bodies have descriptors like “tumbled” or  “honed” in front of them. These terms refer to the finish of the natural stone.

After they have been quarried, sized, and shaped, natural stone tiles can undergo additional processes to achieve a certain finish or final look. Some of the most popular finishes for natural stone tiles are:

Finish Characteristics Method
  • Shiny and reflective
  • Glossy and smooth
  • Highlights natural stone detail and beauty
Polishing occurs through repeatedly grinding and buffing the stone material using various technologies.
  • Elegante and soft matte or satin appearance
  • Smooth and slip-resistant
  • Muted and relaxed tone
Stones undergo a grinding and sanding process, which utilizes a micro-beveled edge, to achieve a smooth and matte, honed finish.
  • Rustic and antiqued appearance
  • Rough or weathered edges and material details
  • Slip-resistant
Stone material is placed into a barrel (or another tumbler) and mixed thoroughly until the desired tumbled finish is achieved.


We offer Made to Order natural stone art tiles and have the ability to create custom tile designs on any of our natural stone tile bodies. And, if you are up against a tighter deadline, we also offer a selection of in-stock decorative tiles through our quick-ship program: Artisan Stone Tile.

Explore our various tile collections today to gain inspiration for your next renovation or home project!

See our Different Natural Stone Options Installed

Avery - HR - Carrara - Jaclyn Hill - Bathroom Wall Vanity Close Up

The Avery Grande Tile on our Carrara Blanco


Aurum (Gold) Kitchen

The Aurum Tile in Gold on our Thassos


Sweden (Warm Grey) Kitchen Backsplash

The Sweden tile on our Limestone


Solana (Sand) on Honed Durango

The Solana tile on our Honed Durango


Cynara Mural Kitchen Installation. Still life mural

The Cynara Mural on our Tumbled Durango


Santos (Tan) Vanity

The Santos tile on our Dappled Limestone


Vecina (Charcoal) Perle Blanc Bathroom Wall

The Vecina Tile on our Linen Perle Blanc


Dana Point Pattern (persimmon) Perle Blanc bathroom install

The Dana Point tile on our Tumbled Perle Blanc


Cherry Blossom Mural Kitchen StoneImpressions

The Cherry Blossom Mural on our Luster Limestone

Stone Solid

From basics to characteristics, we hope this article solidified the foundations of natural stone for you.

Do you still have questions? Let us know in the comments below!

Or, feel free to explore some of our other blogs regarding the basics of natural stone, like how often you need to seal natural stone tiles or how to pick the perfect backsplash grout color.