Rock Solid: The Pros and Cons of Stone

Carefully selected, stone is a durable, natural material for your home.

| November/December 2008

  • Soapstone sinks and countertops from Green Mountain Soapstone are easy to care for and won't stain or burn. Soapstone's style integrates well with both old-fashioned and modern kitchen designs.
    Photo Courtesy of Green Mountain Soapstone
  • Stone Forest's Bathtub 72, shown in blue-gray granite, can be made to order in a variety of colors.
    Photo Courtesy of Stone Forest
  • Stone Forest's SYNC system double sink, shown in multicolored onyx, is an elegant option for the bathroom.
    Photo Courtesy of Stone Forest
  • Woodstock Soapstone Company's sinks and countertops are made from sopastone quarried in Quebec, Canada.
    Photo Courtesy of Woodstock Soapstone Company
  • Best Stone for the Job
    By Misty McNally

Long valued for its strength and longevity, stone is a beautiful natural resource. But with stone countertops, floor tiles, sink basins and even walls surging in popularity, it’s important to consider just how eco-friendly this natural material really is.

Recent technology makes acquiring stone less stressful on the earth and more readily available across the nation. In the past, only a few places in the country could fabricate certain types of stone, which meant raw stone was shipped from the quarry to a fabricator, then shipped again to retailers. Today, most stone is locally fabricated, which means raw stone is sent directly to retail locations, where it is cut and sold to local consumers. Because shipping stone requires so much energy, make sure any stone you buy is fabricated locally.

“There is now technology available on the local level to fabricate hard stone,” says Chuck Muehlbauer, technical director for the Marble Institute of America. “Years ago, if you wanted granite countertops, there were only a few places in the country that could do it.”

Unlike carpet or synthetics, stone doesn’t collect allergens or offgas volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and it requires no harsh cleansers. Though most stone products for residential applications require a sealant, you can choose water-based, nontoxic options. 

Rock is certainly natural, but are granite countertops and limestone tub surrounds as green as they seem? Before choosing stone, factor the environmental costs and the potential assets. If you make careful choices, you can have eco-friendly stone that will last for decades.

Measure the environmental cost

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