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When you think “natural stone home” you might have a particular look in mind. It might make you think of storybook cottages or even ancient castles. While stone has been a building material of choice for thousands of years, there’s no reason it has to look vintage. In fact, there are many options for natural stone to use on the interior and exterior of your new home.

Why Natural Stone?

Natural stone is durable and will last the lifetime of your home with minimal need for repair or maintenance. It’s expensive to install, but will add great resale value to your home. It’s also a great insulator and will keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer while saving you money on your utility bills. Most stone is fire resistant and also can stand against any kind of extreme weather it’s exposed to. It can also be beautiful: many people choose natural stone for their home exterior simply because they love the look.

Natural Stone Varieties

Here are the most commonly used types of natural stone used in home building today:

Sandstone – As the name suggests, sandstone forms when sand undergoes extreme amounts of pressure. A lot of designers and builders like working with this stone because it’s very easy to customize. You can chisel or break it into exact shapes and sizes needed for decoration or for wall coverage.

Limestone – Limestone is a popular building stone that people love for its unique look. It’s a porous stone which makes the surface easy to scratch, stain and weather. However, that’s one reason some designers prefer it. Using limestone on your house exterior will result in a beautiful “lived-in” aesthetic while remaining durable.

Travertine – Travertine is actually a type of limestone that forms in and around natural hot springs. It’s cream colored and has a specific texture with small cavities that look like speckles. The cavities make this type of stone more susceptible to moisture which is why it’s more frequently used for indoor surfaces with a protective finish.

Flint – Flint is another popular stone because it’s easy to work with and durable. Like sandstone, it can easily be cut and shaped to meet specific needs. However, it’s much harder and highly resistant to scratching. Flint has been a great option for construction ever since the Roman Empire and you can find many landmark cathedrals and churches built with flint in Britain and Europe. That said, it doesn’t require you to have a vintage look to your home. Many modern builders use flint today for home exteriors in a variety of styles.

Granite – Granite is a favorite for kitchen countertops, but also an excellent choice for exterior siding. It’s one of the hardest natural stones you can find, second only to famously indestructible diamonds. Granite has a unique grainy appearance made up of a variety of colors and also comes in different ‘main’ colors like pink, gray and brown. You can get granite polished or keep its coarse natural texture depending on the aesthetic you’re going for.

Marble – Marble is another natural stone you might have encountered indoors, either as flooring or countertops. It’s also commonly used on building exteriors. It has a naturally smooth texture that can be further polished to shine and reflect the light. Marble also comes in a range of colors and color combinations. It is a luxurious option with a price tag to fit: it’s one of the most expensive natural stones available for construction.

Artificial Alternatives

Natural stone can be a beautiful addition to any home interior or exterior for homeowners willing to pay more up front. While it is a very durable and long-lasting material, it is expensive both to purchase and install. Luckily, there are great alternatives including manufactured stone and even foam imitation stone. These options come with their own set of pros and cons, but are far more affordable. Make sure you take the artificial versions into consideration and the natural options in order to make the best decision for your home.