Hello, readers! Welcome back to the Stonehouse Countertops blog! We’re pleased you’ve chosen Stonehouse Countertops for everything you need to know about custom countertop materials. We provide comprehensive deep dives into various aspects of the design and installation process, as well as helpful tips for choosing the best material for your home. Our goal is to equip you with the information you need to commission the perfect countertops! Stonehouse Countertops carries an array of granite, marble, quartz, quartzite, soapstone, silestone, limestone, travertine, onyx, glass, sodalite, slate, and porcelain materials in its inventory. In addition to countertops, we offer fireplace surrounds, patios, floors, and walls. Whatever your design goals, we’re happy to help you achieve your unique vision!

Have you spotted any double kitchen islands? What about floating countertops? No? Well, let’s just say you haven’t seen these emergent countertops trends yet, but mark your calendars. As we close out this year and plan for the next, designers and fabricators are already placing their bets for the most popular countertop trends of 2022. We took the time to scour the internet and compile a comprehensive list so you can stay in the loop about what’s coming next! While trends may be fleeting, they can provide us with a wealth of inspiration for our own unique design goals and kickstart our renovation dreams. We hope our most recent article does the same for you! If, after reading about upcoming countertop trends, you find yourself searching for someone to strategize your next renovation with—don’t hesitate to reach out! You can book your complimentary consultation with Stonehouse Countertops through our website! 

Today’s post will be a continuation of our All About series—a set of articles which shine a spotlight on the unique attributes of various stone materials. Our first post, ‘All About Marble,’ explored marble’s association with luxury, how its composition contributes to its luminosity, and how designers are pushing the limits on how marble can be used in residential and commercial spaces. Our second post, ‘All About Granite,’ recounted the interesting history of granite, how the stone’s versatility has been put to good use by designers across the globe, as well as how granite is graded. Our third post, ‘All About Quartz,’ served to complete the trifecta of the most popular stone countertop materials on the market. We explained the oft-misunderstood difference between quartz and quartzite, detailed the pros and cons of quartz, and quoted a few stone experts on what makes quartz a worthy investment. Our most recent All About article delved into soapstone, a luxuriant, talc-based material. The All About series is everything you need to know to plan the next custom stone addition to your household or commercial space and we hope you’ll give these articles a read!

Today, we shift our attention to one of the most historically relevant stones in this entire series: limestone. This light, airy stone is considerably strong, which is why we’ll take a look at limestone’s composition and how the stone is formed. Next, we’ll delve into the storied past of limestone and its magnificent uses throughout history. Of course, we’ll consult the opinions of designers to give you a sense of how the experts wield limestone to craft luminous spaces. Finally, we’ll give you a quick rundown of the pros and cons of this material. Consider this your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about limestone. If you’re interested, read on! 

Composition

Limestone is composed of calcium carbonate, otherwise known as calcite. As a sedimentary rock, limestone forms from the accumulation of minerals over time. This can occur in one of two ways. The first method involves living organisms. Clams, mussels, coral and oysters all use calcium carbonate to form their shells. When these animals die, their bodies are dissolved by the constant motion of the waves. This calcium carbonate settles on the ocean floor and, after years of constant pressure, becomes the limestone we know and recognize. The alternative method involves evaporation. Water particles, containing trace amounts of calcium carbonate, leave the mineral behind when they evaporate. You can find such limestone deposits around the Great Lakes, in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. Limestone develops in a muted range of colors, including white, beige, yellow, and brown. The stone can have a fine, smooth texture or a coarser, rough texture, depending on how the original limestone deposit formed. Sometimes, when limestone deposits are subjected to massive amounts of heat and pressure, they transform into the metamorphic rock marble. Limestone ranks between a 2 and a 4 on the Mohs hardness scale, which may pale in comparison to the scores of granite or quartzite, but listen to this: Compared to concrete, which has a crushing strength of up to 40 MPa (megapascal), limestone boasts a crushing strength of up to 180 MPa. This indicates it would take about four-and-a-half times the strength to crush limestone as it would to crush concrete. How’s that for strength? 

History

As we’ve mentioned previously on this blog, limestone has been used by countless civilizations to honor deities, showcase architectural prowess, and immortalize prominent figures. Dating back as far as 7000 BCE Israel, limestone mortar has been used to make floors. The Great Pyramid of Giza, erected from the limestone deposits lining the Nile River, are among the most famous structures to ever use limestone. In 2560 BCE, an estimated 2.3 million limestone blocks were used to complete the monumental task. Limestone buildings characterized the Roman Empire around 300 BCE. The Romans added their own special twist by combining lime mortar with volcanic ash to create a highly-durable cement capable of setting in both air and water. The Great Tower of London was painted white with a lime mixture, and lime mortar was used to patch certain parts of the Great Wall of China during the 1300s. (We’re picking up on a “great” theme here.) More recently, in 1913, limestone was used to craft the facade for Casa Milà, a grand building in Barcelona. As the last design of the famous architect Antoni Gaudí i Cornet, this building represents a significant addition to the architectural history of Spain. Further, the structure is nicknamed “La Pedrera,” meaning The stone Quarry, in reference to its striking limestone front. The history of limestone is long and, perhaps more importantly, iconic. As you can infer, limestone possesses a certain grandeur. While marble may be conflated with wealth and luxury, limestone holds weighty connotations, no doubt passed down from its ancient past. 

Designers on Limestone

When Untitled, a design firm based in Canada, sought to create a home which balanced “traditional architectural forms with contemporary interventions,” they found themselves utilizing limestone. They wanted materials which would “age gracefully,” and these entailed limestone countertops and hearths, fir wood floors, and oak cabinetry. The designers noted a “softer interior language came to light” during the course of designing the house. “While a strong language of clean lines was maintained, the material palette was steeping in old-world traditions, which became a key design element.” In this way, Untitled designers were able to combine modern silhouettes, modular and geometric in its dedication to sharp lines, with softer materials, characterized by their “calm ambiance” and warmth. The designs crafted by Untitled, called the Still Life house, have been shortlisted for an award by Dezeen. 

Limestone can be used in a number of different design capacities, including (but not limited to): countertops, stairs, fireplace surrounds, patios, vanities, walls, and floors. In our article about patio stone, we went into detail about the qualities which make limestone a super-desirable outdoor material!

Pros and Cons

As countertops, limestone has many positives, but these positives have trade-offs. For example, while limestone is known for its elegant, timeless beauty, this stone material requires regular upkeep to maintain this beauty. The porous surface of limestone is susceptible to stain when left unsealed. Likewise, soapstone can be scratched or chipped if you aren’t careful. Limestone is sensitive to acids and therefore etching can occur when highly acidic substances are left on the surface of the countertop for too long. Limestone is not sensitive to heat, however, and can handle a pot fresh off the stone or a pan straight from the oven. Limestone is placed at a pretty affordable price point, too, compared to granite and marble. 

Do you suddenly feel as though limestone is the perfect material for you? We couldn’t agree more! Schedule a free consultation and we’ll discuss your ideas for your new kitchen, bathroom, patio, or other custom stone addition. At Stonehouse Countertops, we are willing and able to work with you to your specifications. We offer a wide range of different materials and always have someone on hand to answer your questions! Don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation or for help forming a plan. We want to ensure your vision becomes a reality! Until next time—thanks for reading!