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Limestone Facts and Best Applications

by Kevin Fritz

Posted on October 26, 2017 07:00:00 AM

We have all heard of limestone, a hearty and durable natural stone making a comeback with designers and homeowners.  What many people don’t realize is that limestone refers to both itself and a family of other gorgeous well-known natural stones, the most notable being marble, travertine, and onyx.


The one definitive similarity with all limestones is a high level of calcium carbonate in the form of the mineral calcite. It is the calcite that sets limestones apart from other popular natural stones like granite or slate. For some designers, limestone vanity tops and kitchen countertops are all the rage.


Jerusalem White Honed Limestone has beautiful beige, white and tan patterns throughout the stone



Marble is limestone that underwent great heat and pressure, creating a natural stone harder and more durable than its parent. Marble was the go-to material for stone masons for centuries for the construction of churches, monuments, and statues. Like all limestones, marble is susceptible to damage by foods, substances and inclement weather containing acids. The latter is why many gravestone markings have faded over time and why granite has become the more popular stone in cemeteries.


While granite and marble have become favorites for kitchens, those with busy homes may want to avoid a marble kitchen countertop. For less eventful kitchens, nothing compares to the beauty of marble.


While mostly associated with the color white, marble comes in many shades of rose, green, amber, brown and gray, and its slabs usually offer gorgeous veins moving across the stone. Fill your container with a diverse selection of marble slab colors.


Travertine differs from marble in that it is formed in a hot spring. The water movement erodes the travertine, which accounts for the pockmarks in the stone. Travertine, also called travertine limestone, should be offered filled or unfilled, the latter of which it has become popular for use on walls, floors, and building exteriors. Polished travertine will usually have its holes filled before delivery. Travertine is commonly tan or beige in color, but can also be found in silvers and reds.


Many people used to avoid travertine in the bathroom because of its porous look, but because travertine formed in water, a design planner would tell you it is actually perfect as a shower tile, bathroom vanity top or bathtub surround.


Onyx, also known as limestone onyx, form as colorful stalagmites and stalactites in caves. Known for the allure of its transparency, onyx is a type of marble with numerous thick veins running throughout. Translucent in appearance, onyx can be pricey, but if you want to make a statement, few stones have the dramatic impact on a room like onyx, especially if backlit.


Onyx comes in green, pink, red, honey gold, white, brown and other color mixes and can not only be found as kitchen countertops, bathroom vanity tops, bathtub surrounds, and backsplashes but as wine racks, lamps or as a pair of bookends.


Limestone is created by calcite from shells and other marine debris. Limestone lovers are enthralled by well-preserved fossil impressions found in the natural stone, leaving no doubt about its originality. And like marble, limestone is not simply white. The popular stone comes in several colors.  


Limestone is hardy, requires little maintenance and is quite versatile. Applications include floors, shower walls, bathtub surrounds, mantels and outdoor tabletops. Limestone vanity tops and kitchen countertops are an excellent option for those seeking something besides granite and marble. We don’t usually recommend this stone for the kitchen because due to its porous nature, it can etch and stain easily. But if you insist on putting this in your kitchen, we suggest being extra careful.