UNDERSTANDING NATURAL STONE'S POROSITY & PERMEABILITY
Natural stone countertops are popular because of their beauty and durability. You can choose from a variety of stones and colors to find the material that makes your kitchen look its best. You can also use natural stone in your backsplash or for your bathroom countertops.
Of course, natural stone must be treated and cleaned properly to retain its beauty. Two of the things that can impact your natural stone countertop’s appearance and durability are stone porosity and stone permeability. These two terms may be misunderstood and confused with one another. Here’s what you need to know.
WHAT IS STONE POROSITY?
Stone porosity is a measurement of the volume of pores in natural stone when compared to its total weight. It is most often expressed as a percentage.
Every type of stone has pores, which are simply spaces within the stone. Some types of natural stone have few pores and therefore, a low porosity. Quartz is an example because it is classified as a non-porous stone. Other stones, such as limestone, have high porosity.
Stones with high porosity are vulnerable to stains if they are left untreated. If you spill drinks or food on them and they haven’t been sealed, they may stain – and removing the stains can be difficult or impossible.
WHAT IS STONE PERMEABILITY?
Stone permeability is related to stone porosity. Permeability is a measurement of how easily water can move from one pore to another within natural stone.
Scientists use water to measure permeability because it flows naturally and will always try to fill pores in materials where they exist.
To understand how permeability works, let’s look at two materials: gravel and clay. Gravel is highly porous and permeable because each space between a piece of gravel is a pore that water can get into. Because the pores are large and close together, water can travel through it easily.
By contrast, clay has smaller pores. The spaces between larger pieces of clay will be filled in my smaller pieces, making it difficult for water to flow through it.
HOW DO POROSITY AND PERMEABILITY AFFECT NATURAL STONE COUNTERTOPS?
If you choose a natural stone for your countertops that has low porosity and permeability, then it is less likely that you’ll have issues with liquid seeping into the stone and staining it. A stone with high porosity and permeability will be more vulnerable to stains.
That said, every type of stone requires treatment to look its best. Let’s look at how some of the most popular countertop materials measure up in terms of porosity and permeability:
Quartz is non-porous and therefore resistant to stains.
Granite has low porosity and permeability. It is durable, but not as durable as quartz.
Marble has higher porosity than granite and is particularly susceptible to damage from acidic substances such as vinegar.
Limestone has high porosity and permeability, which means you’ll need to seal it regularly to ensure it doesn’t end up stained or damaged.
You can minimize the risk of stains by choosing a natural stone countertop with low porosity. As a rule, the price is higher for non-porous and low-porosity stone than it is for other options.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR NATURAL STONE COUNTERTOPS
If you have natural stone countertops in your kitchen, it’s essential to protect them by sealing them and treating them with a product that is safe and doesn’t contain any harsh or toxic chemicals.
The best sealing product for natural stone countertops is one that:
Contains no harmful or toxic chemicals
Is odor-free and contains no chemical fragrances
Will not harm children and pets
Ideally, you’ll be able to find a product that works on surfaces other than natural stone. Some multi-purpose cleaners and sealers also work on wood, plastic, tile, and even leather surfaces. Buying a multi-use product saves money and offers true versatility when it comes to protecting your home and belongings.
Natural stone countertops offer a durable solution to keep your kitchen or bathroom looking beautiful. The key to maintaining their natural beauty is to seal them with the best available non-toxic sealer to ensure that they don’t get stained or damaged over time.