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Sandstone vs Slate

When it comes to countertops, people look for various characteristics when selecting a surface material. In this article we will take a look at two materials that are found in the natural stone category. In comparing these two materials, we will consider some pertinent traits that make each of these surface stones appealing. We will also see how they compare to one another in this document putting sandstone vs slate.

Categories of Material

There are numerous materials used in the stone industry. Some countertop surfaces are made of natural stone materials and others are made of a material produced through technology and engineering. The latter is divided into two basic branches. That means there are three basic categories in total. These are; 1) natural stone, 2) engineered stone, and 3) sintered materials. You can read the categories in the article entitled: Three Main Types of Surfaces. Here though, we are going to look at two from the natural stone category. They are sandstone and slate.

A Brief Overview of Sandstone

Sandstone sports a name that is rich in meaning. Virtually anyone can would be able to guess the material from which it is derived. That's right! Sandstone is composed of sand particles. It is a sedimentary rock composed of sand particles that over time are compacted and heated to the point that they are bound into a single material. The individual particles (or grains) Thus contribute the composition of the resulting stone. If you want to explore the topic of sandstone countertops more deeply you can read about sandstone countertops.

Sandstone's Hardness

One of the key aspects of a material that consumers look at closely when making a buying decision is the hardness. Sandstone has a hardness that puts it on the upper end of the scale for measuring mineral hardness. This is primarily because of the amount of quartz that is in sandstone. The hardness of stone contributes to its scratch resistance. The scratch resistance, in turn, means longer lasting surfaces.At that is something that appeals to consumers.

Coloring Options as the Sands of the Seashore

Just as the minerals' properties determine the hardness of the stone, the particles that make it up form the basis for its color. Sand particles range from white to various shades of brown. In fact, there are also sand particles with red hues as well. Because sand varies in color, sandstone too forms in various colors. Sandstone colors include:

  • White
  • Cream
  • Beige
  • Pink
  • Red
  • Redish Brown

Color is important the consumer because it plays a role in the design.

Poring Over Sandstone's Stain Resistance

Sandstone's porosity varies from one stone to the next. Depending on how much heat and pressure it has been exposed to and for how long, the stone will be more or less porous. Sandstone that has been subjected to intense heat and pressure for long periods of time is well on its way to becoming natural quartzite and is much less porous than other sandstone. The porosity of a material affects the material's resistance to staining and is an important consideration for buyers.

So sandstone is a hard stone that is available in an assortment of colors with varying porosity.

Slating Way for Our Discussion

We will now look at the other contender in our consideration of sandstone vs slate. Slate is an intriguing stone that has qualities which differentiate it from many other natural stones. Here is how slate is defined on Wikipedia:

Slate is a fine-grained, foliated, homogeneous metamorphic rock derived from an original shale-type sedimentary rock composed of clay or volcanic ash through low-grade regional metamorphism. It is the finest grained foliated metamorphic rock. Foliation may not correspond to the original sedimentary layering, but instead is in planes perpendicular to the direction of metamorphic compression.

For geologists, that definition may be a good description, but for the average person a description of the properties of slate may be more helpful.

A Hard Look at Slate

Like many natural stone materials, slate varies in its hardness. In fact, slate can range anywhere from 3-6 on the hardness scale for minerals. And there have been some cases where slate that registered at 7 was found. As mentioned above then, slate is a scratch resistant stone if you are able to get the material that is in the 5 to 6 range for hardness.

Color Variations of Slate

Since the mineral content affects the color of the stone in the long run, slate too forms in various colors - although most of the time it is a grayish color with a hint of hue. Slate forms in the following colors:

  • Gray
  • Black
  • Green
  • Blue

The material is versatile too. It can be used for a variety of applications. In fact, around the home and other places slate has been used for:

  • Countertops
  • Patios
  • Stairs
  • Roofing
  • Cladding
  • Flooring
  • Chalkboards
  • Billiards Tables
  • Landscaping & Hardscaping

As you can see from the list above, slate offers functionality that makes it good for a variety of uses.

When it Rains it Doesn't Pore

As we just looked at in the previous paragraphs, slate is useful for a range of applications. Perhaps one of the the most intriguing is the use of this stone as a roof covering. That's right, slate has been use for roof tiles for a very longtime and it makes a long lasting and durable material for shingles. This is because the grain of slate is so fine and it is so tightly packed that it is virtually non-porous. True it does have pores, but the absorption rate of the stone is so low it can be used for roofing tiles without fear of it holding too much water to become too heavy. Again, absorption plays a role in the stain resistance of a surface.

Comparing Slate and Sandstone

So how do our two natural stone materials stack up to each other? Both are considered to be hard stones. Both are available in a nice assortment of colors, although sandstone could be considered to be mostly light colors and slate the contrasting darker colors. And as for the porosity, slate is somewhat non-porous and sandstone varies but some of it is very low in porosity. Here is a table that summarizes the comparison of sandstone vs quartz:

Point of Comparison Sandstone Slate
Color Various light colors (white, cream, beige, tan, brown, reds) Various dark colors (gray, black, green, blue)
Hardness (Mohs Scale) 6 5-6
Scratch Resistance High Medium-Medium High
Periodic Treatment Natural Stone Sealer Natural Stone Sealer

Whether you are dealing with natural slate countertops or the sandstone variety, each material brings some strong positive points to the table. Knowing the reasons why each material appeals to consumers is beneficial in working on or owning a given surface.

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