European construction techniques were brought to America from the 1500s to the 1800s. Most buildings were less palatial in America, using local materials, including limestone and granite that were abundant in northern and midwestern areas of the country. When stone was available, it was often used for fireplaces. Stone was often used for the end walls of colonial houses known as Stone Enders. In places where trees were not available, stone was used for walls. Fireplaces were the focal point of early American houses. These rustic construction materials were used across North America as the land was settled in the 1700s and 1800s. The American use of stone bestowed a rustic aura to interiors and has remained a common design theme. Stone is often used for elements such as a fireplace or column cladding to achieve a rustic and natural atmosphere in an interior.
Igneous rock was formed by lava, molten magma, that went through cooling and crystallizing. Igneous rocks are generally the hardest, strongest, and most resistant to chemicals. Following are types of igneous rock.
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Granite: This igneous rock has crystals or grains of visible size, consisting of quartz and feldspar. Granite is normally specified as polished (mirror gloss) or honed (dull sheen). It is harder than marble and less susceptible to etching, making it difficult to scratch. It is often used for floors because it holds up well to foot traffic. It is also used for countertops because it can take heat up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Granite is found in Italy, Brazil, Peru, India, and in the northeastern and western mountains of the United States.
Serpentine: Erroneously called “green marble,” this igneous rock’s color ranges from yellow-green to golden-brown, or black. Serpentine consists of magnesium iron silicate hydroxide. In a fibrous form it is asbestos. Normally, serpentine is used in interiors rather than exteriors because it does not stand up well to water.
Malachite: This igneous rock varies in color from light to dark green. It is usually highly polished and used for accents such as fireplace trim. Malachite comes from Africa, Russia, Australia, and the United States.