- Granite is one of the hardest stones, and requires such different techniques to sedimentary stones that it is virtually a separate trade. With great persistence, simple mouldings can and have been carved from granite, for example in many Cornish churches and in the city of Aberdeen. Generally, however, it is used for purposes that require its strength and durability, such as kerbstones, countertops, flooring, and breakwaters.
- Igneous stone ranges from very soft rocks such as pumice and scoria to somewhat harder rocks such as tuff to hardest rocks such as granite and basalt.
- Marble is a fine, easily worked stone, that comes in various colours, but mainly white. It has traditionally been used for carving statues, and for facing many Byzantine and buildings of the Italian Renaissance. The first and most admirable marble carvers and sculptors were the Greeks, namely Antenor (6th century BC), Phidias and Critias (5th century BC), Praxiteles (4th century BC) and others who used mainly the marble ofParos and Thassos islands, and the whitest and brightest of all (although not the finest), the Pentelikon marble. Their work was preceded by older sculptors from Mesopotamia and Egypt, but the Greeks were unmatched in plasticity and realistic (re)presentation, either of Gods (Apollo, Aphrodite, Hermes, Zeus, etc.), or humans (Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Phryne, etc.). The famous Acropolis of Athens is said to be constructed using the Pentelicon marble. The traditional home of the marble industry is the area around Carrara in Italy, from where a bright and fine, whitish marble is extracted in vast quantities.
- Slate is a popular choice of stone for memorials and inscriptions, as its fine grain and hardness means it leaves details very sharp. Its tendency to split into thin plates has also made it a popular roofing material.
Many of the world’s most famous buildings have been built of sedimentary stone, from Durham Cathedral to St Peter’s in Rome. There are two main types of sedimentary stone used in masonry work, limestones and sandstones. Examples of limestones include Bath and Portland stone. Yorkstone and Sydney sandstone are most commonly used sandstone.