How about teleporting to sandy dunes while savoring your morning coffee in the comfort of your kitchen? If that sounds appealing, you'll certainly appreciate the presence of a sandstone accent wall or a sandstone countertop. Sandstone slabs, available in shades of yellow, orange, grey, or red, resemble expansive paintings of sand dunes. For those raised in the North, they might evoke memories of the seashore, pine trees, and amber. On the other hand, if you hail from the South, you might sense the fragrance of desert winds in these vibrant hues.

As you may have surmised, sandstone is composed of minuscule grains of sand. Prior to becoming sandstone, these grains journeyed along rivers and danced in the desert winds. When nature allowed them to settle, these tiny grains rested in crevices and riverbeds. Over time, additional layers of sand grains accumulated and compressed, with minerals acting as a cement, binding them together. As the years passed, these sand piles transformed into sturdy rocks. The breathtaking arches, pillars, and other rock formations in the deserts are indeed pure expressions of sandstone.


Sandstone stairs

What makes sandstone unique?


Sandstone is easy to work, which makes it a convenient building and paving material. However, sandstone in exterior can darken and discolor from moisture. This beautiful natural stone was used to build temples in Ancient Egypt. The remnants of extensive sandstone quarries from the times of pharaohs can still be visited in Aswan today. The ancient city of Petra in Jordan stands as one of the world's most renowned sandstone masterpieces.


In terms of hardness, sandstone ranks between 5.5 and 7 on the Mohs scale. Its hardness can vary, depending on the composition of clasts and cement. Higher calcium carbonate content contributes to increased hardness and resistance to weathering. Likewise, lower porosity enhances sandstone's resistance. Pure quartz sandstone, containing over 90% quartz, exhibits impressive hardness and resilience, comparable to that of granite. Countertops and stairs crafted from such sandstone are hard, durable, and resistant to frost. 


Sandstone's slip-resistant nature makes it a popular choice for paving floors in damp environments like wet saunas, around swimming pools, and in both private and public outdoor spaces. It is highly advisable to seal sandstone, as its porosity can pose challenges for stain removal later on.

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How sandstone is formed


Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed of densely cemented sand grains, rock fragments, minerals and organic material. As sand settles and becomes buried in lakes, rivers, or deserts, minuscule minerals become trapped between particles, acting as a binding agent. The key cements that bind the grains together are calcite, clay and silica. Pressure plays a crucial role in the transformation of sand into stone. Once the sand grains cease to roll, additional layers accumulate atop them. With compression from above, the minerals between the grains gradually cement them together.


Mechanical compaction of sand grains occurs at depths of less than 1000 meters, while deeper depths involve chemical compaction. Chemical compaction occurs at the contact points between grains, where the pressure is most intense. Stressed minerals at these points are more soluble than the rest of the grain, leading to the dissolution and fusion of contact points. The strongest cementation of sandstone takes place at depths ranging from 2,000 to 5,000 meters.


Sandstone comes in a spectrum of colors, primarily yellow, red, brown, or grey to white, reflecting the variation in mineral content and cement. The grey and white sandstone grains are quartz, the black ones are particles of coal and shale and the brown hues arise from mottled clay minerals. Some sand particles have an organic origin, like crushed shell fragments. The presence of impurities lends the sandstone its varied shades and patterns, with slabs exhibiting tones ranging from grey, yellowish, orange, brown to even black. In certain deserts, abundant iron oxide imparts a red hue, while the presence of manganese results in a purple tint.


Sandstone formed in the depths is eroded by river currents and exposed by desert winds. It typically features an opaque, rough surface. The primary components of sandstone are quartz and feldspar, with their proportions influencing hardness and resistance to weathering. If sand particles are deposited near the original weathering rock, the sandstone composition mirrors that rock. The greater the distance between the source rock and the sand accumulation deposit, the more the composition undergoes changes.


Tere are three main types of sandstone:

  • Arkose Sandstones: These sandstones have a significant shale content (>25%) and share properties similar to granite. Arkosic sandstones contribute to the formation of desert arches and picturesque columns.
  • Quartz Sandstones: Comprising a high proportion (>90%) of quartz, these sandstones are also referred to as ortho quartzites or beach sand. They showcase a dominance of quartz in their composition.
  • Lithic Sandstones: Characterized by a notable presence of clay or silt content, these sandstones are also known as grey stones or bluestones.

Where sandstone is found


Sandstone is prevalent across the globe as one of the most common types of sedimentary rock. The sand that forms sandstone is transported by river currents, waves and wind. Common locations for sand deposition include intercontinental basins and ditches along the edges of continents. Deserts, in particular, are abundant of sandstone. Notable occurrences of red sandstones can be observed in the USA, England, Wales, Central Europe, and Mongolia. Egypt boasts extensive sandstone quarries dating back to the time of the pharaohs. Specific colors of sandstone are often strongly associated with particular regions.

How sandstone is quarried


Sandstone is extracted through traditional drilling techniques and the use of explosives. The process involves creating parallel vertical and horizontal channels into the deposit using specialized machines to separate large sandstone chunks. Wedges are then driven into these channels to effectively split the blocks. Following the controlled blasting, front-end loaders lift the sandstone blocks onto trucks for transportation to warehouses. For precise cutting, large blocks are shaped with diamond chainsaws, some of which are several meters long, or through the use of diamond wires. Additionally, water jets are employed as a cutting method in the extraction process.


sandstone properties

  1. Porous, absorbs water
  2. Hardness on the Mohs scale 5.5-7
  3. Moderately resistant to weathering
  4. More sensitive than granite
  5. High humidity can cause colour change
  6. Not scratch resistant
  7. Requires sealing

What is sandstone used for?


Kitchen worktops

Bathroom vanities

Interior and exterior walls

Pool decoration






Fireplace surrounds

Window sills

Window niches

How to clean sandstone


Sandstone is a highly porous stone, which makes it susceptible to staining. Without proper sealing, it may quickly absorb liquids and undergo discoloration. Sealing is a crucial maintenance step not only for sandstone, but for all types of natural stone. A high-quality sealant should be applied to the surface to prevent staining caused by liquid absorption.


To maintain sandstone worktops, window sills and furniture tops, use warm, soapy water for cleaning, ensuring thorough drying afterward. While cleaning, observe whether water soaks into the sandstone or remains on the surface. If it absorbs, it's time to reseal the stone. Avoid using household cleaners on sandstone unless specifically designed for natural stone. Acidic cleaners can corrode the stone, potentially altering the worktop's color permanently.


Prevent leaving water on the sandstone surface, as it tends to gradually absorb. While most liquids can stain sandstone, substances like red wine, fruit juices, and coffee pose a particular risk. For stubborn stains on sandstone worktops, create a cleaning paste by mixing 2 tablespoons of sodium bicarbonate with a few drops of water. Apply the paste to the stain, wait a few minutes, and then wipe it off with a soft brush.


Sandstone is a popular choice for driveways, patios, decks, and other paving projects, because it is easy to care for. Wall cladding doesn't require premium detergents or strong chemicals for maintenance. Exposure to chemicals and acidic solutions should be avoided, as they can lead to discoloration and accelerated deterioration. A mild detergent or warm water is sufficient to rinse the wall and preserve its appearance.


When dealing with outdoor terraces, stairs, and facades made of sandstone, bleach can be used to clean lichens and algae. Mix equal parts of bleach and water, and apply the solution on sandstone surface. Leave it there for 30 minutes, and then rinse with a hose and brush. Avoid using high-pressure water streams, as they may damage the stone.

sandstone examples in interior and exterior

How sandstone differs from limestone?

  1. Sandstone is a silicate rock composed mainly of quartz. Other minerals present include clays, hematite, feldspar, amphiboles, and zeolites.
  2. Limestone, on the other hand, is a carbonate rock formed from carbonate minerals.
  3. Limestone forms in clear ocean water, while sandstone results from sediment washed down from continents.

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