How to Choose the Correct Limestone

As a natural product, limestone requires knowledge and understanding. Density, finish, and how a stone is quarried are all influences on final selection. The most common misconception about limestone is that it is a soft stone. In reality, limestone can range from very hard to very soft. It should be chosen specifically for how it will be used in the final design while still taking aesthetic preference into account.

A few benefits of limestone include:

  • Durability and sustainability
  • Temperature and humidity control
  • Various color tones that can complement bold architectural features
  • Easy to clean and maintain

Cour Puget le Louvres, Paris, France


ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials) classifies limestone in three categories:

Class I (Light Duty): Soft limestone best used for dimensional pieces and carving. Most buildings in Paris use these types of stone.

Class II (Medium Duty): These stones can be used in thin cladding and residential flooring as well as bath applications.

Class III (Heavy Duty): The French call these limestones “Pierres Marbrières,” or literally, marble-like limestones. Comparable in hardness and porosity to harder marbles, these stones can be used in heavy commercial traffic applications and countertops.

A good example of how the correct stone was chosen for the corresponding building application is Le Louvre in Paris. While the original building was built with soft limestone, Saint Maximim, the new interior extension is cladded in a medium duty stone, Magny Doré. Also, the new interior flooring is a heavy duty limestone from the Chassagne quarry in France and able to withstand the foot traffic of 8 million visitors a year.