Does Your Stone Need Polishing?

Natural stone counters and floors are more popular today than ever before. Stone has a beauty and durability that is unmatched by other materials on the market, which may be why so many homeowners choose to install it in their homes. Stone comes in several different finishes, but by far the most popular is the polished finish. Polishing creates a mirror-smooth finish on the top surface of the stone, allowing it to reflect light, while deepening its color. There are times when stone can lose its polish, however, if it comes in contact with acids or abrasives. There may be other times when the stone may not have been installed correctly, and grinding and polishing can fix some problems. Not all stones will benefit from being polished, however, so before you schedule a polisher or purchase a DIY kit, it helps to determine if your stone does need to be polished.

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First, determine what type of stone it is. Granites and marbles hold polishes well, but some limestones, travertines, and slates do not. It may be that you are attempting to polish a stone that can only hold a high hone or light sheen at best, rather than a high gloss finish.

Next, look at all areas of the stone. Does it have a polish anywhere? In corners, closets, edges, or anywhere not in common use. If not, it may be that the stone was never polished and is meant to have a honed or matte finish. If this stone is a granite or marble, it can be polished, but likely the look of the stone will be dramatically changed, which may not always be advisable for the style you’re after. If the stone is matte in some places, but polished in others, then having the floor ground down and repolished makes sense.

Finally, take a look at the stone from different angles. If you have tiles that are sticking up at the corners, then grinding and polishing may help correct this. If the stone has numerous pits and fissures, polishing may help to hide them.

Finally, some sealers have a shine enhancing quality to them. You may want to test out a topical sealer that can temporarily polish your stone to see how it looks before you go through the process of having your stone refinished. While stone can be ground down and polished several times, you are essentially wearing away at its top layer, so it’s a good idea to take a long-term approach to its finish.

Make sure your stone needs polishing before you go through with it to get the best possible results for your floor or counter.

 

Is Green Marble Really Marble?

In the world of commercial stone, it’s common to group large numbers of stones with similar characteristics together under a single label. For example, gabbros and dolomites are frequently labeled as granites, because they share a lot of common minerals and patterns with true granite. This can get a little confusing if you’re looking for a specific stone that will hold up well in particular circumstances. One such confusion surrounds the group of stones known as “green marble”.

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While there are a few types of calcium based marble that are also green – Cippolino and Verde Antigua – the vast majority of green stones that are called marbles, are actually serpentine. Serpentine is a group of minerals made of mostly magnesium silicate. Serpentines are usually green, but may vary in tone from nearly black to yellow, and may have some amount of white veining throughout their surface. Some studies carried out on green marbles used in architecture discovered that most of stones labeled as marble, but green in color contained 75 to 90% serpentine, with little or no calcite at all.

The benefit of using a serpentine is the fact that’s actually more durable than true marble. Serpentine is not reactive to acids, for example, which means that you can use one as a kitchen counter and not have to worry about etching.

On the other hand, however, serpentine does not react well in wet environments. The stone gets its name from the scaly pattern that often emerges on the surface of the stone. This is known as spalling, and can get worse when the stone absorbs moisture. Therefore, green marbles should always be installed using an epoxy-based setting material, and should either be sealed well or kept out of extremely wet area, such as steam showers, all together.

While most green marbles out there aren’t truly marble, they are still beautiful, durable stones that can enhance any area you install them in. Take care to install and care for them properly to help them last as long as possible.

Polishing or Honing Your Stone

There are many finishes available for stone tiles and countertops. Depending on the stone you’ve chosen, it may be available in a polished finished, a honed finish, or a high-hone finish with a light sheen. Some people may have some misconceptions about these finishes, however, and may therefore hesitate to use one or the other or may choose a finish that doesn’t complement their home the way they thought.

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In terms of maintaining your stone, there is no difference between polished and honed finishes. Some people may mistakenly believe that a polished stone is more durable, or that it may require less sealing or resist scratches more. Some polished stones may reflect light better than others, which can hide or disguise scratches better than a honed stone will, which is what may lead to this confusion, but both types of finishes will require the same care.

For some softer stones, such as marble, which can etch or dull when it comes in contact with an acid, honing may help to disguise this better than polishing. For example, a Carrara marble counter may look better longer when honed, because etch marks may fade into the overall finish more easily, while the same counter when polished may have more obvious etch marks.

Stones that have a very granular surface or that have a lot of mica in their surface may not hone as well as stones with a more regular surface texture. This is because polishing reflects light off of surface irregularities, such as pits and natural fissures, while honing may expose them. So, stones such as Labrador Antique may look better polished than they will honed.

If your stone doesn’t have these issues, then polishing or honing may be a more personal choice. Honed stones have a softer, more natural appearance to them, which makes them a good fit for some Country and Farmhouse style kitchens, while polished stones look better in more traditional and formal spaces. Either way, your stone counter or tile is sure to give you many years of beauty and use anywhere you install it within your home.

The Beauty of Breccia Marbles

Most people associate marbles with classic veining patterns, often in light, cool colors. Some people may also associate marbles with some of the more wild and varied stones that have become popular of late, such as Verde Luna or Sahara Gold. One type of stone that is often overlooked, however, is the breccia. Often called a marble, this sedimentary stone has a unique beauty all its own that fits in well with many of today’s styles and designs.

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A breccia is any type of sedimentary stone made up of large chunks or pieces of other stones. The pieces are usually angular, creating a unique matrix of fractured lines and pieces cemented together. The result is a polished stone with a fractal beauty very different from traditional marbles or other sedimentary stones like limestone.

There are several different breccias to choose from for the home in either tile or slab form. The most common and popular of these is Breccia Oniciata, which is a pale pink stone with tones of white and beige, and a mixture of large and small fractals.

Other stones include Breccia Sarda, which is composed of many pieces running in long, thin lines. A floor laid in Breccia Sarda may almost resemble wood, with a grain that runs cleanly across the space. Breccia Diana is made up of smaller pieces that form larger layers within the stone. It’s often cut so that these layers are apparent, giving a lot of interest and dimension to the stone.

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Breccia Aurora is similar in color and pattern to Breccia Oniciata, with many shades of pink, peach, and beige mixed together in large blocks of color. Occasionally, the stone also features a white, marshmallow vein running through the pieces as well.

Breccias are a unique stone that’s different from both classic marbles and limestones. They add depth and interest to any area they are installed in, and come in a wide range of light colors. Consider installing a breccia in your home to capture the beauty for yourself.

 

Italian Marble

 

Marble is one material for the home that never goes out of fashion. Whether it’s polished, honed, or tumbled, marble has a beauty and character that is unmatched by anything else. And for homeowners that want additional history, interest, and beauty for their homes, there’s nothing quite like Italian marble.

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Italy has long been famous for its marble quarries. Carrara marble is one of the most easily recognizable types of stone around the world. With its soft gray background and deeper gray veins, most people can tell Carrara marble at a glance.

Other Italian marbles are just as beautiful and just as easily recognizable as well. From Calacatta to Bianco Venatino, Italian marble is some of the oldest and most well-known materials for use in and around the home.

Italian marble is often considered vastly superior to other stones quarried from around the world. This is due in part to the purity of the marble. Italian marbles often have fewer fissures and pits, truer colors with less impurities to dull or darken the stone, and many Italian marbles that have been used in sculpture and architecture for centuries are still just as beautiful today as they were on the day they were created.

Italy was one of the first countries to streamline and perfect the process of quarrying marble. They’re standards for quality are also amongst the highest in the world, so when you buy Italian marble, you know that you’re getting a truly superior product with none of the weakness or issues that can be found in other stones. While marbles from other countries may come backed with fiberglass mesh to help strengthen and support them, Italian marble is able to stand on its own.

In fact, true Italian marble is so popular and rare, that’s often duplicated and substituted for by stones manufactured in China or Brazil. Always ask for the country of origin for the marble you buy for your home, to make sure that you’re getting the best quality material you can purchase.

 

 

Contemporary Stone Hearths

Fireplaces add a lot of value to a home. They’re the place everyone likes to gather, and can be the focal point of a room’s design. And for many people, there’s nothing like having a natural stone surround, mantel, or hearth for your fireplace to really make this area come to life. Over time, however, fireplace designs have become more contemporary, especially as things like inserts and gas stoves have become more popular. To this end, some people may wonder if they can still have the beauty of natural stone, but in a way that complements their more modern sensibilities. There are several ways that you can use stone to get a contemporary look for your fireplace, and one of them is through the stone you use on the hearth.

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The hearth is the area that sits just in front of the firebox, extending out past the surround on either side. This area must be fireproof to help prevent escaping embers from causing a danger to the rest of the floor and home. So, it makes sense that a material like stone will be used on this area.

There are many ways that you can get a contemporary looking hearth that are perfect for drawing attention to the area.

One way is to use a slab of an exotic stone as the hearth. A slab hearth is slightly raised from the rest of the floor, giving the fireplace a more substantial look. And a slab hearth made of a stone like onyx will not only draw the eye during the day, but will glow when the fire is lit at night.

Another type of contemporary slab may be to use something a little more rustic and roughly hewn for the hearth. Think a large slab of slate or bluestone that has more natural edges and contours, rather than a polished edge. This brings a more organic look to the hearth that can both complement and contrast more contemporary settings.

Finally, consider using polished stone mosaics on the hearth. Not only are mosaics beautiful and versatile, each one will catch the light from the fire separately, making your hearth sparkle when the fireplace is in use. Try a blend of different stones or use a decorative pattern of mosaics to draw the eye even more.

Natural stone can complement any style of home no matter where you use it. Consider a contemporary stone hearth to make the most of your fireplace.

Decorative Thresholds

It’s common for many people to use different materials for flooring throughout the home. The bathroom and mudroom may be tiled, for example, while a hardwood or carpet is used elsewhere. When this type of transition from one flooring material to another occurs, a transition strip or threshold of some kind is needed to bridge the gap. For many people, marble makes the ideal threshold; it’s beautiful, durable, and works well with most types of tile and hardwood. The most common marbles for use on threshold tend to be Bianco Carrara, and occasionally Botticino or Crema Luna. These are not the only marbles that can be used as a threshold, however; consider creating a decorative transition between rooms with a unique stone.

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A threshold is a marble or granite slab that is cut down to approximately 4- to 6-inches wide, made to fit into doorways between two materials. They can help hide a gap in height between the two floorings, and make an easier transition.

So, while it’s easy to find precut thresholds in Carrara or another common stone, it’s also easy to have a stone cut for you to add a little extra color and interest to a room.

For example, if you’re creating a blue and white, beach-themed bathroom, a threshold made of Blue Celeste would make a lovely complement to the rest of the room. Or, if you are using a variety of shades of green in the room, a threshold made of Verde Luna could make a stunning accent as it transitions into the room.

To find the ideal threshold for your use, pay a visit to your local stone yard, and ask to see any remnants, or small pieces left over from other jobs. Because you may need to purchase more stone than you actually need to do the job, it helps to select a smaller section. Anything left over can be used as a cutting board, cheese tray, or window ledge.

Having a decorative threshold can add a little pop of color or interest where you least expect it. Consider using a more decorative marble in this area to make the whole room come alive.

Non-Water Based Setting Materials and Natural Stone

As natural stone grows in popularity and more homeowners choose to use it in their homes, more so-called issues are beginning to come up surrounding the installation. Some of these issues are happening due to the concurrent rise of DIY homeowner installation, while others come from installers switching from man-made tiles to stone for the first time. Many of these same issues can be fixed by switching to non-water based setting materials.

Some of the most common problems that occur with a natural stone installation are adhesive show-through, and picture framing where a darker band appears around the outside edge of the tile after it’s been installed or grouted. Both issues may be temporary, but both are also entirely avoidable.

In both cases, the problem is due to the porous nature of the stone. Natural stone absorb water on contact, particularly when it comes in contact with this moisture for an extended amount of time. So, when a very porous material, such as limestone, is installed using a back-buttering method with a water-based setting material, some of that water may be absorbed into the stone itself. This will result in the stone darkening in the areas where the setting material came in contact. Sometimes this issue resolves after the stone has dried. If the stone was sealed during installation, however, it may trap the moisture within the stone, leaving the darkened areas intact.

Picture framing occurs when a water-based grout is used around the perimeter of the stone; the stone absorbs the moisture around the perimeter, causing it to darken. Sealing the top of the stone is not sufficient to stop this problem, as the grout may enter from the edges or even the back of the stone.

The best way to correct these issues is to prevent them from happening. In this case, the use of non-water based setting and grouting material. Epoxy thinset and grout or silicone based materials may be the best choice, as they will not be absorbed by the stone.

While these materials may be more difficult to work with at first, using them will help ensure that the stone maintains its beauty. Consider using a non-water based setting material for all installation of natural stone to avoid these common issues in the future.

The Growing Popularity of Neutral Granite

Granite countertops in kitchens is a lasting trend that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Granite is beloved of builders and homeowners alike for its beauty and durability in the kitchen. Granite color trends do come and go, however, with wild granites being more popular over the last few years. Times are changing, however, and today’s more popular granites tend to be those in the neutral category.

It seems as though many people profess to have strong feelings about neutrals. Some people claim to love them, while others want anything but. And this may be why neutral-colored granites are gaining in popularity across the country; even the most neutral-toned granite is still filled color and interest.

With a shade of taupe being picked as 2017’s Color of the Year, it makes sense that homeowners are going to shift toward other neutral colors as well. Neutrals on areas such as walls and counters give you a lot of options for introducing color in other areas of the room. And with neutral granites, you get not only the look of a neutral, you also get a built-in color palette to work with for those other colors.

Many “beige” or “tan” colored granites contain a wealth of other colors within them. For example, Santa Cecilia, which is one of the more popular neutral granites around, contains numerous other shades of cream, brown, gold, and even cranberry in its surface. At a glance, it appears perfectly bland, but get closer and you can find a full range of other colors you can use to accent the room with, creating a beautiful, cohesive interior design that is anything by boring.

This two-in-one color scheme allows neutral granites to have a nearly universal appeal; prospective home buyers who like color or who shy away will find something to love in these counters, making neutral granites a popular option from a resale perspective.

Take a look at neutral granites for your kitchen to get in touch with this growing trend.

Marble and Granite Table Runners

A trend has been developing at weddings and events to use large slabs or wood or stone as the runner on a table, rather than a traditional cloth. The slab allows you to create height and interest on the table by elevating things placed on it, while also adding color and depth to the table at the same time. The trend is becoming so popular, in fact, that many people are beginning to use these runners in other places as well, such as at holiday tables. A marble or granite runner can make a beautiful centerpiece for your table, while protecting the wood or cloth beneath from hot dishes at the same time.

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A slab runner is essentially a piece of material about 3cm thick cut to approximately 12-inches in width and 4 to 5 feet in length. The runner may have finished or raw edges depending on the style you’re looking for, and can also be irregular in shape. Anyone who is purchasing a granite counter for their kitchen may request to have the leftover material cut into runners to use on nearby dining room tables to create a cohesive look.

Even if you are not having a granite or marble counter or table made, you can still use a stone runner for your table. Many stone yards have small remnants or leftover pieces of stone that you can purchase for this use. You may have to pay a cutting or polishing fee if you want the edges finished, but raw edges can also work as well.

When looking for a stone for your runner, consider one that has a polished finish, as well as a lot of movement or color. You want the runner to be an eye-catching centerpiece for the table, so look for stones that have colorful veins or streaks you can use to coordinate your place settings with.

Use your runner to display candles or flowers, or set serving dishes on it that are too hot to be placed directly on the table. However you use it, a stone runner is sure to be a unique and interesting focal point for your meal.

Granites to Pair with Taupe

As 2016 comes to a close, Sherwin-Williams has announced their new choice for the 2017 Color of the Year. This year’s choice – Poised Taupe – gives a nod to the popularity of colors such as gray and greige over the last five years. Warmer than a true gray, however, Poised Taupe is a perfect blend of cool grays and warm browns, making it a natural choice as a neutral for homeowners that want a versatile color for any room of their homes.

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Because Poised Taupe could work with either cool or warm colors in the home, the choice of accents is nearly endless. If you’re looking for a granite to pair with Poised Taupe for your kitchen or bath, consider one of these options:

Gold and Silver granite is the perfect choice for homeowners that want neutrals, but with a little dramatic flair at the same time. Combining both deep golden brown and gray in one stone, this granite will up your neutrals to the next level.

Golden Beach is a more subtle granite that will still bring in a lot of rich brown tones as well as a gray background. This granite will pair perfectly with Poised Taupe, while allowing you to bring in numerous other tones as accents.

If you’re looking for a granite that will match the color of the year nearly perfectly, consider Kayrus. While the veining of this stone is wild and variable, the color is on point for this year’s trend.

For those that want to introduce some color to the room through their granite, while still working well with taupe, consider Fusion. This deep green granite has a lot of gold and brown running through it, allowing it to pair beautifully with this neutral paint color.

For those that would like a more subtle amount of color, consider Persia Green, which is a gray stone with a faint green cast to it.

With a warmer neutral the new color of the year, the possibilities are endless. Match it with any of these granites to make a statement in your home.

The Best Stone Floors for Bathrooms

Stone flooring is one of the most popular materials for use throughout the home, including in the bathroom. Many people worry, however, about using natural stone in a damp environment like the bath. And while it is true that in some cases stone may etch or stain if used or cared for inappropriately, there are many other instances when natural stone can be the perfect flooring for the bathroom.

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The key in using natural stone in a damp area, is understanding when and where problems may arise. For example, using a polished marble on the floor of a bathroom used by young, potty training children may result in etch marks on the floor due to the acids in urine. For homeowners in cases like these, a honed stone may be the better fit. Likewise in the shower area; people who like to dye their hair dark or funky colors may find that a light colored marble or limestone floor will absorb the color over time, while a dark granite floor holds up better.

With these few examples aside, however, natural stone can make a great flooring for the bathroom area. Stone is naturally slip resistant due to the many pores on its surface. Impregnating sealers used to help keep the stone from staining also increase slip resistance, making stone a great choice for slippery areas.

Stone is also extremely versatile, working well in a number of bathroom styles, such as:

  • White Thassos quartzite on the flooring of an all-white bath
  • Blue Celeste quartzite for a water-themed room
  • Black and white octagon and dot marble mosaics for a retro bathroom
  • Silver travertine for an exotic or spa themed bath
  • River stones for spa and Zen-style bathrooms
  • Verde Luna for a wild, contemporary bathroom done in natural colors

In addition, all white marbles work particularly well in small bathrooms, keeping the area light and visually open.

If you’re looking for a beautiful, versatile flooring for your bathroom, consider natural stone to do the job.