Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Different Looks of Stone on a Backsplash

Natural stone has a wide range of colors, styles, and finishes. This means that it can also complement a wide variety of spaces. In a kitchen that has granite, marble, or soapstone counters already installed, adding a natural stone backsplash is one way to create a cohesively appealing design.

Any form of stone is suitable for installation on a kitchen backsplash. While care might need to be taken into consideration with some softer stones like marble or limestone on a counter area, the backsplash doesn’t get a lot of use. Very soft stones, exotic stones, or stones with a lot of holes and fissures can all be used in this area without worry.

Because stone comes in so many different styles and finishes, one can be found to complete any kitchen. Very contemporary kitchens, for example, may want to extend the slab counter up the backsplash areas, covering particularly sensitive areas, such as behind the stove, with a stainless steel sheet to protect them.

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More transitional and traditional kitchens have a lot of different options for using stone in the backsplash area. Stone mosaics, which come in a number of different colors and color blends, can be found in both tumbled and polished finishes, so they will fit into nearly any area.

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Tumbled marble backsplashes are also a good option for some kitchens. While the use of this type of stone was fairly ubiquitous several years ago, it can still be made contemporary and appealing by mixing in etched or painted stone tiles to give the look of a design or pattern to the space.

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Kitchens with a more Country or Cottage feel can make good use of honed or polished marble subway tiles. If marble is also used on the counters, using the same stone on the backsplash helps to make the entire space look bigger than it actually is.

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Natural stone has so many different looks and styles that it’s impossible not to find one that will complement a kitchen design. To complete any space, look to stone to get the job done.

Water-jet Medallions

For foyers, entryways, and other open areas a focal point helps keep the flooring from looking too plain. While laying a pattern on the floor can be a nice option to bring some interest to the area, one of the most striking – and easiest – ways to dress up the floor is to use a water-jet medallion.

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Water-jet medallions are large decorative accents made up of several pieces of cut stone fitted together. The designs are often fairly intricate, and may use several different colors of stone within one piece. Each piece of stone is cut using a water jet guided by a computer, which gives the precise edges and lines needed to fit the different pieces together so tightly. The result is a work of art perfect for installing anywhere on the floor.

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Water-jet medallions are typically pieced together with epoxy, rather than grout, to give them the most seamless appearance. The stones are fitted together so tightly that the gap between them is often indiscernible with the naked eye.

The entire medallion is laid as one piece onto the floor. It can be mortared into place using thinset the same way that other stone tiles are, and the edges of the medallion can be grouted or caulked where the meet the rest of the floor to create a seamless installation.

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While most medallions are made of stone, they can be installed in a field of nearly any material. This includes installing them in the center of a wood floor, as well as using them with porcelain, ceramic, or terracotta tile floors as well.

Most medallions are made to order, which allows for customization of the colors and placement within the design. This gives homeowners the chance to create a truly unique piece of art perfect for enhancing their entryway, stairwell, or foyer. When faced with a large area that needs definition, consider using a medallion done in water jet cut stone as the focus.

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Types of Edges for Countertops

Make sure your countertop completes your kitchen or bathroom design by having the edge finished to match.  Slab counters can be crafted with a number of different decorative edges that are perfect for a variety of different settings.

The eased edge is the most popular and frequently used edge type. This square edge has a slight rounding at the top that helps ease it around the corner, rather than making a sharp 90-degree turn. Eased edges work well in contemporary settings, as well as in rooms that already have a lot of detail going on.

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Bullnose edges are rounded, curved edges that add a little more to the countertop’s design. A bullnose edge has a soft, subtle appearance that helps it blend in well with transitional designs.

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Ogee edges are one of the most decorative types of countertop styles. An ogee has a delicate stepping or molding to the edge of the counter, giving it a more formal appearance that works well in traditional settings.

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Chiseled edges are popular for more rustic and spa-setting designs. A chiseled edge has a rough, fractured appearance that enhances the effect that the counter is made of stone and reveals some of the stone’s natural crystalline structure.

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When the slab used on a countertop is thin – roughly 3/4-inch in thickness – the edge of the counter can be built up to give it a more substantial appearance. Built edges have a second piece of stone epoxied to the bottom of the counter’s natural edge, then the entire piece is carved into the finished edge.

Built edges can also be used for thicker counters to give a truly beefy look to the finished product. A built edge can be carved into any edge treatment from ogee to chiseled, so this method can be used in a variety of different settings.

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No matter what type of stone counter you get for your kitchen or bath, make sure the edge matches the rest of your surroundings to complete its look.

Patterns for Stone Flooring

Classic patterns work well with nearly all types of stone. Classic patterns typically involve using two colors of stone in combination. One way to do this is to use two colors of stone of the same size and shape in a checkerboard pattern. Turning the tiles on a diagonal enhances this pattern, while using non-traditional colors – rather than the traditional black and white – helps give it a modern look.

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Another classic pattern involves cutting a smaller tile into the corners of four larger tiles. This can be done in three different ways: cutting in on one corner of each of the four tiles, cutting in on two corners of each of the four tiles, or cutting in on all four corners of four tiles.

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Stone tiles also work well in more modern patterns, provided care is taken to avoid making the floor look too busy. In other words, if the stone has a very busy color variation or grain, a simpler pattern works best, while stones with less variation and grain can be installed in multi-piece patterns.

One of the most simple, modern patterns that works well with numerous stones is the running bond or off-set pattern. While this pattern is used primarily with rectangular patterns, it gives a fresh update to large format square tiles as well.

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Strapping is another pattern that works well with a number of different stones. Strapping involves outline the edges of a larger tile with multiple smaller tiles. The smaller tiles can range from a single row of mosaics for a contemporary look to multiple rows of 4-inch tiles for a more traditional look.

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Consider using any pattern with installing stone tiles on the floor to help enhance the beauty and variation of the stone.

Types of Stone Countertop

Nearly any type of stone can be made into a bathroom or kitchen counter. Each has its own characteristics and style which are helpful in determining which stone to use in a space.

Granite is the most commonly used stone for kitchen and bathroom counters. It has a crystalline structure, which makes it durable and impervious to scratches and hot pots and pans. Granite essentially comes in two styles: one which has veining and movement with dramatic colors and patterns, while the other has a tighter, more granular pattern that fits in better with traditional and formal style kitchens.

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Granite takes a high polish well, but it can also be honed to a matte finish, or given a flamed or textured finish.

Marble is used frequently in bathrooms, but is found in kitchens as well. With its softer colors and rich veining, marble makes an elegant statement.

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Because marble is softer than granite, it may dull in finish over time. This is known as a patina and, for some people, this can be a desirable trait.

Marble has the ability to take a high polish, but can be used in matte or rustic finishes as well.

Limestone is another material occasionally seen in kitchens and bathrooms. Limestone is much softer than granite or marble, and has a soft, matte finish often studded with fossils. It will patina similarly to marble, but because it begins with a honed surface, this may not be as noticeable at first.

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Soapstone is a very low maintenance, talc-based stone also used often in kitchens. It has a unique texture that gives it a soft, soapy feel pleasant to the touch. It comes in fewer colors than other stones, but requires less maintenance.

With the many types of stone available for use on a counter, the choice should be made based on kitchen style and homeowner lifestyle. Any stone will make a beautiful statement, regardless of type.