Monthly Archives: April 2014

Stone Surrounds Versus Stone Mantels

Fireplaces are the heart of every home, and the focus of every room they are installed in. Because of this, many people choose to decorate their fireplace with natural stone to help give it a substantial and luxurious appearance. What many people may not realize is that there are a few different ways that natural stone can be used on the fireplace. The two most common of which are the surround and the mantel.

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Stone fireplace surrounds are the decorative, flat area just around the firebox. They may be done in tiles or in slab, and the surround may extend all the way to the ceiling above the firebox. A mantel may be installed on top of the surround, but it doesn’t have to be.

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In fact, in many modern fireplaces, no mantel is used and the surround alone gives all the decorative appearance to the area.

realstoneandgranitefireplaces7Stone mantels may be combined with a stone surround, or they may be used by themselves. The mantel is the portion that goes outside the surround, typically including a shelf above the firebox for decorative items to rest on. Stone mantels may be carved or precast; some may also be made of large slabs of stone that have been given a rustic edge treatment. Often times if the mantel is very wide and decorative, it can extend right to the firebox itself, taking the place of the surround as well. This can’t be done using wood, but because natural stone is fireproof, this can be a highly decorative and eye catching way to finish the fireplace in a room.

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Both stone surrounds and stone mantels can make beautiful, decorative exteriors for a fireplace. Using a stone surround provides more decorative options, while using a mantel often makes the greater statement. Consider making stone the material of choice for a fireplace design to see how many options are available.

Choosing Stone for Staircases

Among the many materials that can be used to create staircases, stone ranks among the top. Natural stone can create a number of different looks for stairs, whether you create the entire staircase from stone or just the treads.

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There are basically three areas within a staircase or stairwell where natural stone can be used: The tread or horizontal surface used for standing, the riser, which supports the tread vertically, and the exterior portion or stringers. Stone can be used in one or all of these areas, although most common is the use of stone slabs on the stair treads themselves. These can be combined with wood stringers and risers to complete various looks, used as floating stairs, or combined with more stone for a completely different look.

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Stone makes an excellent material for use on stairs because of its durability. Stone won’t wear out the way that carpeting will, and it isn’t likely to patina or show damage like wood. And while some people may be concerned that stone is slippery, the many pores that make up the surface of a slab of stone give it a lot of traction. In addition, the sealant used to protect the stone is also a slip deterrent, which will further add grip to the treads.

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Just as natural stone can be used to create several different styles from traditional to contemporary in other parts of the home, it can have the same effect on stairs. Using a honed travertine or limestone over the entire stairway is going to produce a very different appearance than a set of floating Bianco Venetino risers will.

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With the ability of natural stone to take on so many different shapes and edge profiles, using stone stairways provides infinite possibilities in style, while also providing a durable, long-lasting surface. If stone is being installed on the landings nearby, consider extending it through the stairwell and make an impressive statement.

Making a Statement With Exotic Stone

When many people think of using marble or granite in their kitchens or bathrooms, they picture sedate or conventional counters and tiles. Stones such as Bianco Carrara and Saint Cecilia are well known and are used extensively around the country. Natural stone comes in a much wider variety of different colors and types, however, some of which are extremely exotic and unique. Using one of these more unique stones creates a statement that is anything but conventional.

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There are several different ways to use an exotic or unusual stone in a home. Because exotic stones have an eye-catching beauty, they make the perfect focal point in a room. Using a stone with a lot of color or character as a very thick or built up slab with a vessel sink in a bathroom, for example, draws the eye and creates a place for people to focus when they enter the room.

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Exotic stones that have a lot of color and movement, like onyx, also make great countertops, because a large piece can be used to show off the color and vein pattern. Using one as a bar top, or bathroom vanity top adds a lot of color to a space that can be used to pull accent colors from for the rest of the room.

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Some unusual stones, like Rainforest Brown and Rainforest Green, have very unique vein patterns, but not as much color variation. This makes them the perfect addition to a space that needs some interest, but doesn’t require a great deal of color. They’re also ideal for spaces where it would be overwhelming or too busy to have something wild, but a little bit of movement is desired.

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Using an exotic stone somewhere in the home is a wonderful way to add color, interest, and focus to a room. With the many different choices for stone available, an unusual stone can be found for any area.