Monthly Archives: July 2014

Backlighting Stone Columns and Counters

Backlighting is a popular method of adding some depth and interest to bathrooms, bars, and other dimly lit areas, particularly in homes and businesses that entertain. And while there are many different glass and resin products that can be lit, some types of translucent stone can also be backlit as well.


Onyx is a fragile, translucent marble with a great deal of natural variation. Light passes easily through onyx, making it an ideal material for backlighting, particularly in areas where the look being sought after is less contemporary and more elegance. When not lit, the onyx still provides beautiful depth and color to the room. When it is lit, the onyx glows and transmits a soft light from within.


There are a few ways that onyx can be lit. Because the stone is translucent, rather than transparent, the lighting apparatus can be placed behind the stone, on the edges of the stone, or can be inserted into the stone through strategically drilled tunnels and holes. The individual lights aren’t as likely to be seen as with a glass or resin product, which gives a greater flexibility in terms of light placement.


If the stone is being lit from below, such as in a counter, the lighting should be hidden or encased by a surround. This can be made of wood or of separate pieces of onyx to create a shallow box for the lighting to reside. Onyx tiles can also be laid directly over LED tape embedded in white thinset if the installation doesn’t have the depth to build it out.

Because of the extreme color variation in the onyx, the effect of backlighting can be dramatically different from piece to piece, making any installation immediately stand out. Using backlit onyx in this way is an interesting way to add soft ambient to any room. The next time that a backlit installation is called for, consider using onyx in place of glass or resin to add additional interest and color to the design.

Creating Custom Medallions

Medallions add color, interest, and detail to foyers, dining rooms, entryways, and halls. With newer water jet technologies allowing for tightly fit pieces of stone today’s medallions can be endlessly customized. Rather than relying on shapes that can be easily cut with a wet saw, medallions can now be created that express the homeowner’s personal interests and color palette.

Most medallions are made in one of two ways: mosaic pieces that make up an image or a pattern and water jet medallions that epoxies larger, intricately cut pieces together. Both methods allow for infinite customization either of the colors used in the design, or in the design itself.

While a mosaic design, however, requires a great deal of artistic interpretation of the design, water jet designs can be more precise. A design can be created using a computer program that creates silhouettes of animals, geometric patterns, and family crests among other things. The computer then controls the machine that cuts the pieces. This allows for extremely tight tolerances between two pieces of stone, which can then be fit together like puzzle pieces without a grout joint between them.

When selecting a custom medallion for installation, several considerations need to be made. This includes the colors and types of stone; using stones that are found elsewhere in the home can create a cohesive design, while using colors that coordinate well with the surrounding flooring can help the medallion blend in.

Granite Hours Medallion

Other considerations include the design itself. If using something custom, having a computer generated image of the finished product before cutting the stone can help homeowners and designers determine if the image will work, or if too much detail will be lost. Silhouettes and patterns make better medallions than pictures or scenes, for example.

Adding a medallion to a home can be a wonderful way to personalize the space and draw attention to an area. Make sure the medallion reflects the home and the homeowner to get the best results.

The Use of Stone Bath Tubs

Natural stone can be used nearly anywhere inside and outside the home. It’s found throughout bathrooms, with walls, floors, and often sinks being made of marble, granite, limestone, and slate. One often overlooked use of stone in this area however, is the stone bathtub, which can be used to make an impressive statement inside any home.

Stone Bath Tub

There are a few different ways that tubs can be made from stone. The most common involves carving one large block of stone into the bathtub itself. Stone tubs can be made to look like traditional dual-on-plinth tubs, or they can take on more contemporary looks with some tubs looking like half an egg shell.

These tubs are meant to be freestanding and are often the focal point of the room. Depending on the design, they may include drillings for faucets, and overflow channels, or they may only include the drain; the faucet must be freestanding beside the tub or come from the wall or ceiling.

The use of a freestanding stone tub needs to be carefully considered for placement. Often the floor will need to be reinforced to hold the weight of the stone tub, plus the weight of the water and the user when the tub is full.

A less expensive and less heavy way to construct a stone tub is to use stone slabs, and fit them together like a typical drop in or undermount tub with a deck. The seams of the tub are sealed between the pieces of stone to help make it watertight. This gives the elegance and feel of stone, without the weight and size of a freestanding unit.

All stone tubs should be sealed and protected to help ensure that they don’t etch or stain over time, particularly in homes with very hard or corrosive water.

Regardless of what type of tub is used, all natural stone baths make beautiful additions to the bathroom. Adding one to the design is sure to create a statement.

Customizing Stone for Sinks and Drain Boards

One of the things that sets natural stone apart from other countertop materials is the way that it can be customized to fit different types of sinks and accessories. While all countertops do contain either an integral sink or a sink cutout, stone allows for several different options that helps to make for a cleaner, sleeker appearance.

Granite Top With Drain Board

While most laminate counters require you to drop a sink in so it hangs from the top of the counter by its rim, stone and quartz counters allow the sink to be mounted below the counter. This makes it easier to keep the sink clean because water and debris can be pushed straight into the sink, rather than beneath the rim edge.

Stone and quartz counters also allow for customization of the size of the sink, including sinks that contain multiple curves or basins, or sinks that have cutting or drain boards that sit partially into the counter itself. This customization also extends to farmhouse or apron front sinks; the height of the sink and how it is placed with the counter can vary depending on the homeowner’s preferences. The sink can sit flush to the counter, or the counter can overlap its side edges to create different appearances and the final height of the sink.

Granite Drain Board

In addition to the sink itself, stone and quartz counters offer additional benefits as well. Drain boards and be cut right into the counter itself with channels that slope toward the sink allowing the water to drain. This gives the kitchen a sleek and minimalist appearance without additional clutter on the counters. Holes can also be drilled or cut into the counter in any position for the addition of soap dispensers, hot water dispensers, or water filters to give the kitchen more functionality.

Drain Board Cut Into Granite Top

These attributes combined with stone’s strength, integrity, and beauty set it head and shoulders above other materials for both appearance and function in the kitchen.