Monthly Archives: August 2014

Quartzite

With smooth, polished surfaces and the durability that only comes from quartz, quartzite is beginning to be a highly sought after material for counters and floors. This metamorphic stone often gets confused with marble, but is far harder and less likely to stain, etch, and scratch.

Like marble, quartzite is metamorphic, meaning that it was made of another material that underwent enormous pressure and heat until it was transformed into a new material. While marble was once limestone, however, quartzite was once a type of sandstone. This sandstone was very high quartz, which gives the quartzite its glossy appearance and strength.

Quartzite differs from marble in other ways besides strength, as well. While marble has a smooth appearing surface with numerous veins, quartzite has a noticeable grain. Even though the stone is smooth to the touch, it will appear sugary and grainy when held up under the light.

Like marble, pure quartzites are white or very light colored, although they can have other minerals present in their makeup that can affect their color. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find quartzites in a variety of different colors including pink, blue, and green.

Some very popular quartzites are Thasos, a bright white stone, and Blue Celeste, a pale sky blue, both of which are often confused for marbles, and highly sought after for their unusual beauty. When subjected to the water and lemon test, however, quartzites perform nearly as well as granites do, which makes them the ideal countertop material for people who want the beauty of marble, but the durability and ease of maintenance that granite brings.

Whenever marble is called for in an installation such as a kitchen countertop, where the material may not hold up well under wear, consider using quartzite in its place. With its beauty and shine, this stone rivals marble for looks, while holding up tremendously well under pressure.

Using Stone on Pool Decking

Natural stone not only has a beauty that is impossible to duplicate in man-made products, many stones also have a texture that makes them excellent in wet areas such as pool decks. When homeowners want to have a natural-looking product in their pool or garden, and want a texture that can help enhance the area, they often turn to natural stone. There can be some concerns with using stone products in these areas, however, that they should be aware of before installation.

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Natural stone is porous, which means that it absorbs moisture and water. In an outdoor environment, and particularly a pool environment, stone will absorb water on a regular basis. In some cases this is fine, but some stones may discolor over time, particularly if there are minerals present in the water that could be absorbed by the stone along with the water.

All stone can be sealed to help protect it from discoloration, and if desired the homeowner can use an impregnating sealer whenever it is noticed that water is no longer beading up off of the surface of the stone.

Another concern involves stone used outdoors in freeze/thaw environments. When the stone absorbs water and then freezes, the water expands which could cause the stone to develop cracks over time, particularly if there are natural fissures in the material.

An alternative to using natural stone products in wet and outdoor environments is to use cast stone products instead. Cast stone is a mixture of stone and resins, which render the finished product non-porous. Cast stone pavers could be installed in or around a pool without worrying about staining or freeze/thaw conditions, and many cast stone products have the same texture and beauty of natural stone as well.

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Natural stone is always a great choice in terms of color, texture, and beauty. When using it outdoors, take care to preserve these traits to ensure it lasts as long as possible.

Solid Stone Tables

One of the most elegant statements that can be made in a room is a solid marble table. While marble-topped and granite-topped tables are becoming more commonplace, solid marble tables that have a pedestal or base made of marble, as well as a top, bring additional elegance and style to any room.

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Tables made of solid stone can be formed in one of two ways. A table can be carved out of a single block of stone the same way that a column or mantel could be carved. A table can also be made out of cast stone. Cast marble tables have the beauty and feel of real stone, but have the additional benefits of being easier to create, generally less expensive, and able to have color and surface control.

One of the benefits of having a carved marble table is the veining that can be uncovered within the stone. Because no two pieces of marble are the same, no two carved marble tables could ever be the same as well.

The benefits of having a cast stone marble table include an ability to get the look of softer stones such as limestone or travertine, without the fissures or pitting that may be inherent with those types of stone.

Solid marble tables should be sealed and protected with an impregnating sealer on a regular basis. They should also be cleaned with a neutral PH cleanser to avoid etching or pitting of the marble over time.

Marble tables make excellent accent pieces in rooms that already have other marble or stone accents, such as a fireplace mantel or surround. The addition of the table can bring interest and additional detail to any room. Consider adding one as an accent or focal point to bring the color and beauty of stone to any area.

Cast Stone Fireplace Surrounds

There are many ways a fireplace surround can be created. Stone can be used in tiles, fieldstones, or in slabs to create the decorative surround portion that extends around the firebox. Sometimes, however, something more decorative is desired, but with the look and feel of real stone. In this case, using a cast stone fireplace surround can make the sought after statement.

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Cast stone is a mixture of stone, Portland cement, and additives. It can come in several different shades, and often has a texture similar to limestone or travertine, but can take on the look and appearance of other types of stone as well. Its biggest advantages in use as a fireplace surround come from the style and decorative elements that can be achieved using this material.

While solid stone surrounds can be created out of slabs that are carved or cut to the desired shape, this method can extremely costly and the types of shapes or decorative elements can be limited. Using a solid piece of stone in this manner can also be difficult to maneuver and install without breaking, making the entire installation more costly as well.

Cast stone can achieve a higher level of detail and many more decorative elements that solid natural stone can. The entire surround can be cast as one solid piece –including the mantel – that is easier to install, and therefore more cost effective for the homeowner both from the purchase point and from installation.

The finished result is a one-piece fireplace surround that contains several decorative details potentially lacking in tile or slab surrounds. Often this type of surround is also more durable, and therefore more likely to last and be preserved.

When a decorative solid fireplace surround is desired for the home, consider using cast stone in place of slabs or tile. The decorative elements and style, combined with the easier installation and affordability make it the clear choice.

Carved and Cast Stone Columns

Stone columns make beautiful accents around dining rooms, kitchens, and on tub decks. And while a plain column of stone has more beauty, color, and interested than a similar column made of wood, sometimes the application needs more detail to match the rest of the room. In those cases having a cast or carved stone column may fit the bill.

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Cast columns are made of the same material as other cast products; a wet or dry mixture of concrete or stone dust that may contain resins or pigments. The molds can be intricately detailed to allow for the appearance of elaborate carvings that may not be possible when made out of a block of solid stone. While some stones may contain fissures or be too soft to carve – such as travertine or limestone – cast product can give you the detail you are looking for without the worry of fissures or holes in the finished design.

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The benefit of using a cast or carved column in place of a standard one is the detail that it brings to the room. Because the design is part of the column, it gives an additional subtle texture and depth that wouldn’t be present in a plainer or solid column. This also allows for the matching of carved or mosaic stone borders used elsewhere in the room, as well as with carved wood furnishings. The end result is a more cohesive look within a room, rather than an ornate room with a plain or simple column.

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Using a cast product in a wet area like a bathroom has additional benefits because the column will not be subject to water staining or etching. Using the same product outdoors is also beneficial for adding detail and elegance to a garden because these types of columns are not subject to freeze/thaw conditions that may damage other products.

Whenever a column is called for in a design, consider using a cast or carved stone product. The results will have more interest and will be longer lasting, leading to the best possible investment for the home