Monthly Archives: January 2015

Understanding Fissures and Pits

Many homeowners choosing to have natural stone tiles or countertops in their homes for the first time are unprepared for what they may see. While many people assume that stone has been polished or honed to a perfectly smooth surface, some stones such as Crema Marfil marble are Labrador Antique granite are naturally prone to things like fissures and pits. These things are not defects, but homeowners who are not expecting to see this in their stone could take them to be so.

Fissures are small natural cracks in the surface of the stone. Sometimes they can only be seen if the light hits them just the right away, other times they can be easily seen and felt. Some stones that have been tumbled may show their fissures more readily than those that have been polished or honed. Extremely bad or deep fissures may be filled with an epoxy resin that is color matched to the rest of the stone, then polished with the rest of the surface. Other times, the fissure is left as is.

Most of the time, fissures make no difference to the function of the stone. If a stone is particularly filled with fissures that are deep and unfilled, it may make the stone weaker in areas and more prone to cracks, particularly if the stone is unsupported, such as an overhang or ledge.

Pits are small indents or holes in the surface of the stone. Less obvious than the holes in travertine, pits are usually confined to the surface. Most of the time they can be polished or honed out of the surface, and only show up in tumbled stones, but some stones that have a large number of pits may show them even after polishing. Pits are also not a defect and do not affect the way that the stone functions. They are rarely filled.

Homeowners choosing a stone that is prone to fissures and pits may need to understand that these are not only not defects, they are natural occurrences in a natural material, and therefore to be expected and appreciated as part of the stone’s beauty.

Gemstone Countertops

As more and more homeowners are looking for natural materials that have exotic or unusual looks, different stones are beginning to emerge as choices for countertops. One category that is increasing in popularity across the United States is the use of gemstone countertops.

Gemstone counters are made up of large slabs of materials that may be considered a semi-precious or precious stone. Agates, Quartz, Rose Quartz, Amethyst, and unusual stones like Fluorite are all beginning to be seen gracing countertops.

Not all of these materials are necessarily found in 2 or 3cm slabs like granite or marble, so some of these materials may be found mounted onto another material. Granite, aluminum, and ceramic are sometimes seen as backings for these counters. Other times, the material may be built up on the edges of the countertop to make it appear as though it is thicker than it actually is.

Using gemstones as counters means that homeowners will need to educate themselves about the stone they are selecting. Some, like Indigo Gabbro, are extremely hardwearing and do not require sealing or special cleaners. Other materials like Sky Blue Calcite, may be extremely reactive to acids like lemon juice, which would mean that special precautions need to be taken in areas like kitchens.

Gemstone countertops are often filled with a lot of unusual pattern. Agates often have a repeating pattern to them making the counter appear to be made up of multiple gems pieced together, for example. Some types of gemstone counters can also be backlit, while others have a lot of depth to them, giving you the impression that you are looking into the countertop. They make excellent additions to areas where they can be seen as a focal point, such as kitchen islands, bars, or peninsulas.

If you are willing to take the time to find out more about the stone you are selecting to ensure it’s a good fit with your home, using a gemstone counter can be a great way to make a creative and beautiful statement in any home.

Emerging Trends in Stone Counters

Stone has been a popular material for countertops for several years now. Newer materials and newer trends, however, meant that a shift was moving popularity away from neutral stones and the types of granites that had been popular for so many years. This does not mean that stone has fallen out of favor, however, and natural stone still holds one of the number one spots for designers and homeowners alike. Colors, appearance, and even materials have changed, though, making today’s stone counters look dramatically different than those seen ten years ago.

One of the biggest changes has been a shift away from neutral and safe choices. While dark, gold, and tan colored granites had been fairly popular along with white marbles for several years, today’s choices for kitchens include stones with lots of bold, wild color and pattern. Stones that have unexpected veining and movement, as well as color choices that are dramatic and over the top are taking the place of the safe choices previously favored.

In addition, instead of decorative or even gently refined edges, many homeowners are choosing to allow their stone counters to have a more natural or raw and unfinished edge. This fits in with other trends moving toward using materials in their natural states, rather than overly polished and refined.

Another trend that is emerging is the use of soapstone in the kitchen. Soapstone has long had a loyal following for its beauty and smooth, soft texture, but in recent years its popularity has begun to take off. Soapstones that have lots of veins or unusual colors such as green or red are particularly popular, but many homeowners are also drawn to the process of finishing the stone themselves using mineral oil after it’s installed.

Natural stone will always be a good choice for kitchens and bathrooms, but with today’s trends moving toward more dramatic color and natural finishes, it’s no wonder that stone is only growing in popularity for counters.

Hot New Trends in Natural Stone

Natural stone has been a popular material in and around the home for hundreds of years. This versatile material, however, is constantly changing in regards to what colors, finishes, and shapes are popular at the moment.

With design trends currently favoring natural materials and looks, as well as several more formal and traditional looks, stone is poised to continue its trend of popularity and frequent use.

Current hot trends in natural stone include:

  • White marbles, including white or white applications mixing stones such as Bianco Carrara and Thassos or Calacatta with Cloud Gray
  • Random rounded shapes, which invokes the appearance of the circle trend featuring 1-,2-, and 3-inch marble circles of several years ago, but with softer, more organic shapes now, each one varying in size and pattern
  • Random sizes of rectangular tiles mixed together to mimic the look of wall cladding but with a groutable, more polished tile
  • Traditional looks, which include using marble in the 3×6 subway shape and combined with stone chair rails, pencil tiles, and baseboards in the same area
  • Basketweave mosaic tiles for the floor using traditional colors such as black and white, as well as more updated color palettes such as Crema Marfil combined with Verde Luna
  • Hand chiseled mosaic tiles assembled in more traditional patterns to give a random and organic appearance to an otherwise classic floor
  • Mixing finishes in a blend of mosaics as well as mixing colors, including some polished and some honed pieces to create varying depths – this may also include mixing stones of different textures such as quartzite and slate with marble or granite

Other trends in natural stone include using natural edges on countertops and allowing cleft finishes to show on slates. No matter what type of stone you choose, however, remember that stone in general never goes out of style. So whether you want to opt for a newer trend, or a more traditional one, you can never go wrong including natural stone within your design.