There’s been a sudden resurgence of late in the use of natural materials such as stone for all areas of the home. This includes trends popping up that use specific stones, such as travertine, to create an “authentically rustic” or “natural” look in the home. As a result, travertine tiles have been seen in more and more kitchens of late.
Travertine is a form of limestone that was created inside of a hot spring, rather than on a shell reef. The escaping water vapor from the stone resulted in multiple small holes and tunnels through the stone. These holes and part of what gives travertine its characteristic appearance. Left unfilled, a travertine tile will have a matte surface that is pitted with holes ranging in size from the head of a pin to the size of a walnut.
Travertine can be honed and filled at the factory to give it a more uniform appearance, but many people today are opting to use travertine in its natural, unfilled state. Unfortunately for use in the kitchen, this presents two problems. The larger holes in the surface of the stone become a natural receptacle for kitchen debris, making it difficult to keep clean. The larger holes may also weaken the integrity of the stone, and in a high traffic room like the kitchen, this could lead to cracks in the stone down the road.
The answer to this problem is to have the largest of the holes in the stone filled with grout during the installation process. This will not affect the rustic look of the stone, and many of the smaller holes can be left unfilled without a problem. If homeowners are concerned that filling the stone will take away too much of the stone’s natural variation, smaller tiles can be used to help increase the amount of color and surface texture variation in the space. Likewise laying the travertine in a pattern can help break it up and get the desired look.
Travertine is a beautiful natural stone, perfect for today’s natural trends. It needs to be treated properly, however, to ensure that it stays beautiful for years to come.
Marble, granite, and limestone are all used frequently on the walls and floors of shower stalls and surrounds. And while these stones look beautiful as tiles, some stones with dramatic veining and color patterns can become too busy in a small space when broken up into 12-inch squares. With veins and colors running in all directions and grout lines forming a grid, it can overwhelm the area, and force the homeowner to make another, safer choice for their shower surround material.
For homeowners that want that dramatic veining in their shower, without the grout lines or the busyness that tiles can bring, there is another option: stone slabs.
Stone slabs are the large, often 5-feet or bigger pieces of stone that are primarily used on countertops. These larger, unbroken expanses of stone let the true nature of the stone’s color and veining come through. And while they aren’t use frequently on floors and walls, this is a viable option.
Stone slabs being used on shower surrounds and shower floors are fabricated exactly like they would be for a counter. A template is made of the shower, including the placement of shower heads, valves, and drains. The stone is then cut to fit the space, with often two or more slabs being used and epoxied together at the edges to form a watertight seal.
The end result is a beautiful, dramatic shower that can make a statement and become a focal point in bathrooms with open designs. Stone slabs make an excellent choice on shower floors in small areas, although they can be used in larger situations as well if small channels are dug into the stone to help funnel water toward the drain.
The next time a beautiful, but busy stone is passed by for the shower due to chaotic appearance of the tile, consider using a stone slab in its place.
Kitchen trends come and go, but there are a few that tend to stay the course, remaining popular regardless of whatever trends are currently hot. One of these designs is the Tuscan style kitchen. To achieve this look, lots of natural materials – including stone – in a palette that picks up the colors of the Tuscan countryside need to be used.
Because of the emphasis on natural materials and colors, stone is the optimal choice for flooring, countertops, and backsplashes in the Tuscan kitchen. Opting for honed, tumbled, chiseled, and textured surfaces that showcase the natural beauty of the stone can also be beneficial in achieving this look.
Consider using the following stones to help bring out the colors and textures so important to the Tuscan look:
For floors, look for travertine or limestone tiles laid in a Versailles pattern. Consider either a Travertine Noce for its rich, dark chocolate tones, or a limestone like Jerusalem Gold that will bring a warm golden hue to the entire room.
For the counter, consider using a richly veined granite in a golden hue. Stones like Golden River or Golden Wood, along with darker stones such as Cyclone granite have a lot of natural variation to them that will catch the eye. Stones like these work well polished or honed if you want to soften the look of the room.
For the backsplash, you may want to introduce other colors in Tuscan palette. Colors such as pine green and sky blue make beautiful accents here, so using a blend of stones in a mosaic that includes some Verde Mare and some Azul Celeste along with light colors like Giallo Mediteranno can help bring the room to life by introducing some much needed cool tones to the design.
Tuscan kitchens remain popular for a reason. Their focus on natural materials and colors ties in well with today’s kitchen trends to help create a timeless style. Consider introducing some of these stones into your Tuscan kitchen to produce this warm and inviting look.
Stone tiles make an excellent addition to many areas of the home, such as the fireplace, backsplash, and floors. If there is tile already in place on these areas that cannot be removed, either due to expense or the presence of asbestos, it is often possible to install the stone tile right on top of the existing tile, updating the space.
In most cases, stone tile can install right on top of any existing material, provided a few considerations are made. When installing tile over tile, it’s important to consider the thickness of the final installation and make sure that things like doorjambs and cabinets are able to function normally with the new tile thickness. For example, you may need new thresholds to transition the flooring from one room to another after you increase the thickness. In areas like the fireplace or the backsplash, you’ll also need to consider edging to cover the sides of the installation where the existing tile may show. It’s also important that your stone have a smooth, level surface to adhere to, to help prevent problems such as lippage or cracking over time.
To get this surface, thinset mortar can be used to skim the surface of the current tile, filling in grout joints and helping to level the old tile. If you are installing new stone tile over an old floor made with resilient tiles, you can also use a self-leveling floor compound before installing the tile, rather than using mortar.
Once the mortar has had a chance to dry, the stone tiles can be installed over the surface like they would over any prepared site. Large tiles and mosaic tiles should be back buttered prior to installation, and all stone tiles should be beaten into the mortar bed to help prevent lippage and create an even installation.
As long as these considerations are met, it’s possible to update any area of the home with beautiful, new stone tile, regardless of what may have been there previously.