Monthly Archives: October 2015

Stone Floors to Use in the Kitchen

Natural stone is a beautiful, durable material that gets used throughout the home on a regular basis. In the kitchen, however, where acidic materials like lemon juice, and a lot of foot traffic gets seen on a daily basis, some stones don’t hold up as well as others. And while to some people the patina that well-used stone takes on over time has a beauty all its own, to other people the stains and etch marks that can come from an area like the kitchen are too off-putting to consider stone in this space. There are several types of natural stone that can work well in the kitchen area, however; using one of those can help most homeowners find a happy medium.

Slate is one of the best materials to use on a kitchen floor. It’s non-porous and unlikely to absorb the spills that can happen in the kitchen, and any scratches that may appear over time can be easily hidden by the application of either mineral oil or a color-enhancing sealer. Best of all, many types of multi-color slate hide a multitude of sins so the floors will always look great no matter what gets thrown at them.

French limestone is another good choice for the kitchen. Unlike most other types of limestone, this particular sedimentary stone is extremely durable and is less likely to show wear over time. There are French limestone pavers that have been in use for hundreds of years in farmhouses all over Europe that still look just as good to this day. This is an excellent choice for homeowners that want a little less color and texture than the slate tiles may bring.

Flamed granite is an extremely durable option for homeowners whose kitchens get a lot of wear and tear. Flaming the stone removes the softer particles on the surface, leaving behind only the toughest and hardest pieces of stone. Flamed granite has a fairly uniform color and texture to it, with a unique look that’s hard to find in other materials.

For those that love the look of natural stone, but worry about the maintenance of it on a kitchen floor, give these three options a try instead.

Dry Blending Variable Stone Tiles

All natural stone has some degree of variation in color from lot to lot and from piece to piece in tile. Some stones may have very low amounts of variation that make blending a lot simple, and make choosing a dye lot easy because there is little difference between them. Other stones, however, have extremely high amounts of variation both from lot to lot and from piece to piece. These stones can be difficult to install straight from the box because the colors may clump up during the installation. At the same time, it can be hard to know if these stones will work in any given installation simply by looking at a single sample, because it doesn’t tell the whole story. In this case, working from multiple tiles at once is the best way to get a pleasing, finished installation.

When using any type of highly variable stone such as Sahara Gold or Verde Luna, samples should be taken from an entire box of a current lot, rather than a single showroom sample. By laying out 10 tiles at a time, it’s easier to get a better idea of what the finished installation will look like.
Once the selection has been made and the tile purchased, a dry layout or dry blend of the stone should be done prior to installation to give the most pleasing look to the tile. A dry blend involves mixing the tiles from several boxes at a time, laying them out without any mortar. This way the colors of the tile can be blended evenly across the entire surface of the installation, so if one box contains a tile that is more green or gold than the others, you won’t end up with a block of that color in the finished installation.
During the dry blend, any tiles that are very different in color, or that the homeowner doesn’t enjoy the color of, can be removed and used for outside edges, cuts, or even waste tile to provide the best results.
Any time a highly variable stone is chosen for an installation, be sure to work with as many pieces as possible both during the selection stage and during the installation to ensure the most pleasing finish.

Understanding Reclaimed Stone

There is a large emphasis on using not only natural materials in the home today, but also on using green or eco-friendly materials as well. In cases like stone where the material must be cut from the ground, some homeowners find it more environmentally conscious to purchase reclaimed stone, rather than new material. Reclaimed stone has a beauty, patina, and history that new stone won’t have right away, but it also has some other considerations that homeowners need to be aware of before purchasing it.

Reclaimed stone is any material that has already been used in another setting. Old farmhouses in France are a very popular source for limestone pavers, for example, and many people wanting an environmentally friendly stone paver for their home will choose these. The pavers may have been in use for a hundred year before being pulled up and shipped to their new location, and because stone is so long wearing, the pavers often have another hundred years or more left in them.

The biggest problem with using reclaimed stone comes from the fact that you can’t be 100% sure of what you’re getting. Each lot is very unique, and most of the lots need to be purchased sight unseen, so you may think you’re getting gray Beaumaniere Light, when you get dark orange Camargue instead.

The other issue concerns lot size. If you need more stone than the source you’re getting it from has, you may need two or more lots. Each of these lots could be radically different from one another, necessitating a dry layout and blending of the stones to help even out the color differences. At the same time, if you need more stone later on to make repairs or add on to a room, you may not be able to find the same stone again.

Finally, reclaimed stone may have stains or wear patterns that cannot be removed. These are part of the beauty of the stone, but homeowners who aren’t expecting this may be surprised or disappointed.

Using reclaimed stone is a beautiful way to get natural stone into your home in an environmentally conscious way. Be aware, however, that you need to keep an open mind about the stone you may be receiving, and be prepared to embrace whatever it is.

Dye Lots and Stone Tile

When you purchase any quantity of tile, you may be advised to order extra in case of needed repairs down the road. You may also be advised to take a look at the current “dye lot” if you are purchasing natural stone tile. This term can be a little confusing for some customers, as natural stone is not “dyed” or colored, but the term still remains. Understanding dye lots can help you make better choices for your stone tiles, and make you happier with the end results.

A dye lot simply refers to a group of tiles that were sourced from the same area. Because natural stone has so much variation, a lot of tiles taken from one section of a quarry may look very different from a lot of tiles taken from another section. The color of the tiles may be different, or the veining may be very different. In this case, if you failed to order enough tiles at the time of your initial order, and needed more weeks or months later, you may find that your second order does not match the first, and stands out in the installation.

The second reason why you need to check dye lot is because samples in a show room may be years old. So if you enjoy the look of a stone tile and plan your color scheme around it, you could be disappointed or surprised if the stone you order comes in looking very different.

The final reason why you may want to take a look at samples from a current dye lot is the amount of variation within that lot. Some stones, like Sahara Gold or Luna Green marble are extremely variable. They change color many times within one lot; it’s a good idea to see a whole box of tile at a time to make sure you know what you’re getting and how much variation there is so you can plan your installation accordingly.

While the word “dye” is a slight misnomer in this case, paying attention to your stone’s dye lot can have a big impact on how your final installation turns out.