Monthly Archives: November 2015

Mixing Stones in an Installation

Natural stone has a lot of depth and interest in every piece. At times, however, some homeowners may want to add to this depth by mixing two or three different stones together in one installation. This added color, veining, and interest can have a dramatic impact on the room as a whole. Many different types of natural stone lend themselves perfectly to this type of blending; choosing stones to blend together can be simple when you know what to look for.

One way to choose different stones to mix together is to look for matching or coordinating colors. For example, Bianco Carrara and Bardiglio are nearly mirror images of one another – Bianco Carrara is a white stone with gray veins while Bardiglio is a gray stone with white veins. These two stones naturally pair well with one another; using both in the same installation steps up the contrast in the space and increases the depth of the design.

You can also choose different stones based on analogous colors or by colors that would work well in the same design despite having nothing to do with one another. Celeste Blue and Ming Green pair beautifully with one another and with Bianco Carrara. The pale shades of these two stones are analogous and therefore will work well in any installation.

Another way to select stones to mix together is to stay within the same stone family. For example, you may want to mix together limestones like Lagos Azul and Lagos Gold. Both have the same soft finish and minimal veining or fossil marks on their surfaces, so they pair well together. Mixing a stone like Lagos Azul with a more prominent stone like Verde Luna wouldn’t have the same effect because the soft finish of the Lagos Azul would be too much of a contrast to the highly variable Verde Luna.

Choosing more than one natural stone to use in an installation is a beautiful way to increase the depth and interest of any space. Consider pairing any stone with another of similar character to get more out of any design.

Using Stone on a Kitchen Backsplash

Natural stone is one of the most commonly used materials for kitchen counters and floors. So when it comes time to select a backsplash, stone makes a natural choice to complement those materials already being used in the space. Thankfully, the backsplash is one of the best places to be nearly any type of stone – including highly porous or soft stones that might not be suitable elsewhere in the kitchen.

Backsplashes get no traffic and little water, which means that while you may need to clean them on occasion, you don’t have to worry about very soft stones like Lagos Azul staining or disintegrating over time. At the same time, stone of any texture can be used in this area, including wall cladding, river stones, or polished marbles.

While backsplash trends come and go, stone rarely goes out of style. Today’s kitchen backsplash trends are using stone in a number of ways. Slate has replaced tumbled marble as the go to material for a textured and highly variable backsplash. Stone mosaics that are paired with glass for additional depth and texture are also extremely popular right now.

Installing stone on the backsplash is fairly straightforward, and something that even DIY homeowners can take on. As long as a white, latex additive thinset mortar is used, and the stone is sealed prior to grouting it, any type of stone can be installed in this area.

The one thing to watch out for is the installation of large format stones in this area, which may cause lippage if the wall is uneven. Back buttering each one of the stone tiles may help correct this problem in older homes.

If natural stone is being used on the floors and counters of the kitchen, make the design complete by installing natural stone on your backsplash as well.

Using a Poultice on Your Stone

With the exception of a few types of igneous rocks like Gabbros, most natural stones used for counters and tiles are porous to some extent. This means that they have the ability to absorb liquids and potentially stains over time. While sealers and stone cleaners can help to inhibit this, once a stain sets in, they can do little to get it out. For this, a poultice is needed.

A poultice is a mixture of compounds or chemicals applied to the stain to help draw it out of the stone. Most poultices will pull the stain to the surface where it can be wiped away, while others will break down the stain within the stone itself.

There are many different types of poultices available for use on natural stone. Some are sold commercially, while others you can make yourself with things you may already have around the house. In all cases, however, the poultice used should be aimed at the type of material that made the stain. For example, wine will require a very different type of poultice than ink will.

To make a basic poultice that will work on the majority of stains, mix together a cup of white flour with about two tablespoons of dishwashing liquid – not the type with lemon in it. Put the resulting paste on the stain and cover it with plastic wrap for about 30 minutes to an hour, then wash it away with a mild soap.

If a harsher poultice is required, try mixing a few drops of hydrogen peroxide with the flour or using a commercial poultice aimed at the stain you are removing. To increase its effectiveness, always cover the poultice if it needs to be left on the stone for more than a few minutes; the trapped heat will help speed the reaction to remove the stain.

Poultices are a great way of removing stains from your stone. Use them as needed to help preserve the look and finish of your stone products.

Selecting a Stone

There are many different types of natural stone available for use in and around the home today. In addition, these stones may come in numerous finishes, sizes, and even colors. For some homeowners who love the look of stone, but don’t know which one may be appropriate to use, this can be a tough choice to make. Understanding the differences between various stone materials can help make that decision easier.

Natural stone tiles and slabs can be formed of many different types of rock. This includes not only the more common granites, marbles, and limestones, but also conglomerate stones, quartzites, and even gems. Each one of these stones has its own personality and characteristics that help make it the right one for some areas of the home, but unsuitable for others.

Very hard, dense stones like granites, quartzites, slates, and gabbros can be used nearly anywhere including high traffic areas like the kitchen. These stones are unlikely to show as much wear, and may need minimal care and maintenance. For those that like texture and a lot of variation in their stones, some quartzites and ungauged slates may be the right choice. For more contemporary looks, granites and gabbros may be the right stone.

Marble is one of the most versatile stones for the home, able to be highly polished, honed, or tumbled for a rustic look. Softer than granite and slate, however, care should be taken when using it in very high traffic areas, wet areas, and in areas where it may come in contact with material such as acids or oils that could etch or stain it. When using marble in these areas, it should be sealed, squeegeed dry, and kept free of things like sand to prevent scratches.

Limestone, travertine, and other very soft stones have a beautiful matte or textured finish, but don’t hold up as well to water and high traffic. Use these stones in low traffic areas like bathroom floors, family rooms, backsplashes, and fireplace surrounds to create a softer appearance in the home.

Once you select a grouping of stone based on its wear and use patterns, you can now choose its color and finish based on personal taste and what will work best within your home.


Stone Tub Decks

A lot of people designing a new bathroom put a lot of thought into the stone they’re using on their vanity top, selecting a slab that complements the tile and the style of the rest of the room. Many of these same people may be putting a tub deck into the bathroom as well, yet overlook the importance of selecting just the right stone for this area of the room as well. While it’s always possible to simply match the stone on your tub deck to the one you’ve chosen for your vanity top, there are also several reasons why you may want to consider choosing a different stone instead.

It’s fairly common in kitchens to select to complementary stones – one for the perimeter of the room and the second one for the island. This contrast adds a lot of depth to the kitchen, and gives the homeowner the ability to choose as tone that may be wild, bold, or prominent for the island, without overwhelming the rest of the space.

The tub deck in a bathroom can be used in much the same way; it can add some depth, color, and interest to the rest of the space when contrasted with the vanity top.

This contrasting can be subtle; using Bianco Carrara on the vanity top and Bardiglio on the tub deck, but it can also be more dramatic as well. One example would be to use a stunning onyx deck and surround on a tub positioned below a window so the onyx glows when the light hits it, transforming this area into a focal point in the room. Another example may be to choose a more wild stone, like Rainforest Green and contrast it with a more subdued Coast Green granite on the vanity top.

Stone tub decks can take up a large portion of real estate in the bathroom. Be sure to give them equal attention in the selection process to make the most out of the room’s design.