Monthly Archives: January 2016

Understanding Natural Stone in the Kitchen

Current trends for materials seen in the kitchen are moving toward “warm” “natural” materials that can last for years without dating the space. This means that natural stone is seeing a huge uptick in use in the kitchen area, on counters, backsplashes, and flooring. In most cases, this is a wonderful thing; natural stone is a beautiful, durable, and long-lasting material that will complement many kitchens. But in some cases, the wrong stone could produce a look that is not desired in the space.

While the majority of stone used in the kitchen is granite, slate, quartzite, and soapstone – all materials that can hold up well to the daily use of a kitchen – there are some homeowners who mistakenly believe that because stone is so hard and durable, that any stone could be used in this space. Unfortunately, while it is true that you can cut, shape, and install any type of stone in the kitchen, some stones are less suitable for this use than others.

Limestones and marbles in particular are made up primarily of calcite – a mineral that reacts when it comes in contact with acids and alkaline materials. This means that things like vinegar, lemon juice, wine, and tomato sauce can all not only leave behind stains on the stone, they can also etch or remove the top layer of the stone, leaving behind a dull mark even after the stain has been removed.

For this reason, not every stone is recommended for use in the kitchen. And while sealing your stone is a good first step toward preventing these problems, sealing only gives you time to clean up spills; it doesn’t prevent all damage to the stone.

To determine how a stone will hold up in your kitchen, purchase a sample and try pouring on small amounts of food or liquid that is frequently used in the space. Let them sit for about an hour, then wipe them away. If you find significant changes to the surface of the stone, you may want to find a different material to use in the space.

White Granite Alternatives to Marble

White marble has long been one of the most popular choices with homeowners for kitchens and baths. Unfortunately, marble doesn’t always hold up well to the demands of a busy household, often staining when it comes in contact with many foods and spilled drinks. Trend predictions for 2016 say that white stone is going to be bigger than ever, so if you love the look of white marble, but want something a little bit more durable that can still remain on trend, consider these white granites instead.

White granite has a lot of the same attributes as white marble. With a high polish, white granite can really brighten up even the darkest kitchen, but unlike marble is less likely to stain, scratch, or etch over time.

Most white marbles are not truly, purely white; many have gray or gold veins, which gives the stone a lot of character and movement. White granite is no different, and while some granites have busier crystal patterns, there are several stones that you may want to consider as alternatives to classic white marbles like Carrara.

White Andromeda has a very light, white to pale gray background like Carrara with a darker gray vein. It also has very dark crystalline spots, which helps bring additional depth to the stone.

Fantastic White is a slightly busier stone, also with a very light, white to pale gray background with darker gray veins. The veins in this stone are more pronounced, giving the granite a lot of movement and the appearance of soft waves.

Himalayan White is a nice option for those that want a soft-looking stone more reminiscent of classic white marble. This stone has a lot of soft veins and movement on a white/gray background, with less of a crystalline look to it.

Colonial White is another nice option, which also comes in a shade of cream for those that want a light-colored stone in their homes, but want something a little bit warmer than the traditional white/gray.

White and light colored stones appear poised to take 2016 by storm. Consider making yours a white granite to ensure that it continues looking great well into the next decade.

Why Visit Your Local Stone Yard

Many people looking to get a new granite or natural stone countertop for their homes make their first stop a tile or kitchen showroom. There, they may see samples of slabs that they use to try to get an idea of what it is they want for their homes. Some of these people may even go on to order a slab based on these samples alone. This is problematic for several reasons, and often doesn’t give the best results. What homeowners looking to get a new stone counter should do is make an appointment at their local stone yard or fabricator first.

Samples in showrooms only tell a small part of a stone’s story. A sample sitting in a showroom may be several years old, quarried from a completely different section than slabs being produced today. So a sample may have a completely different color, grain pattern, or vein movement than what is currently available. Clients who purchase an entire slab based off of a small sample may find that what they receive looks little like what they thought they were getting.

At the same time, showrooms have only a set amount of space for stone samples; often these are meant to complement other parts of the showroom such as the tile or kitchen cabinets. Therefore, these samples may only show a small portion of what’s actually available at this time, limiting the choices for someone stopping in.

By paying a visit to the stone yard itself, you can see the actual slabs, along with their color, vein pattern, and size. This is particularly beneficial for large projects where more than one slab may be required to finish the job.

A visit to the stone yard allows homeowners to get the best possible idea of what that stone will look like. It also gives them a chance to receive a true sample they can later use to make other decisions for the room. Make the first stop on your countertop journey the stone yard, rather than a tile showroom to ensure you get the best possible results in your home.

Updating a Marble Surround

Marble has long been one of the most popular materials for fireplace surrounds. It can be installed as slabs or tile, and can be used on the mantel, legs, and hearth or any combination of those to great effect. Because so many people tend to view marble as formal or traditional, however, many may want to update their surround so that it continues to match the rest of their décor. There are many ways that marble can still be used on the surround, however, that can give updated appearance to the entire room.

One contemporary method involves using marble mosaics for the entire surround. Polished marble mosaics each catch light individually, which means that when a fire is lit in the box, the entire surround will glitter and sparkle. Because marble mosaics can come in so many different colors, sizes, shapes, and patterns, it’s also easy to find one that is the perfect complement to the rest of the room.

12-inch marble tiles have long been one of the most traditional stone installations, but they can still be used in an updated setting if the marble being selected has a different appearance to it. Verde Luna or Sahara Gold, for example, are both very variable and wild stones with a lot of color and variation. Installing 12-inch tiles of these on the marble surround would create a brilliant focal point in the room, while still giving a nod to tradition.

Newer manufacturing practices for stone can also mean that marble tile can be used to create an architectural look for the surround. Subway-style tiles that have a beveled edge can create a geometric or even Art Deco look for the fireplace. Done in a soft-colored stone like Bianco Carrara or Crema Marfil, the fireplace can blend in with multiple decors without issue.

Marble is still one of the most universally beloved materials for use on decorative surfaces within the home. Using it in an updated setting like these can help capture the appeal of marble and the decorative look the homeowners are after at the same time, achieving the best of both worlds.