Monthly Archives: May 2016

Using Materials that Look like Stone

Natural stone’s beauty and character are incredibly well known and desired. Many people want the look of real stone in their homes, but in some cases may not want the upkeep that may go with it. For this reason, there has been an explosion of new products in recent years meant to look like stone, but without the upkeep or maintenance. For some people, this may seem like the best of both worlds, and while using many of these materials is the right fit in some cases, there are other situations in which they just don’t compare to the real thing.

Finished projects

The most commonly known man-made material that looks like stone is quartz. This product is made up of about 90% real stone, mixed with resins and pigments for durability. Quickly catching up in popularity with quartz is porcelain, and a new ceramic slab material used on countertops.

All of these materials are scratch resistant, stain resistant, and fairly low maintenance, making them excellent choices for kitchens and other high traffic areas. Unfortunately, while they are often created to look like real stone, they usually lack a lot of stone’s character.

For example, polished porcelain can achieve a nearly glass like finish. But without the pores of natural stone, which is what gives a polished marble or granite depth, the light reflects so much off the surface that it obscures the veining or color of the product.

Ceramic slab and quartz materials may have less of a high polish to them, but their coloration is extremely controlled to within a tight ratio. There is none of the unpredictability of natural stone, which is part of what makes real granite, marble, and limestone so attractive. While there are homeowners who want that tightly controlled coloration, in many homes the material may end up looking a little flat without any of the natural patina that makes stone so beautiful.

While man-made alternatives to natural stone definitely have their place and their following, for others there is nothing like the depth, beauty, and character of real stone. Be sure to pay close attention to the material you install in your home to get the perfect fit for your design.

Dressing Up Other Materials with Natural Stone

Natural stone makes a beautiful statement wherever it is installed. While many people choose to use stone on its own, it can also be used to help enhance other materials as well. This includes not only using stone in an area adjacent to another that uses a different material, but actually mixing the stone in either as a border or as an accent to help bring an installation to life.

Hallway

There are often times when a material on its own isn’t making the type of statement you’d like for your home. For example, if using hardwood throughout the main level of your home, you may find that you need something more in the foyer or entryway to help set it apart. In this case, a decorative stone border or medallion can help elevate the area to the level you’d like to see it at.

Other times you may discover that a material or design is lacking depth. For example, a backsplash made out of handmade ceramic tiles may not have enough variation in color and design to really create a focal point within the room. By adding some tumbled stone mosaics between and around the tiles, setting them apart from one another, you add a lot of depth and texture to the design, which in turn draws the eye.

Another way that natural stone can help enhance areas of your home is by installing strips of polished stone mosaic around a flatter material. Polished mosaics each catch the light individually, which makes them sparkle, catching and drawing the eye so that a previously flat area seems to come to life.

Natural stone can be easily paired with wood, porcelain, glass, ceramic, or metal to gain a lot of texture, interest, and depth, as well as the beauty and variation that only stone can bring. Whether you’re adding slate to a glass shower or you’re mixing polished marble into a porcelain floor, turn to stone as the perfect accent for your walls and floors each and every time and create something you can be proud of.

Dealing with Etches on Kitchen Marble

While granite remains one of the most popular choices for kitchen countertops, a number of homeowners and designers also use marble as well. Marble, particularly Carrara marble, helps keep the kitchen looking light and bright, and has a softness to it that granite often lacks. Unfortunately, marble etches much more easily than granite does, and sealing doesn’t always protect you, so any splash of lemon juice or tomato sauce can and will leave a dull spot on your marble counter. While this can be dismaying for some homeowners, those that truly love the stone have found ways to work around the problem.

The first consideration is to get your marble honed. Honing your marble will give it a matte finish, versus a polished one. Etch marks are much less visible on honed granite than on a polished surface because of the way that the light hits. In fact, opting for a very matte, honed finish versus a high-hone or slightly polished finish will diminish the effect of the etching even more.

Your second consideration in ways to deal with etching marble is to try to blend the etches into the rest of the counter. Some marble experts recommend uses an abrasive cleanser like Comet and a scrubbing sponge over the entire surface of your counter. This will essentially etch the entire thing, creating a more even surface. This procedure should be undertaken with caution, however, as it cannot be easily undone if you do not like the results. You may want to try it on an inconspicuous area first to be sure you want to commit to it over the entire surface.

Finally, you may simply want to embrace your marble – stains, etches, and all. Marble does develop a patina all its own over time, which to some people only enhances its beauty. Expecting it to remain looking the way it does on the day it was installed may only lead to anxiety and anguish over the stone.

Whatever method you choose, remember that marbles benefits greatly outweigh its faults, and choose wisely for your counter choice.

 

Cross Cut Travertine for Floors

For some homeowners, it’s the look that’s important when deciding on the type of flooring they want in their home. For others, it’s the material that’s of upmost importance, and for still others it’s a combination of both of these things. For homeowners that like the long lines that wood flooring can produce on the floor, but who also like the variation, texture, and feel of natural stone, cross cut travertine floors may be the perfect fit.

Sugarland Canal Residence

Travertine is a type of limestone that was formed inside a hot spring. As cooling water vapor left the forming stone, small tunnels were produced in the material. When travertine is cut normally, these tunnels show up as holes, which are usually filled with either epoxy or grout. When travertine is cross cut, however, these tunnels show up as long lines that move across the stone, almost giving the material the look of wood.

Not all travertine is cross cut. Travertine Ciara and Silver Travertine are the two stones most commonly cut in this way. It’s also most common to find cross cut travertine in either 12 x 12 or 12 x 24 tiles to help emphasize the look and texture of the stone.

When the tiles are installed so that the lines are arranged in the same direction, it can produce a look on the floor similar to that of a very highly grained wood floor. The difference is that the floor will also have the depth of color and texture that can only be found in natural stone. This can give homeowners who want the versatility of stone, but with the long lines of wood the material and look they’ve been searching for, for their homes.

Cross cut travertine does need to be treated like all other natural stone. It should be sealed on a regular basis with a silicone-based impregnator, cleaned with PH neutral cleansers, and damp mopped frequently to remove particles that could scratch its surface. When maintained properly, however, cross cut travertine will make a beautiful statement on a floor for years to come.

If you’ve been looking for a unique flooring that will that match many different decors, consider cross cut travertine tiles for your home.