Monthly Archives: October 2016

Ideas for Stone Tile Backsplashes

Natural stone is nearly endless in the amount of styles, colors, and choices there are available today. When it comes time to pick a kitchen backsplash, natural stone makes a beautiful, versatile choice, complementing a number of different styles. Best of all, stone can be used in a variety of different ways to create a unique design that’s just right for nearly any setting.

Modern Loft Kitchen

One way to use natural stone and to take advantage of its depth, is to mix finishes on your tiles throughout the backsplash. Polished stone works best in dark or small kitchens, because the reflected light makes the kitchen appear lighter and larger, but it doesn’t always work with every design style. Instead, consider working in a few random polished tiles in a matte field. The light will hit the polished stones differently than the matte tiles, even if the stone itself is the same. This adds a lot of depth and interest to the design, getting the best of both worlds.

Another way to make good use of natural stone in the kitchen is to mix a variety of sizes of the same stone in the design. For example, use larger stones along the counters, and switch to a mosaic of the same stone behind the cooktop. Many stones look different when used in varying sizes, which adds to the interest in the room. This can also be done using a variety of different stones. For example, try using a blend of 4-inch Rosso Asiago, Giallo Sahara, and Crema Marfil along the counters, then switch to a mosaic blend of the same stones either as a border or as a focal point. This adds a lot of depth to the design that might be lacking when using one single size.

When using very textured stone, consider making the most of the 3D effect of the stone by bringing it into other areas of the room as well. Creating an archway above the cooktop, or tiling the hood can emphasize the texture of the stone and of the effect that it creates.

Natural stone is one of the most versatile materials out there. Take advantage of the many sizes and finishes available to create a backsplash that stands out from the crowd.

The Misconception of Radon and Granite

Radon gas is a serious health hazard, causing nearly as many cases of lung cancer each year as smoking. For this reason, a lot of homeowners take steps to protect themselves, testing for radon and installing abatement systems whenever necessary. Because one of the ways in which radon gas is given off is through the decomposition of granite, it has led to the misconception that radon gas can be given off by your granite countertop. This is categorically untrue, however; granite counters are safe to have in your home.


Most stones that are sold as “granite” and used on countertops today, are not actually granite. These stones are known as “commercial granite”, but may actually be dolomites, gabbros, or quartzites. So the vast majority of stones that you may select to have in your home may not actually be an igneous rock.

Even if you do choose a real granite for your home, the stone itself is still unlikely to have an issue with radon gas. This is because radon is produced when uranium begins to decompose. This uranium may be found in some types of igneous rock and granite, but not all types. It also needs to be broken down, usually through a great deal of pressure and time, before it begins to produce gas. Your granite countertop is not in a state of decomposition when it is installed in your home. Therefore it will not produce or give off radon gas.

Radon becomes a problem when large amounts are being produced by the rock or soil beneath your home. When the gas rises, it becomes trapped in your home where it mixes with the air you breathe. Even if your stone does contain minimal amounts of uranium, it should not produce radon in quantities that will become a hazard for your home. Numerous tests have been carried out on homes with granite counters, and no counters have ever tested with high enough levels to indicate a need for abatement.

If you are truly concerned, you can have a sample of the granite you are considering for your home tested for the presence of uranium by sending it out to an independent lab before you purchase or install the slab. Or, you can choose to install a different type of stone, such as soapstone or quartzite, which are not igneous in nature.

While radon gas is a serious issue for some homeowners, your granite counter will not produce the same type of problems or cause a health hazard. Be confident that your new counter will be a beautiful addition to your home, and not something that could be considered a negative.

Coordinating Your Granite and Backsplash

The backsplash is the finishing touch of most kitchens, and in some cases it’s also the most decorative item within the room. Because granite is also a very decorative, beautiful, and highly sought after addition to many kitchens, it makes sense that homeowners will want to work to coordinate their granite and their backslash into one, cohesive design. There are many ways that you can do this that will highlight the beauty of both and create a kitchen you can be proud of.

Brooklyn Heights Addition

Begin by waiting until your granite is installed to select the backsplash material. Granite slabs have a lot of variation in tone and color, as well as veining and pattern, and some of these things may not be apparent until you’ve seen them in the light of your home. You will also want to see how prominent accent or secondary colors are within the stone, as well as how visible the veins are, and where they are placed near the backsplash.

Ask for the sink cut or a sample from your slab to use as you visit tile showrooms; this will help you narrow down your color selections more easily as you go.

The basic rule of thumb when pairing a backsplash and granite is to look at how busy the stone is. Very wild stones with lots of color and movement would compete with a backsplash that has a lot of the same. So for these stones, choosing a simple, solid color backsplash is the best way to go.

For more sedate stones, however, or granites that have a very tightly packed grain, such as Uba Tuba or Giallo Ornamentale, you can get more wild and decorative with the backsplash. Start by examining your granite for undertones of color that you may want to include in this area. For example, Uba Tuba often has cream, yellow, and turquoise color flecks, while Giallo Ornamentale has cream, dark brown, and cranberry. So for a backsplash paired with Uba Tuba, you could use a cream colored tile with turquoise and gold accents. By working with the colors in the stone, you ensure that your backsplash and granite will work together in perfect harmony.

Always pick your backsplash after your granite has been installed to ensure that you find the right tile to match.

Is It Marble or Quartzite?

There can often be some confusion surrounding the type of stone that you’re buying for your tile or countertop. Sometimes this confusion stems from the name of the stone, with some suppliers renaming the stone when they sell it. Other times the confusion stems from the type of stone; at times you may find the same name of stone labeled as a quartzite and a marble by different suppliers. Quartzites are much more durable and resistant to staining and etching than marbles are, which makes them a great choice for kitchens and other high-use areas. But how can you tell if something is a quartzite or if it’s a marble? The answer usually lies in the appearance of the stone.

Hayes Interiors

Part of the confusion comes from the veining and patterns of the stones. Both often have a lot of veining, and sometimes even similar coloration. Greek Ajax, which is a quartzite, very closely resembles Bianco Carrara, a marble, for example. So at a quick glance, one might assume Ajax to be another type of white marble like Calacatta or Danby.

If you look closely at the surface of the stone, however, you can notice subtle differences which can help you determine whether the stone is a marble or a quartzite. Marble has a fairly uniform surface in texture. Whether it’s polished or it’s honed, the marble will reflect light evenly across its surface.

Quartzite, on the other hand, will appear more crystalline in nature. At times, the stones may be described as “sugary” or “glittery”, even when they have been honed. So a side by side of comparison of Ajax and Carrara will show similar colors, but the Carrara will have a uniform surface texture, while the Ajax will sparkle in individual grains beneath the polished surface. This sparkle or glitter is apparent in all quartzites due to the way that the stone formed.

So when looking for a durable, marble-looking stone for your home, and you’re not sure whether the stone you are considering is truly a marble or not, take a close look at the surface to find out more.