Author Archives: Lisa Soesbe

Types of Stone Sealer

Whether you have granite countertops or marble tiles installed in your home, it’s likely that at some point you heard about stone sealants and the benefits that they can give your new stone surfaces. There are many different types of sealants on the market, and not all of them are equal or made for every stone. Learn the different types of sealants so that you can make better choices for your stone.

Richards Drive 1 contemporary-kitchen

Impregnating Sealer

Impregnating sealers penetrate into your stone to seal up the many small holes and pores beneath its surface. They may be made of silicone or water, and may help increase the slip resistance of some stone floors. They can be used on any type of stone, as well as on any stone finish from tumbled to polished. They do not affect the color or the finish of the stone, but merely help impede staining and give you time to wipe up spills before they can penetrate the stone.

Porous Sealants

If you have a highly porous stone, like limestone or marble, you may want to invest in a sealer made specifically for porous stones. Usually made of silicone, these sealers fill the larger holes in very porous stones to help impede staining. They’re perfect for stones that are installed in high traffic areas, such as kitchens, and will not affect the color or finish of your stone.

Color Enhancers

A color enhancer is a topical sealant that sits on the surface of your stone. It does not penetrate like an impregnator, and should be used in conjunction with a penetrating sealer. Color enhancers help darken and bring out the colors in honed, matte, and tumbled stones. A good indication of how a color enhancer will look on your stone, is to get its surface wet; this is the color it will be once the sealer has been applied.

Shine Enhancers

If you have a polished stone that has received some minor etching or dulling of the finish, you may want to put a shine enhancer on its surface. Shine enhancers are topical sealants that leave a high gloss finish behind. They are meant to be used on already polished stones, not to bring a gloss to honed or tumbled stones.

Seal Your Stone

Most stones can benefit from repeated applications of stone sealants to help impede staining and bring out their beauty. Get the right sealer for your stone to help bring out the best in all your installations.

Removing a Wine Stain from a Marble Counter

White marble counters are all the rage for many areas of the home, including the kitchen. These countertops look beautiful, but come hand in hand with a lot of additional maintenance necessary to keep their good looks. Many of the liquids and foods found in the kitchen can easily penetrate the porous surface of the marble. And when that liquid is deep in color like many red wines, the resulting stain may leave a mark that’s difficult to conceal. While you may not be able to remove all traces of the wine from your counter, if a spill occurs, it may be possible to help reduce its impact.

Bronxville Shingle Style traditional-kitchen

Start by blotting up as much of the liquid as you can. If your marble has been sealed, this may help a lot of the wine to remain on the surface where it can be more easily wiped away. If the stone has not been sealed, it may absorb more of the liquid. Do not rub at the spill, as this may push the liquid deeper into the stone.

Once you’ve removed the excess liquid, soak a cloth in hydrogen peroxide and place it on the stain. Cover this with plastic wrap and set a heavy book on top. Leave it for a few hours to give the peroxide time to lift the stain. Wipe away the excess with clean water.

If the stain remains after the peroxide treatment, you may need to use a poultice to bring up the rest. Purchase a poultice made specifically for marble, and if possible, use one that is intended for organic stains like wine. Spread the poultice paste onto the stain and cover with fresh plastic wrap. Leave the poultice overnight, then rinse with clean water. Two or more applications may be necessary to finish lightening the stain. Poultices work by pulling the stains up to the surface of the stone where they can be wiped away; stains that were left to sit too long may have penetrated too deeply for the poultice to reach.

Always do your best to wipe up spills as soon as you notice them to help prevent deep staining. Protect your marble with regular sealings, and try not to worry about ordinary spills in the kitchen.

Oiling or Waxing Your Soapstone

Soapstone counters enjoy a lot of popularity amongst homeowners that like a matte, dark counter that still has some veining and personality to it. Soapstone gets its name from the soft, almost soapy texture that the stone has when finished, it does well as a countertop, resisting most scratches and stains and requiring no sealants. However, many people do choose to either oil or wax their soapstone, which gives the counter a deeper, richer color and helps make the veins pop against it.

Interior Paint Projects contemporary-kitchen

Oiling and waxing are not requirements of owning a soapstone counter. However, the stone will darken on its own over time regardless of whether or not you oil it. This patina is natural and an integral part of the stone, but it can develop unevenly, darkening areas around the stove or sink more quickly than other sections. Therefore, many people who don’t necessarily wish to oil in the beginning, ultimately do so to help even out the color of the stone.

When deciding between oil and wax for your soapstone, you may want to consider both the ultimate hue you wish to achieve, and how much effort you wish to invest. Some people enjoy oiling their stone, for example, while others may find it tedious.

Oil may eventually lighten up again, especially if the stone is touched or used frequently, which means that it does need to be reapplied often. Wax does not lighten or wear off quite as quickly, so you can go longer between applications.

Both oiling and waxing your soapstone take only a few minutes of buffing the enhancing substance into the surface, waiting for 30 minutes, then buffing again with a clean cloth. Whether you choose to oil, wax, or leave the stone alone is up to you; enhancing the stone only affects its color, not how well it will perform for you over the years.

Consider enhancing the color of your soapstone, to see your counter in all its beauty

Choosing the Right Tile for Your Bathroom

When it comes to the bathroom design, you have several different options for the type of tile that you use. Ceramic, glass, and natural stone are all viable options that can create a beautiful design. Deciding between them can sometimes be difficult, as each has several attributes that can help you make the most of the room. Learning more about each one, however, may help you decide which may be right for you.

CH+D mag's Fall 2012 Best Of Photos contemporary-bathroom

Ceramic tile is a manmade product. A clay based tile that is covered with a glaze and fired to high temperatures. They come in a range of colors, sizes, and textures and may be suitable for walls, floors, or both. Ceramic tile typically requires little care, unless the glaze has a crackled or crazed finish, in which case it will require sealing to prevent stains. Ceramic tile is fairly uniform in color, and even those with variation will still not deviate too far from one another in color or design.

Glass tile is a popular material for bathrooms, as it’s colorful, light reflecting, and easy to clean. Glass is used primarily for walls, but some tiles can be used on the floor as well. It has unique needs for setting material to help preserve its color and clarity. It can be difficult and expensive to install properly as well. Glass mixes well with other materials such as ceramic or stone, making a beautiful accent in small amounts.

Natural stone is one of the most popular materials for bathrooms, as it comes in such a wide range of colors, textures, and types. You can achieve classic styles using Bianco Carrara or get something more contemporary using a mixture of honed Absolute Black and glass tiles. Stone may need to be sealed in wet areas, but most types are well suited to the bath. Because no two pieces of stone are every exactly the same, using this material in your bathroom will give it a richness and depth that can’t be duplicated with ceramic tile. Stone also has a nearly universal appeal, making it a good choice for resale as well.

No matter what type of tile you choose for your bathroom, make sure that you consider all your options first, to find the right material for the job.

Should You Chose a Unique Stone?

Natural stone countertops, walls, and floors make a beautiful addition to any home. Whether you choose marble, granite, quartzite, or slate, you’re getting a beautiful, durable material that will last for years. And because of the way that natural stone is produced, you’re also getting a material that is at least slightly different than even other stones of the same type. This is part of the beauty and appeal of stone; the fact that no two tiles are slabs are ever completely the same. Unfortunately for some people, this can also seem like a drawback, especially when you think that you’re receiving something that looks exactly like the sample in a showroom, only to find that it may in fact be dramatically different. A new trend is beginning to emerge amongst some homeowners, however, that goes in the opposite direction of what many people have thought of stone in the past; more people than ever before are beginning to search for truly unique stones to use in their homes.

Bathroom - Forest Green & Sahara Gold Marble traditional-bathroom

It’s important to remember that even when you choose a fairly consistent stone, like Uba Tuba or Giallo Ornamentale, there is still going to be some degree of variation in the material. Color, tone, or veining may differ from piece to piece, even when quarried at the same time. This is one of the characteristics of stone.

This new trend is moving toward more inconsistent stones, such as Sahara Gold or Verde Luna, which are incredibly wild in color variation from piece to piece and particularly from lot to lot. The idea is that a truly unique stone like this will create a dramatic appearance within the home. And while this is true, it isn’t something that everyone enjoys. If you’re considering a unique stone for your home, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you plan on staying in the home for 5 to 10 more years?
  • Are you remodeling with the idea of a higher ROI?
  • Are you adding the unique stone simply because you love it, or because you want impact?

If you are planning on remaining in your home for at least 5 years, and want the unique stone because you value its beauty, then by all means use a dramatic and highly varied stone. Keep in mind, however, that most people feel that more sedate or classic stones are preferable, and you may have trouble finding a buyer for your home that enjoys the dramatic appearance as much as you do.

Natural stone is a wonderful addition to any home, regardless of what type you choose. Invest in a unique stone if it makes you happy, and try not to worry about what the next owner will think.

Monochromatic Stones for the Bathroom

One of the hottest trends in bathroom design right now includes the use of monochromatic colors in shades of white, gray, beige, and bone. Another trend that’s also steaming up the bath is the use of polished stones such as marble throughout the room. With the right choices, it’s also possible to combine both of these trends into one, stunning bathroom design.

Vine Ave, Park Ridge, IL traditional-bathroom

Many people shy away from using only a single color in the bathroom – even white. Often other colors get introduced through accents or accessories to help liven up the palette. Monochromatic color schemes don’t have to be boring or a single color, however, and there are several stones that can make a beautiful neutral palette in the room.

One mixture of stones is Bianco Carrara with Bardiglio. Carrara is one of the most commonly recognized marbles; a soft white with gray veining. Bardiglio is the opposite of Carrara – a deep gray stone with white veins. Used together they create a dynamic design that’s also in keeping with today’s monochromatic trends.

Another pairing that works well in the bathroom is the blend of Calacatta and Crema Marfil. Calacatta is a bright white stone with a mixture of both gray and gold veins. Crema Marfil is a softer, cream colored stone that picks up the gold vein in the Calacatta and makes it pop, creating a two-tone design that’s also interesting and eye-catching.

If you’re creating a powder room or half bath, another combination of stones that works well with today’s colors is a blend of Lagos Azul and Lagos Gold. While these limestones don’t work well in wet areas, they can create a stunning gray and gold design for a bathroom floor or powder room walls. Both stones have a soft, high-hone finish that gives them depth, along with a similar tone of color that makes them pair well particularly well together.

Finally, consider a subtle look in the bathroom by mixing Jerusalem stones such as Jerusalem Gold, Jerusalem Bone, and Jerusalem Gray. The three stones blend well together, shifting across the spectrum of neutrals, but keeping your bathroom from becoming boring with their richness and depth.

Break out of the monochromatic box by mixing natural stones in your bathroom to create a look that’s hard to walk away from.

Natural Stone and Steam Showers

There are several trends that have been gaining popularity in the bathroom for the last several years. Natural stone walls and floors, body jets, and steam are just a few of the things that more homeowners have been adding to their bathrooms than ever before. Unfortunately, two of these things don’t work well together, and too many homeowners find out only after everything has been installed.

Master Shower traditional-bathroom

Natural stone is a porous material, with thousands of tiny holes in its surface, which can absorb moisture. Some stones are extremely porous and will not only absorb the moisture from the fluids they come in contact with, but also any minerals or additives in the water, which can cause discoloration. Other stones, such as Bianco Carrara, may contain high iron content, which can cause rust to appear on the surface of the stone after a prolonged contact with moisture.

In a steam shower, the water particles being produced are small enough to infiltrate nearly all types of natural stone, even those that are less porous and not normally subject to absorption or staining. And while most stone should be sealed prior to grouting and periodically thereafter, even sealers may not be enough to stop the penetration of the water particles into the stone.

Stones that are at particularly high risk of developing problems inside a steam shower include not only Carrara, but also Lagos Azul limestone, which has been known to pit with contact with moisture, and any green marble, which contains high levels of serpentine. Nearly all stones may develop some adverse effect, however, after prolonged usage of the steam shower, including staining and developing mineral deposits.

While stone makes a beautiful addition to any bathroom and most showers, it’s generally a good idea to avoid using it in a steam shower or steam room. Avoiding the use of stone in these areas will help keep your stone shower looking beautiful for many years to come.

Creating a Wow Factor

For many homeowners, the kitchen design needs to be more than simply functional and meeting a family’s needs; it also needs to have a beautiful design and great aesthetic. For that reason, most homeowners look for ways to add a “wow factor” to their design, whether through the tile, the counters, the cabinetry, or the accessories. There is one way that you can add an instant wow factor to your design that will command attention from everyone who views it, and that’s with a unique stone countertop.

Kitchen contemporary-kitchen

The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) sends out surveys each year to industry professionals to gauge trends and interest in kitchen and bath design. And one common element that many kitchen and interior designers mention as having the biggest impact on the room is the countertop. Unique and eye catching counters outweigh lighting, cabinetry, accessories, and backsplashes as commanding the most attention from viewers.

Granite counters have been popular for many years now, with some stones getting a lot of use again and again, such as Uba Tuba and Saint Cecilia. These aren’t the stones that can give you that wow that you’re looking for, however, as they’ve been seen in so many kitchens.

To truly give your kitchen that impact that you’re looking for, consider choosing a unique or different stone for your kitchen. Look for stones that have an unusual pattern and coloration such as Mariachi or Fucco. Or consider choosing a slab of a more ordinary stone that happens to have unique veins or color streaks. For example, Costa Esmerelda is typically green and gold, but occasionally has been found with huge, thick, white marshmallow veins running through it like a river. This unique feature sets it apart from other stones, give you that impact you’re looking for.

To best find the unique stone that will best suit your kitchen, be sure to pay a visit to the stone yard to see the slabs in person. A small sample or photograph can’t show you all the color, veining, and intricacies of the stone that will help you pick just the right one. So, pay attention to the slabs themselves and choose something unique to give your kitchen the wow factor you’re looking for.

White on White in 2017

At the start of every year, homeowners, designers, and builders are polled to help discover the new trends that will emerge in the coming months. This year, one of the predominant kitchen themes is the white on white look of white cabinetry paired with white countertops. And while an all-white kitchen may seem stark, done right it can be beautiful, timeless, and elegant. The key is to opt for a white countertop that isn’t just stark or flat white, but that has some additional interest or movement to it.

Green Street traditional-kitchen

There are many white natural stones that can work beautifully in this type of situation. Bianco Carrara is probably the best known and most popular, but it’s far from being the only white stone that can be used in these types of kitchens.

White granites, which are more durable and less maintenance than a white marble, can be one choice that gives you the look, along with a lot of character and interest. Stones like Andromeda or Colonial White have a very clean white background with deep black or grain veining and granules. No two slabs are ever the same, so you can get that white on white look, but with a unique twist at the same time.

If you want something softer than granite, consider looking at a white quartzite as well. Monte Blanc has a white background with rich swirls of gray moving across it like storm clouds. Quartzite is also easier to maintain than marble, but has more of the appearance that people want in a white stone.

If you choose to go the route of white marble in the kitchen, consider moving away from the classic Bianco Carrara to get a unique look for your kitchen instead. Stones like Calacatta Mystery have a white background but with gold veining, something that brings a unique and warmer touch to the kitchen.

An al- white kitchen doesn’t have to be stark to be beautiful. Consider using a natural stone for your white counter to get the look you want, with the depth and interest that will bring your kitchen to life.

The Best Natural Stone for Backsplashes

Backsplashes complete the kitchen design, adding detail, dimension, and interest to the room. Because this area gets no foot traffic and only sees minimal water or other liquids, it’s common to use decorative tiles that may not be suitable for other areas of the home here. You have a lot of choices for what to install in this area, and many people already using natural stone on their countertops or floors, like to use a similar material on the backsplash as well for continuity. There are many stones that make a beautiful choice for backsplashes, many of which are also perfectly on trend this year.

Gallery traditional-kitchen

For the last few years, a mosaic mixture of slate and glass tiles has been an exceptionally popular material for the backsplash. Slate is an easy to care for stone that doesn’t stain like some softer materials. It has a lot of natural variation and texture, and paired with glass it adds a lot of depth to the backsplash. To get more out of the design, consider mixing the mosaics with some larger slate tiles along the countertops, running a border of the mosaic mix along the edges, then filling in larger areas, like those behind the cooktop, with the mosaic by itself.

For Country-style kitchens, subway tile is one of the most popular looks. If your Country kitchen is also white in color, consider using a honed Bianco Carrara subway tile. Honed Bianco Carrara has a soft, flat appearance that hides things like scratches and etch marks well, so even if some lemon juice splashes onto the tile, the effect won’t be seen.

If you’re interested in creating a unique, yet natural look in the kitchen, consider installing river stones. These mesh-mounted stones have a look reminiscent of a Zen garden, and have lots of visual appeal with different sizes and colors available. Commonly used on floors, they make an instant impact when used on a backsplash as well.

Finally, consider simply matching or complementing your countertop by running a similar stone on the walls up to the ceiling. The effect will help unify the space, and ensure that your kitchen obtains a cohesive look. Whichever stone you choose, you’re sure to get the beauty, depth, and interest you need to make the design complete.

Understanding Black Granite

There are a number of stones on the market that claim to be true, black granite. Black stones are popular in many homes for their beauty when polished or honed, and are unmatched when it comes to durability and low maintenance. Most real black granites on the market are actually Gabbros, a type of igneous rock that is very dense, hard, and non-porous, making them ideal for any type of countertop application. Unfortunately, not every stone sold as black granite really is black; some Chinese stones are being dyed to blacken their surface and make them more visually appealing, while hiding defects. This black dye can fade or wear off over time, giving the unsuspecting homeowner an unwelcome surprise. Get to know real black granite before you purchase, so that you can be sure that you’re getting the best quality stone.

Classic Transformation traditional-kitchen

Your first clue as to the quality of the stone should come from its origins. Absolute Black, Absolute Black Premium, and Absolute Black Super Premium are all quarried in India, and are very dense, dark, and high quality stones. Black Galaxy, which has a black background with flecks of Bronzite in its surface is another very high quality black stone that has not been dyed.

Many black stones imported from China for a lower cost may have white veining, voids, fissures, or pits in their surface. These are often dyed black to help disguise the issues. Be wary of any black stone quarried in China, even with the name “Absolute Black”.

Other high quality black stones will have either a “rice” grain texture to them, or may have a silvery appearance; stones by the names of Zimbabwe Black, Nero Impala, and Cambrian Black should not be flat black in color, but should have some variation. Any stone by these names with a flat black color may have been dyed.

If you suspect a stone of being dyed, request a sample. Wipe a white cloth soaked in Acetone over the surface of the sample. If a black residue comes off on the cloth, the stone has been dyed.

A true black counter can enhance any room it’s installed in. Protect yourself by getting to know black granite to ensure you get the best quality product for your home.

Cantilevering Stone Counters

It’s becoming more common for homeowners remodeling a kitchen to add a casual, eat-in option to the plan. In many cases this involves creating a counter-height seating area at an island or peninsula, giving the kitchen a variety of uses and functions in one small area. To facilitate this counter-height seating area, the countertop must be extended past the edge of the cabinetry, often by as much as 12 to 18-inches, or enough for people to comfortably place their knees beneath. There are several ways that this can be achieved, most of which involve some form of support for the stone.

Ackerly Park ~ New Albany, Ohio rustic-kitchen

Some homeowners may feel that by adding a support beneath the stone that it detracts from the look or style of the kitchen. And while it is true that in some contemporary spaces, it can be difficult to find a visible support that also complements the space, stone should not be extended more than 6-inches past the edge of the cabinetry without some type of support.

While natural stone that is 3cm thick appears substantial, not all stones are durable enough to withstand the pressure of 12 to 18-inches of no support. Over time, some stones may slope or bend slightly, eventually cracking or breaking at the point where they pass the cabinetry, simply through daily use. Sitting on the counter or placing heavy objects on its edge may increase the risks of this happening more quickly.

Using a support bracket helps ensure that your stone will function in this position for the longest possible time. If a bracket is truly not going to work in your kitchen design, consider putting a thin piece of pressed steel beneath the counter, out to within three inches of its edge. As long as the metal is around 1/8-inch in thickness, it will be strong enough to support the stone, but won’t be visible from above.

Always support stone overhangs on counters to ensure that the stone maintains its integrity as long as you own the kitchen.