Natural stone comes in a very wide variety of different colors, styles, and veining patterns. Most pure calcium based stones like marble and limestone are white when they contain no other minerals to give them color. Because the minerals that produce color show up randomly within a stone quarry, no two pieces are ever exactly the same. Some stones may have slight to moderate amounts of variation between them, meaning that there may be some pieces that are a little lighter or darker than the rest. Other stones, however, can have extreme amounts of variation. Some pieces may have colors that don’t match up with the surrounding tiles. Others may be dramatically lighter or darker than the others. When a lot of stone has produced a very varied color pattern, the stones need to be blended during installation to get the most pleasing effect.
Blending the stones means two things: taking the tiles from all of the boxes at once, and conducting a dry layout. During a dry layout, the tiles are placed on the area where they will be installed without any mortar. This allows the installer to move them around so that the colors can be evenly spread throughout the installation. In the event that there is a tile or tiles that are so different than the others that to use them would draw attention to them, these can be set aside for waste or cuts on the perimeter of the room.
By taking the tiles from all boxes at the time of the dry layout, colors will have less chance to clump up together in the installation. This makes it easier for the installer to blend the tiles successfully into an installation that is visually appealing.
Homeowners who are cautious about the color variation in natural stone should always take the time to approve a dry layout before installation takes place. This will ensure that changes can be made easily, before the mortaring takes place.