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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


The Beauty of Texas Limestone

Natural stone is quarried from around the world, with many of the stones people use in their homes coming from countries like Italy and Brazil. Some of these quarries are so famous, such as the Carrara quarries in Italy, that many people end up overlooking the fact that many beautiful stones are also quarried within the United States. Just like Vermont is well known for its Danby marbles, Texas is the home to some beautiful and unique limestone quarries. Texas limestone has been used in exterior architecture for years, as well as for interior purposes such as countertops. And with the latest magazine shoot of Patriot’s quarterback Tom Brady’s showcase home featuring two different types of Texas limestone, its popularity is sure to rise.

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Texas limestones come in four distinct colors, the most popular of which is Cordova Cream, a light, cream colored limestone with an even color and texture. Cordova Cream is often used as an exterior architectural stone because of its evenness and beauty.

Complementing Cordova Cream is its sister stone, Cordova Shell. This limestone has the same creamy, light background, but features several small fossils and imprints of shells in its surface. Cordova Shell limestone is sure to be a conversation starter wherever it is installed for its looks and style.

In addition to these cream-colored stones, Texas limestone is also available in gray tones as well. Leuders Buff and Leuders Gray are both cool-toned stones that have an even color and little to no marks of veining in their surfaces. Leuders Buff is more neutral with a lighter overall color that could complement both warm or cool color schemes – perfect for homes that feature a lot of “greige” coloring.

Leuders Gray is a deeper-colored stone, but not as dark as Lagos Azul or other gray stones. This makes it a nice complement to white color schemes where a hint of color is desired.

Texas limestones make a beautiful addition to any area they are installed in. If you’re looking for a more locally quarried option, consider these stones for your next project.

Wicked White for Kitchens and Baths

While colors like blue, black, and purple are trending for both kitchens and baths, there’s still one color scheme that reigns supreme – white. Which means that white stones, and particularly white marbles, are still getting a lot of attention for countertops, flooring, and showers. White marbles don’t always hold up particularly well in these areas long term, however, with etching and staining being two concerns that many homeowners have. For this reason, some people are beginning to look to quartzites as a more durable alternative to marble for these high use areas. And for anyone looking for the classic white and gray look of marbles like Carrara, Wicked White may be an attractive alternative.

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Wicked White, also known as Super White, is a very hard, durable quartzite quarried in Brazil. Quartzite is a metamorphic stone, like marble, but made up primarily of pressurized quartz and sandstone, so it’s much more durable than calcite-based marble. It’s less likely to stain and etch, and can be easily used in wet areas like bathrooms or high-use areas like kitchens. Best of all, Wicked White has a beautiful white background with gray marks and veining that will give you the classic white stone appearance that you want for your home, but with less maintenance or staining.

Wicked White makes an excellent countertop material, and can also be used as a solid backsplash, tub deck, or curb in the bathroom. It pairs well with both contemporary and traditional kitchen and bath designs, and has a nice cool-tone that works well with black and white, as well as the newly popular blues and grays as well.

If you’re looking for a way to get the classic look of white marble in your home, but worry about the ongoing maintenance needs, consider opting for a white quartzite such as Wicked White instead. A natural stone just like marble, quartzites are more durable, yet just as beautiful. Consider Wicked White for your next kitchen or bath design to stay on trend and more.

Blue Stones for the Bathroom

The NKBA has conducted their yearly survey of emerging trends in kitchens and bathrooms. This year, it appears that blue, as well as shades of purple and violet, is becoming the go-to color for bathrooms. This makes sense, as blue is often the color associated with water, and therefore a longstanding popular choice for the bath. If you’re considering a bathroom update this year, consider including some natural stone in shades of blue or purple to elevate your design. While many blue stones, such as Azul Macuba and Azul Bahia are on the pricey side, there are many stones that have blue tones to them that are much more affordable and perfect for use in the bath.

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Blue Celeste is a beautiful stone that works well with whites, as well as with pale Ming Green. It’s actually a type of quartzite, although frequently sold as a marble, so it’s very durable and perfect for use in busy bathrooms. It has a very light blue color with occasional gold veining.

For bathrooms that are going darker, Bross Blue is a very deep, rich looking stone that’s nearly black in color. It has swirls of lighter blue running through the surface, as well as some white veins. This granite can be used anywhere in the bathroom as well.

Labrador or Labradorite is a nearly purple stone that sometimes has some blue undertones to it, depending on the stone that you get. Many younger designers are working with more purple tones right now, which makes Labrador the perfect stone for bathroom countertops and tub decks.

If you’re looking for something a little softer, and if you aren’t planning on using the stone in wet areas, Gascogne Bleu limestone can be the perfect fit. This light, creamy gray stone has just a hint of a blue undertone to it. It would work well in a bathroom with blue wall color or accents.

The best part about using natural stone is how many different accent colors you can get out of one slab or tile. Choosing a blue stone for your bathroom gives you a wealth of options for wall, towel, and accent color so you can personalize the space, while staying on trend. Consider a blue stone for your bathroom to create a beautiful new space.

On Trend Green Stones

While Sherwin Williams went neutral for their color of the year, Pantone has decided to go green with the announcement of their color of the year – Greenery. This bold, yet light green has a hint of lime to it, and is sure to liven up any environment it’s seen in. The nice thing about all shades of green, is the way they work with a vast number of other colors, including blues, yellows, and reds. Greenery is no different, pairing well with several shades of yellow, as well as bold turquoise. If you’re considering adding Greenery to your walls this year, make the most of the color by pairing up a beautiful natural stone for your floors or counters.

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There are several stones that will work well with Greenery, regardless of whether you want a green stone or something in another color. Uba Tuba, a dark green stone that borders on black, would work particularly well with Greenery, featuring flecks of gold and turquoise that would give you many accent choices.

Costa Esmerelda would also work well if you’re looking for a monotone color within the room. Costa Esmerelda has a background color that blends nicely with Greenery, and depending on the stone you choose, you may also get marshmallow white veins, yellow, and turquoise hints.

If you want a stone that will match Greenery well without a lot of other colors, consider Coast Green, which has a yellow/green color in a more traditional granite pattern of closely packed grains.

For marbles and more exotic stones, consider using Alba Chiaro with your Greenery walls. This white stone features green and sometimes peach swirls and veins over its surface. Technically a type of onyx, Alba Chiaro has a beautiful translucence to it that will make your floor or counter glow.

Or, if you want to contrast the green color and bring some additional depth to the room, consider a stone like Fouco, which is a wild mix of reds, greens, and creams, and which can liven up any living space.

Make the most of Pantone’s color of the year for 2017 by pairing it with one of these natural stone choices to celebrate all things green for the new year.

Does Your Stone Need Polishing?

Natural stone counters and floors are more popular today than ever before. Stone has a beauty and durability that is unmatched by other materials on the market, which may be why so many homeowners choose to install it in their homes. Stone comes in several different finishes, but by far the most popular is the polished finish. Polishing creates a mirror-smooth finish on the top surface of the stone, allowing it to reflect light, while deepening its color. There are times when stone can lose its polish, however, if it comes in contact with acids or abrasives. There may be other times when the stone may not have been installed correctly, and grinding and polishing can fix some problems. Not all stones will benefit from being polished, however, so before you schedule a polisher or purchase a DIY kit, it helps to determine if your stone does need to be polished.

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First, determine what type of stone it is. Granites and marbles hold polishes well, but some limestones, travertines, and slates do not. It may be that you are attempting to polish a stone that can only hold a high hone or light sheen at best, rather than a high gloss finish.

Next, look at all areas of the stone. Does it have a polish anywhere? In corners, closets, edges, or anywhere not in common use. If not, it may be that the stone was never polished and is meant to have a honed or matte finish. If this stone is a granite or marble, it can be polished, but likely the look of the stone will be dramatically changed, which may not always be advisable for the style you’re after. If the stone is matte in some places, but polished in others, then having the floor ground down and repolished makes sense.

Finally, take a look at the stone from different angles. If you have tiles that are sticking up at the corners, then grinding and polishing may help correct this. If the stone has numerous pits and fissures, polishing may help to hide them.

Finally, some sealers have a shine enhancing quality to them. You may want to test out a topical sealer that can temporarily polish your stone to see how it looks before you go through the process of having your stone refinished. While stone can be ground down and polished several times, you are essentially wearing away at its top layer, so it’s a good idea to take a long-term approach to its finish.

Make sure your stone needs polishing before you go through with it to get the best possible results for your floor or counter.


Is Green Marble Really Marble?

In the world of commercial stone, it’s common to group large numbers of stones with similar characteristics together under a single label. For example, gabbros and dolomites are frequently labeled as granites, because they share a lot of common minerals and patterns with true granite. This can get a little confusing if you’re looking for a specific stone that will hold up well in particular circumstances. One such confusion surrounds the group of stones known as “green marble”.

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While there are a few types of calcium based marble that are also green – Cippolino and Verde Antigua – the vast majority of green stones that are called marbles, are actually serpentine. Serpentine is a group of minerals made of mostly magnesium silicate. Serpentines are usually green, but may vary in tone from nearly black to yellow, and may have some amount of white veining throughout their surface. Some studies carried out on green marbles used in architecture discovered that most of stones labeled as marble, but green in color contained 75 to 90% serpentine, with little or no calcite at all.

The benefit of using a serpentine is the fact that’s actually more durable than true marble. Serpentine is not reactive to acids, for example, which means that you can use one as a kitchen counter and not have to worry about etching.

On the other hand, however, serpentine does not react well in wet environments. The stone gets its name from the scaly pattern that often emerges on the surface of the stone. This is known as spalling, and can get worse when the stone absorbs moisture. Therefore, green marbles should always be installed using an epoxy-based setting material, and should either be sealed well or kept out of extremely wet area, such as steam showers, all together.

While most green marbles out there aren’t truly marble, they are still beautiful, durable stones that can enhance any area you install them in. Take care to install and care for them properly to help them last as long as possible.

Polishing or Honing Your Stone

There are many finishes available for stone tiles and countertops. Depending on the stone you’ve chosen, it may be available in a polished finished, a honed finish, or a high-hone finish with a light sheen. Some people may have some misconceptions about these finishes, however, and may therefore hesitate to use one or the other or may choose a finish that doesn’t complement their home the way they thought.

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In terms of maintaining your stone, there is no difference between polished and honed finishes. Some people may mistakenly believe that a polished stone is more durable, or that it may require less sealing or resist scratches more. Some polished stones may reflect light better than others, which can hide or disguise scratches better than a honed stone will, which is what may lead to this confusion, but both types of finishes will require the same care.

For some softer stones, such as marble, which can etch or dull when it comes in contact with an acid, honing may help to disguise this better than polishing. For example, a Carrara marble counter may look better longer when honed, because etch marks may fade into the overall finish more easily, while the same counter when polished may have more obvious etch marks.

Stones that have a very granular surface or that have a lot of mica in their surface may not hone as well as stones with a more regular surface texture. This is because polishing reflects light off of surface irregularities, such as pits and natural fissures, while honing may expose them. So, stones such as Labrador Antique may look better polished than they will honed.

If your stone doesn’t have these issues, then polishing or honing may be a more personal choice. Honed stones have a softer, more natural appearance to them, which makes them a good fit for some Country and Farmhouse style kitchens, while polished stones look better in more traditional and formal spaces. Either way, your stone counter or tile is sure to give you many years of beauty and use anywhere you install it within your home.

The Beauty of Breccia Marbles

Most people associate marbles with classic veining patterns, often in light, cool colors. Some people may also associate marbles with some of the more wild and varied stones that have become popular of late, such as Verde Luna or Sahara Gold. One type of stone that is often overlooked, however, is the breccia. Often called a marble, this sedimentary stone has a unique beauty all its own that fits in well with many of today’s styles and designs.

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A breccia is any type of sedimentary stone made up of large chunks or pieces of other stones. The pieces are usually angular, creating a unique matrix of fractured lines and pieces cemented together. The result is a polished stone with a fractal beauty very different from traditional marbles or other sedimentary stones like limestone.

There are several different breccias to choose from for the home in either tile or slab form. The most common and popular of these is Breccia Oniciata, which is a pale pink stone with tones of white and beige, and a mixture of large and small fractals.

Other stones include Breccia Sarda, which is composed of many pieces running in long, thin lines. A floor laid in Breccia Sarda may almost resemble wood, with a grain that runs cleanly across the space. Breccia Diana is made up of smaller pieces that form larger layers within the stone. It’s often cut so that these layers are apparent, giving a lot of interest and dimension to the stone.

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Breccia Aurora is similar in color and pattern to Breccia Oniciata, with many shades of pink, peach, and beige mixed together in large blocks of color. Occasionally, the stone also features a white, marshmallow vein running through the pieces as well.

Breccias are a unique stone that’s different from both classic marbles and limestones. They add depth and interest to any area they are installed in, and come in a wide range of light colors. Consider installing a breccia in your home to capture the beauty for yourself.


Italian Marble


Marble is one material for the home that never goes out of fashion. Whether it’s polished, honed, or tumbled, marble has a beauty and character that is unmatched by anything else. And for homeowners that want additional history, interest, and beauty for their homes, there’s nothing quite like Italian marble.

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Italy has long been famous for its marble quarries. Carrara marble is one of the most easily recognizable types of stone around the world. With its soft gray background and deeper gray veins, most people can tell Carrara marble at a glance.

Other Italian marbles are just as beautiful and just as easily recognizable as well. From Calacatta to Bianco Venatino, Italian marble is some of the oldest and most well-known materials for use in and around the home.

Italian marble is often considered vastly superior to other stones quarried from around the world. This is due in part to the purity of the marble. Italian marbles often have fewer fissures and pits, truer colors with less impurities to dull or darken the stone, and many Italian marbles that have been used in sculpture and architecture for centuries are still just as beautiful today as they were on the day they were created.

Italy was one of the first countries to streamline and perfect the process of quarrying marble. They’re standards for quality are also amongst the highest in the world, so when you buy Italian marble, you know that you’re getting a truly superior product with none of the weakness or issues that can be found in other stones. While marbles from other countries may come backed with fiberglass mesh to help strengthen and support them, Italian marble is able to stand on its own.

In fact, true Italian marble is so popular and rare, that’s often duplicated and substituted for by stones manufactured in China or Brazil. Always ask for the country of origin for the marble you buy for your home, to make sure that you’re getting the best quality material you can purchase.