Get to Know Your Stone

Stone is perfect for floors, counter-tops, and other such applications due to its intense durability and ability to last for decades without ever needing to be replaced.

Of course, stone is not indestructible and will need to be properly maintained if it is to stay looking its best. For homeowners, that means knowing what type of stone you’ve used and how best to care for it.
Luckily, natural stone can be broadly categorized into basic geological classifications: either calcareous or siliceous.

Calcareous stone is composed mainly of calcium, and tends to be paler than other stones. Examples of calcareous stones include marble, limestone, and travertine. Calcium carbonate is sensitive to acidic cleaning solutions, so you’ll need to be on the lookout for milder cleaners. Anything containing lemon or vinegar should be avoided.

Examples of siliceous stones include sandstone, slate, granite, and quartzite. As the name implies, siliceous stone is primarily made up of silicates, such as quartz, mica, and feldspar. These compounds are able to resist most of the acids that cause issues with calcareous stone, but they may still contain trace levels of such substances, so acidic cleaners are still best avoided. You should also refrain from using rust removers; they contain trace levels of hydrofluoric acid, which attacks silicates.

No matter the type of stone in your house, you can keep everything clean and in good order by following the quick and easy tips provided below:

  • All you need to clean stone surfaces is a neutral cleaner, some special stone soap, or a mild liquid dishwashing detergent. Mix with warm water and then clean away.
  • Though no damage can occur when you use the products listed above, you will still find that a high concentration of cleaning agent or soap leaves a film and causes streaks, so remember to use plenty of water.
  • If you’re cleaning stone floors, a clean rag mop is best. For other surfaces, just use a soft cloth. Scouring pads may damage your stone over time.
  • Once you’re finished, make sure you rinse the surface and then dry it with another soft cloth. Change your rinsing water frequently if you need to clean a large area.
  • In outdoor areas, flush with clean water and then use a mild bleach solution to eradicate algae or moss.

Stone might be a tough material, but you still need to be careful. If you have any doubts, just contact your supplier for some detailed cleaning advice.

 

Are Stone Floors Worth the Maintenance?

If you’re thinking about what type of flooring to lay down, it’s likely that stone will have cropped up as a possible option.

After all, natural stone floors have been the top choice for centuries, and their popularity shows no signs of flagging.

That said, some homeowners worry about the maintenance work required. So, are stone floors worth it?

To help you decide, here’s a quick list of pros and cons.

The Advantages of Stone Floors

Style

First and foremost, natural stone flooring is absolutely beautiful. No other flooring material can really measure up in terms of character, and stone will provide a sense of sophistication and warmth no matter the room you use it in. Marble is particularly appealing, delivering a luxurious finish set off by unique colour variations.

Durable and Long-Lasting                 

Stone is incredibly strong, making it hard to chip or crack. If a young couple were to lay down stone flooring in their home today, it’s likely that their grandchildren would be walking on it in 50 years’ time. Despite concerns over maintenance, you’ll need to do very little over the life of your stone flooring. In contrast, wood floors need to be regularly treated, and they can easily develop dents and scratches.

Banishes Allergens

People with allergies need to be extra careful when selecting their flooring. Some choices, such as carpeting, prove disadvantageous since particles will be trapped within the fibres. Stone floors, on the other hand, make it tough for allergens to gain a foothold.

The Disadvantage of Stone Floors

Expensive

Stone flooring is undeniably expensive, and it also requires professional installation due to its weight. However, homeowners often save in the long run since their flooring won’t need to be replaced in a few years’ time.

Hard

Stone flooring isn’t recommended for seniors since it is quite hard. A fall on stone flooring is much tougher on old bones than a fall on carpeting, and stone tends to be more slippery.

 

Ultimately, the benefits of stone floors easily make the maintenance work worthwhile. In fact, most people overestimate the amount of work that will be needed. Cleaning is easy when you use the correct materials, and significant damage is hard to create. Instead of having to refinish your wood floors or tear up your carpet in a few years, you’ll have something built to last that will never go out of style.

Are Quartz and Quartzite the Same Thing?

Despite the similarities in their names, quartz and quartzite are not the same material.

In fact, they possess a number of differences in appearance and durability, so knowing how they differ from each other is crucial.

To start with, what we refer to as quartz is a manmade product that is actually composed of at least 90% quartz, also known as silicon dioxide, mixed with resin and colouring. It is manufactured by humans, then fabricated to look like natural stone. Quartzite is a completely natural material that is found within the earth. Like other natural stones, it is quarried and then reshaped into slabs.

Of course, you’ll need to know about the practical advantages and disadvantages of each option more than their physical makeup.

Here’s a quick guide to help you make the right decision to meet your needs.

Styling

It’s impossible to say that either quartz or quartzite is more visually appealing than the other; beauty, as ever, is in the eye of the beholder.

Quartz provides a clean and consistent appearance thanks to the fact that it has been manufactured. If you scratch or chip it, you’ll find that the colour beneath is identical to the colour on the surface. Additionally, the manufacturing process allows for a huge variety of colours that just won’t show up in nature.

Quartzite slabs are one of a kind since the material is made in the ground over hundreds of thousands of years. Veining and coloration varies from slab to slab.

Maintenance

Quartz is a real winner when it comes to ease of use. It’s resistant to scratching and chipping; even if damage does occur, it will be hard to notice due to the consistency of colour throughout each slab. It’s also non-porous, so liquids and acids won’t be able to stain the surface. If you spill red wine on quartz, you don’t need to worry.

Quartzite requires a little more caution since substances can seep into mineral channels in the surface. This means you’ll need to have it re-sealed one or two times each year. However, it is still easy to clean and lasts for an extremely long time before it needs to be replaced. It’s also harder than quartz, standing up better to knocks, scrapes, and excessive heat.

There’s really no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing between quartz and quartzite – you simply need to take your own needs into account, then figure out which option will suit them best.

Unique Uses for Marble

Marble has been the favoured material of artists since the dawn of Western civilisation, and it continues to inspire fresh works of art right through to the 21st century. Here are some of our
favourite ways that the world’s creatives have used marble in fresh and unique ways.

Apple-Watch-chargers_NATIVE-UNION_Marble-Collection_dezeen_936_5Apple Watch Charging Dock

Uniting the cutting-edge with the classical, Native Union has just released a charging dock for the Apple Watch. The dock combines a solid block of marble with a rotating metal arm. This gives it e
nough weight to keep the stand from toppling over when users are tapping the touchscreen, and, when combined with the Apple Watch’s night mode, it forms an enviable alarm clock.

Hand-polished marble is used for each product, which was released in 2014 in Milan during April’s design week. If you want to combine state of the art technology with the grandeur of antiquity, this unique use of marble is for you.

Marble vs Bronze Table

While Native Union used marble to give a touch of timelessness to the new, a Chilean studio called GT2P collaborated with New York’s Friedman Benda gallery and used it to reinvent our most ubiquitous piece of furniture by combining the material with one of the oldest-used metals. They call it the Marble Vs Bronze table.

To create each table, they used digital mapping technology to chart veins and decide exactly where each piece of marble needs to be cut. They then remove large sections that are subsequently filled with bronze. The inner tabletop therefore features small irregular bronze accents, with the alloy then coming together at the legs to provide structural support. Because of this craftsmanship, each table is completely unique in and of itself.

3D Rippling Pool

Mathieu Lehanneur, a noted French designer, decided to use marble as his canvas to create a stunning rippling pool sculpture for his Petite Loire installation. Sculpted from a single section of hand-polished green marble, the undulating waves of the 7.5-meter piece are meant to evoke the Loire itself, and extensive 3D mapping software was needed to create an appearance of being “gently ruffled” by the wind.

This is just the latest work from Lehanneur’s Liquid Marble series. The series made its debut in Milan as a static pool that features rippling waves carved from black marble. Housed in a room

constructed from white marble, it created an awe-inspiring contrast.

The Advantages of DEKTON

Glass, porcelain, and quartz surfaces aren’t usually thought of as cutting-edge materials; with Dekton, they are. For the raw materials of those surfaces to be created, we used to need precise conditions, the right materials, and time – thousands of years of time. Employing Dekton technology, we can accomplish in hours what the natural world would realise over millennia.

That process is sintering; the compacting of atoms from different materials by heat and pressure to form one solid piece. Dekton imitates this process using proprietary technology in a state of the art facility that demanded a $172m investment. The raw materials used in the glass, porcelain tiles, and quartz surfaces are created here, and it’s a bold leap forward in terms of more than time. This is a more sophisticated material than couldn’t have been imagined just a few decades ago.

Dekton engineering doesn’t just offer an accelerated version of metamorphic change, it also allows for numerous further advantages. The creation process results in zero porosity and a complete lack of micro-defects. There are no weak spots when you use Dekton. In fact, the material is even more resistant to abrasion than granite, and it will never need to be re-surfaced or re-finished. The slip of a knife won’t cause scratches, and the repeated traffic experienced by well-used sections of flooring won’t make an impact over time.

Even UV rays cannot damage it; you’ll experience zero fading or degradation over time, whether the material is kept inside or out. Staining from even wine, coffee, and rust cannot find a foothold, high temperatures will fail to burn, scorch, or crack, and Dekton’s low coefficient of thermal expansion means that it can’t be shocked by extreme cold.

Beyond the longevity, durability, and versatility that Dekton boasts, it offers a variety of design benefits. Your choices will be unlimited when you come to choose your colour palette. Since it enjoys over 5 times the flexural strength of granite, Dekton can be installed in thinner material over larger spans; you’ll be able to achieve a 12-inch supported overhang on countertops, bar tops, and islands.

Dekton looks like traditional surfaces, but it represents a radical evolution in the way they are made, the way that they function, and the things you can expect from them. With a diverse range of applications and a growing awareness of its advantages, Dekton is becoming increasingly acknowledged as a vital next step forward.

Outdoor Designs Using Marble

Marble isn’t always a material that homeowners would think of as one that should be used outside, but it makes a fantastic choice in the right conditions. Though unwise to use in cold, wet climates, marble is perfect for warmer areas, and you can use it to bring a touch of glamour and styling to your outside area when you know the right way to employ it.

One of the best ways to use marble in your outdoor designs is to bridge the divide between inside and outside space. If, for example, your kitchen features marble countertops, try extending that design theme outwards by using the same style of marble around a barbeque or to create an outside bench. The superior durability of marble and its ability to evoke strength and solidity make it a good match for such projects.

Outside bars can also work well with marble since they naturally summon up images of first-class living. Using the same material to create one large bar area will help make your outside space look cool and professional, not like has been designed to be packed up and dragged away at the first sign of rain.

You can also use marble instead of a traditional patio, something that works especially well if you enjoy an elevated area above the rest of your outside space. One of the most important advantages of marble is its ability to stay cool even when being struck by the sun’s warmest rays; this is just one of the reasons why the Greeks of antiquity valued it for building their temples.

Though you’re probably not erecting a temple, you can enjoy the same benefits by using marble to tile your outside space. Even during the height of summer, you’ll be able to step out onto a surface that feels cool and refreshing. Think it sounds a little odd? Just take a look at the New York City Public Plaza; it’s one of the most popular areas of the city for New Yorkers to come together, and its floored in stunning grey marble.

Of course, if you are using marble outside then you’ll need to take a number of precautions. Just remember to maintain flooring properly in order to keep it slip-resistant. You’ll also need to seal regularly and avoid spilling anything since marble can be stained. You’ll be rewarded with a stunning exterior that stands effortlessly out from the crowd.

Modern Kitchen Trends 2016

In most homes, the kitchen remains the central social space. It’s also one of the most expensive areas of a property to renovate, so styling trends have to be taken with a grain of salt. Here’s what we’re seeing in 2016, and how you should react to it.

Worktops: Old Stone/New Materials

Worktops continue to set the tone for any kitchen, and, given the fact that they are expensive to replace, you need to give plenty of thought to what will work best. Many people have been requesting natural materials such as granite or even marble; this marries with the trend seen in 2016 towards minimalist kitchen design and monochromatic colours.

However, you might want to hold your horses before you opt for traditional stone, even if it is buffed to a modern shine. Newer technologies, such as Dekton, allow homeowners the chance to receive the styling advantages of those materials while enjoying an increase in durability and longevity, so it isn’t surprising to see that these newer options have grown in popularity.

Accenting: Mixed Metals/Unbroken

One of the biggest changes we’ve seen during 2016 is a renewed focus on accenting materials. Two separate camps have emerged this year: metals and glass. The blending of warm metals, such as brushed steel or copper, has become popular for doorknobs, extractor fans, and lighting fixtures. People like seeing these older touches being given new life, and the use of these materials tends to bring a little added warmth. Glass accents are also appearing. In particular, glass-fronted cabinets, glass shelves, and glass doors are becoming popular.

Glass might bring a touch of elegance, but mixed metals are likely to pull ahead as the more practical choice. Both materials might be perfect for adding a dash of styling, but the extensive use of glass throughout a kitchen quickly means waging an unending battle against smudges and watermarks.

Lighting: LED Wins Out

The move towards LED lighting, particularly in the kitchen, isn’t so much a trend of 2016 as it is a general move towards efficiency. With their clean, white illumination and ability to last decades without burning out, LED bulbs are ideal.

Remember, without the right lighting you are going to struggle to appreciate your kitchen. In fact, you’ll struggle to use it at all. Make sure you follow the trend towards strip lighting along the ceiling and task lighting above well-used areas to get the best out of your space. Large central fixtures should be avoided.

How to Use Marble Paper to Provide Unique Styling

Marble is enjoying something of renaissance in the world of design, but not everyone is in a position to invest in a material that tends to demand a higher price than other options. Be that as it may, you still have plenty of options left if you would like to evoke the timeless beauty of marble without having to spend much money in the process.

That’s because the renewed interest in marble has sparking the introduction of a range of marble-patterned contact papers. These cover a wide range of styles and colours, so you’re bound to find an option that works well, and all you need for your next contact paper DIY project is a pair of scissors, a ruler, a pen or pencil, a plastic card (such as a credit card), and an older piece of décor or furniture that matches your chosen marble paper.

Now that you have all of these items to hand, make sure you pick out a clean, flat surface to work on. You’ll also want to give the surface that you’ll be covering a good hard clean before you cover it with contact paper since even the tiniest bits of dirt and debris will become trapped underneath and cause unsightly bumps.

Start by taking the item you’d like to cover and lying it down on your contact paper. Next, draw around the shape using your pencil. Most contact paper has gridlines on the flipside, so make sure you line these up to make the project easier. Careful measuring is essential, so use a ruler to ensure that the measurements of the surface you’ve chosen will match up with the piece of contact paper that you have cut out. You can now slowly stick the contact paper down, then finish up by running your plastic card over the surface to guarantee a smooth and seamless finish.

It’s best to start with smaller items; makeup boxes and bottles make a particularly good choice. Once you’re done using marble contact paper to provide such items with a unique finish, you can always move on to larger and more ambitious projects. For example, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t add a classical touch to a table by carefully measuring out a long sheet of paper to stick across its top.

Marble Carving Robots

Marble has been seen as the gold standard of sculpture for millennia. From Ancient Greek statues to contemporary works of architecture, this is the material that demands nothing less than the eyes, hands, and heart of a dedicated craftsman. But all that might just be about to change. Just ask yourself, what if the works of Michelangelo could be rendered by a new breed of artisan robots?

This might have seemed like a situation best left to the realms of science fiction just a few short years ago, but it could soon become a reality. That was proven by Daniel Nguyen, a student the Yale School of Architecture. Collaborating with Yale, Autodesk, The Digital Stone Project, and Garfagnana Innovazione, he managed to fabricate a breathtakingly intricate facade out of marble using a state of the art robotic CNC milling machine.

The solid slab of marble was simply part of Nguyen’s course, but it was quickly chosen to be made in full scale in Italy. The final product is a part of a much larger façade, with each piece of marble milled in the same fashion.

The beauty achieved by robotics is just as impressive as its ability to sculpt marble in the first place. Nguyen’s design was incredibly intricate, a piece of work that would have demanded hour upon hour of attention from a craftsman, and therein lies the advantage for future designers.

While marble carving expertise have traditionally been seen as belonging to a select few, the ability of robots to carve marble suggests that we will see such carvings become cheaper and easier to find. After all, a robot can simply be loaded with a certain design and then left to work. The marble itself may still demand a premium price, but the cost of labour will be dramatically reduced.

At the same time, a sense of uniformity can now be achieved that would have been impossible under the hands of man. Should a designer want to create a piece made out of marble to appeal to a wide-range of people, their designs could be sent to robots across the world and then finished much faster than before. If you’re the sort of person who always found marble attractive but was held back by the cost, your reservations could soon prove groundless.

Fireplace Trends of 2016

Anyone looking to chart the design changes we’ve seen in 2016 would be remiss to miss out on the fireplace. Evolution is the keyword here – the fireplace has reinvented itself. Here’s how we’ve seen it changing.

Less is More

Fireplaces are still statement pieces for 2016, but that statement is whispered more than it is shouted. The modern fireplace has embraced a minimalist aesthetic, so these are no longer the ornate repositories of a myriad of photo frames and knick-knacks. Detailed carvings and dramatic designed choices have been slowly supplanted by monochromatic styling, usually in black, white, or a soft grey, to achieve a sophisticated appearance.

Divide and Conquer

The most eye-catching fireplaces of 2016 might be those that embrace minimalism, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t becoming focal points for each room. We’ve seen many designers bring the fireplace to the centre of a room, usually by removing the walls to either side. The fireplace becomes a central divide between two living spaces – everything else revolves around it.

Added Height or Length

It isn’t just the style of your fireplace that needs to change for 2016. In fact, we’re seeing a marked change in the very built of them. No longer restricted to the traditional designs, fireplaces are growing either longer or taller. Homeowners are opting for either a floor-to-ceiling design that adds height to the room and draws the eye upwards, or a longer, narrower fireplace to make a room seem larger.

New Materials

The evolution of the fireplace isn’t just a matter of style; we’re also seeing new materials coming forward to offer homeowners something out of the ordinary. Uncommon stone, for example, is becoming popular, while cutting-edge materials such as Dekton are also making inroads as the style-conscious turn away from the conventional.

Practical Touches

What with the favouring of new materials and less-is-more styling, the fireplace certainly seems to be losing its rustic edge and traditional appearance. Perhaps that’s why we’re seeing more and more people carving out a space to place an attractive pile of firewood, even when they don’t use a wood-burning fireplace. This acts as a nice counter to the modern styling, and the rich, earthy colours contrast with and bring out the simpler, cleaner colours used for the fireplace itself.