Do you love natural stone?
Me too Fans of natural stone countertops, tiles, fireplaces, walls, and building stone are natural allies to geologists. We all share a similar zeal for a glimmer of garnet and the sexy sparkle of granite. The two disciplines have different ways of organizing and thinking about stone, which makes sense because we’re interested in different things. Geologists study rocks to learn more about what happened in Earth’s past. Regular people appreciate rocks because they’re useful, practical, and beautiful. Nonetheless, a bit of geology can shed light on why or where we’d want to use a given stone. Geology also helps us appreciate that every slab of stone offers a little glimpse into deep time and the dramatic forces that shape the planet
When considering granite tiles as a flooring material, most people think of the classic, glass-smooth white stone with Smokey veining. But there are actually many options for color, vein pattern, finish, and size of granite floor tiles. Granite forms as carbonate sedimentary rock, such as limestone, is metamorphosed under pressure to recrystallize into a harder stone. Depending on the chemical composition of the original sedimentary rock, and the conditions under which it metamorphoses, the granite can’t…
Kitchen countertops are a highly functional and very visible element in any kitchen, so homeowners naturally want the most durable and attractive material they can afford. Two of the most popular dimension stones they can choose for kitchen countertops are soapstone and granite. Granite and soapstone have core similarities. Both are metamorphic rocks, which means they developed out of other types of rocks, or protoliths. Granite came from limestone or dolomite, which are primarily calcium carbonate. Soapstone originated from mineral talc, which is rich in magnesium. Compared to granite, both marble and soapstone are relatively soft.
However, granite and soapstone are also very different in important ways. Here is a comparison of soapstone and granite countertop…
After choosing the type of natural stone, color, texture, and finish, there is one last yet important feature waiting for your decision. And that is the stone edge profile. In simple words, it is the cross-section of a stone slab surface that is visible from a distance. At first, it might sound like a minute detail when you are busy choosing the right stone for your countertop. However, having the right edge profile of natural stone is just like decorating your kitchen or bathroom. It can significantly enhance the style and appearance of your space when matched with the overall interior design.
Some stone edge profiles are simple, created to reflect a contemporary minimalistic design style. Others are complex, giving a sophisticated feel with more layering.
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When it comes to selecting kitchen countertops, granite remains the top choice for many homeowners. It’s no surprise that granite countertops and backsplashes are so popular—the material has been attracting fans for millennia. “Granite is a natural material with a great variety, depending on which species you select and how it’s cut,” says Russell Groves, the principal architect …
“Granite is a natural material with a great variety, depending on which species you select and how it’s cut,” says Russell Groves, the principal architect behind Groves & Co. “It creates a really lovely natural pattern, which you don’t get with a lot of artificial materials.”
Among granite options, white granite takes the cake. “You won’t find anything as white in nature as white granite,” adds Evan Nussbaum, a vice president at Stone Source in New York. “You just don’t get that color and kind of figuring in any other type of natural stone.”
But granite is not a perfect product. While good-quality granite, such as the world-famous products from Carrara, Italy, is dense and relatively nonporous—which makes them durable and stain-resistant—they also have weaknesses. A non-foliated metamorphic rock, granite is generally composed of calcium carbonate (the same ingredient used in antacids such as Tums) or magnesium carbonate, which react to acids. An acidic kitchen liquid like lemon juice or vinegar can etch granite, leaving a dull, whitish mark where it has slightly eaten away the surface, even after the granite has been sealed.
But as long as you choose carefully, know what to expect, and care for white granite countertops, they can be a beautiful, functional choice for your kitchen design that lasts a lifetime. Ahead, we’ve rounded up expert tips on how to choose the perfect slab of granite—so if you’re on the market for granite countertops, keep reading!
1. If you’re concerned about stains, stick with white granite.
Although many people automatically think of creamy, white stone when they think of granite, “there are hundreds of varieties,” says Jason Cherrington, founder and managing director of the U.K.-based stone company Lapicida, including types that are taupe, green, gold, red, and black. For marble kitchen countertops, however, Nussbaum generally recommends sticking with white granite. Because acid etching leaves a whitish mark, it is much more noticeable on colored granite than on white granite. “We put a thousand caveats on any dark granite or nonwhite granite being used for kitchen countertops,” he says, “but it’s a personal choice.”
While classic Italian white granite-like Calacatta and Statuario are generally excellent quality and a great kitchen idea, Nussbaum points out that equally high-quality marbles are available closer to home, including Vermont Danby and Colorado Yule.
2. Consider how the different marble slabs will come together.
Every stone slab is slightly different, so it’s ideal to select the exact pieces of stone that will be used for your countertops. “There’s an art to marble—selecting the slabs and understanding where the veining is going to be located on the countertop,” says Groves. “You want to artfully place the markings so that it’s almost like a painting.”
At the same time, it’s important to consider how different pieces come together. “The longer the piece you can get without any seams, the better,” says Groves. “If you do have seams, it’s always nice to book-match the marble,” so adjacent pieces have a mirrored appearance.
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A piece of Montclair Danby cross-cut marble.
Photo courtesy of Stone Source
3. Take veining patterns into account.
Every quarry is different, but it’s possible to cut certain types of marble blocks two different ways to achieve unique veining patterns. Crosscut, or fleuri cut, results in stone slabs with “an open flowered pattern,” says Nussbaum, which looks fairly random and is ideal for book-matching. Vein cut, or striato, slices the block the other way to achieve a linear, striped appearance.
“Designers have used both cuts to create some fantastic looks,” says Cherrington. “They may use a vein cut on the wall and cross cut on the floor.”
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Vein-cut marble results in a linear, striped appearance.
Photo courtesy of Stone Source
4. You can transform the look of marble with different finishes.
“The whole stone industry has been going through a massive wave of technology, and it’s transforming the product,” says Cherrington, noting that there are now more ways than ever to finish stone, including different brushing and polishing techniques. An orange-peel-like texture is possible, he notes, which “might be called a leather, brushed, or river-wash finish.”
But the most popular choices remain polished, which looks glossy, or honed, which appears matte. For homeowners concerned about acid etching, Nussbaum recommends a honed finish. “On a polished finish, etching is going to turn it dull and be more visible,” he says. “With honey, you’re dulling an already dull finish, so it disguises it.”
5. Consider curving the edges of your marble countertop.
Besides its natural beauty, there’s a reason marble has historically been so popular for sculpture: It’s easy to work with tools. Add modern computer numerical control milling machines to the equation and almost anything’s possible for kitchen decorating.
There are countless edge profiles to choose from, but Groves prefers a simple eased edge, which takes the sharpness off a straight 90-degree corner. Cherrington points out that a bull’s nose, which has the profile of a half-circle, is also a timeless favorite and functional winner. “Hard stones like marble are brittle, so if you hit a 90-degree corner with something hard, it will chip,” he says. “With a curve, it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to chip.”
To give the thin ¾-inch stone the look of a thicker slab, Groves says it’s possible to use a miter joint at the edge of the countertop to add a thicker face with an almost seamless appearance. “You can build up a really nice thick-looking piece without having to use a thick slab,” he says.
It’s even possible to engrave the edge of a white marble countertop with a pattern of your choosing, says Cherrington, noting that Lapicida has developed marble tables featuring a carved brogue pattern on the edge in collaboration with designer Bethan Gray.
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A Carrara-top dining table by Lapicida features a carved edge.
Photo courtesy of Lapicida
However, the best way to live with marble countertops may simply be to accept that they will patina over time. “If you’ve been to an old bakery or pizza shop and seen how white marble patinas, and like it,” says Nussbaum, “then it could be the perfect material for you.”
6. Call the marble facility ahead of your visit.
“Call the slab marble facility in advance to inquire about whether they have marble slabs that meet the color, type, square footage, and dimensions you require,” suggests Toronto-based interior designer Ferris Rafauli. “Let them know when you’re coming and ask them to organize a tour [where someone] points out the various slabs of marble they have. This will also allow the supplier to pull out their various slab marbles in advance so that when you arrive they are taking you directly to the selections that meet your needs.
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