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Unusual marbles

At this point, if you are looking at kitchen countertop options, you’ve probably seen Calacatta marble kitchens. Polished, honed, even satin and leather finishes.  You’ve seen Carrara marble kitchens.  You’ve seen engineered quartz versions by Silestone, Caesarstone and all the rest of them.  Now the sintered surfaces have taken it to another level.  Neolith, Epic, Sapienstone, Dekton, Laminam, Stonepeak, Fiandre and more are all producing incredible large format slabs of Calacatta and Estatuario marble that don’t stain or scratch.  They are in magazines, on TV, in restaurants and bars, and at your friends house, and they are beautiful.  Some are understated and some are big and bold.  Each one unique and incredible in its own way.  We’ve done them in classic old world kitchens and clean contemporary kitchens, and each one turns out better than the one before it.  If you’ve been to Italy, you’ve seen it in museums, delicately carved into sculptures but also on the countertops in the restrooms or on the floors.  To us it is the definition of classic style, always contemporary, having been used for centuries and will go on being used for centuries. I cannot recommend against this stone.

But if I was to offer an alternative in the natural stone world, there are some “new” marbles popping up.  Less used and maybe a little more difficult to imagine, but beautiful and definitely unique.  Now marble is coming out Turkey, China, Brazil, the U.S. and more, offering a wider variety than ever before. Here are 2 that are on a ship coming to us right now.  They book-match to incredible patterns.  Probably harder to match with a tile backsplash, but you can use it as backsplash too! Or go with a simpler tile than normal.

 

Dalmata marble slab

Panda White marble slab

Grey marble

Over the last few years we’ve seen a lot of white marble. Its classic and beautiful and makes complete sense. It works in all kinds of different styles, plus it looks great in kitchens and bathrooms.  There are a ton of variations from dramatic to subdued, and lots of different secondary colors from oranges to blacks to greys to cream. Recently we’ve had a few more people come in looking at different grey slabs.  Marble, limestone, soapstone and quartz all come in different shades of grey.  Bardiglio and Grigio Verona are 2 Italian marbles that we’ve used lately.

Bardiglio marble slab

Bardiglio marble slab

Grigio Verona marble slab

Grigio Verona marble slab

 

Showroom under construction

If you are planning on visiting this week, let us know as we are redoing all the floors (Thank God). We’re still open, just running a little lean as all the samples are boxed up. We should be back in full by next week (February 25th at the latest).

 

Before we looked like this

Patchwork quilt flooring

Patchwork quilt flooring

Then briefly like this

Turns out there was perfectly good concrete under the old tile

Turns out there was perfectly good concrete under the old tile

Then today it finally started to come together. The 4’x8′ tiles are incredible. Large format tiles are such a game changer.

Starting to get a feel for the new floor

Starting to get a feel for the new floor

AIA Modern Home Tour Houston

We’ve got some work displayed in the modern home tour in Houston this weekend if you have some time to run by. Allegro Modern did a great job with the design work and used a few unique aspects of our company to complement their project.

All the main kitchen counters are 1.2cm Neolith, and a great example of how to use simple clean lines in a modern application.  We have a lot of clients who have a hard time envisioning 1/2″ thick counters when the norm is 3 times thicker, but it looks perfect in this house. We have access to all kinds of specialty products and the knowledge to work with them in all situations. Our waterjet and CNC technology allow us to accommodate tight tolerances and perform cleaner cuts than you could ever achieve by hand. This is especially true on miters and with difficult materials like sintered stone (Neolith, et al) and natural stone like marble and quartzite.

Neolith perimeter

Neolith perimeter

The fireplace surround is Striato Olimpico marble.  Feature walls, whether marble, onyx or natural stone require specific slabs and installation expertise to make sure they don’t fail post-install. With slabsmith technology, we can perfectly book-match and give multiple digital layout options to choose from. You can either come into our office or we can e-mail you different layouts.

marble fireplace wall

marble fireplace wall

Then they were able to fill out some closets, pantries and other rooms using smaller remnants and half-slabs from our inventory to help keep budget down. We have tons of interesting stones in smaller pieces so you don’t have to buy a big slab. On a big project things tend to get out of budget quickly, so using remnants to fill out secondary areas can allow you to have different colors in different areas without buying whole slabs or just keep costs down.

closet2

Carrara marble

Carrara marble

Backlit onyx

This would have a greater effect at night, but backlighting onyx in your closet is definitely awesome, even if our phone video-ing skills are less impressive.

closetloop

Fusion Quartzite 2016

We get more calls about a photo of a particular slab of Fusion quartzite than any other thing we’ve ever posted. Unfortunately it was sold years ago, but here is a current pic of a dramatic 3cm slab that just arrived. There are plenty of other varieties but this one was fairly unique…

fusion quartzite slab in 3cm

fusion quartzite slab in 3cm

Porcelain slabs

The newest countertop category is new enough that there still isn’t a good name for it.  I’ve heard sintered surfaces, ultra-compact slabs, large format porcelain, and a few others.  The main brands available today are Dekton, Neolith and Lapitec.  All come from Europe.  There are a few others, Crossville, Laminam, Fiandre, etc, still most of them coming from Europe, but a few manufacturers are popping up in the USA.

The range of colors and textures that can be achieved with this porcelain is incredible. We have already seen polished, matte, and a bunch of different textured finishes. There are solid colors, woods, limestones in greys and beiges, worn metals, and a bunch of natural stone looks, not least among them the coveted Calacatta and Estatuario marbles.  Some of the marble slabs have different patterns and can be had in book-matched slabs in both the polished and honed finishes.

The main characteristics of these materials are its extreme resistance to scratching, staining, high and low temperatures, chemicals, UV rays, acid, fire, and pretty much everything else. It can be used for anything from countertops to exterior building cladding.  Between that we use it for shower walls, backsplashes, fireplaces, and outdoor kitchens.  We have heard reports on the internet of it chipping easily, but if you come down hard enough with something heavy enough on any sharp corner, it will chip.

The biggest restriction of the material is that you are limited to a square edge or a mitered edge (except on Lapitec). It is also not through-body (except Lapitec), which means you lose the color and texture on the edges. Luckily square edges seem to be the preferred edge these days, so its not so bad.

The other risk with this material is that it is difficult to work with.  Proper equipment and a knowledge of the material is a must for the fabricator/installer. If edges are not eased enough, it will definitely chip, and the material is difficult to repair. Mitering and seams cannot be done by hand consistently.  The saw bed needs to be flat and level, blades need to be tested and replaced often, and installation needs to be well planned.  The slabs need to be trimmed on all sides or it can crack during fabrication, installation, or worse yet, after it is installed. On all specialty surfaces, we highly recommend visiting the fabrication shop you are using to ensure they are capable of working with the material. It is also worthwhile to speak to the fabricator to make sure it is the right product for you. Almost every issue involving this material is a result of bad work being done or the end user not understanding the properties of the material.