WELCOME TO OUR BLOG

All of the latest news about Stone Store, our products and our
people – plus industry trends and updates.

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.

New York Times weighs in on marble

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/03/realestate/exotic-marble-and-opulent-finishes-lure-buyers.html?_r=0

Some good thoughts about using marble in your project. Its going to patina, etch, stain, scratch and wear, but its still a beautiful way to finish a kitchen.  If you start with honed marble (matte finish), you don’t notice the etching as much. In the end, it might not be the most practical choice, but it sits apart from any of the alternatives. Engineered quartz (Silestone, Caesarstone, Viatera, et al), porcelain (Dekton, Neolith, Fiandre, Lapitec, Sapienstone, etc), and natural quartzites (White Macaubus, Taj Mahal, Perla Venata) all make for more durable choices in kitchens that will leave you with a lot less to worry about, but don’t be too quick to dismiss marble.  Its been used for thousands of years and is still going strong all over the world.

Slab shower walls

Lately we’ve been getting requests for different ways to use stone slabs.  We’ve done feature walls, fireplaces, shower walls, sinks, flooring and more.  Some of the new materials out there lend themselves beautifully to these applications.  New sintered porcelain slabs like Neolith, Dekton, Fiandre, and Lapitec come in thinner pieces that are perfect for vertical surfaces and come with none of the wear and tear of marble and natural stone.  Some of the new book-matched patterns mimic Calacatta and Estatuario marble better than anything else on the market.  And now they come in both polished and honed, book-matched and continuous.  You can even add shower seats, niches, jambs, curbs, shelves and other details to complete the look.

Fiandre shower walls

Fiandre book-matched Calacatta slab shower walls

Fiandre shower niche

Mitered shower niche

The porcelain slabs work great as horizontal surfaces as well.  Countertops can be mitered to appear thicker and undermount sinks look great.  We’ve even installed baseboards and waterfall panels using the porcelain.

Fiandre porcelain slab vanity

Fiandre porcelain slab vanity

Calacatta End Panels

Some commercial work we just completed with polished Calacatta marble. Every edge is mitered, all end panels have returns. Material is book-matched. Turned out really beautiful. Wish I had better pics.

New Quartzites

A few new quartzites we just got mixed in with some we are thinking about getting.  I don’t see lots of black quartzites, but we just got these in 3cm:

saratogaquartzite

Saratoga Quartzite

Here are a couple slabs of Sea Pearl that are a little different than usual:

 

5012A 4910B-1

Another different one, a red quartzite.  Good looking in the right place.

IMG_1473

Calacatta Quartz

4673A1

The goal: Calacatta Marble Slab

We carry a lot of different products meant to mimic Calacatta marble, but without the staining, scratching, etching, and other issues that can plague marble.  Quartz counters (not to be confused with quartzite) are one of our favorites.  Like Calacatta marble, quartz slabs vary in appearance and price.  Caesarstone has their relatively new marble line with Frosty Carrina.  Cambria has Torquay.  Silestone has Pulsar.  Hanstone has Tranquility.  Viatera has Minuet.  Most manufacturers have more than 1 different variety, some with darker veins, some lighter, some with more gold, some grey, etc.  Some brands nailed the background, some the color of the veins, some aren’t even in the right neighborhood.  The one running theme was that none of them truly had veining that ran through the slab.

Caesarstone has now released one that has true movement.  Its not Italian Calacatta marble, but it is closest quartz has come to approximating the veining of marble.  Judge for yourself:

Caesarstone-Calacatta-Nuvo-5131

Caesarstone Calacatta Nuvo

You won’t be able to tell your friends and family that your countertops come from the same marble quarry as the Taj Mahal, but you also won’t have to explain why your incredible marble countertops have wine rings all over them.  As with all things new and different, they are more expensive than the rest of the quartzes out there, but compared to a nice Calacatta marble, still a bargain.  The maintenance is zero.  You can’t stain them because they are non-porous, you can’t scratch them because quartz is one of the hardest surfaces on the planet, and they definitely don’t etch.

If you are looking for a quartz kitchen in the style of Calacatta marble, these should definitely be on your list.

Porcelain slabs

There are always new surfaces coming out.  Some stick around and some never quite make it.  I still remember when almost everyone was hesitant to use quartz as a countertop, though now it seems we have to at least discuss it with everyone.  Lately we’ve been using porcelain slabs quite a bit more than before.  There are a few different manufacturers around, one of our favorites is Neolith.  They make what are essentially extra-large format tiles.  Different colors come in different thicknesses and sizes up to 12′ long and 5′ wide.  Slabs come as thin as 3mm thick and up to 12mm thick.  They come in a ton of different solid colors, as well as some that look more like marble, wood, limestone, and even rusted steel.  All have a sort of matte finish to them.

Basalt Grey Neolith with mitered edges and end panel

Basalt Grey Neolith with mitered edges and end panel

Designing with porcelain is a little different than granite or quartz, but follows the same general rules.  Most people either leave the countertops at the 12mm thickness and just square off the edge for a sleek minimalist look or opt to have them mitered for a heartier thick slab look.  When doing wall panels, flooring or backsplash, its great to have a thinner surface.

Neolith Perla Countertop with undermount sink

Neolith Perla Countertop with undermount sink

We are really excited about the possibilities Neolith brings about in bathrooms.  Tub decks with aprons, shower walls, floors, ceilings, vanities, etc.  Everything can be clad in this surface.  The thinner material allows it to be done without serious anchoring systems for considerably less money than granite or quartz.  The slabs are big enough that you could have extremely large custom panels throughout a bathroom.  Since it is still porcelain, heat, scratching and staining are non-issues.  As time goes by, we expect to see all kinds of different colors and patterns come through.  The newest color out is a white marble in the Calacatta/Statuary family.  There are a few different patterns and it comes in book-matched slabs.  Your Italian marble master bathroom just got one step more realizable:

Neolith Estatuario porcelain slab

Neolith Estatuario porcelain slab