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Calacatta Quartz

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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

Linear marbles

It has been a while since the last post due to some website issues that I think are now sorted out.  On to countertops:

Lately some really linear options have surfaced in the countertop world.  Even more unexpectedly, in natural stone.  There have always been vein-cut travertines that give the appearance of cross-sections of the earth.  Definitely linear, but some of the marbles, quartzites and granites we are seeing now look like they have been drawn with a ruler.

Striato Olimpico Marble

Striato Olimpico Marble

With our mitering capability, this could be really sharp installed on an island with a mitered waterfall end panel.  I have seen similar stones in black with very faint linear veining and a brown version, whose main drawback is small slab size.  We installed the brown version as an island for a customer with 2″ mitered edges.  The face has a real linear quality to it, especially when you add a well-matched mitered edge.

Griffin-After-2

The island was an addition to a current kitchen that really changed the look of it.  It is also one of those colors that is a lot more interesting up close, making it much more versatile.  There are certain stones out there that appear solid from a distance, but as you get closer to them, they have some more interesting characteristics.  This is particularly true with dark colors.  There is absolute black, which is just black.  But then there is a whole gamut of blacks with slightly different patterns and textures that still give you the black surface you need to match the rest of the room, but also some interesting touches to make it more unique.  Here is a step back shot of the kitchen:

Vintage Brown kitchen

Vintage Brown kitchen

StoneStore goes Contemporary Art

Last weekend was the Texas Contemporary Art Fair at the George R Brown in downtown Houston.  It was an exciting fair this year with tons of interesting art, capped off by a magnificent display in the VIP lounge.  We installed a pretty spiffy 20′ Caesarstone bar made out of Haze with Red Shimmer strips waterjetted into the facade.  We also installed a 30′ long coffee table floating off the ground made out of White Crocodile Caesarstone (The face of the stone is actually textured with a crocodile skin pattern; also comes in black).  If you look through the pictures, we waterjetted holes in the surface for place settings, where the artist used projectors to display film where the plate and glass would normally be.  Lastly, we made some miter boxes out of Red Shimmer Caesarstone with holes so that the projectors hidden inside could shoot movies onto giant balloons on the ceiling and walls.  Pictures don’t do it justice, but the whole effect was wild.  There was a lot of thought that went into the project on the design and production side, and it all came together extremely quickly, but I’m sure pictures of the event will surface that show how well it turned out.  Let us know if you were there and what you thought.

http://www.caesarstoneus.com/news/article/caesarstone-joins-luxe-magazine-at-the-texas-contemporary-art-fair-52/

Terrifying White Marble Slabs

It is rare these days to encounter a natural stone that is completely unique, but we’ve got some coming.  These slabs are so perfectly book-matched that I don’t want to break them up.  If you are considering a wall of stone in your house, a stately fireplace, a floor, or any other large format stone installation, this marble would be perfect.  Being white marble, this would be a stunning addition to a contemporary home.  No need for art with marble like this.  Normally I would tell you that something like this would be around next year, but in this case, I am not so sure.  I would love for someone to use this in a hotel lobby or a restaurant wall and take all of them.  The effect of having 10 slabs of this lined up in a large room would be incredible.

Book-matched white marble slabs

Book-matched white marble slabs

more book-matched slabs

more book-matched slabs

More marble slabs: white, exotic veining, book-matched

More marble slabs: white, exotic veining, book-matched

White marble perfect for a gigantic island

White marble perfect for a gigantic island

Potential white marble fireplace wall

Potential white marble fireplace wall

Backlighting Stone Counters

Lately we have done quite a few installations with backlit stone.  Typically, onyx and glass were the most likely surfaces to be lit from underneath (or behind), but there are amazing options emerging that are truly incredible.  For natural beauty, there is nothing quite like onyx.  But onyx is tricky.  Slabs are small, inconsistent and delicate, often containing cracks and fissures that have been repaired, and not always well repaired.  But when done right, bookmatched onyx panels cannot be beaten.

Book matched onyx slabs

Book matched onyx slabs

If the onyx you like is not available but you really want a backlit countertop (or wall), there are plenty of other options.  Some of the quartz manufacturers produce slabs of cut precious stones (Concetto and Prexury).  There are agate, amethyst, and a variety of quartz colors.  Some, like Tiger Eye, Dumortierite and Petrified Wood, don’t light, but would still blow you away.  Now, its not cheap, but this should give an idea of what kind of thing is possible with this material:

Nebbia

Some of Caesarstone’s Supremo collection can be backlit as well, as can Cambria New Brighton.  Okite just came out with a line of 3 colors that are very translucent and light extremely well:

Okite Pietre collection

Okite Pietre collection

There are also lots of cool glass products that can be used as counters or wall coverings.  The issue with glass is that a lot of it is so translucent that you need to find a way to diffuse the light, sometimes frosting the glass or putting something between the glass and the light source so it doesn’t just shine through.  One of these products is Ribbon Glass, which comes in slabs and gives off a water effect when backlit.

Ribbon Glass bar top, backlit

Ribbon Glass bar top, backlit

When choosing any of these, it is important to find someone who knows what they are doing, both for the lighting and surface aspects.  Many of these installations are relatively permanent, so your light source better be permanent as well.  When fabricating glass, onyx, and other specialized materials, there are methods that turn a good job into a fantastic job.  Or even a nightmare into a dream.  I’m not sure many of us could handle watching as a carefully selected onyx panel broke on the saw, or on the way into the house.  If you want to see samples or feel some of these, don’t be afraid to call.

Vetrazzo Millefiori

There are some products out there that are just difficult to find. Certain granites notoriously disappear for months or years based on foreign governments, large projects around the world, or a quarry running out. Soapstone often comes from smaller operations that don’t always stay consistent. Vetrazzo’s Millefiori is limited based upon the supply of colored glass. I believe the red glass is particularly tough to find. Vetrazzo is made up of recycled glass from a stained glass company. I had never seen this particular color with a patina (dark background) before, but it turns out it is beautiful.

mill

Millefiori is a difficult color to make work in a room with other disparate elements, but it certainly makes a statement.  It is limited by its very make-up, probably to a degree that you will not meet anyone else that has it, which is rarer and rarer these days.  It would make for a great island or bar for the right project.

Millefiori slab with patina

Millefiori slab with patina

Caesarstone marble series

New Caesarstone colors are out!  We have all the samples in our showroom and slabs are currently available.  This is the most marble-like line of quartz out there right now.  5 colors that cover the full range of colors from white marble to black marble.  There is a Crema Marfil-like color, a Carrara, a Calacatta, and a couple of darker options.  This is THE alternative to marble with none of the hassle.

This is the Crema Marfil version.

Darker: