Natural stone selection is a personal decision that can be overwhelming if you are not confident in what you want. Similar to selecting a piece of artwork, choosing a slab of natural stone will add a personal sense of unique beauty while complementing the aesthetic of your home. With the continuous growth of unique slabs, it can make the decision process challenging. To make this process simpler for you, here are a few essentials to think about when looking for your perfect slab of natural stone.
How to Choose The Color of Your Stone?
Natural Stone has a vast range of color assortment with different accent colors and tones. Stone can range from classic blacks and whites to enchanting greens iridescent blues, and vibrant pinks. The veining patterns also play a role in the style of your project. Depending on the style you are going for, whether that be rustic, elegant, or modern will help determine the stone that will best fit your project. Picture your finished project. Are there any colors or veining patterns that would fit perfectly in your space? If so, sort out our slabs for that exact color to complete your space.
How to Choose the Finish of Your Stone?
Depending on your lifestyle and the style you are trying to achieve with your project will determine the best finish for your natural stone. You can read more on an in-depth blog about the difference between honed and polished finishes to help determine which finish is best for your project.
If you already have a color-scheme and specific style for your project, consider what will complement or contrast when looking through stone selections. Narrow down your essentials such as the overall appearance. Are you looking to brighten up your space by using a stone like Calacatta Macchia Vecchia marble or give a striking contrast to an already vibrant space with the use of a stone like Black Soapstone?
All this to say, choosing the right stone for your home or project is a personal choice. However, sorting out some essential questions you have to ask yourself will bring you closer to making a final decision.
The Borghini quarry is one of the oldest operating quarries in the Carrara region in Italy. The Borghini family has owned the quarry for many years and produces the most sought after Italian marble in the world – the Calacatta Gold Borghini marble. Therefore, Architects in Beijing to New York are eager to see what the quarry will extract next.
In the heart of the Apuan Mountains in Carrara Italy is the Borghini quarry. This Italian marble was the primary source of stone for Roman Architecture and Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo. Known for producing snowy white marble is unlike anything else seen in the world. According to the New York Times, the Calacatta Borghini quarry is one of the oldest quarries in the Carrara region. In fact, some Borghini quarry’s cuts can go back to the Roman Times.
The Calacatta Borghini marble quarry, in the opulent Apuan Alps in Italy, comprises two primary areas: the side of the mountain and the interior of the mountain. The side of the mountain is the more common extraction area. However, the inside of the mountain is home to the rarest and prestigious Borghini Gold marble.
Calacatta Borghini Marble Production
Today, the production of Borghini marble in the Apuan Mountains is very limited. This makes the stone so rare and why so many people want this marble beauty. For example, typically sold by each cubic meter. However, Borghini blocks sell by the ton. This makes each pound of the Borghini marble highly valued in the marketplace.
Where can I find Calacatta Borghini in the United States?
Because of the rarity of the Borghini marble, there are few retailers in the world – let alone the United States who sell this marble. Therefore, exotic stone suppliers, such as Aria Stone Gallery, will sell Borghini only a few times a year. Aria Stone Gallery also offers the opportunity to visit the Calacatta Borghini quarry in Italy. This allows you to personally hand-select your stone from the same mountains that Michelangelo admired so dearly.
Texture is an important design element that can immediately add warmth and visual interest to any project. The surface texture of natural stone comes in many forms such as polished, honed, leathered, and brushed. While polished and honed are the most common surface finishes we see today, leathered and brushed surfaces are growing increasingly popular due to their ability to immediately add a unique flair to an otherwise sleek and polished surface.
Utilizing natural stone with a textured finish is an easy way to incorporate an earthy, multi-dimensional element into a design. Slabs that feature a leathered finish are versatile, and can easily complement a rustic or transitional room or provide a pop of contrast to a sleek, modern aesthetic.
Absolutely! Initially, the quarry decides what type of surface to apply to a bundle of stone, but the stone surface and texture can easily be changed to fit your design aesthetic by a fabricator prior to installation.
Can You See Scratches in a Leathered or Brushed Stone?
Leathered and brushed finishes are less likely to show scratches that come from normal wear-and-tear. A leathered finish is executed by honing stone, and then texturing it by using diamond-tipped brushes that have varying levels of grit to create small ridges in the surface of the stone. By comparison, a brushed finish has fewer ridges than what you would see in a leathered finish. The varying levels of matte and sheen create an overall “leathered” look on the surface of a stone.
Are Textured Stones More Stain-Resistant?
By design, stones with a leathered finish are more stain-resistant than stones with a honed finish. However, leathered stones are less stain-resistant than polished stones. Regardless of what finish you may prefer, a good sealer will help to maintain your natural stones’ resistance to stains.
Quartzite is easily one of nature’s most versatile stones, and has become increasingly popular due to its durability, unique patterns, and vibrant colors. The Aria team is here to answer any questions about this incredibly sought after stone.
Will it Scratch?
The long and tedious process of sand compression and heating makes this natural stone incredibly dense and durable. According to the Mohs Hardness Scale, it is more durable than granite or steel. Meaning, if you were to use a steel kitchen knife without a cutting board on your quartzite countertops, it is more likely that you will damage your steel blade than the countertop! So needless to say, scratches should not be an issue with this natural stone in your home, even in high traffic areas and highly used spaces, such as the kitchen.
If you cook frequently and want to make sure that your countertops are safe from etching then you might want to consider quartzite. It will not etch from acids found in household items such as vinegar and lemon juice. However, both quartzite and granite react to hydrofluoric acid, which is found in some heavy-duty rust removers. Thankfully, hydrofluoric acid is not a common ingredient in household (or kitchen) products.
Will it Stain?
All quartzites are different in terms of porosity and stain resistance, and some are more stain-resistant than others. They are not stain proof, but most are incredibly stain resistant.
To help explain, let’s take a trip back to your early Earth Science class. You may remember that stone, such as quartzite, is formed over the course of many thousands of years. During this time, minerals undergo the “mineral metamorphic process” where the minerals bond and compress tightly together to create the stone. The tighter the minerals bond, the more stain-resistant the stone.
That being said. Nothing is stain proof. Use a sealer to avoid stains from common household items. Seal your natural stone about once a year with a home application sealer to maintain this coverage.
According to the Marble Institute of America, there are many products on the market that are labeled as “soft quartzite,” “calcitic quartzite,” and “dolomitic quartzite.” Note that these products share only some of the same properties as quartzite. With marble, calcite, and dolomite all rated around a 3 on the Moh’s Hardness Scale and quartzite rated at 7, these varying labels are typically trying to convey that they fall somewhere between a 3 and a 7 on the Moh’s Hardness Scale. Meaning, they are harder than marble, calcite, or dolomite, but softer than a quartzite.
It is important to be aware of the difference, as marble, calcite, and dolomite are soft and therefore more susceptible to scratching, etching, and staining than a true quartzite. Of course, these effects can be lessened by using a sealer, but it is helpful to know beforehand to avoid any misconception of your stone.
How Do I Test To See If I Have a True Quartzite?
Easy! Household kitchen acids, such as lemon juice and vinegar, will not etch a true quartzite. One way to test is to simply pour some lemon juice or vinegar on your stone and let it sit. Wait for 15 minutes and then wipe up your test area and look for an etch. Depending on the coloring of the stone, etching may look more dark, light, or dull than before. If any etching occurs, then it is not true quartzite. For this test, sometimes it helps to take before and after pictures to best compare the results!
Calacatta marble is the most sought after material in the natural stone universe. There are Calacatta marbles with intricate veining as seen in our Calacatta Gold marble for the detail-oriented or larger, bold veining featured in our Calacatta Lincoln for a striking appearance, and even linear veining seen in our Calacatta Marble for something unique. From rich cabernet tones seen in our Calacatta Viola marble to dramatic gold and taupes featured in our Calacatta Macchia Vecchia marble, there are endless looks and styles that you can achieve with a Calacatta marble.
But anyone who has shopped for Calacatta marble knows that there are so many types and price ranges out there. So how do you know if you are buying the real thing or a cheap knock off version?
Calacatta vs. Carrara: How do they look different?
Typically, Carrara features muddy hues and is not pure white. Carrara is also less expensive and more common to find in your everyday marketplace or cut into tiles. On the contrary, Calacatta has very bold veining with a crisp white background. While each natural stone slab is unique, Calacatta marble is much rarer than your typical Carrara.
Calacatta marble comes from quarries found in the Apuan Mountains in Carrara, Italy. Owner of Aria Stone Gallery, Vinny Tavares, has been going to the Carrara area of Tuscany in Italy – the land of Calacatta marble – for the past 10 years. Tavares explains, “what most people don’t realize is that Calacatta marble doesn’t come from one specific mountain or quarry. There is a vast mountain range in the Carrara region in Italy, with each quarry producing a variety of white marbles such as: Bianco Carrara, Goiai, Venatino, Statuario and finally, Calacatta marble. All of these materials are white marble with more or less the same geological formation.”
Some quarries produce better Calacatta marble than others. For example, the Borghini Quarry is one of the oldest operating quarries in the Carrara region and some of the quarry’s cuts are traced back to Roman Times.
What Does the Perfect Calacatta Marble Slab Look Like?
In order to understand Calacatta, you need to know Calacatta is not. Just because someone calls Statuario marble, “Calacatta” – does not mean it is a true Calacatta. But what truly differentiates all the white marbles in the Calacatta Region–as the Italians have discovered hundreds of years ago–is the stone’s veining and how white the background is. The whiter the material, the more expensive the slabs. The more “uniform” the veining in the stone, the pricier it gets.
Here at Aria we only go for the best Calacatta slabs, the one in a thousand. For example, the one with the most unique veining and most clear and consistent pattern meets Aria’s standards and is what you will see at one of our galleries.
Ah, the ever-glamorous, yet illusive Bettogli marble An Aria Stone Gallery fan favorite, and quite famous within the natural stone industry to say the least. This majestic stone has been around for centuries, yet, have you ever tried to research its history? We have. Oddly enough, there’s not a lot of information out there! However, the Aria Stone Gallery team sat down with our owner, Vinny Tavares, who passed along some awesome facts about this natural stone. So sit back, relax, and read on as we explore the story behind this stone!
What is the difference between Borghini vs Bettogli Marble?
Hailing from one of the oldest quarries in Italy, and scoring a close second in popularity to Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra, Bettogli marbles are one of the most sought after marbles in the world. What really distinguishes the two is that Borghini features vivid gold tones, while Bettogli, for the most part, is primarily white and grey. Both are incredibly luxurious and high-quality materials, so choosing between them mainly comes down to color preference.
Physical Qualities of Calacatta Bettogli
Calacatta Bettogli is particularly known for its dramatic vein patterns – huge grey veins painted against a stark white background. It is incredibly difficult to source a slab that is so well balanced in terms of pattern. Also, it is just as hard to find slabs of Bettogli that are large in size. The family of Bettogli marbles that are currently in stock at Aria Stone Gallery typically check both of those boxes, making them especially unique and rare. The monochromatic coloring of this material makes it a perfect addition to any modern project, while its iconic Calacatta vein pattern and overall glamour also suit it well for a traditional design feature.
The Bettogli Marble Quarry
As for the Bettogli quarry itself, it’s one of the oldest in the region. The Bettogli quarry is located on the north-western slope of the Apuan Alps mountain range (Carrara, Italy). The excavation sites from which this stone is quarried are incredibly steep and high; about 1,500 feet above sea level! Located right at the edge of Tuscany, it sports spectacular views of the Mediterranean. This quarry has been officially registered with the Italian officials for over 200 years, but unofficial mining has taken place there for centuries.
Research and imagery courtesy of Vinny Tavares and The New York Times.
Much like any grand discovery, the unearthing of the rare and elegant Calacatta Macchia Vecchia did not occur overnight. Perfecting this beautiful Italian marble meant overcoming many trials, struggles and technological setbacks of the time period. Nonetheless, this unique stone comes with a backstory full of culture, perseverance and in the end, incredible success.
When Was Calacatta Macchia Vecchia Discovered?
The Calacatta Macchia Vecchia quarry is located among the “Marble Mountains” of Italy, within very close proximity of the town Torano. Although the exact time period is unknown, we do know that the discovery of this quarry was between the end of the 17th Century and the beginning of the 18th Century.
Excavating Calacatta Macchia Vecchia Marble
At the time of discovery, the excavation of marble blocks was very limited, as quarry crews did not have access to suitable machinery or tools. They utilized wedges and ice-axes, and were therefore only able to extract very small, misshapen blocks that required squaring by hand. Afterward, the marble blocks were loaded in wagons or carts dragged by oxen. This process was extremely complicated and physically demanding, and the quarry ceased production after years of struggling.
In the 1950s, the Macchia Vecchia quarry reopened when the helicoidal cable, a primitive version of the wire saw, was discovered. The first official owner of the quarry, Mr. Serri, worked tirelessly for many years to excavate pristine blocks of Macchia Vecchia without successful results. The low quality of marble produced combined with lack of technology eventually forced Mr. Serri to shut down the quarry and retire.
After 40+ years of extensive research and technology development, new owners Mr. Ribolini and Mr. Santi re-purchased the quarry and spent the first 5 years not excavating, but cleaning. They understood that in order to start fresh and produce the best possible quality of marble, they had to keep the levels clean and safe for their crews. They were finally provided with essentially a clean slate, and conditions in which they could extract large, blocks of white marble with luxurious flowing veins of gold and grey.
Calacatta Macchia Vecchia Production and Use Today
As production increased and technology continued to develop, Calacatta Macchia Vecchia marble took off and people from all over the world longed to use it and experience its grandeur. Today, Mr. Santi and Mr. Ribolini remain active owners of the Calacatta Macchia Vecchia marble quarry and extract between 2,500 and 2,800 tons per year. To prevent extensive damage to the surrounding landscape and ecosystem, they limit production in this specific area of the Marble Mountains, making Calacatta Macchia Vecchia a luxury and privilege to witness.
Calacatta Macchia Vecchia marble has dramatically increased in popularity within the design world, as it resembles an elegant impressionist painting and flows well with all aesthetics. Its clean white canvas and golden undertones make a very attractive option for kitchens, bathrooms and bookmatched feature walls. Since Calacatta Macchia Vecchia is a marble, we do recommend sealing this stone if you plan to use it in an area of the home that gets a lot of traffic. This will protect it from scratching and etching, and keep it looking beautiful for years to come.
From interior design to accessories, the beauty and mystery of Labradorite never fails to capture our attention among a diverse realm of applications. This stone comes packed with a unique blend of luxury, versatility and durability, and originates from exotic lands with the richest of cultures. Possessing the ability to be utilized far beyond the abilities of a gemstone, Labradorite has many defining traits that make it extremely valued to artists, jewelers and designers all over the world.
What Is Labradorite?
Labradorite is a mineral that can be found in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. It has a hard crystalline structure and precious stone properties that are highly valued in both the stone and jewelry industries. Labradorite ranks about a 6-6.5 (similar to the hardness of granite) on the Mohs Hardness Scale, and is also known for possessing magic, healing and psychic powers.
One of the main defining traits of Labradorite is its capability of displaying a wide spectrum of colors through highly reflective crystal pockets (which can change as the stone is rotated). Labradorite gemstones usually have a dark blue or black base color with metallic pockets of sapphire, green, red, gold or aquamarine. The color play is iridescent like the feathers of a peacock.
This unique display of iridescent colors is known as Labradorescence, also referred to as the “eyes” of the stone. Labradorescence is caused by internal fractures that reflect light back and forth, dispersing it into different colors. Some stones have a more prominent Labradorescence effect than others, and that greater spectrum of color, therefore, increases the value of the stone.
Due to its unique properties, Labradorite is quite rare and not typically seen among mass-merchant jewelers or stone suppliers. However, designers who specialize in unique and custom work, such as Tiffany McKinzie, often use it to create one-of-a-kind pieces of raw, natural art.
Labradorite and Lemurian Granite
Labradorite is often found in anorthosite, an igneous rock composed mostly of feldspar. Anorthosite is commonly used in the construction industry, and can be cut, polished and used for design and architectural purposes. Some samples of anorthosite rocks were even taken from the moon, and contain fragments of crystals!
Anorthosite is sometimes classified commercially as “black granite”. Aria Stone Gallery’s Lemurian Extra and Lemurian Baobab granites are both flawless examples of the marriage between anorthosite and Labradorite crystals.
Originating from the exotic island of Madagascar, Aria Stone Gallery’s collection of Lemurian granite slabs are both glamorous and durable. The highly iridescent Labradorite pockets within these stones radiate an eye-catching shimmer against a dark navy background. They exude a beautiful spectrum of colors that change as light bounces off the stone. The large amounts of Labradorite residing inside Lemurian Baobab granite in particular makes it of precious rarity, and a luxurious addition to Aria’s granite collection.
Marble is suitable for most showers and other wet area applications. There is some maintenance required if you want to keep your stone looking its best, but it is not a dealbreaker. To learn more, we spoke with Mike Loflin, Industry Research & Information Manager, at the Natural Stone Institute.
As always, we recommend consulting with your fabrication partner as each stone is composes its own unique characteristics and some stones may react differently to water and moisture than others (depending on their mineral composition).
What causes marble to rust?
If exposed to certain liquids, marble containing certain minerals (for example, pyrite) can oxidize. Oxidation is what we call rust. Minerals like pyrite won’t oxidize unless it has exposed them to water, acid or bleach.
If a marble possesses colors or colorful veining, this essentially means the slab has trace minerals present that might rust. However, a marble slab will not rust unless it was exposed to oxidizing liquids (such as water, acid or bleach), and is not treated properly afterwards.
What are pyrite inclusions and why are they prominent in marble?
Pyrite is a yellowish, metallic looking sulfide mineral most commonly found in white marbles. Pyrite can group together and form small, randomly distributed groupings of iron-bearing minerals, called inclusions, that naturally occur in most white stones.
If your slab is installed, sealed, and maintained properly, then rust is not going to be a problem. From Washington D.C. to Milan, century old buildings constructed of marble have not rusted as a result of proper care and maintenance.
How can your fabricator make sure that “rust bleeding” does not occur in your stone?
Oil-based putty and plumbing sealants should never be used in contact with stone.
Use a cement backer board instead of water-resistant drywall board (green board). Drywall will degrade and the paper on it will become a food source for mold and mildew when subjected to moisture. Do not use unless a waterproof membrane completely protects the surface from moisture infiltration.
Make sure all horizontal surfaces (such as shower pan, seats, sills, curbs, etc.) slope slightly downward, ensuring positive water movement.
Properly seal around the stone to waterproof and ensure that no water gets behind or underneath the slab.
A proper deep-penetrating (but breathable) sealant on the surface of the stone will also ensure that the oxidation process does not take place as the water is not able to penetrate the surface.
For more in depth analysis on stone installation in wet areas, visit the Natural Stone Institute website, here.
If marble is sealed properly, will it prevent the slab from further rust?
The sealer is a stop gap. A good deep-penetrating (but breathable) sealer will help to prevent rust and oxidation. Quality stone requires a quality sealer.
Proper maintenance after shower use will ensure that the sealer will last longer, as repetitive contact with moisture/water will minimize the sealer’s lifespan.
How often do you recommend sealing for this specific application to ensure moisture is repelled from the slab?
It all depends on how you maintain and care for your stone. If properly maintained, then sealing your stone every year could be overkill. As long as water beads up on the surface of the slab, the sealer is still doing its job.
Steps you can take to help prevent rust in marble showers after installation:
Run the ventilation fan while showering.
Squeegee the stone after showering.
Run a towel over stone afterwards to ensure no additional water droplets remain.
Open the door after showering to allow for proper ventilation.
If not properly maintained, how quickly can rust/oxidation occur in the stone?
It can happen within a couple of years if not maintained properly. We frequently hear from restoration experts — “if they had only taken care of it.”
Can marble be used in a steam shower?
Yes, but it is important to select the appropriate marble for this use. For a steam shower that will exude a lot of moisture in the air, marble that is classified as “A” or “B” can be used as they embody less minerals that are subjective to rusting. It is highly recommended not to use marbles that are classified as “C” or “D” as in some cases the veining can begin to dissolve in a steam environment.
Please note, for a regular shower application, you can use marble classifications A, B, C, and D if you maintain proper maintenance.
For additional insight and a rough breakdown for stone classifications, visit the Natural Stone Institute website here.
If left untreated, is it true that rust stains can’t be extracted?
There are products available in the marketplace that work to remove rust. However if the rust stain originates from within or below the stone, it is generally not removable since the source of the stain cannot be eliminated.
One rust removal product that we have seen good results with is Tenax. Tenax has a ready-to-use liquid rust remover that works to remove the rust in some cases. In general you simply apply the liquid rust remover to the rust spots and let it sit for 1 1/2 hours and wipe off with a clean cloth. It is important to read and follow the instructions on the label closely. If not followed precisely, the results may vary.
If this or another similar product does not work, another option would be for your fabricator to re-hone the material and re-seal it to bring it back to its former glory.
For additional insight on restoration and maintenance, please visit the Natural Stone Institute website here.
Ah yes, the daunting question: “What happens if I crack my marble countertops?”
Can a crack in marble be repaired? This can be a stressful event after you have invested in your marble but don’t fret, we have you covered. Repairing, restoring, and preventing future damage to your beautiful stone countertops is much easier than you think.
Small cracks and fissures occur naturally in stone during mother nature’s process of creating and cooling within the earth. At Aria, we inspect every slab in the reflection of the light to check for the cracks and fissures, only choosing the stones with a very small percentage of natural imperfections. That being said, this is not a typical issue you will run into with an Aria slab. However, it is important to understand the process of filling in cracks and fissures so you can spot them yourself!
Human error is an inorganic cause of cracks and fissures within a slab. Uneven cabinetry or poor foundation beneath a stone countertop, children sitting on countertop overhangs, or bumping the corners of your stone with a piece of heavy furniture might be enough to crack a slab. Whatever the case may be, we can assure you we’ve seen it all before.
Cracks and fissures are very repairable using a special epoxy that is meant specifically for fixing natural imperfections in stone, large or small! Since the epoxy is very runny, a fabricator will carefully lay the slab on top of plastic and pour the epoxy over the cracks and fissures, letting it set overnight. During this time, the epoxy will go deep down into the cracks and solidify. The next day, the fabricator will go in and either scrape off the residue with a razor blade or resurface the area completely, depending on the stone type and surface finish.
How Do You Repair Surface Scratches?
On softer materials, such as marble, onyx and calcite, even the best sealers are not stain and scratch proof. Before you call your fabricator, know that you have two main options: resurfacing the stone or using a stone color enhancer and sealer. With resurfacing being the more costly of the two ways to repair scratches in your natural stone, it may be a good idea to try to use the stone color enhancer and sealer first. You can always ask your fabricator which color enhancer and sealer brand they recommend for your natural stone.
Soapstone is the only exception to the scratching and sealing rule.
Soapstone DOES have the potential to scratch. It is composed mostly of the mineral “talc”, which is the softest mineral in the world. However, although talc is soft, it is also super dense, which actually makes soapstone very durable! Since soapstone is so dense, it doesn’t have many pores for debris or chemicals to sink into – meaning you don’t seal soapstone.
How do you repair scratches in soapstone then? Look no further than your garage for some sandpaper! Deep scratches can be smoothed down with 120-grit sandpaper, then finished by apply a coating of mineral oil to clean it up. Mineral oil is what you should use instead of a typical “sealer” to keep your soapstone looking vibrant and clean.
How Does a Color Enhancing Sealer Work?
Once you apply a color enhancing sealer to a dry rag and wipe in on top of a scratch, you will almost immediately begin to see the scratch disappear. The color enhancing sealer fills in and camouflages the scratch to make it much less noticeable.
Can I Use a Stone Color Enhancer and Sealer Myself?
Even if you’re the master of DIY, we definitely recommend that you first speak to your fabricator about this process, and advise you to read the instructions on the chemicals that you use. Also, as when introducing any new chemical or cleaning agent to your natural stone, it a good idea to test the how the stone will react to the chemical in a small, discreet place on your stone.
Many color enhancing chemicals are quick to apply, and can be applied easily at home. Start by putting the color enhancing sealer onto a dry, clean rag. Wipe the rag over any scratch and the scratch will disappear. Typically, you should let the chemicals sit for about five minutes, but this may vary dependent on stone, the size of the scratch, and the chemicals that you use. After the color enhancing sealer has set for about 5 minutes, wipe the stone with a clean paper towel until all of the excess product is gone. You can repeat this every three to four months. Luckily, there is no limit to the amount of times you can restore natural stone!
When selecting the perfect natural stone type for your project, it is important to consider the properties, durability and chemical makeup of all natural stones. Researching endless stone families and pondering the possibilities of how each material will react to your day-to-day activities is a chore! That’s why the Aria team has prepared the perfect cheat-sheet of all stone types, to make your search just a little easier.
Categorized as an igneous stone and formed from the slow crystallization of liquid magma below the Earth’s surface, granite was once molten lava!
Granite is one of the hardest and most durable natural stone types, requiring little to no maintenance. Scoring about a 6 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, granite is the perfect candidate for outdoor applications, flooring, and countertops that take a lot of beating from everyday use. It is virtually impossible to scratch, stain or etch this stone, so look no further if you are searching for a material that will outlast messy kids and cooking disasters!
The long and tedious process of sand compression and heating leads to create the incredibly dense and durable quartzite. The Mohs Hardness Scale classifies quartzite at a 7, higher than its neighbor granite, which on the same scale measures between 6-6.5. To further illustrate, a kitchen knife and glass measures a 5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. Therefore, scratches should not be an issue when using quartzite in your home, even in high traffic areas and highly used spaces, such as the kitchen. Staining and etching will not be a problem either, since quartzite is relatively non-porous.
People are to the unique and vibrant hues found in quartzite, so if you are looking for a statement pop of color in your home, quartzite is the material to explore!
Marble is a metamorphic stone that forms when limestone undergoes the heat and pressure of metamorphism. Composed primarily of the mineral calcite, and usually contains other minerals, such as clay, quartz, pyrite, and graphite.
Marble is a naturally softer stone (scoring about a 4 on the Mohs Hardness Scale) when compared to granite or quartzite. So it is more susceptible to staining, scratching and acid etching through daily use. However, there are many simple precautions you can take that will keep marble looking like new for years to come! Luckily, stone can be restored repeatedly without concern, and maintenance definitely does not have to be stressful or difficult. Read more about marble and how to maintain it here.
Onyx is a unique natural stone that originates from dripstone deposits of limestone caves. When water drips from stalactites and stalagmites within these caves and evaporates a compound called calcium carbonate is left behind. This causes the stone’s colorful veins, swirls, and patterns unique to onyx.
Onyx is relatively soft, ranking softer than marble on the Mohs Hardness Scale, and therefore has the potential to etch and stain. However, a sealer prevents wear and tear over time. Feature walls, countertops, art pieces and fireplaces are all especially great examples of ways to incorporate onyx into your home. Most onyx applications can be backlit to enhance the stone’s natural translucency.
Schist is a metamorphic rock, formed from the metamorphosis of mudstone or shale. When mudstone is subjected to extreme temperatures and pressure within the Earth, it becomes what we call “slate”. Sometimes, this “slate” undergoes even further metamorphosis before surfacing and hardening, therefore creating schist. In short, slate is the first step in the creation of schist, much like a caterpillar is the first step in the life cycle of a butterfly!
Schist ranks the same level of hardness as marble on the Mohs Hardness Scale, a 4. It is grainy in texture, quite porous, and can shed sparkles or flakes over time, similar to how slate reacts to the touch. If used for applications other than feature walls or fireplaces, Schist should be sealed and maintained regularly to protect its delicate surface. Although this stone is somewhat fragile, it makes for a beautiful project because of its unique appearance and texture.
Properties of Calcite
Calcite is a transparent or translucent natural stone found in both crystalline and massive forms, such as a stone slab. Although crystals of calcite are usually translucent or colorless, they can at times exhibit a wide variety of hues depending on the crystal’s chemical makeup. Calcites can have soft veins of light blue, green and other light colors, in addition to clear, sparkling crystals throughout the material.
Calcite is a softer stone – more comparable to marble in terms of hardness, ranking about a 3 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. They can scratch, etch and stain just like marble can if not sealed or cared for properly. However, with proper care and a skilled fabricator, this stone makes a beautiful fit for any application!
Travertine is very similar to onyx in nature and in terms of durability. Travertine, at times, can even contain mixtures of translucent onyx within itself – making it a great candidate for backlighting! Much like onyx, it’s formed from limestone drip deposits from caves and hot springs, or from the evaporation of river water. Therefore, it’s classified as a sedimentary rock.
This stone is relatively soft and porous, so it would be wise to seal and protect it from acid and debris penetrating into the material. Known for having naturally occurring small holes throughout the material, Travertine can remain a textured surface or filled. If you use Travertine for a countertop application, always use a neutral detergent to clean it.
However, interestingly enough, the primary use of travertine is actually for construction! Temples and monuments all over the world used travertine, but you can use it as paving patios, courtyards, and paths. Travertine’s colors are commonly warm, and are white, beige, gold, brown, and even red!
Soapstone is a tricky material to categorize. It technically ranks the lowest on the Mohs Hardness Scale (#1, to be exact) but don’t let the number fool you. Soapstone is composed mostly of the mineral “talc”, which is the softest mineral in the world. However, although talc is soft, it is also super dense, which actually makes soapstone very durable! Okay, so here’s a breakdown of the confusing part:
Soapstone DOES NOT stain or etch. Why? It is a non-porous stone. Therefore, you don’t ever need to seal it. It would be pointless to seal soapstone since it has virtually no pores for debris to sink into! It is impervious to most kitchen chemicals, acids and liquids, in fact.
Soapstone DOES scratch. Why? Because soapstone is mostly of that “talc” stuff, a very soft mineral.
How do you repair scratches then? Look no further than your garage for some sandpaper! Deep scratches can be smoothed down with 120-grit sandpaper, then finished by apply a coating of mineral oil to clean it up. Mineral oil is what you should use instead of a typical “sealer” to keep your soapstone looking vibrant and clean.
Soapstone IS HEAT RESISTANT. That’s why chefs love it! You could *gently* set a boiling hot pan on a soapstone countertop and it wouldn’t burn. It is almost completely heat-proof due to the incredible density of the material. Bon appétit!
Homeowners and first-time natural stone buyers that stop into Aria present us with the age-old question time and time again, “is marble OK to use on my kitchen countertops?” Everyone loves the classic look of natural marble, but all the maintenance and upkeep can seem scary at first glance. The pros and cons of using marble in the kitchen are often confused and misinterpreted, therefore the Aria Stone Gallery team is here to provide the facts you need before making this big decision.
Natural stone can be closely compared to a fine wine; stone ages with grace and never loses its value or beauty. Man-made materials such as porcelain and quartz can replicate the organic vein patterns and colors of marble; however, natural marble is always completely unique and each slab is like a fingerprint – different in its own way. The story that every slab tells after being created within the Earth after thousands of years is something that always attracts people to natural stone.
Natural stone is durable and powerful; existing eons before us and scientifically proven to outlast us.
Fact #2: Caring For Marble is Easier Than You Think
Here’s the truth: marble is a naturally softer stone, when compared to granite or quartzite. So it is more susceptible to staining, scratching and acid etching through daily use. Seems scary, but don’t let those words stray you away from choosing the kitchen countertops of your dreams! If this is a concern, there are simple ways to work around to prevent this from happening to your stone:
Consider honing your marble. Since a honed surface is already matte, etching will be camouflaged! Honed surfaces are actually becoming more and more popular, as they make for a smooth and modern look. They can also be much more kitchen-friendly!
Have your countertops sealed regularly. There are many different types of sealers out there, and a professional fabricator can easily assist with adding this top coat of armor to your marble. Consider it scheduled maintenance to keep your kitchen in tip-top shape!
Use trivets, placemats and coasters. This is an easy one. Prevent water rings, coffee stains, spaghetti spills and pan burns by covering up the messiest areas of your countertops while you work. And if you do make a spill and miss the placemat, don’t panic! Just wipe up the mess as quickly as possible with a clean cloth, or use soap and water.
Those three tips are fool-proof, and will keep your marble counters looking like new for years to come! Luckily, stone can be restored repeatedly without concern, and maintenance definitely does not have to be stressful or difficult. Think about it this way – if people have used marble for flooring and tiles for generations, you can most certainly use it for your countertops!
It is not always a requirement to protect the integrity of your marble countertops with your life! Many homeowners and marble enthusiasts adore the look of weathered stone, as it adds an element of uniqueness and character. Picturing lightly scratched or etched marble surfaces may leave a bad taste in your mouth at first, but countertops that sport subtle wear have an appeal all their own. Marble is something we like to call a “living surface”, and much like a perfectly broken-in sweater or a finely antiqued piece of furniture, this is one look that can only be attained through years of use.
Simply put, natural stone is the perfect, blank canvas for every owner to paint their story.
Fact #4: Marble Makes The Perfect Sous Chef
Natural marble can come in handy while baking in the kitchen, since it is naturally cool in temperature. White marble countertops are especially perfect for working with pastries, since they don’t conduct heat very well. They can also prevent your kitchen from feeling super steamy while preparing meals!
Fact #5: Marble is Obtainable and Affordable
The convenient thing about marble is that it comes in a variety of price ranges and can be suitable for any budget. Marble can be found in every state, every country, all over the world – and Aria Stone Gallery can even specially source it for your project! While some rare families of marble sell at a higher price, there are more common types that still provide the same iconic aesthetic we all know and love, at an affordable price. Some marbles are even more affordable than man-made materials!
Aria Stone Gallery is so excited to announce the brand new addition to our collection of luxurious natural stones – a bright white bundle of Estremoz marble. This incredible marble originates from the municipal city of Estremoz, Portugal. Here, nearly 80% of all Estremoz that is quarried yields a pink hue; however, Aria was able to secure a pure white bundle with creamy veins, which is an extremely rare find.
The History Behind The Stone
Estremoz, Portugal is a historic city surrounded by vineyards, chapels, and majestic castles. There is so much marble in Estremoz, that it is used nearly everywhere in the city. From stairs, doorsteps, fountains, and even pavement mosaics and facades of buildings, marble is all around! Coming in second to Italy, Portugal is the second largest marble exporter in the world and approximately 85% of all marble from Portugual is quarried from Estremoz.
What Does it Look Like?
Estremoz marble typically comes in a wide array of colors – most slabs have a cream or rose backdrop due to the chemical makeup of the stone. Vein coloration throughout slabs can vary between hues of pink, cream, white, grey or black. Most marble slabs quarried from Estremoz are predominantly pink or rose colored; but on rare occasions, bundles like we have at Aria Stone Gallery are pure white with subtle veining.
How Can I Use This Marble for My Next Project?
As long as you take proper precautions, such as sealing your stone, the design possibilities for this marble are endless! Sealing your natural stone to prevent staining and etching will help keep your marble looking as pristine as the day you install it. This beautiful marble is perfect for kitchens, bathrooms and floor applications – making for a bright and luxurious statement.
Typically quarries will cut and ship stone slabs in measurements of 2cm or 3cm. Additionally, in some cases, harder stones such as granite or quartzite will even be available in 1cm. But what should you do if you find your perfect stone in 3cm and your project calls for 2cm? Luckily, there is a way for your fabricator to downsize your stone to fit your design needs: milling. Milling is the process of slowly grinding the thickness of a material down using a mill saw.
How Does a Fabricator Mill a 3cm Slab into a 2cm Slab?
Most fabricators will have the ability to transform your 3cm slab into a 2cm slab using a mill saw. Firstly, the foam board is first placed on top of the work table for support and to absorb the pressure that the saw places on the stone. This will avoid creating cracks or fissures in the material. The mill saw then moves across the surface, slowly grinding the stone down to 2cm. There are many different types of milling machines, and they are categorized by orientation to their workpiece and by type of motion.
Can I Use a 3cm Material for a Backsplash?
Backsplash applications in kitchens or bathrooms are prime examples of when slabs may need to be milled from 3cm to 2cm. In some cases, a 3cm slab is too thick and may get in the way of faucets, sinks or cabinetry.
However, if you are wanting your 2cm countertop or island to appear thicker, there is a way for your fabricator to miter the edges, giving you endless possibilities when creating your edge profile. No need to search for a 3cm slab, you can make a 2cm material appear to be 3cm, 4cm, 5cm, or thicker using this technique.
What Stone Thickness Should I Use for Wall Applications?
It is not recommended to use 3cm materials for wall applications since a typical household wall is not built to support such an immense amount of weight. Thus, when applied to a wall, the slenderness of a 2cm slab may be more visually appealing and easier to work with, especially when installing electrical sockets or finishing the sides of the stone.
Does Milling Effect the Strength of Stone?
Every countertop is just as good as the support beneath it. As a rule of thumb, 2cm is an appropriate strength for marble, quartzite, and granite.
Creating a slab smaller than 2cm (especially with marble) is not recommended unless it is for a smaller project such as a small vanity, threshold, or backsplash. If needed, quartzite and granite can be milled to about 1/2 an inch. For marble, it is not recommended to go below 3/4 of an inch in order to keep the integrity of the stone intact.
Onyx is a unique natural stone that originates from dripstone deposits of limestone caves. When water drips from stalactites and stalagmites within these caves and evaporates a compound called calcium carbonate is left behind. This causes the stone’s colorful veins, swirls, and patterns that are unique to onyx. Therefore, onyx is classified a chemical sedimentary stone and can at times contain fossils and shells. Prehistoric animal skeletons have even been found preserved inside onyx!
What Does Onyx Look Like?
Onyx is crystalline stone, and often translucent – which means it allows for light to pass through. The degree of translucency varies among onyx slabs and is dependent on the color, thickness and surface finish. A unique feat, this stone will recrystallize in time, often enhancing translucency as a result. It typically comes in a wide array of yellow hues due to the presence of iron deposits, but other common colors are green, white, orange, gold, pink and brown.
Should I Use Onyx in My Next Project?
We believe that if you love this stone, a skilled fabricator will be able to make your onyx project a reality. Like most natural stones, it has the potential to etch and stain; however, a sealer can be used in addition to prevent wear and tear over time. Feature walls, countertops, art pieces and fireplaces are all especially great examples of ways to incorporate this stone into your home. Most onyx applications can be backlit to enhance the stone’s natural translucency.
We often hear, “I want granite because it’s stain resistant.” While granite is a strong material and holds up really well, it’s not your only option if you are worried about scratching, staining, or etching. Some natural stones, like quartzite, are naturally scratch and etch-resistant. There have also been recent technological advances in natural stone sealers that have exponentially expanded sealing options. There are many possibilities to keep natural stones such as marble, onyx, and even limestone to look as beautiful as the day they were installed. Read along to learn which sealer is best for your project and what you can do at home to protect your natural stone from scratches, stains, and etches.
There are two types of natural stone sealers: topical and impregnator.
Topical. A topical sealer is a coating or a film designed to protect the surface of the stone against water, oil, and other contaminants. Oftentimes, you have to strip and re-apply topical sealers, making them a less appealing choice for homeowners.
Impregnator. An impregnatingsealer is typically a water-based solution that penetrates below the surface and repels oil and water. Impregnating sealers are “breathable”; meaning, they keep water and oil out but do not stop the interior moisture from escaping.
What type of natural stone sealer should I use?
We recommend speaking with your fabricator and check all fine print and warranties before deciding which sealer is best for you.
At Aria Stone Gallery, we typically suggest that our clients use impregnating nano sealers. Nano sealers are a new breed of impregnating sealers that consist of tiny particles. The smaller particles are able to penetrate and fill in more pores in the stone, creating a stone that is more impenetrable to stains.
Specifically, StoneTech’s Bulletproof Sealer provides protection against tough oil and water-based stains. This includes substances such as ketchup, mustard, red wine, and lemon juice. On unprotected surfaces, these substances can leave stains behind if they soak into the surface. With StoneTech’s Bulletproof Sealer, liquids bead up and can be easily wiped off.
Another option, Dry-Treat Stain-Proof Sealer offers a permanent bond to the stone and claims that it does not need to be re-applied. This product also advertises a 15-year warranty when installed with an approved Dry-Treat applicator. This is a great sealer for a permanent option.
Will using a sealer change the color of my natural stone?
Not all sealers will change the color of your stone. If you do not want to change the color of the stone, there are impregnating sealers available that will only block moisture from penetrating the stone.
However, there are certain color enhancing sealers that can protect your stone and also bring out all of the beautiful, vibrant hues. Many people chose to use color enhancing sealers on their marble or onyx to create more vibrant color. You can keep the color enhancing sealer at home for a quick fix against scratches and etches. For example, if you scratch the stone you can put the color enhancing sealer on the scratch – sometimes the scratch goes away completely – sometimes the scratch goes away mostly – it all depends on the material.
How do you seal limestone?
Limestone is different in that it needs to breathe more than other stones. It is important to seal limestone with a specific sealer that helps protect, but also allows for extra breathability.
How do you prevent scratching and etching in natural stone at home?
The best way to prevent scratching and etching is to use trivets for heavy pots and pans. Also, be sure to blot up any acidic liquids spills quickly with a clean cloth. Otherwise, a fabricator can come to your home with a machine that can buff the etch out of the stone. Looking for something you can do at home to prevent etching? Fabricator, Chris Wynn, from Statement Furniture, suggests using a high-grade car or furniture wax. The wax will also help to prevent the stone from etching in the future. Both options are very similar. It is just a matter of doing it yourself or paying a fabricator to do it for you.
Here are the steps you can take to prevent your natural stone from scratching and etching at home:
Blot up any acidic liquid spills with a clean cloth
Flush the area with plain water and mild soap and rinse several times
Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth
Use a high-grade car of furniture wax and spread over your natural stone
Leave the wax on overnight
Buff the wax off in the morning with a clean, soft cloth until it shines.
How often do you need to reseal your natural stone?
First, consult the brand of sealer that your fabricator initially used, as some sealers have warranties. All stones have different porosities and different finishes can lend to higher stain resistance as well. Learn more about the porosity of your stone and use your best judgment. If you see water spots or anything out of the ordinary, then call your fabricator to refinish. The maintenance could be every year or every 5 years, it depends on the stone and the type of finish.
Calcite is a transparent or translucent natural stone that can be found in both crystalline and massive forms, such as a stone slab. Although the crystals of this natural stone are usually translucent or colorless, they can at times exhibit a wide variety of hues depending on the crystal’s chemical makeup. Calcites often have soft veins of light blue, green and other light colors, in addition to clear, sparkling crystals throughout the material.
Calcite is formed in many parts of the Earth, from underground caves and quarries to hot springs, even coral reefs. Without it, many of Earth’s creatures could not exist. Many marine organisms use calcite minerals to construct their shells and skeletons. This is what makes this stone such a wonderful addition to Aria’s collection of natural stones because it is an example of how stone can be a helping hand in the creation of life – as well as a beautiful art form!
What is the stones Durability like?
Calcite is a softer stone – more comparable to marble in terms of hardness, ranking about a 3 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. Additionally, they can scratch, etch, and stain just like marble can if not sealed or cared for properly. They are generally better suited for a bathroom environment because it is a low-traffic area that won’t take as much of a beating from day-to-day activities.
Should I use Calcite in my next project?
These slabs are not new to the stone industry but lately have become a focus of many stone suppliers. As the demand for light-colored stones has increased over the years, the amount of calcite being quarried has increased. Because of their unique backstory, colors, and patterns, these slabs will always be in high demand – making for interesting, modern and beautiful stone projects.
When it comes to deciding the finish of your stone, there isn’t a wrong answer. Neither a honed or polished finish impacts the true nature and durability of the stone slab. And some stones are naturally more durable than others (looking at you granite and quartzite). However, for “softer materials” that are more prone to wear, your stone’s finish may add an extra layer of security against stains or camouflage pesky scratches and etches.
The Aria team has a few essential questions to help you decide which finish is best suited for you.
According to the Marble Institute of America, a polished finish has a glossy surface that reflects light and emphasizes the color and veins of the stone. This means that the details, colors, hues, and vein structure show more prominently, putting more of an emphasis on these natural characteristics of the stone. A high polish finish will bring the stone’s natural color to its fullest because it will ultimately reflect the light and appear more saturated.
On the other hand, a honed finish appears as a satin, smooth surface that will have little reflection of light. It appears flatter and will almost always appear lighter in color. Keep in mind that when a polished stone is honed, the depth, hues, and veins that were once very prevalent may be reduced. The degree of honing depends on the stone you choose, but may vary from light to heavy.
Are you a perfectionist who prefers everything to look pristine or are you more relaxed when it comes to a little wear?
Those who are looking for something with minimal scratches and etches may find that honed surfaces are well suited for high traffic and heavily used areas, such as countertops and workspaces. Additionally, the matte, smooth surface is less slippery when wet which makes this finish a safer choice for bathroom flooring and staircases.
However, don’t be discouraged if you fall in love with the look of a polished stone but are worried about the thought of scratching and etching. There are plenty of preventative measures you can take. Similarly, if you find a stone that is polished and wish it were honed, a skilled fabricator should be able to change the finish for you.
Scratch & Etch Resistance: Differences between Honed and Polished Finishes
If you are in love with the look of marble, but are not keen on seeing the inherent characteristics associated with the use of marble over time (such as scratches and etches) then consider a honed finish. On a polished finish, a scratch or etch may leave behind a dull, matte mark creating a contrast. Because honed finishes are already matte, the dull marks from scratches and etches are more likely to be camouflaged and go unnoticed.
Having a sealer does not mean that liquids, especially acidic ones like soda or tomato sauce, should be left on countertops overnight, but it does mean that there will be more time to clean up the spills before a permanent mark is made.
Honed and Polished Finishes: Stain Resistance
When properly sealed, both honed and polished finishes are stain-resistant. There is no such thing as a stain proof sealer. If stains are high on your list of concerns, there are a few things to be considered.
A polished finish on a stone is essentially an added layer of security to protect from stains. The process in which a stone is polished helps to close natural pores and create a protective barrier. On the other hand, the pores in a smoothed, honed stone are more receptive to liquid. Side by side, a polished stone surface will have more protection from stains than a honed surface; however, a proper sealer will help to close in open pores and provide stain resistance against most household items.
For more information on sealing your stone, read our blog here.
Bookmatching is a symmetrical way to match the veining of two slabs of stone so that the veining of the two slabs are closely aligned to mirror each other, like an opened book.
Quadmatching, sometimes referred to as diamond matching, refers to symmetrically matching four slabs of stone, so that the veining of the four adjoining slabs align to create either an X pattern or a diamond shape.
How are bookmatch or quadmatch stone slabs created?
When a large block of stone slabs are cut from the mountain, the quarry cuts them in sequential order, similar to a giant bread slicer. Once the slabs are cut, the quarry can decide to polish the same side of every stone, or alternate, polishing opposite sides of the stone so that the veining in the slabs mirrors one another.
Most natural stone slabs can bookmatch. For best results, purchase slabs in sequential order to ensure the closest veining alignment. Most vein cut natural stone slabs are ideal for bookmatching applications, but if you are uncertain if your stone bookmatches or quadmatches, ask your stone supplier.
What type of finish should I use on my bookmatch or quadmatch stone?
While finish ultimately comes down to personal preference, according to the Natural Stone Institute, “bookmatched or quadmatched material is most commonly polished to allow the greatest visibility of the veining character of the stone.”
What type of applications are suitable for bookmatching or quadmatching (or diamond matching)?
Bookmatching and quadmatching can be suitable for most applications. Feature walls, kitchen islands, backsplashes, open-plan showers, and even statement fireplaces are all ideal candidates for bookmatching and quadmatching natural stone.
While their names are quite similar, there is a big difference between quartzite and quartz. The main difference being that quartzite is a natural stone and quartz is a man-made stone composite. Read along to compare the differences between quartzite and quartz.
Quartzite is a natural stone that is extracted from the earth.
Quartz is an engineered (man-made) composite, meaning that they crush up quartz and mix it with a polymer to create a slab.
Which is more stain resistant: quartz or quartzite?
Quartzite, due to its natural makeup, may stain if not sealed properly.
Quartz isn’t prone to staining due to the polymer chemical blend.
All quartzite is different in terms of porosity and stain resistance as it depends on how tightly the minerals bonded together during the mineral metamorphic process. In general, quartzite such as Sea Pearl and Taj Mahal have highly bonded minerals, while Macaubas may have been exposed to less pressure, making it more porous and prone to staining. Avoid staining from household items by using a sealer, which is typically provided by the installer or fabricator. To maintain this coverage, we recommended to seal your quartzite about once a year with a home application sealer.
Which is more heat resistant: quartzite or quartz?
Quartzite is generally resistant to heat warping; however, we would always recommend using a trivet to protect your countertops from extreme heat of pots and pans – just in case.
Quartz is generally not heat resistant due to the polymer that can change shape when in contact with extreme temperatures.
Does quartzite or quartz scratch?
Quartzite is incredibly scratch resistant due to its dense mineral composite. While the mineral composite can vary throughout natural materials, most quartzite does not scratch. In fact, it measured around a 7 out of 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, as compared to granite, which rates as a 6.
Quartz is susceptible to scratching due to the chemical makeup of polymer.
Does quartzite or quartz etch?
Neither quartzite or quartz are prone to etching. And if you cook frequently and want to make sure that your countertops are safe from etching, then you might want to consider quartzite. Quartzite will not etch from acids found in household items such as vinegar and lemon juice. However, both quartzite and granite will react to hydrofluoric acid, which is found in some rust removers. Thankfully, hydrofluoric acid is not a common ingredient in household products.
Is it harder to clean quartzite countertops than it is to clean quartz countertops?
No, the cleaning process for quartzite and quartz is the same. Clean both quartzite and quartz using a soft, wet cloth and regular soap. Neither should be cleaned with abrasive cleansers. Learn more on how to clean your natural stone.
Mid-Century Modern can be a difficult term to define. It broadly describes architecture, furniture, and graphic design from the middle of the 20th century (roughly mid 1930s to 1960s). This timeframe is a modifier for the larger modernist movement, which has roots in the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 19th century and also in the post-World War I period. It was an escape from the ornate Art Deco period and a result of the Great Depression that simplified peoples design choices. They wanted the convenience of modern gadgets with a simple and streamlined design, thus Mid-Century Modern was born.
Mid-Century Modern Furniture
Mid-Century modern first became popular in the world of furniture design. With creations like the Eames chair, the sputnik chandelier and the marshmallow couch, Mid-Century Modern taste really began to form. During this time period there was much focus on the space program, and that itself started to matriculate into every facet of design, especially interior design.
Mid-Century Modern Interior Design
This time period was greatly influenced by the German Bauhaus and their modern and functional way of designing home goods. Bauhaus designers used many non-traditional materials such as metal, glass, vinyl, plywood, plexiglass and lucite in their work. Clean lines, organic curves, and a deep appreciation for different materials (like natural stone!) was a way of life. Bauhaus inspiration is exceedingly popular even today.
When shopping for a diamond, an expert will tell you about the four C’s: color, clarity, cut and carat weight. This system helps determine the worth of one of the most precious materials on earth. These categories are also comparable when determining the worth of a natural stone slab, although for stone the four C’s would represent color, clarity, country and centimeter. While these are not the only aspects to determine the worth of a natural stone slab, they are certainly a large factor.
To understand the worth of a slab you must first look at color. In natural stone, color is created when different vitamins and minerals chemically react to one another. When certain minerals react you will see different colors reveal themselves in the slab. There are certain colors that don’t occur as frequently, subsequently making them more rare and valuable. Blues and greens would top that list. Cool tones are of the more rare color families found in stone especially when they appear with such vibrance, such as Aria Stone Gallery’s Blue Bahia Granite.
Regarding a diamond, when experts speak of clarity they are referring to fog that might appear in the stone. However, in a stone slab you are looking for clarity of pattern, such as veining, color consistency, etc. Patterns in the stone vary slightly from material to material and from bundle to bundle – giving you a 100% unique piece, but also potentially creating a challenge while finding the perfect bookmatch. What you want to look for is a distinct, continuous pattern throughout the entire stone. If you are able to point out these distinctive patterns, a seamless bookmatch will come with ease and ultimately create a consistent feel across a space.
When you are picking out the perfect stone, a large factor to consider is where that stone comes from. With each country there are different conservation and shipping laws, which will contribute to the factors of a stone being more rare, purely due to the fact that it is hard to source. Also, some quarries are more exclusive than others and offer access to only some of the buyers. For example, the Borghini quarry is mined very infrequently. The Borghini quarry mines anywhere from 1-2 blocks per week – roughly 50-60 slabs per block on average – whereas other larger quarries mine a lot more. For comparison sake, Bianco Carrara marble quarries mine 100 plus blocks of Carrara a week (all combined). Therefore, Borghini marble is a lot less common, making it very unique.
Centimeter is fairly self explanatory, in that it is the thickness and size of your piece of stone. There have been many questions about whether there is a difference in working with 2 or 3cm material. 2cm or 3cm make for the about the same durability in a stone application depending on the use.
Traditional interior design takes influence from 18-19th Century European design, with a heavy emphasis on French Neoclassical. A traditional home includes styles from the British Colonial Revival, 18th Century English, and French Country. Traditional design celebrates symmetry. All design elements – from accessories to support columns – are symmetrical to create a focal point.
Traditional Furnishings and Accessories
Antiques with European influence and curved lines are a hallmark of Traditional design. Traditional furnishings are a mixture of comfort, luxury, and history, giving them timeless appeal. Oil paintings, tailored window coverings, plush textiles, and small floral patterns are classic and will never out of style.
Natural Stone in Traditional Design
Natural stone is paramount in Traditional design and authentic, natural stone is key. Louis XVI cladded entire rooms and courtyards of the palace of Versailles in marble and quartzite. From there after, designers in the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe began to incorporate marble and quartzite into their opulent home architecture.
Traditional Molding, Edge Details, and Support Beams
Crown molding and ornate edge details on the countertops are small details that will instantly make any design feel more Traditional. Looking up to the ceiling you may find wooden support beams -reminiscent of French Country Traditional – or a coffered ceiling to add dimension and appeal.
Built in cabinetry with gold or brass knobs and accessories are trademarks of Traditional design.
In general, the terms rift cut (also referred to as cross cut) and vein cut refers to the way the natural stone was cut. There is a noticeable difference in the vein pattern of the stone depending on if the stone is rift or vein cut. Read more to learn the main differences between two most common ways to cut blocks of natural stone.
What does “vein cut” slab look like?
Vein cut is the most traditional and recognizable cut for marble slabs. The majority of marble has a vein cut pattern. Vein cut is distinctive in that you will be able to trace to vein across the entirety of the slab. Stones that are vein cut typically have the ability to be bookmatched or quad-matched to take on a unique shape and style.
What does a “rift cut” or “cross cut” slab look like?
Stone that is cut to a 90 degree angle to the bed rock or “from the top” is called rift cut or cross cut. A rift cut stone slab will have more spotting or noticeable crystals visible in the stone.
Aria Stone Gallery recently hosted a “Stone is Art” Industry Panel Discussion Event, sponsored by D Magazine. This one-of-a-kind panel discussion focused on stone and its natural artistic characteristics. The discussion featureda variety of extremely talented industry professionals including Sherry Hayslip from Sherry Hayslip Interiors, Laura Baggett from Domiteaux + Baggett Architects, Botond Laszlo from Marvelous Home Makeovers, and Chris Wynn from Statement Furniture Fabrication. The questions were specifically targeted to each professional’s forte including topics such as stone trends, types, use, applications, and experience.
Q.What is your best piece of advice for someone who is looking to incorporate natural stone into their project?
SHERRY:In a practical sense, be patient and endure and think of it as solving a puzzle. Once you have your preliminary selections made, it is really an adventure to see the beauty of each stone and try to incorporate that in conjunction with everything else that you are doing – not too busy not less – but it is important that you keep in mind that there is nothing more unique except perhaps a snowflake – than beautiful marble because it is natural and it doesn’t repeat its pattern.
Q. What tips or guidelines can you give to help them in their selection process?
BOTOND: Our motto at Marvelous Home Makeovers is exceptional, personal craftsmanship. The process starts with who our clients are and finding out what their needs are. One of the first steps in many of the larger projects is to select the natural stone (i.e. countertop, art piece, or accent piece) and then create the designs around the stone. What I have found with my clients is that natural stone speaks to you. You see over and over again my clients come in they walk the isles and they go back to the first stone that they saw. The process is psychological. Also, for me, observing that thought process during selection and receiving that feedback really helps me to understand who the client is. It gives an insight into what their desires are and who they aredeep inside, which enables me to truly cater to that and create a better experience and better crafted project.
Q. At Aria, we utilize a 1-10 scale grading stone based on clarity, consistency and quality. What are some of the aspects that you look for when you educate clients and customers about natural stone? Are there any types of natural stone you prefer working with over others? Why?
CHRIS: First, I listen to my customer to see what it is they are looking for. Once they select a material we view the material to see how beautiful it is, look for any fissures and cracks, look into the structure of the slab to see if it was completed [before extraction] or not. Overall we check to make sure that the client has chosen a quality material. I haven’t ran into any issues here at Aria. Everything that Vinny goes out and chooses is always grade A material.
Q. No stone is 100% perfect, and their can oftentimes be beauty in the imperfections. However, there are a lot of fabrication challenges that are intrinsic to the stone business. In particular, onyx is a very difficult stone to procure due to the nature of the material and that it is often not widely available in large format, along with inconsistencies that lead to needing fill. How do you as a fabricator overcome these obstacles?
CHRIS: There are many different ways to handle this. As far as fissures are concerned, there are different type of epoxies available to assist. If there is a slab of onyx that has an issue I can bring it back to my shop and do “surgery” that needs to be done for the customer. Of course, the fabricator should always explain the process to the customer beforehand, as different epoxies can have different outcomes. There are certain epoxies that you can penetrate and fill cracks with. Sure, natural stone is going to have some hiccups here and there. But they are all soluble if the fabricator has the knowledge to do so.
Q. In your designs, you incorporate natural stone frequently in your projects. What is it about natural stone that captivates you?
SHERRY: The reason is emotional in that stone captivates me . I just love the idea of this beautiful, gemlike quality being harvested. When I was studying, designers and architects are encouraged to use real materials -natural materials – so that there is an integrity to the things that you create and design. I don’t think there is any way, frankly, to discount the romance of natural stone and the story and history behind it. Once, a client sent us to a quarry in France that had been continuously quarried since Roman times. We climbed up, marked the stone, threw water on it, and the story, the connection, the history – there is nothing more exciting.
Q. Inspiration is everywhere. Can you tell us more about your process and where your inspiration comes from?
LAURA: Most of our projects, our inspiration, comes from the client. Our approach is to find out exactly what the client wants, even though most of the time the client doesn’t yet know what they want. For us it is a puzzle to try and figure out where our clients want to go and where they will want to take the design,because every one of our projects come from that person.
Q.It is apparent that we believe stone is art, and with that comes some unique applications. Can you talk about what a designer or client should keep in mind when it comes to a variety of applications (floor, wall, pool, outdoors, etc.)?
CHRIS: First, I would think about the application and the durability of the product. For floors, of course marble has been used as floors for thousands of years. And it will wear over the years, but I think the most important part is educating the client on the upkeep of marble. They need to know that the marble is going to get wear and tear – and this is normal. Many companies exist that can resurface marble. Although sometimes manmade materials may sometimes be stronger, you will never get the beauty and look of marble.
Q.When it comes to designing for commercial versus residential projects, the stone selection can vary as a result. Talk to us about things you consider when designing for each of these types of projects?
LAURA: Everything is client driven, and in the residential world, people mainly react to designs and what inspires them. Most of our commercial projects are very specialized and our clients are attached to them. No matter what, budget always comes into play.
Q. Is there a certain kind of material that you lean towards?
LAURA: When it comes to natural stone, we do not lean toward one type of natural stone for particular applications. It is just a matter of what the project wants to be. To me, it is more of a reaction to the stone itself; and we are going to use that stone where it makes the most sense.
Q. At Aria, we believe every stone is suitable for the application, it just becomes a question of how do we work with the space and with our fabrication partner to achieve the result that we are looking for. As a fabricator, can you speak more to this?
CHRIS: There are quite a few different sealers on the market to help out. One of my favorites is a stone color enhancing sealer that will bring out all of the beautiful colors of the stone, while also protecting the stone. So, in the case that you are using a marble or onyx, you will get more vibrant color, and if you scratch the stone you can put the color enhancing sealer on the scratch – sometimes the scratch goes away completely, sometimes mostly, it all depends on the material.
If you do not want to change the color of the stone there are natural sealers that are impregnating sealers and nothing changes it just blocks the moisture from penetrating the stone.
All stones have pores in them and you are going to want to seal your stone. There are now sealers specifically for limestone – which needs to breathe more than other stones –and these limestone sealers help to protect the stone, while also allowing for the breathability needed.
Q. Is there anything that you can recommend for etching? Or how do you handle resolving etching?
CHRIS: Oftentimes, people like to use onyx on a countertop or vanity, which can be prone to scratches and etches. A fabricator can come to your home and bring a machine to buff the etch out of the stone. Alternatively, if you are looking for something you can do at home to prevent etching, I would suggest using a high grade car wax – or even a high grade furniture wax – and leave it on overnight and buff it off in the morning. This helps to keep the stone from etching through a lemon, lime, or other household items with high acidity. You, the homeowner, can buff the wax back into a shine. But if you do not use a wax, the acidic chemicals can sometimes penetrate the stone. Both options are a very similar process, it is just a matter of trying to do it yourself or having a fabricator come do it for you.
Q. What do you look for the ideal kitchen stone? What are you looking for?
BOTOND: Educating the client is always important because each material is very different. For example, very early on in my business about 10 years ago, we did a big white kitchen with all Carrara marble. They had two babies, loved to drink red wine, and I thought the white marble might not go over well, because, at the time there were not as many good sealers as there are now. Luckily, they were the type of people that were really disciplined with taking care of the marble. A few years ago I had the opportunity to go back to the house and their countertops still looked impeccable.
I do not believe there is a set rule about what materials should go where. In general when people hear marble they think “oh no that can’t go in the kitchen” and I always say, “why not?” Marble, in my opinion, looks better 10 years from now than it does today. Marbles creates a patina. Think about copper and how it oxidizes, or think about if you have a leather jacket or briefcase that looks awesome now, but when it is brand new it looks almost rough or too crisp.
Similarly, we have done a project many years ago and it had a lot of gold and copper flakes in the stone and depending on how the light hits and the angle – the stone always appeared differently. Later on, I spoke with the client and they told me that they have lived there for over 5 years and have seen this stone every day and were always finding elements in the slab that we never saw before. That to me is very powerful and unique and you will never find that with a manmade material.
So really educating the clients, and explaining to the clients that you can use any stone and let them know how to take care of it. In my opinion, it all comes down to if you can connect with the stone and when you see it every day in your bathroom or kitchen and think it is beautiful – that is priceless to me.
The Red Louis Quartzite was hand selected by Aria Stone Gallery’s owner and founder, Vinny Tavares, on a trip to Brazil. At the time, the quarry had only been open for about two years and was quickly gaining a prominent reputation in the stone industry for mining some of the most rare and magnificently colorful quartzite stones in the world. One of the stones was the Red Louis quartzite, which has a history as rich as the red and sand colored hues that the stone embodies. As soon as Tavares saw the beautiful composition of the Red Louis, he knew that he needed to bring this quartzite to Aria Stone Gallery and share this natural work of art.
Quartzite is typically white to grey, though the stone can be found with various shades of pink and red, which is caused by varying amounts of iron oxide in the soil. Different minerals in the soil give life to different colors of quartzite such as yellow, green, blue, and orange. However, for quartzite to have such rich, red hues, a large amount of iron oxide needs to be present in the environment of the soil, which is rarely found in most of the world.
Due to the rarity of red quartzite such as Red Louis, this type of material has been favored by royalty and world leaders for centuries. For example, in 1842, King Louis-Phillipe of France commissioned a tomb to be created for the ashes of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte I. Blocks of red quartzite were sourced for the tomb to be carved and placed upon a green Vosges granite base. Napoleon’s remains were interred within the tomb in April 1861 and lay today for viewing by the world in the Dôme des Invalides in Paris, France.
Each year, Sherwin Williams analyzes pop-culture, behavior, politics, trends, design, and many more to forecast what the top colors of the following year will be. In late 2017, Sherwin Williams released three distinct color palettes which they believe will be the most popular colors used in 2018. These colors are not just for paint alone, but will be the most trending colors in Interior Design. The three color palettes are Sincerity, Unity, and Connectivity. Read on to see how to incorporate natural stone into these color palettes for your next project.
The color palette of sincerity is focused on the less is more point-of-view. Increasingly our lives are becoming more hectic and we find that we have less and less free time. Silent moments are categorized as rare, peaceful, and full of possibility. Society as a whole is more careful than ever to define something as sincere. Aesthetics such as Minimalism, Hygge, Normcore influenced the hushed, hazy color palette. The hues found across this palette have notes of “complex grays and hazy botanicals” that evoke the “blending in is standing out” state of mind.
Stone Slabs also within the Sincerity Color Palette
Now more than ever, our global perspective is evolving and expanding. We have the ability to interact with many different cultures and travel to remote landscapes. The colors that form unity derives from the notion that “we crave security and adventure in equal measure.” Popular apps such as Airbnb, e-learning and car sharing apps have promoted “everyday nomadism.” The Unity color palette was heavily influenced by artisanal crafts, transculturalism, and indigenous patterns.
Stone Slabs also within the Unity Color Palette
The Connectivity palette was designed with data in mind. With influences such as California pop, virtual reality, and environmentalism, it is no surprise that these vibrant colors make a bold statement that will breathe life into any space. These instagram-worthy colors were heavily influenced by their prominence in the tech industry and bring to mind the utopian ideals of Millenial and Gen Z youth culture.
Stone Slabs also within the Connectivity Color Palette
Today, most of our most exotic and sought after natural stones hail from Brazil. Brazilian natural stones, most notably marble and quartzite, are famous for their unique composition, color, and natural beauty. Read more to discover the history of how Brazil came to be a major player in the stone industry.
The Gold Rush
The beginning of the stone mining industry in Brazil is believed to coincide with the beginning of the gold rush in the early 18th century. Gold was discovered in Brazil after years of economic disarray following the war against Spain and the Netherlands.
Quickly after the gold was discovered, a gold rush ensued, with people from other parts of the colony and Portugal flooding the region during the first half of the 18th century. The gold was extracted inland, known as the “General Mines.”
The Discovery of Brazilian Marble by the Italians in 1970s
In the 1970s, Italians immigrated to Brazil and discovered white marble deposits near the city of Cachoeiro de Itapemirim, Brazil. As the Italian immigrants had been mining natural stone for centuries, they were able to bring the knowledge, technique, machinery, and craftsmanship that is involved in mining natural stone. After this discovery, Brazil quickly became a major player in the stone industry.
Technological Growth and the Expansion of Natural Stone Mining in the 1990s
By the 1990s, Brazil had accumulated a large, experienced workforce in the natural stone industry. Quarries and miners gravitated towards nearby granite quarries, where they were easily able to transfer their skills of mining marble to mining granite. This expansion in resources lead to Brazil’s granite boom.
It was also during this time that Europe started to advance technology to cut and process stone, which drastically sped up up the mining process of natural stone. This new technology, coupled with the abundant resources in Brazil yet to be mined, made Brazil the largest stone exporter in the world.
The Discovery of Quartzite
With this new technology at hand, the search for additional types of natural stone to mine continued. Quarries were set up in Espirito Santo, in the North towards Bahia, and in the Northeast of Brazil. Some explorers even went inland, to states like Minas Gerais or the interior side of Bahia and Pernambuco, which led to the discovery of quartzite.
Because quartzite evolves from sand grains, it is no surprise that much of quartzite, such as Taj Mahal, is lighter in color. On the other hand, in Brazil, minerals are carried through the sand grains by groundwater, creating some of the most unique and colorful quartzite in the world. Fusion Wow, Emerald Green, and Explosion Blue are all great examples of this geologic phenomenon. Today, the most unique and colorful quartzite is being mined in Brazil.
Brazil from the 1990s to Today
Although Brazil had suffered an economic crisis in the 1990s, the stone industry was able to quickly rebound with vigor. Even today, natural stone is a leading export and driving force for the Brazilian economy.
Now, there are more than 300 export processing plants in Brazil for natural stone, as well as hundreds of quarries and blocks being exported to Italy, China, India, and Taiwan where the stone can be processed. The production now covers a large variety of stones, including granite, marble, flagstone, quartzite, slate, soapstone, serpentine, travertine, and limestone, to name a few.
Here at Aria Stone Gallery, we talk about how we have the most unique and beautiful slabs; but what does that mean? How are Aria’s slabs different from the rest? Aria’s owner, Vinny Tavares, travels around the world, from the Carrara Region in Italy, to the quarries of Brazil, to hand select every slab that is brought to Aria. What is it exactly that Vinny is looking for when he purchases Aria’s slabs?
Quality over Quantity
In the natural stone industry, many stone suppliers will carry stock colors and commercial-grade materials that they always have on hand. Aria Stone Gallery focuses on quality over quantity and does not carry stock materials. If we sell out of a material and find that the quarry isn’t currently producing a slab that meets our standards for that same type of material, we won’t bring it in. Instead, we will wait until the quarry finds another incredible and rare bundle.
Aria Stone Gallery’s Standards and Criteria for Purchasing Stone from the Quarry
When our owner Vinny goes to a quarry, he uses a set of standards, where he grades every slab of stone from 1 to 10. The quality and uniqueness of slabs are graded based upon the 5 factors: richness of color, structure (i.e., whether the slab is sturdy or has core holes), size, vein composition, and natural quality. Vinny only purchases slabs that are considered a nine or ten.
Grade 1-2: Should not be mined from the quarry.
Grade 3-6: Lacking in 2 or more of our quality standard test.
Grade 7-8: Okay material, but lacking in one of the standards.
Grade 10: Perfect in color, structure, size, veining, quality.
How does Aria mitigate between beauty and natural fissures?
Sometimes when a stone is more exotic, it is more delicate. The reason many stone suppliers don’t carry exotic material is that it is a risk to transport internationally. The stone supplier really has to know how to move the material safely. Sometimes things are so beautiful, they are worth the risk.
Has Aria ever sent material back because it arrived in a lesser condition than you bought it?
Yes. Once Aria’s material arrives in the states, our staff inspects each slab, and if the slab is not up to our standards, it will never make it to either Aria’s showroom or online. For example, not too long ago we received a bundle of Lemurian. When the quarry polished the surface, they did not allow enough time for the drying process before the slab was loaded into the crate. So, when the slab was unloaded in the States, the slab had cracked and had huge divots everywhere. In this case, we would send the material back to the quarry rather than selling the stone at a discounted price.
How are Aria Stone Gallery’s standards different from other stone suppliers?
We are providing to a niche. Aria stone Gallery’s product is just a fraction of what is out there. As mentioned before, we do not carry stock products, staple colors, or low-to-mid grade exotics. In the off chance that we do have a middle grade exotic, it will be the most beautiful middle grade exotic that the quarry has every produced. Typical stone suppliers tend to carry five to ten percent of the quality that is stocked at Aria.
Unlike buying a man-made product, which can be done on demand, purchasing stone is a much more subjective exercise. Quarries go through bad phases, yielding undesirable blocks, and they often face regulatory issues, all of which restricts the fine buying or what Aria calls the “pursuit of the perfect stone.”
Many stone distributors are primarily focused on filling purchase orders – and that may be okay settling for an ordinary slab. At Aria Stone Gallery, we don’t sell ordinary slabs – we don’t have a standard list of “stone we carry”. The good thing about natural stone is that new quarries are always being discovered, new blocks are constantly being processed and you never know when the most dramatic slab is about to be cut. It’s a bit like baseball – the trick is not to fall for the temptation of swinging at every pitch. At Aria Stone Gallery we would rather be out of a popular stone color than have a mediocre slab in stock.
We had a chance to sit down with Vinny Tavares, owner and founder of Aria Stone Gallery, who shared with us his manifesto for natural stone and what he believes makes natural stone an irreplaceable art form.
What happened to waiting for the great things in life to present themselves when the time is ripe? And further, what does this mean in the context of natural stone?
You cannot rush natural stone. No one can dictate how the next block – or using today’s direct-to-consumerism phrase – the next “batch” will look. Only nature can dictate which direction the veining will run or how white the background will be. No one can set parameters or define the “next production” for natural stone. The “next production” may not come until next spring because the winter was too wet in the Apuan mountains. Winemakers cannot simply reengineer their grapes into the next special Bordeaux vintage. Not only do you need the right conditions, the proper soil, weather, and temperature but also the right attitude: you cannot speed through the process and expect greatness. Some describe this art form as the ability to work or respond to the environment in an appropriate matter. This couldn’t be truer for marble.
Unfortunately, all of that means you can’t really pre-design a marble slab. There is not a machine where you press “start” and voila, out comes the perfect marble slab on the assembly line. Maybe this quest for the perfect surface is what led to the creation of quartz slabs. But if quartz is indeed better, why model quartz after natural stone? Why can’t it stand on its own, by its own design? Where is its authenticity?
Does producing 300 identical slabs per day seem special? Maybe it seems special if you are the only factory creating it. But what happens when there are 300 factories creating it? Are all those slabs as special as their manufacturers aspire to convince us to believe? Or is it just another mass-produced reinterpretation with the intention of tricking us into believing it is a better version of the original? Fake pearls, anyone?
Whether it’s synthetic fabric, artificial turf, or engineered stone, you can’t out-design the real thing. However, that doesn’t mean the attempt to standardize Mother Nature shouldn’t have its place in society. But we can’t kid ourselves that quartz slabs items are in the realm of luxury. Two key aspects associated with luxury are scarcity and genuineness, and both aspects are lacking in these Calacatta-esque slabs. Processed cheese, anyone?
Some of the most succulent apples might come with spots. But it’s much better than the chemical, bountiful, perfectly shaped alternative. As the song goes: “Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT. I don’t care about spots on my apples, leave me the birds and the bees.” The same thing can be said for natural stone. Fissures and natural pits are part of the natural process. That’s where craftsmanship and human ingenuity play an important role. We don’t need to kill the bees to enjoy the apple. We only need to incorporate these aspects in the art (process) of harvesting the fruit. What do we call again the ability to work with what the environment has to offer?
I personally would rather work with truly special things. Things that are subject to the spontaneity of nature and are outside of our control. Things that maybe at first frustrate us more than we are willing to understand. But eventually the “thing” always reveals itself. The same way that a shiny piece of plastic is not diamond, that faux leather is not parchment, that nylon is not cashmere, and that forcefully compressed quartz minerals blended with artificial pigments and chemicals IS NOT genuine stone.
At Aria we promise the real thing, the best nature has to offer. It might not be “human expectation” perfect but it’s the best that has always been and probably ever will be. We are proud to work with the natural elements in their most genuine and authentic form, which in our case is the naturally perfect marble slab.
Dating back to the Egyptians, onyx was used to create bowls and other decorative elements and nowadays onyx is commonly used to create jewelry, decorative surfaces, and wall materials. The unique patterns and striations, in addition to a wide range of colors, make onyx the perfect material to add a dramatic focal point to a space. One of the many appeals of nature’s beautiful onyx is that it has the ability to be backlit due to its unique translucent properties. When a slab of onyx is able to be backlit, it is able to take on a completely new life, showcasing the unique veining while adding additional ambiance to a space with a subtle glow.
The key to backlighting is using the correct LED panels to ensure an even coverage of light and eliminating any “hot spots.” To further analyze key tips when it comes to backlighting, we connected with the backlighting expert himself, Patrick Dwyer from Knema LLC (dba LuminousFilm), and picked his brain so you can backlight with confidence. Read on.
Q. What do you need to consider before lighting a countertop? Power source? Size? Material? Is there anything that is different about lighting a wall vs a countertop?
A. Actually, not really. As long as you are mounting the panels to a surface and securing them with something like mirror clips, or c-channel you should be fine.
Q. What should you know before choosing an LED bulb for backlighting onyx?
A. When picking a light color, you should be aware of the overall affect it will have on the room. Do you want to contrast or match existing light fixtures? And you should be aware of how the light will affect the color of the stone. If you have a honey onyx using a very warm color temp (2700K for example) would help bring out more of the yellows in the stone.
Q. What are the LED backlighting color options?
A. Our panels have two main color options. White light LEDs (ranging from ~2700K-6000K) and we have RGB LEDs, which allows for millions of different color options.
Q. How much does it cost to backlight a stone?
A. Cost per square foot varies greatly depending on the project and the products used. Variables such as the thickness of the stone, distance of panel from the stone, and how translucent the stone is can affect the square foot price greatly. Generally, we find the cost to run roughly ~$45-100/square foot.
Q. What is the maintenance on the LED lighting panels?
A. Typically there is very little – to no maintenance on the products.
Q. How often do LED panels need to be replaced?
A. If properly installed, the panels should last a very long time. We usually end up replacing power supplies before we replace panels. Our LED edge-lit panels have an L-70 rating of ~50,000 of continual use and our large LED modules have and L-70 rating of ~120,000 hours of continual use.
Note: L-70 is a rating that means that at 50,000 / 120,000 hours our lights should still produce 70% of their original brightness.
Why is it that marble scratches easier than quartzite? Is quartzite harder than granite? Why is it important to note natural stone strength when choosing your stone? To first begin to answer these questions, quarries and stone suppliers begin with the Mohs Hardness Scale to help classify a natural stone.
What is the Mohs Hardness Scale?
The Mohs Hardness Scale was developed in 1812 by a German geologist and mineralogist, Friedrich Mohs to determine the relative hardness of a mineral as a comparison to another mineral. For example, the scale begins with the softest material, talc. All materials above talc have the ability to scratch talc. The second material is gypsum, and since talc is below gypsum, talc is softer and thus not able to scratch gypsum. As you move up the scale the minerals become harder and harder, ending with the strongest mineral: diamond.
Why should I care about natural stone strength?
When choosing a natural stone for your home, one factor to consider is the durability of the stone. For instance, quartzite is a harder material than marble making it less prone to wear regarding staining and scratching. This may be important for areas like kitchen countertops where there is high traffic. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use marble for kitchen countertops but is a factor to consider when selecting your natural stone.
What else should I consider when determining my stone’s strength?
Understanding the strength of a slab is not black and white. While the Mohs Hardness Scale is certainly a worthwhile resource to provide a general guideline, it does not provide all of the information for a natural stone slab. The Mohs Hardness Scale only takes into consideration the strength of a single mass element – or the purest form of each mineral. This is like asking, “what is the flavor of Neapolitan ice cream?” And while, in general, your quartzite is harder than your granite, or your granite is harder than your marble, keep in mind that natural stone is a product of mother nature. Meaning, no two slabs are alike and each has its own similar, yet unique composition. This composition, much like human DNA, is what makes each stone a beautiful, unique work of art.
How does a quarry classify stone?
When purchased from the quarry, the quarry will provide a report with the geologic makeup of the stone. If the majority of the minerals in the large block of stone is quartzite, than the quarry will classify the slab as a quartzite.
Use the Mohs Hardness Scale when you are evaluating which stone is right for you to get a general idea of where to begin. As with all natural stones, there is never a guarantee of hardness or “scratch proof” material. In order to prevent scratches and maintain the lifetime of your natural stone, we always recommend researching and finding the best sealer that will meet your needs.
With so many choices of edge styles, the decision can be intimidating. However, even with the endless possibilities for all applications and materials, we are here to help you narrow down the choices. The popular mitered edge that many designers and homeowners prefer due to their sleek and seamless modern look.
What Is a Mitered Edge?
Firstly, a mitered edge is created when the corners of two slabs are cut to a 45-degree angle to seamlessly join together. Thus, creating the look from the Arabescato counter shown below. This type of edge comes in handy when you would like the appearance of a thicker countertop, waterfall island, or custom trough sink.
Therefore, when you see an extra-thick countertop, it is probably not an 8cm or 3-inch thick slab. What you are seeing is most likely a mitered edge that was flawlessly fabricated to look as if the veining “wraps” around the edges for a seamless look.
Additionally, a mitered edge is a great way to make your countertops the focal point of the space as it will instantly create a luxurious and expensive feel. Notably, this technique can also be used in reverse to create custom built-in sinks, cabinets, or other features. All things considered, choosing an edge style comes down to your personal taste. For this reason, if you prefer the styles we have mention, then a mitered edge just might be right for you.
Have you fallen in love with one stone, but wish that it had a different finish? An experienced fabricator can change the finish of the stone. The quarry chooses what kind of finish they would like on the slab before sending, but that doesn’t mean it is your only option. The surface of your stone, whether, honed, polished, leathered, or brushed, is easily customizable to your personal preference. A skilled fabricator with a large shop and up-to-date machinery will often have the ability to change material from a polished finish to a honed or vice versa.
Is there anything that a fabricator can do to make sure the honed finish comes out correctly?
Using plenty of water helps to ensure that the machine and the coarse pads do not grind into the stone, which can cause an unwanted swirl pattern to form on the stone. Also, the water helps for safety reasons to keep the dust settled and not floating in the air.
Does honing the slab make it more susceptible to staining?
A polished finish acts as a protective layer against stains. As you grind off the polished finish, you will inevitably open up and expose more pores than if you left it polished. To help avoid stains, the fabricator will most likely coat the slab with a penetrating sealer on the honed stone before the slab leaves the shop. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a stain proof sealer, but a penetrating sealer will help to fill in some of the exposed pores, leaving you with more time to clean any spills.
Note that the longer that you leave acidic liquid sitting on the surface of your natural stone, the more likely it is going to stain. See here, how do I clean my natural stone?
Natural stones with a polished finish will most likely have more pronounced colors and hues. Essentially, honing takes away the depth and hues that are brought out by the polished coat. The result is that you may end up with a lighter colored slab. Many people hone their stone to make it lighter and brighter. Others, may want to keep some of the colors and hues. In this case, a fabricator can use a color enhancing sealer, which mimics and restores the color without actually restoring any of the shine that is typical of a polished surface.
Honed and Polished Finishes: Stain Resistance
When properly sealed, both honed and polished finishes are stain-resistant. There is no such thing as a stain proof sealer. If stains are high on your list of concerns, there are a few things to be considered.
A polished finish on a stone is essentially an added layer of security to protect from stains. The process in which a stone is polished helps to close natural pores and create a protective barrier. On the other hand, the pores in a smoothed, honed stone are more receptive to liquid. Side by side, a polished stone surface will have more protection from stains than a honed surface; however, a proper sealer will help to close in open pores and provide stain resistance against most household items.
For more information on sealing your stone, read our blog here.
Each type of natural stone has different characteristics and composition, which is what draws so many designers to incorporate these earthy and unique elements into their designs. The composition and inherent properties of each stone is different, which is what gives us the colorful quartzite, timeless marble, and opaque onyx.
There are varying degrees of porosity and hardness between materials because each type of stone is created differently. Meaning, some stones require more care than others and there is not one blanket way to care for natural stone. However, there are certainly ways that you can preserve and prevent your natural stone through regular maintenance.
Use Sealers on Your Natural Stone to Avoid Staining
We recommend that all natural stone is sealed to help protect your natural work of art from any spills or messes that life throws your way. And while some sealers create a stronger barrier than others, nothing is 100% stain or scratch proof. Note that sealers also require some type of regular maintenance. Whether that maintenance is every few months or every few years is greatly dependent on your type of stone, your sealer, and what you are using your natural stone for.
One general rule to avoiding stains can be universally applied to most instances, whether you spilled spaghetti sauce on your favorite blouse or on your marble counter: The longer a liquid sits on the material, the likelihood of a stain increases. This is why it is important to act quickly to help decrease the amount of liquid that can be absorbed.
Steps you can take to prevent stains on your marble or other natural stone after a spill:
Remove any loose debris.
Blot spills with a soft cloth that is clean and dry. It is important to blot instead of wiping away, as wiping will only spread the spill.
Flush the area with plain water and mild soap and rinse several times.
Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth.
Repeat as necessary.
If the stain persists or for problems that appear too difficult to treat, call your stone care professional, installer, or restoration specialist. Your stone fabricator will be able to come out and asses the best way to get rid of the stain.
How to Prevent Etching and Scratching on Natural Stone
A material’s likelihood of etching and scratching varies greatly between natural stones as well. The likelihood of scratching depends on how dense the natural stone is. Softer stones, such as onyx and marble are more likely to be affected by etching and scratching, whereas a true quartzite is incredibly dense and will not scratch or etch from common household occurrences. Etching occurs when a highly acidic material, such as red wine or vinegar, comes in contact with natural stone and causes a chemical reaction that can leave a spot carved on the surface. For softer stones especially, clean up spills to avoid etching in the same way you would clean up a spill to avoid a stain as above. The reasoning is similar, the longer the acid is in contact with the stone, the more time the acid has to be absorbed by the stone.
Luckily, there are many things that you probably already do to avoid scratches and etches from occurring.
Steps you can take to maintain your freshly installed stone from scratching and etching:
Clean all spills right away to avoid staining and etching
Place coasters under all glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices.
Put trivets under hot items right off the stove or directly out of an oven.
Use place mats under china, ceramics, silver, or other objects that can scratch the stone.
What should I use to clean my natural stone?
For best results, clean your surfaces with warm water and a few drops of mild detergent or stone soap (with a pH of 7), available at most hardware stores.
Test your surface in a small, unnoticeable area with any new cleanser to ensure that staining and etching will not occur.
Be careful not to overdo it with cleaners and soaps, as too much may leave a film or cause streaks.
Never use products that contain lemon, vinegar, or other acids on marble, onyx, travertine, or limestone.
Never use scouring powders or creams; these products contain abrasives that may scratch the surface.
Avoid bathroom cleaners, grout cleaners, or tub & tile cleaners as they often contain acids.
Never mix chemicals together unless directions specifically instruct you to do so.
Nearly 70,000 people from 150 different countries gather each year at the Marmomacc Fair in Verona, Italy to see the latest trends, technology, and design inspiration in the natural stone industry and this year was no exception. One of the most technologically advanced concepts that we came across this past October was the water-jet sculpture exhibit by WaterJet Corp.
Water-jet cutting is mainly being used today to shape natural stone into custom shapes and designs. This new technology is having major implications in the fashion and design industry in a very big way. From intricate details cut through leather, aluminum, and directly through natural stone to create custom shapes and intricate mosaic tile. Water-jet cutting is as (if not more) powerful than traditional laser cutting devices. The idea is to work with a super high pressure water jet, which accumulates energy that can be used as a work tool. In short, the water jet has the ability to create intricate detail with the utmost accuracy, with less maintenance and lower cost than traditional laser cutting devices.
Depending on the settings of the ejecting nozzle size and the synchronized movement system, the water jet can produce different results. The details may be subtle to transform smooth, earthy stone to appear as though it has a linen textured finish. On a larger scale, the natural stone may be cut into many different shapes and details to create sculptures and large-scale art instillations.
As this technology continues to advance, artists and engineers will find endless creative possibilities with water-jet cutting technology.