Marble flooring is a stunning addition to your home or business when it is first installed, and can have great longevity if it is cared for and maintained correctly. As it is a naturally occurring stone it can keep its regal and beautiful appearance even under heavy foot traffic. It is one of the softer stones available it can be prone to marking or scratching if not cleaned and looked after as it should be.
Food spillage and marble
Marble is particularly reactive to acids, and as many foods such as fruit, tea, and carbonated beverages have a low pH rating making spillages hazardous to your flooring. If left untreated acidic substances can leave dark marks or etch grooves into the surface of the stone dulling the appearance of the floor. It may be best to avoid using marble therefore in rooms where there is a high risk of contamination, such as in a kitchen. Should a something be spilt it is important to act fast to avoid lasting damage. Simply wiping the floor clean will not remove all the acid that remains and will continue to eat away at the stone even if it looks spotless. The best way to remove all traces is to use a cloth dipped in a solution of hydrogen peroxide mixed with a few drops of ammonia. Rub the surface of the marble with this cloth until it shines again.
Aside from food and drink spillages, there are other sources of acid that could cause erosion of the stone. These come in the form of cleaning fluids that are not appropriate for the cleaning of marble. Vinegar solutions and many off-the-shelf detergents are acidic and therefore not suitable for use on delicate stone such as marble. These cleaning products will cause more harm than good and continued use can forever dull the appearance of the floor. It is best to use pH neutral and natural gentle products to keep your floor looking shiny and as new, these are widely available from specialist shops and in some supermarkets.
Day-to-day care of marble
General maintenance of marble only requires using a soft towelling cloth to wipe any dirt away and to regularly dust at the edges and corners of the room. If water is required to shift stubborn dirt this should be lukewarm as opposed to hot and scrubbing should be avoided unless hard dirt has set onto the marble. If left, dirt can cause lasting marks as most marble is light in colour and therefore susceptible to dark marks which are easily avoidable.
Polishing, whilst not mandatory, can give a shining, glittering finish that makes even more of a feature piece of your flooring. High shine is a great way to make marble look regal and elegant and is therefore used often in grand entrance halls and on staircases. As marble flooring is an investment and a statement addition to a room, polishing ensures that it is shown off at its very best.
A great way to make your natural stone walls or flooring in your bathroom become a key design feature of your room, rather than just one part of it, is to pull out the stone in the accessories you use. Colour schemes are often one of the first things to think about when embarking on home improvements. When replacing integral items in the home rather than just repainting, it is vital to get it right first time as furniture, kitchens and bathroom suites are expensive to redo later in the process.
Stone can be used in your bathroom in many ways to great aesthetic effect. Marble can be used for all areas of the bathroom including full installation in wet rooms, or just for vanities or tiling. Marble is usually soft in colour and therefore works well in contrast to darker natural materials such as wood. If not used in abundance such as in a wet room then it may be a good idea to use accessories in the same colour marble. If marble is only used for a half wall splash back for example, picking this out with a marble basin or panel in an opposite wall can make sure the splash back pops out and really becomes a feature in the room. Marble goes well with other natural materials and is often used alongside wicker, other stones, wood, shells and other naturally occurring resources.
Granite is available in many different colours and sizes, and is therefore a very versatile stone for use in interior design. It works well in conjunction with both natural and man-made materials to create a classic or contemporary look and feel. The nature of granite means it can be cut to most shapes and sizes for use where needed. Tiny granite tiles can make great decorative accents among a wall or splash-back of larger ceramic tiles. Larger slabs of granite can be used for flooring for bathrooms that are hard wearing, attractive and require very little maintenance. Both light and dark tone granite presents many options for colour schemes. Monochrome is still very fashionable and pairing light coloured granite with dark accessories achieves this well. Similarly teaming a granite floor with a white ceramic bathroom suite and accentuating the dark floor with dark accessories makes for a strong look.
The accessories you use in your bathroom affect the overall design no matter how small. Towels, flannels, toothbrush holders and soap dishes are all part of the overall look of the bathroom and should be considered in the planning process in order to get the best results on completion. There are many different items available for your home in all different colours so that if you are willing to shop around you can find the exact colour to match or co-ordinate with the features in your room.
There are many techniques that can be employed in stone based projects to fit with design and preference. Just as the choice of stone used has a great bearing on the overall finished appearance and feel of the room, so too can the fitting and masonry methods used. Where stone matching is used it is important to be aware of the extra extensive planning involved.
On small areas or rooms it is possible to continue the same pattern at the seams as stone can be cut from the same slab. Stone is normally quarried in slabs of 9x5feet, sliced like bread and kept in sequence so that they can be matched in order so that the pattern ties up. The continuation of the veins and surface of the stone is called pattern matching, and is used to make areas of stone look as though they are one single continuing piece.
Another technique that can be used in stone projects in the home is book-matching. This is the practice of matching the naturally occurring patterns in the stone at the seams as a mirror image or butterfly effect pattern. More complex than pattern matching, book-matching can be used on flat surfaces or to fantastic effect when the match is at a room edge, such as where a countertop meets a splash back, or shower wall and floor meet. This is a method that is used most commonly in bathroom design and sometimes in kitchen design for aesthetic benefit as it creates beautiful finished effects. Natural stone can be cut down into tile slabs for large floor patterns using book-matching. Through the use of several large tiles flipped and mirroring at different angles, excellent results are possible.
Planning and production
If looking to incorporate either of these practices into a room design, it is important to have the fabricator involved from the outset. The stone cutting and fitting is an integral part of the design process and needs to be considered as it is planned. Where book-matching is used, the backs of the stone slabs will need to be polished and matched so the result seems flawless. As stone masons are constrained by the limitations of the size of the slabs the cost of a project may be higher depending on the skill and difficulty involved in matching the veins in the stone. Typically the difficulty increases the larger the area to be covered or the more complex the angles and shape of the space, but most desired results can be achieved with proper planning and good craftsmen.
Whether book-matching or pattern-matching these techniques offer some of the most sophisticated results and beautifully elegant rooms can be achieved when done to a good standard.
Updating your home
When looking to update your home, your first instinct might be to don the overalls and arm yourself with paint, brushes and rollers. Some might even start ripping out kitchen units or a bathroom suite with reckless abandon, determined to regenerate a home that may be looking tired or dated. There are other improvement options that are less common and will both refresh and add an individual feel to your home.
One area of renovation and home improvement that is often overlooked is flooring. There are many choices available when it comes to your floors varying in effect, price range and longevity among other considerations. Increasingly popular are traditional stone floors, proven throughout history to stand the test of time even when under high traffic. Installing this type of floor gives a sophisticated, clean and unique edge to any home.
Stone has been used for flooring for hundreds of years, and there has been nothing that compares well enough to replace it. Stone flooring is an ideal choice for both the home and commercial premises as if installed correctly and adequately maintained it will last for many years. It is also fireproof so a safe option in both old, and new build, buildings. Stone flooring is a perfect choice for areas that have a high level of traffic, and even outdoor use, as it does not show wear easily. Hallways and rooms that are used as throughways when carpeted often deteriorate quickly showing discolouration and thinning where the greatest footfall is present. This is not the case with stone flooring which shows little sign of high usage.
Looking after stone
Stone is very easy to keep clean and maintain so that it retains its natural beauty and durability. It can be swept and hovered just as any other flooring. Unlike carpet stone also has the benefit of being wipe-clean and spillages or marks can be removed with a cloth or mop and mind detergent with ease. To prevent stains and moisture damage periodic sealing of stone flooring is recommended. Scratching is not a noticeable problem on natural stone flooring as stone has naturally occurring dips and patterns any rivets or scratches created over time will blend in. Scratches are not a common problem with stone floors, as they are very resistant to damage and it would take a high level of trauma to the surface to make any mark.
Stone in interior design
Aside from the practicalities of stone flooring it is also a great feature piece with great interior design feature that can be worked into most schemes. Stone flooring can be used to beautiful effect with other natural materials to create a rustic style, or with metals and contemporary materials to give an eclectic and interesting finish. Whatever your style or vision stone flooring is a great option, giving huge practical benefits as well as being aesthetically pleasing.
Most people in the UK have felt the pinch of the recession over the past few years. Many have found ways to cut back on the expense of everyday goods and services by shopping around and becoming more money savvy. One of the big ways people have managed to save in recent years is by increasing the amount they do for themselves, where previously they may have paid someone to do it for them. For example more people will do their own accounts, wash their car by hand instead of in a car wash, go for a run instead of to the gym, and undertake home improvements themselves instead of employing a builder or handyman.
This is a tactic which works well for those with a little bit of DIY flair and for minor to moderate jobs such as repainting or putting together kitchen units. The extra time taken to do these jobs yourself is usually well worth the expense saved on employing someone to do it for you. It is not always the best option however and some may find the thought of DIY much more stressful than that of handing over a cheque to have everything finished professionally. For larger or more specialist jobs too, trying to do it yourself may cause problems that could be avoided by making sure you have an industry professional at hand.
One such more major task that many homeowners may want to undertake is the installation of a new kitchen work surface
. There are innumerate guides online for DIY granite worktop installation designed to cut out the cost of labour making the only cost that of the materials. Unfortunately there is a great amount of room for error when dealing with stone and its installation. Specialist suppliers and installers of granite
have many years of experience in the industry and can therefore insure you get the best finish and longest life possible out of your countertop
. As granite and other stones are quality materials they are not a cheap option and therefore any mistakes made can be very costly if any damage occurs during installation or handling. This type of damage can often occur in inexperienced hands and can be avoided by using a professional service.
In deciding whether to DIY-it or to hire a professional you must weigh up the pros and cons of each option and have faith in your own skill to complete the task to a good level. Installing a granite worktops
is not DIY for the beginner and will need more than one pair of hands. It is recommended that at the very least advice is taken from a professional in the stone industry; often those who will supply the materials will have a great deal of experience in installation and will also be able to advise you on aftercare.
Just like the clothes your wear and the image you present to the world, your home says a lot about who you are. It is, after all, the place where you spend the most time and as such is and should be expected to be an extension of your personality. The way you decorate and dress your home is reflective of your tastes and lifestyle and should make you feel at ease and positive. A lot of clutter and a home being in ill repair can make its inhabitants feel ill at ease and potentially create negativity. A well-kept home finished to a high quality on the other hand promotes a sense of calm and order.
It is relatively easy to dress living areas and bedrooms as much of the decoration and personality comes from colour and fabrics used as well as small decorative items. Other rooms in the home however require more drastic and permanent work to really make your own. Kitchens for example are difficult to make a personalised mark on without a complete overhaul adding both units and sideboards to their owner’s tastes. This is also true of bathrooms where creating a unique and individual room involves replacing the entire bathroom suite. Of course a touch of paint adds a certain amount of personality but more work is required to give your home a truly individual facelift.
In bathrooms there are more options than you might think. Installing a wet room or a custom vanity unit made from stone can add elegance unobtainable by a basic bathroom suite revamp. One stone that is particularly effective in creating an affluent feel and a beautiful finish is marble. Marble can be used in bathrooms in any quantity, from a few touches to a fully clad marble bathroom. There are many benefits to using marble for all applications including flooring, cladding, basins, and vanities amongst others. It is easy to clean and maintain, is strong and versatile as well as being aesthetically pleasing.
Marble bathrooms used to be fairly common in domestic settings but are now more commonly found in high-end hotels and commercial buildings. Marble bathrooms are just as beautiful as they have always been however and may add value to their home. Their past association with the wealthier still resonates, although marble is not as expensive as you might think. There are many colour and design options available for marble as it can be sourced and custom cut to your specifications. With a little extra initial planning you can have a totally unique bathroom that will last and last.
Many home and garden stores sell fitted kitchens with work surfaces, units and appliances as part of the package. A full kitchen with no hassle of shopping around for the various components can seem like a great idea to save time and hassle. However as appealing as this may seem there are a number of reasons that cutting cost on time may mean compromising on the quality of a kitchen. For each individual component of a kitchen there are specialists, who know their individual fields inside out. These specialists have contacts in the industry and can usually advise on the best choices for individual projects as well as source the very best material for purpose.
Kitchen units can be custom built by specialists to fit a specific space, giving a unique and tailor made finish to the room. By using custom fittings over off the shelf cabinets, you can ensure a perfect fit that looks and feels superior. This need not cost as much as you might think and by getting a few quotes you may find this is better value for money than a full fitted kitchen. Appliances are also usually best sourced separately also to ensure you get the correct machine for your needs. These too can actually save money when sourced separately. There are always offers on domestic appliances and shopping around often means big discounts on the same machine.
One of the most important and expensive parts of a new kitchen are the work surfaces. There are many choices of material and in order to maximise the longevity it is important to choose the one that best suits purpose. The differences between the materials have a lot to do with the functionality as well as they styling required, and it is often best to consult an expert in the field for the best advice. Specialists in stone will have contacts in the industry that can ensure you get the best quality stone for your money. When buying from a stone dealer you can be sure that what you are buying is 100% stone. When buying from DIY and general home stores however you often get stone clad surfaces that are not as high quality. There is often not a huge amount of difference in the price you pay for pure stone from a specialist than the clad alternative offered by many big retailers, and the value for money is certainly in the favour of the solid slabs.
There is still an argument for buying a fitted kitchen as one, but this is purely a time saving one. For higher quality, the best advice and a perfect fit the advantages of going straight to the supplier are evident.
One of the ways many homeowners choose to improve and refresh their homes is to refit a kitchen either in its entirety or to install a new worktop. Once the decision has been taken to change the counter tops in a property, the next decision is what material to use. For most the two main options are Granite and Quartz as these are the most widely used and most practical materials for work surfaces. There are many great reasons to choose either of these, so in order to make a decision it is important to know the key features and differences between them.
Granite is 100% naturally occurring stone, whilst quartz is usually around 93% quartz with the rest made up of polymer resins and colour pigments for binding. Granite can also be engineered in this way, but most commercially available granite is not and is purely natural stone.
Another key consideration for homeowners is of course the cost of the worktops. Most people will have a budget in mind when embarking on home improvements and will want to use the best they can afford. The cost of granite varies depending on where it was mined, the manufacturer, installer, the location of your home, and the availability of the stone. Overall the price of granite is almost the same like for like as quartz, therefore paying the same for natural stone as for an engineered product.
One of the main reasons many decide to refit a kitchen is to improve the value of the property as a whole. If this is the primary purpose of installing new worktops then the best choice is granite. Quartz does not add value to a home like granite does. Potential buyers associate granite with value in a way that they do not with quartz despite them being similar cost.
For practicality there is little to separate the two materials either. Many believe that quartz is more durable but it is by no means invincible. Like granite it is only resistant to heat and scratches and care must be taken when using chemicals and certain food products. Granite can be used outside whereas quartz cannot as exposure to the sun damages the polymer resins.
Both quartz and granite are non-porous and therefore resistant to bacteria. They do both however need cleaning to keep them completely safe. Some types of engineered quartz have anti-bacterial coating as standard to provide additional protection. It is down to preference whether this is viewed as a benefit or a risk to health depending on individual opinions of pesticides.
Quartz worktops are becoming an increasingly popular choice for worktops. They are the fastest growing sector in the work surface market globally, even over traditional choices such as marble and granite worktops. When undertaking home improvements a new worktop can refresh and update a kitchen or bathroom, or a new splash-back or sink area add value to your home.
Engineered quartz is incredibly durable and therefore is a good option for surfacing. Most branded quartz contains around 93% of pure quartz and with the rest made up of resins and pigments. Each variety of quartz, such as Okite and Samsung, contains slightly different ratios of materials but most specify these to make the customer aware of what exactly they are purchasing. In any composite quartz is non-porous and hard wearing. It requires no additional sealing as the resin within it provides all the protection it needs. The compression and curing processes mean that there are no cavities to absorb liquids making it hygienic and easy to clean. Some compounds such as Silestone also include anti-bacterial agents in their composite adding an extra hygienic element to the stone.
Because it is engineered quartz can be produced in a wide range of colours and patterns with beautiful results. Whereas options are limited with natural stone such as granite and marble, quartz offers a variety of effects not available in nature. Buying slabs in bulk from the same run is important to get a consistent finish across your whole project as finish may vary slightly from block to block. This variation is however very slight and unlike natural stones you can achieve uniformity in its use. Quartz is suitable for worktops, sinks, walls and many other applications, the only exception being floors as it is generally too slippery to walk on.
In commercial use quartz is hygienic enough for use in health and food applications as well as being strong enough for heavy usage. The strength of quartz also means it is very dense and heavy and therefore care must be taken to ensure that cabinets and structures used to support the worktops are strong enough to take the weight. Providing the foundation is sturdy, engineered quartz provides a very hard wearing surface for sustained use. It is simple to maintain providing care is taken not to use cleaners with high acidic content as these can dull the characteristic high shine finish of the material. The edges can be finished in the same way as granite, with numerous options available to suit application.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each surface choice, and in order to ensure the right stone is chosen to suit the individuals needs and preferences it is important to discuss the options with a specialist.
Granite is a material that has become synonymous with home improvements. It is often the first choice of those redesigning their kitchen or bathroom as it is hardwearing as well as having a classy, classic look. The default use for granite in the home is for countertops and bathroom sides and this is often the only application people think of for granite when deciding on materials for their projects. There is good reason for this, as a heat resistant and exceptionally resilient material, it is perfect for work surfaces and freshens up the home when used in kitchen and bathroom redesigns.
As it such a good material to use as a work surface, many people do not consider the other potential uses of granite in a project. It is an extremely versatile material and has a place in most rooms of the home. Whether as a complete block or broken into tiles, granite is great for flooring. Its strength means that it is hardwearing and can take a vast amount of footfall whilst sustaining no damage. A floor can be made of one large piece of granite or medallions as tiles. The tiling option is cheaper and creates an entirely different aesthetic. As tiles granite is open to a number of alternate uses, such as on tiled walls and tables.
A larger granite tile can also be used as a chopping board in a kitchen where it may not be an option to resurface the entire work area. Alternatively granite can be used as a draining area around a sink, where the countertop is made of some other material. The sink itself can also be carved from a block of granite as a unique and interesting feature in a kitchen or bathroom. The properties of the material lend themselves to this kind of application as they hold water and are heat resistant. In some instances granite has been used as door knobs, to great aesthetic effect. This is especially effective where larger slabs of granite are used in the same room, such as a work top or on the walls or ceilings, as it ties the room together. The door or cupboard knobs are highlights or accents to the granite used in the room, other natural materials such as wood used simultaneously make this a particularly strong design technique.
The addition of granite to a home will add value to any property such is its value as a raw material in interior design. Value is added with every application, from a large slab being used for countertops or a floor, to small tiles or pieces of granite being used for wall decoration or other projects. It is therefore worth considering granite as an option for any home improvements when looking to increase the value of a property.