Tuesday, 22 March 2016 23:38

Stone Solutions

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Stone Solutions

If you’re renovating or building and want your kitchen and bathroom to be fitted with the best possible products, there’s a good chance stone flooring, benchtops or splashbacks will be high on your wish list. When it comes to cementing your selection, however, you will need to decide if engineered or natural stone is the better choice for you. April Davis sifts through the benefits of each, so you can make an informed decision.

To discover how both natural and engineered stone varieties can be utilised, here Queensland Kitchen + Bathroom Design magazine enlists the help of natural stone expert, Daniel Suto from 3D Stone Tile & Pavers, and engineered stone specialist from Smartstone, Belinda Kelaher.

A NATURAL ALTERNATIVE

Natural stone is an incredibly versatile product that can be used for flooring, benchtops, shower trays and splashbacks, as well as decoratively on feature walls. As the name suggests, natural stone is formed by the environment and can vary in shape, size, and appearance depending on the exact minerals present during its formation.

According to Suto, natural stone varieties offer unique beauty and popular options include travertine, marble, limestone and granite.

“Generally speaking, granite is the hardiest stone [and] in most cases is impossible to scratch and stain. Travertine is a hardwearing stone suitable for large floors and kitchens, [and is] very hard to stain and scratch.

“Marble ranges can be quite diverse, so try to use marble that has a proven track record [and] wears well. Marble has been used for centuries on floors and [usually] wears beautifully, developing a lovely patina as time goes on. Limestone can be hardwearing and also very porous, but again, it’s best to talk to the experts [about] what will suit you.”

Quarried stone feature walls, large-format floor tiles, decorative splashbacks and bathroom accents are just some of the ways natural stone can be incorporated into a kitchen or bathroom.

“In a bathroom, large-format stone tiles look great when mixed with a stone mosaic on the floor, [while] in the kitchen, large-format floor tiles with stone subway-size bricks as splashbacks [are a real stand-out],” Suto says.

Benefits

Most types of natural stone are hardwearing and scratch-resistant. One of the biggest benefits, however, is how easy they are to clean.

“Because of the slight natural variation in each tile, you don’t notice footprints and soiling anywhere near as much. In the new house I recently bought, my wife made me pull up all the expensive Italian honed porcelain tiles and re-lay honed travertine, [because she felt] the floor never looked clean. She had lived with stone in previous houses and knew the benefits,” says Suto.

In general, sealed natural stone products are non-porous and will age well.

“The first thing to note when laying stone on floors is that in most cases, it is recommended to seal the floor, [because] when this is done the floor has low porosity and is hard to stain. The other great thing about stone on floors, especially in kitchens and bathrooms, is that when you seal them the grout joints (which are a lot more porous than the stone itself) seals at the same time, so your stone floors look cleaner for longer.”

Maintenance

Provided your stone is installed correctly, minimal maintenance is required.

“Keep [your stone products] clean. If they are sealed, use a neutral cleaner [and] try not to use harsh chemicals. [You may also have to] reseal them every few years, depending on the sealer that has been used.”

MADE WITH LOVE

Unlike its natural counterpart, engineered stone is manufactured to achieve a desired colour, texture or quality-level. Here, Belinda Kelaher discusses the benefits of Smartstone’s engineered stone range, which includes a collection of luxurious and exclusive products that achieve a natural look and boast exceptional durability.

Engineered stone is available in a range of varieties, including premium surfaces with refined grains and natural patterns, luxury stone with veined surfaces, and of course, more innovative and exclusive selections that replicate the appearance and benefits of natural stone and have distinctive veining patterns and fresh colour palettes.

“Engineered stone is quickly becoming an integral part of any home and kitchen, [has] resistant properties, and durability [that makes it] safe and practical for any kitchen and bathroom. Smartstone
has also been NSF certified by The Public Health and Safety Organisation,” says Kelaher.

Benefits

To utilise the benefits of both natural and engineered stone, engineered clear quartz is made from predominantly natural quartz. As Kelaher explains, quartz surfaces are designed with performance in mind.
“Smartstone quartz surfaces are designed to offer high-performance with minimal maintenance. [The stone] is non-porous and will never need sealing or waxing.”

Engineered stone varieties are usually scratch- resistant, heat-resistant, low-maintenance and don’t require waxing or sealing.

Maintenance

Like natural stone, caring for engineered stone is easy. With the right maintenance, your engineered stone benchtops, floors or splashbacks will last for years to come.

‘To keep your Smartstone clean, simply wipe with a soft cloth and a pH neutral household liquid detergent. Avoid exposure to products with high pH levels, such as oven cleaner. If [your stone] comes into contact with such products, rinse immediately to neutralise the effect, and then follow [with] your usual cleaning procedure,” advises Kelaher.

THE CHOICE IS YOURS

Both natural and engineered stone varieties come with a set of distinctive benefits, and similarities. The type of surface you choose will ultimately depend on your needs and the overall look you’re trying to achieve within your home. Once installed, your kitchen and bathroom will be set in stone, so make sure your choice is well-informed.

 

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