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Natural Stone Hardscapes: MSI Flagstones

by MSIBLOG 14. July 2014 11:37

M S International is the leader in premium natural stone surfaces, including a wide variety of natural stone flagstone selections in slate, quartzite, sandstone and limestone. Flagstone is a natural product that is quarried throughout the world, which means it’s in abundance, is sustainable and Earth-friendly, and is a great surface option for blending seamlessly into your outdoor living environment.

Natural Appeal

As a product of Nature, each flagstone will feature its own unique coloring, patterns, veining and textures. The complexity of real natural stone is unrivaled and will introduce interest and movement into your hardscape. Slate flagstones, for example, offer sleek, layered textures and sophisticated colors like deep greys and blues. Sandstone flagstone offers natural rich rusts, blue and charcoal grays, too, with a look similar to slate but with a great texture for slip-free surfaces. Quartzite flagstone offers a different look with flecks of sparkle from the natural quartz minerals within. Limestone flagstone offers cool neutral options for serene looks as well as darker options like Mystique Black for more impact – both great selections for contrasting beautifully with colorful foliage.

Practical Applications

Flagstones will enhance the landscaping of any home, but also have the advantage over concrete in several ways – they are highly durable and offer flexibility for installation to adapt to your environment. They may be laid flat as a patio, or vertically, such as for a fireplace – and they can be grouted, or filled with pea gravel, polished pebbles, sand, or topsoil if you prefer a natural look of moss growth.

   

 Flagstones will suppress weed growth, create winding pathways that guide traffic through your garden, and offer convenient, safe access to water features. Around swimming pools and spas, flagstones stay cool – sandstone and limestone surfaces specifically offer texture to reduce slips poolside. There are no toxic materials used in the processing of flagstones, and they do not need to be treated, so they are safe for your veggie garden, too!

Beautiful Additions

Even more so than pavers and other tile options, flagstones have a natural, random look with varying cuts and edges that fit organically into your thoughtful design scheme.

Flagstones, in combination with cool polished pebbles or cobbles, elevate the natural beauty of your greenery and create a more formal, luxurious display while still looking as though they are an original part of the landscape. As vertical surfaces, flagstones lend sophistication and a finished quality to outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, or walls.

 Flagstone is typically sold by weight. Depending on the stone - slate, quartzite, sandstone, or limestone – the size and thickness will vary, therefore, the weight per crate will vary.

Contact your local M S International supplier for more information, and please view MSI’s short video to see the real possibilities for enhancing your home’s hardscape with flagstones!

Tags:

Hardscaping | Landscape Tile | Limestone | Natural Stone | Outdoor Landscaping | pool tile | Quartzite | Slate | Tile | Travertine

Quartzite Countertops vs. Granite Countertops

by MSIBLOG 7. July 2014 08:24

Before we talk the pros and cons of quartzite countertops to granite countertops, it is important to emphasize that this discussion is about two of Nature’s own designs, the natural stones quartzite and granite – not quartz and granite. Quartzite and quartz are two different things in the world of countertops, one “Nature Made” and one created through a fusion of Nature and technology, and they are often confused by name alone. (See our blog “Quartz vs. Quartzite: Are they the same?”) for specific differences between quartzite and quartz. 

To make things more confusing, quartzite and granite have one important raw material in common – the mineral quartz! The mineral quartz (known in the gemstone world in a variety of colors, the most well-known of which is amethyst) is not the same as the engineered stone called quartz. Quartzite is a very hard metamorphic rock that began as sandstone and was transformed into an extremely strong and durable natural stone when the empty spaces between the sandstone were filled with the mineral quartz and fused together under heat and pressure. Granite, too, is from the Earth’s crust. It is an igneous rock that was created by lava beneath the Earth’s surface but cooled very slowly over time to make a heavy and extremely hard mass. As it cooled, gases were trapped and the lava mixed with the natural mineral quartz, forming rocks with large crystals.

Appearance

Though quartzite and granite were technically formed in different ways, they share the mineral quartz in their origin, so it is difficult to compare or contrast their appearance as they can sometimes look similar (and can be passed off as each other incorrectly by an inexperienced salesperson). They are not the same, and yet, they are not vastly different, as both sparkle and have flecks and veins in them from recrystallized quartz. However, quartzite does have one edge, or PRO, when it comes to look – it is more commonly found in lighter colors, and it is notably found in very light colors and patterns that closely resemble marble. Granite, on the other hand, usually only contains shades of white with other, bolder colors dominating the overall color of the stone. For those who love the clean look of white, but who prefer a more durable stone than traditional marble, quartzite is a beautiful, natural alternative.

Durability

Here quartzite and granite are also evenly matched. Both are extremely hard and resistant to chemicals, extreme temperatures, and etching; both must also be properly sealed regularly for ultimate protection against damaging foods like wine, juices, and coffee as well as against common culprits that will scratch the surface, like wire racks or kitchen tools. With proper care and maintenance, however, both quartzite and granite are highly durable and certainly on the PRO side for durability. Further, the necessary sealing itself can be found in the plus column, as a good seal not only protects these natural stones but enhances their rich flecks and veins of color.


It is important to note when making these comparisons that, overall, quartzite and granite are quite durable and are lower maintenance than marble, though higher maintenance than engineered quartz. It is equally important to note that slabs of natural stones are unique; therefore, depending on their ages, regional origins and compositions, they can vary in terms of both appearance and durability. Some quartzite selections, for example, can be softer than others – the best way to determine the stone that is the right fit for you is to visit a stone yard or showroom and test a sample piece at home (scratch test, stain test, and etch test). Quartzite stones will pass your tests easily if they are 100% pure, as quartzite is generally harder than glass, and quartzite samples that are not will demonstrate for you the limitations of your piece. It is critical to understand the limitations of the specific slab you will be bringing into your home prior to installation. Cost

When it comes to pros and cons on cost, granite may have a slight edge. Typically, quartzite is more expensive than granite if it is a pure quartzite. However, as you price out slabs for your next project, be aware that price comparisons will depend on which granite and which quartzite, as both natural stones tend to have both rarer and more common options that will affect pricing. (Some quartzite, too, can be mixed with other natural stones which will change both its durability and price point.) I.e., a rarer granite will be more expensive than a common quartzite and vice versa. When measured against one another within the same tier, granite tends to be less costly, lending a CON to quartzite and a PRO to granite.

Additionally, be aware that individual sellers sometimes lump terms together and use them interchangeably, thus confusing buyers who believe they are comparing apples to apples. What you might think is a beautiful Super White quartzite could in fact be a dolomitic marble, which are materials easy enough to confuse in the showroom but distinctly different when tested by the rigors of your busy kitchen and its common acidic foods. There you will find the apple to apple comparison is indeed an apple to orange one – a lesson best not learned after the countertop has been installed, and in fact, etched by an orange.

Quartzite to granite can be a difficult comparison to make, because they are both natural stones that are equally gorgeous as countertops. If you’re struggling to make the decision between these two stones, visit a stone yard or showroom near you to see them side by side. Each has its own unique spectrum of colors, patterns, and finishes available – one of them is sure to catch your eye and decide the battle for you between these naturally stunning competitors.

MSI is the leading importer and distributor of natural stone surfaces in North America. Visit www.msistone.com to view hundreds of premium granites and quartzite. Don’t miss the featured New Products for 2014, which includes 15 new granite options with whites, golds, greys, browns and pinks!

 

Tags:

Countertops | Granite | Natural Stone | Quartzite

White Marble: The Resurging Trend that Never Went Away

by MSIBLOG 29. June 2014 21:22

In the world of design, there are few truths that remain unchanged over the ages: combine textures, less is more, and you can’t go wrong with the color white. When it comes to countertops, this last point is changing but only in the sense that it has become truer. Pick up any magazine or visit any interior design showroom and you’ll notice the timeless trend that, if possible, has become more popular. Credit this white explosion to Martha Stewart’s gorgeous marble countertops or give a nod to Europe, where marble countertops have surfaced in everything from Parisian café tables to Italian Old World kitchen counters for centuries. Whomever you recognize for this huge resurgence of the trend that never went away, recognize this too: marble is the natural stone that will bring timeless elegance and popular design to your home in the most natural way possible.

It is no mystery why white is so popular with designers. We highlighted the top 10 reasons for this in our article "When the Absence of Color is the Color of Choice!”. Here, we’ll highlight two that are arguably the most important to homeowners: clean look and versatility.

Clean look

The color white has a universal association with cleanliness. This is why you will rarely walk into a clinical environment and find surfaces in colors other than white. It is easy to spot an imperfection against a white backdrop – when we see none, we feel more confident that a surface is clean. White in the private kitchen or bathroom serves the same purpose as that commercial white in the hospital or doctor’s office. Additionally, white feels fresh, new, and pure to both the experienced and inexperienced eye. Whether designer or homeowner, these are qualities prized in a kitchen, where foods will be prepared and served. With regard to marble, it is the only natural stone that can be found in pure white, though it is most commonly recognized by its hallmark veining that brings interest and movement throughout.

Versatility

White is versatile in several ways. It can be as impressive as a contrasting color or a complementary one as it can be alone and unrelieved. It can be highly modern or classically traditional, as easily acceptable in a contemporary kitchen with stainless steel appliances as it is coupled with distressed cabinetry and dark woods. It can be simple or it can be complex: elegant in large, generous expanses to interesting, as it takes on the glow of other colors and of strategic lighting to create shadows and depth. White marble countertops add a fourth type of versatility – the patina. Polished to a high shine or honed to hide etching and carefully sealed to prevent staining, they are a sleek, modern option; left to their own devices, they can be allowed to age naturally for a finely matured look. Each imperfection will be valued as an enhancement to the surface’s character.
 

A clean look and versatility are but a small sampling of the many reasons white is a great option. The reputation of the color, and of white marble itself, is exemplified by the fact that the stone industry is clamoring to offer more options to meet consumer demand. Quartz, for example, is now available in solid whites, as well as in whites with grey or brown veining to mimic the appearance of marble. Quartz offers easy maintenance for busy households but keeps with the marble tradition of a timeless look. Granite, too, is popular in its lighter selections. It is available in varieties with subtle speckling for a more monochromatic appearance, though the dynamic flecks in granite achieve a different overall mood than the sweeping flow of veins in a piece of marble. In addition to countertop material options, today’s backsplash tiles and mosaics, cabinetry, and even tile flooring offer white selections to keep with the trend.

The color white is more than a stylish fad, and marble will easily accomplish the cleanliness and versatility needed for an elegant design, whether contemporary or traditional in theme. MSI offers more than 70 marble slab options for every room of the home or business, in classic whites and non-traditional, bold colors. Design your pure white dream kitchen with MSI’s Kitchen Visualizer today.

Tags:

Countertops | Marble | Natural Stone

Down to Earth Style: Salvage Porcelain Flooring

by MSIBLOG 17. June 2014 13:49

Many value the look of reclaimed wood. It calls to mind treasured family heirlooms. It sends us back to a time of farmhouses and country manors. Reclaimed or salvaged wood is a visual reminder, infused with memories, that plays on our sense of nostalgia for a simpler time. Additionally, reclaimed wood is a great way to recycle a natural resource. So what do you do when you love the look of salvaged wood for your home décor, but you want new flooring that will withstand the future decades of memories you will give it? Porcelain tile flooring is a wonderful way to please your sentimentality and also create a sound surface for your home that will last a lifetime and beyond.

Though you may enjoy the look, you many discover that true salvaged wood is not easy to find in good condition. It may be recovered from barns or salvaged from historical homesteads, i.e., structures that were in disrepair. If the wood is in pristine condition, it likely would not need replacement – which means it would not be available for your home improvement project. When you do find salvaged planks, they may be perfect for a craft project but too far gone to use as a safe, solid surface for flooring. Deterioration of natural wood can unfortunately make a piece of salvaged lumber unrealistic for bearing weight, as it may have existing soft spots in some places or warping in others. Salvaged wood in excellent condition that is suitable for interior flooring is harder to find, which means it may be more costly than new wood planks or other flooring material options.

The porcelain tile in MSI’s Salvage Collection is made with state-of-the-art digital glazing techniques, authentically reproducing the grain, texture and color of reclaimed wood. The sizing is important too – MSI’s Salvage Collection features planks in 6X40”, which gives a more authentic look to each piece, as if it could be straight from a historical home or rustic barn wall.

Porcelain tile planks have a few distinct advantages – they won’t warp, they won’t crack, and they won’t swell. This means that your floor will keep its authentic, salvaged look but you won’t experience the downside of natural wood floors as they age: shifting of the planks, revealing spaces that need to be filled with sawdust fillers, sanded, and then refinished; textural blemishes that make the floor more difficult to clean, snagging everything from your socks to your dust mop; and finally, old nails and floorboards that creak as the wood expands and contracts through the seasons when temperature and humidity fluctuate.

Porcelain tile is created from super-fine porcelain clay and is fired at a higher temperature than ordinary ceramic tile, which makes the material dense and tough enough to stand up to today's demanding applications. (Notably, in addition to the salvaged look, MSI offers porcelain tiles that may be highly glossy and refined or rough textured to resemble natural stone, which nicely compliments granite countertops and mosaic backsplashes. Porcelain tiles are also suited to both indoor and outdoor applications.)

If a recycled décor is more your style, you can find a balance between look and function with porcelain tiles. Mix Salvage Collection porcelain tiles with other recycled items throughout the home, like salvaged wood shutters or old wood frames, to tie into the old world theme and give your home a fully authentic feel. Use porcelain flooring to create a harmonious style that appeals to your greener nature but also offers a dependable surface to enjoy.

Tags:

Flooring | Natural Stone | Porcelain | Tile | Wood Tile

Tundra Gray Marble Collection: Timeless. Classic. Stunning.

by MSIBLOG 9. June 2014 12:00

The new “it color” in the design world is gray. You can’t open a home interiors magazine and not see articles about gray paint and new gray color schemes. This subtle neutral has said goodbye to its cold and industrial bad wrap it’s had for years and become a high deign sophisticated color palette that will not disappoint. There are many shades of gray, but finding that perfect color that is a nice balance of warm and cool is key to finding the right paint color and now the perfect marble. Look no further, Tundra Gray Marble exudes style and comes with all the pieces and parts to tile your dream space floor to ceiling and even dress up your countertop


Speaking of floor-to-ceiling tile, check out this bathroom below. It features Tundra Gray 12X24 marble tiles on the floor and the Tundra Gray Basketweave mosaic as a dramatic feature wall behind the mirror and vanity. Floor to ceiling installation creates virtually indestructible walls and takes a design cue from European style wet rooms. One of the easiest ways to to upgrade your bathroom is to add a mosaic to the mirror wall. Many people tend to leave out the mirror wall when upgrading their bathroom and this focal point can be beautiful and functional.  

When designing with Tundra Gray Marble, or any floor or backsplash, make sure you choose wisely when selecting the grout color. Tundra Gray is what designers refer to as a chameleon color. It will transform based on its surroundings which makes it very versatile. For example, if you choose a warm gray grout color like Oyster gray, the tile will appear to be warmer in color. If you choose a cooler gray like Delorean Gray the tile will be cooler in color. A simple decision like grout can be very impactful when you are selecting for wall tile, floor tile, and mosaics.

Tags:

Backsplash | Countertops | Flooring | Marble | Natural Stone

Pattern Play: The New World of Intricate Mosaic Blends

by MSIBLOG 2. June 2014 08:31

Have you been looking for a new mosaic? I bet you’ve noticed that are no two alike and they are more intricate in shape, size, pattern, and material.

In order to make all these mosaics fit together, they are arranged in an interlocking pattern. An interlocking pattern is an arrangement in which geometric shapes are fit together so that one cannot be moved without impacting the others in the overall design. In short, these are simple to complex patterns that achieve a great look. Mosaics often capitalize on the foundations of interlocking patterns, taking complex shapes and arranging them in intricate designs to take the guesswork out of both design and installation for homeowners. Pre-arranged by artistic designers and mesh mounted, mosaics offer the benefit of a high-end, finished look with minimal financial investment and labor, which the professional installer or do-it-yourselfer can accomplish easily. These days, the world of mosaic tiles is exploding with more options than ever to upgrade the kitchen, bath or any space indoors or out with beautiful glass, metal, or natural stone tiles that render a fluid design which appears carefully constructed.

MSI recently introduced many more mosaic patterns, which include solid glass, glass stone blends, metal blends and specialty blends.  Whether these mosaics are applied as a kitchen backsplash or a bathroom wall feature, they make a style statement while also protecting the wall surface. Used in large expanses to highlight the intricate or simple interlocking patterns or applied in small accents, these mesh mounted mosaics make what could be a labor-intensive job a much easier one:

Solid Glass

MSI offers solid glass wall tiles in simple, interlocking patterns. These wall tiles are highly popular as backsplash tile as they are non-porous and perfectly adapted to wet areas like the kitchen and bath. The patterns play on color and tile size to offer a traditional but updated look. Pebble Interlocking and Khaki Interlocking are two new popular solid color glass options that offer a neutral back drop that match many different countertop colors or tile to be the perfect accent in a shower. 

Glass Stone Blends

If you’re looking for a more unique tile, glass stone blends offer more than a cohesive pattern – with use of color, design and an eye-catching mix of materials, they will introduce texture and interest to any application. Cristallo, Truffle, Urbano, & Perspective Blend capitalize on more intricate patterns and cool, sophisticated colors. Harvest Moon & Ashlar Rock are additionally unique because of their three-dimensional look.

Metal Blends

MSI offers two new glass metal blend mosaics, Madison Avenue and Cityscape, that use interlocking linear chips mixed with longer and shorter pieces for a dramatic look in urban color palettes. Cityscape is a clean, modern blend of silver, whites and greys. Madison Avenue takes the urban color palette and elevates it with a greater mix of color, including brushed bronze and stainless steel. For even more bling, Eclipse is a stone/metal blend with similar color schemes but with plenty of dimension to spice up your own urban interior.

Specialty Blends

The new category MSI has deemed “specialty mosaics” offers some of the most unique items in the mosaic industry.  MSI is now offering a new porcelain stone blend tile in an interlocking pattern design. Titan is a high-design, futuristic looking pattern and color scheme for modern and elegant decors. This option (as well as most of the other interlocking pattern selections) is a porcelain/metallic painted slate blend that is suited to backsplash tile applications, as well as an accent strip for flooring, and blends nicely with many countertops. Applied alone or as accent to other porcelain tiles, it is a beautiful statement mosaic.

Verona blends porcelain with stone and employs browns and beiges with distinctive movement. Vienna Blend Brick (shown below) is a stone, glass, metal & resin blend with a more uniform design, offering lighter stone colors like Crema Marfil. Both are impressive blends that combine professional design know-how with skillful execution. Their mix of materials also allows for greater coordination with many different tiles and countertops.

Mosaics take the guesswork out of laying the perfect pattern. Designers have done the hard part, selecting the perfect complementary colors and fitting pieces of varying size into both simple and complex designs that will fit any motif you desire. Easy application makes them an affordable way to upgrade any room. See more of MSI’s new products for the newest ways to play with mosaics and elevate your indoor and outdoor living.

Tags:

Backsplash | Backsplash Design Guide | Countertops | Mosaics

Slate Tile – Rustic Elegance for Inside and Out

by MSIBLOG 27. May 2014 08:35

Few natural stones are equally elegant and rustic. A stone is often smooth and sophisticated or it is tumbled and earthy, but it is less common to be both at the same time. Slate, however, is the perfect balance between the two – Nature’s compromise between a high-end look and a beautifully organic one. Used thoughtfully inside or outside, slate can bring nature indoors or sophistication to the outdoor living space.
 

Slate is formed of compressed layers of sediments under the ocean. These sediments vary in color and composition, resulting in a natural stone that is found in a variety of colors, from the more prevalent dark greys and bluish greys to rich rusts and variant browns or blacks. Purple, pink, green, and red are also found streaking through slate depending on the types of sediments present. Rarely, pyrite deposits are also found – known as Fool’s Gold, pyrite appears in some slate as small crystalline deposits that are golden in color. In addition to color, texture is also variable in slate – some slates are a very smooth, fine grain; others are wavy, have perceivable bands, stripes, ridges, crenellations, or ribbons from the layering of shale, clay, ash or other sediments over time. With available edges like gauged, sawn edge, or tumbled, slate can be finished to look even more unique.

Given the fact that slate is often highly textured, one might assume that it is more rustic in appearance than it is elegant. However, the bluish grey simplicity of Silver Blue Slate or sleek Montauk Black coupled with vibrant accents gives slate a complex look that is also gentle and subtle in coloration, complimenting a rich décor without overpowering it.  Indoors, slate tile is used for backsplashes, flooring, or even countertops (though less commonly, as the edges of slate can be sharp or brittle). As backsplashes and flooring, slate is a great blend of beauty and functionality – it is hard, durable, and resistant to chemicals, heat, bacteria and moisture. It also does not scratch or chip easily. Slate truly brings nature indoors, lending an authenticity to earthy decors unrivaled by other stones. It does not need a high polish or additional refinement to elevate it for indoor living.

In terms of maintenance, the sealing of slate backsplashes and wall tile is generally viewed as optional – many choose to seal it because it will usually make cleaning slate easier, as the seal will smooth over some of the texture that might grab at cleaning cloths and also offer a surface less likely to collect dust. For flooring, regular sealing is recommended to prevent staining from heavy traffic and is also sometimes employed to give slate an even richer, “wet” appearance.
 

Outdoors, slate flooring, wall cladding (or even slate roofs) fit into the natural landscape but lend a finished, stylish look. California Gold pavers and flagstones, for example, can create refined patios or winding walkways that define spaces, merging sympathetically into the natural landscape while also providing practical convenience. That convenience allows for greater use of the space, increasing your living area – for flooring surfaces to host social gatherings, cooking food in an outdoor kitchen, or simply for providing a textured surface around water features or swimming pools for added safety. Slate tiles are suitable for hardscaping in colder climates due to their great durability and low porosity, though they are not recommended for freezing climates. As wall cladding, they are a way to add a unique flair of nature to facades, especially around water features where the colors will blend into the environment but also add interest. For those with a love of the literal, a water feature accented by stone harvested from the depths of the ocean or shore is a beautiful way to achieve a harmonious water landscape design.

Slate is a highly versatile natural stone with a unique drama that is subtle and beautiful It will elevate your indoor living space with a piece of nature; it will add refinement to the outdoor landscape. Whatever your needs, MSI offers slate tiles, ledger panels, mosaics, and flagstones for your indoor and outdoor needs in dozens of colors and textures!

 

Tags:

Hardscaping | Landscape Tile | Natural Stone | Outdoor Landscaping | pool tile | Slate

Rectangular Tiles: Is it Still Hip to Be Square?

by MSIBLOG 12. May 2014 12:54

In the late 40s to early 60s, new home constructions boomed across U.S. suburbs to accommodate the burgeoning Post-World War II economy and the resulting growing family unit. It is no surprise then that what was popular during this time as a standard option, namely square tiles (typically 4”x4”), can still be found in many of today’s homes that boast their original porcelain tile. In contemporary homes and newer builds, on the other hand, the hot shape in flooring tile is now the rectangle – which means that many of today’s homeowners are updating their bathrooms and kitchens. Larger, rectangular tiles are on the way in for a fresher, more current appearance.

The oversized shapes of rectangular tiles are popular today for several reasons: they are far-removed from the 40s-60s bathrooms of old, their larger sizes create fewer grout joints, and when thinly set, they can create a nearly seamless look – a very modern ideal.
 
MSI offers several highly popular lines of rectangular porcelain tile. The Eramosa series has distinctive, oversized appeal (tiles are 12”x24”), as well as a modern pattern and color palette. The pattern is a delicate linear veining, which sets it apart. The color selections are neutral: beige, grey, silver, and white. Neutral coloring, in addition to shape, keep these tiles looking timeless. If you’ve ever walked into a circa 1950s home, you probably found bright pinks and sea-foam greens in the bathrooms and kitchen. Contemporary tiles detour from dated color selections, offering a more neutral color scheme on which to build – mosaic backsplash tile, available in a vast spectrum from bold to neutral, or a striking granite countertop, may be used to add even more focal interest and depth.

The Dimensions series is another popular MSI option for rectangular tiles. These tiles have an urban appeal, with appearances that fit their names: Concrete, Glacier, Graphite, Gris, Khaki and Olive. Pairings of these tiles with neutral or bold mosaics are common design choices. (Note that where once a standard size wall or floor tile was en vogue, now tiles are most desirable in tiny or large sizes. Mosaics of tiny squares are therefore not an outdated look.) Mixing tiles of varying size and pattern can create more focal interest than large expanses of 4”x4” tiles with thick grout lines. Rectangular tiles in the Focus Series and Loft Series, have slightly different patterns and similar colors to those of Eramosa and Dimensions, making them ideal for mixing and matching harmoniously.

Porcelain tiles are not the only kinds of tiles which are increasingly popular in rectangular dimensions. For example, marble flooring also comes in 12”x24” selections – Athens Grey is a marble tile similar in look to the porcelain tiles of the Focus series with its sophisticated, horizontal lines. Coupling these marble floors with porcelain tiles allows modern designers to mix materials and patterns while still creating an overall cohesive appeal from floor to ceiling.

The question remains – is it still hip to be square? The answer is not clear cut. Though rectangular options have burst on the scene in recent years as a way to update from the square tiles of older constructed homes, square tiles are still available today in newer, more updated sizes, colors and patterns (particularly in ceramic tiles), which make them an enduring choice for today’s homes. What you’ll notice, however, is that 4”x4” porcelain wall tile, is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Tiles of such dimensions have been updated to exciting materials like limestone, marble, onyx, quartzite, slate and travertine. The striking colors, patterns, and textures of these materials give this older sizing option a more modern day feel – so that square can stay hip a little longer.

 

Tags:

Backsplash | Flooring | Natural Stone | Porcelain

Natural Stone Pavers: A Beautiful Solution for Practical Outdoor Living

by MSIBLOG 12. May 2014 09:23

Natural Stone Pavers are not only a beautiful choice for upgrading your outdoor living space, but they are a practical one. In addition to providing a clean, attractive hardscape that will create winding walkways, sophisticated patios, and an overall finished look for your home’s exterior, pavers offer practical solutions that are rewarding for years to come. 

Pavers are individual pieces, that are consistent in thickness and are easy to install. They can be set in sand or mortar, and will adapt to weather conditions in a way that concrete cannot. Whether your pavers are travertine, granite, marble, or another natural stone, they have an overwhelming practical advantage over the traditional concrete surface: pavers set in sand have natural joints between each stone brick that can expand and contract naturally as the weather changes.  Alternatively, concrete (even stamped concrete made to look like paver stones), is one large piece of material which can crack from heavy loads and from weather fluctuations and will also naturally shrink over time. Even an adequate number of joints drawn into the concrete by the contractor cannot prevent a concrete surface from cracking eventually.

Further, repairs to concrete are usually obvious, as newer concrete that is patched onto an existing surface will not match in color. Over time, repairs to the concrete will make the surface less and less attractive. Pavers are a great solution, providing the walkway, driveway, or patio that is desired as a flexible surface that is easier to set in place initially and easier for a DIY repair, realignment or partial replacement if needed.

Pavers also expand your indoor living to the outdoors, providing a finished surface that will keep sand and soil at bay so that you can live comfortably and enjoy your additional living space. Pavers embody a style and class that elevate their surroundings – on the practical side, pavers can provide a consistency in design from the interior to the exterior, enlarging the look of spaces and tying in creative themes. Likewise, they offer an easy to sweep clean surface that will support your outdoor kitchen or outdoor living room in a way that brings you closer to nature while feeling clean and sophisticated.

As pavers can be functionally flexible in their layout as well, they can create geometric patterns or winding pathways, guiding foot traffic away from areas that are off limits in a way that is sympathetic to the natural layout. Pavers are also used to define gardens and flower beds while also keeping the nearby soil cooler and more hospitable for foliage. Additionally, they offer a year-round cool surface that is suited to bare feet around the pool or spa. Matching copings and edges will give pool edges and steps a finished look, too.

Pavers offer a wide variety of options, which can be mixed and matched among stone selections (travertine, granite, slate, quartzite, marble, basalt, sandstone or limestone), color selections (over 25 different colors to choose from to fit anything theme you desire, from contemporary to rustic), finish selections (tumbled, chipped edge or straight edge, unfilled and honed), and size selections (most pavers are available in options that include 1 ¼ or 2” thickness and sizes like 4x12”, 12x24”, 16x24”, 12x12” or 6x12”). 

Hardscaping with pavers offers cleaner outdoor living and a more luxurious surface. To experience many of the different options of pavers in application, please view MSI’s Pavers and Copings video, to see how these practical stones truly elevate their surroundings. 

 

 

Tags:

Hardscaping | Landscape Tile | Natural Stone | Outdoor Landscaping | pool tile

Backsplashes – A Quick & Affordable Upgrade

by MSIBLOG 5. May 2014 11:13

With a limitless budget, anyone can have an amazing kitchen or bathroom. However, though many of us may have limitless imaginations, these are usually tempered by more realistic considerations – like the scale, time, and cost of a home improvement project. A backsplash upgrade is a great solution! You can change the look of your kitchen or bathroom dramatically without a hefty investment in time or money. Here are a few ways to get the most from a backsplash tile upgrade: 

  • Change one thing; change the feel of it all. Backsplash tiles are a small upgrade that pack a big punch. Adding wall tile to a bare wall or swapping out old tile for new will go a long way. More than likely, the change to the backsplash will deceive the eye, and visitors will think you had your whole room done. Countertops, flooring, and cabinetry will all take on a new look and feel with a simple change to the backsplash tile.
  • Make it quick. In just a few days, you can easily upgrade backsplash tile. Unlike the lengthy process of a complete remodel, which displaces the family while it is underway, a backsplash project is quick and easy, and life can continue as usual during the upgrade. A do-it-yourself backsplash project may take just a weekend or even less time when installed by a professional.
  • Do more with a little. If a complete backsplash do-over isn’t in your budget, remember that you can do a lot with a little. You don’t have to alter an entire wall or even tile behind appliances. Instead, consider leaving your existing, basic tile in place and simply add eye-catching tiles to create a focal area, such as around a cooking area, which will change the overall look of the space. This is a dramatic but less costly option for giving your room an entirely new mood.
  • Create dimension. Backsplash tiles are great for creating illusions. Whether paired with other tiles of contrasting color, pattern, material (like granite or porcelain), size or orientation or paired with other tiles of the same design, backsplash tiles play with the depth of a room and add interest and variation to the wall. These are significant accomplishments for such a small material and will allow you to color a flat wall with your own personality.

  • Trust the experts. If you are unsure about the best pairings or styles, keep in mind that backsplash tiles often come in pre-designed patterns and pairings. Tiles like glass metal blends, for example, combine materials in ways that designers know will work well together. Mosaics also take out some of the guesswork, as these also come in sheets that create unique patterns for you as well as matching thresholds and sills to bring it all together. If you worry that your existing countertops, flooring, or cabinets might clash with your new backsplash, try using the MSI Kitchen Visualizer to imagine hundreds of different pairings, including those with the most popular glass and porcelain tile options. You can print out your ideas to show a decorator or friend, too.
  • Invest… and save even more. Backsplash tile is a relatively inexpensive material when compared to more costly investments like countertops or floors. Nonetheless, you can stretch your investment even more by mixing and matching your tiles. A few very expensive tiles selected for a focal point in the room can also be mixed with less costly tiles to cover a larger area. In fact, the more expensive tiles will likely elevate the other tiles, making them appear more lavish. So indulge – and see your investment spread to lift the other materials in the room.

Spring is a great season for starting from scratch, but a complete overhaul of your kitchen or bath may not be possible for your living space, time or budget. Consider a big upgrade then, with a small material. MSI is the leading importer and supplier of wall tile in North America and offers a full line of wall tile for a quick and affordable upgrade.

 

Tags:

Backsplash | Backsplash Design Guide | Countertops | Mosaics