14. September 2014 19:51
Beautiful natural wood is an enduring, popular look for today’s homes – but it isn’t always a practical option for every room or every lifestyle. Fortunately, there is an alternative that lets us enjoy the aesthetic benefits of wood along with the durability of a manufactured surface: Sygma Ceramic.
Like porcelain tile, ceramic tile is a great choice for application in high traffic areas or those where moisture is present, such as bathrooms and entry ways. Ceramic tile is an affordable, entry level option that is available in contemporary colors like Café, Chocolate, Ebony and Ice – and a highly popular size: 6” x 24”. Sygma Collection planks are also hand-scraped with a matte finish and can be installed with tight grout lines for an authentic look.
Where wood goes, ceramic tile can go too – but ceramic, wood-look planks can go where you wouldn’t dare place wood. In addition to flooring, they make for a unique and striking backsplash tile that withstands grease splatters and keeps the walls and cupboard backs dry. They are durable enough to serve as a kitchen countertop, too, and these larger plank tiles mean fewer grout lines than a traditional tile countertop (for a modern, realistic appearance with less cleaning). Not only suited for the kitchen, these tiles are a match for bathrooms, basements, bedrooms and beyond. Unlike real wood, they do not need to be stained and sealed to maintain them.
Sygma Collection tiles are rich and textured and look great alone, but they also pair nicely with other materials. Natural stone will contrast nicely and make them appear more luxurious. Ceramic, wood-look tiles with a real granite countertop, for example, suggest an upgraded design – elevating all of the materials. Also, Sygma tiles can be paired with other ceramic tiles or porcelain tile for exciting variation. Mosaics are a great addition to a traditional wood look.
Pair an Ebony or Ice Sygma tile with contemporary materials like aluminum cabinetry or stainless steel countertops for an ultra-modern appeal – or keep things comfortably casual with a Café or Chocolate ceramic tile floor balanced with granite or marble countertops. With ceramic, wood-look planks you can create looks from sleek and modern to charming Old World.
Sygma Collection ceramic tiles are rectified. This means that after firing, their edges are finished with precision saws and grinders to ensure each tile is exactly the same size, creating tiles with perfect 90 degree angles. They can be installed with very small grout lines, ensuring that they will look more authentic and more like real wood, which wouldn’t have noticeable joints between planks.
MSI offers a complete line of ceramic, rectified tile for your sophisticated surfacing needs – giving you a fantastic, long-lasting alternative to expensive hard wood floors. Sygma is a timeless combination of look and performance that will take you beyond what wood can offer in many rooms in your home.
10. September 2014 11:52
Not every home improvement project is a big one. Not every upgrade is a significant investment in money or labor. In fact, sometimes the smallest projects can have the biggest impact – and that impact does not have to resound in the wallet. Natural stone pebbles and cobbles are a cost effective way to make a big splash on your outdoor living design without the worries that come with a big project.
The addition of natural stone in your outdoor living space is a simple one that can be both functional and beautiful. Pebbles and cobbles are a great way to achieve these benefits and prove that small additions can go a long way toward giving your space a polished look.
Pebbles can be applied in a number of ways for an immediate improvement to the overall look of a design. Around patios or walkways, they can create a border that restrains weed growth. They can help to regulate the soil from temperature extremes as well as prevent the washout of tender plants, shrubs and trees or even erosion of slopes and hills by creating a protective barrier or ring to control the rate of water absorption into the soil.
Pebbles are an inexpensive way to highlight foliage, add personality to a water feature, or lend a splash color where it is needed to liven up an older hardscape. Pebbles create a finished look – in plant containers, raised gardens, and borders, they are an attractive, natural addition with genuine authenticity. MSI offers polished pebbles in an assortment of colors and sizes for a refined look.
Cobbles are a charming way to create useable walkways and paths. As a winding surface through a vegetable garden, a pretty border, or as a little patio for your fire pit, cobbles are an easy way to add a defined space that will keep weeds at bay and give you a clean surface to walk on! Best of all, they are typically set in sand or crushed stone, which means they can expand and contract with temperature variations and, unlike a piece of concrete, won’t crack as they move. Repairs are easy – pop out the offending cobble and put another in its place!
Cobbles are a touch of old-world elegance. Because they are most popularly found in a tumbled finish (i.e., uneven lines and rounded corners for a worn appearance), they do not have to be set perfectly to look great. They will enrich the environment by introducing a natural stone that will blend into its surroundings with casual grace– granite cobbles or sandstone, MSI offers a variety of shapes and finishes to fit your style.
Changing the look and functionality of your outdoor living space is easy with just a few little upgrades. Pebbles and cobble stones are indeed little in size, but they pack a big punch when it comes to livening up your landscape. To see these wonderful landscape options in action, please view our video “Pebbles and Cobbles” and see how they transform a hardscape for premium outdoor living.
2. September 2014 07:08
You make many choices in your kitchen, from what to make for dinner to bigger questions, like whether the look of it should be modern or traditional. Beyond the lifetime of the color of the walls, the appliances that will be probably be replaced at least once or twice while you live there, and the window treatments, there is one choice you’ll make in your kitchen that will endure the longest – the countertops. Given all the choices available, here is a handy list of popular countertop options that will start you on the path to selecting the right material for you.
Natural Stone Options
Granite Countertops – Granite is a natural material that is both distinctive and durable for a traditionally beautiful kitchen. As a natural stone, no two slabs of granite are exactly alike. Granites may have some white in the background, but mostly they are found in colorful shades with striking flecks – reds, greens, golds, creams, rusts, blues, silvers and even blacks are colors you can find in granite. Granite has a lower porosity than some natural stones, but still must be sealed regularly to keep it looking its best.
Marble Countertops – Marble is also a natural stone that is easily recognizable. Its characteristic veining and bold, white backdrop makes it a classic option that can achieve modern looks. Marble is most commonly known as a bright white or grey look, but it also comes in other shades like pinks, blacks, oranges and reds. It depends on what minerals were present as the marble formed from limestone. Marble is a porous stone and it is known to absorb spills as well as scratch and etch. However, it is also a cool stone that can be chilled for rolling pastries, making it a friend in the kitchen. With proper care, a marble countertop can stay looking beautiful, so don’t rule it out. Sealants and cleansers for marble have come a long way!
Onyx Countertops – Onyx is a premier natural stone option that is highly unique, with a sleek and modern look that is far removed from the caves it came from! Onyx countertops are a rare option – they are striking and luxurious and often used for vertical surfaces as bold statement walls in high-end residential and commercial designs. As a flat surface in the kitchen, onyx can be a functional piece of art you get to see every day, especially lit with under-counter lighting, as onyx has a transparent quality like no other. Onyx generally comes in swirling and pastel color patterns, and each piece is as unusual as the last. It is most suited as an accent countertop or bar area that does not see as much traffic, though with proper care, polished and sealed, onyx performs similarly to marble.
Limestone Countertops – Limestone is a natural stone that is formed at the bottom of the sea, comprised of layers of sediment that have settled and pressurized through the ages. Limestone is usually found in soft beiges and tans similar to its sister stone, marble, and is a subtle and comforting option that adds warmth and a welcoming nature to a room. Great for Old World looks and rustic charm, limestone has been used as flooring tile for decades. However, it is a stone softer than granite and marble, which means it should be used as countertops in lower traffic areas or in a kitchen where hard objects will not be dropped on it to avoid cracks or chips. In terms of porosity, like granite and marble, with proper sealing, it can be protected from most kitchen culprits.
Quartzite Countertops – Quartzite is often confused with quartz, but it is not the same. Quartzite is a natural stone that originated as sandstone and also includes the mineral quartz, which is what gives it sparkle. Like quartz countertops, quartzite is also highly durable as it is a hard stone, though it must be sealed to protect it.
Soap Stone Countertops – Soap Stone is a lesser known natural stone option in today’s wide range of offerings, but it is actually a classic choice that is coming back into popularity for both indoor and outdoor applications, as well as for kitchen countertops. (With lovely grey, blue and green selections, it’s a great thematic choice for bathroom countertops as well.) It is a durable stone that is not very absorbent, so stains do not penetrate easily. It can be sealed or oiled, and owners who enjoy ageing a stone will see it darken with a lovely patina over the years. Soap stone is also easily refinished and restored, so it can be updated over time if desired.
Naturally Manmade Options
Quartz Countertops – Quartz is a marriage of a natural mineral and modern technology. The natural mineral quartz is, by itself, not much more than a sandy powder. Bonded together with manmade polymers, it becomes a highly durable countertop selection with the sparkling beauty of a natural looking stone and the wherewithal to hold up in the kitchen. As a manmade product, it can also be produced in a variety of colors to meet the demand for the most popular looks – it is even available in options that look like granite and marble. Quartz is non-porous, does not require sealing, and is also heat resistant, chemical resistant, and fends off etches and scratches. In short, it’s a great selection for any high traffic area.
Travertine Countertops – Travertine, like quartz, is a combination of nature and technology for a durable surface. Travertine is a lighter colored natural stone often found around mineral springs. It is then combined with cement before it is smoothed and polished to give it a uniform surface that is suitable for food preparation. Travertine comes in both tile and slab forms, making a great choice if you desire a coordinated backsplash. Travertine is highly versatile and fits designs that are both sophisticated and rustic.
Venetian Marble Countertops - Venetian Marble countertops are an affordable, sophisticated, and durable alternative to cultured marble, tile, and natural stone. Venetian marble is recycled natural stone that is pressed and heated to create an environmentally friendly countertop option. This engineered marble surface gives you all the benefits of traditional marble slabs but at a fraction of the cost. Its engineered strength also makes it much more resilient than cultured marble. Easy to clean and highly sustainable, Venetian marble countertops are an ideal option for those looking for the elegance of marble and granite stones but desiring lasting durability and longevity.
With so many natural stone and manmade options to choose from, you should be able to find a countertop that matches your design preference, lifestyle and budget.
18. August 2014 20:23
Recently, we wrote about sophistication and how porcelain tiles like those in our Sophie Collection define it perfectly for a style that reflects worldly design know-how. This week, we’re taking a look at the Highland Park Collection and reflecting on the importance of pattern for a timeless style. Why is pattern so essential to design? What is it about a symmetrical look that pleases the eye, even in the simplest designs and colors, heightening our interest and turning a functional space into one we desire?
Humans, and some animals and insects (even bees and butterflies), are naturally attracted to pattern. We can understand why a bee would recognize pattern – after all, they need to be able to distinguish patterns to identify flowers from other things in nature. Humans, too, are considered a pattern-seeking species. This may stem from our earliest days, when we needed patterns to create and make sense of speech or to figure out how to navigate our way through a dense forest, detecting changes in pattern from the terrain, weather, and other signals to identify where we’ve been.
These types of colorful patterns are obvious. However, patterns of arrangement and repetition, without distinctive color markings, are also extremely pleasing to us visually. The patterns of the Highland Park collection are a perfect example. These high-end tiles are handcrafted into three perfectly selected colors with a beautiful weathered look to them for a timeless appeal. The subway tiles are enhanced with coordinating mosaic tiles cut into shapes like herringbone, hexagons, arabesque and brick shapes laid in simple but sophisticated patterns. Without any additional embellishment, they are subtle and striking. Some might explain the visual beauty of these simple patterns as an evolutionary progression. As a matter of survival, we learned over time to avoid chaos; therefore, simple patterns are calming – a visual moment of order in a disordered world. Structurally simple designs help us to feel more comfortable in our surroundings because they feel familiar, even if we’ve never seen them before, while complex patterns help us to feel camouflaged.
Akin to patterns, symmetry is also calming and attractive to many people. Studies have shown that we find things in nature to be more beautiful if they are symmetrical, like a beautiful face or the matching wings of that patterned butterfly. This ideal finds its way into design everywhere, from uniquely crafted architecture to how tiles are applied in a bathroom. Perfectly aligned tiles are calming as we sit back and enjoy a hot bath; strange patterns or misaligned tiles are distracting.
As much as we enjoy patterns, creating them in such a way that is pleasing rather than distracting is not always easy. This is why artisans craft mosaic tiles, to take out the guesswork and why MSI offers subway tiles cut for easy placement in beautiful, basic patterns. Paired with other natural stones, or arranged alone as patterns within patterns (such as a rectangular placement of a herringbone design within an expanse of subway tiles), the Highland Park Collection satisfies our natural desire for order with a hint complexity. That complexity fulfills our desire for texture and movement – things we also need for an overall appealing design.
Use the Highland Park Collection to create an environment specific to you, one with the symmetry we all desire and a pattern that is uniquely yours. Whether you select timeless field tiles for backsplashes, flooring or countertops for a simple application, or you select crowns and mosaics for more intricate patterns, MSI offers a complete line of tiles and mosaics, including subway tiles in a variety of sizes and shapes, to appeal to your basic desire for pattern, symmetry, texture and style.
11. August 2014 08:49
Whether it’s a small statement wall, a fireplace, or an expansive frame around your yard, natural stone will elevate any space, indoors or out. With ledger panels, the task of recreating your environment is easier than you might think. Natural stone slate tile, quartzite, sandstone, marble and travertine tile options are at your fingertips for an entirely new look that adds dimension.
Ledger panels are a great option for bringing nature into a design scheme. Not only are they fully comprised of natural stone, but they are designed with an appearance that is structured but authentic – smaller pieces, variant color and changing textures work together to achieve this look. They appear to be a fully layered stack of stone, like a random country wall or a gorgeous cliff side, though in reality they are sections of pre-arranged natural stone that are easy to maneuver, cut and interlock in place like puzzle pieces that transform surfaces. Ledger panels are a smart way to achieve myriad goals for your space:
Inside the home, in only takes a small project to make a big change. You can create a statement wall in your living room with a natural expression. Similarly, you can dress up an interior half wall that defines your spaces, while keeping an open layout and flow. Fireplaces can also be showcased easily, or you can make an entertainment room a true “man cave” with the addition of slate, sandstone, or travertine on one wall, throughout, or as a striking backsplash for the wet bar. In the bathroom, mix with other natural stone products like wood-look porcelain tile planks or granite countertops for an upscale bathroom that can handle the moisture. Whatever application you choose, your design will be beautifully authentic upgrade, as unique as each piece of ledger.
Ledgers outdoors, whether residential or commercial, are a way to incorporate sophistication into a natural landscape. You can use ledgers thoughtfully as enhancements, beautifully showcasing an outdoor fireplace or oven, turning ordinary flower boxes into garden showpieces, highlighting water features and encasing raised Jacuzzis or spas, and giving any vertical surface, including steps and corners, a finished appearance. Or, ledgers can help you alter the entire look – change the appearance of exterior stucco or cement block walls or add sophisticated columns with real stone for designing open, outdoor rooms that blend seamlessly into the environment. If you love ledgers for both inside and out, you may also wish to transition from your outdoor hardscape to your indoor foyer or mudroom with a consistent organic design. Choosing a stone and carrying it throughout makes sense visually but also makes your overall design scheme feel more authentic.
An experienced do-it-yourselfer can achieve a professional installation in just a few days, depending on the scale of the project. View MSI’s short video “Ledger Panel Installation Instructions” to see exactly how it’s done! A pro with all the right tools, paired with the consistent size and quality of MSI ledger panels, can complete a project even more quickly, saving you money.
Ledgers are a truly beautiful enhancement that must be seen to be appreciated! For more about MSI ledger panels and to see how they look in various applications, enjoy our other videos “Ledgers and Veneers” and “Ledger Panels in Outdoor Barbecues, Pools and Spas, & Water Features”.
23. July 2014 10:31
When a design is sophisticated, what do we mean by that? In terms of fashion and design, sophistication is more than an idea – it’s the execution of a feeling: educated, experienced, worldly. These are all synonyms that apply to a simple definition of sophisticated design. Sophistication does not point to a specific color, or even a mood or theme. It can be reserved or embellished, ultramodern or traditional, light or dark, chic or rustic. Instead, it is an impression that the design details are carefully planned by someone who is educated and experienced, who has traveled the world for inspiration and has earned his or her decorative savvy, and who, in short, knows how to piece together elements of a room like a master artist for an overall feeling of order and elegance from the largest expanses to the tiniest details. When it comes to material selections, the Sophie Porcelain Collection answers this person’s desire for effortless, sophisticated design – it is a full-bodied Italian porcelain tile crafted with natural inspiration.
In June, we posted an article about the Sophie Collection’s near opposite: The Salvage Porcelain Collection. Salvage Porcelain tiles are charming and rustic, intended for popular designs that incorporate the look of salvaged or reclaimed woods. These tiles are purposefully aged-looking for texture, warmth and nostalgia. The Sophie Collection of porcelain tile, however, is on the other end of the spectrum, reminiscent of Athens Grey marble with its long, wispy veins, and is set in a linear pattern that calls to mind the look of natural teak wood. Sophie Porcelain tile is intended for a highly sophisticated design, with a clean, fresh appearance in four beautiful neutrals: Anthracite, Grey, Maron, and White.
Of the two styles, the Sophie Porcelain collection is arguably the more versatile. It is adaptable to a variety of looks and pairs well with other materials, both rich and simple, whereas Salvage Porcelain adapts best to rural-inspired themes. Stone, wood, porcelain and glass coordinate easily with the neutral canvas Sophie Porcelain offers. This selection is typically employed as flooring throughout in popular 12x24” tiles and, like all of MSI’s porcelain tiles, is also suitable for countertops and backsplashes as it is durable and resistant to moisture. (To learn more about how porcelain tile is made and applied, refer to our article “Mimic the Look of Nature with Porcelain Tile”.)
More similar to the Sophie collection is the Ermosa line of porcelain tile. It was the first vein cut line of porcelain introduced in the ever popular 12x24 size, with a more pronounced veining that is both sophisticated and striking. It is such a popular option for statement areas that it in fact inspired the development of the Sophie collection. The Sophie collection, too, complements the entire porcelain line and gives customers another stunning vein cut offering, but it does so with softer colors and more subtle veining for a beautifully different take on an MSI classic. This softer style lends itself to modern or classic aesthetics and may be used generously for flooring or floor to ceiling wall expanses in the bathroom without competing with other elements.
Sophisticated design is surprisingly difficult to define. Rather, it is one of those things that we recognize when we see it. Sophie Porcelain is the epitome of sophistication, fashioned in a timeless style that embodies the notions of worldly travel and educated design choices. For other sophisticated material options – from natural stones like granite, marble, travertine and onyx to manmade treasures like porcelain tile and stunning quartz – visit the MSI Kitchen Visualizer and discover the many ways to make the flooring the focal point of any room. Play with cabinet color, flooring, countertops, and colorful mosaics to find the perfect sophisticated combination for your home!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.