October 14, 2019

The Perfect Finish For Your Slab

Gone are the days of the cookie-cutter highly polished speckled granite slabs adorning every newly crafted space. Today there are more choices of natural stone than ever before.

When choosing how to incorporate natural stone into your next space it is important to consider the different options of slab finishes.

Polished Finish:
The ​Natural Stone Institute​ categorizes a polished finish as a glossy surface that reflects light and emphasizes the color and markings of the material. Polished slabs will vividly reflect the details, variations of color and hue, and veining structure of the stone. A polished finish is reminiscent of a gleaming downtown office lobby, or a sleek modern apartment bathroom.

Honed Finish:
A honed finish creates a satin, smooth surface that has an incredible feel and timeless look. The soft matte surface reflects light differently than a polished finish so the depth of color and hue and the contrast in veining patterns often appear more muted and subtle. This finish is less slippery than a polished finish making it a superior choice for any flooring applications. A honed finish is the ideal choice for those looking to use marble in the kitchen because the matte sheen of the honed finish camouflages the dull marks left behind by etching from acidic products reacting with the calcium in marble and limestone.

Leathered Finish:
A leathered finish can elevate the beauty of a natural stone by drawing out the textural characteristics of the stone structure. A leathered finish is produced by removing the softer elements of the slab composition and is particularly effective on dramatic and exciting materials like quartzite. The luster of the stone may contain a trace of luminescence, but with a muted background similar to a honed finish. A leathered finish is a great choice for busy families who want peace of mind without sacrificing style.

The type of finish on your stone is dependent on your design aesthetic, the type of natural stone you have selected, and the application in which you use natural stone. Whichever finish you choose, United Marble has the experience and the equipment necessary to produce the perfect finish for your stone surface.

October 1, 2019

Quartzite vs Quartz – What’s the Difference?

If you are in the middle of a home design project, chances are you have seen the names quartzite and quartz both mentioned as on-trend luxury materials to use for countertops and surfacing. These two materials, while sounding similar, are radically different.

The largest difference is that quartzite is a natural stone quarried from the earth while quartz is a manmade product produced around the world in manufacturing factories.

Since quartzite is naturally occurring, the color palette is virtually endless. Quartzite is a metamorphic rock that is comprised mostly of the mineral quartz. All quartzite stone has undergone an exceptional heating and compression process which fuses the grains together forming a particularly dense and durable rock that will not etch from contact with acidic products commonly used in a kitchen or bathroom. Quartzites often display vivid and bold colors – hues of green, blue, iron-red, and deep ochre – making it a favorite of creative designers around the world.

Quartz is the overarching industry name for manufactured composite slabs produced by factories around the globe. The common formula for quartz slabs is ninety percent crushed quartz aggregate mixed together with resins, pigments, and polymers that bind the different materials together. This mixture is poured into a mold and pressed together to form a slab which is then baked in a process that involves heat and pressure to form the final slab. The use of pigments, polymers, and resins allow these brands to offer an extensive color palette that often mimics natural stone, particularly white marble. While quartz slabs have a low porosity resulting in strong stain resistance, they are not heat resistant as the polymers can melt and discolor when exposed to high heat resulting in cracks and burn marks.

Keep in mind that while your design aesthetic and your lifestyle should ultimately drive the final selection you make for your slab project, it is important to consult a stone professional on the benefits and drawbacks of each material type. A quick Google search will reveal an alarming amount of misinformation being perpetuated on the internet about both quartz and quartzite. If you have questions about ​quartzite​ or manufactured quartz, we encourage you to reach out to our team at United Marble for more information!

September 26, 2019

What are shop drawings and why do you need them?

Shop drawings are the set of plans we create to drill down on the details of the architectural and design team’s construction documents. These are the highly detailed drawings that are used to fabricate natural stone into your finished product.

Shop drawings help to provide clear communication between the Architect or Designer, the Contractor, and United Marble. We take all of the information from the construction documents, along with as-built field dimensions, meld all of those details with the design intent and create a set of drawings that outline how everything will be fabricated and installed. The information in the drawings include: type of material (including thickness and finish), edge details, overall dimensions, plan views, elevations, sections, and mounting and installation specifications. Once these drawings have been reviewed and approved, the fabrication process begins and production can flow seamlessly without having to stop and confirm any missing details or dimensions.

In the world of custom built homes, shop drawings are vitally important in ensuring that every detail is correct. From unique countertop edge profiles to stone moldings and custom fireplace mantels and surrounds, each dimension, reveal, curve, and finish must be determined before production can begin. Some details can be extremely complicated to engineer, and we need to make sure all of the information is accurate. Working all the details out in the shop drawing process is the only way to ensure everything has been thought through and is able to be fabricated effectively to make the incredible design ideas come to life in natural stone. By putting in the time and effort up front to produce the shop drawing set, costly mistakes can be avoided.

September 14, 2019

#Stonecation – Patagonia, Chile.

As summer is winding down it’s only appropriate that we gear up for a #Stonecation – this time we head to Patagonia, Chile. The Patagonia area covers the southernmost tip of South America and is shared by Argentina and Chile, divided naturally by the Andes mountains. The Chile area of Patagonia is home to the ​Capillas de Marmol, a​ series of sculpted marble caves situated in the middle of General Carrera Lake deep in the heart of Patagonia. The ​Cathedral​, the ​Chapel​, and the ​Cave​ are the three distinct formations of this natural wonder that has formed over the past six thousand years by the relentless action of the lake waves.

Hues of vivid blue including sapphire, seafoam greens, and turquoise captivate the minds of those daring to make the arduous trip to see the Marble Caves which are accessible only by boat. General Carrera Lake is glacier-fed and the abundance of glacial silt within the water plays a vital role in the brilliant blue color of the waters circling within the caves. Sunlight streaming into the cave openings reflects off the water, bathing the walls of the cave with brilliant shades and patterns of blue. Seasonality is an important factor in determining which blue colors you will see – in springtime the lower water levels wash the caves in a stunning turquoise, while the higher water levels of summer produce a deep and rich blue hue.