Few things say style and sophistication like a genuine marble floor. We tend to associate marble floors with wealth, and they are one of the more expensive flooring options available. However, as with any home improvement project, the amount of added value will nearly always far outweighs the initial expense.
In years past, many homeowners thought of marble floors as being a design element only suitable for formal areas. Perhaps the most traditional application is the marble-floored entryway.
Today, however, designers and homeowners are becoming more creative with marble than ever before. Marble kitchens in unexpected places, such as kitchens and bathrooms, are a very hot trend right now. With the wide range of colors available, this look can work with any dècor.
If you like the sleek, stark look of a black-and-white kitchen, a black marble floor can be the striking final touch which really makes your kitchen stands out from the crowd. On the other hand, if you have a rustic kitchen done in warm tones, you can find a rich brown marble that will complement your style perfectly. One of today's biggest trends is actually to buck the trend and completely follow your own style. Thanks to the range of colors and natural designs available, virtually any style can be accommodated, whether it's a traditional black entryway or a shimmering pink bath!
Marble tiles are usually rather thin, and so installation requires some careful forethought. If your sub-floor is uneven, fix it before installing marble floor tiles. While marble is renowned for its durability, an uneven base can create weak spots, which can result in cracks. If you're installing a marble floor in a very busy area, such as a kitchen or entryway, ask your contractor for the very highest-grade marble available, as these materials are slightly more durable.
Caring for your marble floor is remarkably simple. With only a polishing every two years or so, your marble will shine for years to come. When grouting marble tiles, look for sand-less grout. A cleaning solution which is pH-neutral is also a wonderful way to pamper your marble. These cleaners can be found online, as well as in many retail stores which specialize in natural-stone products.
Available in a wide variety of colors, amazingly durable and undeniably beautiful, granite is a wonderful alternative to marble flooring. It costs less in most cases, but delivers all the unique appeal of natural stone. Caring for granite is as easy as caring for marble.
Decorative Flooring Options
Whether you choose granite or marble for your floor, you may be intimidated by the cost. While these floors do pay for themselves when it comes to resale value and durability, they're simply not in the range of possibilities for many households today.
However, if you can't afford an entire natural-stone floor, there's no reason to give up your visions of granite or marble! Many homeowners have discovered that creating a decorative floor by utilizing marble or granite is cost-effective, stunningly beautiful, and surprisingly simple.
There are many manufactured stone products available, and also natural stones which are very similar in appearance to granite and marble (limestone and treated concrete are current trendy favorites). When combined, these less-expensive materials can become the perfect backdrop for a granite or marble decorative addition.
Borders are a popular way to do this. You can create dramatic color interplay by installing a main floor in one color and surrounding it with a border of natural marble or granite in a complementary shade.
Accent tiles or medallions are a very traditional way to use marble and granite as well. These pieces aren't for the faint of heart, but when placed with some careful design, they can be truly stunning. Entryways are traditional sites for accents and medallions, but many trend-savvy homeowners are using them in kitchens, baths and even living spaces for a very eye-catching and stylish look.
Natural Stone Countertops
Countertops are as popular as floors when it comes to popular applications for granite and marble. These materials are durable, attractive, and can upgrade the entire appearance of a kitchen or bath.
Just as with marble or granite flooring, countertops made of these materials require a bit of planning. They are heavier than most other countertop options, and so you need to ensure that the structure holding the counter up is strong enough. If it's not, play it safe and strengthen or replace any weak spots.
If you're confused or undecided between granite and marble, keep in mind that most experts consider granite to be the more durable of the two materials. On kitchen surfaces, this can be a crucial element, since kitchen countertops usually take quite a beating over the years. Marble also has a tendency to stain. If you do a lot of cooking, you may want to look more closely at granite. Don't worry about losing options when it comes to color or design; granite is available in the same wide array of colors as marble.
For bathroom countertops, marble makes a bit more sense. These surfaces don't deal with the abuse common to kitchen counters, and so they are better suited to marble's slightly more delicate composition.
Lesser-Utilized Stone Applications
While marble and granite floors and countertops are traditional methods of bringing these beautiful natural materials into your home, they're by no means the only ways. With today's custom stone products, some amazingly unique pieces can be created.
In the kitchen, creating a granite island is a very trendy project right now. It's a great way to bring this beautiful material into your home in a very visible way. Even better, it's a way to utilize granite without breaking the bank. While a custom-designed piece will always cost more, it can be designed to fit into your kitchen dècor perfectly. In addition, you can always purchase ready made â€œtopperâ€ slabs in common sizes; these are usually much expensive.
Creating a decorative back-splash behind your kitchen sink is a very popular project. With just a few square feet of marble or granite tile, you can create a truly unique and gorgeous focal accent for your kitchen. The same application is very popular behind the cook-top or range.
In the bathroom, two very trendy applications for granite and marble are tub and shower surrounds. These pieces are nearly always custom-created, and so they are pricier ways to use stone. However, the value they add, both financially and visually, definitely pays off.
A very big trend in home improvement in general is to bring luxury home. In today's economy, homeowners are putting money into their existing homes, instead of planning to build something new. This has resulted in a slew of breathtakingly luxurious design plans, many of which have incorporated every cost-saving effort imaginable. Do your research and look around. You'll likely be very pleasantly surprised at just how much you can afford.
Finding the Right Contractor
When working on any home-improvement project, it's essential to find a reputable, experienced and knowledgeable contractor. This is your home, after all, and you want the best for it. A sub-standard job will only leave you frustrated, and most likely with extra costs. A quality job, on the other hand, will result in security and years of enjoyment. It's easy to see why it pays off to do thorough research when choosing a contractor.
Websites which connect contractors with consumers are a wonderful place to start. Through these websites, you can see a contractor's licenses and insurance (in many cases), as well as read reviews from former clients just like yourself.
Once you've narrowed your selection down to a few contractors, be sure to double-check licensing and insurance, as these are crucial elements for safety and legal reasons. Be sure to sit down and talk through the entire project as well. Ensure that all your questions are answered satisfactorily, and that you and your contractor have an (identical) clear idea of how the project will proceed. This helps to avoid potentially costly delays once work has begun.
Since marble and granite are specialty materials, you may find yourself dealing with several sets of workers or several contractors. For example, a custom-created granite tub surround is usually cut by a retail outlet which specializes in natural stone. That outlet may or may not employ skilled workers to install the tub surround. You may even need to hire a third set of workers to ensure that the supporting structures are strong enough to support the heavy granite piece.
This all may sound like a lot, but there's no reason to be intimidated. Simply plan your project out step by step, and keep in close contact with your contractor throughout the project itself. This will help to ensure that any issues are resolved quickly, and that you're left with a marble or granite addition which you truly love.Posted by: Diane Sheppard