Oberlin, OH and Chestertown, NY, January 16, 2018—The Natural Stone Institute has entered into an agreement in Turkey with Marble 24: The International Natural Stone and Technology Fair, commonly referred to as the IZMIR Fair. The association will send a delegation of industry leaders to exhibit and provide educational seminars during the show.
Natural Stone Institute board member Bruce Knaphus (KEPCO+) commented: “Turkey represents approximately 33% of the world’s marble supply with more than 120 colors available. The IZMIR Fair attracts an attendance that is among the top three international trade shows. This is another opportunity for the Natural Stone Institute to further expand its international outreach regarding technical and educational resources.”
Marble 24’s Caner Özkan added: “Having the Natural Stone Institute participate in our Fair to provide education about the Dimension Stone Design Manual and Natural Stone Supplier-to-Buyer Manual will benefit stone companies in Turkey, as well as those around the globe.”
The 24th edition of the Fair will occur March 28-31, 2018.
Dazzling natural beauty on display at Antolini
At Coverings this month, show guests will have the opportunity to be wowed by fantastic natural stone exhibits at Antolini, booth #2270.
HAUTE NATURE is Antolini’s tribute to a designer who has provided the world with the most
fashionable creations: Mother Nature. Antolini’s most elaborate exhibition immerses guests in stunning examples of Mother Nature’s most marvelous natural stone masterpieces, displayed in innovative ways and often illuminated and backlit for fantastic effect.
The reception desk is made of Explosion Blue, accompanied by two Morsetto lamps designed by Alessandro La Spada, and a magnificent backwall made of Stratos Design | Explosion Blue with an insert of backlit Crystal Quartz.
The bar area features a counter in Amethyst “Original” and Bianco Lasa | Covelano “Vena Oro”
illuminated by two Amethyst “Original” chandeliers and a backwall featuring the same stones
as the counter.
The booth also features 12 large backlit Precioustone slabs, six non-backlit Precioustone slabs, six Shellstone slabs, and 56 stone strips in polished and leather finish.
Eight onyx coffee tables in different colors can be found throughout with white poufs for seating. A large
videowall plays Antolini studios. Fourteen stone busts are adorned with Lady A Precioustone jewelery.
A special room dedicated to Azerocare will feature Bronze Amani walls and a kitchen. The room is strictly reserved for customers accompanied by salespeople, and a demonstration of the revolutionary innovation of AzeroCare’s bulletproof protection against staining and etching for marbles, onyxes, and soft quartzites. For the very first time, the public will be able to see firsthand proof of the treatment’s efficacy.
Materials used include:
- Amethyst “Original” — For over 3,000 years it has been one of the gems that are most often used in jewelry and furniture, prized for its properties of “second sight,” and exuding a royal purple hue.
- Bianco Lasa | Covelano “Vena Oro” — This marble is uniform, compact, with fine-grain crystals and excellent physical properties. Bianco Lasa Covelano marble, is excellent to work with and can be easily mirror-polished to bring out its unique shine, color and transparency. Due to its good resistance to compression and bending, its ability to resist weathering and its hardness, it can be put to any use inarchitecture, construction and art.
- Quartzite Michelangelo — Beautiful veining characterizes this stone, combining both warm and cool tones.
- Fusion Wow | Original “Multicolor” – With the intense color of papayas and iridescent flares, this multicolor stone offers warm colors and exotic appearance.
- Fusion Wow | Original “Light” – This quartzite is perfect for adorning the most fascinating projects, with shades of green that spread like gentle waves or and windblown field. This wonderful natural stone, unique for its colors and stunning veining, is now offered in a world exclusive by Antolini.
- Fusion Wow | Original “Dark” – This quartzite captivates with a dappled blue appearance that is mysterious and deep.
- Invisible Grey — Much like a painting, the Invisible Grey stone effortlessly displays a unique and individual pattern that consists of an almost shattered, dramatic look, with delicate lines of dark grey contrasting against the light.
- Bronze Amani —This valuable and elegant natural stone comes from Spain, bringing warm and welcoming tones,which recall hints of bronze, and treating observers to three-dimensional characteristics that are formed from interlacing of various shades of color.
- Explosion Blue – This natural stone resembles a wave that creatively embraces the nocturnal sea-dark tones, slightly reflecting the gold threads of the moon.
- Crystal Quartz —Crystal Quartz preserves the intact beauty of spirituality. Able to capture the natural light and to produce extraordinary effects, this material has been considered in ancient times a god’s gift and so is today, as its healing properties are still effective. This natural stone has a magic allure that can be used as a perfect tool by the most visionary designers in search of a new harmony, conceptually as well as materially conceived.
For more information on these and other beautiful and spectacular Antolini materials, visit www.antolini.com
March 6, 2017 — In China, superstition and symbols are deeply rooted in the culture. Levantina is introducing this allusion to the millenary culture on the occasion of the Xiamen Stone Fair, one of the most important natural stone fairs in the world.
The stand of Levantina, leader European company, with the largest Crema Marfil Coto® marble quarry in the world, located in Alicante, attracts many visitors.
This exhibit is open to all visitors, and full of Asian symbology. The “good fortune in business” is the driver of this spectacular space in which symbolic allusions coexist:
– A large aquarium with 9 fish welcomes visitors and symbolizes wealth, abundance, and good luck.
– Inside, tables in the shape of Chinese coins foretell wealth and prosperity in business.
– A Peijing or Chinese bonsai provides harmony in a vital space.
All this in a nature environment, source of the wide collection of marble, granite, quartzite, limestones and sandstones. With all these materials, we have created a new sensory experience, the “stone tunnel”, conceived to “feel” natural stone through the senses: the sight of stunning images, the relaxing sound of nature and the delicate touch of its finishings.
Levantina is a world leader in production, transformation and marketing of Natural Stone. Born in 1959, they have the world’s largest deposit of Crema Marfil marble, located in Alicante. They currently own many quarries, 7 factories and 20 distribution warehouses. Their portfolio includes more than 200 different materials, among which national marbles and Brazilian granites stand out. They export to more than 100 countries all over the world. www.levantina.com
Levantina rocks with natural stone for commercial or residences
Levantina (levantina.com), the multinational Spanish-based provider of natural stone, is supplier to the world in terms of natural stone. A recent installation of natural stone at the acclaimed annual Starlite music festival and a stunning installation of Crema Marfil Coto® in a Texas residence demonstrated the breadth of natural stone products from this company.
Once again, natural stone products from the company were chosen by architect Héctor Ruiz-Velázquez to embellish the Starlite Marbella (starlitemarbella.com/en/) arts festival that took place in the Nagüeles quarry in Marbella in July and August 2016. He created an astonishing mix of luxury and glamor for the VIP reception area, which houses and becomes a social entrance hall for a very exclusive audience, with granite from the Natural Stone collections from Levantina starring at the welcome desk.
For Starlite 2015, the architect chose Levantina’s Crema Marfil Coto to adorn the area at Starlight. “After last year’s great experience with the Crema Marfil Coto marble, I wanted to evolve and apply stronger stone, with more personality,” said Ruiz, who is the art director of all international editions of the event. “That is the reason I chose granite, unique and exclusive, to provide the welcome desk with a dramatic character.”
The whole space seems extracted from the quarry, with chiseled walls and floors integrated with the natural setting with the natural setting and all architectural elements such as desk, bar and fireplace, seeming to rise out of the raw stone itself. The sensation extends from floor to ceiling, and offers a unique feeling of authenticity, exclusiveness and luxury.
Starlite transcends a simple open-air setting for concerts. It is a meeting place, a social and cultural reference for architecture, haute cuisine, movie premieres, fashion shows, art exhibitions and exclusive parties including a Starlite Gala benefit, hosted by Antonio Banderas.
Westlake, Texas home
In July 2015, 2,500 sq. ft. of Levantina’s Crema Marfil Coto was installed in a grand Westlake, Texas, residence. The homeowner wanted a grand and elegant setting for this new home, which include 18” x 18” and 24” x 24” Crema Marfil Coto tile and special cuts for the spectacular staircase crafted from slab.
With six factories in Spain and one in Brazil, Levantina’s facilities are equipped with the latest generation of technology and its production processes are subject to exhaustive checks to guarantee the highest quality of its finished materials, maintaining ISO 9001 in its facilities that the company’s commitment to the continuous improvement of its manufacturing resources. Levantina presently extracts more than 2.2 million m3 a year from its quarries, including the Monte Coto quarry in Alicante, Spain, from which this internationally famous Crema Marfil is extracted.
Logistics for this project were handled out of the company’s Dallas, open-to-the-public showroom. The company has U.S. locations in Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Austin and a new facility opening in Charlotte, N.C., this year.
Levantina is a world leader in production, transformation and marketing of natural stone. The multinational, born in 1959, has the world’s largest deposit of Crema Marfil marble, located in Alicante. Levantina has many quarries, seven factories and 25 distribution warehouses, with exports to more than 114 countries in the European Union, America, the Middle East and Asia. Levantina’s portfolio includes more than 200 different materials, among which Naturamia® Collection and Techlam® stand out.
Lessons from creating the labyrinth at Grace Episcopal Church in St. Helena, Calif.
Fr. William MacIlmoyl at Grace Episcopal Church had a secret dream. With retirement around the corner, he wanted to give his congregation lasting gift of silence. “Modern life is so stressed, so busy, we all need a way to bring more silence into our lives,” says “Fr. Mac.”
He felt the best way to do that was to build a labyrinth in front of the newly renovated sanctuary. “I walked my first labyrinth years ago,” Fr. Mac says. “I look at it as a yoga, a contemplative technique not unlike saying the rosary. For 20 minutes you allow your mind to sink into silence, to get away from the business of the day and come to center.”
Steve and Joan Heller also had a dream. Before Steve retired from General Mills, he and his wife purchased an 11-acre vineyard near St. Helena. After relocating there, they took a leadership position in the parish. Fr. Mac asked if they would make a donation as seed money for a labyrinth. To Fr. Mac’s surprise, within a week Steve and Joan not only agreed to use their donation for the labyrinth, but also to spearhead its construction. Steve immediately assumed the role of labyrinth construction coordinator and Joan lent support by setting up a labyrinth website as a way to create an open communication with the congregation about the project.
Robert Ferre recommends Creative Edge
While researching labyrinth construction design and techniques, the Hellers discovered the work of Robert Ferre, president of Labyrinth Enterprises and one of the founders of the Labyrinth Society. Steve contacted Robert by email and asked if he could recommend a company to construct the labyrinth. Robert replied: “If you want extraordinary work, go with Creative Edge Master Shop in Fairfield, Iowa, the country’s largest and oldest fabricator of architectural floors and landscapes using water jet technology.”
Creative Edge’s Ron Blair was in charge of the fabrication of the Grace Episcopal labyrinth. “This was my first labyrinth project, although Creative Edge has fabricated many labyrinths using a wide variety of materials, from granite to stone to vinyl and carpeting,” Blair said. “I learned early on that Fr. Mac wanted to replicate the Chartres labyrinth, making the project nearly 43’ in diameter.”
As a comparative religion major at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Blair studied the sacred geometry of the Chartres cathedral in France. It helped that Robert Ferre had already measured the Chartres labyrinth down to the 1/16”. In his generous way of making the labyrinth available to everyone, Ferre had given his perfectly measured CAD diagram to Creative Edge, so the design was already completed.
Creative Edge President/CEO Jim Belilove and his wife, Ginger, traveled to St. Helena to meet Fr. Mac and Steve and see the site. Fifteen months after the initial meeting, the ground was prepared and the granite was cut by Creative Edge waterjet machines into the curving shapes that fit together like puzzle pieces, creating a perfect replica of the mystical Chartres labyrinth at Grace Episcopal Church.
Reaching consensus on stone and color
From the start, Fr. Mac and Steve wanted to reach consensus with the entire congregation. “One of the things you learn as a church pastor – you have to collaborate,” says Fr. Mac. “We didn’t want a single member of our congregation to feel uncomfortable with the colors or materials we’d chosen. And when we started, probably 98% of the congregation didn’t even know what a labyrinth was.”
Getting an entire congregation to make color and stone choices – rather than one or two decision-makers – made Blair’s task as project manager more complex. Steve handled communications with the congregation, but it took three or four rounds – nine months – to come to a consensus.
That brings us to the next principle of the labyrinth: Go at your own pace. When walking a labyrinth, it’s not a race to reach the goal. As in any spiritual pilgrimage, it’s an inner journey that unfolds as slowly or quickly as it needs to.
Steve said, “For starters, the Grace Episcopal Church is a beautiful structure dating back to the 1800s, made of tufa, volcanic rock. In the process of tripling the size of the sanctuary in recent years, the congregation chose, with great care, to keep true to the original architecture. They even located the original local tufa quarry where the original building stones were sourced. “Now, with the labyrinth, we are adding 1,400 square feet of hard-scaping within 10’ of this cherished building, almost touching it. So we didn’t want the labyrinth colors to be too starkly contrasting or too contemporary. We wanted it to look organic.
“Tufa is a golden color with rose and brown tones. So there were some members who thought an earthy, golden limestone labyrinth would match the beautiful golden tufa of the building. This is where the experience of Creative Edge saved us from making an expensive mistake. Ron gently steered us away from that choice, explaining that in their experience, limestone is easily stained. For durability, he suggested granite.
Guidance from Creative Edge ensures walking safety
“But polished granite can be slippery when wet,” Steve continued. “Ron explained that for safety reasons, the surface had to be roughened by applying a high-temperature flame treatment to create tiny chips in the stone. Though necessary, this process takes away some of the beauty of polished granite. So to get some of the beauty back, a high-pressure water treatment is applied to smooth it out a bit.
“So every time we chose a sample on a website, we had to have the granite supplier apply these treatments,” Steve explained. “It would come back to us looking quite different than the web photo due to the treatments, sometimes for the better, but sometimes for the worse. We also learned that granite comes in two thicknesses – 3 cm and 2 cm – but only the 3 cm granite would work for our project.”
Blair also narrowed granite choices to North American quarries, since nobody wanted to wait several years for the granite to be shipped from overseas. The quarries had to have sufficient amounts available so all the slabs could come from the same lot, ensuring that they would match each other.
Steve added, “We knew there would be two colors, one light and one dark, and once we had selected three samples for each color, I’d place them at the entryway of the sanctuary. Then I’d wait for 10 people to gather, and I’d write down their reactions. After about 10 of these gatherings, I’d have enough information to choose the next round of samples. “
Steve’s process was one of listening for consensus. “It was subjective. We went through three or four evolutions of samples before we got what we wanted: two beautiful colors of granite, Crystal Gold for the path and Masabi Black to outline the edge of the path. It was a great feeling, because by the fourth round, 90 to 95% of the people said ‘you’ve nailed it.’”
A joyful experience
Blair stated, “Even though this process certainly took a lot longer than normal, working with Steve and Fr. Mac and seeing the process unfold was a joyful experience. There was something special about having the entire congregation take part in the process. They did a marvelous job and came up with a wonderful palette.”
Even the fundraising was easy. With the generous seed money from the Hellers, the rest of $250,000 came almost immediately. One member of the congregation, Jonathan Plant, donated the services of his landscape architecture company to position and landscape the labyrinth.
Fr. Mac says that when he walks a labyrinth, he stays in the center until it’s time to go. “It’s a time of receiving, of divine union,” he said. “We remember who we are at the deepest level, which is God.” He continued, “The labyrinth is a great teacher. Every time there are different lessons. Every time I go into the center and offer myself to God in whatever ways are useful. Some of them are conscious and some unconscious, but I come away with insights and answers.”
When asked to share his hopes for the labyrinth at Grace Episcopal Church, Steve said, “I hope it’s a place where people find spiritual safety, relaxation, and peace. I see it as a prayerful place, a place where people can learn about meditation.” Steve also wants to encourage people to move ahead with their labyrinth plans no matter what their budget. “I first walked a labyrinth made of canvas,” he said,“I saw one that was made of old shoes. You can buy kits to make a labyrinth out of patio pavers. Money does not have to be a barrier. It’s up to your imagination.”
“At Creative Edge, we are happy to help anyone build a labyrinth,” concluded Belilove. “Our waterjet machines can cut intricately curved designs out of costly granite or marble, medium-cost paving stones or terazzo, low-cost vinyl or carpet. In other words, no matter what your budget or materials, we can create it.
As for Fr. Mac, he is a happy man. By the time he retires next May, he will have experienced the joy of walking the labyrinth at Grace Episcopal Church many times – a “cherished dream coming true,” he said. He will have witnessed the members of his congregation enjoying the peace and stillness that a labyrinth journey brings.
And, he is hoping, the community will have unlocked its secrets as well. “Grace Episcopal Church has built this labyrinth as much for the community as for our congregation,” says Fr. Mac. He recently received a call from a fifth grade teacher asking if she can bring her class once the labyrinth is finished, and says they welcome schoolchildren, seniors, veterans – anyone and everyone in the community. Father Mac says, “We are looking forward to sharing this beautiful experience with people who have never walked a labyrinth before, who may arrive without a clue of what to expect and yet can experience sacred moments of awakening and peace.”
Institute memberships approve MIA+BSI two-year joint venture
In December 2015, it was announced that the memberships of the Marble Institute of America (MIA) and the Building Stone Institute (BSI) have voted to enter into a two-year joint venture. Effective January 1, 2016, the combined organization, MIA+BSI, the Natural Stone Institute, began operating as a consolidated organization. Each organization will also maintain its individual identity during the two-year period.
2015 BSI president Rob Barnes (Dee Brown, Inc.) remarked, “This joint venture, with its combined equity, will provide additional value to the industry and its members. MIA+BSI will ensure our continued relevance as we work together to become the world’s premier natural stone association.”
2015 MIA president Dan Rea (Coldspring) agreed, “I believe this is tremendously important for the stone industry. The time is right for likeminded people across the industry to join efforts to defend and grow the use of natural stone.”
In 2016, MIA+BSI will focus on five key initiatives, in addition to the myriad of ongoing programs underway for each organization:
Introduction of Dimension Stone Design Manual, Version 8, which includes additions pertaining to restoration and maintenance. Technical committees will be formed to expand references to thin stone and flagstone paving in the manual.
Addition of safety programs for quarriers (in addition to extensive current offerings available for fabricators, installers, and stone distributors).
Launch a Natural Stone Promotional Campaign.
Development of industry advocacy groups.
An expanded legislative outreach program.
The Board of Directors and staffs of both organizations are reviewing and combining operations and are excited to begin putting plans to action immediately. More information regarding the MIA+BSI joint venture will be available soon. The first joint presence occurred at TISE West in Las Vegas.
Learn more at www.marble-institute.com and www.buildingstoneinstitute.org.
The Marble Institute of America (MIA) recently released the From the Quarry to the Kitchen video. This educational video, presented in an easily-accessible, consumer-friendly format, features all new content and offers a behind-the-scenes look at where natural stone comes from and how it is used. The video is ideal for showroom displays and is perfect for sharing on company websites and social media. It provides “beneficial information on the entire process, from how natural stone is quarried, cut, and installed, to how it adds beauty and value to your home,” said Carol Payto of Mont Granite, where portions of the video were filmed.
From the Quarry to the Kitchen reflects current stone trends and highlights natural stone’s availability and affordability. “Consumers are always interested in learning where their natural stone comes from,” added Stephanie Guilfoyle, MIA Controller and Office Manager. “It is fascinating for them to see the journey each stone takes before becoming part of their home.”
From the Quarry to the Kitchen is available for purchase through the MIA Bookstore and is available to non-members. MIA members receive preferred pricing and can order customized versions that feature their company logo as well as an encoded social media file. For more information on availability and pricing, visit www.marble-institute.com.
The Marble Institute of America (MIA) recently honored AKDO as “CEU Educator of the Year” for presenting the most MIA CEU classes in 2014. 19 speakers from the Bridgeport, CT, company presented 61 classes, with a total of 747 attendees. CEU class topics included:
· Natural Stone 101: Everything You Need to Know about the World’s Oldest Building Material
· Natural Stone & Green Design
· Marble Use in the Kitchen
· Stone Care: What You Should Know
MIA CEU classes are designed for architects, designers, and construction professionals to gain continuing education credits to satisfy yearly requirements set by associations including AIA, IDCEC, LACES, NKBA, and GBCI.
Robert Bacon (Daltile), chair of MIA’s CEU Education Committee, said: “Congratulations to AKDO for leading the continuing education charge in 2014. In fully embracing MIA’s CEU program, AKDO has illustrated a true understanding of the mutual benefits available through this program.”
Diane Hayden, AKDO’s showroom supervisor, stated: “AKDO strives to be a go-to source for information about natural stone, and partnering with MIA helps us accomplish our goals. It’s exciting to work with MIA. There is a constant flow of new information and research that benefits our entire industry, and AKDO is grateful for that.”
MIA’s CEU program benefits the natural stone industry as well as the architecture, design, and construction communities. “The general goal is to help these professionals become more knowledgeable on stone and its uses for building and design,” said Sarah Gregg, MIA CEU Administrator. “They become better equipped to answer consumer questions regarding stone. The CEU class attendees are more likely to promote and specify stone for future installations.” Bacon agrees: “Promoting the proper use of genuine stone in construction projects is vital for the continued success of the stone industry.”
Hayden spoke highly about the benefits of joining the MIA CEU speaker’s bureau: “Participating in the speaker’s bureau has resulted in stronger relationships with the designers, architects, and industry professionals we work with day-to-day, because they know we can help with their stone questions.”
For more information about MIA’s CEU program, and to learn how to join the speaker’s bureau or schedule a presentation, please visit www.marble-institute.com/ceu.
The Marble Institute of America (MIA) has served as the authoritative source of information on standards of natural stone workmanship and practice and the application of natural stone products for 70 years. Membership in the association is worldwide and includes over 1,700 natural stone producers, exporters/importers, distributors/wholesalers, fabricators, finishers, installers, and industry suppliers in 55 countries committed to the highest standards of workmanship and ethics. MIA offers an industry accreditation program for fabricators and installers, markets a range of technical publications and consumer pamphlets on natural stone, sponsors business and technical meetings and seminars on industry-related topics, provides educational programming for architects and construction specification professionals, and conducts the annual Pinnacle Awards competitions recognizing outstanding natural stone projects worldwide. More information can be found on the association’s website: www.marble-institute.com.
Chestertown, NY, and Oberlin, OH, June 9, 2015 – The Building Stone Institute (BSI) and Marble Institute of America (MIA) will jointly host a 2015 study tour with Washington, DC as the backdrop for a 3-day event immersed in its rich heritage of natural stone. Registration is open for this event, with an early bird registration discount available until July 31st.
This is not the first time these two leading stone associations have come together to host a study tour. Both collaborated on a Vermont study tour in 2011, as well as individually leading tours over the past several years to places such as Minnesota, Texas, Colorado, Banff, Alberta (Canada), and Georgia. The study tours offer a unique combination of classroom and field-trip experiences about natural stone.
The Washington, DC event dates (November 15-18, 2015) immediately precede Greenbuild’s Expo which affords stone professionals an opportunity to extend their learning experience and see what other building products are competing with natural stone in the green building marketplace.
Tour highlights include many member-led, open forum workshops; tours of the MLK and FDR memorials and other monuments; a visit to the National Cathedral for a presentation on earthquake repairs and routine restoration efforts; and an interactive “Stone Experience” at Luck Stone Center in Sterling, VA.
Peter Miller, Vice President, Publisher, and General Manger of the Home Group of Active Interest Media (AIM) – whose work serves the information needs of old house owners, architects, contractors, building owners, developers and facilities managers who do residential and non-residential historic preservation and traditional building – will speak on trends in the building and design communities.
Participants will also have an opportunity to attend two MIA “Women in Stone” facilitated programs. The “Stone Experience” Workshops will feature hands-on learning stations including:
· Thin Veneer Stone
· Anchored Stone
· Stone Architectural Carving
· Stone Letter Carving
· Care and Maintenance
· Splitting and Trimming
· Dry Stone Wall Building
· Building Stone Geology
· Stone Tools
Early event sponsors include Custom Building Products, EuroStone Machine USA, Luck Stone Center, Miles Supply, Park Industries, Rock of Ages, and Stone Source. The stone experience workshops are being hosted by Red Leaf Stone Anchors, Manassas Granite & Marble, Coldspring and Northern Stone Supply, Custom Building Products, Tompkins Bluestone, The Stone Store, Rundle Rock Building Stone, and Trow and Holden.
Registration information for this joint MIA-BSI event can be found at: www.buildingstoneinstitute.
About the Marble Institute of America
For over 70 years the Marble Institute of America (MIA) has been the world’s leading information resource and advocate for the natural dimension stone industry. MIA members include marble, granite, limestone, sandstone, and other natural stone producers and quarriers, fabricators, installers, distributors, and contractors in over 55 countries around the world. www.marble-institute.com
About the Building Stone Institute
Since 1919, the Building Stone Institute (BSI) has worked on behalf of a diverse membership, representing all aspects of the natural stone industry. BSI provides resources, programs, and services that empower member companies to offer the highest level of quality products and services and to educate the architectural and design communities on the benefits and uses of natural stone. For more information visit www.buildingstoneinstitute.org
The pros and cons of using natural
travertine on floors and walls
By Lesley Goddin
Our stone story originates from a dilemma from a homeowner who purchased high-end, travertine stone flooring with a “very natural, pitted surface.” The vendor provided a list of suggested installers, one of which the homeowner selected. The installer set the travertine tile and grouted the pits in the travertine floor as well as the joints between tiles, filling in all the natural holes with grout.
The homeowner was livid. “I spent the extra money to buy the natural pitted stone and this installer has altered the product, making a unilateral decision to grout the entire surface, doing away with the pitting effect,” he said. “I understand that it is simpler to grout the entire surface than to only grout the seams. But, this was not my expectation at all. Can you help me understand if there is a way to remove the grouted pits without damaging the original character of the stone floor? Or, do you have any other suggestions or opinions about these unexpected actions?”
This question came through the NTCA technical department, and the answer was not what the homeowner expected.
Michael Whistler, NTCA presenter and trainer responded that he had encountered this situation many times during his years as a tile contractor. And though he agreed the tile contractor should have consulted with the homeowner before grouting the entire floor, he took the contractor’s part in the wise decision to fill the holes with grout.
He explained, “My company was asked many times to leave the faces of unfilled travertine ungrouted, and in all but one case we were able to convince the client that this was a very unwise decision.
“Most travertine comes filled (with a cementitious or epoxy filler) from the factory for a good reason,” he added. “Except in very unusual situations, tile receives traffic or use of some sort that requires cleaning. When trying to clean unfilled travertine, all those voids become contaminated and eventually filled with dirt or other unsanitary (and unsavory) stuff.
“In the case of our very insistent client, we bagged the joints masonry style and left the faces unfilled,” Whistler continued. “This project was very high-end and included over 4,000 sq. ft. of unfilled travertine flooring. Within three months of owner occupation, we received a call that there was a problem. Cleaning of the floors had begun with standard mopping practices, and then been stepped up to mopping followed by a wet-vacuum. The pits in the travertine were unable to be cleaned, and were quickly filling up with soap residue, which unfortunately attracted the dirt more quickly. Since we were at this point unable to grout over the contaminated stone (because grout won’t bond to soap or dirt), we had to move all the furnishings, protect all the other finishes (walls, baseboard, etc.) and steam clean and wet-vacuum all the floors before re-grouting.
“As you can probably imagine, going back and properly cleaning and filling the faces of the tiles with grout matching that in the joints added up to quite a sum,” he said. “I think you actually got lucky that your installer was smart, and couldn’t imagine that you would want your tile any other way.”
To further investigate this situation, TileLetter requested the expert opinion of Rod Sigmon, CTC, CCTS business development manager, Technical Installation and Care Systems for Custom Building Products.
He explained that most clients are looking for easy-care floors, and a travertine floor that is left unfilled “is not a great choice for most customers, as maintaining it is very impractical,” he said, echoing Whistler’s perspective. “Dirt and other common contaminants will fill the voids once placed into use and will become unsightly and virtually impossible to clean short of a pressure washer and truck mounted system that large cleaning and maintenance companies use.”
Sigmon suggested using care to fill the pits in travertine. “In essence the grout ties in the joints with the fill and it looks more consistent,” he said. “I have literally seen pinkish/red fill used on cream-colored travertine many times for whatever reason.” Because of this, he said, “unfilled travertine sometimes is installed to avoid this type of potential issue.”
There is another option to unfilled travertine, and that is having the pits filled with a clear epoxy or resin material, then sealing the stone. But Whistler reiterates, “In my experience, all filled travertine tiles I’ve seen were filled with a colored material, mostly well-matched to the stone, others quite poorly. The only times I have encountered travertine filled with a clear epoxy was in 2cm or 3cm slabs. This was only occasional though, as most of the travertine slabs we bought were filled using the same material as tiles. On one project, we actually special-ordered the slabs and tiles cut from the same blocks and specified that the same batch of filler be used on all material since the client was VERY picky.”
In the case of walls, Whistler said, “Walls do not receive the extensive traffic that floors are subject to, but walls do become soiled and require cleaning.”
One thing is clear from this discussion – talk to the client about the maintenance and installation particulars of unfilled travertine, ideally before purchase, but certainly before installation. Communicating with your client will eliminate shocking surprises and lead to exceeded expectations.