How History Plays into Home Design and Stone Care
In home design, there is no right and wrong answer for what stones to use. Every stone has its own personality, history, and purpose, and many people find themselves drawn to one type of stone in particular. For many, stone care goes beyond just home maintenance but is a part of the joy of owning as well. Here at JC Marble Restoration, we have no bias – even if Marble is in our name. Our goal is to inform our customers so they can make the best decisions possible and then we can help them maintain the highest standard of stone care.
It is important not only to understand the strengths of a stone or material but also its history. Where a stone is from, where it has been used, and what it conveys are as big a part of choosing one as is the cost. Here are some of the most popular materials and the histories behind them.
Granite’s history in architecture and home design goes all the way back to ancient Egypt. Egyptians used the stone more than any other kind, often for simple structures like windowsills, doorframes, as well as floors and walls. Granite’s legacy has survived far beyond Egypt though, being used as a status symbol in Victorian Britain in many commercial buildings. It has survived into modern times as a symbol of elegance and was even used in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.
For homes, granite is often chosen for its strength and its earthen appearance. It looks more pebbled than other stones like marble, and its natural strength is appealing to many. It is a solid stone that is more likely to crack than crumble, but this solidity is also what many find appealing.
Marble is the gold standard in stone. Dating back to ancient Greece, marble has a history of elegance and luxury above all other stones in the world. Countless sculptures were carved of marble for its softness and its waxy appearance. The chemical makeup of the stone allows light to penetrate it deeper than many stones, which gives it an almost organic quality. It is this beauty that makes many of the figures carved of marble come to life. It is one of the reasons why statues like Michelangelo’s David have persisted for so long.
It is, however, a delicate stone. Its swimming, elegant appearance underlies the stone’s tenderness, and homes that use marble should be ready to observe proper stone care for this material. Routine maintenance will keep marble looking fresh and pure, just as it has for thousands of years.
Limestone is often chosen for its warmth, color, and cost. Historically, it was used frequently in the Middle Ages and into the modern era for many commercial properties like banks and train stations. It is easy to work with stone, and its neutral tone and warm hue have made it popular among many.
Limestone can resemble marble but without its almost creamy appearance. It is often chosen to fit with a kitchen theme or aesthetic, though it too can be sensitive. It is highly reactive to acids, so things like wines and fruit juices can easily damage it if it is not properly sealed. It sits as a cheaper alternative to many stones, but one that still needs to be cared for.
While limestone and granite have natural appearances, terrazzo is more widely known for its patterned appearance. It was created in Italy in the 18th century using marble fragments and cement. It did not gain widespread popularity, however, until it came to America in the early 20th century. It is a composite material that is poured and set instead of carved from solid blocks or slabs. Because of its more controlled creation, it is relied on for many commercial structures in patterns and images, as it makes them seem more vibrant and less bland.
A good example of terrazzo flooring can be found on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The speckled appearance of the black terrazzo gives the Walk an appearance more like outer space than a simple black would. Terrazzo is also far less sensitive than its stone counterparts, so outdoor walkways or paths are also favorites for terrazzo.
No stone can more readily impart the feeling of a location than travertine. Even for those that don’t know the name, they know travertine. It is most commonly associated with Italy and Turkey, but for many people, it brings to mind Tuscan villas, European homes on the sides of hills, and quaint countrysides.
Travertine imparts all of the sensations of a relaxed and older lifestyle, and it is still used to convey a sensation and feeling. Los Angeles’s Getty Center prominently utilizes travertine as does the famous Colosseum in Italy.
Travertine is durable, heavy, and cold. Although it can seem easy to repair, stone care for travertine can be complicated. Travertine’s durability and hardness can make it a frustrating process without an expert nearby.
No matter the choice you make for your home, it is best to understand that a different level and kind of stone care will go into each one. That’s why we recommend you get a free consultation if you have any questions about stone type, care, or quality. Call us at (310) 396-5970 so we can get you started on the right foot.