Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!


LIGHT CHISEL – Used primarily for exterior cladding on buildings and landscape walls.  Could be used at the lower part of a building or column and honed or bush-hammered for the upper part.  Another choice would be for interior walls adding texture to the same stone used on a honed floor.
HEAVY CHISELAlso know as pineapple finish for it’s resemblance to the skin of that fruit.  Mostly used for exterior building cladding and landscape wall applications.  This is a great choice for the back of a fountain, the flowing water down the heavy chisel is wonderful.
SPLIT LINE On a rough surface, lines are etched into the stone.  A modern look can be created by installing the stone with the lines on the vertical. 
SPLIT FACE – The Getty Museum is an example of split face and honed travertine.  Over 108,000 square meters of  Classic Roman travertine from the Lippiello family quarry at Bagni di Tivoli were used at the Getty Center.  The Roman Coliseum was clad in travertine from the same area, you can visualize the huge Coliseum clad in brilliant stone when you look at the Getty Center perched on the hillside.  When a stone is split along its natural bedding plane the backs of the stone vary in thickness and make intallation impossible.  In order to create a uniform thickness, an automated guillotine was created by Mariotti to cut the backs off the stone.  The honed tiles on the ground are actually the backs of the split-faced wall cladding.
TUMBLED Travertine is the most common stone that is tumbled.  Backsplashes are painted on tumbled Botticino or Crema Marfil marble, so sometimes a match of the material is more of a design choice.  Double thick pieces are placed in a cement mixer with rocks to knock off the sharp edges.  The tumbled pieces are sawn in half to make the tiles.  Some of the pieces are left intact and used as pavers.  The travertine tiles are full of holes which is the nature of the stone, however, these holes are filled with grout.  Because of the breakage in the tumbling process the larger tiles of 18″ X 18″ are hard to find and expensive.  I don’t recommend tumbled travertine on the floor, especially in high traffic areas, the grout fills are soft, can crack and then fill up with dirt.  The maintainance may outweigh the design choice in the short run.  Tumbled is fine for walls and backsplashes.


POLISHEDThe most common factory finish for marble and granite, some limestone, travertine and quartzite. The marble and granite are buffed to a high gloss finish. Travertine is softer and very few will hold a high gloss finish and will show traffic patterns over time. Quartzite has a few colors that can be polished and some come in solid surface slabs in addition to the tiles. It takes twice as many buffing machines to polish granite as opposed to marble. (Photo is polished silver shine quartzite.)

HIGH HONEFinish between polished and honed.  Found on travertine, limestone and quartzite.  Not a high reflective polish but more reflective than honed.

HONEDSmooth dull finish available on tiles and some slabs. Some clients don’t like the shine of granite and honing the stone may make the counter top surface more acceptable.  Honed black granite is a softer look than the polished and is perfect for arts and crafts decor.  Polished would be perfect for traditional or modern.   Honed granite can sometimes appear dusty, always have a small piece honed before you make a final decision. Limestone and travertine are most commonly produced honed.  Brazillian slate comes in both tiles and slabs in a smooth honed finish.

SAWN Diamond saws are used to cut the stone, in a sawn finish the raw saw teeth marks are left in the stone. The best examples of sawn finishes are found on the back side of slabs.  If the stone went through the next step with polishing heads the stone would be honed.
NATURAL CLEFTSlate and quartzite come in natural cleft.  Both should be sealed before grouting, it will save hours of cleanup time.  Natural cleft if great for outdoor patios and pool areas.  Quartzite does not hold heat the same way that slate does so pool areas stay cooler underfoot.  Slate is not recommended for outdoors in snow or freezing temperatures it has a tendency to flake off the surface.  Natural cleft slate comes in lots of thicknesses from 1/4″ to 1″.  Gauged slate is where the back is ground down and ranges in thickness from 3/8″ to 5/8″.  You pay more for the Gauged, but it is much easier and cheaper to install than the natural.  Flagstone can also be included under natural cleft, the difference is the irregular shape of the pieces as opposed to the tiles.  Flagstone comes in crates that cover 200 to 240 square feet. 

BRUSHEDFactory finish where course wire rotary brushes are used on stone to slightly dig out some areas.  This is also know as an antique finish as it resembles the wear patten on old reclaimed stone.  The limestone shown on right is Jerusalem Gold.   

ACID WASHMuriatic acid is used in different strengths to wash the stone.  The acid dissolves crystal veins and soft spots on the face of the stone creating an antique finish very similar to the brushed. I’ve found this process to be most effective with Crema Marfil, Emperador Light and Dark and Rojo Alicante.

BUSH-HAMMEREDA mechanical hammer hits the stone’s face to create a dimpled surface.  Textures will vary from very subtle to rough.  Bush-hammered surfaces are used as building cladding, outdoor floors for non-slip finishes and interior textured walls.Combining finishes in the same stone or similar ones will build textures into your designs; honed floors, bush-hammered steps and split faced walls will change the direction of your room’s design from ordinary to spectacular.  Slab edge finishes can also be three dimentional, chiseled edges on honed solid surfaces can maintain a rustic look for a commercial lobby or residential outdoor kitchen.

SANDBLASTEDThere are several grades of sandblasting available from light to heavy.  Sandblasted granite can make a beautiful fountain with water rippling down the rough surface.  If granite was used outside or in a lobby area with pedestrian traffic where slipping was an issue, sandblasting the stone could fix the problem.  Re-seal with an enhancing sealer and the color should come back up in the stone.  I’ve seen sandblasted counters on outdoor and indoor kitchens to remove the gloss of polished granite.  I always recommend that you have sample pieces done to make sure you are happy with your fininsh choice.  Work with your fabricator and/or designer to get samples of different finishes.

FLAMEDThe most interesting flamed stone is Jerusalem Gold, which when flamed turns pink with gold undertones.  This is another finish for granite that creates a rough texture that makes granite slip resistant.  If slabs are badly scratched, flaming will make them usable for outdoor applications or cladding.  Flaming may not work on standard 3/8th” tiles, they have a tendency to crack under the heat, it is best to use this on slabs.  This is also known as a thermal finish. To have this finish on tiles they should be purchased that way from the supplier, factory or quarry.


Jerusalem Stone in all of it’s various shades and finishes is one of the most versatile limestones to use for both interior and exterior floors and walls. On the top level of the quarry is the bone colors moving down to the gold and then the grey. Combining the colors is easy as they blend together so well. The tiny fossils found in all the stones add to their movement and character. Working with well supplied distributors will make it easy to use split face on the walls and match a chiseled edge pattern on the floor. Stones from the same quarry will also allow you to match solid surface slabs and wall treatments.

The bone color is a warm beige with hints of gold and grey. This particular stone may not work for a modern look as the most common look is a chipped edge or brushed finish. The only way to make this a more modern look is with straight edge cuts and modern shapes, bricks laid on the vertical or thinner elongated pieces in an edgier pattern. The other way to create a more modern vibe is with the use of glass or metal or both in the design. When figuring out the overall design of your kitchens and bathrooms have several favored choices of wood stain chips with you when you shop in order to visualize your final project. Jerusalem Bone is available in various shades and other names are Hebron Fossil Cream or White, Jerusalem Cream, Pearl and Karina.

The most popular color choice of the Jerusalem limestones is the gold. Ranging in hue from light to dark it a a perfect blend with many wood stain colors and granite counter tops. Most of the Jerusalem limestones cannot be highly polished but should have a high hone if you want a shiny finish. The tiles are available in many sizes from 4″ to 36.” The larger tiles will become thicker as the size increases. The smaller tiles will be 3/8″ and the large 36″ tiles could be up to 3/4″ thick. Antique reclaimed pieces could be up to 1″ deep. When doing a renovation make sure what depth the butting floors are before deciding what tile size you may choose. Thresholds can be made from leftover slab pieces at your fabricator. Different shades of Jerusalem Gold are Cannan Gold, Antique Gold, Ramon Gold, Benjamin Gold, Galil, Halila and Hebron Gold. If you are buying from several sources make sure that you get samples of the suppliers latest shipment in order to match not only the colors but also the type of veining.
The grey Jerusalem Stones weren’t widely used in the US until the late 1970’s when the limestone was used for building cladding. The movement in the stone was more interesting than local materials. In Jerusalem the buildings are made from the gold and bone hues, the grey is not widely used for exteriors giving a price break for those early buildings. The Jerusalem quarries foresee at least another 100 years of supply. Recently archaeologists believe that they have discovered the original quarry from before the time of the Romans that the stones of the wailing wall were cut from.
The Benjamin Grey and Ramon Grey compliment the Carrara marble that was shown in earlier posts. The Gold limestones blend very well with the Calacatta Gold.
There is also a salmon colored Jerusalem stone available. The pink stone is created when the gold limestone is flamed. More on finishes later. My favorite place to shop is with Abe Judah at Jerusalem-stone.com they have an incredible selection of tiles, sinks, slabs and trim pieces.


Michelle Griffoul is a third generation artisan working with bronze and creates amazing clay tiles that range from an underwater shower experience to a coffee cup backsplash all of which have that little bit of wimsey.

One of  my favorite items to include in a shower was a fish or critter on the floor near the drain.  Just something to give the homeowner a chuckle before starting their day.
From Michelle’s web site, which I recommend visiting, is her bio below and lots of ideas for unique ways to make your home special.  http://www.michellegriffoul.com/

“For over thirty years, Michelle Griffoul has thrown, pushed rolled, torn, pit fired, raku fired, high fired, low fired, sun baked, flocked, painted and otherwise stretched the acknowledged limits of clay. The consummate clay artist, she is a classically trained potter with the eye of a painter and the production skills and sensibilities of a manufacturing engineer.

While receiving her B.A. and M.F.A. in ceramics, she spent a year at the International School of Ceramics in Florence, Italy. Through numerous gallery shows and public art commissions, Michelle became recognized as a master of the ceramic arts. This led to the creation of her current ceramic tile design and production studio.

With her sense of design and glazing techniques, Michelle continues to surprise clients by breaking through the traditional boundaries of tile.”

I love her critters and placed them in showers, patios and bathroom floors for that little extra touch.

Michelle’s bronze line is well priced and comes in several different colors to blend with fixtures and stone choices.  They are solid metal from a lost wax process that was taught from one generation to the next and Michelle shares the beautiful results with all of us.  Any of her clay pieces can be ordered in a huge range of colors so next time you want to really have some fun and let your playful side out, visit Michelle Griffoul Studios.


Lagos Azul is known by two other names: Nova Blue and Lagos Blue. Lagos Azul is from the lower part of the quarry and Lagos Gold is the upper level of the quarry. It’s not unusual to have bits of Lagos Gold in your Lagos Azul slabs and visa versa. The quarry for this stone is in Spain.

This is a beautiful limestone that blends well with any of the Carrara region marbles that I talked about last week. There are many trim pieces available, from pencils, crown molding to 5″ baseboards that can also be used around a shower dam. Lagos Azul and Lagos gold both come in 2cm and 3cm slabs for counter top material or bathroom walls. The Lagos Azul tiles come in 12″, 16″ and 24.” Sometimes you can find an 18″ tile but the 16″ is more common. There are also mosaics available in 3/8″ and 1/2″ and bricks that are 3″ x 6″.

There are many insert and back splash mosaic designs that can be also be used in the floor. Walker Zanger has several borders that include both Carrara and Lagos Azul in the design. There are also hexagons that are perfect for the floor of the shower or can be used as a rug insert on the floor. There are so many straight edges in a bathroom that it’s nice to add a curve or a hexagon to change things up and soften all the sharp edges. If you are working with a master bedroom suite with dressing rooms you can use the Lagos Azul as counter top material in the closets.

Another option that gives a different look to the bath is to use the Lagos Gold in combination with the Calacatta Oro. The two stones complement each other very well. I’ve always found that natural stone colors seem to enhance each other differently with other stones rather than tile. The slab material of Lagos Gold can be used for wall cladding or shower walls. It’s a sunny look with the Calacatta Oro. Lagos Gold tiles can found in 12″ and 16.”

Lagos Gold and Lagos Azul will also make a beautiful checkerboard floor for an entry or kitchen floor. The Lagos Azul baseboard is a stunning finish to the project.

There are also intricate circular medallions that are made with Lagos Azul, Lagos Gold and Calacatta. These medallions can be used for entry ways, hall ways or bathroom floors. Medallions are not recommended for shower floors.

The biggest problem with stone is the different thicknesses during your design phase. Tiles that are 24″ can be 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick, so if you want the larger tiles you have to look at the level of the hardwood floor or carpet you are butting up against. Sometimes the use of a stone threshold can solve the height difference and your fabricator can make one for you.

Some of my sources do not recommend using Lagos Azul or Gold outdoors as it cracks over time when exposed to heat and cold.  This is another stone that you need to visually match up your pieces as the grey and gold ranges can go from very light to dark.  If you are using the internet or are ordering from a distance pay for sample from the current batch to be sent to you.


There are several more slab choices from the Carrara region and the following two are readily available. The first is Bianco Gioia, a white background with the veining of a Carrara. This is a great choice for bathrooms, it’s a softer look than the more dramatic Calacatta and in a honed finish can be stunning when blended with glass and touches of metal. The metals you choose as liners or deco pieces should match the fixtures and hardware throughout the bathroom or kitchens. One of my favorite places to shop for metal is Landmark Metal Tile, their website is moving and will be back up soon at http://www.landmarkmetaltile.com/. The metal is an overlay on light weight material so it will not rust and can be used in the shower. They have about 20 colors to choose from in several different finishes. Their tiles range in size from 1″ to large decos for back splashes and lots of trims to choose from.

If your bathroom renovation is on the second floor you should hire a structural engineer to find out how much weight you can add before you slab an entire shower. A cubic foot of marble weights 144 lbs, two shower walls could add 1000 lbs, add in the floor materials, counter top and tub surround, that’s a ton of material, literally.

Another slab choice is Statuary White or Statuario, this is the quarry that gave birth to so many beautiful white statues of the past. When they find a block with very little veining it is put aside for the sculptors.

This slab guarantees that your island will be a focal point and complements any stainless appliances. The surrounding counter tops can be Statuario, Lagos Azul, Basaltina, Soapstone, Black Granite, Benjamin Gray or Brazilian Gray Slate. What I love about all the choices is that you can piece together something special and unique just for your kitchen. To all my old retail clients I always recommended that they choose the slab first, all the other colors and materials will flow from your slabs. You can always paint cabinets or change out the floor or back splash, but you’ll probably move before you change your counter tops due to the expense and difficulty. So please, love, love, love your slabs because you’ll be living with it for years to come!

Have a great weekend and I’ll be back on Monday with other choices for surrounding counter tops, floors and back splashes.

Most of the slab photos come from Sevak at Modul Marble in Los Angeles.


One of the most dramatic looks from the Carrara region. The veins are all grey in the Calacatta. When the gold is part of the stone it is called Calacatta Oro. Oro means gold in Italian. The background color of the marble is white which adds to the contrast. This is why I recommend choosing your slab material first, to blend in trims, mosaics and tiles you need to find materials with a white background.

These are book matched slabs and they can be used with either of the long sides matched for shower stalls or this match for long kitchen counter tops. These slabs are close to 60″ high so that you can get two counter widths and back splashes or laminate pieces. Book matched slabs are generally more expensive than regular slabs, but there are ways to mitigate the expense. Chinese marble has the same white background and the materials made in China are less expensive. If you blend in mouldings and mosaics made from those materials your overall expense might be similar to non-book matched slabs.

The gold in Calacatta Oro lets you use light gold in the floor and wall materials. Jerusalem Gold also known a Halila complements the marble. Jerusalem Gold is a limestone that is available in polished, honed, brushed and tumbled. From the same Jerusalem quarries is another strata that is called Benjamin Gray and is a great blend with the Calacatta.

Another great choice is Lagos Blue or Azul and Lagos Gold from Spain. This limestone has more movement in the stone than the Jerusalem limestone.

The finishes available on the Calacatta slabs are polished or honed. Personally I recommend marble tiles on the floor be honed or brushed to make them less slippery. Mosaics come in all different sizes and textures. For floors, walls and shower floors there are Calacatta penny rounds, hexagons, bricks and squares available. To change up the classic look you can use glass or metal trim, mosaics or tiles. There are silver glass ovals or rounds from Sicis that can transform the classic to the extraordinary.

A source of some of beautiful kitchens and bathrooms using Calacatta and Calacatta Oro can be found at Velvet and Linen http://brookegiannetti.typepad.com/, please visit and enjoy.


Carrara marble in general has a very light grey background color with small veins. It is a softer look than Callacatta which is far more dramatic. I prefer a honed finish on Carrara for several reasons. First of all is promotes the softer feel. Secondly, it disguises the etch marks that show up from wine, vinegar and lemon juice. Last but not least is that if you need to have the stone surface restored, it’s easier and less expensive to bring it back to honed rather than polished.

Carrara Bianco is sometimes called Venetino. There are trim pieces also available and are necessary if you are transitioning from slab which is 2cm or 3cm to tiles or mosaics which are 3/8 of an inch. You can use a bull nose pencil or a chair rail for horizontal definition or a pencil to finish off the edges. A great source for edges in a variety of stones is LM Natural Stone http://www.stonemoldings.com/. The have so many choices and finishes that your project will be amazing.

When matching up tiles and mosaics there are many choices. Personal favorites are 3 x 6 bricks in the Venezia Antiqua Rex line at Tile Shop http://www.tile-shop.com/ they also have a couple of matching trim pieces. Also in the Venezia line is Lagos Azul that compliments the Carrara for use on floors or walls. Mosaics are available in several shops, just be aware that the Chinese marble mosaics that are called Carrara are actually a white background color, not grey and do not blend in as well as the Italian.

One company that is creating very interesting mixes of stone and glass trim for a more modern look is Voguebay http://www.voguebay.com/. The range in glass tile sizes is amazing. They also carry a range of gray basalt tiles that blend beautifully with Carrara. It is a solid gray with very little movement in the stone.


When I was eleven, I stood in front of David for the first time, it was a memorable moment. I would love to visit Michelangelo’s David more often, but in the meantime I content myself working with Carrara marble. The beautiful gray and/or gold veined marble has been quarried since the time of the Romans. The sculptors who shopped in the Carrara quarries in their day included Michelangelo, Giotto, Donatello and Bernini. When you visit Trevi Fountain or Piazza Navona the marble fountains you see are from the quarries of Carrara.

There are several different grades of Carrara and then other types that are quarried from nearby hills. Calacatta and Calacatta Oro are very popular to use for kitchen and bathroom counters and slabs to put in shower stalls. Because there are so many different shades of Carrara marble I want to encourage you as designers and/or consumers to pick out your slab first and then get the tiles to match. Over the next few days I’ll show pictures of the different kinds of Carrara marble and give leads for matching tiles and trims. It’s sometimes like a jigsaw puzzle putting all the pieces together for a final unique look but for me that’s where the challenge is and the fun.