Halloween edition

Post by Camila

When you think about Halloween what are the first images to come into your mind? Most of us associate this spooky holiday with trick or treating, pumpkins Jack-o' lanterns and all sorts of costumes, especially those of the ghostly variety. Many of us decorate our front yards with cemetery graveyard decorations and tombstones.

Did you know that tombstones, or grave markers as they were more commonly known, are believed to date back as far as 3,000 B.C. to the Roman and Celtic cultures? In earlier times cemeteries did not exist and people instead had burial plots near their homes where all their family members would be buried together. As such, the need for individual gravestones wasn't there, and instead markers would identify a group burial site. And what is the preferred material used to make tombstone? Granite!

Any visit to a cemetery should provide a clear indication that granite is the preferred stone for monuments. The elemental composition of this durable product is primarily feldspar and quartz. This is why you never see color imperfections, visible flaws, or fractures in slabs used in cemeteries. Other stones that are used to create headstones are inferior in their ability to remain intact and legible after the first few years of weather exposure.

Granite Is Dense and Durable

People tend to group marble and granite together as though they are the same, but granite is considerably stronger. Diamonds are a great material to use as a comparison tool because it’s one of the hardest, with a rating of 10 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness.

A slab of granite is going to range between 6 and 7, and the man-made products are considered a 5. The actual task of cutting, polishing, and carving granite is more difficult because the molecules are packed tighter than marble, but it’s worth the investment in a headstone that will last. True granite headstones also resist natural discoloration and deterioration between different seasons. Marble tends to be softer than granite, falling into a rating of 3 in the Mohs Scale.

Aesthetically Pleasing

Granite is available in various natural colors. The majority of granites possess patches of gold, blue, gray, or green, depending on the kinds of minerals present in them. Granites are aesthetically pleasing because no two granites can ever be identical, as they are removed directly from the quarry bed and hold many variations based on different locations.

Simple Maintenance

It’s effortless to clean and restore the original beauty of a granite headstone in case it gets filled with hard water, moss, lichens, and debris. It be can easily cleaned using a little amount of water, dishwashing liquid, and a clean cloth.

So why there is marble in cemeteries?

Older cemeteries that feature monuments dating back to the mid 1800’s contain a lot of marble. It was the most popular choice because the tools used in that time period could easily work with marble.

Unfortunately, marble is a calcite structure that is prone to erode when exposed to acid rain and other pollutants in the air over the year. This is why the ancient memorials are barely legible and highly deteriorated compared to granite monuments being exposed to the same weather conditions.

So there you go! Once again Natural Stones proving can be versatile, long lasting and scary!

Happy Halloween!

We wish you a fun and spooky night filled with lots of yummy treats!

Article by: Camila | Source: idesignarch

I must say: I'm addictive to Pinterest, and I've seen many gorgeous swimming pools in there, as well as in many architecture magazines. But I've never seen anything like this one:

The pool is built into a Berkshires limestone quarry on the grounds of a private estate Sheffield, Massachusetts, on about 50 acres owned by Joel Goldstein, the president of Mercedes Distribution Co. (no, not that Mercedes). But Goldstein didn't actually dream up and build the pool. I've learned the background story by talking to Michael Giannamore, the vice president of Aqua Pool & Patio, whose Connecticut-based family business built the pool.

Featuring a depth of 3 feet to 7 feet and a 16-foot cascading waterfall the pool measures 40 feet, part of the secluded property located deep in the woods in a manner that preserved the landscape’s natural beauty. Goldstein greatly improved and beautified the property, but the transformation of the quarry into a pool was the previous owner's project. The property is "buried in the woods," Giannamore said, and she bought it expressly because of the quarry, where she wanted a "swimming hole." She imposed no budget whatsoever, but she wanted the quarry as intact as possible. That ruled out "the most logical and predictable" solution, Giannamore said: concrete blocks lined with gunite (basically, cement sprayed from a firehose, he said), then covered with limestone to match.

That meant a degree of uncertainty probably never experienced by Aqua Pool before or since: The designers had no idea whether the pool would hold water. They had to leave the quarry's three existing walls entirely untouched, and in the floor they were allowed only to jackhammer two trenches for cleaning nozzles. "Weren't there cracks in the limestone?" you may ask. According to Giannamore, yes, there were, and they were big! For all they knew, the water would immediately leak out when they finished the job and filled the pool, but the owner was OK with the risk, so they went ahead.

The finished pool is about 15,000 gallons, measuring roughly 20 by 40 feet, and deepening from about 3 feet at its shallowest to about 7 feet. The accompanying house, which Goldstein expanded from a simple poolhouse into a weekend home, is about 3,500 square feet.

So how's the quarry pool doing at holding water in the 15 years since Aqua Pool broke ground? "Better than most swimming pools," Giannamore says. "It holds water perfectly." Evaporation isn't a big problem, either, but it is a "service struggle, because you can't cover the pool for the winter (a cover manufacturer laughed at him when he asked). So every year it fills with leaves and debris, requiring a power wash after the pool is drained; then it's filled up with chlorinated water for a new swim season.

By now we're sure you're wondering, as I was, the obvious question: what's the price tag on one of those. But unfortunately all you will get from Giannamore is: "A lot". And it's "better-looking in person than any video you'll see."

Is this the most beautiful backyard pool in America? I think it might just be. And we've seen plenty of spectacular pools in our beloved Miami. But if I'm wrong, let me know in the comments!

Article by Camila

Not enough people spend time thinking about how much (or how little) sheen they want on their countertop until after the installation is completed. I get it, it’s easy to get wrapped up in looking at color and veining that you forget about everything else!

However, this aspect has a huge effect on how the stone actually looks in your kitchen, and it also has repercussions for how it’ll need to be handled and cared for. Neither a honed or polished finish impacts the true nature, beauty, and durability of the stone slab. And some stones are naturally more resistant than others when it comes to scratch and acid resistance (granite and quartzite tend to outperform marble). However, for “softer materials” that are more prone to wear (translation: marbles), the type of finish may add an extra layer of security against stains or camouflage pesky scratches and etches. Therefore in some cases, taking the shine out of your countertop could be the best decision you make.

A matte countertop is one that has had the high-polished factory finish removed, which is typically done with various grits of sanding pads. The result is a satiny-smooth finish that is nearly matte in appearance but still retains a slight sheen so light still reflects gently off the surface.

Although high-gloss is generally the most popular countertop finish, honed and leather finishes are also beloved by homeowners for their softer, more “aged” and natural-looking appearance. It also has some major benefits when used in high-traffic areas, like in the kitchen, because it tends to hide the inevitable scratches and etches more effectively. Additionally, the matte, smooth surface is less slippery when wet which makes this finish a safer choice for bathroom flooring and staircases. A honed countertop reflects less light than a high-gloss surface, so it won’t highlight and draw attention to the indentations that a scratch causes or the noticeable dullness of etching on a shiny surface.

The downsides to a honed finish are that more of the stone’s natural pores are exposed than on a gloss surface, and because of that, it is more susceptible to damage. So, any spills that happen on a honed surface have to be cleaned up immediately, otherwise, they can sink into the stone and cause an etch or even cracks and discoloration over time. To prevent this kind of damage, honed countertops tend to need more frequent sealing. Just make sure you use a specially-designed matte sealer.

If you’re considering a honed finish on your stone countertops, it’s ideal to have this procedure done before the countertop is installed, as it can sometimes be difficult to do it once the stone is in place. However, it is definitely possible to have the finish adjusted later on, it just might come with an expensive labor cost. Thinking about DIY-ing it? You’ll be able to find instructions all over the internet, but we highly recommend you have a professional hone your stone unless you have a lot of experience using a sander and buffer. We recommend you leave this job to the experts so you can be sure you’ll end up with the finish you want, not an expensive mistake.

A honed countertop really highlights stone as a natural material. The soft matte finish feels more true-to-nature, and while you may need to seal more frequently, the fact that scratches and etches show up less regularly is a big advantage in high-traffic areas. Got a question about how you can hone your stone?

Drop us a line right here!


(305) 793-4077


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