Marble Masterclass Q&A22 April 2020
We sat down with Artisans of Devizes’ stone expert Gordon Fleck who shares his advice on working with marble…
As a stone consultant, how do you work with customers?
As a stone consultant, I work with architects, designers and contractors as well as homeowners, who often have a vision of what they want to achieve with stone and we help them with that. There are endless possibilities so we talk through the specification to choose the right stone for the location, making sure the materials are going to withstand their intended use. We also help from a sourcing point of view and the installation aspect as well as any other details relating to design and CAD work.
If we are picking marble where do we start?
There are hundreds of thousands of different marbles quarried from all over the globe so different countries have different types of marble. It’s a metamorphic rock and a lot of people go for the cleaner, white backgrounds while others prefer stronger, darker colours – black marble commands a premium while deep greys are very popular too. Also, it can be a trend-led product and we’re using lots of emerald and pink at the moment so it does depend on the project. Trends also come in formats as well. People sometimes choose all-out cladding in a bathroom, sometimes feature areas, sometimes using smaller mosaic patterns with mesh backing in different shapes such as scallops, leaves and hexagons to bring in some softness. Marble is timeless and people definitely invest in it. They don’t buy it – they invest in it and it adds such value to a project.
Does marble work in a kitchen?
In the kitchen, think about having marble as a feature, maybe as a central island where you might have it as more of a display area, just keep a bit of granite around the edge for food prep. Marble can make such a striking feature in the middle. A honed finish is usually the first choice we’d go for. If it’s polished, you will get some etching marks. Honed is much flatter and more resilient without marking or staining.
Opt for a marble with more character, as it will be more forgiving to live with, as it has more natural variation in the stone. Be careful with anything acidic or strong colours such as beetroot. Artisans of Devizes offer Marble Sheen or Deep Clean solutions, which you just spray on or can be used to draw out any stains. People do understand that marble brings a more organic feel to a kitchen and over time it will show signs of wear and tear. We can get someone in to re-hone the surface, that’s quite easy to do, but you can carry out your own remedial work if needs be quite simply. On a weekly basis just give the surface a deeper clean. The main thing is to not use anything harsh – like bleach.
One design idea and one that can save money is to have decorative marble mosaics on the splashback, as they come on mesh-backed sheets and start at around £60 per square metre and make a lovely decorative wall finish.
Marble weighs around 50-75kg per square metre so joinery does need to be robust enough to take that weight on its surface. And bear in mind the weight if you’re using it as flooring or as wall cladding in the bathroom. When it comes to installation, you want to make sure the installers are competent and there is often templating involved so it’s best to come to someone like us who offers a full installation service as well as a wide choice of marbles and a great track record, which we are very proud of.
What about bathrooms?
Moving on to bathrooms, if you like the idea of a marble shower tray, Artisans of Devizes has the Plateau™ bespoke showerbase, a single piece of marble with no joins. We can do etch grooves, drainer grooves, all sorts of things, so you can have a marble shower tray to match your marble walls and floor. Structural engineers can advise on whether your bathroom can take the weight or if it needs reinforcing.
You always need to seal the stone and we used a solvent-based sealer as it’s porous until it’s been saturated with sealer. One of our new products is the Bijou marble, which comes as a lattice frame with colourful inserts of marble. Even if you’re doing retail or hospitality it’s a lovely way to work with marble in smaller formats and it’s very economical.
With regards to grout, we normally try and colour-match it to the marble; in some projects we have laid chrome or stainless steel inserts into the floor or butted up with a steel trim, which looks beautiful. We also use marble a lot in shower niches to add character or a boutique style, bringing the marble out to the edge and polished so it’s all seamless.
Where else does marble look striking in a home?
In other areas of the home, marble works really well on staircases. It’s amazing what you can do to create a really opulent feel to a property with a marble staircase. We can talk about the profile, the edging, the cladding against the wall, the underside – there are many options.
If for example you saw something in a hotel and you wanted it at home, we can get a CAD design done and create a bespoke feel with borders and patterns. It’s one of the oldest building materials in the world so we shouldn’t be scared of it. Book matching is still a big thing, especially with veined marbles. We can provide a CGI showing how the panels will look in your room. My other advice is to make sure you buy the slabs in pairs. Get some batch samples so you can manage a client’s expectations. In our 30 years of business we’ve helped clients source marble from all over the globe. And remember that access is often key with large slabs, especially if it’s for the bathroom upstairs.
Will marble ever go out of fashion?
The true answer is ‘no’ Marble being a natural material is a timeless product and it simply stays around forever being it’s so easy to keep it looking good and if ever needed, you can always re hone the surface to make it look like new.”
To view our collection of interior natural stone browse here.