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Natural Stone Q&A

7 May 2020

Welcome back to our monthly instalment of “Ask The Expert”, a Q&A with our Senior Stone Consultant Gordon Fleck. This month, we caught up with Gordon about all things natural stone.

What types of natural stone do Artisans of Devizes sell?
We sell a huge variety of natural sedimentary limestones and metamorphic rocks – marble, onyx and slate – each truly unique and sourced from quarries all over the globe.

What types of finishes are available?
We are true artisans. We us, that’s about making beautiful floors from a natural material. From the outset of our business one thing we pride ourselves on is the number of finishes we can achieve on the stones we work with using different processes, some by hand and others by machine , from a smooth ‘Honed’ or adding texture for ‘Seasoned’ or even undulating and worn creating ‘Antiqued’ to name a few. Our full glossary can be found here.

How do I decide which size and style to go for?
When we think about the size and the style, we’re thinking about the building, the setting, the space and the architecture around where the floor will be layed. Is it Georgian Classic, a Country Farmhouse, an ultra modern setting or a timeless masterpiece of real estate we’re investing in? Remember a natural floor in the right setting will typically last a lifetime so it’s important to get it right and fit in authentically to the surroundings. A lot of our floors are laid in random formation, you will see these typically in heritage buildings. If your project is part of a more modern setting you may want to have a set size square or rectangle natural stone and create more of a grid layout – laid square or brick bond. There are always the classic floors, pentagons or octagons and much more elaborate patterns and designs can be achieved by cutting from much bigger scants of stone or slabs if using marble. With the finishes subtle changes can play a big part. If you are wanting the floor to appear crisp and new then you might want to look at an etched finish, or if you would prefer for the stone to look worn-in with some texture you might want to consider our seasoned finish.

Where does natural stone work best?
Natural stone is very versatile, it works so well in so many areas but we see it mostly in hallways, on staircases, in kitchens and living spaces, bathrooms, wine rooms, basements, pools surrounds and terraces. Depending on where the project is and the style of the building if it’s in a hot climate you’ll find hard floors everywhere but in the UK we leave some space for other floor finishes and seldom do we do bedrooms.

What do I need to consider when picking natural stone?
When choosing a natural stone it’s always important to think about how the space is going to be used. Is it a high traffic commercial space, a slick apartment or a country home? Who will be using the space? And what is the lifestyle of the user? Sometime a very clean and minimalistic look is required for a contemporary space and a very clean and consistent colour stone will be required, however on the other hand if it’s a family home and there is a lot of lifestyle activity with socialising and entertaining, cooking and family, sports and pets, then a more characterful floor with fossil content, texture and tonal variation will withstand the most active of lifestyles.

Can I have underfloor heating with natural stone?
This questions always comes up – can I use this stone with underfloor heating? The blunt answer is ‘of course’ I don’t know of a stone out there that is not compatible with underfloor heating. Remember stone is a great conductor of heat and outstrips other floor finishes due to it’s very low tog value. When heating a floor you are creating a large space of radiant heat therefore you’re only raising the temperature somewhere between 4-6 degrees centigrade and on your thermostat this would be 19 – 25 degrees which creates a low ambient heat.

What are your personal top 3 natural stones and why?
A difficult one…they’re all lovely and I suppose it comes down to where you are using them. Sometimes you go to old ecclesiastical building, churches and cathedrals and you see wonderful flagstone floors and we can replicate those with Portland or Vieux Bourgogne – I often say to myself at the end of a project I would love to see this in 100 years time, to see the floor worn in better than when it was first installed. Another favourite would be our Zofia, it looks timeless– there are so many cool greys, whites and beiges that tie in so well with the colour schemes of some of today’s paint companies – Zofia in a large space with estate emulsion walls, who needs anything else? They’re wonderful matches! And I’ll give you one more…it’s got to be Folio marble, an off-white marble a with the beautiful blue ink looking subtle veining in the marble, I envy any who get to have this all over their bathroom it’s very opulent looking as well as timeless a makes a beautiful space to start every morning.

How practical is natural stone and how do I look after it?
This really boils down to using the right stone in the right location, and that is what we’re really good at advising if you’re liaising with us about your project. Stone is an alkaline, that means it’s above 7 on the Ph scale therefore you need to use a Ph neutral cleaner as anything below which is acid will potentially and overtime damage the stone. There are some really good antibacterial stone cleaners on the market for your regular upkeep and maintenance at whatever frequency you choose or time permits but it is really important to keep away from bleach. Remember the stone needs to be sealed, this is mostly in the form of an impregnator which fills the pores in the stone to make it impermeable to stronger colours penetrating into the stone. Again clients will often ask ‘what happens if I spill a glass of red wine?’ We’d politely respond ‘aren’t you glad it’s not carpet?’ So in short – lay the floor, seal it look after it by vacuuming and washing as you would with any other floor finish and it will withstand the most robust of lifestyles, history has proved this.