Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bathroom Renovation with so many Carrera choice, how do you know which marble to choose?

One of the most renovated rooms in any house is the bathroom and in particular the master bathroom. This is where the decision maker of the house spends the second most amount of time, first being the kitchen - oh and in case you are not aware the decision maker is the female.

One of the most popular looks at the moment is the Carrara marble look, subway 3x6" tile Carrara marble walls, with a crown trim to finish. The flooring is completed with 12x12 matching Carrara with a Basketweave Carrara mosaic insert, the shower created in a wet room format has a Carrara Basketweave insert on the floor to add grip and in some cases a smaller Carrara Basketweave mosaic insert on the shower floor to break up the subway tiles.

The is the look in most magazines anywhere that show the Carrara marble, you can mix the mosaics, and a 1" Carrara Hexagon mosaic on the floor is perfect for the grip needed.

So now I have described the room lets look at the different products and how names have changed and some of the different options available out there. Firstly in the above description you will not I have spelt Carrara - 'Carrara'. This is actually the correct spelling; however 90% of people n the USA call the product Carrera, spelt with an 'E' - exactly like the Porsche car as opposed to Carrara the region in Italy where the marble is from.

It is obvious that Carrara is the correct spelling of the product, but the Americanism of the word to 'Carrera' causes havoc with the search engines and comparison shopping websites and in particular, EBay. How do you advertise as a company you have 'Carrara' Marble when everyone is searching 'Carrera' marble - erm.....? You have to join the crowd. So for the purpose of anyone actually reading this - I will now call it Carrera Marble (even though I know and now so do you know it is Carrara marble).

Ok - sow now I am more confident that the other 90% of the USA population interested in reading about Carrera Marble will now read my article - let's move onto the different products out there and examine them, first I will just list them:

• Carrera Venato Marble
• Carrera Arabescato
• Carrera Bianco
• Carrera Statuary Marble
• Alabama White Marble
• Cabot White Marble
• Kesir White Marble
• Greecian White Marble

This pretty much covers all the names - so right from the start it is difficult how do you decide what product to go with. First you need to decide on:

1. Budget
2. Products Needed

These are your two most important decisions: Budget will determine which and where your white marble will come from. Products Needed will determine if the brand of Carrera has all the matching mosaics and accessories needed to complete your job. For example Cabot White Marble, this is a lower priced white marble generally sold in bulk and has no matching accessories or mosaics.

OK - once you have decided on Budget and Products you need then we can look at each of the marble products above:

• Carrera Venato Marble - I put this at the top of the list because it is the only marble that offers the complete selection, with this there are over 20 choices from
-3x6" Subway Carrera Tile in polished & honed
-6x6" Carrera Tile in polished & honed
-12x12" Carrera Tile in polished & honed
-18x18" Carrera Tile in polished & honed
-All the tiles in Carrara Venato can be bought from $7SF to $15SF
• Carrera Venato offers over 7 mosaics, from Carrera 1x2" Basketweave in polished & honed, 1" Carrera Hexagon mosaic, 1x1" Square Carrera Mosaic and 2" Octagon Carrera mosaic, etc, etc. All the mosaics are offered in polished & honed. Mosaics verify from $9SF to $20SF - it is the perfect Carrera Bianco substitute.
• Trims - 3 to choose, Pencil, Chair rail and the most important crown molding - also they are offered in honed and polished and all offered in black marble to create a modern twist and appearance.

• Carrera Arabascato - this is a Chinese Marble - quarried from China and sold in 12x12" & 18x18" in Honed & Polished, I think there are some mosaics out there for this but there is no site that or place that sells the whole product line together.

• This is one of the most attractive marbles out there, you must make sure the country of origin is indeed Italy and if there are matching mosaics also ask that the country of origin is Italy. Many high end retailers sell Carrara collections and they are beautiful. However you do need to carefully consider the first option we decided on 'BUDGET' if this is genuine Italian made marble then the Basketweave mosaic will be $37.50, a 1" Hexagon mosaic $40.00SF and a 12' skirting over $35 a piece - the 3x6" will cost somewhere between $30-$50 a square foot.

This product is for the super rich or those with tiny bathrooms (just kidding on the last bit).

If you have no Budget then go with this every time, go to the retail stores, have a designer map out your bathroom and you will pay between $20,000 to $50,000 for the completed room, however this article is not aimed at people like that - as they are not reading this, they are not searching on the internet to decide on which marble to buy or understand the products - they saw their friends bathroom at a dinner party in the Hampton and had their people call mine, etc.

We are trying to simply understand what is out there - and what are those products.

Carrara Statuary & Alabama White Marble
I have put these together - you cannot have really have statuary and a Carrera, as they are slightly different. To be honest little difference and the main reason for putting Carrera Statuary together is for search engine purposes - as then the consumer looking will find the statuary product.

Statuary marble can come from China and even as close to home as Alabama. The Alabama Marble is one of the finest and whitest marbles in the world. The Alabama Marble is quarried in Sylacauga, Alabama. It is a beautiful product completely comparable to the finest Italian white marbles and equivalent to the Carrera Bianco.

However, there are production problems with the Quarry in Alabama and according to one source awaiting new machinery to make smaller sized tiles. The Alabama marble quarry can presently can only make 6x6" & 12x12". The other issue is the color, the quarry in Alabama are far less consistent, the Carrera Bianco in Italy is always perfect - the quarry in Alabama when good is a perfect match, but that could be only for a few blocks then the color will change.

It is very important with Alabama White to get samples - as with any marble but particularly important for this product.

Kesir & Cabot white marble
These two can go together - the products are from Turkey in the larger formats you will get a closer look to Carrera, in smaller formats or mosaics you will get that completely undesirable 'Quartz' appearance - the Turkish marble is stuck with the quartz appearance.

You can almost see a piece at a trade show and without looking know it is from Turkey, the product is cheap and with 'quartz' - but priced under $6SF. However, it looks like it costs under $6SF for the real budget conscious - this is the way to go, especially if you are not looking for any mosaics or trims.

Greecian White Marble
This is a real strange and new player in the market and sold by online by the large 'Orange' home center. Firstly I think as a brand name could have done with some work - even spelling Grecian would have been a help.

What does this tell us - probably some of it made in China (notorious for misspelling words), with the large home center it is offered on their website only and it is reasonably priced.

It does have a lot of weaknesses though:

• Only available in polished
• Only a few mosaic choices (no Basketweave boo...)
• Limited moldings

So if you want a polished bathroom look with limited and simple mosaics and missing some key trim items, then this is the way to go. Seriously, it is a good line and well priced, for small areas this is a good choice.

To summarize you really need a large choice and a great price - unless you are the super rich (which your not otherwise you would not be reading this, sorry - but probably true).

The Carrera Venato is really the clear winner - it offers the greatest choice and the greatest value. Choice is really the key, whether you are looking for honed or polished, different mosaics and accessories with this brand you are offered all the choices you could want.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Care of Interior Marble

The best way to maintain the appearance of any marble, granite, or limestone surface is to wash it frequently and to immediately rinse off any spilled materials. Natural stone can be cleaned periodically with a non-fat, mild detergent (such as Windex) or lukewarm water, and then rinsed thoroughly. Murphy's Oil Soap can also be used but might darken the stone somewhat.

DO NOT USE TILE-X or other abrasive cleaners on your natural stone, as this can result in scratches and dull areas.

The best defense against stains is prevention. However, stains do occur and can most often be removed with a poultice. A poultice is made with powdered whiting and hydrogen peroxide. Whiting is sold in most paint stores. The poultice should be applied as described below for each particular type of stain.

The most problematic staining materials are as follows: oils, mayonnaise, butter, wine, and meat.

Sealers should be used for floors or counters. We recommend that a silicone-based sealer be applied at least twice a year. You may find that you will need to do so more frequently. When you notice that water is no longer beading and dark spots begin to occur, it is time to reseal. Your stone from Carrera was sealed twice: once after fabrication, and once after installation. This treatment should suffice for at least six months. As a rule, we recommend that you seal the counters two to three times a year. Quarts of sealer, good for approximately 200 square feet, are available through Carrera Marble.

Etch Marks:
Many substances will not only discolor marble and granite but will etch the surface. Lemon juice, soft drinks, wine, and other acidic substances can all cause etch marks. Etching of marble can be corrected, but we suggest that this only be done by a professional.

Organic Stains:
Organic stains are caused by tea, coffee, soft drinks and fruit juices. If the counter is properly sealed (see above), stains from these elements can be reduced.

Organic stains can be removed by applying the following:
1. Mix a poultice consisting of powdered whiting (sold in most paint stores) and 20% hydrogen peroxide (hair bleach) to form a thick paste.

2. Apply a ½" thick layer of this mixture over the stain.

3. To keep the poultice from drying too rapidly, cover the poultice with a piece of plastic kitchen wrap, held in place with masking tape.

4. Leave this in place overnight--for very stubborn stains, you may need 48 hours.

5. If, after the first application, the stain is still noticeable, repeat the application, adding a few drops of household ammonia to the poultice mixture.

6. After the stain disappears, remove the application, rinse with clean water and wipe dry.

Oil Stains:
Oil stains are caused by such substances as butter, cream, milk, peanut butter, hand lotions, mustard and other fatty substances with greasy ingredients. These types of stains include olive oil. The stains are usually circular and are often darker in the centers. They are often quite difficult to remove because they tend to penetrate deeper than most other stains.

1. The first step is always to locate and remove the source of the stain.

2. Wash the surface with ammonia, and then rinse with plenty of clean, lukewarm water.

If the stain persists, continue with the following steps:

1. Make a poultice with acetone and whiting to form a thick paste.

2. Apply a ½" thick layer of this mixture over the stained area.

3. To keep the acetone from evaporating and the poultice from drying too rapidly, cover the poultice with a piece of plastic kitchen wrap, held in place with masking tape.

4. Leave the application in place overnight (stubborn stains may require 48 hours).

Rust Stains:
Rust stains are invariably caused by metallic objects in the presence of moisture. Rust stains are usually orange or brown in color. If these stains are noticed promptly, they can sometimes be removed simply by rubbing hard with a dry cloth, especially if the surface has been waxed. If the stain doesn't come off, proceed with the following treatment:
  1. Make a poultice of a commercial liquid rust remover mixed with whiting to form a thick paste.
  2. Apply a ½" thick layer of this mixture over the stained area.
  3. Place a piece of plastic kitchen wrap over the mixture to secure it in place.
  4. Leave the application in place overnight.
  5. Remove the poultice mixture and rub the marble surface with a dry cloth.

Soot and Smoke:
1. Scrub the surface with a non-fat detergent (Windex) and a stiff fiber brush, and then rinse with clean water.

If this still leaves noticeable dirt and stains, continue with the following steps:

2. Make a poultice consisting of baking soda or some other alkaline cleaner, mixed with laundry bleach, to form a thick paste.

3. Spread on the stained surface to a thickness of about ½".

4. Cover with a damp cloth to keep the poultice damp.

5. Leave in place overnight.

6. Remove by wetting and or scraping with a wooden spatula, plywood, or stiff cardboard.

Introduction to Venato Carrara Marble

Carrara Venato by Traditions in Stone adds an extremely elegant touch to any space with subtle beauty, smooth textures, and regal classicism to residences and commercial spaces. Carrara Venato meticulously records the passage of time and plays it back to us through a visual diary of stunning color and texture the luxurious marble has elaborate veining that ranges from silver to charcoal in tone.

An unparalleled medium for interior spaces, Traditions in stone today reflects an appreciation for the dignity of natural materials. Carrara Venato by Traditions in Stone is noted for:
  • A natural stone tile that will look great in a number of settings
  • A surface that is easy to maintain,
  • A tile that is made to last,
  • A way to increase the re-sale value of properties in areas like kitchen, bathrooms and other locations.