Natural stone has become an increasingly popular option for tiling and surfacing solutions, not least because of its aesthetic and textural properties as well as increasing ease of maintenance. Jo O’Grady, managing director at Stone Age, advises on the trends, benefits and maintenance of natural stone in bathroom and wetroom settings.
White limestone tiles are always incredibly popular – the reason being that the natural colour blends in with most interior schemes whether it is contemporary or traditional, as well as the fact that limestone is an exceptionally easy stone to maintain and clean.
Mixed materials are also growing in popularity amongst our customers, with luxurious stones such as marble partnered with other natural materials such as rich, warm-coloured woods. The natural beauty of both these materials complement each other hugely.
In the past, people were more wary of using natural stone in a bathroom environment due to waterproofing issues, but advancements in treatments means it is perfectly feasible to create the entirety of your wet room in natural stone – even the walls.
The versatility of stone means that it can be cut to any size and format during the installation process. The recent shift towards more adventurous tones and markings also means that architects and designers now have a wealth of diverse options at their fingertips – it’s refreshing to see that people are now really making the most of what stone has to offer.
All stone is porous to some extent, so it will need sealing. Sweep the floor regularly and wash as necessary with a mild soap – the French use Savon de Marseille, which is more commonly used for washing woollens. Regular washing with the right soap helps to keep the floor healthy and builds up a protective layer. Over time, the natural wear and tear will add to the patina of your stone floor, and it can be argued that a five-year-old stone floor looks even better than a brand-new one.
Stone tiles can be laid on timber floors – however, because they are heavy, you will of course need to ensure the structure can support the extra weight of the stone, especially if you’re renovating an older property. Your stone supplier and architect should be able to assess the strength of the floors and can of course advise.
The versatility of natural stone means that tiles can be cut as thin as 1cm or into intricate mosaics to create many different looks. Using different textures and types of stone can create stunning visual effects. One of these is book-matching, a process whereby a large slab of stone such as marble is split through its thickness to reveal the stone’s natural pattern in perfect symmetry. This highly-technical process is extremely popular in wet rooms and shower enclosures for creating that wow factor.
Moreno or Statuary marble is an ideal choice for book-matching, and a great choice for wet rooms, adding a real touch of glamour. It looks great when combined with other natural materials, such as wood. Piedra Plana Extra is Stone Age’s most popular neutral-coloured stone and is perfect for use in wet rooms. A hardwearing and durable limestone, it can be cut to a range of sizes, and can also be given a Glacier finish, providing a visual and textural interest.
For a streamlined effect in bathrooms, choose vanity tops and bath surrounds in the same material as the floor and walls, or select a contrasting stone or natural material – such as wood or metal – for a look that is classy and luxurious. It’s always a good idea to add the ultimate decadent touch, under-floor heating. Not only will it provide untold levels of comfort underfoot, it is an economical and energy-efficient way of heating the room.
With showrooms in London, Hertfordshire and Bristol, Stone Age supplies a wide variety of natural stone products suitable for use in commercial environments. The company offers in excess of 90 stones in a variety of colours, finishes and styles, all of which are delivered pre-treated and dried.