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Design TipsHow To

March 23, 2018

Glammy Miami: A story about setting materials and grouts

There we were, swirling with excitement, designing room scenes for our soon-to-be released Chapter 18 – Rotunda. Hearts were racing as our design team came up with a concept for an entryway that we dubbed, “Glammy Miami.” It was to be striped using our Composition mosaic patterns in Dolomite and Calacatta Gold as per our schematics and inspiration board below.

This combination would have created a stunning, yet subtle wallpaper effect highlighting the versatility and design practicality of tile outside of a bathroom or kitchen. We couldn’t wait to debut this room scene in our catalog!

Unfortunately, it never made it. Why? What happened?

Although it looked great in the final photos, it was altered in a way that did not represent a proper installation. Despite our temptation to enhance this room scene using Photoshop, we felt there was a greater lesson to be learned from this installation.

If you have ever watched one of our Jeffrey Court University episodes, particularly one about a natural stone chapter, we include the following advisement:

“<<Chapter Name>> is a natural stone line. This means that, as with all natural stones, care should be taken to blend products from multiple cartons and laid out prior to installation to ensure a proper, uniform look. We also recommend installing using a high-quality, white thin set. Sealing natural stone is also highly recommended. We advise you seal before and after grouting using a penetrating sealer.”

The deeper meaning of this statement is three-fold:

 

  1. Make sure to blend your tiles. Since natural stones vary over time, mixing boxes will make sure that the “deck is shuffled.” Essentially, you will avoid the probability that natural shades are evenly distributed throughout the installation making it more appealing. Laying it out prior to installation gives the installer the peace of mind that the product is well blended, suitable for install and any anomalies have been addressed.
  2. The use of a white thin set guards against staining, as was the case in our example where a grey thin set was used. Generally, the higher the quality of white thin set, the “whiter” it will be.
  3. Sealing natural stone is always a good idea. Sealing before grouting can help resist staining from colored grouts. It also will ease in releasing grout residue from natural stone when compared to unsealed product. Also, sealing helps preserve the look of a natural stone product from the elements of daily use. It is important to follow the re-application periods as recommended by your chosen sealer manufacturer.

Now, to tie it back to the Glammy Miami room scene—although we blended our tiles, we erred on items 2 and 3:

  • Both Dolomite and Calacatta Gold are marbles and particularly porous. During the set build-out, a grey setting material was used and it effectively bled through, thus, altering the color of these marbles.
  • These natural stones were not sealed prior to grouting and a grey grout was chosen to help add some pop to the room. This grey grout also further stained the unsealed marble on the front side

The moral of the story is this: When installing natural stones, always blend, always use white thinset, and always seal. Lesson learned.