Carrara Marble – Application Carrara Stairs and Carrara Kitchens –

Carrara marble steps at office building in modern style - by Zmorod, Gaza 2020
Carrara marble steps at office building in modern style – by Zmorod, Gaza 2020

Carrara is a white marble with grey veins. it was named after the city of Carrara where it originally extracted. Nowadays it most commonly extracted from Turkey and China. Due to Carrara, beautiful veins and colors it becomes the designers high choice marble. However it has a nice appearance, Carrara also has a low price because of its weakness. Carrara’s low price makes it a good choice for applications like marble kitchen and stairs. In this post we will discuss Carrara stones advantages and disadvantages and its applications.

Carrara Marble Colors

Carrara is a white marble with grey veins with a rare yellow veins. The good quality Carrara stone has a white background, where cheaper stone has a greyish background. Italian and good quality Carrara stones have sharp edges veins while cheaper stones have faded veins. For cheap Carrara stones it requires arranging similar tiles together as shown in the following photos. Sometimes Carrara stones have yellow veins together with the grey veins, while good quality yellow Carrara stones have only yellow veins.

The white and grey colors make Carrara unique in modern appearance that fit modern style. Together with Black Marquina marble – the black background with white veins -. with metal materials like brass, silver or gold stripes form a contemporary 2019 and 2020 style trend.   

Arranging Carrara marble veins together, collection 1. Carrara marble stairs. Alhoreya Building Gaza 2020
Arranging Carrara marble veins together, collection 1. Carrara marble stairs. Alhoreya Building Gaza 2020
Arranging Carrara marble veins together, collection 2. Carrara marble stairs. Alhoreya Building Gaza 2020
Arranging Carrara marble veins together, collection 2. Carrara marble stairs. Alhoreya Building Gaza 2020

Carrara Advantages

Architects and interior designers use Carrara for walls and facade cladding due to its colors. Carrara white and grey colors have a modern style appearance. Compared to other marble in its price, Carrara is unique by it’s modern style colors. Where most same price range marbles are in off-white and brown colors. Also carrara resists sea salt better than any marble within its price range.

Carrara Disadvantages

Carrara is a porous material with high absorption ratio. It’s pores cause many disadvantages like discoloring, water absorbing and friction resistance. 

Discoloring Carrara Disadvantages

Carrara discoloring where it is affected by Portland cement and marble adhesive. For cement or tile adhesive, where we recommend installing it with white cement. Otherwise after installing Carrara with Portland cement, it will absorb the grey cement color. Causing  darker uneven Carrara background tones. In the Gaza strip blockade in years 2013 to 2018, white cement was rarely found in the market due to political conflicts. That time white cement price was 400% higher than Portland cement. Therefore a solution to reduce installing Carrara price by painting the carrara back side with white cement. This by using brush to give a rough texture and then to install the carrara with Portland cement. White cement layer has to be rough for better bonding with Portland cement. In this solution the carrara will not absorb the color of grey cement, by using less amount of white cement to reduce the cost. Another problem connecting two pieces of Carrara with marble adhesive. Where Carrara will absorb the marble adhesive making a bad looking yellow edge in the connection.

Friction Carrara Disadvantages

Friction is another problem facing Carrara during installing in long term usage. In the long term Carrara will be affected by high traffic, especially for stairs – the small area that has high traffic -. In old buildings that were built more than 30 years ago, friction during movement makes a curvature in depth around a centimeter. The friction increases with sand or dust over the Carrara , where sand and movement will sanding the surface. Therefore during site construction, after installing the Carrara floor or stairs try to keep the floor surface clean. Notice that during the tiles and marble construction phase where we can’t control dust and sand to enter the site. Therefore we recommend continuous cleaning and to install protection over the marble. Protection is a mixture of gypsum and lime that is pure over the marble in a thin layer. Then after installing the windows and finishing the painting works, the thin layer could easily be removed by cleaning with water.

Protection layer for marble floor and stairs. Mixture of lime and gypsum to avoid sand friction. Gaza 2020 by Eng. Sameer Aburamadan
Protection layer for marble floor and stairs. Mixture of lime and gypsum to avoid sand friction. Gaza 2020 by Eng. Sameer Aburamadan

Carrara Applications

After understanding Carrara as a building material, you can now make a decision if it suits your application or not. Let’s discuss a few common Carrara applications.

Carrara Stairs, Carrara is the cheapest modern color marble stone. It has a nice appearance in the staircase, however the weakness of Carrara stones make it not suit public buildings or high traffic stairs. Also due to Carrara being porous material, I don’t prefer to install it at stairs or floors. Where water could easily stay over it and then seep deep inside the Carrara stone. Generally Carrara stairs as any other marble type could be formed and shaped for stairs details.

Installing turkish Carrara marble stairs, Zomorod company Gaza 2020
Installing turkish Carrara marble stairs, Zomorod company Gaza 2020

In kitchen, Carrara is a good choice for kitchen cabinates where it will resist sea breaze salt  better than wood or Palestinian marble. Also it will keep cabinets in nice appearance unlike Rosa Beta granite. Carrara is famous for kitchen countertops which I don’t recommend. Since Carrara is porous material it doesn’t suit countertops where juice and oil will seep deep into the marble. Juice and oil will remain spots in the countertop that could be maintained using chemicals to clean. On the other hand normally countertops apply to high temperatures during cooking, Carrara is a good heat resistance.

Installing Carrara marble kitchen and white granite countertop. by Abualamear, Gaza 2020.
Installing Carrara marble kitchen and white granite countertop. by Abualamear, Gaza 2020.

Parapets Capping and Windows Sill

Parapet is an extension of wall at top roof, balcony, stairs or a walkway, used as a guard rails. As the parapet function is guard rails, then it hasn’t been less than 80 cm. or it has to install handrail over it. Parapet is covered with capping to protect plaster, stone cladding, curtain wall or any other wall finishing material from water leaking. For same reason windows sill is used for the bottom side. The windows sill and parapets capping could make in different details and from different materials. This post will discuss capping and sill materials, details and recommendations for well installation.

Parapet capping for flower box, made of Palestinian marble, Gaza 2020
Parapet capping for flower box, made of Palestinian marble, Gaza 2020

Design Details

There are several design details for parapet capping and windows sills. There are different designs however they all have the same functions. Here we will introduce some of the parapets capping and windows sill design details.

sill and capping types : straight, round edge, double edge, round double edge, By Zahi Alrayyes 2020
sill and capping types : straight, round edge, double edge, round double edge, By Zahi Alrayyes 2020

Straight: simple but need to chamfer the corners to make the sharp edges safe.
Round edge: for better appearance and for classical style use a round edge capping and sills.
Double: for larger scale use double marble pieces to have thicker sill. This suite residential and commercial modern buildings.
Double round edge: for lavishness or large scale, use double round edges, it has extra cost than previous choices. Typically used for villas and high quality residential buildings.

Double marble emperador meduim sill
Double marble emperador meduim sill, Gaza Alhelou Station 2018

For classic style sills, designers creating several marble edges finishing design, as shown in the following photo. Either straight or round edge details will give a classic style. Round details is more classic however using straight edges with more details will have lower cost and classic style.

Dark Emperador marble stair parapet detailed design classic style, Gaza 2018 by Abu-Qoussay Dbabesh
Dark Emperador marble stair parapet detailed design classic style, Gaza 2018 by Abu-Qoussay Dbabesh

How to Select the Capping and Sill Materials 

Parapet capping and sill material has to have a low water absorption ratio and to resist weathering. So marble, granite, aluminum and concrete are suitable materials to use. 

Marble is a suitable material for parapets capping and windows sill. Select marble with low water absorbing ratio, also order pieces with more length to have fewer connections between marbles, usually it cut into 150 cm length. The connection will be filled with cement or marble adhesive. Marble is cheap, easy to install and to decorate. Marble effecting from weathering, marble veins and pores will enlarge. Tiny veins will allow water to enter through the marble sill and capping. This problem fixed by either filling the pores and veins by cement or marble adhesive.

Marble capping has defect veins and pores from weathering that accrue water leaking, Gaza 2020
Marble capping has defect veins and pores from weathering that accrue water leaking, Gaza 2020

Granite has low water absorption ratio and can resist weathering more than marble. But usually granite colors are dark and light colors have a high price. Also granite doesn’t have many pores that’s perfect with water absorption but cement mortar won’t bond well it. Therefore there are some chemical products we use for granite backside in order to make it rough for better bonding with mortar. This problem appears more after installing fixtures over the granite sill and capping, like handrail. Where opening a hole in granite after installation or even screws will shake the sill and disassemble it from cement mortar. Therefore we recommend to open holes in a method that won’t shake the sill and capping like, water jet.

Double round edge from Rosa Betta marble, Gaza 2020
Double round edge from Rosa Betta marble, Gaza 2020

Mosaic and terrazzo is a white cement material that cast in place. This will give more bonding to the parapet capping and sills. In my view point it looks nice when it has a light large stones like Perlato size 5. Mosaic and terrazzo is cheap comparing to marble and granite. Also it fit stairs and curved parapet. Long length sills requires expansion joint, it’s made from glass as shown in the following photo.

handrail parapet capping from mosaic, by Almamoura Company, Gaza 2020
handrail parapet capping from mosaic, by Almamoura Company, Gaza 2020

Installing Parapets Capping and Windows Sill Recommendations:

  • Install parapets capping and windows sill after the block works, and stone wall cladding and before plastering works. Paint the sills with lime and sand to avoid cement stick to marble during plaster and painting works.
  • Sill size, for width leave a cm or two for plaster works thickness, and leave 3 cm for tiles works. For the outside, leave two more centimeters to have a cantilevered sill. The cantilevered sill will allow water to slide away from the walls to prevent water dripping the wall. Also prevent water dripping by a grove in the bottom surface of the sill or capping. 
  • The capping or sill length has to be straight leveled. For the width make few millimeters slope toward the outside to allow water slide outside instead of leaking.
  • For corners use 45 or diagonal connections, they look nice and will bond together better than any other connection.
Parapets capping corner connections, Gaza 2020
Parapets capping corner connections, Gaza 2020

FAQs

What capping to use for curtain walls?

For curtain walls and aluminum composite panels  facade use aluminum capping. Aluminum capping can be done by a certain profile or customized from ACP. Remember capping and sill function is to prevent water leaking and the material has to prevent weathering, then aluminum is perfect.

Floor Tiles Skirting

Thin Porcelain tiles skirting, Gaza 2019

Floor tile skirting is a short wall tile to protect wall from water and to give the walls a nice finishing. The main function of floor tile skirt is to protect the wall from water during floor cleaning. Furniture against the walls will scratch and damage it, tile skirting keep a small distance between wall and furniture. Also tile skirting keep a nice appearance of the connection between tiles and walls. Floor tiles skirting can be made from different materials according to the space function.

skirt is protect the wall from furniture scratching, Gaza 2020
skirt is protect the wall from furniture scratching, Gaza 2020

Tile Skirting Height

Since tile skirting function is to protect the wall from water, several centimeters height are enough. The tiles skirting nice height is 7 cm, I have tried shorter and higher skirt but wasn’t nice as 7 cm in height. Keep in mind that for some special cases, like when the wall has marble cladding one or two centimeters are enough. Select skirting material with low water absorbing to protect marble from water. Select a black granite skirting it will look as a nice shadow line detail.

For tile cladding wall there is no need to install tile skirting. Another special case when there is a wall in less than 15 cm height, like what is used for handrail balcony or curtain wall detail. I prefer to avoid few cm painting wall over the skirting, therefore skirting could be higher or from the same material as sill to appear as a block of marble.

Balcony with low parapet height that need emperador sill full height
Balcony with low parapet height that need emperador sill full height. Gaza Alhelou petrol station 2018

Skirting Cutting Problem

Many companies produce tile skirting in a certain size, these skirts have a straight edges.  Other times, craftsmen cut tiles in certain heights to make the tile’s skirting. There are several methods to cut a porcelain or ceramic tiles either by manual tile cutter, grinder or a saw machine. Cutting tiles using manual tile cutter or grinder won’t have a straight edges. Craftsman will install bad cut edge at the bottom, to avoid it appear to the human eye. Then cement grout used to fill the bad cut edge connection. This cut method can be used if there is much tile pieces that have at least one straight edge. The best tile cut method is saw machine to have straight edges. Not all tiles contractors have in-site saw machine, therefore sometimes they send it to marble workshop to cut them.

skirting cutting problems, show that low edge has bad cut and filled with cement grout that has problems too. Gaza 2020
skirting cutting problems, show that low edge has bad cut and filled with cement grout that has problems too. Gaza 2020

Skirting Round Edges

At the British International School in Gaza project, it required a recognition from the UK. One of the main requirements to get the recognition was student safety, therefore they asked to round skirting edges. The marble flooring and skirting disassembled, then send them to marble factory to round the top edge. Full-body porcelain can round it edge, while full-color porcelain the round edge will have similar color to the edge and won’t look nice. However, can’t round ceramic or veneer tiles because the bisque layer is weak and have a different color.

Skirting round edge from Omani marble, Gaza 2016
Skirting round edge from Omani marble, Gaza 2016
Marble skirt in lathe profile for wall wood cladding
Marble skirt in lathe profile for wall wood cladding, Gaza 2011

Skirting Corners

It’s important to notice that skirting require a 45 degree cut as shown in the following photo. It can’t install over each other to avoid tiles bisque layer to appear. Half on half and other detailed connection doesn’t suite the skirting scale. Also 45 degree corner connection suite when the skirt has a top round edge.

Granite round edge skirting and 45 degree corners, Gaza 2020
Granite round edge skirting and 45 degree corners, Gaza 2020

Plaster Paint  and Tile Skirting Details

As tile skirting role to have a nice wall floor appearance, the wall-skirt detail is important. Most walls have plaster and painting finish and sometimes a wallpaper finish is used. 

For plaster craftsmen like to end their work 15 cm from the top of concrete. 10 cm is the finish floor level, then tile skirt require 7 cm. This means tiles craftsman have two choices either to lay skirting tiles over plaster works or to remove the plaster then lay the skirt. I prefer to remove the plaster then to lay tile skirt to have less thickness skirt. Another finish alternative, when plaster craftsman leave 20 cm from the top of concrete instead of 15 cm. This way they need to finish the 3 cm plaster after the tiles work finish and before tile joint grout begins. 

For painting works, the most important to make a sharp edge between painting and tile skirt, and it’s better to make a round edge to have a nice finish. Also for wallpaper it’s important to know where to end the wallpaper.

Thin Porcelain tiles skirting, Gaza 2019
Thin Porcelain tiles skirting, Gaza 2019
Thick Porcelain tiles skirting that have over lap bad connection filled with cement grout, Gaza 2019
Thick Porcelain tiles skirting that have over lap bad connection filled with cement grout, Gaza 2019

Tiles Expansion Joint

For high temperature countries like Arab Gulf, tiles expansion joint is important. In outdoor and large spaces expansion joint can be installed each 4 meters in both directions. Another expansion joint at room boundaries and in the connection between wall and floor. A centimeter that doesn’t have either tiles or a mortar, then it’s filled with rubber material like SikaFlex or other products. Then the tiles skirt will cover the expansion joint and won’t appear for the human eyes.

Tiles Skirting Connection with Doors

The connection between door and tiles skirting is a sensitive detail. Where door frame install after tiles works and sometimes after the painting works to keep it clean. So site engineering has to give the tiles craftsman where the tile skirting ends. So when the door frame installed they have a nice finish together. Sometimes interior designers make a door frame base to avoid bad connection with tile skirt.

Bad skirting connection with door. Gaza 2020
Bad skirting connection with door. Gaza 2020
How to make curved walls skirting ?

Well, tiles and natural stone materials can’t bend according to the wall curve. Therefore the best solution is to divide the skirt into smaller width size according to the wall curvature. Dividing the skirt width will give a not bad solution that will have a bad appearance.Curved wall skirt using small width species, Gaza 2016

Skirt mortar problem, notice that the tile that doesn’t fill with mortar have echo sound. Gaza 2020

Beauty of Travertine Veins

Travantine is a natural stone classify as limestones. Travertine stone is unique by it veins, pores and holes, this what gives it more aesthetic value. These make travertine soft, absorbent and it doesn’t resist the weathering action well. Travertine become known by its veining, it’s the beauty of travertine. Also Travertine is known by its warm natural range of colors, in tones of beige, cream, brown, yellow, orange, red, gold, silver and a wooden like texture. Travertine formed in salted lakes from calcium carbonate. In most often travertine found in Italy, Turkey, USA, Mexico, Peru and Croatia. This post will discuss several topics you need to know before selecting travertine. 

Classic Travertine shows it pores, veins and texture
Classic travertine texture. By Zomord Marble 2018.

Travertine Applications

For thousands of years travertine is used as a common building material for walls and decorations. Since travertine has pores and holes, which is hard to fit some applications like floor, stairs and sinks. Travertine holes need to be filled, and pores to seal in order to achieve these applications function. Travertine holes could filled with cement grout or marble adhesive. 

Classic and noche travertine together. It's show travertine holes. Arrange travertine together.
Notice travertine holes. This is classic travertine beside Noche travertine -wooden like texture – at Alhoreya Building, Alzahra city 2019 by Zahi Alrayyes

Cement grout is holes filler, where cement will absorb water and it became darker. Also cement won’t have the same reflection as travertine surface. On the other hand, marble adhesive is available in many colors as well as transparent base. Marble adhesive doesn’t effect from water and will remain with the same color. The disadvantage of marble adhesive that it will break and fragment when exposed to sun rays. Therefore, as holes filler and joints between tiles, it’s better to use cement grout for outdoor and marble adhesive for indoor applications. 

Travertine back side. it shows the holes and pores
Classic travertine back side. by Zahi Alrayyes. Alzahra city 2019

Pores also affect how travertine will look over time, sealer can protect travertine and keep the surface beauty over time. There are several products in the market to protect travertine surface and keep the same glossiness or the rough surface. Be aware that rough surface is harder to seal, because it has more pores and it requires a matte sealer. 

Sink made of yellow travertine, The travertine holes are filled and pores are sealed
Sink made of yellow travertine. at Zomord showroom, Alburej 2017.

These solutions allow designers to select travertine as marble and granite, especially because travertine has unique colors and texture. The below photos shows the use of travertine as sink, stairs and other applications.

counter top sink made of noche travertine, The travertine holes are filled and pores are sealed
counter top sink made of noche travertine. By Zomord marble 2019

Travantine Veins

As mentioned above, travertine is unique by it softness, veins and holes. Travertine is groups of light and dark veins. The most important thing is to arrange travertine tiles before installation in order to have the continuous veins. Arranging will show the travertine tiles as art, a mass, or as slab of travertine. To have a continuous veins there are two methods, the continuous and book match arrangement. 

Continuous veins arrangement, when tiles are cut parallel to veins directions. Arranging tiles in stacked bond, or running bond that I recommend. Running bond is better because it will interlock the different tones together. Continuous veins arrangement is the best technique for travertine tiles.

Classic and noche travertine, in continuous veins
Classic and noche travertine, in continuous veins. Alhoreya Building Gaza 2019 by Zahi Alrayyes

Diagonal veins cut is suitable to be arranged continuously or in book match arrangement. Marble and travertine tiles and slabs that has a clear diagonal veins are suitable for book match arrangement. Book match arrangement adds aesthetic value to walls, the wall will look as continuous paint of travertine. To have a continuous veins for book match arrangement, where the back of travertine need to be polished.

Book match travertine veins. Noche travertine, wood like travertine.
Travertine wall cladding by Kamal Abdelhadi. using travertine noche -the wooden like texture- Gaza 2018

The scale of travertine veins has an important impact, where most people consider smaller veins is more beautiful. This is true for interior scale, or in applications that is close to human eye. On the other hand the larger veins is more suitable for applications that has longer distance from human eye like architecture scale. Then in both cases you can enjoy the appearance of travertine veins to appear as a mass, or a natural rock.

Continuous travertine tile's veins
Classic travertine. It’s shows travertine as one mass. This by arranging travertine veins together. Alhoreya Building, Alzahra, Owned by Hossam and Wassem Salman Alhelou By Architect Zahi Alrayyes 2019

Travertine Cross Veins

Cross veins travertine is also available. Cross veins cut required a rigid and solid travertine stone. it’s popular for American Travertine, the orange travertine like the one in the below photo. It’s like particles of different colors and tones instead of continuous veins.

Cross veins travertine stairs cladding. American orange travertine
Cross veins travertine stairs cladding. American orange travertine by ORIGIN DESIGN Architect Zahi Alrayyes at GIZ office. Beirut tower, Gaza 2017.

Travertine Decoration

Travertine Tiles and mosaics are available in different sizes and arrangement as decorations. Whites, greys, yelows, oranges and red shades makes the small tiles sizes and mosaic look nice. From french set, to straight arrangement, and other shapes that have classic appearance.

Orange, red and yellow, hue travertine color for flower box, By Maher Abuseif, Alzwayda 2018

Travantine Finish Surface

Travertine came in different surface finish, range from polished, matt, brushed to rough surface. Personally i don’t like travertine with high reflection, rough travertine surface reflect the less amount of light and sound. This makes it suitable for building cladding, where weathering will add more aesthetic value to it. Also it’s suitable for interior spaces, especially public spaces that require less echo wall cladding finish materials.

FAQs

How to install travertine walls?

Travertine can install at walls either by casting, using cement mortar or glueing using tile adhesive. I prefer to install using transparent tile adhesive for two reasons. The first reason is that travertine has pores and holes which means cement could be pure during casting, which will look ugly. Another reason I prefer gluing, is also because pores and holes that tile adhesive could stick easy in them to enhance the connection between wall and travertine. To gluing the travertine it requires to plaster the wall in a good leveling, and remember that tile adhesive can’t have a thicknesses like cement mortar and casting methods.

What are the available travertine sizes in the market?

Travertine is available in similar sizes as marble range from, Slabs, Tiles and Stairs. Slabs are available in size of 1.7*2.8m in thickness of 3cm. Tiles are available in size of 30*60 and 120*60 in thickness of 1.8cm. Stairs are available in several sizes, where the thickness of going in 3cm and 1.8cm for risers. The length of the stair step typically is 120 and 130cm and could be longer. Also there are other sizes like 15*15*1.8cm in diagonal veins direction and also french set, mosaic and other decoration sizes. Travertine red shades french set.Travertine slab

Marble Stairs Detail; The Shadow Line

Select the suitable stairs finish is a hard mission, especially for homeowners. There are a variety of finishing materials, details and style. Marble is the common use material that is strong and has a nice appearance despite it classic style. Personally as much as I love marble but i struggle to find a modern details. The shadow line detail is a method to get a modern appearance, that is suitable for the most type of marble. The shadow line has flush clean look with no overhang nosing to have a modern appearance. With a thin black granite underneath the riser, it shows each step by itself individually.

Marble stairs, with shadow line detail
Marble stairs at Labib 2 building, Gaza Palestine By architect Zahi Alrayyes and marble from Zomord Marble.

when to use the shadow line detail

As mentioned before the shadow line detail is suitable with many kinds of marble. It’s the best choice with marble that have different tones like Flower Beige marble as shown in the below photo. The shadow line detail will separate each step by its own, then people will not easily notice the difference in marble tones. Also it’s suitable with marble that has many veins, it displays the beauty of each step. On the other hand, it’s not nice with clear marble that look similar tone and doesn’t have veins. It’s not a bad choice but it won’t add much to the marble and stairs. 

Shadow line steps
Marble stairs at Labib 2 building, Gaza Palestine By architect Zahi Alrayyes and marble from Zomord Marble. The marble is Flower Beige a Turkish product that has a variety of veins and difference in background tones.

Installing shadow line marble stairs

The shadow line detail is simple and cheap detail comparing to another marble details. Because its regular straight steps with a 2cm black granite underneath the riser. Granite is prefer to used and not marble, because it’s thin we need a plain black color. Also granite is more rigid material to avoid the break the 2cm piece through cutting process. Personally I prefer black shadow line to be thinner than 2cm but then it will become weaker. There are three types of black granite, beside artificial stone read How to Select Black Granite article for more information. Artificial stone is not suitable because it will efflorescence and appear with with grey and white spots. The craftsmen need to cut the granite using saw cutting machine at marble factory, and then to glue it with the riser according to floor and riser height.

shadow line stairs marble installation
how to install shadow line marble stairs, Gaza 2019 by Architect Zahi Alrayyes. Marble from Zomord Marble and installed by A. Muhassien

In conclusion, It’s not the only modern marble stairs detail, but it’s suitable for marble that has variety of tones or density veins. The shadow line detail is cheap compared to another modern marble stairs details. Also it’s well-designed, the design is avoiding water collecting and has no fine details that could break in the future.

FAQs

Can i do shadow line detail for porcelain tiles cladding stairs?

Yes, where a piece of black porcelain can stick using tile adhesive to the step rise. Then it’s filled with cement mortar as shown in the following drawing.

Drawing for stairs shadow line detail using tiles cladding stairs. By Zahi Alrayyes 2020

Marble edges finishing

Decorations using marble are majestic, marbles’ colors, veins and glossiness and much to space beauty. Marble wall cladding appear elegant when it appear as it build out of marble blocks, try to avoid to appear as tile cladding. Although contemporary interior designers like to have lightweight materials feeling, this through appear the thickness of marble tiles. Edges connections affect feeling of marble materials, this topic will discuss some edges connections techniques. We could classify marble corners types as traditional method, 45 degree method, half on half method and fillet method. 

Traditional Marble Edges Connection

Traditional connection is to install marble as shown in the photo above, it’s simple connection and easy to install. However it’s simple, marble appear cheap as it’s a cladding of few centimeters. Usually marble’s face is polished or treated, but edges need to be polished at site. Some types of marble will polished at site and appear as it face. Other types like Crema Nova, Omani marble, black marble and granite or any high strength marble won’t give good results. Polishing high strength marble requires to polish using different grades sanding papers to get to smoother surface. If the results are unsatisfactory, craftsmen paint edges by lacquer to get glossiness, however lacquer won’t last long. Edges need to be polished before installing, to avoid ruin glossiness of other marble tiles during polishing. Therefore designers and craftsmen looking for other edges connection methods.

Traditional Marble Edges Connection
Traditional Marble Edges Connection
Traditional Marble Edges Connection
Traditional Marble Edges Connection, Gaza

45 degrees Marble Edges Connection

45 degrees edges connection fit marbles that have veins, it gives the continuity of surfaces  appearing as a marble block. This connection doesn’t need to polish edges as in traditional connection. Implement this connection by trimming both edges at 45 degree then to install them together. The connection will be very thin, and require to fill either by tiles grout or marble adhesive. When edge cut at a 45 degree thin as pencil, soft marble will cut perfectly, but high strength marble will fragment. Alignment is another problem face this connection, where if angle is less than 90 degrees craftsman can’t install it. Therefore craftsman like to make narrower than 45 degrees to align easier, however it will fragment easier during edge cutting. Also 45 degrees connection used for ceramic and some types of porcelain, when tiles body is different than tiles face.

45 degrees Marble Edges Connection
45 degrees Marble Edges Connection
45 degrees Marble Edges Connection
45 degrees Marble Edges Connection, Gaza 2016

Half on Half Marble Edges Connection

All of the above connections have disadvantages make designers looking for new solutions. Half on half is a new connection method that require a groove at on end or by two ends. Advantage of half on half that craftsman could modify the edge after installation, where it will show a nice detail. Shade and shadow appear the beauty of this connection, as a tiny edge effect either in outdoor or indoor. This connection is expensive compared to previous connections because it requires a skilled craftsmen and wet table saw.

Half on Half Marble Edges Connection, Gaza 2016
Half on Half Marble Edges Connection, the two ways to implement this method, Gaza 2016
Crema marble edges details, 45 connection and half on half, Gaza 2006 at Lighthouse restaurant
Crema marble edges details, 45 connection and half on half, Gaza 2006 at Lighthouse restaurant
Half on Half Marble Edges Connection
Half on Half Marble Edges Connection, Gaza 2016

Fillet Marble Edges Connection

Fillet method is by creating a 45 degrees connection then to polish the edge either on angle or round edge. This method will give safe edges, hard to break and will not allow people to notice where the connection is. This connection requires well polishing of the edge to appear nice, and since this it need to polish a marble workshop. Then this connection is suitable for kitchen top and freestanding applications.

 Fillet Marble Edges Connection
Fillet Marble Edges Connection
 Fillet Marble Edges Connection
Fillet Marble Edges Connection, Gaza 2016
Why we don’t use tiles trim for marble?

We can, however tiles trim look cheap compared to marble lavishness. Simply it doesn’t fit marble.

How to select marble edge type for building elevation?

It’s a game of scale. Basically view difference where close view like ground floor need to be well implemented. On the other hand, marble installed at far distance from eye will not appear if it’s not well polished. Generally in far distance from eyes use simple edges connections, and expensive connections at close distance.

How to install Palestinian Stones edges

Palestinian stone usually has rough surface, i prefer to install it half on half. In traditional edges case, make sure to rough the edges like in the right hand side wall.Palestinian stone edges

Stairs Hidden Lighting

Stairs with hidden Light, Alrayyes 2019
Stairs with hidden Light, Alrayyes 2019

The staircase is the focal point inside any space, designers like to make staircase the aesthetic element of the space. Staircase is expensive because it large scale especially when cladding with marble or granite. Also designers like to enhance the beauty of the staircase by adding some elements and design techniques. Stairs Lighting is one of the most important techniques. Lighting could be target on the steps or hidden inside the steps, other designs depend on handrail lighting. This topic will discuss stairs hidden lighting type and its construction details.

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Marble Floors Disadvantages

Installing Marble at Floor, ORIGIN DESIGN, Gaza 2019

Marble flooring give the interior an elegant appearance, however marble floor have many problems because marble is sensitive. Installing marble at floor is more sensitive than wall. At wall dust and water will slide away from marble, but on floor it remain at marble ruining it surface.

Level surfaces problem

One of marble floors disadvantages is surface level. After extracting marble from quarries , marble cuts into slabs using band saw or bridge type saw. Band saw produce a wave surface, comparing to bridge type saw it’s produce a straight surface. During installing of marble flooring, craftsman has to level the floor surface. IF the marble cut using band saw machines craftsman has to arrange the tiles in a way to avoid different surface level.

To check if marble surface leveled, keep you eyes at floor reflection, the reflected photo has to be straight not sporadic or wave. In case that marble surface isn’t leveled, it requires grinding marble and polishing it. Personally I don’t recommend grinding marble because original grinder will lose for longer period. 

Fragmentation of marble Surface

Another marble floors disadvantages is surface fragmentation. Marble floor has to be always clean, where dust and sand at floor with people movement will scratch marble surface, marble will lose reflection of marble. When small area in marble scratched it will affect other areas and will make the surface look bad. Although i prefer grinding marble only if the marble surface scratched, it will return as it installed last month.

Marble flooring disadvantages
Marble flooring disadvantages, Omani marble, Gaza 2016

Water as we discussed before, its ruin marble. Grinding marble surface can protect from natural factors like dust and water, but marble sides and back will gain water. It will gain water if there is a problem with sewage or water supply system underneath the marble. Therefore marble sides and back has to be protected against water and moisture. 

CREMA NOVA Marble

Creme color marble is favorite choice for many people. In market, there are a variety of choices of creme marble. Crema Nova the Turkish product is a common choice. because it quality, beauty and low price comparing to competitive marble types.

Crema Nova building, Gaza 2017 by ORIGIN DESIGN, Zahi Alrayyes
Crema Nova building, By ORIGIN DESIGN 2017
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How to Select and Buy Marble

Marble Samples

Marble is a metamorphic stone, it’s formed when limestone is exposed to high temperatures and pressures. Marble has more aesthetic than granite, veins add more to marble aesthetic value.
Select marble tiles and slab isn’t an easy mission, especially with the variety of choices in the market. Marble is a natural material extracted from mountains, each area in the mountain is different. It’s hard to compare marble types, because its similar in appearance but different in strength, water absorption and other properties we will discuss later in this article. For non expert who will get information from market, the flow of advice, maybe even conflicting advice, will make marble select process harder. Through this article we will go through marble properties and advice in FAQ style, try to read this article in full to get a well understanding of the process. 

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Methods of ceiling marble cladding

Marble ceiling cladding gives the architecture feeling of marble masses, the building appear as a piece of marble. However there are several types to install marble at ceilings, each method has advantages and disadvantages. Through this article we will discuss ceiling cladding methods,then you can make a decision about which method to use.

There are three methods of installing marble at ceilings. A method before casting the slab and two methods after casting the slab, one of them is using mechanical system. We will discuss the mechanical way of installing in another topic.

Before casting slab method

it’s the most common and simplest way of installing. Where marble place on the wooden framework, and it installs a steel inside the marble. Marble adhesive used to connect marble tiles together. This method sounds easy but it doesn’t reach a good result because it may move during concrete casting. Tiles could move, then it is recommended to put a mortar over the marble to enhance the bond and to protect marble adhesive from ruin by sun rays.

A problem facing this method, frameworks surface is hard to get it leveled, and any defect will appear clearly. Solving this problem can be either by chamfer the tiles edges, then it’s hard to notice its not level. Another alternative is to adopt the wood frame level, either by putting an over layer plywood to re-level the surface. For professional it’s recommended to make cladding surface lower than the rest of the slab by 5 cm. Then put sand into this area and arrange marble tiles as its verse tiling, then you can control the level precisely. 

marble cladding for ceilings methods
During working at marble cladding for ceiling, and before installing it rips blocks and steel bars. Gaza 2018
This craftsman, install Travertine tiles for ceiling cladding, using before casting method. He uses small marble pieces to gather tiles at same level by marble adhesive. Gaza, ORIGIN DESIGN, 2019
marble cladding for ceilings defects
marble cladding for ceilings defects, Gaza 2018

After casting slab – by casting method

This method has a better quality than the previous method, but it is not suitable for a large area. By making a new framework underneath the slab and by leaving the thickness of the marble and a space for cement mortar. Then steel wire will connect to the marble tile, after that arrange marble at the framework. Then connecting the marble wires to a steel mesh connecting to the concrete slab, and then it’s ready for concrete casting. We need to cast the concrete from the top, this by opening a 10 cm open at the concrete slab. But be aware to add more water to the concrete and extra cement to have a good concrete suitable for this job. It’s better to open several openings for casting at the slab. Because we need concrete to reach the top and air will get out through them.

After Casting method, Gaza 2018

As much as marble has a brilliant appearance at ceiling but also installing it is not an easy job, and it’s hard to fix and defects after installing. 

How to fix marble ceiling cladding defects?

Usually for before casting methods, and some installation defects appear after removing the slab frameworks. Some tiles aren’t at the same level, this time we tried to solve this by doing a groove between the tiles. A three grooves along the balcony solved much of the problem. Here are photos from before and after for solving the problem. 

Marble cladding for ceiling that has some defects, where tiles aren't at the same levelMarble cladding for ceiling that has some defects, where tiles aren't at the same level, solved by doing groves between tiles

Everything you need to know about Tiles Grout

Grout is tiles joint – small space – between tiles, this space function is to allow the craftsmen to align tiles together. Typically spaces between tiles range from 2 to 4 mm and it measured by plastic grout spacers.

The size of tiles joints can affect the tiles style either modern or classic. For modern appearance usually we recommend arrangement tiles directly with no space. This fit laser cut tiles case, where tiles are well trimmed at 90 degrees angles. On the other hand, saw cutting tiles will have classic appearance. Saw cutting tiles are cheaper than laser cutting tiles, but during manufacturing it could have a difference in tiles size. This could appear clearly by eyes therefore it’s better to use large tiles joint about 7 mm wide. However in classic appearance tiles it more beautiful to leave a large grout space, but be aware to buy a good brand ground to avoid color changing.

Grout function is to align tiles together and it’s not expansion joints, because it could fill by cement grout or in marble tiles cases could fill with epoxy or marble adhesive. Both fillers type could be colored to appear in harmony or in contrast with tiles. 

tiles grout important, and what to fill it. The photo is for a Creama nova marble, Gaza 2019

As expansion joint we recommended to leave around a cm between tiles and walls. The expansion joint will cover by tiles’ skirting. Expansion joints need to be clear from sand and mortar, then to fill with highly stretchable material like Sikaflex. Then it covers with tiles skirting.There is a special accessory for tiles expansion joints where it installed outdoors in high temperature countries.

According to ISO standards 13007, where grout classified according to materials to resin grout RG and cement grout CG. The cement grout classify to CG1 and CG2, of course CG2 is better. You can search about Iso standards 13007 for more information. Notice that there are few other factors affect grout quality. For example, the tile joint has to be clear from sand or dust, so the grout find a place it self. 

Cleaning Tiles Grout

Many people suffer from tile grout cleaning, especially floor cement grout. For cement grout, where cement has pores that could collect dust and dirt. Then the cement grout will become darker and look old. There are some chemical products that clean cement grout like Grout Cleaner from Fila. It will clean the cement pour from dust and dirty then partly close those pour. Designer sometimes use dark color cement grout, in order to protect it from color difference. Compared to epoxy or using marble adhesive as tiles grout, where it has less pour that won’t collect dust and dirt. The epoxy and tile adhesive grout is using only in indoor where sun will fragment it, making creaking and disassembled with walking friction.

FAQs

Can i use Portland cement as cement grout?

Yes, cement grout is made of cement, either white or Portland cement – gray -. Then add pigment to give it a color and zinc to enhance it strengths. So if you want cement color grout add zinc to Portland grout and use it as tile grout. Use black pigment to make darker grey if you like.

Palestinian Stone

Palestinian stone is located at West Bank Mountains. Also it’s called Jerusalem stone and marble, with average annual sales of 600$ million. Commonly it caved in a rough texture to use in building facade cladding and for decor. The Palestinian stones and it unique rough texture is a main character of the Palestinian architecture.

As Palestinian stones are limestone extracting from different mountains. Thus stone types are various according to location. Each stone has it physical specifications, where they vary in absorption ratio, rigidity and strength of bearing, leading to price differences. Most famous stone types are Njassa, Shyoukh, Slayeb, Tafouh, Barezit and many others.

Palestinian stone types

Njassa and Shyoukh are white. However Njassa is more white and has less absorption ratio which will remain white for longer type. In other hand Shyoukh Band 160 found deep inside the mountain, which is similar to Njassa stone specifications. Slayeb is red and yellow stone, its solid with a low absorption ratio. Taffouh is that yellow stone, while Birzeit is varied from yellow to grayish green but it yellow is more hue than Tafouh. There are other types found in Palestine like Beersheba stone in Negev desert. Its light gray color stone in similar tones, this gives architecture seem like it built from one stone building.

Palestinian Stone Extracting

Stone extracted then cut in slabs then to different sizes and thickness to fit the required application. What’s makes Palestinian stone unique in facade cladding, its has a rough face where it shows architecture massive. The well-known two major sizes, the 25 cm height and 12 cm height its come in 3 cm thickness and random widths. Personally I consider 12 cm height is more beauty in scale and details, however 25 cm scale and details appear differently because it requires a different caving techniques. Increase stone thickness could be a solution to have the large size appears in nice details similar to 12 cm stone size.  

Palestinian Stone and Water Absorbing Problems

Palestinian stone as limestone has a high water absorbing ration. Specially that rough Palestinian stone surface is not treated for water absorption. The stone will yellow and convert to black color that have a bad appearance and could easily noticed. There are a few tips to take in consideration to avoid yellowing.

First and most important to fix water leakage problems. Most usual problems happen in slab connection, where problems with indoor plumbing that affect the elevation stone cladding.

Also inverted beams around the building boundaries will prevent water to reach the Palestinian stone. The inverted beam has to be casting with slab to avoid water leakage. Another thing is to avoid installing water supply pipes at floor, and install the pipes in the false ceiling. In the false ceiling the problem will appear immediately, unlike floor installations. The cost of removing the false ceiling to fix the pipes is smaller than removing floor tiles for pipes maintenance.

Second tip is to temporarily connect stone together, use marble adhesive. Some craftsmen use gypsum to temporary connecting, but gypsum is organic material that wouldn’t stay for a long time. Then the place of gypsum mortar will be a gaps to collect water. The marble adhesive is better choice for traditional installing method – the casting -.
Stone types, cut sizes and arrangement have various alternatives, resulting huge methods to build and design of the building facade. Here are some photos of buildings elevation designs that created by Palestinian stone.

Palestinian stone joints

Rough Palestinian stone, use a wide joints that fills with cement grout. The nice width for the rough Palestinian stone is 7 mm. Where craftsmen use grinder to wider the joints. The grinder will straight the joint and give them the same thickness. As the joints between the stone tiles are wide it requires adding sand to cement grout. Sand will make the mixture rigid, rougher also sand will color the mixture. For white stones like Njassa, Shyoukh use white sand like sea shore sand to prevent yellowing the mixture. After filling the cement grout craftsmen use steel brush to clean the joints and after use grinder steel brush to clean the stone surface. For colored Palestinian tones like Beirziet, Slayeb or Tafouh craftsmen add pigments to color the grout. 

Palestinian stone Njassa 25cm height using traditional installing-method
Palestinian stone Njassa 25cm height using traditional installing-method. Gaza 2017

Palestinian Stone Sizes

Stone types, cut sizes and arrangement have various alternatives, resulting huge methods to build and design of the building facade. Here are some photos of buildings elevation designs that created by Palestinian stone.

building using Slayeb stone , Gaza by ORIGIN DESIGN
Palestinian stone by ORIGIN DESIGN
Proposal for Palestinian stone building in Gaza using rough and smooth stone.