Saturday, September 22, 2007

Home Ideas: Adding Color and Pattern to Natural Stone

Beautiful natural stone (marble, granite, sandstone, soapstone, etc.) is porous, so with it comes the drudgery of sealing jobs from time to time to ward off stains.

Want to add color and pattern to a plain stone surface? Tinted cement as sealer lasts for years. You can mix the same color as the stone or take your pick of other shades.

For our bathroom makeover we sealed creamy coral stone tile, called Mactan stone hereabouts, with a peachy mix. How it's done:

1. Unpolished stone is best (costs less, too) for the results we have in mind. Hose down the stone surface or soak the sample tiles to remove dirt from their pores, and rinse off.

2. Mixing colored cement is like mixing paint, so you might need to take a sample of the shade you want to a paint store and get help coming up with it.

3. Test-mix colors, adding two or three tablespoons of portland cement for every kilo of colored cement for more hardness. Apply on the stone surface and dry with a hairdryer on warm setting for about two minutes.

4. Sand with no. 80 sandpaper to remove top layer of cement. Switch to no. 100 for a semifinal finish.

Voila! A gorgeous pattern highlighting the stone's natural texture (shown above over granite tile. Looks brownish here, though). Coralstone carries traces of fossilized sea plants and creatures, which add interest. It's also skid resistant even when wet, which makes it ideal for floors.

Freshly applied colored cement can dry on its own for twenty four hours before sanding -- slow drying is best. The same cement mix should be used as tile grout for a seamless look. A final sanding after grout gives polish and as much smoothness as natural stone can muster.

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