Grout – Why Its Important – Adapted From Materials Marketing


Professional tips-on-grout--mosaic-tile-patterns-2x4-interlocking-featured

According to the omniscient Wikipedia, grout is defined as , “a construction material used to embed rebar in masonry walls, connect sections of pre-cast concrete, fill voids, and seal joints (like those between tiles). Grout is generally composed of a mixture of water, cement, sand, often color tint, and sometimes fine gravel (if it is being used to fill the cores of cement blocks). It is applied as a thick emulsion and hardens over time, much like its close relative mortar.” With that said, let’s discuss what the homeowner needs to understand about grout.

Professional tips-on-grout--Crema-chateau

Typically, the end user will see grout as the “stuff between” the tile or stone. But a deeper dive is required. In general, the homeowner will encounter either sanded or unsanded grout. As a normal rule, the wider the joint the more likely that sanded grout will be used and conversely the thinner the joint the more likely that unsanded grout will be used to fill the joint area. The grout joint is of course the “space” between the tiles or stones. 

The color of the grout is very important for the user to consider. In the absence of a color additive, the grout would be more or less a fairly dull grey. Today’s clients demand more color options and they abound. But please be careful. Some colorants can be simply too unstable and instead of getting the Fuchsia you were expecting you might find a blotchy mess with unacceptable color variations through-out. So at the risk of sounding too old school, you might want to stick to more neutral tones such as cream colors, beige/brown values and variations on the grey. A superb source for grout is our good friends at Custom Building Products.

Professional tips-on-grout--Sable-French Quarter

Another significant consideration is the contrast between the grout color and the color of the tile or stone. In most cases, the still moist grout is “smeared” across the entire surface of the tile or stone in order to fill the open joints before the mixture cures or hardens. So in a perfect world, a cream colored grout over a cream colored tile or stone would be really simple and easy. Now imagine if someone has a black/white combination in mind. They could be thinking of a black grout joint and a white tile for example. This can be accomplished by a fine professional but is probably not the best idea on a regular basis since in the installation process that black grout might remain as a haze over the white tile. So be careful with this design concept.

Jerusalem Stone

With Christmas right around the corner I thought I would explore Jesus’ birthplace and the stone that is derived from Jerusalem.

Jerusalem stone (Hebrew: אבן ירושלמית, even yerushalmit) is a name applied to various types of pale limestone, dolomite and dolomitic limestone, common in and around Jerusalem that have been used in building since ancient times. One of these limestones, meleke, has been used in many of the region’s most celebrated structures, including the Western Wall.

Jerusalem stone continues to be used in construction and incorporated in Jewish ceremonial art such as menorahs and seder plates. In 2000, there were 650 stone-cutting enterprises run by Palestinians in the West Bank, producing a rich range of pink, sand, golden, and off-white bricks and tiles.


What Is Limestone?

Slate and limestone also have water in common, at least when it comes to their formation. Slate is found in the ocean; likewise, limestone is found anywhere an ancient sea existed and can even be comprised entirely of marine fossils. Limestones are sedimentary rocks that form from the layering of silt and organic matter over time. The pressure and heat from the accumulation of layers results in chemical reactions that harden the sediments into solid stone.

Sometimes limestone is purely calcite from skeletal remains of marine life, but depending upon the nature of the silt (i.e., “impurities” like clay, sand, and iron oxide that may have contributed to its formation), limestone can vary in color, from the predominant grey color of many limestones to browns, yellows, or reds. The presence of carbon in the silt can also make limestone appear blue or black. Also, depending on the methods of formation and the types of deposits that accumulated, limestone can be found in crystalline, clastic (composed of fragments), granular (like sand), or massive slabs. This makes it a highly varied stone useful for many modern applications.

Limestone is typically composed of calcium carbonate, so it is soluble in acid. When crushed, it is soluble in water. As an alkali, it is great for adjusting the pH in a garden for vegetables that prefer less acidic soil. Limestone is also used in the water industry to soften water. It is employed in dyes (it is used to make paper white) and as an additive in paint, as well as in everyday items that we put into our bodies like toothpaste and antacids as a filler. It is also found in many of our favorite foods as a preservative and as a source of calcium, an essential mineral in our diets.

More commonly known uses of limestone are as aggregate or base for roads and foundations and for purification in many industries – to purify steel, to purify molten glass, and even to purify sugar. It is essential in other kinds of manufacturing as well: brake pads and wools for clothing also utilize limestone. One of the most common uses is in the production of Portland cement, which is the most common type of cement in use around the world. Limestone is the basic ingredient for concrete, mortor, stucco, and grout.

Because limestone is found in abundance and is easier to cut in comparison to some other natural stones, as well as because it is long-lasting and resistant to weather fluctuations, it is often found in the manufacture of buildings, either as building blocks or for facades. Limestone City in Canada actually derives its name from the sheer number of buildings made from limestone there!

Limestone certainly has many faces, but it finds a spot in our hearts for its uses in indoor and outdoor, commercial and residential applications. Its muted tones, whether polished or honed, are fit for bathrooms, fireplace facings and mantles, countertops, and flooring. (Limestone is very porous, so it doesn’t turn aside stains as easily as some other natural stones; therefore, when it comes to countertops and flooring, it must be finished and sealed properly or placed in areas that are less active.) Limestone slabs and tiles are also suited for landscaping applications in patios and walkways . They are especially eye-catching when defining garden borders, as both a salute to nature and a nod to limestone’s nutritional pedigree.








Has Historic Preservation Become A spectator sport?

Editor’s Note: Today’s Guest Blog is from our friend, Charles Birnbaum, from The Cultural Landscape Foundation. His post was originally featured in the Huffington Post and he was gracious enough to allow us to repost it on our blog. Typically we feature visually inspiring posts – eye candy for our readers. But every now and then we think its important to tackle a weightier subject. We all need to be challenged by new concepts, the intent behind our creativity and output, and our impact on the world around us. Charles’s thought-provoking blog provides just this – it’s long, but definitely worth the read.

Nostalgia is suddenly under siege — particularly in the guise of historic preservation. Nostalgia, once roused by the demolition of New York’s Penn Station, was a great motivator in saving Grand Central Terminal. Today, however, the form of nostalgia we know as historic preservation is getting beaten up on all sides. (This strikes me as ironic at a time when Woody Allen is finding commercial success with his dreamy and nostalgia-laden Midnight in Paris). National and state level budgets are being shredded, a recent exhibition at the New Museum in New York City demonized it, and recent pieces in the New York Times offered convenient and strange characterizations of its intent, import and impact. Mind you, the modern historic preservation movement isn’t a blameless victim and certainly suffers from many self-inflicted wounds. But, this pile on is unprecedented, and more troubling, people seem to be content to sit on the sidelines and watch the slaughter (if they even bother to care).
Now for a quick detour/confession to provide some context. Whenever I’m in New York’s Theater District I’m reminded of The Great Theatre Massacre of 1982, recalling the demolition that year of the Helen Hayes (originally Fulton), Morosco and Bijou theatres to make way for the Marriott Marquis Hotel.

I was a landscape architecture student at Syracuse back then and journeyed down to New York on People Express Airlines (remember them?) for $29 (really!) and joined a rally Save the Theatres had organized. After singing America the Beautiful, a bunch of us were carted away, though not arrested, in a paddywagon (which I shared with Lauren Bacall, Jason Robards and Christopher Reeve).

Now, nearly three decades later I look at that 45-story hotel and know we’re no better off. Does that make me nostalgic? Perhaps. Do I wish those theatres were still here? Absolutely!
So let’s examine what’s happening. Consider this: the historic preservation movement has helped save such treasures as Acoma Pueblo, President Lincoln’s Cottage, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin, the homes of Edith Wharton, Mark Twain and Harriet Tubman, as well as the Star-Spangled Banner and the World Trade Center Model. Various grass-roots groups and organizations were involved, but all of these aforementioned projects have one thing in common, all are recipients of symbolically and strategically important grants from Save America’s Treasures (SAT), a public-private partnership between the National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation launched in 1998 that has leveraged federal dollars to raise millions more to do what its title suggests, save America’s treasures. Well, SAT got shafted in the current budget and, after an enviable legacy of successes, will be forced to shut its doors on June 30. Oh, and Preserve America has also been kicked to the ground.

A good example of state-level antipathy can be found in Texas where Governor/ersatz-presidential aspirant Rick Perry plans to eliminate the Texas Historical Commission. According to the non-profit Texas Public Policy Foundation’s recommendation: “at a time when we are trying to make difficult decisions about preserving certain services to Texans, funding for programs like courthouse preservation is not the state’s top priority.” Perhaps the greatest irony in all of this is that these recent cuts are due in part to the Tea Party Movement’s success in the last election — the same folks parading around in tricorn hats waxing nostalgically and loudly, about the Founding Fathers and America’s roots.
Over at the New York Times, soon to be departing architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff reviewed the Rem Koolhaas-curated New Museum exhibition Cronocaos. In An Architect Fears that Preservation Distorts Ouroussoff writes that Koolhaas, “paints a picture of an army of well-meaning but clueless preservationists who, in their zeal to protect the world’s architectural legacies, end up debasing them by creating tasteful scenery for docile consumers while airbrushing out the most difficult chapters of history. The result, he argues, is a new form of historical amnesia, one that, perversely, only further alienates us from the past.” Ouroussoff, it seems, concurs.
In her New York Times op-ed rebuttal Death by Nostalgia, author Sarah Williams Goldhagen writes, “instead of bashing preservation, we should restrict it to its proper domain. Design review boards, staffed by professionals trained in aesthetics and urban issues and able to influence planning and preservation decisions, should become an integral part of the urban development process.”

Follow Charles A. Birnbaun on Twitter:!/TCLFdotORG and learn more about The Cultural Landscape Foundation on their website.


Demolition of the Morosco Theatre, 1982, courtesy Lee Harris Pomeroy Architects P.C.

Red & Green Stone














Oh the weather outside is frightfully hot. We need a cold artic blast to get us in the Christmas spririt. The holidays are around the corner. And I notice in my week of Christmas blogging I had nary a picture of Red & Green stone. So today lets think beyond our typical balmy tropical hues & go dramatic. Red & Green. Most are granites, in case you are wondering.  

Let your dedicated Larry’s Cap Rock & Stone representative assist you in selecting the perfect stone to compliment your holiday decor or your everyday decor.

30 Christmas Gift Wrapping Ideas

30 Christmas Gift Wrapping Ideas

Writen by Bogdan / 4

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Christmas is coming and the shopping fever is in all of us. We all ran to find the most beautiful gifts to impress our friends but have you ever thought how much gift packaging can count? A gift can produce a much greater joy if is packed super nice. Below you can see 30 examples of beautiful packaging for your inspiration.



Christmas Exteriors – South Florida

I am a traditionalist. Call it purist. I like my simple white lights & candelabra. They accentuate my green granite boulder and white beach pebbles. But I envy those house on Old Cutler or in Coral Gables that can decorate with panache and color at Christmas time. I am scared of color. I suppose that is why I love David Bromstad. Aside from his adorable personality, his dramatic use of color inspires me.

I have assembled some inspiration if you are looking for the perfect Christmas exterior. There are many companies that specialize in assembling & disassembling your Christmas decorations if you cant get your significant other off the couch.



Funky & Quirky Christmas Trees ala Miami

It’s never too late to offer up new ideas for Christmas Tree decorations (unless you’re a down-to-the-last-minute kind of person) but here are some fun ideas for this year or next year.  Even if your a purist like me and prefer old-fashioned live trees, there’s always space for a little fun, funkiness and glam in your holiday decor!ImageImageImageImageImageImage

Holiday Tablescapes


The holidays are almost upon us and its not too late to put the finishing touches on your gathering table.  A place of community and conversation, your holiday table is also a reflection of your family’s personal style.  Today we offer up six different looks that are reflective of 2013 design trends presented in our annual forecast, ranging from the traditional to the unconventional.

Elegant, sophisticated and ornate, this table delves into the annals of history to merge various eras and aesthetics and then mixes things up, elevating and improving, to create surprises in an understandable yet refreshing way. Integrating heritage items and family treasures with new materials and finishes modernizes your tablescape and develops a gathering place with a timeless quality.

Simple and clean, this  table features a white aesthetic but also incorporates a full range of classic yet refreshed neutrals that are appropriate for today’s attitude. The feeling is effortless but focused, not done in a careless manner, but chosen and put together with uncomplicated ease, creating a sense of order and subdued luxury. The overall effect creates a table that is quiet and reserved but the end result is a flawlessly elegant, relaxed mood that is more contemplative than showy.

Mid-Century Modern continues to make a strong play in decor and this table returns to the 1950′s and 1960′s for inspiration. On this table we try to evoke memories of childhood, incorporate retro styling with the timeless appeal of mid-century looks and iconic goods, revamped with a streamlined look.

Emphasizing nature is important on this table. Raw materials, intricate patterns, rich colors and inspiring textures of our natural environments translates into a tablescape of luxe ruggedness. The result is a rustic aesthetic revisited with a modern sensibility. It honors the beauty in the flawed and the primitive, the marriage of natural and manmade, and creates an eco-sensual elegance that is nourishing and authentic.

This holiday table values the art of modest living and emphasizes the sublime poetry in ordinary, everyday things. Decor celebrates the essentials of life, turning to forgotten values of comfort, function and tradition. The vocabulary speaks of indigenous products, an earth-conscious perspective, and minimal style where each piece is as chic as it is functional.

On this funky table, individuality and originality reign. Mix and match styles, colors, textures and eras. This is your opportunity to express your creativity and self-expression – anything goes!