Natural Tile & Stone

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Granite, Travertine, Marble, Tile—everywhere, eternally! Its eye-catching beauty, timeless quality, and universality strike most visitors to Italy and the Mediterranean with awe. Natural stone has been used as a building material for eons because it weathers many different climatic conditions, just as it does in nature. Tile ranks with natural stone in its durability, while its design options are limitless and magnificent. 

Beyond beauty and durability, using natural stone and tile is a smart investment, being more trouble free and cost effective than many imitative products, and their sustainability makes these materials the best choice. So even if you’re not building the Duomo, but plan your renovation to last, you can’t do better than to use natural stone and tile products, both indoors and out.

The Many Shades of Green
‘Green’ and ‘sustainable,’ like ‘organic,’ have become buzzwords and their overuse has made many people skeptical. Basically, sustainable or green building is the result of a design process that focuses on increasing the efficiency of resource use—energy, water, and materials. A green building reduces its impact on human health and the environment during its life cycle—from site selection through to eventual disposal or removal of its products.
 
The building industry is no different from others, having many products that claim to be ‘green.’ But natural stone is the original green building material. It is neither bonded by petroleum based resins nor does it emit VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) into your home. Stone products can be cleaned with Ph-neutral dish detergent and are 100 percent recyclable, with after-use in other projects or crushed for roadbeds, etc. Tile, a manufactured product, has breathtaking beauty and longevity just as outstanding as natural stone. In addition to limitless design options, tile is also inherently sustainable, hygienic, and extremely durable. Sustainable production by quality manufacturers is on the upswing as are choices, including tiles composed of recyclable materials (glass, leather, etc.).
 
But, sustainability means more than recycled products. Clean water and its usage are major environmental concerns globally. Domestic stone fabricators utilize a filtration system for their wastewater, while cutting edge technology has a closed-loop, 100 percent water recycling system that dramatically lowers consumption. According to the Marble Institute (www.marble-institute.com), quarrying has improved enormously from an environmental perspective. The US, Canada, and Europe especially have reclamation plans in place for when operations cease. As a result, some of those beautiful state parks, golf courses, lakes, and recreation areas you see on ‘Sunday drives’ may be former quarries.
 
Much More than Green
While websites can educate, to get the lowdown on what’s happening locally Real Estate Weekly visited two area businesses that specialize in natural stone and tile—from the exquisitely rare to the sublimely staid. Pete Sandfort of SariSand Tile and John Cogswell of Cogswell Stone satisfied the quest for information, and their showrooms, the desire for beauty.
 
Entering SariSand Tile, you’re greeted with an array of texture and color that comforts with warmth and excites with possibilities. Tiles from many nations open a breadth of ideas and potential, and Pete Sandfort and the other designers are expert guides to help winnow the choices to a few that will make your project come alive.
 
Sandfort says that since the economic downturn, only one or two area custom builders specify sustainable building products, including tile. Most people, however, are interested in doing ‘the right/green thing’ and at SariSand you’ll see a wide array in a broad price range. Exquisite leather and glass tiles, ‘wood planking,’ and much more. Visit www.sarisandtile.com first and then visit SariSand Tile on Berkmar Court.
 
John Cogswell has been in the building and decorative stone business, literally from the ground up, for 22 years. Visiting Cogswell Stone in Palmyra, and speaking with him personally, is an education that is mandatory before beginning any project—interior or exterior. At the inclusive showroom and yard that exude an impression of solidity and beauty, your senses will be sated as you see and feel the difference between slate, soapstone, limestone, travertine, marble, granite, onyx, and others. Cogswell can show you what stone is best for your practical needs and guide you in design and product choice to achieve the look you want.
 
Cogswell is forthcoming about environmental differences of quarries—domestic and international—helping you make choices based on your values and the value you want for your project. Visiting www.cogswellstone.com is a good first step, but a drive to Palmyra is a must.
 
Sandfort and Cogswell agree that in the Charlottesville area, while the choices are many, only a few projects push the edges of design. But even if your tastes run to the more traditional or classic, SariSand Tile and Cogswell Stone can still help make your project unique. Visit them—you won’t be disappointed.
 
Francesca Toscani (Interior Editions) specializes in reworking and remodeling difficult kitchen, bath and other interior spaces to unlock their potential. francesca.toscani@yahoo.com; 434.823.1817.
 
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