From watching any home or interior design show from House Hunters to MTV’s Cribs, the two places that always seem to get the most attention are the kitchen and the bathroom. It’s easy to see why, as that’s where some of the most lavish flourishes are shown off. Stone showers in particular hold roots all the way back to the baths of ancient Rome, which were works of art in their own right.
Today we have more build options than ever when it comes to remodeling, from mundane albeit functional preformed fiberglass, to beautiful stonework featuring marble, limestone, slate or other natural stone. That’s not to say that stone doesn’t bring in a few practical benefits along with its aesthetic charms. Here are five reasons to choose natural stone for your shower build or remodel, along with some tips to be aware of along the way.
1. Energy Efficiency and Comfort
One significant advantage that stone holds over other commonly used materials such as ceramic tile, is that stone retains heat very well whereas ceramic does not. Going back to those ingenious Romans, they were able to heat their stone floors very effectively by circulating hot air below the floors of a room with systems called hypocausts. The heat would even travel up through the stone walls and heat upper rooms as well.
Meanwhile ceramic tile will still be cool under your feet unless you run the shower an excessively long time before climbing in. Natural stone, on the other hand, retains heat very well to make drafty mornings more comfortable, and absorb the cool conditioned air in the summer.
2. Unique Design Options
Not only do you have your pick of plenty of different stones to choose from, but the patterns, colors and shades even within say, marble or slate is incredible. From light and clean Calacatta Gold marble to deeply streaked black slates, it really behooves you to pick out your stone in person to make sure you get the look you’re after.
Then you have interesting options for the tiles themselves, from wider and more uniform slabs to more natural looking with varied shapes and sizes, or even beautiful mosaic patterns. An interesting idea for these mosaic patterns is to incorporate sea glass, shells or other stones into these patterns to give a one-of-a-kind pattern that you won’t see anywhere else.
3. Long-Term Investment
Using natural stone in your bathroom or kitchen is almost universally agreed upon to be a strong value-add for any home that is put on the market. Not only is it a good strategy for getting a good return from your investment, but it helps greatly with time on the market, as it gives your home a leg-up over others in the area that might not.
The initial investment is higher, but in comparison to ceramic tile, stone is more durable and will last a lifetime with only routine maintenance and will never need to be reglazed or resurfaced if cared for properly. Also, with its rise in popularity over the past few decades and more efficient stone working techniques, a natural-stone shower is more affordable now than any time in history.
4. Flexible Installation
Available in broad stone slabs or thin tiles from 0.5″ to 12″ in diameter, stone can be installed in any space, regardless of odd shapes or tight spaces. This is especially handy in retrofitting older homes that have interesting or unique layouts to work around. This also helps to coordinate and match your shower to stone tile floors, countertops or feature-work.
5. Easier Maintenance Than You Might Expect
Stone has gotten the reputation as being a pain to maintain, but that often tends to come from those who haven’t lived with it themselves. As long as you establish a regular cleaning routine and a few stone-specific care procedures, there is no reason why your stone shouldn’t last a lifetime (at least). Stone will not peel or fade over time and is very resistant to cracking.
Natural Stone Maintenance Tips:
Ventilation is key:
Opening a window and running the bathroom vent fan will go a long way in preventing the kind of mold and mildew growth that can plague any shower.
Wipe down shower walls:
An easy and quick routine to get into is to do a quick wipe-down of the walls after each shower. This can be done with a towel, or many even keep a squeegee on hand just for this purpose.
Don’t neglect the grout:
Many don’t realize that grout is a quite porous material, and benefits from being sealed along with your stone. Moisture can seep through the grout and begin causing water damage beneath the tile itself – this is a concern with any tile, not just stone!
Avoid common household cleaners:
Most cleaners you might find under your sink rely on acidic (low pH) or alkaline (high pH) chemicals as their active ingredients. While these may work great on other surfaces, they are damaging to your stone’s seal, and acidic cleaners can chemically etch the stone itself.
Use stone specific cleaning products:
To avoid the damage outlined above and to maintain the integrity of your stone’s seal, it’s important to use a pH balanced solution that is formulated specifically for use on natural stone. We recommend Granite Gold Shower Cleaner® for cleaning your stone once a week.
Maintain the seal on your stone:
When any stone feature is installed in the home, it will receive a protective seal that prevents water and other liquids from penetrating the surface of the stone. This is because all natural stone is somewhat porous, allowing water to seep into the surface. Your stone should be sealed every 6-12 months depending on use, or after a particularly deep cleaning.
You can find our stone sealing guide here.
If you do decide a stone shower is right for your home, you can check out our Granite Gold Sealer® and Grout Cleaner kit to get you started off on the right foot. Are you looking to read more natural stone care tips? Check out all the helpful resources we have available here, or give our stone care experts a call at 1-800-475-STONE.