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47 SHOW PREVIEW RETHINKING STONE


If your view of stone is the same as it was a decade ago – stuck in an era of dark granite worktops and travertine floors – a visit to the Natural Stone Show at ExCeL London from 25-27 April is a must.


UK, stone is de rigueur. It is not only the exterior walls that are stone – often an indige- nous stone to be in keeping with the locality – but also the interiors, with granite kitchen worktops and marble and limestone bathroom vanity units, floors, walls and feature fireplaces. Stone is also favoured for swimming pool areas and gyms, and the latest must-have is an elegant stone staircase.


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Further down the market, many people would not contemplate anything other than granite or quartz for their kitchen work surfaces and stone adorns many modest domestic kitchens, bathrooms and even living areas. The perception of stone floors has been transformed by underfloor heating, plus a heated stone floor retains and radiates more heat into living areas than wall radiators, saving energy.


Stone also lends itself to the blurring of barri- ers between interiors and exteriors because it has the combination of resilience and aesthetics that not only make it capable of performing well inside and out, but also make it desirable to use inside and out.


But while the often-subdued hues of indige- nous stones remain popular, there has been a rapid rise in the use of marbles and the more figurative granites in interiors in recent years, and not just kitchens, but also bathrooms (in particular) and other living areas. Book-matched and quarter-matched marble feature walls in living areas add a splendid touch of nature’s beauty to interiors.


Although named the Natural Stone Show, it is no longer just natural stone that the industry supplies, nor that is featured at the exhibition. Man’s ingenuity has produced a growing number


t the top of the housing market, where the richest 0.1 per cent are having their mansions built in the leafier parts of the


of slab products that are processed in the same way by the stone industry as natural stone. The blacks and dark browns first took the market by storm, but these days it is the veined materials that resemble the finest marbles, such as Calacatta, that are proving most popular.


White marble is seldom used as kitchen worktops because it is relatively easily marked and stained, and – being calcium carbonate – can be etched by the acids found in foods. Man-made materials, on the other hand, offer the much sought-after look of marble without its susceptibilities.


Porcelain and sintered products have been added to the quartz ranges that are being used not just for work surfaces but also (although to a lesser extent) for cladding, flooring, linings for bathrooms and showers and even paving. The Natural Stone Show provides the perfect platform for the latest launches of engineered stones.


Among the 200 stands at the Show – with companies exhibiting stone products from around the globe including Britain, China, Australia, Italy, Spain, India, Turkey, Romania and America – there will also be companies selling the machinery, tools and equipment for transforming this vast range of products with its diverse qualities and properties into finished products. Others will be selling the products needed for fixing, glueing, grouting, sealing, cleaning and otherwise using and maintaining natural and engineered stones. There’s even an innovative underfloor heating system being introduced.


The Natural Stone Show is certain to make developers think anew about how else to use stone, or if it’s not used already have them asking: why not?


For more info and to register visit WWW.STONESHOW.CO.UK and follow Natural Stone Show on Twitter for the latest news


#NATURALSTONESHOW WWW.HBDONLINE.CO.UK


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