21 Sep Home Building with Natural Materials
At Michael Robert Construction, we truly appreciate the beauty of natural materials. Although we understand (and love!) the technology and practicality of maintenance free and engineered products for particular uses in the home, when it comes to architectural design, the look and feel of natural products is unmatched. There are a few materials in particular that we find are used in almost every renovation or new construction we take on: hardwood flooring, marble and copper.
With hardwood floors, graining, knots and color variation are just a few features that make them beautiful. Although oak is the most prevalently used flooring material in our area, there are dozens of other domestic and exotic hardwoods to choose from. Like many natural products, wood is affected by weather. Floorboards will expand and contract with seasons, and most noticeably with changes in humidity. To help alleviate changes, interior spaces should be properly conditioned with humidity control. Also, with the trend for wide plank floors, it’s important to remember that the wider the floor board, the more likely spaces are to open up with shrinking.
MARBLE IN KITCHENS, BATHROOMS AND EXTERIORS
Marble is a stunning natural material. Both stately and tranquil, and no two pieces are ever identical. It’s a fan favorite for home design because it is such a versatile stone. While commonly thought of being used as countertops, there are plenty of ways to use marble in home design. From kitchens to basements, marble can be used in literally every room of the house. And it can be used in exterior features too such as exterior fireplaces to create a timeless elegance.
Marble is a porous material and comparatively soft stone that can require maintenance, so you want to prevent excessive etching and staining. It should be sealed prior to use, but that will not prevent some wear from showing. Through time, even the most cautious user will find that the inevitable blemish or stain becomes a part of the uniqueness and natural beauty of the marble. We prefer “patina” over “stain!,” and it’s well worth it!
COPPER AS AN ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN ELEMENT
Architectural design values copper, and it has for a long time. The metal does not just keep its beauty over time, but improves with age. Architectural copper today is used in roofing systems, flashings and copings, rain gutters and downspouts and various other design elements.
When thinking of copper, the color of a shiny new penny may come to mind first. Although at installation copper is bright and polished, within a few weeks it quickly oxidizes to rich brown tones. Copper reacts to temperature and natural gasses and elements in the atmosphere – both inside and outside of the home. While heavy moisture in the air speeds the patina process, in dryer climates it could take a couple decades to copper to age to the green color we see on the Statue of Liberty. Patina patterns form to the unique reactive experience each piece of copper has to its elements. While treatments to keep copper shiny are available, the aging process can also be sped up through the use of chemical products.