The Pros and Cons of Hardwood vs. Laminate Wood Flooring

One of the most sought-after amenities in a home is wood flooring. Because of its natural appearance and warmth underfoot, wood is beautiful and timeless.
Original hardwood floors are among the benefits of older traditional homes. Newer homes that have a lower price point but that still want the natural look of wood often use laminate to win over homebuyers.
No matter your preference, there are pros and cons when it comes to hardwood versus laminate wood flooring. This article will help you determine which one is best for your lifestyle, budget and home. Also be sure to read our 10 Most Popular Eco-Friendly Flooring Solutions.
If you are interested in getting free quotes on floor installation, click here.

 

Price
The reality of flooring costs and what you can afford may be miles apart. Take into consideration the cost of laminate and hardwood flooring to determine what is best for you.
Hardwood: CONS – Hardwood flooring is made of harvested trees; pricing depends on how exotic the trees are. In general, hardwood is considerably higher to buy and to install.
Laminate: PROS – Laminate wood flooring is made from composite wood pressed together at high temperatures. The image of hardwood is then placed over the composite wood, covering it to form the laminate. Not only are the materials themselves cheaper, but laminate wood installation cost is, on average, 50 percent less than hardwood installation.

Durability
Assess the traffic load and wear and tear on flooring in your home. A durable surface will make maintenance easier and will look great for years to come.
Hardwood: CONS – Hardwood is susceptible to scratching, can get damaged from excessive moisture and will show wear, especially in heavily trafficked areas. PROS – Hardwood is the real deal; it is gorgeous and, depending on the type of wood, can add considerable value to your home.
Laminate: PROS – Since laminate is made from pressed wood, it is more durable and resists scratches, moisture and wear and tear. Laminate flooring is also easier to clean. CONS – Even though laminate is more durable, it is not as visually appealing. Lower qualities of laminate may have artificial-looking woodgrain textures.

 

Repair
Flooring is one component of your home that will have to be repaired at some point. From minor accidents to excessive wear and tear, laminate and hardwood have advantages and disadvantages.
Hardwood: PROS – Hardwood can be repaired by sanding imperfections and refinishing. This gives it the edge over laminate, in that it will last for years.
Laminate: CONS – Laminate flooring doesn’t repair easily. If you buy flooring that comes in individual pieces and snaps together, you may be able to replace individual boards — although, depending on sunlight and age, the new piece may not match properly.
Your home will benefit from the look of wood flooring; deciding whether to use hardwood or laminate is up to you. Review the pros and cons, and be realistic about your lifestyle; if you have pets, young kids or high traffic, that may influence your decision.

If you have a lot of sunlight in your home, hardwood can fade because it is a natural product, while laminate wood flooring has UV protection integrated into the surface. Consider all the factors — and enjoy how the warmth of wood will improve your home’s aesthetic, appeal and value.

 

 

Starting a Bathroom Remodel

Learn about bath types, choosing a layout, budgeting, space planning .

It’s a spa getaway, a calming retreat, a small slice of serenity where you can shut out the world and exhale. We’re not talking about an exotic resort, here. The bathroom—that room with a toilet, bathtub, sink and shower—is an ideal space to create a happy place you can visit a few times each day without ever leaving your home.
In fact, the bathroom might be the only room in the house where you safely can lock yourself inside for a half-hour to escape the noise of life, stress of the day, and potentially the hubbub that’s happening right outside that door (ahem, parents of small children).
That said, “bathroom” seems a misnomer for a space where such quality time can be spent. And beyond the master bath, there are functional family bathrooms—the full bath—and convenient three-quarter bath layouts with toilet-sink-shower amenities. The tiniest space of all, the powder room, or half bathroom, can be a pint-sized showcase of your personal style. And you can really play up the drama in a guest bath.
When it comes to the bathroom, there’s a whole lot going on in a relatively small space. “Bathrooms are becoming so much more than a room that takes care of a function,” says Brian Johnson, principal, Collaborative Design Architects, Billings, Mt. “I compare it to how a TV room has evolved into a home theater with surround sound.”

Amazing Bathroom Renovations

  

Despite its importance, the bathroom is still often the smallest space in a home. “But the bathroom is the second most vital and expensive part of the house,” Johnson says, noting that the kitchen is the largest investment. Johnson says most of his clients spend between $290 to $750 per square foot, and the cost of remodeling goes up from there depending on the appliances, fixtures and finishes you choose. Splurging for a flat-screen television that hides behind a two-way mirror? You’ll pay for the luxury, but it could make your morning rush-hour in the bath feel less harried. Coffee makers, fireplaces and furniture are also finding their way into master baths. There are seemingly no limits

WHAT TO CONSIDER ?

Consider how many times each day you enter the bathroom and use the amenities in this space. What time of day do you spend more time there, and what activities take place (aside from the obvious)? Do you retreat to a master bath to soak in a tub and read a magazine? Or, do you shower and run in a family bathroom, and share a vanity space with a spouse while you’re getting ready for work?

Simply put: How do you use the bathroom?
Yes, this discussion can get rather personal, says Cameron Snyder, president, Room scapes Luxury Design Center, Boston, Mass., and past-president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). “If the bathroom is a place where you quickly shower, brush your teeth and go, the materials and colors will be different than if it is a place where you go to spend a couple hours with candles and soft music so you can unwind from the week.”
“Bathrooms are a more personal space than kitchens,” Snyder continues. “So some of the questions I ask clients may be personal, but I need to ask them because if you are designing this area for yourself and your family, you want to make sure it is personal.”
For instance, how many people soak in the tub at one time? Do you shower alone? (If the answer is no, you may want multiple shower heads and more space in the shower.) Do you want a more private space for the toilet, and how is the ventilation working in that space now?
How old are you? (This might be the most personal question of all!) Are you planning on staying in your current home and how will your needs change as you get older (known in the design industry as “aging in place”)? Will your bathroom be able to accommodate these needs? The industry term universal design refers to the principle of designing features that cater to aging homeowners, such as attractive grab bars that double as towel racks and curb less showers.
The discovery you’ll make during this process of determining how your bathroom must work for you is that despite the rudimentary appliances (toilet, shower, sink), this space functions very differently for everyone.
So while you’re in the initial phases of determining what your existing space lacks, think big, says Roberto Kosse, Production Engineer from Zenit Group Corporation  . “Let’s design your dream space,” he tells his clients. “We can always value-engineer back, but let’s start by creating the vision. It may seem backward—the opposite of starting small—but at least you incorporate into the design all of the elements you want as opposed to adding them on later.”
Then, Roberto says, you make choices based on what features you need and what you can afford. The extras can remain on your wish list as enhancements for down the road if you decide to do the project in phases. But start by addressing the essentials: space layout and appliances/fixtures.
Of course, what’s essential depends on which bathroom you are remodeling. While your home has a single kitchen to focus all design efforts, you might have several bathrooms in the home and each one serves a different purpose. “The master bath is the second most important space in the house next to the kitchen,” says Brian Johnson, principal, Collaborative Design Architects, Billings, Mt.. “This is where the magic happens when you get into design work—it’s an intense, very specialty room.”
On the other hand, the full bath is often a “family bathroom” for children and generally a space where function trumps fashion. “A three-year-old won’t care about the vessel sink and granite countertops,”.
Three-quarter baths that include a toilet, sink and shower are generally utilitarian and here, too, a place where the budget might not allow for heated floors or shower sprays and intricate tilework. The powder room or half bath, on the other hand, is a tiny spot that can pack a serious design punch. As the saying goes about small packages?
“When you have guests over for a party, you want to give them a small sampling of what the home has to offer,” Johnson says of why the powder room can make a big impression, especially when expressive materials are used for the basic sink-toilet-mirror setup: natural stone countertops, glass vessel sink, natural stone tiles, cabinetry that looks like furniture.
So answering the question, “How do you use the bathroom?” depends on which bathroom is the focus of your remodeling project. Then, you must mentally walk through your day and decide how you want to use the space versus how the space works for you today.

 

Planning Guide : Remodeling your Kitchen!!

Whether your kitchen is past due for a makeover or you’re only dreaming about what could be, start with our Kitchen Planning Guide.

SECTION 1: PLANNING GUIDE

Your kitchen should reflect your lifestyle. Start by thinking about how you use your kitchen and what you need and want on a daily basis.

kitchen renovation is a major undertaking. Before you dive in, you’ll need to take a hard look at how you’re using your current kitchen and what you want this remodel to accomplish. The Day in the Life of Your Kitchen Questionnaire will help you assess the activities that take place in your kitchen and how the room is stacking up to your needs.
After completing the Day in the Life of Your Kitchen Questionnaire, think about what you want and need from a kitchen remodel and fill out the Kitchen Goals Worksheet. You’ll use these exercises to create a road map to a successful kitchen renovation.
And don’t forget about your budget!
Once you get a better idea of your remodeling plan, explore kitchen designs here in our houzz ideas book and projects that suit your daily needs and special occasions, whether you’re an epicurean or an entertainer. Find inspiration in these common kitchen types:
  • Gourmet Kitchen
  • Entertaining Kitchen
  • Family-Centered Kitchen

SECTION 2: SETTING BUDGETS

Create a wish list, fin out what’s available and choose backup options.
The kitchen is one of the most complicated remodeling projects because of all the decisions you will make throughout the process. We’ll walk you through this with our planning and buying guides, covering everything from foundation appliances, cabinetry, surfaces and finishes to sustainable products and extras like wine coolers and microwave drawers.
According to Remodeling magazine, a major kitchen renovation can result in a return on investment of between 61 and 70 percent of the cost.

SECTION 3: CHOOSING MATERIALS

Counter tops set the tone for the kitchen, so choose materials and a look that not only reflect your style, but also are in line with how you use the kitchen.
Granite is on the must-have list for many home buyers. But engineered stone products made primarily of quartz are replacing granite in high-end design today, and their functionality as a stain-resistant, durable, sleek-looking surface fulfills lifestyle and aesthetic prerequisites for many.
Burgin says half his clients go with granite, and half go with a quartz surface. Jorge Castillo, whose clients want modern kitchens, chooses quartz for its consistency. He would rather the focus be on a dramatic statuary marble back splash than the work surface. “One of the reasons I like Caesar Stone and Cambria is because it doesn’t make the kitchen busy,” he says.
Meanwhile, concrete has come a long way. With more colors and a sleek finish, today’s concrete surfaces are more durable. Crushed glass surfaces provide an opulent focal point.

Counter top Materials

Here’s a wrap-up of work space surfaces and how they stand up in the kitchen environment. Keep in mind, counter tops may dictate the kitchen design and are sometimes chosen before cabinetry.
Granite. Riding a wave of popularity for the last several years as the surface for counter tops, granite is available in several grades, generally 1 through 5 (ratings depend on where you buy it), patterns, colors and thicknesses. Depending on what you choose, a slab can cost you anywhere from $30 per square foot for modular pieces of very basic stone purchased at a home center to upwards of $1,000 per square foot. Thickness can really drive up the cost. If you want granite on a budget, you might consider a three-quarter inch thick slab rather than an inch and a half slab, where you’re more likely to get your money back at resale.
Engineered stone. These are your quartz surfaces composed of 93 percent quartz particles and available in a larger range of colors than granite. Prices are comparable, sometimes more. The nonporous surface resists scratches and stains, and manufacturers generally offer a warranty. Brands include Cambria Quartz, Silestone, CaesarStone, LG Viatera and DuPont Zodiac.
Laminates. The surface, frequently referred to by the brand-name Formica, is plastic-coated and available in a range of colors—including surfaces that resemble granite. If your budget is tight and you’re doing a quick-and-dirty kitchen overhaul, this is a solution within reach. You’ll have to weigh the resale pros and cons: Does your home value require granite? (It’s not a bad idea to check out real estate comparables.)
Soapstone. These pewter-toned counter tops are ideal for historic renovations, such as this one by Superior Homes. They darken over time and require regular maintenance with mineral oil applications, but people like the smooth feel and rich character.
Ceramic tile. You can lay it on the floor, wall and, yes, counter tops. You can recover an existing surface, which appeals to DIYers. And with a wide range of colors and textures available in tiles today, options are seemingly endless. But remember, tiles do crack. And perhaps the biggest down side: tiles require grouting.

Concrete counter tops add an industrial touch to this earthy kitchen design.

Concrete. Cast concrete counters can be poured to suit counter tops of all shapes. They can be cast in the kitchen, or produced off-site and installed after the fact. The great thing about concrete is its durability. Plus, today’s concrete is even stronger because of treatments that eliminate cracking and seal the surface so it’s less porous. This style suits a modern kitchen—concrete can be dyed a range of colors.
Solid surfaces. Otherwise known by the popular brand-name Corian, solid surfaces offer the same seamless loo as engineered stone, except these are not resistant to stains and can scratch. (You can always sand those out—but do you want to?)
Stainless steel. This industrial-strength surface provides a sleek finish in modern kitchens. It’s easy to clean with soap and water, and it takes hot pans, no problem. But stainless steel can scratch and dent, so you can’t cut on stainless. Plus, it’s a costly surface. You might decide to use stainless in a certain area of your kitchen, such as a dining area or by the range.

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Choosing your kitchen Design and Lay-out!

Long gone are the days when kitchens were dreary workspaces, hidden behind closed doors. Today’s kitchens are central to everyday living and special-occasion entertaining, often doing double duty as family rooms, offices and media centers, as well.
“The kitchen is truly the focus of the home today,” says New York-based interior designer Andrew Suvalsky. “A great kitchen design will give essential clues to how the rest of the home can and should develop.”
To meet the growing demand for showstopping kitchens, manufacturers now offer cabinets, countertops and fixtures in all of today’s most popular design styles, from Old World to modern, city chic to country cozy. And your options aren’t limited to what you’ll find in the kitchen showrooms, either. Andrew and many other designers also turn to antiques stores, high-end furniture makers and salvage resellers when sourcing kitchen projects.
Whether you’re designing your kitchen to match the decor of other rooms, or planning your whole home’s look around the kitchen, you can make it a beautiful reflection of your personal style.

Country Farmhouse

Open and inviting, country kitchens allow you to enjoy the feeling of a weekend getaway right in your own home — even if you’re smack in the middle of suburbia. Farmhouse tables and furniture-like cabinetry are popular conventions, and an eclectic mix of finishes helps create a comfortable, lived-in look. Country colors range from primary red, yellow and blue to aged tones of cream and pale yellow; whatever hues you favor, mixing rather than matching is the country way to go.
Sleek, sexy and sophisticated, the modern kitchen is designed to keep clutter to a minimum. Reflective surfaces and high-tech materials are central to the most modern kitchen, and exotic woods add a touch of luxury without frills or fabric. Iconic midcentury seating, including Bertoia stools and chairs by Eames and Cherner, are often chosen for a classically modern look; seating made of Lucite and highly polished woods is often chosen for a more current interpretation of the style.
Whether the space is large or tiny, cottage kitchens are designed to feel cozy and enveloping. With their homespun touches and imperfect finishes, cottage-style kitchens are always one of a kind and serve as the perfect backdrop for offbeat art and collectibles. If you’re an avid flea marketer, this style will allow you to turn your weekend finds into everyday pleasures. To marry serious cooking with whimsical style, look for high-end appliances in white or retro colors.
Where function meets family friendliness, you’ll find the contemporary kitchen. The look is a carefully curated mix of materials: new and old, casual and polished. And because cooking with company has replaced cooking for company as the entertaining ideal, today’s kitchen has plenty of room for hosts and guests to work and interact. Add gourmet cooking equipment, comfortable, durable seating and lots of open space for a kitchen perfectly suited to 21st-century living.
Imagine a small hotel in the South of France, or a contessa’s villa on the Amalfi Coast. The colors are sun-dappled. The surfaces are elegantly timeworn, and the atmosphere is pure romance. To replicate that Mediterranean ambiance anywhere, look for Provencal fabrics in rich tones of russet, cobalt and ochre, warm-toned wooden cabinetry, and handmade ceramic accessories. Rough-hewn textures, copper pots and rush seats add the final touches.
Whether you live at the beach or just wish you did, you can count on cool shades of blue, green, white and sand to create a vacation-time mood. Seagrass and wicker seating are casual, comfortable and coastal. Fabrics and flooring designed to stand up to wet bathing suits make coastal-style kitchens easy to care for, and window treatments that allow for maximum sunlight will have everyone in let’s-get-to-the-beach mode bright and early.
If you yearn for a time when materials were solid and craftsmanship was king, Old World design will embrace you in history and luxury. Look for dark mahogany finishes with lots of carving and detail, countertops with ogee or bullnosed edges, and stone or wooden floors. Add historical accessories and heavy fabrics, and enjoy time travel comfortably in your own home.
Turkey on Thanksgiving, ham on Christmas Eve and chocolate chip cookies after school. A traditional kitchen is the perfect backdrop for a life that centers on family, friends and holidays — but its clean, comfortable look is welcoming 365 days a year. Paneled or glass doors on cupboards contribute timeless style, and latched or icebox hardware is often added for period detail. White tiles add a clean look and help reflect light, and artisanal or vintage-look light fixtures add special touches.

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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF YOUR KITCHEN

  • This are some questions you have to make yourself before remodeling your Kitchen.
  • How many people live in the home?
  • Who cooks?
  • What is the cook’s height? Is he/she right- or left-handed?
  • Who typically prepares meals? How are they prepared?
  • How many people in the house prepare meals at one time?
  • What type of cooking happens in your kitchen? (Gourmet, baking, microwave, easy weeknight meals, etc.)
  • How do you shop for groceries, and what do you store in your pantry?
  • What are your kitchen traffic patterns?
  • How and where do you dine?
  • How do you entertain?
  • What do you like to do after meals? Will you remain in the kitchen to watch television, talk, relax, etc.?
  • What does each person in the family do in the kitchen each day?

In a typical day, from wake-up until lights out…

  • When do you go to the kitchen?
  • What do you do there?
  • What appliances do you use all the time?
  • What do you remove from cabinets?
  • What do you rarely use?
  • What is easy to reach?
  • What is di­ cult to reach?

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Tips for Reconstruction After Hurricane Harvey

The emotional and physical devastation left behind from Hurricane Harvey will take months — and potentially years — to recover from. Residents across the Texas coast have seen immeasurable damage to their homes, businesses, and spirits. As you and your family or business prepare for restoration, consider these helpful tips and get back and running in no time.

Reach Out

  • Get in touch with your home insurance, and figure out what is and isn’t covered.
  • Sign up with FEMA, and see if you qualify for emergency relief.
  • Get some insight from friends and neighbors who are in similar situations.

Budget

  • Determine real time contractor pricing.
  • Adjust your claim so you can figure out what your settlement amount will be.
  • Prevent another financial disaster by properly planning your cash flow so your project won’t run out of money before it is finished.

Planning

  • Don’t spread yourself too thin, and don’t try to take on more than you can handle. Ask for help when it’s needed.
  • Be patient. A rushed job isn’t a productive one. Waiting for the right contractor, the right time and the right plan will pay off.
  • When it comes to your vision and your budget, be realistic. Making smart decisions will benefit you and your family later down the line.

Selecting Your Contractor

QUESTIONS to ask your contractor:

  • Where are you located?
  • Are you currently doing work in the area? If so, can I speak with them for a reference?
  • Do you have liability insurance and workers’ compensation?
  • Can you ask your insurance company to make me a certificate holder so that I can have proof of insurance?
  •  Who will be the supervisor, and how present will they be in this project?

RED FLAGS to watch out for:

  • A contractor who asks for money down
  • A contractor who insists on only charging for the labor
  • Out-of-town license plates and cell phone numbers
  • No local address
  • No local references
  • Door knockers
  • A “YES” man who claims they can do it all.
  • Handwritten proposals

PROPOSALS should include:

  • Start and end dates
  • Itemized project price
  • Payment schedule
  • List of services INCLUDED and EXCLUDED
  • A procedure for changes
  • Final payment and closeout procedure

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SAY GOODBYE TO YOUR OLD KITCHEN / BATHROOMS

A kitchen is a room that tends to see a great deal of use. When you are trying to entertain guests or prepare a meal for your family, the kitchen plays a big part in the process. This also means that the kitchen is likely to see a lot of wear and tear. To make sure that your kitchen always looks the way that you want it to, it can be helpful to turn to the right experts. SOLID STONE MANUFACTURING in Houston, TX, can help you to see some amazing results.

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…Christmas History!!!

Christmas is for joy, for giving and sharing, for laughter, for coming together with family and friends, for tinsel and brightly decorated packages… But mostly, Christmas is for love. It was this love for which Jesus came to this world and sacrificed his life.

Thus Christmas is a celebration of love and mirth symbolized by the Nativity, the Santa, the caribou, the poinsettia and the evergreens. All that bring home the spirit of love and life. And this is the spirit that makes Christmas so popular throughout the world.

Though originated by the Roman Catholics who commemorate the December 25th as the day of birth of Christ Child, it has gradually come to be celebrated by the non-Catholics as well. As far as the United States goes, the celebration of X’mas is comparatively of recent origin. Much of the world was already well into Christmas celebrations by the time the United States began to wake up. In the first half of the 19th century the Sunday schools in America held Christmas celebrations. And the celebration of Christmas in America owes its origin to these schools. Alabama was the first state to grant legal recognition to X-mas in 1836. The DC did it in 1870. By 1893 all the states and territories had made similar acknowledgements.

So be it the United States or in other parts of the world Christmas is celebrated as the commemoration of the birth of Christ Child — very likely the holiest event ever to take place anywhere on the Earth, and an entirely worthy occasion to celebrate. But don’t we often wonder if we’ve got these things about it right? And why is the difference of opinion (however immaterial) regarding the date of birth? Is it even on the right date?

We bring to you a story of the Birth of Christ Child along and offer you a short tour across the world to know the way Christmas is celebrated in different parts. But before doing this please don’t forget to brush up some historical trivia regarding Jesus’ birth. Click here to know the answers to some simple yet vulnerable questions.

The whole world goes into the celebration mood during the mid winters. Long back even before the arrival of Jesus, Europeans started celebrating the light in the gloomiest days of winter. During the winter solstice, many of the Europeans began to celebrate because the tough time of winter was behind them and they felt it was the period of prolonged hours of sunlight.

Norse celebrated Yule from December 21 in Scandinavia. To celebrate the magic of sunlight, fathers and sons used logs and set them on fire. People around enjoyed these 12 days until the logs were not burned out completely. It was their belief that each fire spark represented a new pig or calf that would be born in the coming year.

Mesopotamians used to celebrate 12 days long New Year festival before 4000 years. This festival was called Zagmuth. The Mesopotamians, believers of multiple deities, started the celebration to honor their chief deity, Marduk. They used to believe that Marduk fought against the monsters of chaos at the onset of each winter season. It was believed that this was the festival where from the 12 days long Christmas had originated.

Most of the European countries thought that the end of December was an appropriate and ideal time for celebrations. It was a high time to celebrate because there were no cattle left for feeding as most of the cattle were already slaughtered. Celebration could continue with fresh meat and it was the only time of the winter when they had that opportunity. The fermented wine and beer during this time were the additional spice for the celebration.

During mid winter German people honored the time-honored Pagan God Oden. People of Germany were afraid of the nocturnal sky flights. They used to think that the Almighty had created that to observe and monitor his people of this world. They had also thought that the Almighty had the power to decide who would live and who would perish. Many of them decided to stay inside due to his presence.

 

Places like Saturnalia, Rome where the winter was not that strong and unkind like countries located in the northern tip celebrated holidays in honor of the God of agriculture, Saturn. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice was a special period when residents had bountiful food items and drinks to celebrate with. The month long celebration had the charm to convert slaves to even masters. Peasants used to control the city. To celebrate the time with fun and frolic all the schools and business organizations had decided to close their shutters.

Juvenalia, the feast honoring the Children of Rome, celebrated during winter solstice, was a prime carnival for Roman people as well. On December 25, the upper class of Rome used to celebrate the birthday of the infant God of the unconquerable sun, Mithra who was born of a rock. It was the most sanctified day of the entire year for few Romans. Easter, the main holiday, was celebrated in the early years of Christianity. However, Christmas or the birth of Jesus was not celebrated.

Romans started to exchange gifts and visit the homes of their friends and relatives during the festivity. It was believed that the ritual of exchanging greeting and gifts during Christmas had come from Rome.

Onyx

Onyx
The name comes from the Greek word onyx which means nail of a finger or claw. Legend says that one day while Venus was sleeping Eros/Cupid cut her fingernails and left the clippings scattered on the ground. Because no part of a heavenly body can die, the gods turned them into stone which later became known as onyx.

It is a member of the chalcedony family which also includes carnelian, agate, bloodstone, etc. Occuring naturally in a variety of colors, black onyx is polished to enhance appearance, a member of the quartz family.

Originally, almost all colors of chalcedony from white to dark brown and black were called onyx (SiO2 with impurities). Today when we think of onyx we often preface the word with black to distinguish it from other varieties of onyx that come in white, reddish brown, brown and banded. A variety of onyx that is reddish brown with white and lighter reddish bands is known as sardonyx.

Physical Properties of Onyx
Onyx is a form of chalcedony, part of the quartz group. Like the other stones in the chalcedony family, onyx has a smooth, waxy luster. Onyx can be found in a wide range of colors, often layered.

Specific Gravity : 2.58 – 2.64
Refractive Index : 1.55 – 1.54
Hardness : 6.5 – 7.0 on Moh’s scale

Chemical Properties of Onyx
Formula : SiO2
Elements : Si and O

Uses of Onyx
Black Onyx is often used as a backdrop in jewelry, such as cameos. It is also used as cabochons and as a building material.

Enhancements of Onyx
Black and colored onyx is always dyed. Onyz is easily dyed, so beware of the more “unnatural” looking colors, such as bright blue, etc. Onyx with red and white bands is sometimes referred to as “Sardonyx”. Onyx is the black variety of agate. However some parts are more or less translucent. This is why it is often heated to accentuate the intensity of its color.

Ocurrances of Onyx
Mexico Chihuahua, Oaxaca, Puebla
Arizona Ash Fork, Mayer, Prescott
Algeria Ain Tekbalet

 

 

Industrial Minerals

Gemstones

Stones

Natural Stones
• Granite
• Limestone
• Marble
• Onyx
• Quartzite
• Sandstone
• Slate
• Travertine

Dimensional Stones

• Stone Tiles
• Stone Slabs

Paving Stones

• Stone Tiles
• Stone Steps
• Stone Cobbles
• Stone Circles
• Stepping Stones

Architectural Stones

• Stone Treads & Risers
• Stone Copings
• Stone Roofing Tiles
• Stone Bricks
• Stone Strips
• Stone Blocks
• Tumbled Stone

Landscaping Stones

• River Bed Pebbles
• Stone Circles
• Stone Cobbles
• Stone Steps
• Stepping Stones

Apple Cake

Prep: 40 min. Bake: 50 min. + cooling Yield: 12 Servings

Ingredients
•1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
•2 cups sugar, divided
•4 eggs
•1 cup canola oil
•2 cups all-purpose flour
•2 teaspoons baking powder
•2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
•1 teaspoon salt
•1/4 teaspoon baking soda
•2 cups chopped peeled tart apples
•1 cup shredded carrots
•1/2 cup chopped pecans
•PRALINE ICING:•1/2 cup packed brown sugar
•1/4 cup butter, cubed
•2 tablespoons 2% milk
•1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
•1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Directions
•In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in 1 egg; set aside.
•In a large bowl, beat oil with remaining sugar and eggs until well blended. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda; gradually beat into oil mixture until blended. Stir in the apples, carrots and pecans.
•Transfer half of the apple batter to a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan; layer with cream cheese mixture and remaining apple batter.
•Bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
•In a large saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter and milk to a boil. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from the heat; whisk in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle over cake. Sprinkle with pecans. Yield: 12 servings.

Nutritional Facts
1 slice equals 614 calories, 36 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 102 mg cholesterol, 407 mg sodium, 68 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 7 g protein.

Originally published as William Tell’s Never-Miss Apple Cake in Country Woman August/September 2010, p37

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