Concentrating on natural stone for countertops and finishes within the home, we sometimes forget that stone has many additional uses. It can provide a wonderfully smooth surface in a kitchen application, but the same natural stone can appear in many other places without the need for having a smooth finish, allowing it to remain in its unaltered state.The More Visible Use Natural stone fits well both inside and outside of the home. Using stone as a part of the outside entry design to the house gives an aesthetically pleasing greeting to every visitor. Unless your home is located where winters are severe, stone makes for excellent patios, decks, and porticos. Any project that uses natural stone is unique from any other and will be a proud improvement to any decor. If you have a brick home, you can find natural stone that will compliment almost any color the masonry might be. Just imagine the different ranges you can achieve with granite. There is Baltic brown, brown granite, tropic brown granite, and golden granite, just to name a few. Other ranges of color may be found in variations of rocks and rock types that will fit in well with any natural tone of brick. Because of its beauty and versatility, stone looks great with any type of veneer you might have on your home. Wood exteriors are a natural to use with stone, and vinyl siding looks more attractive when there’s a mixture of stone added in. Highlighting Each Exterior Feature Concrete patios and pool decks come to life when stone is used as an embellishment. When walkways, porches, and decks connecting your home to other facilities have natural stone walking surfaces, all the pieces are pulled together harmoniously. The use of stone in rock gardens, for bordering around flower beds, and in other natural landscaping serves to enhance the stone pathways and walks. With the popularity of water gardens, stone has a large part in waterfalls, submerged formations, and bordering of the water pool. When Is Fake Stone Acceptable? Man-made stone has become an acceptable substitute for the real thing in many applications due to its light weight and ease of placement. On a wall or around columns, it is much easier for the installer to fit pieces together because the sizes correspond so well with each other. In some applications, it is difficult to differentiate between the fake and real stone. The truth is, there is a major difference between faux stone and natural stone. Granite, marble, and the harder stones are much more durable than the imitation types. The number of uses of natural stone far exceeds those of the puffed concrete, which is imitation stone. Still, some combinations of the two can result in acceptable finishes when you are aware of the limitations of the man-made materials. Outdoor Kitchens Designing a place to grill that has the convenience of countertops along with some of the other features of a kitchen is becoming a popular upgrade to outdoor living. These can run the gambit of a simple built-in grill to an operational kitchen facility. Many homeowners enjoy having a grilling area near the pool area so food and drink are readily available. The concept of the outdoor kitchen is that the unit will be impervious to the elements, but completely functional, too. For this reason, natural stone is the obvious choice for the exterior of the base structures as well as countertops. To Cover or Not If the kitchen is to have appliances that are powered by electricity, such as a refrigerator, it is mandatory to place some type of canopy over the area. If it only has a grill and a sink, it might be more desirable to have an arbor, a telescoping umbrella, or nothing at all. The covered kitchen is much more versatile, no matter how inclusive it is of appliances. The roof provides protection when a sudden rainstorm threatens to ruin the barbecue and it keeps the sun from beating down while the cook is standing over a hot grill. When installing an outdoor kitchen, it’s vital to have a finished condition that lends itself to being hosed down without the worry of deterioration of the structure or its contents. Natural stone is an obvious finish choice due to its ability to withstand the elements and provide many years of service.