Walker Zanger’s Level Field Tile Collection offers a durable, low-maintenance exterior alternative with a sleek feel.

Courtesy of Walker Zanger

Everything You Need to Know to Create Stunning, Durable Stone-Clad Spaces

The pros at Walker Zanger share their rock-solid expertise.

June 11, 2024

When the Getty Villa opened in 1974, the New York Times made a point of admiring the floors, “for which authentic antique stone was quarried in Europe.” The source of that rare Italian marble? Walker Zanger. Flash forward to 2012, when Bergdorf Goodman embarked on an elaborate makeover; it too turned to Walker Zanger for inlaid floors worthy of the iconic temple to fashion.

Over the course of Walker Zanger’s 70 years in business, the company has supplied stunning natural materials for countless swoon-worthy kitchens, baths, and even outdoor areas. Along the way, the pros behind the brand have learned a few things, which they’re now sharing with FREDERIC readers. Read on for a how-to on using luxury stone to create timeless spaces with lasting beauty.

Bergdorf Goodman’s geometric floors were expertly crafted by Walker Zanger in 2012.

Courtesy of Walker Zanger

Be Realistic

Marble is marvelous, but you need to understand the material—and how it will be used—before covering a new kitchen in dreamy polished Calacatta. “Marble is a very popular surface selection for today’s kitchens, but before picking out the perfect slab, you should consider its characteristics to determine if it’s right for your needs” says Coleen Wright, Director of Project Management for Walker Zanger. Porous and relatively soft, marble requires regular sealing—and occasionally a deep professional cleaning—to keep it looking pristine. If you’re the type who always uses a cutting board, go for it. But if you want to cook with abandon and lots of lemon juice (which, like vinegar and wine, can etch marble and dull its shine) without compromising on sheen, Wright recommends Azerocare Marble. This under-the-radar finish protects the shine of marble for a lifetime, and is guaranteed to prevent etching and staining. And if you’re the kind of person who sees the wear that develops over the years as a welcome sign of character, Wright suggests another tactic: a honed, brushed, or leathered finish, which is less reflective and helps hide finger prints, water spots, and subtle etching.

Walker Zanger’s Azerocare marble treatment (seen here on Bianco Lasa Vena Oro Honed Marble) makes the porous stone more resistant to moisture absorption, creating an optimal surface for use in everything from kitchens to bathrooms.

Courtesy of Walker Zanger

Believe in the Beauty of Alternatives

Maybe you’ve heard that nothing can touch marble for its character, veining, and pristine white coloration. But quartzite is just as beguiling. Not to be confused with quartz (which is a man-made product), the quartzite available through Walker Zanger has all the creaminess and surface interest of marble, yet it’s one of the hardest stones available, so in terms of durability, it does marble one better. What’s more, it’s available in a jeweler’s range of exotic colors.

Make Sure It Can Take the (Steam) Heat…

A marble-lined bath is classic—and unquestionably gorgeous. But if you’re installing a steam shower, you might want to rethink your plans. That’s because marble is exceptionally good at absorbing both heat and moisture—which means all the steam will disappear into thin air (or in this case, thick marble) no matter the size of your steam generator. The solution? Laminam slabs available through Walker Zanger. New technology has led to the development of porcelain that’s printed with eye-fooling patterns that perfectly mimic the real thing and can be tailored to nearly any size (even enormous wall-sized slabs are possible). The material reduces cost while maintaining the design integrity, is completely non-porous, easy to clean, and extremely durable—plus, it won’t impede the production of steam.

Laminam slabs in Terra di Matera and Terra di Saturnia create a stunning custom pairing for a bathroom that can tolerate increased heat and steam without of absorbing moisture like marble.

Courtesy of Walker Zanger

…And the Cold

When designing an outdoor space, the local climate is what counts. In a California backyard that’s never touched by freezing temperatures, nearly any stone can be used. But an outdoor kitchen in cold conditions requires impervious stuff that won’t crack or degrade in harsh weather. That means granite countertops, quartzite pavers, or porcelain, which is strong enough to be used on any surface, is available in multiple thicknesses (including slabs thick enough to function as pavers and stepping stones), and can seamlessly replicate any surface, including terra cotta.

  • Walker Zanger’s Continuum Porcelain Tile works beautifully as flooring for an outdoor kitchen no matter the weather.

    Courtesy of Walker Zanger
  • Level Porcelain Tile offers the look of concrete with unmatched surface durability.

    Courtesy of Walker Zanger

Do What the Romans Did

The Ancient Romans revered travertine—after all, they used it to construct the Colosseum. Among its unique properties: It’s less slippery when wet, making it ideal for bathrooms and pool decking in warm climates. As an excellent heat conductor, it’s a wonder in winter when combined with radiant heat, but stays cool underfoot in summer. And while many think of it as a rather uniform buff-colored stone, Walker Zanger’s travertine slabs from Tuscany and Tivoli, cut to reveal its vertical veining, offers an array of color options.

A fantastic material for exterior spaces, Tuscan Silver Extra Travertine keeps its traction when wet and offers brilliant natural tones.

Courtesy of Walker Zanger

Make a Statement With Bookmatching

Stone is the earth’s masterpiece, its beauty revealed when cut open to expose the internal layers forged eons ago under intense heat and pressure. To further enhance rich veining, consider bookmatching, which lays open slabs cut from the same block of marble or quartzite to create mesmerizing, mirror-image effects. The technique is tailor-made for statement walls in a kitchen or bathroom, and can be most striking when used like a large-scale canvas in a living area. Want to take the idea outdoors? Porcelain slabs of any size can also be bookmatched, creating a stunning backdrop for sundowners.

No other ornamentation is needed in a Plume Quartz–clad bathroom.

Courtesy of Walker Zanger