How to Winterize a Fireplace

As we head into the coldest months of the year, it’s time to get your fireplace up and running for the busy season. There’s nothing like huddling around your mantle as you enjoy a crackling fire in the comfort of your home. But if not cared for properly, your fireplace can turn those soothing evenings into a fire hazard. Fireplaces require regular upkeep. If it’s been a while since you’ve inspected your fireplace, you might want to think twice before lighting up your living room this winter. Use these tips to pull your winter fireplace out of retirement.

Hire a Professional Chimney Sweep

The chimney lets air and smoke flow freely out of your house. If there’s anything blocking or trapping air in your chimney, your entire house will fill up with smoke. Unless you know your way around your chimney, it’s best to hire a professional chimney sweep to clear away any debris. If you hire a fireplace professional, you can also ask them to inspect the unit for damage, including the foundation, damper, flue, and other potential problem areas.

Clean Out the Firebox

Cleaning out the firebox should be a part of every fireplace owner’s routine. If you haven’t cleaned out the soot, ash and burnt kindling sitting in your firebox in a while, you’ll need to take care of that before you start a fire. You can keep the ash contained by sprinkling a little water on the firebox before you start sweeping.

Inspect the Damper and Flue

The flue controls the opening to the chimney, while the damper allows you to quickly adjust the strength of your fire. Make sure that the flue and damper open and close properly. You can use a mirror and a flashlight to see what’s happening up the chimney. If you notice any problems, you can try cleaning the damper or the switch that controls the flue. These parts tend to rust or get stuck after a while, so you’ll want to keep an eye on them throughout the season.

Test All Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms

Make sure that all the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home are working properly. They should have a full battery as you head into winter. If you don’t have any alarms near the fireplace, you can always add a few more around your home where smoke tends to collect.

Cap Off Your Chimney

As a final touch, inspect the cap on your chimney. If you live in a heavily wooded area, animals can crawl their way inside the opening and wreak havoc on your home. Tree limbs and debris can also slip inside if your chimney isn’t properly covered.

Don’t take a chance with your fireplace. Be a responsible homeowner and make sure that your winter fireplace has met all the necessary safety requirements before you start a fire.

Come to BT Architectural Stone and browse our selection of elegant stone fireplace mantels. Contact us today and we’ll help you create the perfect addition for your home.

Kitchen Hood Inspirations for Your Home Remodel

One of the best remodels you can do for your home is an update to your kitchen hood. Remodeling the kitchen is one of the most beneficial and most luxurious ways to increase the value of your home, and the hood can be a major part of that remodel. Following are six stunning designs for stone kitchen hoods that will get your creative ideas flowing for your next remodeling project:

The Villa Laguna

custom stone kitchen hood Villa Laguna

Fabricated from exquisite Crema limestone from Mexico, the Villa Laguna is a limestone kitchen hood that holds its own as the main attraction in many kitchens. With meticulous detailing and a stunning presence, this kitchen hood is a perfect representation of the Gothic Revival style. This particular kitchen hood was created by our artists and now graces a home in Isleworth, Florida.

The Villa Melograno

stone kitchen hood Villa Melograno

The Villa Melograno is a gorgeous traditional stone kitchen hood made from Crema limestone, which originates in Mexico. The Villa Melograno represents the Traditional Country style, making it ideal for use in a wide variety of kitchen builds. This particular limestone kitchen hood is currently gracing a beautiful home in Newport Beach, California.

The Rambert

custom stovetop kitchen hood The Rambert

The Rambert is one of our most popular stone kitchen hoods, and is fashioned from Beaumaniere limestone. Originating in the countryside of France, this kitchen hood is a spectacular representation of the English Country Classical style. The kitchen mantle pictured here currently is located in a Strands Beach, California home.

The Riviera

custom designed stone kitchen hood The Riviera

The Riviera is an incredible example of a stone kitchen hood in the Classical Italianate style. Made of beautiful Rojo Verona marble, the Riviera is made of stone that originates in Italy. The kitchen hood pictured here in this style is currently gracing a fantastic kitchen in Newport Beach, California.

The Goelman

stone custom kitchen hood The Goelman

Another fine example of the elegance that stone kitchen hoods behold is The Goelman. This limestone hood is made of Crema limestone – a stone that originates in Mexico. The Goelman is an exceptional display of the Classical Contemporary style, and the pictured kitchen hood can be found in Cameo Shores, California.

The Townsend

kitchen hood custom designed The Townsend

If your heart is set on a limestone kitchen hood in the French Provincial style, the Townsend may be exactly what you’ve been searching for. This one is created from marvelous Crema limestone that originates in Mexico, and is graced with exceptional carved detail. The kitchen hood pictured here is holding its place in a home in Boca Raton, Florida.

We invite you to work alongside our craftsmen and our designers for your next remodeling project. Whether you know exactly which stone kitchen hood you’ll want or you have no idea yet, we’ll be there to help you every step of the way. We can use your own design, and we also invite you to explore our library of designs. BT Architectural Stone would be honored to breathe new life into your kitchen with a custom stone kitchen hood. Contact us today to learn more.

Marble vs. Limestone Fireplaces: Choosing the Right Stone for Your Home

When choosing the materials for your new fireplace, there are a lot of things to consider. From price, to design, to the overall feel you’re going for, the simple task of creating your ideal fireplace isn’t always so simple. The biggest decision to make is what type of stone to use. So here we’re going to compare two of the most popular options, marble and limestone, and point out a few pros and cons for each:


Overall – This is a highly versatile stone and can work with a lot of different designs, themes and styles. But, it’s typically reserved for more subtle tastes. It has a warm, soft and natural look, which makes it great for elegant understated rooms. It also pairs very well with wood furniture. You can keep it clean and simple for a nice smooth modern feel, or you can make it a bit more ornamental with intricate carving details. But limestone also works if you’re going for a more rustic look as well. In this case, you would probably want to look into using stacked limestone for that natural hand-crafted feel.

Maintenance – This is a soft and naturally absorbent stone, so limestone fireplaces require a sealant to keep them protected and looking fresh. They are also easy to clean with a little warm water and a neutral cleaner product.


  • Versatile
  • Durable
  • Relatively inexpensive


  • Limited color variety (mostly neutrals)
  • The main drawback is that it has to be sealed. If not properly sealed, or if the seal is not maintained, your limestone fireplace can become susceptible to staining and scratches.



Overall – Marble is sleek, elegant and sophisticated. With it’s high-contrast striations and larger variety of colors, marble is a bolder choice than limestone. It definitely makes a statement. But, because of its history as the go-to stone for palaces, temples, and sculptures, marble evokes wealth and extravagance, making it slightly less versatile than limestone. Marble can be polished or honed to change the look of the stone for a more or less formal feel.

Maintenance – Marble is extremely durable and easy to maintain, but it also has to be sealed to protect against moisture and acidic products.


  • Durable
  • Eye-catching
  • Larger color selection 


  • More expensive than limestone
  • Also requires sealing

The main to do when looking into custom stone fireplaces is to really think about what you want the whole room to look like. What is the feeling and overall theme you are trying to create in this room? What kind of furniture will you have? Are you looking for upscale elegance? Old-world sophistication? Modern minimalism? Once you have a detailed vision in mind for the space, it should be fairly easy to choose the stone that fits right in with your personal style.

Marble vs Granite: How to Choose?

Marble and granite are both beautiful natural stone used in most homes and offices in a variety of architectural and interior design styles. However, they’re not exactly the same, and granite isn’t simply a cheaper substitute for marble. These stones have very different physical properties, different aesthetic qualities, and may be suitable for different applications.


Physical Properties & General Appearance

Granite is a granular igneous rock, composed primarily of feldspar, quartz, mica, and amphibole minerals. Granite is very hard and durable, ranging from a 6 to a 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. It naturally occurs in a variety of colors, including black, beige, grey, and even red and blue hues. Shades tend to range from medium to dark, and have a characteristic speckled appearance.

Marble is a very different type of rock. It’s a metamorphic rock, usually composed primarily of calcite or dolomite. Ultimately, it’s derived from limestone that’s been subjected to high temperatures and pressures. Different types of marble are often classified by their region of origin, and colors can range from snowy white to deep green hues. Marble has a more distinctive patterning to it than granite, with bold veins running through it.


Durability & Heat Resistance

Other than cheap synthetic materials, like laminate countertops, there’s no real substitute for the timeless look and feel of real natural marble. If you have your heart set on marble, granite isn’t exactly a simple substitute. Granite is beautiful in its own right, but it looks quite different.

If you’re not sure which one to choose, it’s worth considering your decor style, your lifestyle, and what exactly you’re using the stone for. For kitchen countertops, marble and granite are both quite popular choices. However, marble has some drawbacks. For one, it’s rather soft. On the Mohs scale, it comes in at a 3 or 4. For reference, soapstone rates a 1, no harder than talc, but granite usually rates 6 or 7. Granite is definitely more scratch-resistant than marble, and for kitchen use, that can be an important concern — especially if you have pets or children.

Marble is also more vulnerable to staining than granite — including water stains. This is more of a concern with white or light-colored marble. It develops a distinct patina over time — some people consider that, a flaw, while others embrace it. It’s really a matter of personal taste.

Both marble and granite are relatively heat resistant, which is part of why they’re such popular choices for kitchen use. Care should still be taken with hot pots and pans, but both stones can handle heat without cracking suddenly.

marble kitchen countertop

Architecture & Interior Design

If you’re using marble or granite for architectural features like columns, or for flooring, appearance is often a major factor in your decision. There’s certainly a romantic element to marble columns and pillars, channeling the architectural marvels of antiquity. If you prefer the look of marble to granite, it’s a good choice. Despite its flaws and relative softness, there’s a good reason why marble has been used in architecture for thousands of years. Marble’s elegance can be a disadvantage, however, for certain decor styles. If your style is a bit more rustic or rough-hewn, granite is often a better fit aesthetically.


How to Choose

There are two key factors in your decision between marble and granite: aesthetic concerns and practical concerns. For countertops in well-used kitchens, or for flooring and architectural elements in high traffic areas, granite’s durability and stain resistance can be easier to work with. But the aesthetics of marble, its evocation of luxury and classical elegance, are one of its major draws. If that’s what you’re after, you can’t get the same look with granite.

Pietra del Mar 2011 Catalog – West Coast


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