When Airstone contacted me last month to see if I’d be interested in trying their product, I had no idea what it was. So, of course I checked out the site and did a little research. It didn’t take me long to think this super light faux stone had loads of potential in all kinds of applications. Here are just a few pictures from other customers posted to the website:
Airstone as kitchen backsplash
Airstone for a built in look in an outdoor kitchen
So, what is Airstone? Technically, it’s a manufactured stone veneer containing 80% recycled materials. That means it’s lighter than real stone as well as concrete, and it’s eco-friendly. To install, all you need is adhesive, a putty knife, and a hacksaw. You can use it for indoor and outdoor applications (on appropriate substrates).
But here’s my favorite part: it’s affordable. You get all the benefits of a natural stone look without having to buy thinset, grout, spacers…or a wet saw. Bonus: you don’t have to know how to use any of that stuff either.
Since I tackled my kitchen backsplash the old fashioned way awhile ago (got the wetsaw in the basement to prove it), I thought for a long time about the best way to feature Airstone in my home. I wanted to try something I hadn’t seen on Pinterest yet. The idea of an accent wall appealed to me, but I couldn’t decide where I’d do it. If you read the title of this post, you can probably decipher where this project is heading…
That’s the guest bathroom (the main floor bathroom) in all it’s builder grade glory- a pre-fab, 3 walled tub/shower surround with zero awesomeness. I have been dreaming of “re-facing” the front of the tubs in both bathrooms for some time (I have a different material in mind for upstairs, it starts with a “bead” and ends with an “oard”). Since I knew Airstone can be used outside, I got pretty excited about the prospect of trying it out in this application. One of their installation experts gave me the go ahead in a quick chat, then I was off and running.
Currently Airstone comes in two colors, one being more gray and the other more tan. I chose the gray (Spring Creek) because I thought it would look best with the wall colors and vanity. Since I wasn’t rounding any corners and both sides of the tub have walls, I only needed the flat stones (there are also “corner” and “natural edge” varieties). For this projects, I purchased:
I already had a caulk-gun, so I didn’t buy one- but you will need one for the exterior adhesive. P.S. I’m convinced there is no such thing as a dripless caulk gun. But back to the install, here it is in two steps:
If that seems simple, that’s because it is. You just lay the stones end-to-end however you like, trying to alternate the seams (like wood flooring). Now if you have one of these pre-fab tub/showers deals, you might already know that the tub front is not completely flat. If you look at the top right corner of the tub you can see the tub goes slightly in. I had a hunch that I’d be able to compensate with the Airstone because of the natural depth variation in each stone, something I doubt would be possible with a straight tile job (at least not without installing a flat surface first). Totally worked. Yeah, that almost never happens to me on the first try. I was shocked too.
Because my tub is not very wide, I started with stones on one end and installed about 3 or 4, then I moved to the other side. I just didn’t want to have all cut pieces at one end. But the adhesive has quite a long working time, so you can replace stones as needed if you want. Make your cuts as you go, it’s best not to move onto the next row with a hole on the previous. A simple hacksaw will cut Airstone, no power tools needed.
When I got to the last row of full height bricks (not to the top, but as far up as I could go), I started experimenting with trim. I tried a piece of molding (similar to chair rail), but actually simple quarter round looked the best! First I had to deal with that little inset area in the corner though, remember? My first inclination was to ignore it…I mean the shower curtain would cover it anyway. I’d just cut a piece to go the length of the inner portion and call it a day.
But I just couldn’t! I mean I’ve been working with my little miter box saw for awhile now, and it’d be a shame to waste all those skills…
Ok-so by those cuts you wouldn’t think I have skills, but I swear the problem is that it’s not exactly a 90 degree corner. I knew I’d have to fudge it with caulk and spackle.
Looking pretty finished now, I’m on a roll!
Oh yeah, check out that craftsmanship. Amazing. Or, it will be after come spackle, caulk, and paint- which is still in the works (stuff takes time to dry, yo). And it will be covered by curtains. Ready?
Ohmygosh I totally pulled a curtain switch on you too, did you notice? Well I couldn’t very well install a posh tub surround and then cover it up with a curtain now could I?
If you are patient, you can find two matching curtain panels that are not lime green at Ross. It took me about a week. I also picked up a set of sheers with a bonus valence (for another project, you’ll see!). I got an extra tension rod for .99, so I think this was less than alltogether.
The curtains and (1) sheer panel are on a rod, and the liner is on another rod behind. I’m not sure if this is the best permanent solution, ideally the liner and sheer would be together (in my head, I want the curtains to stay still and the liner/sheer to be opened and closed). I’m still working on executing that. But this works for now, especially since it’s a guest bathroom. I may add a cornice box up top, which is why the curtain height is kinda weird. If I add the box, I can lower the rod…
In any case, let’s not throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Just focus on the tub. With the Airstone. And its awesomeness.
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