New materials and technology offer more choices

by M. LUKE YODER photography by HOLGER OBENAUS


Design trends may come and go— remember “distressed” cabinetry?—but stylish stone countertops and tile work never fade out of fashion.

That’s a good thing for decorators and homeowners alike, because there have never been as many options available as there are today.

Joe Sykes, president of Atlantic Stone, agrees.

“Before, if you wanted high-end stonework, you’d choose between granite and marble,” says Sykes. “Today, you have the options of quartz or porcelain as well as real stone in countless patterns and colors to match any décor.”

Thanks to advances in manufacturing and technology, Atlantic Stone can now offer customers these new material options for stonework throughout a home, from kitchen to bathroom to fireplace. Some choices even work for outdoor spaces.

“We work with high-end residential clients from North Carolina to Charleston and Savannah,” says Sykes. “We live and breathe quality, from product choices to installation, and we want to give our clients every option to make their stonework perfect.”

According to Sykes, materials like quartz and porcelain are gaining popularity because they are durable and easy to care for.

Quartz is a hard, natural and abundant mineral. Quartz countertops are a man-made product created with quartz aggregate and resins to form large slabs with incredible strength. Unlike granite, quartz is nonporous, meaning spills won’t soak into the stone and cause staining.

Porcelain is an “engineered” stone as well. It’s made from clay—just like ceramic—which is baked at high temperatures to create a strong, durable, lightweight material. In fact, porcelain is stronger than granite at much less weight. This allows Sykes and his team to use porcelain in exciting ways that would be impossible with natural stone. In addition, color, size and texture choices are endless with porcelain.

“I see materials like quartz and porcelain gaining momentum and market share in the coming years,” says Sykes. “They’re too good of an option to ignore, and homeowners crave maintenance-free surfaces so they can spend more time doing the things they enjoy. When you can combine durability and easy maintenance, it’s hard not to choose materials like these.”

Sykes has already seen his sales of quartz jump from 10 percent of his sales to 35 percent, so expect the popularity of porcelain to grow as well.

Not only is Atlantic Stone at the forefront of new materials, Sykes knows it’s also important to stay current with technology. Recent investments in cutting equipment allow for greater production without losing sight of Atlantic Stone’s number one goal: quality.

The company has a large fabrication facility near the showroom that is filled with the latest equipment. This allows Sykes and his team to do things with those materials other companies can’t or won’t.

“We were the first company in Charleston to offer mitered edges,” says Sykes.

A mitered edge connects two pieces of a material at a right angle with a seamless finish. Sykes can create the illusion of a thick, natural slab for countertops using quartz or porcelain. The edges look great and can be a few inches thick or go all the way to the floor, creating a “waterfall” edge.

Atlantic Stone book-matches these edges whenever possible, meaning that if there is a large vein running through the material, it will be matched as closely as possible at the edge, just like it would look in natural stone.

“Mitered edges give a sense of weight to a countertop,” says Sykes. “Even though we use lightweight material, we can make it feel as if there’s a huge slab of stone. It’s really nice.”

Although Atlantic Stone guarantees its work and will fix any problems, Sykes saw an opportunity to offer countertop and tile care to non-customers as well. He’s recently opened another branch of his company, Atlantic Stone and Tile Care, to offer maintenance for anyone. It specializes in fixing cracks and chips as well as honing and polishing old stone and tile.

By staying current on materials, technologies and trends, Atlantic Stone offers insights and options that work with any home style and décor.

“We’ve built a great reputation over the last 13 years because we do great work,” says Sykes. “We listen to the client, offer any advice we may have and then work to create the best space possible.”

The Atlantic Stone showroom is by appointment only.

M. Luke Yoder is a writer based in Charleston. Learn more at

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