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GIO Looks at the Timeless Legacy of Belgian Bluestone

Belgian Bluestone, also known as “Petit Granit,” is a distinctive and high-quality limestone quarried in Belgium for centuries. The stone is also known by many other names: Pierre Bleu, Belgian Granite, Belgian Bleu, and Coal Limestone, to name just a few. Belgium’s history, architecture, culture, and economy are deeply intertwined with the unique characteristics and history of its extraction and use.

Origins and Geology

Carbon limestone (Tournaisian) with crinoids, Petit Granit (Public Domain)

Belgian Bluestone is a dark, dense limestone that dates back to the Carboniferous period (roughly 350 million years ago), which takes its name from large underground coal deposits formed from vegetation and large trees that grew in vast swamp forests. This stone is found in several regions in south Belgium, especially in Tournai and Soignies. It was formed in ancient marine environments, leading to the stone’s characteristic blue-grey color and the presence of fossilized sea creatures and calcite veins. The stone’s blue color varies in tone, from almost black to a powdery blue-grey, depending on how much carbon the stone contains and the finish applied.

Extraction and Use

The extraction of Belgian Bluestone dates back to Roman times, but it became more widespread in the Middle Ages. As early as the 11th century, it was being used extensively to construct religious and secular buildings throughout Belgium. This limestone was a popular choice for builders and sculptors due to its durability, beauty, and ease of workability.

During the medieval period, Belgian bluestone was used to construct cathedrals, churches, castles, and sculptures throughout Europe. However, its use was not limited to grand architectural projects; it was also used for more pedestrian elements such as foundation stones, steps, and paving stones.

Tournai’s Cathedral of Notre Dame is a cruciform 11th–12th-century basilica, one of the finest in Europe.

 

Belgian Bluestone sculpture: Crest of Liège dated 1592
Belgian Bluestone sculpture: Crest of Liège, dated 1592

Industrialization and Modern Use

The quarrying and processing of Belgian limestone underwent significant changes during the Industrial Revolution. In the 19th and 20th centuries, it was used for residential construction (door and window sills, flooring, and other architectural details) and public works, including curbs, street paving, and monuments.

Belgian Bluestone remains a sought-after material today, and the more fossilized marine life that is visible, the more desirable and valuable the stone! The timeless beauty of this material makes it a popular choice for flooring, countertops, and architectural features.

Since 1999, the name “Petit Granit” has been an Appellation d’Origine Locale (Local Appellation of Origin). Around fifteen quarries in Belgium are active today.

Cultural Significance

Beyond its practical uses, Belgian Bluestone holds cultural significance in Belgium and Europe. It symbolizes the region’s rich geological history and craftsmanship, and the quarries of Belgian Bluestone are a significant part of the region’s heritage.

Meet GIO’s Belgian Bluestone-Inspired Tile Collection

Belgian Bluestone is gorgeous, but if you are searching for a stunning porcelain alternative, look to GIO’s Bluestone Pierre. While our tumbled edge Bluestone Pierre evokes the look of Belgian Bluestone, with white calcite veins, coal lines, and visible fossils, it is interpreted in durable, easy-to-maintain, and easy-to-source porcelain.

Bluestone_Pierre
Gio’s Bluestone Pierre

Like What You See?

Great design starts with a sample — and samples are always free to the trade! It’s easy; just click here to submit your sample request.

Gio brings you only the finest commercial-grade products, hand-picked from global sources, based on our focused knowledge of what you need to transform commercial spaces. Contact us anytime – we’re here to work with you!

 

Image Credits

Cathedral of Tournai:  Jean-Pol GRANDMONT, Tournai JPG001, CC BY 2.5

Crest of Liège: Jrenier, Blason-liege-1592, CC BY-SA 3.0

Big Trend: Big Tile

The past three decades have seen new manufacturing techniques and cutting-edge printing pushing porcelain tile into the forefront of design and innovation. Porcelain tiles are also getting larger and larger. Tiles equal to or greater than one square meter (almost 11 square feet!) are designated “Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs” by  ANSI A137. 3. Additionally, while standard-body porcelain tiles are thicker than 7mm, porcelain panels range from 3 mm to 6.5 mm, with the thicker slabs (used for countertops and the like) around 12 mm thick.

When porcelain panels first arrived in the U.S. from Italy, there were no product standards or guidelines for transporting, cutting, and installing the material. The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) soon realized they needed to create guidelines for installers and the architecture and design community. After more than four years of cross-disciplinary industry collaboration and 4,000 hours of research, in 2017, the TCNA unveiled two new standards for the materials:

ANSI A137.3, the American National Standard Specifications for Gauged Porcelain Tiles and Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs

ANSI A108.19, Interior Installation of Gauged Porcelain Tile and Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs by the Thin-Bed Method Bonded with Modified Dry-Cement Mortar or Improved Modified Dry-Set Cement Mortar.

Now that the industry had both product standards and installation guidelines for this new porcelain product, the mystery surrounding the panels was removed, with porcelain panels and slabs increasingly selected by designers and specifiers for both commercial and high-end residential projects.

Due to advanced manufacturing processes, the panels can be installed with minimal grout widths, and thanks to their large size, the number of grout lines is minimized, allowing for a clean, modern look. The designs available are nearly endless, and many patterns can be book-matched. Also, installing directly over other surface materials is often possible with proper substrate preparation.

Let’s look at all the great reasons to love porcelain panels!

Porcelain Panels are Stylish and Modern

Available in a vast array of colors, patterns, and finishes, porcelain panels offer a modern, luxury aesthetic.

Porcelain Panels are Durable

Unlike some natural stones, porcelain panels are extremely durable, water-resistant, scratch-resistant, and easy to maintain (with fewer grout joints to clean!), making them perfect for high-traffic commercial spaces. They are also UV – and weather-resistant, making them suitable for outdoor installations.

Porcelain Panels are Perfect for Sustainable Installation Projects and Economical, Too

Porcelain panels are a smart, sustainable surfacing choice as they are long-lasting, and their manufacturing process consumes less energy due to their reduced thickness. The thinner construction means less material is used, reducing the cost per square foot. It also means the weight of the panels is also lessened for more economical shipping.

Porcelain Panels are Versatile

Porcelain panels can be cut into virtually any size and shape; this includes varying thicknesses and even curved edges. Commercial designers have welcomed the panels and specify them as an alternative to standard-body commercial tile on floors and walls in elevator banks, reception areas, guest rooms, bathrooms, and more.

Porcelain Panels Offer the Possibility of Tile-Over-Tile Installation

Installing porcelain panels over existing floor and wall materials is often possible. Tile-over-tile installations are a boon for commercial projects because they create an excellent opportunity to eliminate demolition with its associated expense, mess, and downtime.

Slab _48

Slab_48 is an extraordinary large format porcelain panel offering vibrant visuals and stunning designs.

GIO Slab_48, Onyx Green 48 x110 Polished
GIO Slab_48, Onyx Green 48 x110 Polished slab

 

Slab_48, Calacatta Gold 24x48 Polished (Floor) and 48 x110 Polished (Wall)
Slab_48, Calacatta Gold 24×48 Polished (Floor) and 48 x110 Polished (Wall)

 

GIO Slab_48, Invisible Light 48x102 Honed slab
GIO Slab_48, Invisible Light 48×102 Honed slab

Statuarietto Bianco Floor & Wall Tile

Statuarietto Bianco offers bold sizes, beautiful marble veining, and a range of sizes for endless porcelain project possibilities. 

GIO Statuarietto Bianco, 30 x 30 Polished & Rectified (60 x120 slabs available)

Like What You See?

Great design starts with a sample — and samples are always free to the trade! It’s easy; just click here to submit your sample request.

Gio brings you only the finest commercial-grade products, hand-picked from global sources, based on our focused knowledge of what you need to transform commercial spaces. Contact us anytime – we’re here to work with you!

A Look at What’s New at GIO!

It’s been a while since we’ve touted our latest and greatest tile collections, but we’ve been stacking them up this year! It is our mission to offer you the latest in sophisticated and innovative tile products, and we’re proud to continuously offer a range of on-trend tile products to transform commercial design projects.

Our latest lineup reflects global trends for Moroccan inspiration, subway styles, stunning slabs, statement stones, and natural stone looks such as slate, limestone, bluestone, and marble. So, without further ado, let’s look at what’s new at GIO!

Petra Floor & Wall Tile

Slate, stone & rock influence Petra — a stylish porcelain stoneware collection in patterns, timeless tones, & two textures to answer to today’s trends.

 

Chalk Floor & Wall Tile

Our Chalk porcelain tile collection offers five hip classic concrete hues in field tile, mosaic, and trim —ideal for sleek, standard, or sophisticated spaces.

GIO Chalk, Tan 12 x 24 (Wall) and Terrazzo, Fleck Bianco 24x48 (Floor)

Mia Floor & Wall Tile

With Moroccan-inspired artistic decorative porcelain patterns in four classic-turned-trendy tones, Mia porcelain tile can be featured for fabulous floors or wonderful walls.

GIO Mia, Bone 5x5 Cross and Terracotta 6x6 Star

 

Colorplay Wall Tile

A color body, unglazed tile offered in all the necessary neutrals, every workhorse size, and polished or matte finish. Colorplay wall tile is durable and enduring for demanding commercial environments.

GIO Colorplay, Crema 2 x 10 Bright Field Tile

Chroma Wall Tile

Chroma wall tile offers a trio of finishes in perfect porcelain Pantone hues. The tiles are classically designed in a handmade artisan style blended with creative contemporary colors.

GIO Chroma, Taupe 3x8 Glossy and Matte Field Tile

Slab_48

Modern design & extraordinary large format porcelain panel displayed in lightweight, vibrant visuals. Slab_48‘s versatile, and stunning designs are ready to enrich any style of space.

GIO Slab_48, Onyx Green 48 x110 Polished

Varenna Floor & Wall Tile

Inspired by materials quarried near the luminous Lombardy region of Italy, Varenna is a dramatically veined duet of timeless black and white marble porcelain — perfect for a bold statement in any setting.

Room scene with GIO Varenna,Bianca 24 x 48 Honed & Rectified Field Tile

Slate_Ardosia Floor & Wall Tile

With four stunning slate interpretations inspired by South American origins, Slate_Ardosia is a timeless tile look that delivers in performance with two finishes, “grip” and “honed.”

GIO Slate_Ardosia, Charcoal 24 x 48 Honed & Rectified Field Tile

Mirabella Floor & Wall Tile

A lively limestone inspired by the quarries of Portugal, Mirabella offers a quartet of contemporary colors and subtle striations in quite the porcelain presence.

GIO Mirabella, Ivory 24x48 Rectified Field Tile

Crema_Avorio Floor & Wall Tile

An expression of prestigious Sicilian marble and rich veining interpreted in a plush porcelain palette, Crema_Avorio is offered in an array of versatile sizes, plus a honed and stacked mosaic.

GIO Crema_Avorio, 24 x 48 Polished & Rectified

Antico Wall Tile

Modern style & shape meet old-world aesthetics in this handcrafted, high gloss five-color subway stunner. Antico is offered in a sleek 2.5″ x 10″ size in five gorgeous hues.

 

GIO Antico, Bianco 2.5x10 Field Tile

Bluestone_Pierre Floor & Wall Tile

A beautiful, timeless limestone, Belgian Bluestone is a classic with rich colors, dark tones, and ancient fossils all rolled into one. Bluestone_Pierre is a stunning tumbled-edge porcelain interpretation.

Bluestone_Pierre

Like What You See?

Great design starts with a sample — and samples are always free to the trade! It’s easy; just click here to submit your sample request.

Gio brings you only the finest commercial-grade products, hand-picked from global sources based on our focused knowledge of what you need to transform commercial spaces. Contact us anytime – we’re here to work with you!