Things to Remember During Template Formation (Measure)

Published May 27, 2015

Once you have chosen a granite type (or any other natural stone) for your countertop, the next few steps would be concerned with the finalizing of the total cost related to granite slabs, templating, and installation. There are many unexpected costs that may pop up related to electrical work, plumbing, working on uneven substrate surface, etc. which are in most cases unavoidable. Templating forms the basis of installation and if any crucial information is missed here, then you would not be able to get that perfect granite countertop that you have dreamt of.

 

Templating refers to the process of using a material (mostly plywood) to project the spatial arrangement present in the installation area onto this material taking into account all the spatial variables present or that will be present once the installation is complete. It is important that you are present at home when the fabricator or supplier’s reps are measuring the countertop space. At the end of the process, they will ask you in written to authorize the templates so that there is no dispute later.

 

During measuring, it is important to discuss irregularities present in the surface (leveling required) or on the wall as well as if the wall is completely straight or curved at some point. Edge work needed should also be discussed so that the details such as overhang, thickness required, and the type of edge profile (square, bullnose, ogee, etc.) desired are clear and well-understood. When it comes to backsplash, length, height, and interruptions present should be taken into account. Once the sink cutouts for the top are created, the type required (under-mount or top-mount) should be discussed with the fabricator. Also, you must discuss the positioning of seams on the granite countertop depending on the appliances or other accessories that will be put consequently on the top. It is imperative that the cabinets are fitted before the measurement takes place because their positioning can alter the setting of the top.

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Seams & Fissures on the Granite Countertop

Published May 18, 2015

While buying granite as a countertop material, there are many things in addition to cost that you must be well-informed about. In most cases, when you visit a stone dealer’s showroom, you will be shown various types of granite samples. You can choose the required color & design from these samples; however, there are many things that could go wrong here. As granite is a natural stone, there are natural variations present in every slab which are unique to that slab. Hence, the sample alone is not sufficient to ensure that the entire countertop eventually fabricated would be the replica of this sample.

 

Granite is quarried in the form of blocks which are of different lengths. Due to this reason, creating a larger slab for a top requires joining of these different slabs together which results in seam formation. These seams are filled with epoxy and color pigments so as to bind the different slabs together and to match the color of the seam as close to the color of the slabs as possible. These seams may become quite apparent if the adjoining slabs as well as the color pigments used are not matched. As said earlier that being a natural product no two slabs would have the same exact color even if they are of the same type; but, it is not a difficult job to find slabs which are a close match in terms of color, veins and movements. Hence, you must ask to see the slabs that will be used to create your granite countertop.

 

Fissures are naturally occurring separations on the surface of a granite slab which may be mistaken for cracks. Granite is continuous over the fissure which means that unlike a crack there is no discernible depression formed on the surface. Hence, a countertop will not get affected in any way by these fissures which are natural variations found in many other natural stone as well.

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Useful Tips for Marble Cleaning & Maintenance

Published May 15, 2015

Marble is the only natural stone which is more popular because of its aesthetics than the physical properties it exhibits. Apart from its looks, there are many other desirable qualities that make it a fierce competitor to granite & quartz countertops. However, it requires more care than its counterparts. As discussed in a recent blog post, marble is made up of calcite which goes under a chemical reaction when it comes in contact with anything acidic thus leading to etching. Also, being a porous material, it absorbs liquids which could leave dark marks on the surface. However, with a little bit of precaution, these problems can be minimized.

 

In previous posts we have seen that etching and staining are quite different and consequently the methods used to remove them from your marble countertop also differ. It is possible that the same spot on the top goes through etching as well as staining. In this scenario, etching is removed prior to staining due to the reason that etching facilitates the staining process and must be dealt first.

 

Etching on a polished marble countertop can be easily removed with a help of a good etch remover  which will through the abrasion process restores the polish of the top. Until and unless the etching is so pronounced that you could feel the roughness with your fingers, you can remove the etching on your own by following the instructions given on the etch remover. These etch removers though are not meant for honed marble types because they will provide a shiny texture to the marble. In fact, honed marble is preferred over polished because it is hard to notice etches on a honed surface and after a while these etches just became a part of the beautiful patina developed by marble.

 

Staining, on the other hand, can easily be avoided by sealing the marble countertop thus blocking  liquids from permeating the slab. In the case of a polished marble, there is a good chance that staining would not be a problem as the polishing material itself acts as a sealing agent. Even then if staining occurs (honed or polished), then make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the stained area in a circular motion and cover it with a plastic sheet for about a day. Remove the plastic sheet and clean the paste with a wet cloth. Instead of a paste of baking soda and water, you can also use hydrogen peroxide. Though, hydrogen peroxide should not be applied to a dark marble type as it will lighten the area on application. Caveat: These methods may not work on your marble type or may damage the surface as different marbles are honed, polished, and sealed differently.

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The Weird Relationship Between Staining & Sealing

Published April 20, 2015

Staining & etching are two familiar words that go with the granite & marble countertops. Many natural stone sellers and experts recommend to seal the surface to arrest staining and that too every year or in every 3-5 years. However, not all types of granite (especially) have the same porosity. Some variants are so dense that they don’t require sealing ever. In fact, they don’t absorb sealers at all and the sealer just sits on the surface giving it a dull look. Depending on the absorption rate of the surface, even the layers of sealers required do vary. Hence, the so called ‘rule of thumb’ that every granite surface requires sealing and that too quite often is somewhat imprecise.

 

The primary constituent of a granite countertop is silica and in the case of a marble top it is calcite. These substances (silica & calcite) when come in contact with anything acidic, a chemical reaction takes place which corrodes or dulls the surface; this is what we call etching. It must be noted that etching is quite different from staining and sealers only help with the staining issues but are ineffective against etching. Staining happens when a liquid is absorbed through the surface and leaves a dark colored spot (against dull marks with etching) on the surface.

 

You can easily infer whether your granite countertop requires sealing or not with the help of a test. This simple test could be done with water but to check the extent of staining & etching it is better to do a lemon juice test. To start with, put some lemon juice on a small area (which is generally covered or unnoticed) and observe how quickly it darkens the area. If the darkening happens immediately, then the top is extremely porous and must be avoided. In the event the dark spot comes after 4-5 minutes, then the stone is reasonably non-porous and a sealer could be applied with three to four layers. If the darkening happens after 10-15 minutes, then the stone is quite dense and the sealer could be used but with a single layer only. If you see no darkening or perhaps after 30 minutes or so, then you have got a quality granite slab which absolutely doesn’t need any sealer.

 

Granite being made up of silica shows high resistance to etching; however, these days calcite is mixed in the granite slabs which may expedite etching. After the staining test, wipe the lemon juice and check for any dullness (etching). If there is excessive dullness on the tested area in comparison to the rest of the top, then it is better to avoid such countertops.

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Granite or Quartz: Which One is the Better Countertop Material?

Published April 14, 2015

Many people who are remodelling their kitchen generally do get stuck with the question that whether they should go with granite or the engineered quartz for their countertop. In a recent blog, we outlined some basic differences between the two in terms of composition & physical properties. However, the problem regarding the superior of the two when compared w.r.t. cost, design, and performance in ever day situations, is still unsolved. Marketers as well as avid fans of both materials sometimes exaggerate or conceal certain important attributes which makes the correct choice quite difficult. Let’s try to objectively understand the salient features of both materials.

 

The range of quality granite slab per square foot could go from $ 30 to around $ 200, though for most remodelling plans the range from $ 45 to $ 100 is optimal.  Quartz, on the other hand, ranges from around $ 50 to $ 100 but could be more expensive than this. It must be noted that the final installation charges may be significantly higher than what quoted, if you keep on including additional features such as complex edge work, cut-outs, etc. From the above price bands, it can be inferred that cost in both cases is quite similar and either of the materials could be chosen.

 

Engineered quartz doesn’t need sealing as it is a non-porous material so maintenance is assumed to be negligible. Granite even being a porous natural stone doesn’t require sealing in every case and if required it’s extremely easy. However, both materials require regular cleaning as any other top material would. Granite is highly heat resistant but engineered quartz though quite efficient in handling hot objects may get damaged with persistent heat. Quartz which is also found in granite is the fourth toughest material on earth and therefore has exemplary scratch resistant properties. In fact, granite for most practical situations also offer the same scratch resistant properties. Unlike granite, quartz may show signs of discoloration when exposed to sunlight for a long period of time.

 

Designing including movement and veining differ in granite & engineered quartz. Granite being a natural stone has unique movements and patterns that differ from one granite slab to another. Engineered quartz is more preferred by those who want to have uniform patterns rather than uneven natural movements. Hence, the choice here comes down to individual preferences. Engineered quartz, though, could replicate the natural patterns of granite through the customized manufacturing process.

 

There was a time when quartz used to be appreciably more expensive than granite but huge improvements in the manufacturing technologies have reduced the price gap between the two. Even the physical properties during normal kitchen activities do not differ significantly. So the final decision is more contingent on the individual preferences than anything else.

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Experiment with Different Edge Profiles to Add Panache to Your Countertop

Published April 3, 2015

With the season of spring well & truly arrived in Missouri, many kitchen remodelling enthusiasts are looking for new ideas to enliven their kitchen space. As complete makeover of your kitchen will cost you a fortune, the more prudent option would be to go for a countertop change. Countertop being the cynosure of any kitchen, could dramatically change the entire aesthetic of your kitchen.  As the options in the material, design, and price galore when it comes to tops, you will surely be spoiled for choices.

 

Most people think that edge profiles are purely for aesthetic purposes with no other value; however, they are critical with regards to cleaning, safety, and maintenance of the top. There are different types of edge profiles available with several variants within the same type. Rather than approving a profile by checking sketches or online samples, it is recommended to visit a store or a fabricator shop to go through tangible samples and feel the edge designs. Granite & quartz countertops being quite hard, allow various profiles to be used for the design.

 

Square edge profile is the simplest one which is devoid of curves; though to make tops safe for use, installers do slightly curve the edges. To give an appearance of extra-thick edges, square edge profiles could be mitered.  Eased & mitered profile provides marginally eased edge with rounded corners that makes cleaning the top easier and minimizes the chipping as seen with the traditional square profile. Bullnose is the most used and famous edge profile in which the entire edge as well as the corners are rounded thus lending a smooth finish to the top. Demi-bullnose on the other hand is rounded from the top and straightened at the end. Ogee edge profile, another traditional option used with granite, marble & quartz countertops, has two continuous semi-rounded curves that add to the elegance of the top.

 

There are numerous edge profiles available within the aforementioned designs as well as completely different ones too. The cost of these profiles also vary and generally increases with the increase in the design complexity.

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Know the Fundamental Differences Between Granite & Quartz Countertops

Published March 16, 2015

Granite and quartz are natural stone that offer various desired properties which make them a popular choice for kitchen & vanity tops. There are many misconceptions about these two materials that eventually hinder the selection process. It is imperative that you are well aware of their different properties such that you can make an informed decision about which of these two natural stone would be ideal for your kitchen space. Located in St. Louis, Missouri, we thoroughly discuss merits & demerits of various materials with our clients so that they could make the right selection when it comes to granite & quartz countertops.

 

The basic distinction between them comes from their composition which also in many ways affect their properties and appeal. Granite used for making tops is the same as quarried and nothing else is mixed into it. Hence, you could not find two slabs of granite that are replica of each other and therefore while choosing it, you must inspect the entire slab rather than just a small part of it. Quartz on the other hand, which is also a key ingredient of granite, is not used in its natural form to create countertops. Typically, quartz slabs have around 93-95 % natural quartz which is mixed with 7-5% of resins. Because of this reason, commercially used quartz is known as engineered quartz. The color pigments added to it are bound together with these resins which also provide a smooth surface to the stone.

 

Because of this manufacturing process, engineered quartz happens to be more durable and flexible than granite. Also, it is non-porous such that staining and bacterial growth are absent in quartz tops. Whereas, granite surfaces being porous are needed to be sealed periodically. Unlike granite, engineered quartz slabs can be replicated such that you can match your kitchen and bathroom space seamlessly. Though, due to the presence of resins, engineered quartz should not be exposed to direct sunlight (UV rays) as prolonged exposure might lead to discoloration and breakdown of the resin binder. Granite on the other hand doesn’t have this problem and it also exhibits way better heat-resistant properties.

 

Cost, once a primary distinguishing point between granite and quartz, has ceased to be the most relevant demarcator today. Traditionally, quartz used to be appreciably more expensive than most of the granite varieties but with the advent of highly efficient manufacturing processes the prices of engineered quartz have become comparable to third & higher levels of granite. You can visit our production facility/showroom in St. Louis, Missouri and we will provide you with the best prices possible for granite & quartz countertops.

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Create Riveting Contrasts in Your Kitchen with Absolute Black Granite Countertops

Published March 12, 2015

Granite for quite some time now has been the darling of the countertop industry. It is seen as a favorable natural stone alternative to both quartz & marble because it seamlessly incorporates the best properties of these materials. Absolute Black, a famous variant of granite, lends an astounding contrast to the kitchen space when used against the lighter shade cabinets & accessories. Located in St. Louis, Missouri, we offer quality Absolute Black granite countertops at best possible market prices.

 

Absolute Black is available in polished as well as in honed finish. Both options have their own advantages and characteristics; however, honed finish is more preferred (as with marble too) because it allows the natural aesthetics of veining & movements to become more pronounce. This also gives the top a more subtle & sophisticated look which is similar to the patina developed by marble overtime thus providing the best of both worlds to the customers! Though the dark shade of the top does cleverly camouflage dirt on the surface but you still got to be very careful as without polished finish granite is quite susceptible to staining.

 

We also provide other types of black granite countertops in the St. Louis, Missouri area such as Impala Black, Labrador Golden Flake, and New Brazil Black. The best place to find black granite is India which has almost half of all known granite varieties; though, you can also find the black variant in places such as China, Zimbabwe, and Uruguay. Granite is quite popular choice for tops because it can provide high durability as given by quartz and at the same time could be as captivating as marble. Also, it has exemplary heat resistance properties and if sealed well, it exhibits  remarkable immunity to both, etching as well as staining.

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Kitchen Cabinets: Important Features of Wood to Consider

Published February 11, 2015

Choosing the right wood type for your kitchen cabinets requires a good knowledge of various characteristics of wood and how they change from one type to another. Three important characteristics of any wood are grain, type, and color.  Selection of wood to match the aesthetics of the kitchen space is generally contingent on these three factors. These three factors are briefly discussed below.

 

Type

Any wood type that you will find could be named as softwood or hardwood.  As the name suggests, hardwood types are tend to be harder/denser than the softwood variants though it’s not necessarily true as some wood types belonging to the softwood family are quite strong. This distinction, more & less, comes from the way these trees germinate. Hardwood trees typically have broad leaves that are shed every year whereas softwood trees are evergreen and keep their needle all through the year. Some popular hardwood types include maple, oak, cherry, etc. On the other hand, famous softwoods include pine, cedar and spruce.

 

Grain

It refers to the natural pattern, texture or movement found in wood which is unique to every wood type. Common grain patterns include straight (broad/fine lines parallel to the axis of tree), spiral (round lines around the axis) and interlocked (spiral lines in both directions). It is important to choose a grain pattern that complements the measurements of your kitchen such that the entire space appears voluminous. You can visit our St. Louis, Missouri showroom to check kitchen & bathroom cabinets available in numerous grain patterns.

 

Color

There are myriad color options available that range from mild/soft tones to darker hues. Maple, a popular and quite extensively used hardwood, is available in creamy white to pale reddish brown variants. Cherry, a premium wood, comes in golden yellow to deep red variants. Depending on finishing, some economical wood types could also resemble more expensive ones. Operating within the Greater St. Louis area, we offer maple kitchen & bathroom cabinets in several colors such as mahogany maple, mocha maple glazed, Expresso maple, cinnamon maple glazed, chocolate maple glazed, and crème maple glazed.

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Things to Know before Installing a Vanity Top

Published February 5, 2015

Bathroom happens to be more susceptible to wear & tear than kitchen, and thus requires a vanity top that not only looks elegant but is also highly functional. A bathroom top has to endure soap, cosmetics, gels, water, heat, etc. on daily basis and it is not prudent to use a top material which is soft, porous, and susceptible to heat. Also, it acts as a connecting point for the vanity cabinets below and the tile wall above. Located in St. Louis, Missouri, we offer quality bathroom & kitchen vanity tops as well as wood cabinets at best possible market prices.

 

Out of many options available for vanity top material such as natural stone, laminate, wood, glass, concrete, etc., only natural stone tend to give the required elegance and durability needed in a busy space like bathrooms. Not only this, natural stone tend to give a more stylish and sophisticated look to the entire space which is quite helpful during resale. Granite these days happens to be the most popular choice because of its high durability, excellent heat resistant ability and high aversion to etching if sealed properly. You can visit our showroom in St. Louis, Missouri, to choose from various levels of granite slabs available for vanity tops.

 

Marble is also loved as a top material especially for its elegance and high resistivity to heat. Though it does etch more than granite and may not be liked by everyone. A honed marble though after some time develops a captivating patina which makes stains appreciably less detectable in most cases. Engineered quartz deserves to be mentioned here as it has the highest durability and doesn’t need to be sealed as it is non-porous. It is available in numerous designs and colors that could replicate granite & marble tops. Contrary to popular belief, quartz is not extremely expensive and its prices are quite comparable to most high-end granite & marble variants.

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