Monday, October 18, 2010

7 Things to Look for When Purchasing Granite

If you have decided to upgrade your home's floors/ work surfaces with granite, then chances are you have already learned about the color choices, movement and durability. But how can you tell if you are getting good quality granite? After all, you are making a major investment into your home and you want to ensure you are getting exactly what you expect. As you begin your selection process, be sure to ask these questions and pay attention to the details.

  1. If purchasing granite for countertops, look for slabs that are a minimum of 3 meters or more in length as this one of the key indicators of a quality piece of granite. These will cost more, but they are truly the best.
  2. Will the granite be cut with water or kerosene? While either is acceptable, the higher quality choice is granite that will be cut using water as this is better for the granite and does not take away from the stability and strength of the stone. If granite has been cut using kerosene, then dormant ferrous and ferric mineral particles are triggered and will eventually cause discoloration and pitting in the polished surface. Kerosene cut granite also begins showing dull places within 6-18 months giving the granite a dull appearance. Lastly, kerosene cut granite should not be used in homes with radiant heating as kerosene will evaporate from the stone bringing unpleasant odors and health hazards.
  3. Can the vendor use granite slabs from the same block for a single job? This will add to the overall look of the completed project. If more than 1 slab will be used, then the material should be a nearly perfect match in shade and color (an exact match is rare due to the natural coloring and movement of granite).
  4. The finished product should have a mirror like appearance (ask to see finished pieces in the showroom so you know what to expect from the installer/fabricator) as well as a consistent high shine.
  5. Your granite countertops, once installed, should have seams that are as smooth and as nearly invisible as possible. Again, you will want to see showroom samples for this. Check to see that the edges are slightly beveled and well polished at the top edge of any joints or seams. Edges that are merely sawed off will have a lighter appearance than those that have beveled and polished.
  6. Look at the showroom samples and note the edges. Good quality granite countertops will have smooth edges without the wavy rippled look that occurs when a fabricator uses hand-held equipment versus an automated edging tool.
  7. Do the colors and grains "match"? Though an exact match is unlikely, when the surface finish is applied, there should be a consistency to the granite, even if there are seams and multiple pieces of granite used for the project. In addition, the granite slabs should fit precisely so that the countertops flow smoothly which adds to the overall elegance and appearance of the stone.

For additional information on the topic of granite countertops visit Universal Stone Inc.

Article independently authored by Janet M. Slagell. The content herein may or may not reflect the views and opinions of Universal Stone Inc. Click for search engine optimization and search engine marketing or visit's Blog.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Granite and Other Stone...

Where Some Natural Stones Should Not Be Used and the Best Care For Them

Granite is one of the most popular materials to use in a kitchen remodel, but there are several more natural stone options for use as kitchen countertops or other surfaces throughout the home. In fact natural stone such as marble or soapstone are perfect for bathroom vanities, fireplace surrounds, surrounds for drop in tubs and so on. There are certain aspects of each type of stone which will lend itself better to particular uses in the bathroom than in the kitchen.

Granite is one of the hardest materials in existence. It is largely impervious to extreme temperatures and staining from liquids. Despite this durability some fabricators still recommend applying a protective sealant. Because of the durability of granite, the material may be used in any area of the house from granite floor tile and window sills to a countertop of an outdoor kitchen.

Marble and soapstone are much more porous than granite, but still durable. As a result additional care is necessary to maintain the new appearance of the stone. It is very common for marble to yellow with age if left unprotected. A penetrating sealer is almost always recommended for these softer and more porous stones. Soapstone is a little different. As soapstone ages, oxidation takes place giving an old world feel to the stone.

Marble can be successfully used throughout the home in the form of mantle pieces, shelving and even window sills or thresholds. In this manner it can create a more organic flow through the residence. There are exceptions to using more porous materials in the kitchen area.

Because porous stone absorb liquids it is not recommended for using natural stone of this type in an area where spills do occur. Liquids should not be allowed to stay on any stone surface for any length of time and must be cleaned up. Even condensation from a glass can leave a permanent stain on a softer stone such as marble or soapstone. Damage from a hot pan is also another possibility.

There are cleaners available for marble and the like, but after applying the solution the home owner may find that the finish has been dulled. If this does occur, re-polishing the marble may restore the original finish. As always the home owner should follow the cleaning and care instructions for the particular type of stone work which has been installed. Should a piece ever become damaged, finding a suitable color tone and veining pattern will not be very likely due to variations of natural stone even from the same quarry.

For additional information on the topic of granite and other natural stone countertops visit Universal Stone, Inc.

Article independently authored by Daniel P. Elliott. The content herein may or may not reflect the views and opinions of Universal Stone, Inc. Click for search engine optimization and search engine marketing or visit's Blog.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to Keep Your Granite Countertops Looking Like New

There's nothing quite like the look and feel of granite. After all, with a myriad of color choices, seemingly unlimited veining patterns plus its durability, granite has become one of the most popular countertop choices around. But just because it is beautiful and durable, doesn't mean that it can be neglected or abused. Like any investment, granite needs to be maintained properly order to look as beautiful in 20 years (or more) as it did the day it was installed. Keeping your granite floors and countertops looking like new is not difficult, but it is necessary to follow some basic steps when it comes to the cleaning and care of your investment.

Preventative Maintenance

When you first get your granite floors or countertops installed, the installation crew will finish the job by applying a sealant. This sealant is to protect the granite as well as to prevent any liquid form getting into the stone and cause damage. Once the sealant is applied, there are several things you can do to keep your granite looking great.

  • Do not sit or stand on your granite countertop. Its durability means that it is not flexible like other countertop choices can be.
  • Do not stack dishes, heavy pots and pans, or ceramic bowls up on the countertop. While they won't hurt the granite just sitting there, should they fall over they can cause chipping.
  • Teach children that granite is not a play area. Don't allow them to bang toys on the countertops as there is the potential that the edge could be chipped.
  • Always use a cutting board. While this will not chip the surface of the granite, it will damage your cutlery. In addition, the more wear and tear your granite gets the more maintenance it will require.
  • If your granite does become damaged, fix any small chips immediately by using granite dust and an epoxy mixture to fill in the chip. For larger chips, try reattaching the lost piece using epoxy rather than just filling it in.
  • If you should get a scratch in your granite, call in a professional.

Basic Cleaning for Granite

Daily cleaning is the best way to keep your granite beautiful for years to come, but it doesn't have to be a large time consuming job. Rather, basic granite care means wiping down the surface each day with a warm, damp cloth. However, in the event that something has stained the granite there are a few methods you can use to get the stain out.

  • To get an oil-based stain out, use a paste of flour and hydrogen peroxide. Spread over the stain then cover with plastic wrap for at least 8 hours before using a flexible spatula to scrape away the paste. Repeat if necessary.
  • To remove ink stains, use acetone/nail polish remover.
  • Don't allow spills to sit unattended, wipe up immediately.
  • Keep your granite looking beautiful by making sure that it is resealed at least once every two years.

For additional information on the topic of granite countertops visit