Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kitchen Countertops

Tooling of Granite and Other Stone Materials for a Countertop

Granite has enjoyed a long history of use as flooring, shelving, countertops and even buildings and monuments. From the earliest stone tools to works of art, granite has been crafted into all shapes and sizes. Perhaps the most prevalent use of granite today is for countertops used in kitchens, bathrooms and other surface treatments. Because of the fact that granite is one of the hardest and most durable materials on earth, it lends itself well for use in high traffic areas. It is also due to this same hardness and durability that makes it a difficult material with which to work.

It is common for improvements in technology to yield lower costs of products and manufacturing, but this generalized rule does not apply to the area of stone fabrication. As the demand for granite has increased more and more equipment is necessary to maintain and increase production levels. Specialized diamond-tipped saws, water jets and other tools and heavy equipment are needed to be able to cut and transport the dense and massive material.

Despite the advent of computer controlled machining, crafting a countertop is still a laborious and time consuming process. Computers and computer aided design programs have revolutionized the level of precision that fabricators may achieve and reduce the amount of errors and wasted material. Much of this precision is visible in the edge profiles that are possible. There are over 15 edge profiles which are usually available from a simple round over to a delicate waterfall profile. Some granite countertop edge profiles are given different names by individual suppliers much like certain retail chains will assign their own model numbers to a particular line of appliances.

The first step in exploring the use of granite as a countertop or even as a fireplace surround is to visit a granite showroom. Many showrooms will actually have the granite fabrication facilities on the same site. There will be a wide variety of colors and patterns available, but it is important to note that because granite is a product of nature no one piece in the showroom will be able to be exactly duplicated. The samples available for viewing are simply a good representation of what particular type of granite can be found at a specific quarry. When it becomes time to select a countertop, many fabricators will walk the customer through the warehouse so that the client will be able to select the exact individual slab for the kitchen remodel project, providing a truly customized one-of-a-kind product which will last for many decades.

Visit Universal Stone Inc. to view the colors of granite offered or to request a free quote.

Article independently authored by Dan 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 WebDrafter.com's Blog.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Granite and Marble - The Advantages Of Using Natural Stone For Countertops and Flooring

It is often true of artwork that special care needs to be taken in order to preserve the natural beauty of the piece. While this is true regarding most things of value, countertops fabricated from natural stone such as granite, marble and others share a natural durability which is unmatched by any human made invention. Not even stainless steel can claim to be as durable and easily maintained as granite. There are a few exceptions to the rule, however.

Granite is essentially the hardest material on earth that can be commonly found throughout kitchens, bathrooms and as a variety of building components in residential and commercial applications. When granite is used as a countertop, shelf, or fireplace surround very little care is necessary to maintain the inherent beauty and finish. Granite is, for all intents and purposes impervious to the every day rigors of life.

Although some fabricators will recommend sealing a granite countertop, this is largely for the peace of mind of the consumer and not for any special protection needed for the granite material. Other types of natural stone countertops should be sealed due to the specific stone's porosity. The best rule of thumb is to follow the recommendations of the stone fabricator. The only usual needed care to maintain granite or marble countertops is to wipe the stone down with warm water and possibly a non-abrasive liquid soap. The one exception, which is true of any material, is when granite or marble is used for flooring.

With regards to flooring materials, continuous wear and tear which floors are subjected to every day will not damage the stone itself, but can dull the finish. Sand, dirt and almost all abrasives will cause any surface, including carpet and wood, to become worn unless regularly cleaned. The nature of granite just allows the flooring to be more durable than other floor types.

As proof of this, many high traffic government buildings and large commercial businesses, such as hotels erected in the early half of the 1900s, used granite for countertops, flooring and more. Today these materials are still just as beautiful as was when installed. For this increased durability and natural one-of-a-kind beauty, granite flooring is often more expensive than the average carpet or even genuine hardwood flooring. The investment is also usually higher due to the specialized skill and machinery necessary to craft natural stone with attention to detail.

For additional information on granite kitchen countertops and more call 952-746-4690 or visit www.universalstone-inc.com today!

Article independently authored by Daniel 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 WebDrafter.com's Blog.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In the Know About Granite

When it comes to your home's d├ęcor, there are many options for your kitchen and bathroom countertops. These choices include basic laminates, ceramic tiles in an array of colors and patterns, concrete slab countertops which can be customized to suit and granite. To help you decide if granite countertops are right for you, consider these perks and quirks of granite:

  • It comes in over 3,000 colors each one with its own unique pattern and movement, and can be given custom edges and finishes.
  • Countertops, when properly sealed and maintained, are virtually scratch, stain and chip resistant.
  • They are great for making cookies, candies, bread dough and other foods that are best prepared on a cool surface.
  • It is heat resistant. If you forget to grab a heat pad for that pan of lasagna, it won't matter if you set it on your counter.
  • The only surface that is harder than granite is a diamond.
  • Granite countertops add a minimum of 10% to the resale value to your home.
  • Granite is not excessively porous (unlike marble) making it chemical and acid resistant.

Disadvantages of granite are:

  • It is expensive due to the labor for its removal from the quarry, the work involved in cutting it and the work necessary for installation.
  • It does not have a uniform pattern or color and will also contain natural cracks or pits. These "imperfections" are actually what lends to its beauty and "movement".
  • It will dull your knives if you use it as a cutting board.
  • Granite countertops should be installed by a qualified professional-it is not a do it yourself project.
  • They need to have the sealant re-applied a least once a year to prevent staining or fading.
  • Seams are visible, regardless of how good the installer is.

When it comes time for you to have your countertops installed, you want to have the best job possible. Here are a few tips for selecting a granite installer:

  • Beware of rates that are considerably lower than others-a great price does not necessarily equal excellent quality. Oftentimes these companies may give a low price quote, but then add in extra items on the expenses not included in the original bid.
  • Take your time-during busy seasons, the best companies can be backed up, don't hire someone simply because their calendar is open---ask why they don't have a lot of work at a time when premier companies have a waiting list.
  • Be sure to get more than 1 referral for the installation company you are considering; also, asking the company for a customer list is only going to give you the name of satisfied customers. Rather ask those you know who have had granite countertops installed, for their recommendations.
  • Contact the Better Business Bureau for a list of companies that have received great reviews. Find out if the company honors their contracts with the homeowners as well any suppliers.

For additional information on 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 WebDrafter.com's Blog.