Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Using quartz for your kitchen countertops

The kitchen, it has been said, is the heart of the home. This is because it is offers a place to sit down around the table, or perhaps stand at a countertop, and unload the events of the day.   The kitchen is also, where guests have a tendency to congregate during parties. Therefore, with that in mind, you want to be sure that your kitchen looks great. One way to do this is by having beautiful kitchen countertops such as those with a quartz surface.

As one of the more recent arrivals to kitchen countertop surface choices quartz is referred to as an engineered stone; however, this does not mean it lacks the advantages of stones such as granite, marble or other natural stones. In fact, it has many of the same characteristics. In addition, the list of colors it comes in in seemingly endless, so having quartz kitchen countertops will not cramp your design style.

Not only is the color choices for quartz vast, but it is relatively easy to maintain. Because of its composition, having quartz kitchen countertops means that you have a surface that resist scratches, dents, scuffs, burns and stains, is nonporous  and can last for many years. And, when it comes to basic cleaning, quartz kitchen countertops only require a soft cloth and warm soapy water. In fact, harsh chemical cleaners are not recommended. Of course, kitchens are meant to be used, so there are likely to be times where even the most careful of home cooks may have something spill. But don’t fear. Just clean it up with a damp cloth.

Of course, no natural stone or even an engineered stone is without a few usage concerns. Perhaps the only drawback to having Mankato quartz countertops is that they are not a replacement for a cutting board, as this could result in causing a scratch or damage the knife blade. It should also be noted that liquids such as coffee, lemon juice, vinegar and wine, if spilled, need to be cleaned up immediately; this is not necessarily a drawback, but rather a precaution.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Granite Counters: Beautiful, Durable, and Desirable

Granite counters were just beginning to be used in homes a century ago. But even as recently as thirty years ago, very few homeowners had the means to afford polished granite in their homes. Granite has always been more expensive than other suitable materials. This is because removing granite from the quarries and cutting it for final use is a very labor intensive process.

Granite is still more expensive than most other materials, but the difference is not as great as in the past. You may find that installing granite counters would be quite affordable. A large portion of the granite used in the USA is imported from other countries where labor rates are much lower. Even with the cost of shipping the granite slabs, the lower labor cost makes it a viable process.

Although granite costs a bit more, the value added to your home will always be there. If you decide to sell your home sometime in the future, you will probably get more than your investment back. Even if you don't sell, when you spread the slightly higher cost of granite over just a few years, it is hard not to see that it is a good investment. And, your granite counters will provide a lifetime of pleasure and utility, and still look as good as new.

Granite is a naturally occurring and very hard stone. In fact it is one of the hardest stones on the earth. It actually requires a diamond saw to cut it for use. The hardness of this stone gives it a durability that makes granite counters very desirable.

Another reason Mankato granite counters are becoming so popular, is the natural beauty created by the extensive variety of colors and patterns available. No one has yet been able to create a man made product with the aesthetic properties of granite. Granite can add elegance to a room like no other material.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Granite or Marble: Which Is Better For Your Kitchen?

Granite and marble are among the most popular types of natural stones for fabrication, but which one is best in your kitchen? And which ones work in the kitchen, but maybe not the rest of the home? We asked these questions in an article a while back and noted:

One commonality among all natural stone is that, despite some being heat resistant and stain resistant, the finish may not be indestructible. While heat and liquids may not be able to penetrate into a specific type of stone, the finish can be dulled with certain liquids. If liquids containing higher levels of acidity, such as lemon juice or vinegar, are left to sit without wiping them up, the finish of any stone may dull or develop haziness. For this reason, spills should be cleaned up immediately.
So, you'll need to pick the stone not only based on your tastes, color and other aesthetics, but also where the stone is going to be and what it will be used for. You might not pick the same stone for a countertop as you would, say, for a bathroom vanity. When it comes to Apple Valley granite countertops, you need to be comfortable and happy with the choice you make, as granite is very long lasting.

Read the full article: "Granite and Marble - Certain Stone Materials Not Recommended for Kitchens, but the Rest of the Home."

Friday, June 29, 2012

Granite Countertop Cleaning

Granite countertops are extremely durable, and you'll have a tough time finding something in your home that will do serious damage to them. Why do you think the Egyptians and Romans built with tough types of stone? The same idea behind structures that have survived thousands of years is present in the granite you have as a countertop. So when it comes to cleaning, your granite counters can get by with a bit of water and a soft cloth.

However, if you want to go above and beyond for your granite counters, you can.

If you want to use what you already have around the house, you can clean your granite countertops with a mix of water and neutral dishwashing liquid. Simply wipe your counters with a soft white cloth soaked in this mixture, and then dry with another soft cloth. You can also go to most home improvement stores and pick up a dedicated stone or granite cleaning solution.

Interested in learning more about how to clean and care for your Minnesota granite countertops, or are you ready to have new counters installed in your home? Call Universal Stone today at (952) 746-4690.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sealing a Granite Countertop

While most granite countertops come installed with a sealant in place, it's often recommended that you re-seal your counter every 6 to 12 months. You may be wondering; why should you have to seal it in the first place? After all, granite is durable and resistant to almost everything, right? Granite countertops can stand up to scratches, heat, and most liquids -- however, since the surface is porous in nature, liquids can seep into the stone and stain the counter. This is what makes sealing your counter an important step.

When applying your sealant, you should do so with a white rag or brush. Work in small areas (of approximately 5 square feet) and, when the seal is applied, give it  4-5 minutes to absorb into the stone. When you've finished one coat, wait 24 hours, and then apply a second coat. This should keep your countertop sealed and protected for 6-12 months.

If your Minnesota granite countertops are under constant, heavy use, you may want to re-seal them in shorter intervals. This will ensure that your counters are as protected as possible, which helps them last well into the future. When you have a sealant on your granite top, you can safely clean the counter with a soft cloth, and, if you want, a special stone-specific cleaning solution.

Want to have a granite countertop installed in your Minnesota home? Make a call to Universal Stone today at (952) 746-4690. You can also complete our online form to receive a free granite countertop quote.

Friday, June 22, 2012

SF Gate Talks Up Granite Countertops

An article on, the online home of the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, takes a look at home remodeling; particularly upgrades that can add value to the home. The usual suspects are present, such as exterior remodeling, as well as bathroom renovations, room additions, and improvements that make your home more green. One really stuck out, though, and that was granite countertops.

According to SFGate, "Small upgrades like granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and updated bathrooms make a home more appealing to buyers and stand out in the real estate market." This is entirely true. Thanks to home remodeling shows on cable networks like HGTV, and magazines like Better Homes & Gardens, homeowners have never been more focused on living in a home with granite countertops than they are now. A home with granite countertops can receive consideration over a home without, especially when the buyer is dead set on having such counters in their home. When you already have them present, you're saving a potential buyer a lot of time and money, and you could be rewarded for your efforts with an increased home value.

Ready to add Minnesota granite countertops to your own home? Get a free quote today, or call Universal Stone at (952) 746-4690.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Basic Cleaning Tips for Granite Countertops

While Minnesota granite countertops can be quite resilient in terms of the elements they can weather and the abuse they can take, it's still a good idea to keep your counter in good shape with regular cleanings. By taking steps to do the proper maintenance, you can help your counter last for decades.

First, you should purchase a good microfiber cloth if you don't already have one. This is a good material to use on your granite counter. Next, use that cloth to dust off the surface to prepare for cleaning. You're now ready to dive in to the actual cleaning process.

Use water to wipe down your granite counter at least once per week. You can also use a special type of cleaner that is specifically made for stone surfaces. If you have a stain that is oil-based that you can't get out, use something called a poultice to pull the stain from the counter. This may require you to re-polish the stained area.

Interested in having a granite countertop installed in your Minnesota home? Get in touch with Universal Stone today at (952) 746-4690.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Removing Scratches from a Granite Countertop

Granite is a very scratch-resistant surface, meaning it can stand up to items that would normally scratch other surfaces very well. It is not, however, impenetrable, and the right kind of material (something that is harder than even granite) can scratch your countertop. Should something like this occur, you have a few options for removing or otherwise making the scratches your counter has sustained.

One route you can take is to use a bit of steel wool and rub on the affected area. This works for light scratches that aren't as apparent to the naked eye. Deep, visible scratches can be fixed up using a sander that has a diamond pad (since diamond is harder than granite, it is effective for sanding it). If you're not comfortable doing something like this yourself, it might be a good idea to call in a specialist who regularly repairs granite countertops. A lot more work can go into fixing up some scratches; a professional may utilize tools like an electric grinder, a polisher, and more.

However you decide to approach scratch repair in the future, take comfort in the fact that you probably won't have to do it very often. Burnsville granite countertops are popular for their durability and toughness, and they can stand up to quite a bit of punishment. If you're interested in having a granite countertop installed in your home, get in touch with Universal Stone today at (952) 746-4690.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Granite Countertops as Cutting Boards

We hear this myth being perpetuated quite a bit as one of the perks to having granite countertops; the ability to toss out your cutting board and use your countertop instead.

It certainly seems like this could be the case. After all, granite is an extremely durable surface and is both scratch and heat resistant. You could chop away on your granite countertop for a years and probably not see any significant damage done to the counter itself. Still, it’s not a good idea to use the countertop for this purpose.

Why? Your knives!

Granite is an extremely hard material, and there are only a few other materials out there that are strong enough to scratch and do damage to it; harder stones, such as diamond, are capable of scratching a granite countertop. While your knife blades will probably not scratch your countertop, your countertop can scratch your knife blades and cause them to become more dull. That’s why, unless you’re a fan of regularly replacing your cutting knives with brand new sets, you should probably avoid chopping on your countertop and instead opt to use a dedicated cutting board.

If you’re looking to have a granite countertop installed in your home or commercial building, contact Universal Stone, a Burnsville granite countertops company that serves the entire Twin Cities region. You can request a free estimate by calling (952) 746-4690 today!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Types of Granite Countertop Finishes

One of the great things about selecting granite for your countertop is the amount of customization you have with the surface. Because of the way granite forms, it’s pretty much impossible for any two slabs of granite to have the same pattern, which makes your own granite slab extremely unique. And, depending on where your granite comes from in the world, the color can vary, and you’ll likely be able to find a color that suits the look you’re going for.

On top of all that, you can have your granite countertop finished in a few different ways. The finish adds to the look and feel and is the icing on the cake, of sorts, as far as granite countertop customization goes. A polished finish makes your granite countertop surface incredibly shiny, so much that it’s almost like staring at a mirror with the amount of light it reflects. A honed finish offers a more dull, non-reflective look. A leather finish gives you the smooth look of a polished finish, yet still offers a bit of texture. If you’re opting for an antique finish, you’ll get a granite countertop surface that appears brushed and non-reflective.

Regardless of the finish you choose for your countertop, you can’t go wrong with granite. It’s durability and resistance to heat and scratches make it a great choice for your kitchen or bathroom. Looking to add one to your home? Call Burnsville MN granite countertops company Universal Stone today at (952) 746-4690.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Julie Rizzo: Granite's Rock Star

A recent piece on grabbed our attention. The piece had to do with an Indiana woman named Julie Rizzo, who's been referred to as the 'rock star' of granite. She saw granite being hauled to landfills and decided to do something about it.

Five years later, she's helped to keep more than 5 million pounds of granite out of the landfills, which has been instead recycled into other items. We think this is a great idea, and if you're thinking about replacing your Burnsville MN granite countertops, think about recycling your old ones.

Part of the article:
No less than 25 percent of the granite from a countertop is treated as garbage. In fact, manufacturers pay up to $5,000 a year to have their waste hauled to a landfill.

Enter Julie Rizzo, who decided to do something about this problem. Julie saw exciting new uses, and even "green jobs." Now she is working on a new application using split waste granite to create decorative art!

Aided by a national network, she said, more than 5 million pounds of waste granite have been recycled into a plethora of profitable products.

Moreover, the St. John resident has launched a new industry in which students with "special abilities" learn to become artisans and help get products out the door. These include pavers, tiles, mosaic and stone aggregate!

Basically, Julie -- called the Recycling Rock Star by Waste Management Magazine earlier this year -- is challenging status quo. Today, she is a global leader in granite recycling. She gets hits and inquiries from all over the world from her website,

Moreover, Julie will be featured on "Do It Yourself" cable network. She and two of her network partners assembled a wall in a home filmed last month outside Washington, D.C., by this popular network.

How did this all start? Essentially, Julie was working with a granite countertop company in Chicago in 2007. She noticed a large container of scrap granite. Each week a truck would haul the garbage to landfill. She asked, "Why are you doing this?"
Read the entire article by clicking here

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Debunking Myths About Granite Countertops

Let's debunk some popular, untrue myths about granite countertops.

Myth: Granite is absorbent.
Truth: If granite wasn't impervious to water, then it wouldn't be used in high-rise buildings because of it's resistance to wind and rain. Plastic, solid-surface products are more absorbent than granite is.

Myth: Granite stains easily, and these stains are permanent.
Truth: If spilled liquid is wiped up in a few minutes, there will be no stain left behind. In most cases, liquid that soaks into the counter will evaporate within a few minutes. Oils can cause stains if they soak into the stone, but most can be removed using a poultice or paste.

Myth: Granite requires a lot of maintenance.
Truth: All one needs to do is routine cleaning with mild soap and water. Resealing should be done on annual basis, but this only takes around 15 minutes.

Myth: Granite is a safe harbor for bacteria.
Truth: Anything found on granite counters can be found on other types of countertops. Wash your counters with anti-bacterial soap if you have concerns about bacteria and other germs.

Myth: Granite countertops are expensive.
Compared to laminate countertops, yes, granite is more expensive. But, when viewed next to other types of high-end counters, they are usually more competitively priced.

Looking for Burnsville MN granite counters? Then visit our website at .

Monday, April 30, 2012

Granite Monuments from Universal Stone

Here at Universal Stone, we're known for our granite counter tops, granite fireplace surrounds, and other granite products. We've recently added a new offering to our line-up: granite monuments.

These monuments, sometimes called tombstones, come in two colors; absolute black and tunis green. We'll only have one style available for now, but we hope to offer more in the future. We've inserted an image below of what granite monuments look like, just to give you an idea.

Interested in learning more about our granite monuments? Give us a call today at (952) 746-4690.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Types of Stains and How to Clean Them

If your stone counter top is susceptible to stains, it's a good idea to know the first step you'll need to take in order to clean a stain when it shows up. You might possibly need some chemicals or a special type of cleaner, depending on the type of stain.

Oil-based stains, which usually come from grease, tar, cooking oil, milk, or cosmetics, should be cleaned with a bleach-based cleaner, mineral spirits, or acetone.

An organic stain, from something like tea, coffee, food, or droppings, can be cleaned with 12% hydrogen peroxide and several drops of ammonia.

Metal stains, from rust or other sources, should be removed with a poultice.

Biological stains, from sources like algae or mildew, must be cleaned with dilute ammonia or hydrogen peroxide. Remember: do not mix ammonia and bleach. The mixture creates a toxic and lethal gas!

Ink stains can be cleaned with bleach or hydrogen peroxide (for light stone), or lacquer thinner or acetone (for dark stone).

Have any other questions about your stone counters? Feel free to give us a call today at (952) 746-4690.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Review Universal Stone!

Are you a previous customer of Universal Stone? If so, we'd love to hear from you.

Customer satisfaction is one of our top priorities at Universal Stone, and your feedback is very important to us. If you have a few minutes, we'd really appreciate a review on one of the following websites:
You can also feel free to contact us at (952) 746-4690 with any questions, comments or suggestions. Thank you for your input!