Countertops...Which One is Right for Your New Kitchen or Bath

 

What is Involved in Pricing a Granite Countertop?

 

Origin of Stone: Granite is formed by extreme heat and pressure underneath the earth’s crust. Granite forms a major portion of the continental crust and can be mined in many different countries, including Italy, Brazil, India and the United States (just to name a few locations). If you select a granite mined closer to home, it may cost less.

 

Availability: The price of your granite countertop will vary depending on how much of that particular stone is available. If there is an abundance of the stone, it is likely to be less expensive. The rarer the stone, it is most likely to be more expensive.

 

Color: Many granites offer a combination of colors, hues and movement. The more distinctive the pattern of the granite, the more likely it is considered rare or exotic and is harder to obtain. Therefore, the cost is often more. There are many granite colors that offer a beautiful mix of color and movement at an affordable price.

 

Edge Profile: Eased, round, bevel, bull nose: these are all possible ways a fabricator can finish the edges of your granite countertops. The more complex edges, such as a waterfall or an ogee edge will cost a bit more in fabrication than a round or eased edge.

 

Fabrication: The fabricator will receive a large slab of stone cut from the quarry. The fabricator will then use a variety of tools including saws, polishers and routers to create a custom countertop to fit perfectly into your home.

Should I approve my slabs before they are fabricated?

It is always a good idea to view and approve of the actual slabs prior to fabrication and is strongly encouraged.  This will help to prevent any surprises or disappointments once the material is installed. Slabs could be viewed at a stone wholesaler or at the fabrication warehouse prior to being cut. 

Will my sample match my actual slab?

Because of the movement and veining in natural stone it is difficult to accurately represent stone with a small sample. Also, stone varies from shipment to shipment, so if you have a sample from a previous shipment, it may not match the current supply. It is advisable to view the actual slabs in a warehouse/showroom prior to fabrication.

Can granite be used outside?

Yes. Granite is often used for outdoor kitchens. 

What are remnants?

Remnants are the smaller remaining pieces of stone from a previous job. They can be used in any stone application, size allowing. 

Can I use back splash with granite countertops?

The back splash is usually made from the same granite used for the counters, but it can be ceramic tile, or some other product. It may be attached to the counter or to the wall, but in either case the seam between the counter and the back splash will be sealed with caulk. The standard height for a back splash is 4” although they’re frequently made higher if the customer desires. A tall back splash is sometimes used behind the kitchen range, or sinks to protect the wall from grease splattering or other stains. This may be modified to suit personal taste, but it must be stipulated before the template is made. 

Do my cabinets have to be set before a template can be done?

On new construction, the base cabinets must be permanently anchored in place before a template can be made. On a remodel project, existing tops may be removed prior to measurement. Any sinks, faucets, cook tops, or any other item that requires a cutout or a hole in the top must be on site and readily available at the time the template is made. The fabricator may need to take some items with him to complete the fabrication.

How should I prepare for the installation of my new countertops?

The sink and kitchen appliances built into the countertops like a cook top or drop in range must be on the job site before a template can be made. All ordinary cabinets with frames that are securely fastened to the wall will easily support granite countertops. Counter tops are measured in much the same way as other solid surfaces. First, a template must be made to use as a pattern. For this reason, base cabinets must be permanently anchored in place before measurements can begin. They are to be installed only by the fabricator who will assume responsibility for a proper fit. Improper installation of kitchen countertops may void the manufacturer’s warranties and result in damage to your fine surface or other areas of your kitchen, such as cabinets, drawers, sinks, and fixtures.

It will take 2 to 4 weeks to complete the installation after measurements are taken, so be sure to allow sufficient lead-time for the project to be completed.

What does “honed” granite mean?

Honed granite is granite that has not been polished to a shine. It is a smooth, matter finish. Honed granite is lighter in color that its polished counterpart, however the color can be deepened with a color-enhancing sealer. 

Are veins weak spots in the stone?

A: Not necessarily. Some veins are strictly color variations in the stone. However in some materials natural flaws can exist within the vein, which enhances the color and is characteristic of that stone. Structurally, with today’s processing, these materials do meet the strength requirements for countertop use.  

Can granite crack or chip? 

Yes, granite can crack or chip. However severe settling, excessive impact or abuse usually causes this. Most minor cracks or chipping in natural stone can be repaired by a specialist in the stone renovation business or by a qualified fabricator. 

Q: How long will my natural stone last?

Take care of your natural stone and it will last for generations. Some natural stones are as old as the earth.


 Quartz Countertops

 

Made from one of the hardest minerals on earth, quartz countertops are arguably the most durable option for kitchens.

They're also some of the most eye-catching. They come in a wide variety of colors, including fire-engine red and apple green, as well as earthy browns, blacks, and creams, with sparkles and veining for the look of granite or marble.

But unlike natural-stone slabs, which are mined, these slabs are engineered in a factory. Their primary ingredient is ground quartz (about 94 percent), combined with polyester resins to bind it and pigments to give it color. For some designs, small amounts of recycled glass or metallic flecks are added to the mix. The resins also help make these counters stain and scratch resistant—and nonporous, so they never need to be sealed.

Compare that with granite, the reigning king of high-end countertops, which typically requires a new protective top coat at least once a year. Just use warm water and mild soap to clean. Unlike granite and marble, quartz doesn’t need periodic sealing, polishing or reconditioning.

In the past, the biggest knock against quartz was that it lacked the patterns and color variations you get with natural stone. But that's a moot point now, with all the manufacturers offering multihued slabs with enough flecks, swirls, and random patterning to make them almost indistinguishable from the real thing. They were once available only with a polished finish; now you can get one with a honed, sandblasted, or embossed treatment.  So if it's the look of matte limestone,  textured  slate, or  glossy granite that you want, there's a quartz countertop for you.


 What is Corian?

More than 40 years ago, DuPont discovered an advanced method for blending natural minerals with pure acrylic resin to create an ideal surface for living. That's how the original solid surface material for Corian® countertops was discovered. Warm and smooth to the touch, Corian® has been unmatched in quality and versatility ever since.

Appearance

Corian® countertops offer more than a hundred rich colors and visual textures to select from the color and pattern is consistent throughout, and cannot wear away. If the countertop get scratched or damaged, there is plenty of renewable luster just beneath the surface. Corian® can be cut or seamed to any size or shape. 

Cleanliness

Corian® countertops are easy to clean with no visible seams to trap dirt or grime.

It can resist stains, since liquids cannot penetrate and leave their permanent mark on the kitchen counter. Wood and natural stone surfaces such as granite are porous by nature. Because of its non-porous surface, bacteria and mold have no place to grow. 

Longevity 

Corian® is resistant to impact damage.  Accidental nicks and scratches can simply be removed with ordinary abrasive cleaner or sandpaper.  Unaffected by humidity, whereas a wood based countertop would warp with humidity.


Laminates 

Countertop laminate is made by combining layers of paper and resins into a single, semi-rigid plastic sheet. Brown Kraft paper (the same as paper grocery bags) is used for the bottom layers.

A decorative sheet that bears the visible color and/or design of the laminate countertop goes in the middle and translucent sheets of paper form the top layer.

Of course, more than three sheets of paper comprise a sheet of laminate. Multiple sheets of paper are used in each layer and the total number of sheets varies and overall thickness depends on what type or grade of laminate is being manufactured. All paper layers are soaked in a resin, which serves as a glue and binder.

The layers are then pressed together while cooked, which forces all the papers and resins to chemically bond into one plasticized sheet.

These sheets can then be cut to size and glued to a plywood substrate on-site for custom laminate countertops or they can be bonded to laminate countertop particle board forms of various lengths that already include the backsplash and edge detail.

These pre-fabricated laminate countertops allow for even faster and easier installation. 

Laminate Grades 

Laminate is made in several thicknesses or "grades".... but for laminate countertops and related applications there are two basic grades: one thick, one thin.

Horizontal grade is the thickest type of laminate engineered for heavy use and high-impact as laminate kitchen countertops. Of course, it is the most durable, but also pretty stiff and difficult to form or use on anything but a flat surface.

However, if you'd like to bend or form the laminate (known as "postforming") to an unusual shape or if the surface will receive only light-duty use, there's the vertical grade laminate is used most commonly for backsplashes and other areas that really don't need to withstand as much abuse as a countertop. For instance installing laminate countertops in an alcove used as a desk or for shelving or possibly a laundry room countertop.

 

 

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