Countertops - What to Look for, and Avoid
What to avoid when selecting Granite slabs or fabricators.
- Prices too good to be true You already know the old adage If it seems to good to be true, it probably is This industry is especially vulnerable due to most customers not knowing how to tell a good stone from a bad one.
- Standard quality (2nd quality) slabs have flaws you may not even be able see, but can lead to cracking during or after installation Mix and matched lots and kitchens pieced together from remnants is common practice to hold down costs at many fabrication shops.
- Avoid, fabricators who make their templates with strips of plastic or wood. Demand digital accuracy. The difference in finished product fit is tremendous.
- lf you choose slabs that have veins and movement in the colors you would be crazy to allow a fabricator to cut your slabs without digital Slab Smith layout technology
What to look for when selecting Granite slabs and/or your fabricator.
- If the stone that you like has a lot of veins and movement look for evenly colored slabs from lento right and top to bottom. This allows for better color matching at seams!
- Higher price level and higher quality slabs have a smooth resin finish on top of the stone. Feel the surface with your finger nail, especially the veins and fissures to ensure that the resin is smooth especially in those areas.
- Slabs with mesh and resin on the back slabs are typical of high-end and fragile stones. This is important to maintain the structural integrity of the more exotic, colorful and fragile stones.
- If your job requires multiple slabs, check that the slabs are sequential (They have numbers on the side). This allows for optimal color and grain matching, which is especially important at seams.
- Will your countertops be a “Scribed Fit’ or a “Square Cut’? A “scribe cut’ counter will follow the walls irregular shape perfectly while a straight cut counter will be caulked or even worse, cut into the drywall allowing winter’s cold air to enter the cabinets and your house ASK FIRST!
- Galvanized steel rods should be installed inside the stone in critical areas such as in front of and behind the sink cutout. Does your fabricator do this? ASK FIRST!
Granite is hard and dense. As such, it is naturally scratch, etch and stain resistant. That makes it suitable for use in kitchens, bathrooms, wet and dry locations. Granite is stable and not overly sensitive to heat and that makes it suitable for fireplace applications.
Marble is soft and vulnerable to scratching, staining and etching and is most suitable for use in bathrooms. It can be used in kitchens but extra care should be taken to maintain its appearance.
Quartz is manmade from natural minerals including quartz plus resins and pigments. It is very hard and both stain, etch and scratch resistant. It is vulnerable to heat damage as is not recommend for fireplace applications
Quartzite is a natural stone that is very hard and therefore scratch and stain resistant. It can be used anywhere granite is used.
Soapstone is softer than marble and can scratch easily, but can also be sanded and repaired with no special tools or skills. Soapstone is very heavy and dense and completely non-porous therefore very stain resistant and handles heat like no other stone so it is suitable in kitchens, baths, fireplace and both wet and dry locations.
Slate is harder than marble and soapstone and almost non-porous but NOT recommended for wet locations as water can get between the layers and cause separation and warping.
Chipping, All stones can and will chip if impacted hard enough. The really hard stones are actually more prone to chipping as the material is so hard it is brittle and may chip. Chipping is most evident around a sink.
Competitors will claim that certain stones are quartzites to aid them in sales. The stones are actually marble or dolomite, pretending they are quartzite makes easier sales. While they are beautiful, they are very vulnerable to etching. Test a sample for yourself using a few drops of lemon juice. If the surface etches……..You know it contains calcite and is not going to perform like a granite or quartzite at all.