How to spot quality granite slab for your countertop ?

How to spot quality granite slab for your countertop ?

Are you remodeling your home or building a new one? Or are you simply replacing tops in your bathroom or kitchen?

If so, you have few checks you should keep in mind in order to select a quality granite slab.

White marble for kitchen counter-top: Yay , nay, not sure ?

White marble for kitchen counter-top: Yay , nay, not sure ?

Gorgeous Carrara and Calacatta marble is classic, with their classic white and gray veining. It has been used for centuries in homes and public venues. But these days, this natural marble is striking up a debate among homeowners, contractors and designers if its a good fit for kitchen. We all love the look, but the debate about the maintenance and wearability is bringing up questions about when & where white marble is appropriate to use.  The vote is split on it. It all boils down to your lifestyle, mindset & expectations. 

Do not go for white marble kitchen if 

1.  You are the type of person that needs a product to look exactly as it did the day you purchased it.  Marble is a natural product, so no matter what the application, it will change, age and wear over time. So if you are expecting that on day 365 it will look same as on day 1 then move to next countertop material. Here are few other options

2.  Acid from substances such as red wine, marinara sauce, blueberries and even lemons can tarnish the look of the marble if left to sit overnight. So if you are not the type of homeowner who picks up after yourself after each use in the kitchen & your kitchen counter wouldn't get wiped down until the next morning then white marble is not for you. 

If your lifestyle & mindset allowed you to go for white marble & you ended up doing a marble kitchen, here are some marble maintenance tips

Tip 1: Have your marble sealed. A sealer won’t protect your marble completely, but it will buy you some time if you’ve left an acidic substance on your surface that wasn’t wiped up right away. 

Tip 2: Spot-treat your marble. Many home improvement and tile companies sell a spray cleaner that is also a sealant. You can use this cleaner periodically in high-use areas as a spot treatment. 

Tip 3: Consider polished vs. honed. A polished marble is a little more resistant to staining, whereas a honed surface is a bit more absorbent. Many people choose a polished marble countertop for that reason.The notorious problems with white marble comes with the polished slabs – certain juices and foods will etch through the polish.    Honed is the only way to go if you want to use white marble in your kitchen.  

Good luck with your new marble kitchen. If you already have one please share your experiences. 

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Granite, Marble, Laminate, Quartz, Soapstone, Limestone: Who is winner in kitchen counter-top materials ?

When it comes to material selection for your next kitchen project, there are many options available. Each comes with some pros & cons. 

Granite 

Price : ($40 - $100 psf installed)

Each stone slab is unique. Heat, cuts, and scratching doesn’t harm the granite, but corners and edges can chip. Polished and matte finishes resisted most stains when properly sealed. Gran­ite needs periodic resealing. Different types of require various amounts of sealing. Often times, the lower the price of the slab, the more frequently you need to clean and seal it.

Solid surface 

Price : ($35 - $100 psf installed)

Its nonporous, so virtually maintenance free — no sealing or special cleaning required. Color and pattern options are extensive. Seamless installation means there are no cracks to trap dirt and debris. It has artificial look and feel, yet can approach the price of natural stone. It doesn't do well with hot pans or sharp knives as well as other materials. 

Quartz 

Price : ($40 - $100 psf installed)

This mix of mineral, color, and resin is meant to mimic stone but is more du­rable and requires less maintenance, making it a good choice for a kitchen that gets a lot of use. Hot pots, serrated knives, abrasive pads, and most stains are no match for quartz.

Marble 

Price :($50 - $150 psf installed)

Nothing beats marble in its luminescence and distinctive veining, it's an ultra traditional choice.Small nicks and scratches can be polished out, but marble chips easily and needs to be resealed periodically. On sealed marble most stains wipes away with water but its susceptible to stains. It does well with heat, remains cool.

Soapstone 

Price: ($50 - $100 psf installed)

It’s not as common as granite—and it’s stunning at first. It resists heat dam­age, and small scratches can be sanded finely, then coated with mineral oil. But it nicks, cuts, and scratches easily, and some tough stains cannot be washed away.

Limestone 

Price: ($50 - $100 psf installed)

It’s attractive but impractical in a busy kitchen. Limestone resists heat well, but it nicks, cuts, and scratches easily, and even a high­ quality sealer won't fend off stains. So blot spills immediately and periodically reseal.

Laminate 

Price: ($10 - $40 psf installed)

Inexpensive and stylish options with decorative edges abound. Stains and heat don’t damage the laminates , but cutting directly on it does, and abrasives can mar. Laminate is easy to clean and does not need to be sealed. Over time, however, the surface may wear and peel. Laminate is among the least expensive counter-top options.

Concrete 

Price: $75 to $125 psf installed

Concrete counter-tops are new on the design scene and are getting a lot of buzz in the residential market. They can be customized to fit your kitchen and are available in a range of modern looks. Concrete is very porous, and it must be sealed regularly and properly, or it may be susceptible to damage. When properly cared for, concrete is very durable. The cost of concrete counter-tops can vary widely based on the thickness, construction and installation that’s required – custom or irregular shapes and edges can drive up the price significantly.

Wood (Butcher block)

Price: $35 to $70 psf installed

Wood surfaces scratch easily and require monthly sealing with oil. They can be sanded down and refinished easily to remove stains or scratches. Without regular care, butcher block surfaces can be susceptible to absorbing odor, bacteria or moisture. The price can vary significantly based on the type of wood that chosen, but tend to cost less than stone countertops.

Stainless Steel 

Price: $65 to $125 psf installed

Like concrete, stainless steel countertops are becoming more popular in the residential market. Stainless steel is nonporous, which makes it impenetrable and durable. The surface is installed without seams, which diminishes the growth of germs and makes it easy to maintain. It can handle hot pots and pans and won’t stain or corrode easily. Stainless steel countertops are limiting in terms of design, and tend to be best for simpler, no frills kitchens. In addition, the surface tends to be noisy when items are placed on it and fingerprints show up more readily than on stone surfaces. Stainless steel countertops tend to be cheaper than most stone countertops.

Checkout our selection of countertop material at www.gmioftexas.com

What countertop material are you planning in your next project ? Please share your thoughts.

Is it Carrara , Calacatta or Statuary ?

From Carrara to Calacatta to Statuary, which italian white marble is that really?

Italian White Marbles like Bianco Carrara and Calacata are some of the most popular counter- top and back-splash choices for today’s kitchens.   It can be confusing to know what you are looking for and what you are getting when shopping for white marble for your kitchen project. This is because there are many varieties of Italian white marble that come from the same region of Italy and because many re-sellers use different names for them,

Italian White Marble Classifications

There are many marble quarries in  Carrara region of Italy located on the coast of Northern Tuscany area but the three main types are Bianco Carrara,  Statuary White and Calacata, all of which are graded for specific attributes like the whiteness of the background and the color and movement of the veins.  This is similar to the way diamonds are graded for color, clarity and cut.  And, like diamonds, the higher the grade of white marble, the higher the price.  The simplest way to tell these materials apart is to use the “Background and Vein Color” rule.  

Bianco Carrara – This has “grayish white” background with overall thin and feathery grey veining. This is cheaper then Calcatta & Statuary.

Statuary White – This has a cool, bright white background with thicker dark grey veining evenly distributed over the surface.

Calacatta – This has a warm white background with a blend of thick and thin bands of beige, light grey and green grey to blue grey.

Pricing ??

Pricing for all 3 types of “Carrara White Marble” can vary widely depending on the grade of the stone.  The whiter and cleaner the background and the more evenly distributed the veining, the higher the price. Like any precious commodity, the finest grade is only a small portion of the production and the demand definitely outstrips the supply.

Tips for shopping for White Marble

All stone slabs are a product of nature, and no two are exactly alike.  That is especially true of the Italian Carrara Marbles, where the movement of the veining can vary greatly from one bundle of slabs to another.  Be sure to visit several reputable slab yards and spend time looking through the slabs and comparing them to find the ones that are just right for you in terms of price and quality.  Once you have found “the one” be sure the slab seller will hold the specific slab that you have fallen in love with for your fabricator to pick up.