Over the years I have received questions from both fabricators and homeowners about using granite in the kitchen. Questions have ranged from color choices to proper placement of seams, etc. The following are some of these questions along with my responses.
Q. In the past few weeks I have had several customers come in my shop and ask me what the advantages and disadvantages are of both granite and quartz surfaces. I know some of those differences, but I am wondering if you can outline the pros and cons in a more formal way? This will also allow me to have something to put in the hands of my customers.
A. Like any countertop surface there are pros and cons to both types of materials, but the most important thing is what the customer is looking for. For example, if the customer is looking for something very consistent with little to no variations, then quartz may be a good choice. This is not to say there are not consistent granites, but the color choices become limited when searching for a consistent pattern in a slab. So, you have to be careful when presenting the pros and cons. With that said, here is a brief list of the pros and cons for each material. Keep in mind there may be certain exceptions for different material selections.
Numerous colors to choose from
Resistance to heat and cold
Natural inclusions and veins may, in certain instances, appear as flaws
Granite can be absorbent if it is not sealed properly, though this may not apply to all granites
Very consistent in color and pattern
Can be sensitive to heat
Resin may scratch and mark
As you can see, both granite and quartz surfacing options have similar pros and cons. The pros and cons of quartz will also vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. My best advice is let the customer decide what they like from the appearance. Then, it is your job to tell them if that stone or granite will work in their situation.
Q. We just had our fabricator come in and template our kitchen for our new granite countertops. He wants to place the seams in areas that we don’t agree with. He keeps telling us something about the size of the stone and support for the seams. Is he giving us a line or are there rules and regulations for seam placement?
A. The proper placement of seams is more than just aesthetics. If seams are not properly supported it can cause significant damage to you countertop. A general rule of thumb is that seams need to be placed on cabinet rails if you are not using a subtop. Seams cannot be placed over dishwashers since the steam from the dishwasher could melt the seam glue. The placement of seams is also dictated by the size of the slabs as well as the pattern of the stone. I would suggest you discuss these details and concerns with your fabricator.
Q. Can you offer any advice on what colors are best suited for our stone countertop?
A. This is a tricky subject since everyone has a different taste, but with that said, there are some common design rules that will help you choose the proper color.
Choose a contrasting color. For example, if you have white cabinets choose a dark stone and vice versa. The color of the walls and floors also play a role in what looks good. Before you choose your stone, make sure you have all your color choices for walls, floor, curtains, etc. That will eliminate the possibility of picking a color that will clash later.
Look at all the home magazines and see what they are using. If it looks good in the magazine, chances are it will look good in your kitchen. You can also hire an interior designer for more personal advice for your home and situation.
Q. We have recently had a black absolute countertop installed and it is showing light rings every time I put a glass on it. I have called the fabricator and he has instructed me this is normal. My neighbor has the same granite and she does not have the same problem. What should I do?
A. This situation sounds like the granite may be dyed or contain calcium binders. I have written several articles on this subject. Here is a brief description of what you need to do to resolve the problem. First, have the granite tested with a simple granite test kit. Once you know whether or not the stone is dyed, you need to let your fabricator if the stone is dyed. In some cases, the fabricator may not have known the stone was dyed, and the stone will have to be replaced. If the fabricator chooses to repair the top rather than replace the countertop, the repair will only be temporary, and you will need to look into a more permanent solution to your countertop rings.
About the author: Frederick M. Hueston is a worldwide expert on stone installation, failures, fabrication and restoration. He is the founder of the National Training Center for Stone & Masonry Trades (ntc-stone.com) and Stone University (stoneuniversity.org). He can be reached at Fhueston@aol.com.