10 FAQs About Granite Countertops

For many reasons, granite continues to be the material of choice for homeowners remodeling their kitchens and offices. Its durability and elegant appearance make it a top contender for countertop selections year after year. 

Below are 10 frequently asked questions about this luxurious surface, with answers from some of the top fabricators and remodelers in the industry. 

What is a sealer and how do I know when it is time to apply one to my countertops? 

"A sealer is like a coat of armor for your countertop. Natural stone can be dense or porous, and is absorbent to some degree. Stones that have more swirls or veins tend to be more porous and absorbent. Sealer will decrease the opportunity for something to stain or harm your surface. A protected stone will be easier to clean, resist staining, and provide a safer and healthier environment. By sealing your stone, you will more easily retain the natural beauty of the surface.

To test your countertop's sealant, apply a drop of water at least ½-inch in diameter to the stone and let stand for at least 15 minutes. Cover with a glass to reduce evaporation. If the stone does not darken then it is probably sealed against water-based stains. To ensure the beauty and longevity of your stone, we recommend sealing your stone yearly." 

-Marble & Granite, Inc.

What is the difference between marble and granite? 

"Although both are stones and quarried from the earth, granite and marble (and marble’s relatives – limestone, onyx and travertine) are very different from each other. Granite is formed deep in the earth’s mantle at extremely high temperatures. It is a very hard, resistant stone made of crystallized minerals. The marble family – limestone, travertine, marble, onyx – start out as sediment – animal skeletons and shells, plant matter, silt – at the bottom of bodies of water. After millions of years this solidifies (lithifies) into stone. Because its main component is calcium, it can be affected by acids such as vinegar and citrus."  

-Great Lakes Granite & Marble

Can you heat a granite countertop? 

"There is a solution out there for homeowners who are unhappy with the cold feel of their beautiful stone surface, one that doesn’t involve the installment of brand new countertops. Stick-on heating mats for granite and stone countertops are becoming a popular luxury item for both existing and new countertop installations. The ultra-thin mats simply stick on underneath the stone, warming up the surface about twenty-five degrees."

-FeelsWarm Countertop Heaters

Do all granite countertops need to be sealed? 

"No, only those that are porous. Although granite is the hardest stone known to man, its porosity varies from quarry to quarry and from slab to slab. But this characteristic is easily checked by pouring a little water on it in an inconspicuous location. If it sits there for 30 minutes, the countertop does not need to be sealed. If it absorbs rapidly, the countertop should be sealed." 

-Cutting Edge Kitchens

Can knives scratch granite? 

"Knives cannot scratch true granite.  The only thing harder than granite is diamond.  For example, diamond is scored 10 on the MOH’s hardness scale and granite is scored 7.  Diamond blades are the only thing that can cleanly cut through granite.  Other natural stones like Gneiss and Schist are commonly called granite, but they do not have a MOH score of 7, and they can be probably scratched by knives."

-Arch City Granite & Marble, Inc.

Why does some granite have small pits in it? 

"Pitting is a common characteristic of many types of granite. This occurs because granite is comprised of many different minerals, all with varying degrees of hardness. The difference in hardness results in the top layers of the softest minerals flaking out during the slab polishing process."

-Northstar Granite Tops 

How easy is it to care for granite countertops & how do I clean off spills? 

"Very easy! Just wipe your granite countertops with a mixture made of mild soap and water, or you can use an ammonia-free window cleaner. That will keep them looking new for years to come. For spills, immediately blot the spill with a paper towel; do not wipe. If you see a stain (which will be rare), flush the area with a mix of plain water and a mild soap. Then dry the area with a soft towel. Repeat if needed."

-Minneapolis Granite

How can I prevent cracks and chips to my countertops? 

"Cracks and chips can be prevented by avoiding heavy traffic on the edge of a countertop (i.e., you shouldn’t sit on the overhang of a breakfast bar) and minimizing heat exposure. Do not set a hot pot or pan directly on your stone’s surface; always use a trivet as a barrier. The shock of heat exposure can weaken your stone surface and cause cracking.

If a crack does appear in your countertop, have a professional repair it immediately. Without immediate attention, the crack can continue to spread and eventually lead to a portion of your countertop breaking off completely."

-Marva Marble

What are those tiny hairline cracks on the surface of my granite? 

"Granite, which is crystalline in structure, sometimes has natural fissures which may look like cracks, but are not structural defects and are a naturally occurring result of the immense heat and pressure that formed the granite eons ago. These characteristics are part of the natural beauty of stone and will not impair the function or durability of the material. A product of nature cannot be expected to look manmade."

-The Top Shop

What is the process for a standard installation of granite countertops? 

"Installation is usually 5-7 business days after digital measure. 

  1. Removal of existing countertops.
  2. Preparation of area for new sinks (if applicable) and countertops.
  3. Final preparation/review of new countertops to insure quality.
  4. New countertop placement and installation.
  5. Sealing of countertop into place.
  6. Final cleaning of new countertops to ensure no residue remains from the installation process.
  7. Final preparation of countertop for plumber/installation of faucets.
  8. Final inspection before departure to ensure all aspects of installation have been completed properly."

-TTS Granite, Inc.

Clutter Free Kitchens: Keeping Your Space Clean, Open & Highly Functional

Original publication in July 2018 Issue of Kitchen & Bath Design News

"Accessories and interior fittings are increasingly important tools for containing clutter to create the sense of calm and relaxation homeowners crave," states Elizabeth Richards of Kitchen Bath & Design News. "These days, there's almost as much focus on the inside of cabinets as on the exterior."

Take a look at some of the high-end products that were featured in the July 2018 KBDN Product Trend Report.

Planero is the first shelf developed by Vauth-Sagel to feature a flat steel design, with a powder-coated steel plate formed around an inlaid wooden shelf. The tray shelving system, which is available for almost all the firm's product groups, is available in champagne, lava grey and silver.

Ditra-Heat-Duo uncoupling membrane from Schluter Systems reduces sound transmission, in addition to warming the floor and supporting the covering.

Prep and Cutting Boards from Federal Brace are crafted from food-grade stainless steel with antibacterial and non-leaching properties. Resting feet are attached to the board to prevent countertop damage.

These discrete heating mats are designed to be used under countertops, and take the chill off of granite, marble and stone surfaces. Available from FeelsWarm, the ultra-thin mats also come with a subtle hardwired electrical connection.

Bradco Stainless Products now offers a two-tier option for its stainless cutlery drawer inserts. All inserts are custom built to fit an existing drawer and are available for both timber drawers and drawer systems. The upper tier is removable for buffet-style dining.

Designed with an integrated light shield, the Sempria S Series LED fixture by Task Lighting works well for interior cabinet lighting. When mounted under shelves or tucked in the corner behind the face frame, the angled flange conceals the light from direct view and provides even illumination.

Rev-A-Shelf's 4SDI Spice Drawer Inserts, now available in walnut, are designed for 24" or smaller base cabinet drawers. The trim-to-fit insert features walnut construction with a satin finish, one rear storage compartment and up to three tiers for spices.

Knife Block Drawer Boxes and Knife Block Drawer Inserts from Keystone Wood Specialties are available according to specifications. The dovetailed drawer box can be ordered with the insert, or the insert can be ordered by itself. They come prefinished or unfinished, in any available wood species.

The No Wiggle 8" Utensil Bin Base Cabinet Pullout from Hardware Resources includes patented hardware that prevents the pullout from shifting. The base cabinet's top shelf holds four stainless steel bins, while the bottom shelf has chrome rails that ensure other kitchen equipment stays stowed.

Doug Mockett & Co. presents Pop-Up Kitchen Power, a power solution for kitchen countertops. This water-tight and GFCI-rated power solution can be pressed to pop up when needed and pressed down to hide away when finished.

In the radiant floor heating system from Uponor, warm water circulates beneath the floor through PEX tubing to warm the floor's surface. Radiant systems are compatible with any floor covering, including carpet, tile, hard-wood, linoleum, slate, bamboo, cork and even concrete.

Custom Dovetail Drawer Boxes/Pull-Outs from WalzCraft are made to order and are available in a variety of wood species, grades and finish options. Options such as scoops, ears or side panels can be added to create a customized storage solution.

Diamond Plate Non-Slip Mats are slip-resistant mats made of 100% recyclable polystyrene. Available from Peter Meier, Inc., the mats feature a natural rubber top layer that seals in spilled liquids and prevents them from seeping through the cabinet. The mats are cut-to-size for a custom fit.

Organized Living Kitchens Organizers add space in pantries and kitchen cabinets, and range from Baskets to Shelf Riser and from Beverage Can Dispensers to Under-Shelf Baskets. These organizers are available in White and Nickel finishes to match the kitchen decor.

The InSinkErator Evolution PRO Series grinds more with less noise due to patented MultiGrind and SoudSeal technologies, notes the company. The top-of-the-line model features three grind stages, an Auto-Reverse Grind System, a Jam Sensor circuit that detects and eliminates jams, and a 12-year warranty.

VintageView's Evolution wineRODS can either be drilled into the sides of cabinets or mounted using holes in panels. The wineRODS can be configured in multiple patterns to fit different bottle sizes, and are available in Chrome and Satin Black.

The Canister Pull-Outs by Century Components are designed to sit flush with the shelf to deliver plentiful utensil storage.

Click here to learn more about any of the products and brands featured.

Pros & Cons of Granite Countertops

For years, granite has been a top selection for homeowners looking to improve the look and feel of their overall kitchen. How do you know if granite is the right surface selection for yours? Below is a list of the pros and cons of this timeless material. 

THE POSITIVES

They are visually appealing.

Every granite slab is unique, featuring its own individual lines, colors and patterns. This uniqueness enable you to have an individual countertop that won’t exist anywhere else. With more than 20 shades of granite to work with, you’ll find one that blends perfectly with your kitchen cabinets, flooring and walls.

They add value.

Granite countertops not only add an instant upscale appeal to your kitchen or bathroom, they give your home lasting value, making it a wise investment. Click here to see how to clean and disinfect granite so that your countertops last a lifetime.

They are very durable.

Although granite is not unbreakable, it will certainly last for decades as it is a very hard substance that is not susceptible to scratches. In fact, the only material hard enough to scratch granite is another piece of granite or a diamond. 

They resist heat.

Granite is a heat-resistant material so it becomes very practical when cooking near a range or cooktop. Placing hot pots or pans directly on your countertop is acceptable since granite can take the heat without being damaged or weakened.

They resist stains.

Not only is granite heat-resistant, but it is stain resistant as well. Granite countertops won’t absorb liquids when they are properly sealed. Work with a professional to ensure that your surface is sealed correctly so that it maintains its attractive good looks indefinitely.

THE NEGATIVES

They can be porous.

Unsealed or poorly sealed granite counters can absorb liquids such as wine, juice or oil, which will create long-lasting stains. A poorly-sealed countertop can also house bacteria in its pores. To avoid these issues, it important to get your countertop resealed on a yearly basis.  

They are prone to cracking.

Granite countertops may be very durable, but there is still a risk of chipping the stone. If a heavy object is dropped on a corner overhang, for example, a granite repair specialist may need to step in to fix any cracks or damage.

They are cold to lean on.

One common complaint about granite and other stone countertop materials is the coldness. The reason for this is because the mass of granite instantly pulls heat away from skin, causing the brain to perceive that the surface is cold. An easy solution to this problem is a thin stick-on heating mat for under your counter.

They are costly.

In addition to the price of a professional installation, granite countertops can cost anywhere from $100 to $250 per square foot. Comparing this to the cost of laminate, Corian or Marbelite, granite is on the higher end for spending. Keep in mind that the thicker the slab, the more you can expect to spend.

They most likely come with seams.

Due to the size of the typical slab, your granite countertops will most likely be installed with more than one slab. This is in contrast to the solid surface countertops that do not need seams because the material is manmade and is poured to form the countertops.

8 Added Bonuses of Heating Your Stone Countertop

Homeowners everywhere have been adding heat to their stone countertops to remove the “shock” of leaning on the cold surface. This luxurious upgrade has many benefits (see 7 Reasons Why Homeowners Enjoy Heated Countertops) and is praised by anyone who rests their arms on their countertop everyday.

Aside from the fact that it provides your skin with a more soothing feel, what are the other advantages of adding heat to your stone?

Below are 8 unique benefits that current owners of heated countertops have said that they appreciate as an added bonus.

1.  Germination

"In the spring I put my seed trays on the heated counter and get great germination of nearly 100%!” 

2.  Warmer Coffee

3.  Easier to Roll Dough

4.  Happier Cats

“We love it! In fact, a couple of guests have said they want to lay down on it! Our cat likes to sleep on the bar stool underneath it because it’s so warm.  It was worth the splurge!”

5.  Quicker to Thaw or Defrost Meat

6.  Happier Kids

“Our two children often like to play with playdough at our kitchen island. The warmth is great for their skin when they're playing or eating meals.”

7.  Warmer Plates for Staging & Serving Food

8.  Softer Butter for Spreading

Interested in learning more about heating your new or existing countertop? Click here to view our product options or contact us today.

9 Ways to Upgrade, Repair & Reconfigure Your Kitchen Cabinets

Article & Infographic by John Moore Services

Make Repairs

Cabinets can become damaged in a variety of ways, from termites to moisture exposure and plain-old wear and tear. But these damages don’t have to be a death sentence. If the damage isn’t extensive, it might be possible to repair the cabinet(s) in question. If you know your way around a toolbox, you may be able to complete the repairs yourself. Otherwise, consult a professional to determine whether repairs are in order.

Replace Hardware

Sometimes cabinets look outdated simply because they sport hardware from the 1970s. In fact, one of the easiest ways to upgrade your cabinets is to invest in modern hinges, pulls, or knobs. Before you give up on your cabinets, consider some new hardware. It’s a cost-effective way to make a big difference.

Add Under-Cabinet Lighting

Installing lighting underneath your cabinets can transform them from “meh” to “wow” by creating a warm glow throughout your kitchen and illuminating your workspace. It greatly enhances the functionality of your kitchen by making it easier to see while you prep meals or rummage around in cupboards. Install dimmable under-cabinet lighting to create the feel of a customized space.

Install Roll-Out Shelving & Other Organizational Systems

It’s possible to enhance the functionality of your kitchen without replacing or reconfiguring the cabinets. Simply add roll-out shelving to your bottom cabinets or install other organizational tools in the form of hooks, magnetic spice holders, and more. With just a few DIY upgrades, you can transform your kitchen into a highly functional space.

Add Crown Molding or Other Trim

When you’re unhappy with your cabinets, it’s easy to blame them for all your aesthetic woes. But sometimes it’s the details around your cabinets that make all the difference. Adding crown molding, scribe molding, toe-kick trim, or other trim around your cabinets can make the whole kitchen appear more finished and customized.

Paint the Cabinets

You know how changing out of jeans and into fancy cocktail party clothes can make you feel like you’ve transformed into a different person? The same thing happens when you give your cabinets a costume change in the form of a new coat of paint. Experimenting with different colors can transform the look and feel of your cabinets. Just make sure to match the paint to your kitchen’s appliances, flooring, countertops, and other accents.

Reface the Cabinets

The idea behind refacing is to make cosmetic changes to the visible parts of the cabinets. This process can take several forms, from painting the fronts of the cabinets to installing a veneer over the cabinet fronts or replacing the cabinet doors but leaving the cabinet boxes intact.

Add Glass Fronts to Cabinet Doors

Are your cabinet doors too far gone to repaint, reface, or repair? No problem. You can still keep the cabinets mostly intact (and spare yourself the cost of replacing them completely) by removing the doors and swapping in glass fronts. It’s a modern, fresh, and clean option—and if you choose clear glass, it’ll inspire you to keep the cabinets’ contents organized!

Reconfigure the Layout

Moving your existing cabinets around can help you achieve a whole new look. Popular reconfiguration ideas include adding smaller cabinets above the larger ones, re-hanging upper cabinets so they’re flush with the ceiling, removing cabinet doors and converting the cabinets into open shelving, or re-hanging the uppers at a higher height to add shelving underneath. In all cases, the goal is to maximize both appearance and function.  

When It’s Time to Replace Your Cabinets

Plenty of options lie between you and a total cabinet replacement. But sometimes, it really is time to throw in the towel and invest in a new set of cabinets. Here are some tell-tale signs that your cabinetry needs to be replaced:

  1. It costs just as much (or more) to repair as it does to upgrade. In this case, you might be better off investing in new cabinets, since they may last longer than the repaired versions.
  2. You want to revamp the entire kitchen layout. While it’s possible to reconfigure the layout of your existing cabinets, you’ll likely be limited in your design. If your goal is a complete kitchen overhaul, it might be necessary to invest in new cabinetry.
  3. The existing cabinets are damaged beyond repair. Examples include water or mold, or cabinet walls that have become soft or too worn to mount new hardware.
  4. The existing cabinets are poor quality. It’s probably not worth throwing money at cabinets that weren’t built to stand the test of time. If your cabinets are likely to fall apart again in a year or two, you could be better off skipping the repairs and heading straight for a higher-quality set of cabinets.

Not sure if your cabinets need to be replaced? Consult an expert before you make any repairs or knock them down.

Sometimes, there’s simply no way around the fact that it’s time to replace your kitchen cabinets. But in many cases, a few simple upgrades can transform even the most outdated cabinets from drab to chic.

Click here to see original post by John Moore Services.