Why Choose Granite Countertops for your Kitchen?

Granite CountertopA variety of different materials can be used for kitchen countertops, for example marble, granite, quartz, laminates and ceramic tiles. If you’re looking for a surface that is resistant to heat, scratches and stains, granite is your man. Being second only to diamond in hardness rating, it’s a fabulous surface to use in a kitchen where it is going to get a lot of use. Pre-sealed properly and cleaned with only appropriate granite cleaner products, these countertops will last a lifetime.

So those are the impressive list of pro’s. And what about the con’s? Well there are some. It tends to be more expensive than other options. But it will weather a lifetime when well maintained and cleaned with professional granite cleaner, so it makes perfect sense to pay out at the beginning. It can crack if not properly installed and may absorb stains if not properly sealed, but again both of these con’s can be easily avoided by purchasing your granite countertops from a professional company who can also install them without problem.

And so we move on to the supplier. Granite originates from many parts of the world so beware a granite countertop whose price seems to be too good to be true – it probably is. Cheap granite equates to poor quality stone. When shopping for your granite countertops be sure that you visit the warehouse in person to check for these defects:

Hairline cracks – these may appear like small veins but look carefully and you may see small hairline cracks. These weaken the granite surface which may lead to the top breaking during installation.

Pits – granite has small holes called pits. Rub your hand over the surface – the fewer pits, the better quality the granite.

When you have decided to install granite countertops for your kitchen, discuss your requirements with a professional supplier/fabricator who can advise you on the best quality granite to match your budget.

And then all that is left is to choose the color and pattern complexity – but we’ll leave that for another article.

Marble vs. Granite Countertops – Which is Better?

Image Courtesy of Granite International http://www.granitemakeover.com/Granite-Countertops/Granite-Vs-Quartz.asp

When you’re putting in your new kitchen and want a beautiful and sophisticated look, you may decide to install marble or granite countertops. Visually they are both stunning and some people think they are interchangeable. However they are two completely different kinds of stone and you should consider the advantages and disadvantages of each before making your decision.

Granite is beyond a doubt the more resilient of the two. It is an igneous rock formed from cooled and solidified magma. It consists mainly of quartz, mica and feldspar and it is the high quartz content that gives it strength. It is known to stand up well in high use areas such as the kitchen and keep its looks for the long term. When treated with a penetrating sealant, it is unlikely to scratch, dull, stain or wear away for many years.

Marble is a metamorphic rock originating from carbonate rocks which were subjected to high heat and intense pressure to cause a crystallized composite of calcite, aragonite and dolomite crystals. It has a reputation for being difficult to maintain because it is prone to staining, dulling and scratching, but be aware of the facts before you throw this option out of the window.

It is true that a spill of water or oily liquid on a marble countertop will result in stains because the liquid soaks into the tiny spaces between the crystals. However pre-application of a sealer will slow down the seeping process giving you plenty of time to wipe up the spillage before it can do any real damage. So as long as the marble countertop is properly protected, stains are not much of an issue. If your marble does stain then you will be able to lift it, at least partially with professional cleaning products specifically designed for this purpose.

Dulling is a little trickier. Acid based liquids such as vinegar, orange and lemon juice, plus foods and beverages preserved with citric acid, will eat into the marble due to a chemical reaction between the acid and the calcium carbonate content of the marble, the dulled area is called an etching. Unfortunately a sealant is no match for this reaction; but, here’s the good news, the damaged area can be restored to its high gloss condition by using one of our Marble Refinishing Kits. However in the real world, you’re unlikely to spill acid based foodstuffs on a daily basis on top of your marble countertop, and in the long term you may be prepared to put up with the occasional dull mark.

Regarding scratching, prevention is better than cure. Marble is classified by the Marble Institute of America from A to D depending on its porosity and durability. So when you are choosing marble countertops, check with the seller that the ones you want are suitable for use in the kitchen. And make sure that you only ever use non-abrasive cleaning products designed specifically for use on marble – they can be easily sourced at acceptable prices.

If you’re looking for countertops that keep their new look for as long as possible, and especially if you have clumsy teenagers in the house, the more resistant granite countertops may be your best option. But if your heart is set on marble, and you can treat it well and put up with slight imperfections, then install marble countertops. Ultimately the decision rests on your shoulders. Whichever countertops you choose, look after them and you will continue to be delighted by their elegant finish for years to come.

7 Tips for Laying Marble Tiles

Marble FloorWhen you have decided to install a beautiful marbled floor in your house, you will need to spend some time preparing the area before beginning to lay down the marble tile. To get a really professional look, here are 7 tips to get the best results possible:

1. Check that the floor can withstand the weight of the marble tiles before your proceed. Take professional advice and strengthen it if necessary.

2. Make sure the floor is level. Absolutely flat. Don’t rely on your eyes. Spirit levels were created for a purpose. Laying marble tiles on an uneven surface may cause them to lift or crack.

3. A dry, clean floor is a must. Don’t think about putting down marble tiles if the floor is damp or dirty or the tiles may not adhere effectively and will start to loosen with time.

4. Plan the design and layout before you begin. Most designs will require that you work out from the exact center of the room.

5. Make sure you have enough tiles before you start to lay them. Place the tiles on the dry floor where they are destined to go so you can double check how they will eventually look. Buy a few extras in case some get broken on the way.

6. Choose thin-set tile mortar of a color appropriate to the actual tiles. If it’s too dark it might show through the marble tiles and make the final floor seem darker than it should be.

7. Similarly chose a grout to compliment the tiles – either comparable to the tile color, or contrasting to make the tile layout design really stand out.

Once the tiles are laid you will have a classic marbled floor which you can sit back and admire. Treat it well and use a damp mop to clean it, or professional cleaning products specifically created for marble – they’re not as expensive as you might imagine. A striking marble floor oozes luxury and quality and will definitely add thousands of dollars to the resale value of your house.