Thursday, April 19th, 2012 by Travek Inc.
Countertops are a major feature of the kitchen or bathroom or other living areas that have countertops, islands, vanities, bar tops, fireplaces, furniture, or tub surrounds. How do you blend the use you want with the look you want? Are you looking for functional and easy to maintain, and at the same time wanting something that will look nice and last?
Before you buy new countertops it is good to look at the qualities of each type: Granite, Quartz, Solid Surface, Concrete, Tile, and Laminate countertops.
This week our focus is GRANITE COUNTERTOPS, the first in a series of articles on countertops.
Granite countertops can be a major investment, and therefore it pays to do your homework before buying. There are vastly different price points at which granite can be bought, depending on slab quality, slab thickness, number of cuts for the final piece, and installation.
Slab quality is correlated to the "tier" it belongs to. The tier is determined by the thickness of the slab, the country of origin, the patterns and the ratio of hard to soft materials in the slab. Certain colors and stone patterns are rare. The rarer a piece is, the higher tier it will be.
A slab thickness of two centimeters is the most common in the granite countertop industry. Thickness directly correlates with the strength of the slab, and if a slab is three centimeters thick, it can be mounted directly onto the countertop frames without extra support. There are times when thinner slabs are reinforced with plywood laminated directly to the back or underside, especially if there is an overhang of ten inches or more.
Figured into the cost of your granite countertops will not only be the square footage, but a cut charge. By number of cuts, we mean the holes cut for sinks, faucets, stovetops and such. Typically there are charges for each cut.
Seams will be visible, but depending on the type of slab used, a professional fabricator and installer is very skilled at cutting your granite in a way so that you or the untrained eye may not even notice it.
TraVek never recommends installing your own granite countertop to save on money unless you are a professional installer. Guaranteed, installing it yourself is bound to end up costing much more if you do it yourself. These slabs are so fragile and can be cracked or broken with one false move until they are installed properly and completely. The professional installers have the tools and the experience.
One very nice thing about granite countertops is that they are very hard and do not scratch easily. If proper care is taken, they will stay beautiful for a long time. Granite countertops can be resealed yearly, but is not always necessary. Even if a granite countertop is sealed, it is not 100% stain proof. Spills should be cleaned up right away or they can soak into the stone and stain it. The same holds true with food. If you put food directly on the granite, the stone can absorb some of that food particle or color and become unsanitary or stained. Proper care, cleaning and maintenance should prevent any of this from happening.
Markings, veining, pitting, and fissures are common, and they do not affect the quality of the stone. In fact, they are a big part of what causes each piece to look unique and give it that beautiful natural quality.
Granite is formed by extreme heat combined with pressure that occurs beneath the Earth's crust. It is extremely unlikely that a granite countertop would crack or discolor when exposed to a hot pan. You typically do not need to concern yourself with granite cracking during normal use. If a piece cracks, it usually happens during installation or shipping. Obviously, if you are hammering away on the surface, you may chip the granite, but that is not considered normal use. (By the way, if you do chip it, save the chip. It can be used in repair.)
Typically an undermount sink makes a cleaner look for a granite countertop. An undermount sink is one that is installed so the rim of the sink is below the countertop.