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What factors should be considered when choosing a countertop.

Several factors should be considered.

Lifestyle.  Granite, engineered stone and solid surface are fairly low maintenance in a kitchen.  Granite and engineered stone are both hard and durable. Sealants make granite stain resistant.  Engineered stone and solid surface are both non-porous. Solid surface is soft and can be scratched.  Marble, although beautiful, requires more work and diligence in a kitchen.  It is soft and therefore can easily scratch.  As well, marble will etch if exposed to acidic substances for extended period of time (lemons, vinegar).

Look.   Granite is available in many different colours and patterns; it has natural depth and movement.  It is still the most popular surface.  Engineered stone offers colours that are not available in nature—very white, red with mirrored bits etc, and solid colours.  Solid surface is also available in many colours and patterns.

Budget.  Granite is still the best “bang for your buck”.  The size of slabs are large giving better yield and many colors are competitively priced.

 

What is the process of getting a quote for my countertop?

Sketch out the cabinet/countertop that you want.  Fax, email or bring the sketch to our factory. If possible, bring a cabinet door, sample of flooring, backsplash or anything else that is important to you.  This will make the process of choosing material easier. Our staff will help you determine the best material for your application and provide you with pricing based on your job and material choices.

 

Can stone be chosen from a sample, or do slabs need to be viewed?

Some granites and marbles are more consistent than others.  For example, nero assoluto is black—it is consistent throughout the slab. This stone can be chosen from a sample. However, other stones, such as bianco antico, delicates, bordeauxs vary from block to block and have movement within the slab that cannot be discerned from a small sample.

We suggest that customers come and view slabs.  Bringing a cabinet door, sample of the flooring, backsplash—whatever is important, will facilitate the selection process. Many customers can make their decision at the time of viewing.   For customers that are uncertain, we provide free samples of stones to allow the stone to be seen in relation to the home décor, and in the daylight and artificial lighting of the home.  Slabs that are unique and “tagged” require at deposit at the time of tagging in order to hold material.

Engineered stone and solid surface can be chosen from samples.

 

What does the quote include?

The quote will include an architectural measure, manufacturing and installation. Existing countertops can be removed and/or disposed of for an additional cost. Undermount sinks will be mounted.  Plumbing will need to be arranged by the homeowner for 24 hours after installation in order to let the epoxy and silicone holding the sink cure.  Failure to allow this time can result in water leakage, and potentially the sink becoming unfastened from the stone.  Select Granite Tops can suggest plumbers if requested.

 

At what stage does the measure occur?

ALL CABINETS MUST BE IN PLACE & FASTENED TO FLOOR PRIOR TO MEASURING.  NO MEASURING WILL TAKE PLACE UNTIL CABINETS ARE READY.  IF CABINETS ARE NOT LEVEL PRIOR TO INSTALLATION, THE CUSTOMER IS RESPONSIBLE TO ARRANGE FOR CABINETS TO BE MADE LEVEL:  A  2ND  TRIP CHARGE WILL APPLY.

Ensure cabinets are ready for templating (have all surfaces clear and free of objects and appliances). Note that measurements done with an existing countertop in place may result in some gaps due to uneven walls and cabinets may need to be shimmed to make level at installation.  Differences in colour or finish of existing cabinet face may show with installation of new countertop.

The homeowner or a ‘decision maker’ must be present during measuring to answer any questions that may arise.

SINK & FAUCETS MUST BE AVAILABLE TO DETERMINE FIT WITH CABINETS AND COUNTERTOP.

 

Will there be seams?

Different materials come in different sizes. When countertops, islands and other pieces  are longer than the slab, there will need to be a seam. When there are L shaped pieces, there is usually a seam on one side of the L joining the 2 pieces. Customers who have concerns about seam placement can discuss this with the salesperson.   Seams in materials that have a pattern may not match.  Book matching (where the material is colour and pattern matched) requires more material and will result in an increased cost.

Seams are typically 1/16” to 1/8” wide.  Seams are cut on a CNC machine to make them as small and clean as possible. Although the seam is tight, it will still be visible.

 

Are Granite and Marble perfect materials?  What are fissures and pits?

Different types of granite (UbaTuba, Nero Assoluto, Delicatus, Giallo Ornamentale, etc….) look different because they are different in composition and in how they were formed deep in the earth. Therefore the surface finish and properties of each type will differ.  It is normal for most granite and marbles to have minor “flaws” such as small fissures, color variation, light surface pitting, resin filled occlusions and fissures, and small variances on the lustre of the finish.

A stone countertop surface will not be flawless. Some granite and marble species have less “flaws” than others.   However, all granites form a hard and beautiful surface that is totally inert (will not self change) and will stand the test time better than any other countertop material.  Marbles are also inert and have a beauty that is unsurpassed.

An idiomatic phrase that can be helpful in making decisions about granite and marble is the following:

“ not seeing the forest for the trees”

If you are a person that will look at the “forest” and not focus on the “trees” then natural stone is a good choice for you. Conversely, if you are a person that will focus only on the “trees”, then choose your material carefully to avoid disappointment because somewhere there will be minor flaws.

Fissures

Granite and marble come fissured from the earth and cannot be “unfissured”.  Fissures are natural cracks and many beautiful stones (most marbles and granites like bianco antico, antique brown, delicatus and quartzites) are naturally fissured.  When the stone slabs/sheets are cut from the large blocks, most surface flaws are repaired by the slab manufacturer with resins to repair and improve the surface finish. But inside the material it stays natural and fissured. Some of the interesting surface features of stone are a result of the underlining Fissures.

Running your fingernail along the surface of the material to feel “cracks” only confirms the natural properties of the material.

It is possible for a fissure to open up. If so, a resin is applied to seal the open fissure. The resin forms a strong bond.  During fabrication steel bars are often inserted inside the stone along the edge to provide extra strength.  There is no need to worry that fissures will cause the stone to fall apart at the sink or anywhere else—it will not.

Surface Pitting

Can be caused by natural occlusions (empty pockets as could be created by trapped gas), metallic minerals, crystal grain boundaries, etc.   This is more common in marble and exotic granites. The depth of the pitting is minimal – just below the surface and is visible on reflected light. From a stone point of view this type of surface texture is normal and to be expected for nearly all granites and marbles.

 

What care and maintenance is required for my granite and marble countertops?

Natural stone is porous and will absorb fluids.  The degree of porosity varies with the different stone types. Your natural stone has been sealed with a penetrating sealer to block the porosity and make the granite stain resistant.  Staining can occur if the stone surface has prolonged exposure to oils, red wine, mustard, and other common household foods and liquids.  Any prolonged exposure to acid based foods or liquids, such as vinegar based products, citrus fruits and tomatoes, can also etch the stone surface, creating a loss of lustre.

Your stone care is simple.  Clean your natural stone regularly with a mild soapy warm water (like you would wash your dishes).  General purpose cleaners should NOT be used as they can damage your stone surface.  Products containing lemon, vinegar, or any other acid or ammonia should NOT be used.  This includes products such as Windex, Fantastic, Clorox, etc. The abrasion from abrasive cleansers or pads (such as Vim, Comet, Brillo pads, or Magic Erasers) will remove the polished finish. Products specially formulated for use on natural stone are available and are recommended.

Select Granite Tops sells professional cleaners and sealants.

 

What care and maintenance is required for my engineered stone countertops?

Engineered stone is non porous.  This means it does not absorb liquids.  Clean your engineered stone with mild soapy warm water.  Other cleaners such Vim Oxy Gel or Method Daily Granite Cleaner can be used.  Abrasive cleaners such as Vim, magic erasers, soft scrub etc should NOT be used.

 

What care and maintenance is required for my solid surface countertops?

Solid surface is non porous.  This means it does not absorb liquids.  Clean your solid surface with mild soapy warm water.  Wipe up any spills.  Make sure the surface is completely dry (wipe completely dry) as water left on the surface will dull the finish.

 

What happens if the granite/marble gets chipped?

Most stones are hard and brittle.  The stone can chip if struck with an object and can break if excessive force is applied on or to the countertop. If the granite gets chipped, and the chip is fairly large—save it.  Select Granite Tops can use a bonding agent and replace the chip.  Other solutions include colour matched filling and buffing the area.

 

What happens if the quartz surface/engineered stone gets chipped?

This material is hard and brittle.  If the chips are small and on the edge, they can be ground out. However, if the chips are on the surface of the stone, they can be filled with an epoxy.

 

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