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ADVICE WANTED!   September 30 , 2002
www.findstone.com   info@findstone.com

2495: Australia in general is a now a sad place for the stone game. Over the last 4-5 years major changes have occurred here and more is going to happen. Most of the "big" players have gone - sold out or gone broke. As an example, there are now over 220 little players in Sydney alone. Most with just a workshop, a saw and a couple of guys with angle grinders. They buy their slab requirements from a local slab wholesaler. Because they don't have much in the way of overheads they always under-quote an established firm who does quality work, guarantees the work and has good after sales service. But the established firms rarely get the work these days. Most of the jobs are money-driven. When problems arise, it is the quality guys who come in, but at a premium - which also doesn't really help the industry. These established guys are extremely worried by this developing trend because they know that the writing is on the wall. I don't know how it works in other countries. 
Quarry owners in Australia are also having a bad time. Not only is it difficult to compete with say Asia on price (for finished work or slabs) but also there is a much greater variety of stone to choose from. Around 21 quarries out of nearly 40 virtually disappeared with the demise of the biggest player a couple of years ago. All the QLD granite quarries disappeared with the demise of the biggest and best plant about 4 years ago. 
Our governments have also contributed to the downturn with rules and regulations in the workplace that I won't go into. On another front they do very little to protect our industry. This of course is good for the importer and that is why India, China and Indonesia are looking at us so eagerly. You can't blame them. 
For example, e3654 in www.findstone.com/jul02.htm from Melbourne sounds good on the surface but no-one from interstate would even consider quoting because a local fabricator would need to do the installation. Our distances are too great, the margins too small, and the competition too fierce for getting involved in anything smaller than a substantial commercial project. Australia, Aug 21, Reply 

R1: For quarries, yes, the economics are a problem except maybe in sandstone. About small companies, they are sprouting up everywhere. One area in China alone has 3000 companies. Many areas in India have hundreds. Carrara also is full of them. But what we would like to say is that big companies are often too lazy or too rigid in their thinking. They should get into projects. There are so many projects going abegging for good suppliers. That is what our experience shows and is clear from our Today's Inquiries section. Regards, Vinay, FindStone

R2: It is symptomatic of what's happening all over. I am now starting to import foreign materials, process them here in China, and ship them back out to Europe and the US. Some of my European clients are very happy with this, but most aren't. Those that are happy have a very clear view of what markets they are serving and the specialities they bring to these markets

R3: Stone masonry in Australia is here for the long term and the market is strong. It is great to see discussion and comments emerging about the Australian stone industry. Our experience in this field is vastly different to that commented on in Q2495, August 21st.
The east coast of Australia has seen rapid growth in the use of granites, sandstone and marble and the 'big players' of worth have continued to grow and expand. We quote this from experience as our Queensland based company is one of the largest in Australia and has been in operation for 106 years.
The fact that so many smaller workshops are operating successfully is testiment to the fact that the work is around ~ maybe not always on large scale projects, but definately at a large overall scale. As a large supplier it is important to work with the one and two man operations, it isn't possible to provide every aspect of every job yourself.
The comments about lower overheads for the smaller workshop is definately correct, however it is overcome by diversification and education. When the client understands more about the product, the price isn't always the winning factor. Ability to deliver can be the best economic tool. To achieve this ourselves we stock over 50 granite colours in block and slabs, granite tiles, monumental products and of course Helidon sandstone for any project. These include a large range of Australian granites, including all of the colours that came from North Queensland - we still process all of these materials from block.
The demise of the North-Queensland granite supplier referred to, and some of the more recent collapses of companies, is unfortunate but not usually caused by a downturn in stone projects. The biggest cause of business failure has been a combination of too many managers, not enough workers and lack of ability to control each project through to completion.
Our industry can be stronger and the way to achieve this is to be progressive. We hope you also find the opportunities and that the growth of Australia's stone industry holds for ourselves.
Best regards,
Established 1896 - fourth generation family company

R4: We are one of the successful stone quarriers and Processors operating in Australia, After reading the article on Australia in general is a sad place for the stone game, I felt compelled to send you a message. We quarry and saw mainly Bluestone (basalt) but have a granite plant also,, I agree with the comment re the Government regulations, which is stifling ALL industry in Australia, not just the stone industry, But I must make the comment we are still extremely busy. As an example of some of our projects is one of the famous Casino in Melbourne. The project covered 26000M2 of Granite and Bluestone paving, plus water features and Walls, Would like to subscribe to your page, Regards Don Bartlett.

R5: I am a stone masonary teacher in Queensland responsible for training and assessing stonemasonry apprentices throughout Queensland including northern NSW and Darwin. I agree with e3654 - some smaller suppliers in Australia are limited in range of stock, because they only deal in the most popular lines. It is troublesome for a customer to source a greater variety of granite slab through larger suppliers and then have it installed by a local company. Local companies will push the granite they have in stock as their turnover depends on shifting this material- usually the material they have in stock is the material most in demand, hence the 'sameness' of benchtops. If greatest variety for the lowest price is the most important consideration, either approach a large distant company or get your local suppliers to source granite from them. There is endless variety of beautiful colours and patterns in durable Australian granites- the market is still relatively untapped. Simon

R6: I agree with Michael (R#4): Stonemasonry in Queensland and Australia is strong and growing. Apprentice numbers in Qld have doubled over the last two years as employers train their workers for the future. Despite increases in numbers of skilled workers, there is still a labour shortage as the volume
of work steadily rises.
The proliferation of smaller companies referred to is a response to the changing nature of work. There are more uses for a greater variety of stone products, and customers demand that these products are individually tailored. Smaller companies can provide more flexibility, especially where the cost is a prime consideration, but they still rely on large companies to supply and fabricate product.
The recent departures from the industry are not indicative of a market slump, just poor management practices over a period of time. There will always be competition both locally and globally, however, quality never goes out of style. The stonemasonry industry leaders are those whose practices have stood the test of time and are able to adapt to changing conditions.
I am committed to improving the skills of workers to meet the present and future needs of the stone industry. Regards, Simon

R7: I always read with great interest your successful efforts to promote the industry.
My position is that as shown below.
Not exactly involved as are most of your respondents but rather interested in how I can pass on your words of advice to our members as Specifiers of your product.
You are obviously more interested in actual marketers.
With this thought in mind I have looked at our local “movers and shakers”. (Brisbane, Queensland) and referred this question to one of them.
Regards - Tom Goode, Assn Consulting Architects Qld

R8: It sounds like its written by someone poorly informed and not in touch with where the industry really is in Australia. Im sure the Government of South Australia would be disappointed having been strong supporters of the stone industry in that state for some time. Regards, Paul Skinner

R9: I agree with the writer about the "cowboys" that are spoiling the market.. Though we are not in the"supply and fix" game, but in the restoration and maintenance, we feel the trend especially from those who crash the price just to get cash money then claim their dole payments.... it is also the states governments regulations that over burden employers.. nevertheless, quality job is always appreciated and yes with many respondents, the market is healthy and quality will prevail. Greg

R10: I have about ten years' experience as both as an employee of small to medium-sized companies and as a sole trader. I do not pretend to know the complete current state nor the future direction of the stone industry in Australia.
I would, however, like to ask a few questions which may help clarify the forces involved in shaping our collective efforts to do quality work and earn a living.
In a country as isolated and vast as Australia, with such a small population compared to Asia, Europe, and America, the production and importation of a great variety of products makes an already expensive building material significantly greater. How can there be many operators offering a wide range of products and services to a small market without considerable expense?
Is there a requirement for suppliers to offer the vast variety of materials available, therefore ensuring high production cost, and try to educate the consumer/specifier as to allow them to make a decision? Or should we merely limit the availability so as to ensure that we can remain competitive against producers of alternative building products?
Australia has no 'culture' of stone use like that in Europe, for example - the proportion of homes and civic buildings here which use a significant portion of stone would be small in comparison. Also, working with stone, be it quarrying, manufacturing, or installing, takes considerable skill and time. I have personally had difficulty justifying the expense and time frame required for particular projects to architects, builders, and clients. This seems to be due to ignorance in the building community of the use of a product that is not commonly used. How do we explain the difference in prices of a job done properly with first quality materials versus the 'backyarder' who may cut corners on workmanship or material quality to the untrained consumer?
How does an individual set up on their own without being a 'backyarder' first? Not every one of us inherited our great grandfather's stoneyard and clientele, the cost of machinery is great, and it is expensive (and at times risky) to employ people under government regulations. Should we all work for the big 'established' companies forever? What incentive does that provide for young masons? I haven't met anyone working for a big company who has been making as much as a backyard paver or bricklayer might. If we want a healthy industry, should there not be room for small guys to grow big - perhaps at the expense of some big ones?
Is there any body of advisers to architects and builders to assist them in the selection and application of stone that you know of in Australia?
I have much to ask, and we all have much to learn. I shall endeavour to help if I can. I look forward to further correspondence. Regards, Nicholas Quinn

Q 2494: I have been following this site for a while now and feel that I should say something about granite vs. "granite". We are a long established company of British master stonemasons who have changed with the times and for the last 10 years have been selling granite to the public. We stock over 50 granite varieties and recognize the differences between many of them. As we buy new granites we also try to learn about them. We are quite aware that there are differences between them and we also try to understand their good and bad features. My point is that these granite varieties are all granites. It doesn't matter too hoots whether one has a bit more quartz than another so that the scientists can give it an accurate name. In the stone trade which reaches most corners of the earth, you deal with ordinary people, not scientists. Some of the stone trade people in poor countries don't know chalk from cheese but they know that a granite is different from marble and that a red granite is harder than a black granite. Do you think they care about how much quartz is in the granite? My father taught me that a granite is granite because it was probably molten at some stage and formed crystals as it cooled which locked into each other. This makes it hard and dense. And is the main reason why it is so much harder to quarry than our marble and sandstone. Michael, U.K. Aug 21, Reply

R1: Dear Michael: Here we go again, "Keep it simple!" Well, you can't, end of story!
"They are all granites" you say? "Dream on" is my answer! Many of those "granites" don't even have quartz in them. Many are not even igneous rocks; they are either sedimentary, or metamorphic, even! Some of them are "bastard" stones!
No, I do not want to show off my "scientific knowledge" by using fancy names, I'm only stating facts, and I only use fancy names to make people understand that we're dealing with stones that can be totally different from granite, therefore no blanket rule or recommendation can ever apply. When I hear a customer reporting that their installer, or their interior designer told them that "all granites" need to be sealed, my Italian blood goes to a boiling point, and I actually go banana when I read reports about the "weird problems" that the application of a sealer applied anyway causes.
To understand problems you have to understand what you're dealing with. It looks to me that, besides a few exceptions like yourself, nobody bothers trying to find out what they're actually dealing with. They go by what the invoices of the distributors, and the advertising pitch of the various brochures they get from different manufacturers of "miracle-in-a-bottle" 
(including myself!) say. End of the "education" I don't care about the good exceptions like yourself, Mike, I can't waste my time with them. I feel that I need to tackle the rule, and that plain sucks! Why?
Simply because everybody tries to "keep it simple" and concentrate in a telegram format a whole science. No, we wouldn't need to use all those fancy names if everybody were like you. 
That would be a perfect world and we wouldn't even need web pages like this one. But we don't live in a perfect world, do we, Mike! If people write in their gripes and their dissatisfaction is because something is very, VERY wrong. It's not you that's wrong, Mike; for what you report you are indeed a good guy. But your way of thinking is wrong, because 
you think that everybody else is like you. Wake up and smell the coffee, my friend, there's a totally different world out there, and it doesn't smell good at all.
Keep it simple ... How simpler could I possibly keep it? I invented the "lemon juice test" and promoted it like the only thing you need to make an intelligent selection of the stone you're going to invest a nice piece of change into. Can you think of anything simpler than that? I use "impressive names" only to drive home the message, but I always end up by looking at the practical aspect of the whole picture and offer my solutions in a way that everybody can understand.
I'm pretty successful at that: the testimonials that I receive every day from the people I helped and that finally were able to understand the first darn thing about stone, after all the "gurus" they've been talking to, is all the confirmation I need.
You are good in your own backyard, Mike, I'm sure of that, but your contribution ends right there. I never saw you writing something to help people the way I do it, spending countless hours at my keyboard, without any compensation. Why don't you do that, instead of simply criticizing without any constructive input? mate, Maurizio, USA .

R2: An excellent site but I'm left wondering every time I look at it if Maurizio has ever looked at a book on granite and marble put out by some Italians called "marble in the world". We forgive them for their arm-waiving and for believing that they are born into the stone industry but I can't understand how they can call granite "marble". So why does he tell people on this site that some granites aren't granites. Surely they would have learnt that
granite is much harder than marble and how you have all these different types of granite. Some are pink, some green and some black but they are all granites. Roger, U.K.

This answer is a follow up to the reply posted by Roger, UK. 
Dear Roger: First, I don't know about this "Marble in the world" book, nor I care to know
about it. If it's wrong it's wrong and it's certainly not my fault. 
Second, I never make stereotypes about nationalities. If I did, I would have to conclude that all the citizens of the UK are a bunch of bloated gasbags, going by your comment.
I don't know stone because I am Italian, I know stone because I studied it; and I studied it scientifically, not by looking at some "Marble in the world" book. On top of that I can flaunt a little over 40 years of field experience.
That's why I say that most "granites" are indeed not granite. This is a scientific fact and no ignorant blowhole (from the UK or otherwise) can change that. The stone industry is in the current situation because of characters like yourself. The disillusioned consumers who post all their gripes, problems and frustration on this site don't need you; they need me, because you ARE the problem, while I am the solution. I never missed you before, Roger. I promise, I will not miss you in the future, either, should you decide, as I fervently hope, to get permanently lost. Maurizio, USA .

R3: Michael, I am glad you posted this note.
Although you are correct in saying that most people don't know one type of natural stone from another I believe it is important for people like yourself to know the difference.
You are able to get 50 different types of stones and I suppose you sell them to the general public? If so, you need to know the relative properties of each stone and color. You do this to make the proper recommendation to the consumer. Guess what? not many vendors do this. I also spend a great deal of time dealing with frustrated consumers and vendors on this website. It is imperative that, since natural stone is becoming more available and it is more desirable worldwide, all stone vendors classify it the same way. 
To classify it all under a mercantile granite is wrong. Why? Well, many rocks are quite different from type to type. Including but not limited to: absorption rates for each stone, some stones sold as granite can etch, and some stones sold as granite are quite fragile. 
Also, lets take mercantile marble. Many items sold as marble are truly limestone. Why are they called marble? Because they are able to take a shine. Since this has been the classification requirement I have noticed many consumers move away from marble all together because it is too troublesome to own.  Now, if the dealers and vendors were able to differentiate and accurately specify the correct product for the correct environment based on how the consumer truly used it, and provide the correct maintenance requirements for that specific environment, the market demand for marble would probably be greater. Instead, you find look alike products made from porcelain or ceramic being touted as the viable alternative. I hope this note makes you want to research what I just said. Maybe you will adjust your position, maybe not. Regards, Steven (pragmatically), USA .

R4: Hi! We have just installed two double vanity tops of Blue Pearl and remodelled our kitchen with Black Galaxy after many months of searching, inspecting and discussing. It is clear that there is a lot of ignorance and different views among stone retailers when it comes to knowing the stone and whether to seal or not to seal. I have been reading your site for some time now which has helped me make up my mind about what to invest in. From
reading the responses to a recent question on Blue Pearl (Q 2488), it seems that there is some confusion among your experts. I notice that Dr. Hans calls Blue Pearl and Black Galaxy granite types whereas Maurizio says they are not granites at all. Maurizio calls Blue Pearl an anorthosite. I have done a degree in petrology and have to say that it is not an anorthosite by a long shot (to use his phrase) but a syenite or larvikite. We specialized in this rock because it is so unusual. When my husband and I went around inspecting slabs, the sales people all called them granite. Because of my studies, I know what a granite is but I don't have any objection to the whole range of granites being called granites. After all most of them are igneous, and this sets them apart from all the marbles and other rocks. No one expects the retailers to call this granite a monzonite, or that granite a charnockite. Imagine the confusion! By what I read, it seems that the retailers in England and Scotland are more informed than those in the US. Elizabeth, U.K.

R5: Dear Elizabeth: Unlike you I don't have a degree in petrography, but I did study it on my own. There are two types of "Blue Pearl". One is indeed an Alakline Feldspar Syenite (a.k.a. "Larvikite"), the other one is in fact an Anorthosite ("Blue Pearl GT"). At least that's what the books I sudied say. The former absorbs -- even if so slightly -- oil. The latter doesn't absorb anything (for all the intents and purposes of practical life, that is. In fact, as we all know, all stones have always a certain degree of absorbency.) I can't comment about the professional preparation of the UK fabricators and retailers compared with the Americans. What I do know is that on this side of the pond is pretty darn bad! Maurizio, USA

R6: Maurizio, I have noticed that in several of your comments, you infer that the "granite" people think they have in their homes is not granite at all. What might it be instead? Sincerely, Rebecca, USA.

Dear Rebecca: I always put the word "granite" in between quotation marks, because, in fact, appproximately the 98% (no, it's not a typo) of the stone traded as granite are not granite. They can be gabbro, dolerite, larvikite, anorthiste, gneis, porphyry, granidorite, anidrite, etc., through a long list. That doesn't mean that they are not as good as true geological granite. As a matter of fact, some of them are better than granite; at the other end, unfortunately, there are "granites" that, in my opinion, should be banned altogether. But, hey, it's just me!

R6: Dear discussing friends, there are two senses of "granite". Granite in commercial sense is hard polishable stone with grainy structure. Granite in scientific sense is magmatic rock which was formed by crystalization from magma under earth surface. It is composed of feldspars (hardness: 6) and quartz (hardness: 7), less micas.
Granites in commercial sense have different origin and minerals:
MAGMATIC ROCKS - crystalization from magma
1 granite group - granite (in scientific or petrographic sense), granodiorite
2 syenite group - syenite, quartz syenite, monzonite, quartz monzonite, larvikite
3 gabbro group - gabbro, anorthosite, dolerite
4 charnockites - special group, some can be added to granite, others to syenite group
METAMORPHIC ROCKS - recrystalization of sedimentary and magmatic rocks under earth surface
1 gneiss group - paragneiss, orthogneiss, migmatite, granulite
2 quartzites - sometime separated as individual commercial group

Some common, but not universal, rules of granites in commercial sense:

1. STRUCTURE. Homogenous structure or mildly oriented is feature of magmatic rocks. Structure with bands, strikes, waves is a mark of metamorphic rock.
2. HARDNESS. The darker the granite the lesser the quartz, & the lower the hardness. Mohs hardness is from 6 to 7 (not scratchable by knife).
3. STRENGTH. The larger the grain size, the lower the strength & the greater the brittleness.
4. WATER ABSORPTION. The more the quartz the lighter the granite & the larger the absorption.
5. SPECIFIC GRAVITY. The darker the granite,the heavier, the granite. Daniel, Slovakia, .

R7: "Whether a stone is igneous or metamorphic in terms of counters is truly irrelevant to 95% of the consumers. Further, I find that it does confuse the consumer to directly talk about larvikites, anorthosites and syenites in terms of counters.
We need to talk instead in terms of consumer needs.
In most markets, consumers are looking for pretty counters and easy maintenance. Or a look.
The merchant needs to translate those needs to:
-Is the stone selected too fragile for the kitchen design?
-Is the stone too absorptive for how the kitchen is used?
-Is the stone reactive to acids as many acids are used in the kitchen?
-Does the stone need an impregnator?
-Does the impregnator need to be applied more than once before delivery?
-Does the consumer need to learn how to impregnate the counter?
The dealer then needs to give:
-Instructions on how to care for natural stone and what products to use in the care of stone.
I believe that consumers choose natural stone for one reason. Its unmatched beauty and longevity in service.
Correct stone for correct application = happy consumer.
Plus, well informed and well educated consumer by the stone vendor (distributor and/or fabricator) = more work and better sales in the future!!
Better educated and not offended dealer = happy chemical dealer.
Best regards, Steven (appreciatively)

Q 2491: Hello, I just purchased a new Uba Tuba (granite) countertop. When it was installed, one of the seams started to droop. The installer came and inserted wooden shims to brace the portion that was drooping at the seam. Unfortunately, after he did this, three hairline, seemingly structural cracks appeared at three of the four corners of my drop in stove. He came back and said the piece needed to be replaced. The countertop has our new mirrored backsplash resting on it. While he said it would be no problem to remove the piece without damaging the backsplash, he seemed to get somewhat concerned when I told him the cost and that i expected him to replace it if it was damaged.
After that, he said the company would be willing to reimburse me for the cost of that portion of the granite that was cracked... or replace it... I am really tired of these goobers in my kitchen. Should I have it replaced or should I take my chances?
Bad Experiences? My countertop hasn't been installed but for one month and the installers have been here 3 additional times (i'm awaiting the 4th), the counter was not as wide as requested: the water control on the sink was improperly installed; the counter started to "dip" after one week; etc, ad nauseum.
Cost? Should have been listed with bad experiences. @$5,000, which would have been fine if i had received the product I requested.
Why did I select natural stone? It's beautiful, it's less expensive than Corian, and would "in my opinion" greatly improve the resale value of the home. Thanks Mary, Aug 19, Reply

R8: There are number of excellent & cheaper Indian Granite options. And why not try Green Serpentine from India, it is cheap , an excellent for kitchen work place as it doesn't take stains, further try wave patterns it has excellent looks, SAMSON, India

R7: Ask about epoxies to seal the hairline cracks. I wouldn't mess with it- sounds like the nature of Ubatuba to me.  Ubatuba has a somewhat crystalline makeup to it that would lend to this cracking. As you know, quartz is very easily fractured. What you get in beauty you sacrifice in strength.  Best wishes. Steve, USA.

R6: Hello Mary; We are granite counter top manufacturers, and my role is in our retail store. My personal opinion with your situation is the following. Have him fill your hair line cracks, clean things up, ask for a discount based on what it would of cost him to replace the piece of stone, manufacture and then install. Please do not jump on your new natural stone countertop, and I do not believe the hair line crack will get any larger. I am not an expert installer, in fact I feel for your installer, it happens to all good installers at least once, and if they say it doesn't, we would love to have them on our installation team! Sometimes as a fabrication shop, you have to take your first loss and move on. Trust me, it probably bothers him more then he you. Gayle, Canada.

R5: Where is the job located? Can you feel the cracks?, Dennis, USA.

R4: Dear Mary, If you decide to change your countertop and interested in China stone you can buy directly from us. The price is very competitive. Anna, China.

R3: Hello! I am a geologist from Brazil, this granite came from Espirito Santo. Please think a Rock is a "natural" thing. If it broke, it broke. The End. If you want and have money enough, buy another Ubatuba - the correct name., Clovis, Brazil.

R2: Well, if you get an original brand granite, I believe that it is an installation problem. The wooden shim would get swollen when environment is humid, just as in your kitchen. swelling brings out shape changing, while a very strong force exists, pushing and transferring into granite's structure. due to fierce movement between shim and granite, the part of corner which is more vulnerable would be cracked, at the first, you could see hairline. But don't worry too much, get shim out and replace it as epoxy glue, which is best way to solve this problem. if it is no ease to get shim out, cover glue on it, make seal sure. Under that circumstance, the crack will not continue to develop. Piness, China

R1: Mary, It is impossible to know from here whether or not it will get worse or not. Please recognize that from your description that your fabricator/installer made an error. It seems that the individual got nervous when you upped the ante about the backsplash. Though you are upset, probably justifiably so, the person has given you two reasonable options. If you don't want them back in your home then accept the settlement proffered and move on. If you worry that the color match and solution by anyone else may cause damage that you would have to pay for, then let them (the original goobers) take care of it. Stipulate in writing all the what ifs and then let it proceed. Who knows, they may show that they weren't a bunch of goobers after all is said and done. Best regards, Steven,

FYI - The manager of the granite company and the Home Depot manager visited my house yesterday to get a glimpse of the "problem areas"... the home depot manager mandated a $1,000 refund check be issued; the seams leveled and redone by a "professional"; and a letter from the granite company stating that if any further problems are encountered with this counter top, that it will be COMPLETELY replaced at no cost to me... thank "you" so much for your assistance, i dont know what i would have done without you! Mary

Q 2490: We are in the process of selecting a granite for our kitchen counter top. We were almost sure we wanted Tropic Brown - a highly polished surface. One thing wrong about this color and polish is that the recess lights above reflect in it and are in my constant viewing area when I am looking down at the counter and cooking or working at the counter. This gives me a headache. SO we looked again and like the "Giallo Veneziano" It looks beautiful on the counter and goes very well with my rest of the color scheme. I got a sealed piece from the fabricator ( but now learned that I should have waited 24 hours but tested after 7 hours) and did the oil and lemon test by leaving it on there for 30 minutes.
Then when i cleaned with sidwasher soap and water with a terry wash claoth, it left a little darker circular mark. Ketchup didn't but the oil and lemon did. but it blends with the stones desgin and color for now. I am afraid of over the years the accumulation of stains and which other items that may stain the I don't know about. In indian cooking oil, tea and spices are used heavily hence my concern of stains. Even though i always use the clear palsic squares in my dorki area to protect even the laminate I have right now. So is this the wrong stone color for our needs or can it be sealed better.
The fabricator said that he can wax it after sealing it to give it added stain resistance. Is it true? Are the stoneguard sealant truly good as they say and will they protect the giallo veneziano from stains or should I forget about that color? how soon should I seal myself with this stone guard after the material is delivered? Please help me make the right decision. from reading your site I am doing my research as much as I can do before I sign on the dotted line. Thanks Sudha Aug 19, Reply

R1: Dear Suda: Remember, like in any other human endeavor, there are good products and so-so products. Sealers for stone are no exception. What's more, a sealer is just as good as the operator who applies it!

Q 2489:I am an importer of natural stone. I started my business a year ago. I mostly import from Turkey to US market. My family has been in the business for 10 years. However, I get questions that we never get in Turkey... People, even installers in town insist that Travertine is very porous and will absorb like sponge. I pour water on my products to demonstrate but no one believes them. I believe I lose quite a bit of customers because there is potential for absorption in the shower, potential for staining in the kitchen, and potential for frost on the exterior...
How can I convince my customers & even installers that travertine has its flaws like many natural stones but is a good fit for many areas?
Once I heard the husband of a housewife, who wanted to install our products into her bath, say he said "she is lying to sell"... I never lie to my customers, I tell them "yes travertine will scratch, they have to pad the metal chairs, and it will stain over time, they just have to let time age their stone"... but the other dealers I think are not as honest me, and they tell the customers that their product will not scratch, stain, etc.
People here in Memphis tell me that they love the European look, the old look, but they don't want stains... my school had travertine on the floors, and its still there for 100 years, and it looks gorgeous, with students coke, toast, dirt from shoes....my husbands mom has Afyon white marble on her countertop (she didn't choose it, it was the builders' choice probably)... and it looks like tumbled stone now... and it is fine... and it looks much better than the ugly plastic countertops that they use in Memphis, Thanks. Gina, Aug 19, Reply

R1: Dear Gina: Most installers and any other type of contractors involved in the stone business have been massively and thoroughly brainwashed by the "salesmen" running the industry, that they can't even see the reality anymore! No matter what you do to actually SHOW them that travertine is indeed a quite dense stone and absorbs virtually nothing (especially when it's polished), they will NOT believe it! I'm sorry and quite sympathetic with your daily frustration, but there's not much that anybody can do: when people are so stupid that won't even believe their own eyes ... you fill the blanks! Maurizio, USA.

R2: Dear Gina , We have been selling travertine for about 30 years in Turkey and we have been using it for wall & floor covering .We both use filled or unfilled travertine both honed and polished . Travertine is a fashion . If a person likes natural look and wants to use natural stone that can be fit to every decoration should choose travertine . It has a very warm look because of its color and texture. Yes ,It will stain over time , it has its flaws but we have used for kitchen floor coverings , toilets wall coverings and in most villas for all floor coverings. NO NEED TO WORRY. Behiye Gürsel

R3: Hello Gina, I am sorry to report that you have an uphill battle. Many North American consumers can not differentiate between the absorptive nature of limestone from the characteristics of all calcium carbonate products like travertine or marble. Namely, they all will etch and develop a patina. With use, their shine will subside to a high hone. These characteristics are highly desired in your native Turkey and all of Southern Europe but not here. People expect the floor not to change from the time it is installed.
What to do? Educate your consumers verbally and with literature prepared specifically about your product, set up displays of installed vignettes showing different levels of wear, set up maintenance programs for them, and finally always ensure the product is selected properly for the application and installed properly. Also adjust your perspective so that you can see that the travertine is not the right answer for every application in the home. Regards, Steven

R4: Travertine is very porous but once it has been sealed properly with an impregnating sealer and maintained with non-alkaline ph balanced cleaners and sealed on a regular maintenance program it is as easy to maintain as a beautiful granite or tile or laminate (plastic) countertop; actually I find it to be easier to care for. 

R5: Many people like the aged look including myself, but for those that want the material to stay as it was installed we recommend an impregnating sealer to be applied once a year. It is not cheap. A good impregnating sealer goes for about $150 / $200 per gallon but it does a good job. As long as it is re-applied yearly, it will maintain the stone to it’s best, best potential but travertine limestones and marbles never hold up as well as granite. On the other hand if you scratch marble or travertine it is fairly easy to repair While grantie scratches are virtually impossible to repair properly. Gino, USA

R6: Seeing is believing.  Have you considered installing a few yards of the travertine in a high traffic area  along with displaying large (24"x28") photographs of French travertine floors? Create a small area rich with old world ambience.  The husbands won't have a chance! Good Luck!   Barb, USA.

R7: If you like travertine and your main fear is about the water absorption, please follow your wishes. 
There is not such a danger ! As a matter of facts travertine is a quite close (structure wise) material and has in comparison with other marbles a limited water absorption. There is a vast literature on the matter and several buildings have been cladded with travertine even in very rainy and cold environments, not to talk about floorings. Just to mention one case the University in Trondam (Norway) as one of the recent projects which comes to my mind right now. 
Of course in case of flooring you may have the problem of the micro holes becoming filled with dust and dirt and therefore looking darker after some time. A good filling during the preparation will solve this problem. Please note that filling must not be done with ordinary "cement" filling, being the cheapest, but with a good filling waterproof and possible resin based. This should avoid the darkening that occurs with cement filling after a period of time.
Anyhow , not to depend on single minds and opinions which may come from non professional advisors/consultants, please verify the technical data about the absorption coefficient of travertine and compare it with other marble types. Your fears will disappear like fog on a sunny day. Hope to have been of help. Roberto, Stone Consultant in Italy.

R8: Dear Gina, I think that you are encountering a cultural difference between the US and
Turkey well as a touch sell on travertines. Let me explain.
1) Travertine is quarried on almost every continent. The "fill" level varies greatly among what is on the market giving it a widely varying porosity. Consequently, travertine is not generally not recommended for certain applications.
2) Americans believe that stains represent a dirty housekeeper. No American woman wants her neighbor to see stains in her kitchen or bath. My company is one of the oldest American manufacture of stone cleaners, polishes and sealers. We have two excellent sealers that I could sample you on if you send me your address. Perhaps if you could offer your customers a sealer that wouldn't change the look of the stone put would prevent stains you could overcome their fears. Regards, Barbara, USA.

R 9: I used travertine in a large bathroom for a customer of mine, its been three years and she loves it. The trick is to use the best sealer you can buy (it isn't cheap) and do multiple coats. I did walls, floor and shower with it. Its fun to work with because its so soft.

R 10: Travertine is a very porous material. If you install travertine in wet area, you have to use a sealer on the surface of the material. Turkey

R 11: Dear Ms. Gina, I saw your problems with absorb natural stones. We are not a stone produce but we develop and produce “Stone CARE” solutions. We have fully penetrating and transparent sealants. They work for keeping stones from water absorption and other daily pollutants effects (like oil, coffee, tea, Coke etc). You can sell these products with your stone offers or as after sales care products. They are in 1 quart bottles and ready to use. We will be happy to provide detailed information if you want. Kind regards,
Mahir, Turkey.

R 12: First of all, I think you are honest because you are able to tell the truth to customers that travertine's quality inside. But in fact, there is no like sponge absorb coincide with travertine because no same structure occurred between them. 
Travertine is just consists of bigger space at molecue level and it makes it more convenient to water molecule through, but its strength is stronger to some extent than marble ones. Generally speaking, granite is hardest, travertine second, marble and sandstone last. 
Color changing maybe is most seriously worried by customers due to they usually get misguided by some dishonest merchants persuas. Don't pay it more attention. Travertine is good for decoration outside or inside. Since more space in it, water with particles can go through freely, that is also mean stone respiration. but one thing is attached, the surface should be cleaned frequently. Cordially, Piness, China

R 13: Dear Gina: What did I tell you! Do I know what I'm talking about, or what?
There, look at the answers No. 9 and No. 12. Those two answers are given by the "brainwashers", ie. the "salesmen" that have some bottle sell and they just do that, no matter what it takes. "Travertine is absorbent and needs to be sealed"
Never mind if it's a blatant lie that can be scientifically disporven in 2 seconds flat; never mind if their sealer will do absolutely nothing for that particular stone. They are there to sell, period.
  Then you have the answers No. 4, 5, 10 and 11 which are those given by the "brainwashees", who take for granted the "education" dispensed by the "salesmen" "brainwashers", because A), they have not a clue about what the problems with calcite-based stone actually are, and B), that's the "easy answer": eveything's solved with a "miracle-in--a-bottle". No homework, no brain-straining (god forbid!!)
  Now, not matter what you do to actually PROVE to them that travertine is quite dense and, therefore not among the absorbent stones, there are no hopes. The sealer dispensed by the skilled "salesmen" impregnated their brains and nothing can "stain" them anymore!!
It's sad (for luck of liberty to use a more "appropriate" word), but that's the way it is, and unless some serious sweeping reform will be imposed upon the "salesmen", nothing will ever change. I'm pissed off, all right! Maurizio, USA

R 14: well..........i guess it would have been nice to see the facts that "Maurizio the expert" talked about. This expert is not brainwashed by anyone. Biker

R 15: Dear Biker: Since you claim not to be a "brainwashee", and since three out of four of those I defined as "brainwashees" were anonymous (what a surprise!), I must conclude that your original answer was either the No. 4, or 10, or 11. Now, wouldn't it be nice to know which one of those three stupid answers was yours? Since you define yourself like an expert, opposed to "Maurizio the expert", which are the facts that you would like me to make you see? Do you really need me to show you that if you spill some water or cooking oil on a polished travertine surface they will take a long, long, long, long, loooong time to be even if so slightly absorbed, if ever? Doesn't that tell you, beyond any possible hearsay, that the stone is dense and not absorbent? Or do you need to read a number (absorbency rate) printed in some brochure to believe what your very eyes are telling you, but that you can't see? So, now that you know (or should) that travertine is NOT a porous stone, are you still convinced that an impregnator sealer is necessary, say, in a foyer floor or a shower stall enclosure? And if so, WHY?! What kind of advantage would the consumers get by uslessly suffocating their stone? I mean, man, I make an impregnator sealer (and a darn good one at that! Hey, it retails for $178 a GL ... It must be good, according to one of the "brainwashees"!!), but I don't go around touting it as the "miracle-in-a-bottle" that solves all stone problems.
In all my professional life (a little over 40 years) I witnessed, maybe, a dozen of true stains on marble, not a single one on travertine. Oh yes, at the same time I witnessed thousands and thousands of "water stains" on marble and travertine, but since you call yourself an expert that nobody can brainwash, can you please tell me, for the love of goodness, what "water stains" have got to do with the porosity (absorbency) of the stone? They are chemical etches, no matter what they look like, and are only strictly related to the chemical makeup of the stone (Calcium Carbonate), not its absorbency; and no impregnator sealer in the whole solar system can do the first thing to prevent those surface damages. Why don't you read my paper about stains removal (on the side bar of this page) and learn a few things about absorbency and true stains?
I'm glad to see that you put "Maurizio the expert" in between quotation marks, whereas you defined yourself an expert without the quotation marks. That establishes a necessary and quite appropriate distance between the two of us. Thank you for noticing it and putting it on record. Maurizio, USA

R 16: Say whatever you would like but there must be a reason for the entire Getty Center in los angeles is made completely of travertine and is going to erode slowly over the years but travertine is meant to age and that’s the way it looks good, travel around Italy for a little while and youll see if its not white carrara its travertine, Good luck, sounds like you have some repressed anger against “ salesman” I don’t sell sealer or care if you buy it or not I’ve just been doing stone since I was 7 and I know that sealer helps. Chill out, Gino

R 17: Dear discussers, travertine is A specific rock with macropores. Travertine is chemical limestone, which was created by calcite or aragonite crystalization from mineral springs. Pores are remnants after gas bubbles released from water and remnants after plants and algaes. If water gets to travertine tile, it will flow out quickly. If water is absorbed into e.g. limestone, it is released very slowly, as held water is by capillary and adhesive forces in micropores. Daniel, Slovakia,

R 18: This is my comment to the answer #16 given by Gino Dear Gino: What are you, 10, now? :-) Besides, let me tell you what I think about seniority by itself. When I was 10 years old my parents took me to visit some farmer friend of ours approximately half an hour outside the city where I lived (Parma, Italy). During that visit I had the opportunity to see a baby donkey that was born a few days earlier. Some 12 years later I happened to visit again those friends of ours, and ... after 12 years, that donkey was still a jackass! Much bigger, as a matter of fact! Tell me about Italy, Gino, I was born there, I grew up there and I moved to this country when I was 37. The Coliseum is made of travertine. Do you think the ancient Romans sealed it?! Besides, what on earth your comparison of outdoor installations has got to do with indoor ones? All calcite-based stones are effected by the weather (acid rain. Rain's always been acidic, even before pollution was invented, namely 5.6 pH) and "deteriorate". But the deterioration is only so if you compare it to the original factory finish (whatever that was). In fact, the "deterioration" is nothing but the result of the way the stone fights the elements of the weather by creating a "patina" over its otherwise defenseless surface. That patina may not "look good", but it's a blessing, and only an idiot would try to remove it to make the travertine "look good" again. Now, are you perhaps suggesting that if they had applied an expensive impregnator (like mine, for instance) in the travertine of the Getty center in L.A., it would still be OK? Get real, will you!
My company is still in the process of formulating special sealer for the Bank of China headquarters in Beijing. The whole huge building (all 200,000 square feet of it!) has be cladded with polished Navona travertine, and now they want it to stay like that! Of course, I'm not going to sell them my impregnator. No impregnator would do any good to protect the surface finish -- and you ought to know that. What we're trying to develop is a topical sealer to be applied with a sprayer that will resist the heat of the Beijing hot summers and the freezing cold of its winters.
But again, what has all this got to see with Gina gripes? She claim that travertine is a dense stone and does not need to be sealed (with an impregnator), while all the "salesmen" running the stone industry say otherwise. The simple fact is that she's right and that the "salesmen" are wrong, period, end of story, no debate possible, unless you want to express your opinion saying that 2 + 2 = 5. I don't have some repressed anger against "salesmen". I just plain despise them, because they represent the problem of the stone industry that I so much love, not the solution. And when I see all these postings in this and other sites that are only stemming from either the stupidity or the plain specific ignorance of the "salesmen" who run the show, I get upset. Read my comment to Biker's comment. Maurizio, usa.

R 19: We are excavaters, manufacturers and distributors of various colour and types of travertine and limestone; we on avarage sell/ distribute over 1200 sqm material in a month. These materials are used as interiors in stately homes, government offices, public places, private houses (in the kitchen, conservatory, bathroom etc. Travertine, or Limestone for that matter, in time unlike granite, will get scratched, but the more worn out it looks, the more natural it will appear. This would make the place look more blended with nature.
Customers should be told that travertine is not a 'tacky' looking ceramic, it is natural product, gifted us by mother earth
I have only reported for what purpose and where natural stone products have been used. I have two Masters Degree and I can talk for hours about the possible relation between 'perception - imagination - experience and how they manifest in motivating us!
I am not a "salesman"!. We excavate natural stoner blocks, manufacture them in the shape of stone tiles or ornaments, ship them, stock them, display them, market them and we satsify a perceived or actual need of our cutomers. Mustafa

R 20: Hi, Gina, I am a Turkish woman who produces and installes stones. I also love to use travertine like you. The easiest way to convince your customers is to apply water repellent onto the travertine after you fill it. So both the stone and the filling material become resistant against absorbing and stains. Since the water repellent is a translucent liquid the physical properties of the stone does not change. Good luck., Istanbul

Dear Maurizio: thank you for your answer on my question to travertine... but as you can see 2 people cannot agree on it, and how frustrating it is for me to educate customers who haven't been using natural stone. Memphis is in the middle of USA. people still widely use vinyl on their floor... and they know very little about natural stone. so our job is very hard with all the "wise man" throwing out ideas about travertine. probably I should just stick to the people who already know travertine, like designers and architects... you said you might have a solution for me... I am curious about it... gina

Thanks everyone for their answers... However, as you can see even in this panel many believe that travertine is actually "porous" and it needs to be sealed well, which I think will actually damage the product... I believe because people see holes on the stone, and it has a matte finish, they automatically think that it will absorb. We are now reinstalling stone in our showroom, and I will make sure that some of the stones will not be "sealed well"... then the customers will choose what they like... but as you can see from this panel, even with people in the industry there are 2 opposing sides, and whatever we say will not change the problem. And I think I will take Barb's advice and get the housewives with its looks :) Gina

I have found your site very useful, with some good answers to some of the problems. I have spent hours on the phone trying to get information on limestone floors with very little success, however, 10 minutes on your site has proved very helpfull, especially the talk and acetone. Keep it going, as the retailers are very reluctnt to tell you about the problems with limestone. Cheers. Phillip, Sept 30

Q 2825: I have lived with travertine tile counterops for years and they are GORGEOUS!!! So much so, that five family members and friends installed them as well. They all adore them, even many years later and they still receive numerous compliments from everyone that sees them. Kids, parties and all. I can not see why they are a bad choice. They only become more beautiful year after year (and inexpensive to boot). Good Luck, Heather, Sept 30, Reply

R1: Dear Heather: Good for you! If everybody were looking at stone the way you do, I would eliminate completely all the reservations I have about using polished calcite-based stone in a kitchen environment, but you are, alas, the classical exception that confirms the rule. The vastly prevalent perception of stone here in the US is that it's supposed to stay like brand-new for ever and ever (that's why "granite" is so popular). I operate within such an environment which I can't ignore. Nor can I force consumers to see things the way you do, can I! Hence, my strong recommendation not to use polished calcite-based stones in a kitchen stands. Maurizio, USA

Q 2820: I am glad to find your website and would like to get some opinion as to how much it would costs me to set up a small factory just to cut polished slabs into tiles and the minimum number of workers invovled. Many thanks. Phi, Sept 30, Reply

R1: Dear Phi: There's an Italian saying that goes: "E' l'affare della Berta, che buttave giù i muri per vendere i mattoni!!" Basiucally, Berta was so "smart" that was knocking down (valuable) walls in order to sell (cheap) bricks! Same thing applies to you: tiles are always cheaper than slabs! Maurizio, USA

Q 2816: My wife has a coffee table which my wife just had shipped from Holland. Her friends father had it made many years ago from irregular shaped pieces of marble, with gray 'grout' between the pieces. The grout varies in width from millimeters to a half an inch. In transport, 3 of the corners were damaged. We must glue some of the corner pieces back together, regrout, and polish it. Do you have any suggestions for what to use for glue and for grout? Thanks Rick, Sept 30, Reply

R1: Dear Rick: Don't even think fooling around with epoxy glues and such: get hold of a professional stone refinisher. Maurizio, USA

Q 2814: I have a large entry that appears to be granite. The contractor that installed the floor made it unlevel. He then came in and ground it down and shot blasted the surface of the tiles. The tiles are now pitted and dull and extremely rough -- but now level. Contractor has walked away. Do you have any suggestions for restoring a shiny high gloss finish to these tiles? Are there any epoxy finishes that are utilized for this Tnx Rick. Sept 30, Reply

R1: Dear Rick: Granite (or whatever it is that you have) gets polished -- like any other stone -- by abrasion and friction, like gemstone, not by applying some sort of topical something on it. You need the services of a professional stone refinisher who knows how to handle granite (if it's what you have). The cost for the procedure will be very high. Legally the setter would be obliged to pay for it. Maurizio, USA

Q 2812: I want to buy the best lasting and looking black granite monument for my brother. I have been told that Chinese black stone is the same quality as an African black stone. The difference is the chinese black stone is cheaper as the labour, shipping and etc. of the stone is cheaper than the black african stone. Is this correct? Ken, Canada, Sept 27, Reply  

R1: Yes, it probably is correct (I don't know much about the Chinese black granite, but I have no reason to belive that's not a good stone). Maurizio, USA

Q 2811: I recently purchased Bianco Select for a client's apartment. I explained to the showroom clerk, (at the DCOTA), the need for color uniformity and high quality with minimal fill. I was assured that this was the case with the Select grade I was purchasing. My business is located in the NorthEast and I hired a local designer to oversee the installation, by an installer he recommended. The material was reviewed at my request, at the warehouse jointly by the designer and installer. I authorized the purchase of 40 extra sq.ft of material to ensure that no pieces which were not uniform would be used. The material installed ranges so greatly in value, from almost white to dark brown, that a haphazard checkerboard look has been achieved. Daily calls from me to both of the parties did not alert me to any problems. A subsequent review by the material supplier confirms that incorrect grade of material was supplied. How could this not have been apparent to 2 professionals who have worked in this field for over 20 years??? Does not the term "Select" signify anything- (as apparently my instructions regarding the quality required were ignored)? I do know I could have purchased material for a lot less that did not have this designation. Obviously I have various liability issues to settle as my client requires the floor be replaced. Any info on industry standards regarding this designation would be appreciated. Thanks for your help!! Nastri, Sept 27, Reply

R1: Dear Nastri: Take it up with the recognized authorities of the stone industry. No, there are no standards -- as usual. The "grading", for whatever it's worth under the circumstances, it's only volunteered by either the quarry or the processing plant. Maurizio, USA

Q 2810: I am interested in installing a new granite kitchen countertop, but have a couple questions. I am looking at a color called "Blue Sapphire" but have seen no reference to it here. Is it granite or some other stone? Also, under the sink is a radiator, the only one in the kitchen. Since I live in New England the radiator gets used quite a bit in the winter. Will that be a problem for a granite couter and aluminum sink? (The counter and sink now are stainless steel.) Last, if we have a counter installed now and change the cabinet in a few years will there be a major problem in re-installing the granite counter? Bruce,Sept 27, Reply

R1: Dear Bruce: I'm sure that fabricators in your area (those that will be making money out of you) are more than qualified to answer your questions. If you still have some doubt about their professional knowledge, then you can always use my one on one consultation services, at very reasonable rates. Just send me an info@findstone.com. Maurizio, USA


Q 2808: I recently saw a China Black marble tiled shower with some hazy spotty marks under the surface. Some looked smudgy, some looked like droplets, and they were not near the grout lines (so grout haze ruled out). They did not seem like etches, more like chemical/grease/moisture soaked in under the surface (surface was still relatively smooth and high luster). Anyone out there ever encountered a similar problem with China Black, Belgian Black, or similar marble? Also, I am looking for a link to do more research on properties and characteristics of China Black.!,Sungloss, Sept 27, Reply

R1: Dear Sungloss, Haven't encountered that problem with black marbles but there is no reason why it should be restricted to the lighter-coloured varieties. Your problem might be sub-surface efflorescence(especially if sealed) or even Byne's disease. (Dr. Hans) Australia

Q 2807:  I am curious about the possibility of using Basalt Stone as an exterior cladding for a building. I am interested in Quarry locations within the States, and also the availability in general. Also what maximum sizes might this stone come in? What are the properties of Basalt Are there further classifications of Basalt What kinds of finishes might it come in? Does it make any sense at all to use this stone as a building material? What types of costs would be associated with using this stone? Would it require any special construction techniques or equipment? Evan, Sept 27, Reply

R1: Dear Evan, You have asked enough questions about basalt to fill an entire section of a book if properly answered. In short, basalt can be used as a cladding material or as a construction medium. Just look at the impressive cathedrals and other buildings built in Australia using basalt. I don't know of any producers in the US supplying basalt but there are certainly a few around in other parts of the world. As with the broad term "granites", the rock types sold as basalt are rarely basalt but include silica-undersaturated varieties and chemically intermediate ones such as andesites. Then, of course, you can always metamorphose a basalt to produce a different rock type. The Australian variety that is produced around Melbourne in large amounts is pretty close to a true basalt and generally quite vesicular. (Dr. Hans) ,

Q 2806: I have installed referenced granite in my kitchen. Shame on me. I did not find your website until it was too late. I am sick about this very bad expensive decision. From what I have read I should have an expert remove sealant Yes they were sealed. Installed in April and already covered with water spots. I contacted the installer and they want to reseal. I have not let them yet. Why reseal when it appears this will always be a problem? Can you recommend someone in the Atlantic City, NJ area to work on the countertops. If not, any suggestions? To be honest, it is the color that should be in my house. If I didn't have this problem, it would be perfect. Lisa, Sept 27, Reply

R1: Dear Lisa: If you want me to do the job it will cost you $900 plus tax (I do cover the A.C. area and I do the work myself) and I will guarantee in writing that you won't have a problem anymore. Maurizio, USA

Q 2805: I don't know how you keep up with the forums, but I certainly appreciate the sound advice. It sure is a murky world when marble is not marble and this is perfectly acceptable. If someone labeled peanuts as cashews, they would be thrown in jail!

My wife has selected Rainforest Green "marble" that may or may not be marble. That may or may not come from India. That may or may not need epoxy adhesive. You get the idea. The only thing that anyone seems to know is the price. This would be for a bathroom floor, so I am concerned that it is a serpentine that will give me headaches in the future. What do you know about this stone?

I thought I was home free when she "finally" decided upon Perlino Rosata for the floor and Violetta for the countertop (a stunning match), only to make yet another complete U turn. At this point, I don't care what goes down as long as I do not have problems due to the selection of an unsuitable material. Bob Thanks in advance. Sept 27, Reply

R1: Dear Bob: Since the retailer who will end up selling the "marble" to you, and the installer who's going to set it in your house are not able to answer your questions and address in a convincing manner your rightful concerns , you may want to consider paying me a little consultation fee for your peace of mind.
You know, they will be making money out of you, while I have to give you my expertise for free? ... How does that sound to you? Just get in touch with me at: info@findstone.com. My consultation fees are quite reasonable. Maurizio, USA

Q 2804: We are planning to use travertine in bathroom and shower and Maurizio suggested using 1/16" grout lines. My question is why? Do we need to use a special thin set with bonding additive? thanks, Nate, Sept 27, Reply

R1: Dear Nate: If you read my statement you also read my "because". Sorry, but I'm not going to repeat myself over and over. The same thing goes about the setting material.

Q 2803: We have a facility of block cutter, gangsaw of 80 blades, automatic polish line with 4 calibrators, 4 gougers oven line and 15 head polish machine and complete cutting and beveling line. working width of 125 cm. We use imported abrasives Our field force itself consist of 10 persons who selects best material.
Quality control has 3 persons. Our handicrafts force is more than 30 persons including carving experts.
As you see, we work on big scale so the quality is better than a lot of exporters of Pakistan.
Tiles and slabs capacity upto 30000 sq ft a month.
Naturally our prices are higher than the small companies as we can supply quality as well as quantity.
problem: Most of the time the buyers don't understand and compare our prices with other small companies with no in house facility and naturally no quality.
question: What shall we do to convince buyers? waiting for your help. Best Regards, Waqar, Sept 26, Reply

R1: It's a topic which is very close to our heart at FindStone. We believe that it is probably due to this very inability of suppliers to convey the meaning of different qualities, that the stone industry is one where suppliers are only as honest as they are forced to be. Our experience with our open and accessible price list section and publicly visible negotiations is that buyers understand that there is a small band of prices for each quality type and take their decisions on the basis of other parameters e.g. ease of purchase, delivery time, payment terms. So how can you convey that your quality / service is superior?
a) Educate the Buyer: Explain what are the various possibilities of supply and what is the quality range you supply e.g. thickness tolerances, right angle tolerances, gloss level, shade range, range of defects. Explain how you classify, grade, and sort. Give prices for each of these qualities or state the discount for lower quality. Explain this with the help of stone images, list of your machinery, type of projects done, and organizational structure.
b) Give a Quality Assurance and a Dispute-Resolution Method e.g:
i) Send under self-inspection with payment terms such as 'Against l/c or CAD or DP, with 90% to you and 10% to FindStone'. When buyer receives goods, if he has any complaints about quality, buyer has to give proof of problem through an agreed third-party inspection agency, else FindStone will release balance payment to you. If there is a problem, you will replace / give discount at agreed rate e.g. transport borne by buyer.
ii) Send with inspection certificate of SGS or a similar third-party inspection agent at buyer's / supplier's cost.
(Nevertheless, industry after industry has realised that higher quality does not mean higher costs. In fact, producing higher quality reduces production costs. So your goal should be to become cheaper than the low-quality suppliers.), Findstone

Q 2802: How do I clean and polish Roman Travertine Tile? Sim, Sept 26, Reply

R1: Dear Sim: You hire a proven professional stone refinisher. Maurizio, USA

Q 2801: I am preparing to put in a tumbled stone backsplash also. At what point do I seal the tile and is there any way in the process of grouting that you could keep some of the grout out of the holes? Sandy, Sept 26, Reply

R1: Dear Sandy: Are you talking about tumbled travertine? (You mention holes) If that's the case, you DO want those holes filled with grout in a backsplash! The sealing has to be done a couple of weeks after the installation is finished. Maurizio, USA

Q 2800: Ccould you please advise me on how to clean crystalised marble? We had 8 crosses in a cemetry to clean. The oldest stone was 70yrs old marble We used a chemical that is enviromentaly safe for the stone as well as the area.This did not rid the black stuff on their. Sleef, Sept 26, Reply

R1: Dear Sleef: Is there a marble that's not crystallized? Use water and house hold bleach with a brush. Maurizio, USA

Q 2799: I work at church and am currently trying to clean the marble altars. I was using Simple Green or I think cleaners classified as emulsifiers. Is this safe for the marble? If not, any recommendations?? The dirt has been on the marble for many, many, many yeras, Mxzie, Sept 26, Reply

R1: Dera Mxzie: "Simple green", huh ... You might as well use sandpaper! Use a solution of water, houselhold bleach and elbow-grease. Maurizio, USA

Q 2798: Kashmire Gold, Will it stain? If so can I get it removed? Paul, Sept 26, Reply

R1: Dear Paul: Yes, it will and big time, too! Trust me, you do NOT want that stuff in your kitchen!! To remove stains see my stain Removal guidelines, Maurizio, USA

Q 2797: What is suitability of using Black Galaxy granite for kitchen countertops? Would Uba Tuba be a better choice or Peacock Gold? Both of those are very dark greens. Angela, Sept 26, Reply

R1: Dear Angela: They all are excellent choices. Pick the one you like best. Maurizio, USA

Q 2796: Cleaning solution to clean stone chimney before sealing? Thanks, Joe, Sept 26, Reply

R1: Dear Joe: Call a chimney cleaning company. Maurizio, USA

Q 2795: I spill glue on my granite counter How do I clean it? Gisele, Sept 26, Reply

R1: Dear Gisele: Use acetone and a clean rag. Maurizio, USA

Q 2794: I have a Sphera 2200 steam cleaning machine that heats up and wets a rag to very high temperatures, then the rag absorbs the stain or dirt from the surface being cleaned. Any problems with using this product on a granite countertop? Could I get by with using this on my porous granite rather than sealing it? Jim, Sept 26, Reply

R1: Dear Jim: You're kidding, right ... OK, you almost got me ... That was funny, all right! Maurizio, USA

Q 2793: Your comments in findstone are very helpful. Now that I understand
them. I am interested in Santa Ceclia or Rita ...are these lighter stones good for kitchen use? Am open to different colors. Tracy
, Sept 25, Reply

R1: Dear Tracy, There are a few good lighter-coloured granites around. to #2790 (Dr. Hans),

R1: Dear Tracy: If that's not enough and you want specific information on one or more particular stone, I do offer consutaltion service at reasonable rates. Just contact me at: info@findstone.com. Maurizio, USA

Q 2792: How do I care for my new Butterfly Verde granite counter top? The finish is polished not matte. The installers recommended sealing it every 3 months but didn't recommend what type of sealer to use. Also, the 3 month deal seems like an overkill to me. They also recommended not using Windex or similar cleaners since they would remove the sealer. Water with dish soap, as they recommended, leaves a terrible haze. Any advice or warnings on granite care would be greatly appreciated. I thought granite was supposed to be easy to care for? Lewis, Sept 25, Reply

R1: Dear Lewis: Let's see ... They tell you to seal your Verde Butterfly (which doesn't need to be sealed, NOT EVEN ONCE! Did you run my lemon juice test on it?) every three months. Than they tell you not to use Windex and the likes, or dish soap (and they are right on both counts), but they "forgot" to tell you what to use instead! That's just great, don't you think? Maurizio, USA

Q 2791: This past weekend we picked out a slab of "granite" called Juparana Rust. It is located 50 miles from our home so the lemon juice test I just read about this morning is not possible at this point. I know that there are many types of Juparana stones, but can you tell me anything about this type of stone, regarding how porous it is etc? I have read a large portion of your fantastic web site advice and am concerned about oil, etc. stains. In a conversation with our fabricator a while back, he mentioned that they usually put 2 - 3 coats of sealer. I am wondering if this is sufficient or should we ask for more coats? The slab is being delivered to our fabricator today or tomorrow so I really appreciate your advice! Thanks! Sue, Sept 25, Reply

R1: Dear Sue: Your fabricator is going to make a nice piece of change out of this deal, but obviously you don't trust completely their expertise. What's in it for me for making sure that you're going to invest your money wisely? I do offer one on one consultation services at reasonable rates. Contact me at: info@findstone.com. Maurizio, USA

Q 2790: I understand the value of the "lemon test" when selecting a granite for a kitchen countertop. I am not having much luck finding a "granite" that passes the test and satisfies our color palette. We are looking for something that might be categorized as Beige or Gold. We looked at Gibli (ghibli), Junapero Nepal, and something called Kashmir Ivory (which I have not been able to find anywhere else); we generally liked the colors of these but they did not do so well on the lemon test (no acid problems but absorption looks like a problem). From reading this web site, it looks like some acceptable "browns" might be: Baltic Brown, Dakota Mahogany and Uba Tuba, but they are all darker than we would like. I have seen some mention that Santa Cecilia is borderline for a kitchen counter and its color may be ok. Can you recommend any "granites" that are suitable for a kitchen countertop, but are in the beige or gold color groups. thanks, Rich, Sept 25, Reply

R1: Dear Rich, Keep in mind that brown colours in granites are not natural colours. They are the result of weathering and/or alteration - processes which can occur at any stage in the history of the rock after its formation and emplacement. Beige colours are part of this alteration and are usually due to small amounts of limonite (earthy hydrated iron oxide mixed with clay) replacing feldspar or occupying grain boundaries. Sometimes the brownish alteration products are well-concealed. Look for concentrated red spots or a softness around some of the minerals. This could make it unstable. If the granite still has black shiny minerals (mica) then it has not undergone too much alteration or weathering. The beige-coloured granites are usually quite siliceous and often tend to be moderately porous. So while they might not pass the lemon test they accommodate sealers quite well and generally perform without a lot of problems. One of the best beige-coloured granites that is uniform and performs well is Brisbane Beige from Australia (Dr. Hans),

Q 2789: We moved into a new home about 6 weeks ago that has Riviera slate floor tiles. We were told to do a vinegar wash to remove any leftover grout haze and then apply a sealant. So far all we've done is sweep and vacuum and wipe up spots as they happen. We could use a bit of your expert advice before tackling both acid washing and sealing. Sincerely, Mike & Irene Goodwin, Sept 25, Reply

R1: Dear Mike & Irene: Try to do the whole procedure on a spare tile, before you do the whole floor. There are a few gazillions different slates out there and they can be quite unpredictable! Maurizio, USA

Q 2788: I purchased a ceramic softsoap container. I filled it with soft soap, one of the bacterial ones.I placed it on the countertop in the bathroom, which is faux granite. Its not corian, but something like it, not formica either. It has a polished finish. Anywy, it left a cloud on the counter top. It happened so fast. I don't know what to do. It looks awful. The man at hardware the store said to rub it with 600 grit sand paper, then repolish. Please help. Kathi, Sept 25, Reply

R1: Dear Kati: Let's see ... It's not corian, it's not formica, it's "faux granite" (whatever the heck that is), and just because it's got the word "granite" in it, you inquire with a natural stone site ... Mmmm ... nteresting! Maurizio, USA

Q 2787: As it stands your site has had no usefulness to me.
Your questions and answers are not laid out in a useful format. Obviously there are different rules for different types of stone and you have all of them combined. b) Many of the responses are contradictory of one another.
Left column categoration... is great. I found many inquiries and responses that were both interesting and informative. But on the actual queston and answer side it does get quite difficut to find answeres to specific questions. If somehow these could be posted in order by stone type and application, ie. wall or foor, tile or slab, marble or granite. I found the answers that I was looking for, just not for the type of stone that I am using. A list of basic rules that apply to all types of stone, and a sublist of rules that apply to the individual types, by application would also be helpful. It would be much easier for someone with a specific question for a specific aplication to find answers, and might even reduce the duplicate questions. Something of this nature then followed by the questions and answers for the more specific and the less common problems would be more informative. I have no idea what the correct approach would be to accomplish this but for people like me who are ready to proceed with a project and have a question pop up, this would be a better way to find the answer. The current format is very helpful to the individual who is just beginning to explore stone. I mentioned before that I found many useful tips that might help me in the future.
  As for my process of preparing for my project.It was just a matter of seeing what I liked and wanted in a magazine and tile galeries that made me choose Travertine for my own kitchen. I did not do the research that I should have. I purchased the material at a reasonable price ($3.sq.ft), and the volume was such that I am not out much if I made a mistake and had to pull it down. As I have learned through the books that i have viewed since and this site, I did make some mistakes. I used premixed mastive for one, although I have had no problems as of yet and the application seems firm.
  As for my current project, I did a complete kitchen remodel for a client and she had strong ideas about what she wanted and basically did all the legwork. She and I have a very good working reationship and she feels comfortable that even with my lack of experience with stone, I can do the job beyond her expectations. I have been cramming like crazy, talking to installers and suppliers. The installers that are willing to talk though seem to be the ones that really don't have a clue. Its amazing at the number of contractors that do beautiful work but dont't really know what they are really doing.As for books, I did not really find much of any use on actual stone most pertain to ceramic. I hope this feedback has some benefit for you. Sept 24, Reply

R1: You go the Home Depot and they SELL you books that teach you how to do stuff. Now, you come into a FREE site and have the nerve to criticize. I didn't even finish to read all your boring and groundless posting. A couple of questions come to my mind, though: 1) "If you find this site useless to you, why do you keep reading it?" 2) "You don't really expect that anybody here is going to implement your suggestions for free, do you!" 3) "If you have so many clear ideas on how it should be formatted, why don't you volunteer your time and give your contribution like I and the other experts do?" Get real, will you! Maurizio, USA

Q 2786: Would appreciate comments on black polished granite for kitchen countertops. Is it hard to keep clean and looking good? Dee, Alabama, Sept 24, Reply

R1: Dear Dee: Polished black granite's got my vote big time! Maurizio, USA

Q 2785: We are considering Azul Bahia for our kitchen countertops. I am interested in your opinions of this stone, including maintenance, wear and tear, staining, etc. Thanks Dan Johnson, Sept 24, Reply

R1: Dear Dan Johnson, AZUL BAHIA is very beautiful and unusual stone - syenite with blue sodalite from Brazil, but this stone is less resistant to chemicals than other hard stones - granites in commercial sense. Daniel, Slovakia

Q 2784: We are looking for "crema marfil" marble flooring for our home. How do we select this type of stone. We found a price that seemed too good to be true at one supplier as compared to the others. How do we really know what is good quality marble? Jasmine, Sept 24, Reply

R1: Dear Jasmine: Rule of thumb No. 1: You can find an unscrupulous merchant who will try to sell you a $5 stone for $10. You will never find a merchant that will try to sell you a $10 stone for $5! Rule of thumb No. 2: When one doesn't know something and are about to invest a nice piece of change on this something, the wise man hires an expert! (While the wise guy tries to get free advice in the internet!) :-) I mean, what do you think one could ever tell you in writing? The only way I (or anybody else, for that matter) could help you is to come along with you and select the stone for you. Maurizio, USA

Q 2783: We are purchasing a home with flagstone as horizontal decorative brick around the front door and extending into a low planter, which has been painted bright yellow. We understand that the stone was mismatched in color. The entrance (floor) is also flagstone and quite dingy. Is sandblasting the best way to remove the paint? I understand we can rent a small unit ourselves. What about cleaning the floor area? I was told the flagstone could be dyed (or bleached?), using dyes designed for concrete, to even out the match. What do you think? The floor looks pinky. Pale yellow tones would be our first choice. (The house is painted yellow.) Finally, is there a faux painting technique that would work -- or do we need to plant lots of vines?! Cathy, Sept 24, Reply

R1: Dear Cathy: Which stone are you talking about? Flagstone is not the name of a stone, just its shape and the way it's been installed. Maurizio, USA

Q 2782: We have a beachfront condo and are considering saw-cut Saturnia travertine for our rooftop terrace. Should we be concerned about the surface being slippery and unsafe? The area is 1200 square feet and we are considering 18”x 18” tiles. If Travertine works do you recommend honed and filled for exterior surfaces? Any other recommendations? Tim, Sept 24, Reply

R1: Dear Tim: For all I know, "Saturnia" only comes honed and filled. Like just about with all smooth surfaces, you can expect some degree of slipperiness when wet. If the installation is done properly, there should not be any problem with travertine installed outdoors. After all, the Coliseum in Rome is made of the same stuff! Maurizio,

Q 2781: Hi Can you please tell me how to remove stains from Jerusalem Limestone and how I prevent stains from seeping into the surface. thx. Dini, Sept 24, Reply

R1: Dear Dini: see guidelines on stain removal. Click on it. To prevetn stain from seeping in you will need to have your stone sealed with a good-quality stone impregnator. The question is: "Are you sure that they are stains and not 'stains'?" (See my article about sealers ) Maurizio, USA

Q 2780: It would be nice to have a listing of names of granites and their best application (e.g., good for a kitchen counter, etc... Doris, Sept 23, Reply

R1:   Dear Doris: Yes it would. The question is: "would you be willing to pay for it?" Maurizio, USA

Q 2779: www.findstone.com has been useful in educating me on the benefits and pitfalls of various types of stones. I received quite an education on "granites" especially. The Q & A is also very beneficial in educating consumers. I found the pictures of granites, separated by origin, to be very interesting and useful.
I am redoing my kitchen and have chosen for my flooring a porcelain tile that has the look of slate, it's beige with gold and grey in it and almost takes on a slightly greenish tint. For my cabinets I have chosen a glazed honey cabinet. I have been searching for the "right" countertop and am considering either Uba tuba or Imperial green "granite" -- looking thru your postings, I see Uba tuba is a good choice (although it's darker and busier than I really wanted to go.) Can you provide any info on Imperial Green "granite" and do you feel it's a good choice for a kitchen countertop? Also, can you suggest other "granites" or natural stone that would work with the color scheme I have in mind?
The estimates I have been getting for granite countertops in the NY area (I believe done with 1 slab, or just a little bit more, is between: $3200 - $4800 US dollars.
Do continue to provide this excellent service and I look forward to answers to my questions. Doris
, Sept 23, Reply

R1: Dear Doris: I'm no interior decorator, and I am 25% colorblind to boot!, Leave me out of that! :-) Maurizio, USA

Q 2778: Greetings! I have a few questions before we decide on new countertops. We saw something called "green slate" available from Vermont - it looks beautiful, but I'm concerned with its performance as a countertop. If that wouldn't perform as well as granite, do you have any granite suggestions that resemble the green slate? I USE my kitchen and I need something that can stand up to serious cooking and not so immediate clean-up. My particular concern is how each would deal with tea stains. We use a lot of loose tea. What kind of sink would be best for a tea-drinking family? Thank you, Lisa, Sept 23, Reply

R1: Dear Lisa: What can I tell you?I wouldn't use slate as a kitchen countertop if they'd pay me to have it. That said, there's no "granite" tha looks like slate. There are several green "granites", however. Maurizio, USA

Q 2776: I have black galaxy on the kitchen island and use the TileLab product for cleaning and I have sealed it with the TileLab sealer (don't know if that was the right thing to do). All stains from cooking come out with the use of the cleaner except for hard water stains around the sink. Can I use the hydrogen peroxide poultice to remove the water stains? I did the acetone test to see if any black came out in my cloth and none did. On a bathroom vanity I have Tropical Brown, & the hard water stains can be removed with the cleaner but the area that gets the most abuse doesn't feel smooth like the rest of the vanity top. Do I use the hydrogen peroxide poultice in this case? Are your products available in Canada, all I can get a hold of in my area is the TileLab brand. Marsha, Sept 23, Reply

R1: Dear Marsha: You shouldn't have sealed your "Black Galaxy", especially with the sealer you mention. In fact, "Black Galaxy" is inherently very dense and did not allow any of that sealer (which is designed for vey porous stones) to go in. Just a total waste of time and money. As far as the mineral deposit is concerned, try to use a product called "Lymeaway" (not sure about the spelling), which here in the US is widely available at every supermarket. About your last question, where do you live in Canada Maurizio, USA Export Panelist

Q 2775: Can stone and /or marble be used in a swimming pool ? If chlorine is a problem, are there other alternatives? Repty, Sept 21, Reply

R1: Dear Repty: Some marble are quite good, some other are not. "Granite"? True geological
granite is a fantastic material. Most other "granites" are excellent, too. Some may not be so good. I don't think that there's any specific study about stones used as a swimming pool lining, with a list of which are good and which are not. If you wish I could help: among other activities I offer consultation services. Gimme a holler at info@findstone.com. Maurizio,

Q 2774: We have had Kashmir White granite installed this week and then the contractor honed it in our kichen (dust was incredible) ,because he fogot ,however apart from some surface looking scratches the look was great.The contractor left 2 days ago but we are shocked to see the amount of staining that has appeared . Ring marks and Small blotches of ketchup that We are unsure of our next move do we approach someone else to seal it, use a specialist cleaner or attenpt to sand the marks off ? any help would be appreciated. Thanks Mike, Sept 19, Reply

R1: Dear Mike: You're in a mess, all right! White Kashmire (NOT a granite by a loooong shot!) in a kitchen is a disaster waiting to happen even when it's polished. Honed? ... It's even worse! The stains you have will have to be removed by poulticing see my tips about stain removal). After that, your orthogneiss will have to be sealed to the bone, so that you will reduce (never eliminate) the possibility of future stains. Please, do NOT buy my sealer. No sealer on the market will ever do a perfect job with your stone. I prefer to let someone else "enjoy the ride"! One last piece of advice: get rid of your countertop right now! It'll be painful on your wallet, but it will preserve your sanity! Maurizio, USA

Q 2773: What is the safest and easiest way to clean hard water deposits and "soap scum" in a marble shower? Second question: Our dog vomited on the marble floor in the bathroom and nos the sheen is gone from that spot as though the stomach acid etched the marble. Anything that we can do? Thanks, Frank, Sept 19, Reply

R1: Dear Frank: You're right on the money on this one: your dog's vomit did etch the marble
surface. There's hope, though! See my stain removal guidelines,Maurizio, USA

Q 2772: I bought a 6 inch tall stone carving in S. Korea. I only paid 20 bucks for it. My question, it looks like soapstone, it is soft like soapstone but they insist it’s a volcanic stone and not soap stone, Thanks, Tuely, Sept 19, Reply

R1: Dear Tuely, I cannot identify your carving, because I have not seen it, but there are Korean carvings from volcanic tuff (rock formed from volcanic ash), that is soft. Daniel, Slovakia


Q 2770: We're doing a bathroom renovation and would like to install natural slate tiles in on the shower walls and floor. Do you recommend we use cement board before mortaring and impregnate the tiles/grout with the appropriate sealant afterwards? We want to make sure that the tiles are adequately sealed and the walls can carry the weight of the slate tiles.Thanks, Lisa, Sept 19, Reply

R1: Dear Lisa: Yes, cement board is "your man". Maurizio, USA

Q 2769: We're putting Botticino marble in our ensuite bath in our new home. The tile that we picked when we were doing the color charts doesn't look anything like they've installed.
We would like to know how much color variance can we expect in each tiles. I was wondering if you would kindly inform me about this subject. Sincerely, Yolanda,
Sept 19, Reply

R1: Dear Yolanda: For starters, there are three types of Botticino:
1. Botticino Classico;
2. Botticino Semi-classico;
3. Botticino Fiorito. The Classico is, by now, just a dream. Since the classification above is only voluntary, a few unscrupulous dealers (or, maybe the dealer doesn't know how to tell them apart, therefore the unscrupulous party is the importer) now sell the lower quality
Semi-Classico as Classico. There is where (and why) you have the most obvious differences in color and patterns. The Fiorito is usually pretty much consistent af far as patterns are concerned and easier to spot, but there can be some variations in color (darker or lighter), even if not dramatic. It takes a REAL expert to tell the Semi-Classico apart from the Classico. On top of that, one must consider the "secret" grading about each species! ... As you can conclude by yourself, you're pretty much at the mercy (or lack thereof) of your dealer on this one. Maurizio, USA

Q 2768: Hi Maurizio. Your articles were eye openers and helped us rule out Ghibli for our kitchen counter. Here is the problem. I have cherry/ fruitwood colored cabinets and donot want to go with a dark color for the countertop. Nor do I want to seal my granite. With these constraints, is Blue Eyes( grey with a little brown and shiny blue flecks) a good choice? Do you have any other names that you can suggest? Ciao Vandana , Sept 18, Reply

R1: Dear Vandana: You could try "Blue Pearl" (the light colored one). It usually doesn't need to be sealed, but it's always best to run the lemon juice test on any stone you are going to consider. Maurizio, USA

Q 2767: I am in the process of planning a remodeled kitchen. I have chosen natural cherry cabinets, and want to go with granite counter tops. I am trying to decide between Dakota Mahogany and American Mahogany, also known as Deer Brown. The red in the Dakota Mahogany would add a more dramatic flair, but the brown in the American Mahogany is warmer. Any suggestions? What color tile back splash would go with each of them? I am so confused and would appreciate any advice. Thank you. Sandra, Sept 18, Reply

R1: Dear Sandra: Like I said in many other occasions, I'm no interior decorator! The only thing I can tell you is that both choices you mention are very good indeed, from a mechanic point of view. Maurizio, USA

Q 2766: We are the third biggest exporter of granite from Brazil and are having an unusual problem with some stone in our yard and with some of the slabs which háve been already exported to the US. The material is known as Gialo Veneziano and the slabs here as well as the US were exposed for 3-4 months to rain and sun. The slabs were imoregnated with a medium viscosity resin (probably didn’t do anything) and then polished but were not sealed with any wax or other resin.
What happened was the following: after being some time exposed to the elements, the first slab in a stacked group became pockmarked and small, about ¼” crystals which remained dull after the slabs were polished, turned into powder leaving behind a white residue at the base of the slab. The other slabs in the group and the slabs stored in the werehouse were not affected. What I think happened, but I want to be sure and this is where your knowledge and years of experience can help me out, is the following:
The duller crystals are possibly clays and will absorb water and/or be attacked by acids in the rain swelling and decomposing.

The epoxy resin did not penetrate into the pores and offered little or no protection. Besides, epoxy does become yellow and brittle after prolonged exposure to the sun and even if the stone was impermeable initially, it lost this property after time.
Here’s what I plan to do: 1. Use a lower viscosity resin with a lower interfacial energy between the granite and epoxy permitting superior penetration and protection against water.
2. Appy a resin sealer, preferably acrylic which supplies some UV protection for stone exposed to the sun. 3. Advise clients how to maintain and treat this type of material and as well as were it should be used. 4. Identify other stones with this potential problem before hand as well as classify and understand how the stone we sell should be maintain.
5. Perform a controlled experience to be sure we have identified the problem and that we know how to control it.

Have I identified the problem correctly? Where I can find books that will enable me to classify better our stone and identify where it should be used and how it should be maintained? I appreciate any advise you can give me. Many thanks.Victor, Sept 18, Reply

R1: Dear Victor, Giallo Veneziano is gneiss with granite composition. It contains feldspars, quartz, garnet and micas. I think unfortunately some feldspar crystals were originally alternated during metamorphism. In their crystals microscopic clay mineral lamellas were created (dull appearance after polishing). The first slab was exposed to intensive chemical weathering because of warm rains and sun radiation (high temperature together with water). The alternated feldspars were easy disintegrated to white powder (clay minerals and disintegrated feldspar). I am not expert for sealers and similar thinks. I think you must save slabs against combination of water saturation and sun exposure. Daniel, Slovakia, Expert Panelist.

Q 2765: I have had Uqualla Brown granite in my kitchen for over a year and a half now and I am starting to get ring around my sink faucet and sprayer. It looks like some sort of calcium deposit that may have built up. Also, the counter area between my sink and the back splash has kind of a dull/hazy appearance as well. Can you recommend anything to remove the deposits around the kitchen faucet as well as something that will remove the hazy look around the back of the counter between the sink and the backsplash? Thank you, Jesse, Sept 18, Reply

R1: Dear Jesse: You can use a product called "Lymeaway" (I'm not sure about the spelling), that's available pretty much at any supermarket. Don't overuse it. Maurizio, USA

Q 2764: I think this site is wonderful. I hear a lot about sealants for granite countertops but I am not too happy about using any kind of chemicals in an area that will be in close contact with food. What are these sealants made of and how safe are they? Thanks Vandana, Sept 18, Reply

R1: Dear Vandana: If you like this site so much, then you will also know that -- at least as far as I am concerned -- am not a fan(atic) of sealers (although I manufacture one!). There are many a "granite" that don't need to be sealed. Keep in mind, however, that a sealer for stone (a.k.a. "impregnator") is a below-surface product. What's more, to the best of my knowledge, all the resins used to make a sealer, are -- once properly cured -- totally inert materials that will not contaminate anything. Maurizio, USA

Q 2763: I just had Saturnia Walnut honed cobblestone travertine tiles laid in my home. It has a fairly wide grout line. It is in my kitchen and nook among other areas, and I need to clean it often due to food spills. What should I use and is there anything to consider in particular, about the way I clean it?, Catherine, Sept 18, Reply

R1: Dear Catherine: The maintenance requirements for your stone are not much different than those for any other calcite-based natural stone. There are two issues that you have to address: 1. Although the stone is inherently quite dense, being honed and in a kitchen environment, I'd encourage you to have it professionally sealed with a good-quality stone impregnator. 2. You indicate that your have wide grout lines. As you know, Grout is quite absorbent and does need to be sealed (the same sealer for the stone should take care of the grout, too). This will only prevent deep staining, however. In fact, your grout will get dirtly (surface soil) real quick in a kitchen, considering that's sanded grout, therefore rough. Periodically you will have to have someone go down on hands and knees and, with an old toothbrush, a solution of water and bleach and a lot of elbow-grease, clean the gout lines of your floor. Other than that, Maurizio, USA


Q 2761: My son dyed his hair red and rinsed it onto our Sun Valley marble counter tops. He is using clorox at full strength to remove it. Any better ways? Thanks, Brooks, Sept 17, Reply

R1: Dear Brooks: No problem with the bleach. Don't expect any result, though! You may want to try to poultice it with Hydrogen Peroxide salon-strength (30-40 volume, clear). See my stain removal guidelines. If thst won't work, then you should look for a stone restoration contractor. , Maurizio, USA

Q 2760: I work at a church that 15 years ago moved the chape to a marbled wall enterance for safety reasons We now want to clean these wall and restore them ? It looks like someone fail to rinse the walls after cleaning them. Kramer, NY,Sept 17, Reply

R1: Dear Kramer: For what I can understand, whoever attempted to clean those marble walls used the wrong cleaner that has damaged the stone surface (you have running streaks, right?). You will need a professional stone restoration contractor to repair the damage done by the chemicals in the cleaning agent that was used. Maurizio, USA

Q 2759: My company cast in place concrete countertops. I have tried many different types of sealers, some good some not so good. I feel like a fly. Do you have any suggestions on concrete sealers? Kay, Sept 17, Reply

R1: Dear Kay: No, I don't. But if you already found "some good" ones, why do you keep searching? Stick to those. Maurizio, USA

Q 2757: I recently had a person stop at my shop asking about various stones for countertops. She had a picture of something called "New England Landstone". Does anyone know what this is and where to find more information about it? Granacher, Sept 17, Reply

R1: Dear Granacher, I have not ever heard of the stone. It is probably a local name. Daniel, Slovakia, .

Q 2756: Been having trouble polishing Black Galaxy I have cut for trim. Cut an ogee into my trim and trying to polish. Started with a 30, 50, 100, 300, 500 to 1000. When I let the Ogee dry the surface is smooth but the finish is very dull. When water is added the surface in the ogee is very shiny. Am I doing something wrong? Also when do you know the polishing wheel or disc you are using is done with its grit size to polish completely? I have a Flex polisher and know that is not the problem, Operator error more likely. need to know because I have spent much time on these guys with very little results. Thanks for the help, Mike, Sept 17, Reply

R1: Dear Mike: You must be doing something not right, as you already guessed, since Black Galaxy is one of the easiest black "granite" to polish. 1000 grit sounds a little low to me. You should be finishing with at least a 3500, but with 1000 you should have some remarkable shine already, although without the depth of color you're after to blend in with the rest. You're reporting that after 1000 the surface is smooth but dull. Something is wrong. Are you using enough water? Are the RPM in you Flex machine high enough? Or, quite possibly, you may be using the wrong set of diamond pads. Not all diamond pads are created equal! Maurizio, USA

Q 2755: Your web site is truly outstanding. I've recently moved into a house with a slate mantel. The prior owner painted a white faux finish which I would like to remove.
I read that Maurizo has suggested a methlene chloride paint stripper should be use. Should that be used with a fine gauge steel wool, a rag, a sponge? After removing the paint, will it be necessary to rehone with a R angle grinder/buffer and metal sandpaper? Mike, Sept 17, Reply

R1: Dear Mike: Yes on all counts. Finish up with an application or two of mineral oil (baby oil will do just fine) to bring back the deep color of slate. Maurizio, USA

Q 2754: Any advice on whether soapstone would make a good countertop. Initial research shows some positives, but I worry about the softness of the soapstone and what this means for wear factor. My customer is looking for something to achieve an old look in a modern kitchen and she was asking about soapstone. Granacher, Sept 17, Reply

R1: Dear Granacher: If your client are heavily into take-outs and reservations (restaurant reservations, that is!), then there are no problems. Furthermore, if they have a Mediterranean culture, then again it could be a good material (Mediterranean communities love it when a stone changes over years of use and becomes -- to their saying -- "what a stone should look like"). But if your customers are American through and through, then you want to steer them away from it. As an additional comment, although as a Mediterranean myself I love the look of "used" stone, I have one particular reservation against soapstone as a material for a kitchen countertop. All distributors and fabricators encourage end-users to use mineral oil as a maintenance tool to "eliminate" all the scratches that will appear on the surface of the stone -- due to its inherent softness, and to restore the original color (it does fade over time). Mineral oil works indeed, but since both my wife an I like to use our countertop as a food handling surface, for some reason we are not excited at the idea that our food is going to end up tasting like Pennsylvania crude! Maurizio, USA

Q 2753: The other day my puppy soiled on the travertine and I used vinegar on my
travertine floor. The result was a bleached spot. It appears to have taken
the sealer and the shine right off. How can I fix this? It is not too bad, but in certain lights I can see it. Help! Diana, Sept 16, Reply

R1: Dear Diana: You used an acid (vinegar, acetic acid) to clean your puppy poo-poo and, of course, you've damaged your travertine surface. If you were trying to use a disinfectant, you should have used a solution of water and bleach; it does not damage calcite-based stones. The sealer -- if for some mysterious reason, was ever applied -- did not come off. It just goes to show how "useful" is has been to seal your travertine! The shine did come out, because the vinager made a mark of corrosion (etch) IN the stone (notice, I said IN, not ON). No cleaner or marble polish on the planet can repair that surface damage. Either you call a professional stone restoration contractor, or you try to do it yourself by using some user-friendly marble polishing compound. Maurizio, USA

Q 2752: What type of cleaning products do you have available to keep the granite looking shiny. After I wipe it down it dries to a haze Thank you, Bel, Sept 16, Reply

R1: Dear Bel: Either you're using the wrong cleaning solution (water and dish soap, maybe; or a regular household glass cleaner), or the slab was never polished properly in the first place, or it's just a "granite" that doesn't take a high polish (was it shiny when it was first installed?) Maurizio, USA

Q 2749: I was wondering about the use of Piracema White in a kitchen application I have purchased a new house and this is the type of slab counter top that was installed. I know from your stone album that it is listed as a granite from Brazil but is it a true granite or what type of stone is it and what maintenance measures should I take to keep it looking good. Thanks Scott, Sept 16, Reply

R1: Dear Scott: No it's technically not a granite, and it does need massif doses of a good-quality impregnator, which should have been applied by the fabricator.see my Do's $ Don't, Maurizio, USA

Q 2748: We just moved into a home that has "Granite" countertops. The name of the granite is Giallo Antico Brown. It is very attractive and we love it, however; it has a lower gloss than we would like. We were told to clean it with household glass cleaner that does not contain ammonia. My questions are
1) Is Giallo Antico really granite and does it normally need to be sealed?
2) Is there a way we can increase its gloss? Lewis
., Sept 16, Reply

R1: Dear Lewis: Giallo Antico Brown? ... Is it giallo (Yellow) or brown? No, Giallo Antico (if it's the one I know) is not a granite and, yes, it does need to be sealed real good. As far as the shine is concerned, there are topical waxes that you can get to increase the gloss (only temporarily, though). I personally don't like the idea, but my preference is only based upon the way my wife and I use our kitchen countertop, that ie. as a food handling surface. For some reasons we don't like the taste of wax! ... On the other hand, if one is heavily into take-outs and reservations, then I guess it's OK waxing your countertop. Maurizio, USA

Q 2747: We are about to order a granite countertop for our new kitchen. We had planned to use honed Impala Black granite for the counter tops. I saw a sample of the honed granite about two months ago, and liked the more casual, "old" look...now I've seen another sample and am questioning using honed granite. Is it going to always look splotchy and water marked? Our kitchen guy tells me that it won't because I'll be oiling it weekly for a while. Are we wasting our money with honed? thanks...HA, Sept 16, Reply

R1: Dear HA: He'll be oiling it for a week?! ... Wow ... That guy must know something that I don't know!
This very site is soaked with the tears of consumers who've been suckered into buying a honed black granite kitchen countertop! But, hey, they probably didn't know the "oiling it for a week" thing, so, maybe ... Maurizio, USA

Q 2744: I installed a sandstone heart and mantle piece for my fireplace. I used a dark mortar to set the stone in. I got some of the mortar on the sandstone which stained it. What can I use to remove the stain? What should I use to seal it to give it a wet shinny look tat will not chip or scratch? Sincerely Jim, Sept 16, Reply

R1: Dear Jim: When a stain is coming from the bottom of the slab to the surface it can not be removed. Sorry. About your other question you can use a urethane-type finish, but that it doesn't scratch? ... Try liquid diamond!! :-) Maurizio, USA

Q 2743: I recently had UBA TUBA installed on my bathroom vanity. I noticed there is a black residue on it from where it was cut by the stone cutter. How can I get this off? Also, what is the best cleaner to use on this surface on a daily basis to ensure surface shine? Thanks, Robin, Sept 16, Reply

R1: Dear Robin: I have not the slightest idea about the nature of your "black residue" (I never even heard of such a thing! ... A residue left from the cutting? ...); therefore I can't tell you what you can cleat it off with. If I were you I'd call the fabricator back and demand them to clean that mysterious black residue off your stone. About routine cleaning, see my Do's & Don'ts, Maurizio, USA

Q 2742: One of my customers purchased some absolute black granite(polished) from me. After it was installed, a haze developed on the surface of the tiles. The contractor used a grout haze clean up solution, but it did not work. We have sold a lot of this material and this is the first time this has come up. Thanks Fred, Sept 15, Reply

R1: Dear Fred: What you're reporting it's a technical impossibility, if those tiles are indeed Black Absolute, and not just some other black "granite" traded as black absolute. Give me a holler at: info@findstone.com. I may be able to help you out if you give to me directly with the information I need. Maurizio, USA  

Q 2741: I would like to start engraving addresses for home owners and other related items on limestone for starters. I have looked all over and can't seem to find any courses/video instructions on what to buy and how to start. Sure would like some help. North of our city, we have access to limestone cut posts and other stones. Many of the post out in front of people's houses also have the college insignia and are painted with the appropriate colors, but I wouldn't know what type of paint to use. Thank you Bruce, Sept 15, Reply

R1: Bruce. This kind of work can be done the traditional way with hammer and chisel, or (gasp) by sand blasting. If you are interested in traditional carving, look for a book called "carving letters in stone and wood" by Michael Harvey. If you want to go the sandblasting route, look up a local monument (head stone) company, and see what information they can offer you. They should also be able to source the paint for you. Good Luck, JVC,

Q 2740: My husband and I are interested in using Marbrasa Butterfly granite on our kitchen counter top. I have read recently that Butterfly is sometimes subject to fissures and erratic crystal sizes. I've also read that using an undermount sink is not recommended because the product has a tendency to crack in this situation. Pl advise, tBonnie, Sept 15, Reply

R1: Dear Bonnie: The particular kind of stone you're mentioning is just about magnificent, and an excellent choice as a material for a kitchen countertop (it does NOT need to be sealed). Yes, there may be a few natural fissures here and there, but that does not constitute a reason why it could easily crack if you have an under-mount sink installed. The weakest spots of the whole structure are indeed the two narrow strips in front and behind the sink, but if they're properly rodded, nothing should ever happen to them. Some fabricator "solve" the problem by making a seam in the middle of the those two strips, but,
although there are no industry standards against such a dubious technique, once everything is said and done, and besides aesthetic considerations, the fact that there are no rods constitutes a weak spot. Make sure that your fabricator rods those areas. It's critical. If not, go somewhere else. Maurizio, USA

Q 2739: I'm looking for a piece of marble of appropriate size and make of stone to carve. dimensions, (1.25',1.25',1') What type of stone would be suitable for sculpting. Paulvin, Sept 15, Reply

R1: Paulvin. You do not indicate where in the world you are located, but rest assured, marble is a fairly common stone no matter where you are. Here in the states, good sculptural marble comes from Colorado (Yule marble) , Vermont ( Danby marble), Georgia, and Tennessee amongst other sources.
By the way, marble averages
around 170 to 180 lbs/ cubic foot, so a piece the size you've indicated will weigh in the nieghborhood of 260 to 270 lbs. Good luck, JVC,