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ADVICE WANTED!  

July 31, 2002

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Kitchen



Q 2331: We're considering using 12 x 12 Dakota Mahogany granite tiles for kitchen countertops. We saw bullnoses that match several types of granite tiles (at The Great Indoors), but not Dakota Mahogany. Any idea if bullnoses are available in Dakota Mahogany? Christi, July 29

R1: Dear Christi, You can put a bullnose on almost any rock type, including Dakota Mahogany. But are you sure that you want to use this granite for kitchen tops! And why tiles rather than slab??? Have a good look at the quality of the surface at the right angle for reflections - there are a number of minerals in this granite which tend to pit. Dr. Hans, Australia

Q 2323: We are planning a granite kitchen island and are concerned about finding a slab that will be large enough, since we don't want to have a seam. Right now, the island is 8'x5' (at its widest point). I was hoping that we could make it slightly longer but were told that we wouldn't find a slab longer than 8'. Is that true? Is even 8x5 too big to give a us reasonable choice among slabs? Sabrina, July 28,

R3: We just remodeled our kitchen and had granite installed on countertops and an island that is . We purchased slabs that were 5' X 10'. Our island was done with one solid piece. There should be a supplier who carries large slabs, but it also depends on the particular pattern you choose. Some patterns only come in certain size slabs. Good luck. Carolyn, USA

 

R1: Dear Sabrina, It is partly true that 8 x 5 is getting close to the upper limits of many commercial granite slabs. However, in a well-stocked slab yard with slabs that have been gang-sawn you should find some granite slabs that are slightly longer (9ft) and up to 6 ft high. There are a number of considerations here that you should be aware of. When granite blocks of that size are quarried there are serious weight limitations in lifting machinery at the quarry, lifting machinery at the processing plant, and for transport. A block of that size can approach 16 - 20 tons depending on its composition (and width). There are also limitations as to the length and height of blocks for some processing plants. Having said that find a granite that you like, the quarry, and ask them for details of their block sizes and for processors who might have the right equipment to cut blocks of longer length. Some of the granite blocks that I quarry to order are up to 3.5m long but then only one processor has the saw that can process it. I was recently asked to quarry an obelisk 10 meters long with a base of 1.5m. No problem, but the lifting and processing logistics were too much. Dr. Hans, Australia 

Q 2318: We have been interested in St. Cecilia (light) for our kitchen counters, but 
now I am a little concerned because Maurizio said in a previous post that it was "borderline." Why exactly is this so? Is this something we should stay clear of and if so what would be a good alternative? Stephanie, July 27,

R1: Dear Stephanie: When I say borderline I mean "my" borderline! Many say that I am my own worst customer! St. Cecilia, if treated with the right sealer in the right way is going to be an enjoyable choice.
Why do I define it borderline? Well, because, unfortunately, even the best impregnator / sealers are just as good as the operator who applies them, and St. Cecilia is one of those stone that needs a caring and knowledgeable professional to do the job right. Let me give an example: At a certain point in time one of my best dealers discontinued buying the sealer that I make. I asked him if there were any problems and he candidly told me that he had a 
problem selling it because the back label of the can recommended to wait for at least 24 hours between application (St. Cecilia would need between 3 to 4 applications), and the contractors buying the product didn't like the idea to go back to the same place for two or three days in a row to seal a piece of stone! So, my dealer decided to carry another product from the competition. Can that particular product be used differently? Of course not: Every single stone sealer under the sun has to be applied with an interval of at least 24 hours in between applications, but the manufacturer of that particular product was clearly a better salesman that I, and wrote on the directions that the following applications could be done after only half an hour. And THAT, even if it's a lie, would fit the schedules of the contractors better than my product! Now, do you understand what borderline means in my book? Maurizio, USA

A 2142: I have frequently read that light colored granites, primarily because they are less dense than dark colored granites, are either unsuitable as countertops or at best much more difficult to maintain. My questions are: does this generality vary much among the different types of light colored granite or more from slab to slab w/in the different colors? Also, besides the lemon juice test is there a way to check for porosity there at the slab yard? Last, is there a reliable place to check for average abrasion resistance rates for a specific color (for example Colonial Dream White/Blanco) or is that, like porosity, a slab by slab variation. Mary, June 30,

R1: Dear Mary: True geological granite is either white, or light gray (the Italian Bianco Sardo -- a.k.a. "Luna Pearl", or Grigio Sardo), or pinkish (The Spanish Rosa Porrino). There are a few domestic ones, out of New England, still in the whitish and light gray hue. Its porosity is medium (twice as much as the average marble) and it can be easily kept under control with a good-quality impregnator sealer. Many other light colored "granites" are in fact quite absorbent and not suitable -- at least in my book -- in a kitchen environment.
To find out if a "granite" is very porous at the yard, walk through it holding a cup of water in your hands. When you see a stone that grabs you, go there and rub some of the water on its surface. If you see that it gets dark right away ... away you go! Maurizio, USA 

A 2127: I am ( or was) just about to order Blue Pearl for my kitchen counters. After reading all the information on your site, I can't tell if getting granite is a good idea or not. (Or whether Blue Pearl is really granite. Does anyone have anything positive to say about the use of granite for countertops? My other choice is Corian but I'm not thrilled by a synthetic either. Help!!!! Lenore, July 27,

R1: Dear Lenore: GO FOR IT!! Blue Pearl -- an Anorthosite from Norway -- is a stone that for all the intents and purposes of a kitchen countertop is much better than geological granite, not to mention its unmatchable beauty. It's actually one of the best material available for the purpose: quite dense and needs no sealing. Not 
now, not ever. Just enjoy it!! Maurizio, USA

A 2067: I am in love with black HONED granite to use on our countertops and island. BUT the site sounds like I may be sorry if I go this route! We are doing a colonial revival with antique white cabinets and the combination looks beautiful. The polished black is too modern a look.
A. Should I forget it?
B. What type of black granite is best?
C. What's the sealing story? My UNSEALED sample has too many fingerprints so I am hoping sealing would help. Please give me info on black honed granite. I do not want super shine but it seems there are varying degrees of honing. What's best other than high gloss to prevent stains. I don't need to hone it to death. Where would I see a picture of medium or high hone and would they be more stain resistant? What's the best sealer and how often? I think this is better than soapstone which is too soft. Also whats thebest type of black granite to get if honing is our plan? 
Boy do you discourage Honed black...... Is There no hope if we medium hone it? Isn't there a better type to consider? Hate the high shine in our colonial home. HELP with some encouragement if possible. Kathryn, 
June 15,

R1: Dear Kathryn: Forget about the "you MAY be sorry" thing. You WILL be sorry, period, end of story, no debate and shut up!! :-)
There's no such a thing like a better black "granite". And as far as the finger marks, etc. thing goes, no sealer can prevent those. Impregnator/sealers for stone (which are not recommendable with black "granite" to begin with) only help preventing inbedded stains, not surface stains. That's the very reason why hone-finished black "granite" will drive you insane!
The only possibility to minimize the problem is to have a color enhancer applied to the countertop. This will turn the surface of the stone from gray to permanently black, but still with no shine. Maurizio, USA

A 2022: We have installed Emser Antique White Travertine in our master bath 3 weeks ago, and were planning on installing it in the kitchen also. But were informed, (after it was laid) by the tile contractor, that travertine is extremely porous, scratches easily, and is easily broken. He also told us that walking on it with shoes will scratch and possibly break it. He left a natural stone enhancer telling me to seal both the stone and grout with it twice, 10 days apart. I did this and so far seem to have no problems with it. He suggests installing corain, or a ceramic tile in the kitchen. We want to stay with a durable light colored natural stone to last years, through our 9 month old daughter, a declawed cat, and a Boxer puppy. Christy, June 5,

R1: Dear Christy: While I never heard of this "Emser Antique White Travertine" if it is travertine and it's finished with a matt finish (honed), then you shouldn't worry too much about it's maintenance requirement. Of the three statements proffered to you by your contractor, only one is correct, namely that travertine scratches relatively easy (not any more, however, than all marbles and compact limestone). In fact, it's not very porous; contrary to popular misconception the scientific truth is that it's a stone which is just as dense as most compact limestone (which in turn are denser than marble). As far as the idea that it breaks easy is concerned, it shouldn't happen if they executed the installation properly. If the installation is not well executed, even ceramic or granite will break.
The application of the color enhancer did not hurt your stone, but won't do much good to it in terms of protection. The right intelligence about its daily maintenance will go a much longer way than the application of a color enhancer. But it doesn't seem to me like they gave you much of that, did they! Maurizio, USA
 

A 2020: I happened upon the Findstone site today....and received quite an education. I have a  question...and I hope you can help. I am redoing my kitchen. It will consist of commercial appliances -- and have that 'look' as well. I really, really dislike Corian and granite. I am planning to have Carrara countertops...but read where you said that Carrara should never be used in the kitchen. Why?!?!? I know very little about marble...but, I remember my grandpa Menotti always used Cararra in the bakery. I greatly appreciate any help you can offer! Thank you. Deborah. June 4,

R1: Dear Deborah: I am one of the fiercest advocates against the use of marble in a kitchen as a material for a countertop. However, there's nothing wrong with using marble in a kitchen.
So, now, what's the story here?! ...Well, there's nothing wrong for as long as one accepts the idea that their White Carrara marble (or any other marble, for that matter), will end up looking like the one of your grandpa's bakery, that is, all stained, scratched, worn down and beat up!
It's not the case with the vast majority of the American and North European consumers, to whom even the smallest blemish represents a major issue. In consideration of the preponderant general scenario, marble is certainly not the right choice for a kitchen, but if you accept it for what it is and -- most importantly -- for what it will get to look over years of intensive use, then there's no law that says the you can't use it. Of course, you'll want it with a hone finish (not polished, that is) like your grandpa's. To minimize staining you will also want to consider having it sealed with a good-quality impregnator / sealer for stone. Hone-finished marble is more absorbent that its polished counterpart. Maurizio, USA
 

A 2019: I'm considering Caesar stone for my kitchen worktop. How does it compare with granite for heat resistance and general wearability. Stuart, June 4,  

R1: Dear Stuart: As you probably know, Ceasarstone (Which to the best of my knowledge is not available in the US) is a so-called "engineered stone," which is a fancy name for manmade (94% granite chips mixed with 6% epoxy resin, if memory serves me right). Wearability wise is comparable to "granite." It does not need to be sealed, but, due to the presence of the resin, I don't think that's as heat-resistent as "granite." I personally like "granite" better, providing that one can choose the right one. Maurizio, USA 

A 1957: I'm in the process of having a new home built. I absolutely love travertine and have already picked it out and am having it installed in the master bath counter tops, shower, vanity, and floor. I've got my heart set on having it installed in my entry way, hall way, living room, dining room, and kitchen (all downstairs except for family room). To me, the look of real stone just doesn't compare to porcelin or tile. There are a lot of salespeople out there who are advising me to not put travertine on my kitchen floor. On the other hand, I have a friend who has had it for over 5 years and says it's been easy to maintain and that I should go for the real stone. She thinks that a lot of salespeople scare people away from real stone just because they'll make a better profit on selling something else. I just don't want to make a mistake that I'll have to live with for years to come. What input do you have? Should I be afraid of a travertine kitchen floor? Brenda, May 23,

R1: Dear Brenda: Either your friend never cooks, or she has a low-hone-finished travertine in her kitchen floor. There are no other options. If you like it polished, then the salespeople are 100% right and your friend 100% wrong. By the way, they make more money when they sell stone, than when they sell tiles! Maurizio, USA

A 1946: I am in the process of trying to decide on kitchen countertops and wonder what your thoughts are on SileStone? It seems granite does have a few drawbacks like staining and such, that quartz does not. The configuration of the kitchen will allow 3 separate pieces of countertop, all under 5', so seams are not an issue. Any comments? Renee, Arlington, VA, May 21,

R1: Dear Renee: . Go read the issue about selecting a good fabrication facility (and stone) and see if it can help you decide to buy natural stone over engineered one. Maurizio, USA

A 1933: We are having Indian Premium Black HONED countertops installed in our kitchen next week. The fabricators just brought us a large sample to test. They put sealer on one part and enhanced sealer on another. We are finding that anything with oil is staining the granite. After reading your excellent site we are wondering if we should just have them apply the color enhancer and no sealer at all. Will we lose the grey color that we like? However we are willing to do that as long as we still have the mat look we want. . Susan, May 20.

R1: Dear Susan: I'm afraid that you didn't read our "excellent site" long and hard enough. If 
you did, you would have never considered black granite with a hone finish!! If you can get out of the contract, do so! If you can't, apply the color enhancer and no sealer. Yes, it will become black, but at least it will be almost manageable, maintenance wise. You can't have both ways! Maurizio, USA

A 1922: Hi. I am considering using limestone graphite on our kitchen counter, but there is only one place in Vancouver that has it (I think it's from Italy), and I cannot find any info Esther, May 17,

R1: Dear Esther: If I were you I'd move out of Vancouver, BC and go somewhere else where you will make sure that nobody carries that stone. Maurizio, USA

A 1880: We're looking at using granite in a new kitchen. Some questions, in a green granite are there any that are less absorbent than others? Some sites provide the absorbency percentage for a granite - what's the rule of thumb for low medium and high absorbency . what about density? I have 4 samples and did the lemon test leaving lemon juice on them overnight I couldn't detect any marks. I also left some olive oil on them, on one it soaked in - lemon okay oil no - would this be a good candidate for a counter? Paul, May 15.

R1: The question regarding suitability, is that with the addition of an impregnator that product would be fine for a kitchen. Regarding your other questions, there is not a general rule that can be applied except that when represented as a % any granite that is .12 or less is low absorbency, .12-.23 medium and .23-.34 on the upper edge of absorbency that could be managed with properly applied and maintained impregnator. Most stones that are suitable for a kitchen application are going to contain felsic and mafic minerals. Steven, USA

A 1842:A client who wants a honed slab stone for kitchen counters that looks like limestone and is non porous. Anything like this out there in a natural stone?, Karen, May 14.

R2: Dear Karen: The answer could be a variety of stones, but the ones that comes to my mind would be hone-finished beige marble (Crema Marfil, Botticino), or Travertine (contrary to popular misconception, travertine is a quite dense stone), still with a hone-finish. The application of a good-quality stone impregnator is advisable to help eliminate the (though naturally limited) absorbency factor. In most cases 1 application of a stone impregnator for non-porous stones will do plenty.
Keep in mind, however, that the typical hone-finish delivered by the factories and / or fabrication facilities is a "medium" hone, which means that there's still a certain degree of shine. This finish will get damaged by acidic spills (lemonade, orange juice, vinegar, tomato sauce, salad dressing, etc., through a loooong list!) or by the use of wrong cleaning agents. Such surface damages will appear in the form of duller spot that look like "water stains", or "water rings". Of course, they are neither. They are marks of corrosion left behind by the acids, and no sealer could help preventing them, because they are related exclusively to the chemical makeup of the stone, not it's porosity. A low-hone-finish (totally flat, with no sheen whatever) is therefore recommended. The damages will still occur, but wouldn't be visible. To obtain that, either the fabricator knows how to do it with the honing elements available at their shop, or the surface could be acid washed with a mild solution of water and muratic acid (available at any hardware store). Maurizio, USA

R1: Try honed Caesarstone first. In light color stones I doubt you can find one that when honed, will meet your requirements. Steven, USA 

A 1884: Please tell me more about travertine in the kitchen as a counter--is there any useful substitute?? I love the look, Guthire, May 15.

R2: Dear Guthire: You have to define "useful substitute" for me! As all calcite-based stones, travertine is not suitable as a material for a  kitchen countertop (unless, of course, nobody uses the kitchen!). But I've seen a few happy campers with a low-hone-finished travertine (flat finish, with no sheen whatever) on their kitchen counters. It would need to be sealed 
with a low density impregnator for stone (that is, for stones that are not very porous).
Further down this page you'll also find an answer of mine to another inquirer on the same subject. Maurizio, USA

R1: Dear Guthire, Why not look at a fine-grained beige-coloured granite instead - something like Brisbane Beige. It should be available in parts of the US. Dr. Hans, Australia  

A 1882: Hi- I was reading many of the Q/A that were posted and it seems that granite is the best counter top option. I am purchasing Muslin colored stained Kraftmaid maple cabinets (light ivory stain) and was looking for a taupy beige granite. Many of the ones I have seen are so dotty or busy- is there any that are neutral and don't have black in them? (I guess I was liking the look of marble and trying to find a granite that was similar) Also, are there any other solid counter tops options that are more affordable than granite- (I haven't been able to find one- either mica at the low end or granite being the best solution for the high end) Some people are telling me that granite is too trendy and not to spend the $$$. Help! Darlene, May 15.

R1: Dear Darlene: As far as the trendy thing is concerned, to the best of my knowledge 
"granite" has been trendy since the Ancient Romans, that is since mankind  learned how to quarry it. I believe it's safe to say that it's going to be trendy for at least another 2,500 years!! Maurizio, USA

 

A 1816: Hi- I am reading the posted questions on problems with stains on granite kitchen countertops. Is there one type or color most resistant or better choice than other? I am debating whether or not it is worth the expense to install granite vs formica. Darlene, May 14.

R1: There are many stone counters that won't have that problem. Typically, they will be either dark or resined. Use the absorption test listed here to help you educate yourself. You can always write back when you found a couple. Steven, USA  

A 1805: We asked our builder to put granite counter top in our new house after looking at the sample in design center. Later we found out the granite that builder installed in the kitchen has totally different color and pattern, nothing looks like the sample. Although we understand there may have some variations, we still feel very disappointed. And we are not sure how to talk to the builder? Would you please give us some suggestions? Jun, May 14.

R1: I suggest you say to him exactly what you said to us. Since we have no idea what color or pattern you have it would difficult to help you more. Steven, USA 

A 1802:At what temperature will a granite countertop crack, Benusa, May 14.

R2: It depends on many variables. Many times it is not just heat but rapid cooling that will let granite crack. Other variables are veins, fissures, stone type, and how long heat was applied. Steven, USA

R1: Dear Benusa: It much depends from the thickness of the granite. In the case of a 2cm slab it will probably take a few thousands degree Farenheit. If it is "granite" instead (which is approximately 98% of the instances), it's anybody guess. I still wouldn't worry about it. Maurizio, USA 

A 1795: I'm having Honed Absolute Granite countertops installed in my Kitchen. Is this material suitable for a countertop? I have been reading mixed reviews of its use. I do a fair amount of cooking and am concerned about how they will appear after a years worth of use. I often hear of water spots and oil stains. I clean up after every use but obviously I use a wet cloth to clean with. Should I change my order before it is to late? Ben De, May 14.

R2: Recognize that black when honed is gray. Now every time it gets wet or oil hits it it will be black there. Does it hurt the stone? NO. Does it drive consumers batty? It appears so.
Steven, USA

R1: Dear Ben: YES, BY ALL MEANS, CHANGE YOUR ORDER! You do not want black absolute granite with a hone finish as a countertop in your kitchen. It WILL be a maintenance nightmare, due to all sorts of surface stains (not imbedded, mind you -- the stone itself is quite dense and does not absorb anything. In fact black granite does not need to be sealed with an impregnator, which wouldn't the first of your problems anyway).  If it's too late, to minimize the maintenance problem I encourage you to have a good-quality color-enhancer applied into it. It will turn the whole thing black, but it will still be dull. Maurizio, USA 

A 1786: After reading advice on your website, I can see that I have to choose the 'granite' for my kitchen countertops carefully. Some quarries publish the ASTM test results, but what values of absorption by weight, hardness and flexural strength would be considered 'excellent', 'good', 'satisfactory' or 'poor' for kitchen countertop? Neil May 14.

R1: Neil, Don't make it so complicated. Find the stone you like. Check the absorbency by using the lemon juice test or drop some oil on it. You can always email us when you found one you like to ask us our opinion. Last time I checked we seem to be an opinionated bunch that likes to express it. Steven, USA

A 1760: I would like to have countertops in my new kitchen like the countertops of high school chemistry days. I understand that to be honed slate. What can I expect in terms of care (the problems seem to be in NOT using impregnators, waxes, etc.) and how does honed slate compare in performance and cost (installed) to other popular solid-surface materials such as granite, marble, Corian and soapstone? Patty, April 25.

R2: Patty, Don't let them put you off slate for a countertop! Buckingham Virginia Slate makes some of the most beautiful counters I have ever seen. As for maintenance, not much really. Seal it. If the " Honed" appearance starts to look a little dull, try a small amount of linseed oil rubbed lightly into the surface. Enjoy! Mikki, USA.

R1: Well the slate requires more maintenance. I remember that our chemistry labs actually had soapstone. I find this material easier to have than slate. Cost wise I think a New England slate is comparable in cost to soapstone. The problem is probably more correctly identified as slate is softer than other natural stones used in a kitchen setting. Steven, USA  

A 1759: I am now thoroughly confused. Where is Verde Tropical from and is it a good choice for a kitchen counter? Can you knead bread on this type of counter (or any other granite counter) or will the fats in the dough discolor the counter? Upon reading this web  site you can either conclude that granite is practically impervious or that only a person interested in spending their life maintaining the granite would actually choose it!  I have old fashioned formica right now but at least if I use a hot plate I can clean up stains. Is granite, specifically Verde Tropical, a practical solution for a person who actually cooks in her kitchen? Stephanie, April 25.

R2: There are certainly drawbacks to any type of countertop material but granite is definitely the most durable product of them all. While it is true that oils have an impact on granite I would not call it a discoloration. Oils in general, whether from cooking or from your own skin will darken the stone. This can be minimized, but not eliminated, with the use of a good penetrating sealer. Lynn, USA

R1: I am not sure as to the designation. However I think that the product you are referring to is from Brazil. What you should conclude from my previous answers is that there is not one correct answer in regards to stone. Different stones have different requirements as do different consumers. I also think that if you incorporate the lemon juice test to assess absorption you will have your answer. I encourage you and everyone else who asks to be proactive in the selection of countertops. The reason I can't specifically answer your question is that different products are called different things in different places. Steven, USA

A 1739: Hello, we are remodeling our kitchen and we are a bit confused to what materials to use for the countertop. We LOVE the look of granite yet we are not sure about the care - staining, scratching, etc. Can you advise what is the best for looks, care, and resale? Mary, April 20.

R2: A good low absorbtion granite would fit the requirement nicely. Steven, USA

R1: The looks of granite are not the only selling point. It is the most durable of all the products available. Staining and scratching should be of minor concern. The lighter granites will darken when exposed to oils from hands or cooking but generally this is over a period of time. This can be minimized by using a good penetrating sealer. Scratching should not be a concern in that the only material harder than granite is diamonds. You can, in fact, dull your knife by cutting on a granite countertop. If there is a disadvantage to using granite it is that it is VERY hard. Dropping a glass or dish will guarantee breakage. There are also design limitations because fabrication requires specialized tools and makes features in solid surface impossible to reproduce in granite. Lynn, USA  

A 1738: What type of granite is right for a kitchen countertop? Joanne, April 20.

R1: The one you like the best and fits your lifestyle. Steven, USA  

A 1722: We are considering replacing our formica countertops in the kitchen with either granite or quartz. We are concerned with water sealing and staining. The contractor who would do the granite mentioned impregnating it with a fluorocarbon (new?) v/s silicon sealing. Can you provide information on the sealing/impregnation of granite? Also thoughts on granite v/s quartz? (We have heard the quartz does not have the water/staining issues associated with granite.) Nickie, April 17.

R1: Some stones require impregnators others don't. Select what appeals to you then use the absorption test listed on this website to test. Steven, USA

A 1718: Though this site is full of innovative ways to either clean or find solution to issues regarding a variety of countertop alternatives, seems to me that some of these problems might be avoided up front by creating 'inset' wood or tile areas into those countertop work areas that will come under heavy 'artillery' or heavy 'fire'. Why not set into those granite, corian or marble countertops, some nice, inexpensive-to- replace, tile squares adjacent to an oven/range for use as trivets for those hot pots and dishes? OR some nice butcher block pieces to be inset into the 'cutting' area of ones counter to avoid scratching or 'surface abuse' upon certain areas of ones kitchen countertops? 
Let's face it. Kitchens are meant to be used. Normal wear and tear on ANY product will result in an eventual 'face lift'. Preventative maintenance is the key. Either thru use of a good sealant or by 'freelancing it' and employing inset ceramic tiles or wood blocks directly into ones countertop. Just another thought. Jacqui. April 17. Reply

R1: The wear and tear you associate with normal use would also affect the products you describe. The key to the equation is matching expectations with specific products. When it comes to counters, consumers, or stone there is not a "one size fits all" policy that will succeed. Rather the kitchen should be tailored specifically to the person or family using it. 
Steven, USA
 

A 1711: I need information on LINEAR and LINEAR FEET ---- what is it? what is its relation to countertop / sink edge finishing? Warren, April 15.

R1: The linear measure is the running 12" divided unit typically used to derive front edge and sink pricing. Steven, USA 

A 1709: What would be the problems with using limestone as a counter top? April 14.  

R4: Definitely not a good choice for counter top, mainly for two reasons :-
1) Not possible to have stone polished enough/not hard enough.
2) Gets dirty very quickly and difficult to clean because surface not smooth. a) Gets stained easily and when liquids spilt on it, they are absorbed very easily. A.Vaziri. 

R3: How much time do you have? Limestone will scratch and stain like no other material. If you like the "much used" look, this is the stone for you. Lynn, USA

R2: It depends on where the counter is. In a kitchen, it would deteriorate and stain. In a bath or as a display counter it, could be fine. Steven, USA

R1: Limestone is a soft stone and if the surface is not processed with special epoxy and polish it will not be feasible to use as counter top because it can get inside every liquid and will have stains on the surface, besides its polish will be affected by any acidic material. It is better to use granite. Behiye, Turkey.

A 1702: I have friends with granite countertops that stain and mar easily, and know others with counters that seem pretty impervious. I want the least porous toughest granite I can get, and don't care a whole lot about color. Advice please. Adrienne, April 14.

R1: Dear Adrienne, go back to your friends who had the seemingly impervious granite and ask them what it is and what they think of its performance. Odds on it would be a dark granite - dark grey, black or dark red. Blacks tend to be the softest of the three, dark red the hardest. It is difficult to scratch the dark red varieties and there are quite a few around. Check them out on Findstone. (Dr. Hans), Australia

A 1655: I am also curious which products you recommend to seal a honed black granite countertop, since we are trying to decide between black absolute polished versus honed for our kitchen. Polished is pretty but I'm afraid it is too mirror-like for me. However, I've heard various things about honed: some say it's porous and troublesome and must be sealed a lot, and others say it's even easier to care for than the polished granite. I don't know whom to believe anymore. 
Also...one installer we spoke with said he would only do honed for us if we signed a release, b/c none of his customers have been happy with it. He says the color is not uniform, it is more "splotchy" and people are disappointed when they see the finished product. What is your opinion about this? Yvonne, April 5. Reply

R1: Dear Yvonne: I hope is not too late! Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT even think about honed black granite!! It's not porous, but troublesome aplenty it is!! Polished black "granite" -- if you can live with the shine -- is very, very, VERY enjoyable, and easy to maintain if you use the right products! Maurizio, USA 

A 1646: I'm ready for kitchen countertops and question is the functionality of granite
vs. quartz products
. I realize that different "granites" will differ in porosity, density etc. The quartz products (Silestone and Cambria) have me sold on their resistance to staining but I can't ignore the "3-dimensional" beauty of granite vs. the "2-dimensional" appearance of the synthetics. Beauty is important but not at the expense of long-term durability, maintenance, appearance etc. The bids I've received for both granite and quartz are comparable. I have no experience with any of the above materials. Have you heard of any negatives concerning the quartz products or have you had any experience with them? The granite fabricator says that almost every stain can be removed--true? I have not chosen a color in any of the products (I find the darker varieties of granite especially beautiful) but would probably lean toward lighter (tan/beige) countertops to hide fingerprints. I'm not looking for maintenance free as long as the maintenance will prevent staining, degradation of appearance etc. Dan, April 4.

R3: Dear Dan: I personally like the real thing better (but then again, I'm a hard-core stone guy), but I can fully appreciate your concerns about maintenance issues, mostly -- but not limited to -- related to the degree of absorbency of the different "granites."   Maurizio, USA

R2: By talking to a fabricator, specifically one that handles both materials, you will find the answer you need. The answer is simple, once the research is done correctly. Rob, USA

R1: I am a granite fabricator and owner of a small shop. With all that said, the bottom line is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that there are pros and cons for all surfaces. What I recommend to my clients is to take large pieces of the surfaces they are contemplating and simply put them in their home and use and abuse at will. One of the surfaces will eventually draw the homeowners to it. Garner, USA. 

A 1645: We are looking into kitchen counter options for our house. We do not like the highly polished look of most granite that we see. Would you recommend honed granite or some other surface? If you suggest granite, is there a type we should look for that would be more durable. Michelle, April 4.

R1: Dear Michelle: If you don't like the polished look of granite, stay away from it. Honed granite is NOT OK! Maurizio, USA

A 1598: I am in the process of finding an installer for granite counter tops in my kitchen. Instead of asking questions after installing, what should I be looking for from the supplier as far as factory applied sealers, maintenance, density of stone, any particular colors that are better against staining/wear and tear? Also I see your name in recommendations as a supplier of sealers, can you give me more info on your business? Eric, March 27.  

R1: Dear Eric: Are you talking to me?  Maurizio, USA  

A 1597: Hi I learnt a lot from your column about granite, but one thing I wanted to know is that - is it easy to clean granite or Corian counter tops which have been stained with turmeric or oil? Which is better in this respect - granite or Corian? I have to decide soon  since I am having a home built and the builder is giving Corian as the standard and granite as the upgrade. Indira, March 26.

R1: The absorption of Corian is not bad. Its ability to be stained is high though. The answer for both is it depends on the color you choose. Try the absorption (lemon juice test to test the granite). As a natural stone site we will have a bias in that direction however. Steven, USA  

A 1596: We're looking into a countertop for an island.  Approximately 50 sq. ft. granite, we were told would cost us about $1400.00 to $1500.00 installed.  We can't spend this much money. Is there something you can recommend?  We would like one solid surface that's very durable. Do you know anything about Caesar Stone?  Durability, upkeep? . Pam, March 26.

R1: Dear Pam: Ceasar stone is a very enjoyable material, but for all I know is not much cheaper than natural granite (at least not here in NE of the US).   Maurizio, USA

A 1585: Wow - what a lot of info this site provides. Commentary on the different granites leads me to double check on Madura Gold. As a kitchen counter top will it be tough and appropriate. Second question - I have a lovely soapstone sink in a workroom - what do I oil it with to keep its color? Jackie, March 24. Reply

R1: Dear Jackie: As far as your "granite" counter top goes,   For your soapstone top you need to use mineral oil. Maurizio, USA  

A 1574: I am looking at Jupurana Gold granite slabs for a kitchen countertop. Can any one comment on its porosity and general suitability for this usage vs other "granites". John. March 21.

R2: Dear John: Yes, I can. Despite what some salesman will try to say to you, DON'T. Maurizio, USA

R1: Yes, It is more porous and less suitable for active kitchens where spills are not cleaned as soon as they happen. In order to find the stone that suits you assess your lifestyle and then select colors. Expect to do maintenance. Accept the materials characteristics as fundamentals that won't change. Get care and maintenance guidelines when you purchase the countertops. Steven, USA

A 1548: We are looking at granite slabs for our kitchen and are becoming increasingly frustrated by the process. We don't seem to be able to get a straight answer from anyone. It is almost as if we have encountered some secret society! Our original granite choice (Blue Lorenzo, Blue Volga and who knows how many other names it goes by-) was estimated at $11,000 by the fabricator working with our kitchen designer. It was suggested we choose a less expensive piece of granite, yet when I asked for a cost breakdown of the estimate, I was told that the fabricators did not break down the cost of the materials from the cost of the actual fabrication. Furthermore, when I went to several of the wholesale showrooms to look for "less expensive" pieces of granite, I was told they could not give out granite prices and that we should a fabricator. 
Are fabrication costs linked to the specific granite slab? Do more expensive granite slabs cost more to fabricate? Can you recommend alternative granites to Blue Volga that are less expensive? 
Am I unrealistic in asking for a cost breakdown? I know the granite itself is not that pricey-that between landing on the dock and reaching my countertop there are a number of mark ups-I just want to be sure that the prices I am paying are legitimate and appropriate. Kathey, March 17,

R5: Kathy, I am a fabricator and shop owner. The feedback was all correct. Shop around and get at least three bids on your job. If you would like a totally unbiased opinion then call my wife. She does our bids, and she can look over your secret plans and give you feedback. Garnar, USA.

R4: Kathey: You have picked a beautiful but very expensive granite for your countertops. As a fabricator, I can tell you that the labor prices do not vary by material, it is the material cost that varies. Granites that I buy from China are a fraction of the cost of those that come from Russia or Norway. It is not customary to provide a customer with a breakdown of their estimate as this provides them the opportunity to shop this around with other fabricators. As long as you are comparing apples to apples when seeking bids, then you should get good estimates. I must admit that $11,000 sounds high but that could well be because you are in a market that does not have enough fabricators to keep them pricing competitively. There are many granites that may please you and perhaps you should pick several and get prices on all. One that you may like that is less expensive is Emerald Pearl. Another option for less expensive material is to opt for 2cm instead of 3cm.thickness It is generally about 30% cheaper. Good luck. Lynn, USA

R3: Dear Kathey: Welcome to the "secret society" of the stone industry! 
Nobody can force your fabricator to disclose how much is their calculation for the cost of the "granite", but, in my own experience as a fabricator, Blue Volga (an anorthosite,  excellent choice) is more expensive than average (demand & supply, as always), but it should not add more than an extra $10 a square foot. But, then, it's a free country!! ... 
The other side of the coin to the "free country" thing is that you're free to say good bye to your current fabricator and go somewhere else. Many tradesman are only arrogant until they realize that they are going to lose the deal! 
Other Anorthosites (when top-notch quality) are not much less expensive than Blue Volga. 
Shop around, man, shop around! Just tell your kitchen designer, in non uncertain terms, that you're not happy with the attitude of the fabricator and that you WILL consider someone else, period. What do you think is going to happen? Maurizio, USA

R2: From what I understand prices of granite depend greatly on shipping. ex. India, Brazil, Canada, etc. Marmar, USA. 

R1: Kathey, You are frustrated. It is not a matter of multiple mark ups. It is a matter of Volga Blue has a lot of pits and fractures. It is sometimes difficult to fabricate. In the type of blue you have selected there are not any less expensive alternatives. Steven, USA

A 1531: I just found on the internet a company which claims that Jerusalem stone is LESS porous than limestone and GOOD for countertops??!! Also other internet references led me to believe this. Are there different types? Fisher. March 13.

R2: Yes there are different types & strengths of limestone, HOWEVER, you should obtain ASTM testing results to see what modulus of rupture, flex & compressive strengths & most importantly - Absorption rates are. 
If you are considering ANY limestone for a KITCHEN countertop - this would be my advice to you - DON'T USE IT IN A KITCHEN !!! Limestone has calcium in it which, if the limestone is finely honed or polished, will ETCH and produce a dull spot if exposed to acid. Limestone will also stain if exposed to a concentrated staining agent (i.e: red wine, grape jelly, ketchup, mustard, salsa, etc) Here in Arizona, Many homes have limestone used on the floors & countertops in bathrooms, BUT NEVER IN A KITCHEN. I hope that this helps.... KMP, USA

R1: Dear Fisher: I'm glad to see you were skeptical. It's a lie. You do NOT want Jerusalem stone -- or any other limestone, for that matter -- as a countertop natural for your kitchen. Porosity is not the issue, the natural chemical makeup of all limestones and marbles (Calcite) is, and there's no product on the market (sealers of what-have-you) that can overcome the problem related to calcite-based stones (sensitivity to pH active substances.) Maurizio, USA

A 1518: Hi! I have read many of the comments and enjoy the knowledge. I am looking for kitchen countertops. Like the look of Pietra del Cardosa, along with honed black granite but as you said, am afraid of stains and problems being that I have kids. I also love limestone but know that is not at all practical. I really hate the look of granite- the high polish as well as the multitude of design in the stone - I want something rustic and simple. Any thoughts on this? Was wondering where in New Jersey you operate, Maurizio! Many Madeline, March 11,

R3: Madeline: We are a fabricator that has begun importing granite with a "new" finish we are calling Venezian. Instead of the slabs being processed with a polished finish they acquire a slight texture and have a matte finish. The texture resembles a rock that has been underwater for some time and the softer aspects have gradually washed away. It has a rather smooth feel. As for maintenance, it requires regular sealing as most granites do. If you are working with a fabricator now, talk with them about finding a source for this finish.
Lynn, USA

R2: Dear Madeline: What you're looking for calls for types of stone none of which I would want in my own kitchen. Maybe soapstone is what I consider the least of all evils! I operate all over New Jersey, but I am headquartered in Central Jersey.   
Maurizio, USA

R1: Try Cypress Wood Counter tops - My mother had them and absolutely loved them they were rustic yet beautiful and very functional - Polyurethane works wonders. Skip the stone and go for the wood. I am telling you this even though we install granite counter tops. Rebecca, USA. 

A 1513: What is the preferred thickness to use for granite kitchen countertops? Marjorie, March 11,

R3: Marjorie: Rebecca is correct, it is whatever you prefer. We have a fabrication shop which use 2cm almost exclusively. The market, in general, has gone to 3cm but I believe that is driven by designers and fabricators unwilling to work with the thinner granite slabs. 2cm material is about 30% cheaper if that has any bearing in the matter. Under mount sinks look great and, in fact, I have this in my kitchen and love it. Lynn, USA 

R2: Dear Marjorie: I personally prefer, and, consequently, always encourage my customers to choose, the 2 cm. with laminated edge. Maurizio, USA 

R1: The preferred thickness for granite counter tops is whatever you prefer. Any of the thickness should be very adequate. Rebecca, USA

Maurizio, If you don't mind answering this question again, why do you prefer 2 cm? Because of the less weight? Does it look as good with under mount sinks? Carolyn, March 22.

A 1500: We just purchased a builder's model house which has honed granite countertops. The builder told us the honed finish makes fingerprints less visible. I would actually prefer a more glossy and vivid appearance (the way the countertops look when they are wet), but do appreciate the fingerprint aspect since we have four children. I do not know what kind of granite this is, but it is overall gunmetal gray in appearance, with dark taupe and black grains.
My questions: - What are the pros and cons of a honed finish? 
-The builder did not mention anything about sealing. Would a sealer be able to make the surface a bit shinier? Or a polish?
- If the surface is not sealed, will it gradually get duller and duller?
- Does granite normally require periodic resurfacing? For countertops, typically how often? 
Thanks for any help you can give. Pat, March 7, Reply

R3: Pat, It varies from granite to granite, The sealer would depend on type of granite you have. A few types would not require a sealer, because of there resistance to stains. If you use acidic and oily substances, and do not clean them readily, this will also have a bearing on how often you seal the granite (if it is a
granite that needs sealing). Good luck .........Roger, USA

R2: Dear Pat: If it is Charcoal Gray like it sounds, you don't need to have it sealed. The stone absorbs just about nothing. The finish that you have now will never change and it WILL represent a maintenance nightmare (despite what the builder tells you). All types of surface stains (that no sealer would eliminate), including finger prints will be very obvious and a constant eyesore. I would try to have a color enhancer applied to it (after testing).  Maurizio, USA

R1: I would keep this stone on a regular sealing schedule. You make opt to seal with a color enhancing sealer but be sure to test the stone first. I would not put anything else on it. Your stone sounds like it might be Charcoal Gray Honed from Cold Springs. Is it a tight grain and very consistent? I have sold about 8 honed jobs in the last couple of years. LkCmbr, USA

Thanks for responding. Are you saying that the honed finish is what will cause the maintenance nightmare? If so, is it possible to have someone come in and refinish the granite to a more glossy surface (as our builder suggested)?  Pat, Reply 

A 1493: Help! I am trying to decide on granite countertops offered by the builder of my new home. The problem is that I cannot inspect the specific slab that will be installed in my home. Of course this means no lemon juice test on the slab. I have narrowed down the choices to Giallo Veneziano, Verde Lavres, Ubatuba and Dakota Mahogany. Which, if any, would be the safest bet without being able to view the slab. Are any prone to natural fissures, surface pitting or other issues that I should be concerned with? The only reason I am considering this is that there are a lot of other things I could do with a new house and the $8000+ that it would cost put in the countertops after the fact. Douglas, March 4.

R4: If it is a granite, you will have no problem with orange juice are acids, only oil and fat. If the counter top is by placement not the right one you can always say you don't like this and send it back before placement. Tiledoc,

R3: Dear Douglas: Personally I am not crazy about "inspecting the slab", but if I can't have a few pieces of scrap from whomever is going to get my 8K, I would go somewhere else, as simple as that. You don't have to stick with the builder, nor take their abuse. Just tell them in non uncertain terms that if you can't get a few pieces of scrap you'll go somewhere else. That should do it, al right! 
That said, Uba Tuba and Dakota Mahogany are very definitely the best choices among those you listed.
Maurizio, USA

R2: Trust me, you will not need to do the lemon juice test on granite. There is nothing that will damage the finish of polished granite. The finish is achieved with diamond impregnated polishing pads since diamonds are the only thing harder than granite. Red wine, citrus acid, etc will have no effect on granite. Marble is another matter entirely. All of the colors you mentioned are perfectly suited for kitchen use. Did you know that the only product which harbors less bacteria is stainless steel? So much for the solid surface industry claiming that it is porous and breeds bacteria. As for you question regarding pits or pores...we purchase epoxy or resin treated UbaTuba for cosmetic reasons only. There are usually hairline fissures in this material and the treatment will disguise that. Structurally, this material is more than adequate. Also, I do not know what area of the country you are in but you might want to do some more shopping for granite. $8,000 sounds high. Good luck. Lynn, USA

Dear Lynn: You're absolutely right, there's no need of the "lemon Juice test" on granite. But if one wants to take into consideration that tiny 98% of all the stones that are trades as granite but granite are not, then, maybe ... Ciao, Maurizio, USA 

R1: Insist upon viewing the slab. I was in the same situation with the builder of our home. Find out who they are purchasing the granite through & call them. I insisted upon knowing who they were using as a fabricator. (I found out I paid for the fab, the installer, the sales
guy to the builder, & the builder!!!!!) I could have cut out two middlemen - the sales guy & the builder!!! But, then I wanted the builders warranty (not just for counters, but cabinets, etc) Anyway, I called the builder's rep & insisted upon viewing slabs & he tried to dissuade me (we get slabs from Atlanta, Virginia, they are not locally available, blah, blah) I told him I'd make the drive to wherever I needed to go (we paid $7000 for these counters, I didn't care about an over night trip!!) I live in the Raleigh area. As it turns out, the fabricator they used was an hour away. (Funny, huh) The slab was delivered there. I drove up, had a long talk with the fab. Saw some inconsistencies on one of the slabs (Giallo Ornamental), & the fab suggested using that area for the sink cut out. He was very knowledgeable & I felt comfortable using these people. Also, be aware that Giallo Veneziano varies in coloring (this is one of the stones I started out with, Venetian Gold the other) some can be very peachy,
others golden. VIEW your slab!! My friend is stuck with a very gray Venetian Gold (did not view) - she hates it!! Another upside, I ended up going with a granite outside the builder's stock color choices! When I expressed concerns with the builders rep over color variations in the stones I mentioned earlier, he sent someone out with samples (I wanted a creamier not peachy background stone). I looked at all kinds of interesting stones. (not likely to be in most people's houses) Another alternative - I could have saved around $1500 to $2000 going around the builder. Have the builder put formica counters in your kitchen (ask them NOT to secure tops!!! Just lay them on) Have your granite person template after cabinets are in, & schedule installation for day after closing or shortly thereafter. If you go out on your own, you will have far more selection. Take measurements of counters, go to big box stores & get quotes on materials you like, this will give you an idea of what you will spend on your own. quotes through www.findstone.com Check reps thoroughly.
Also, I ed the person who showed us the samples & they came back & did a travertine kitchen backsplash (almost half the cost of going through thebuilder!) I am also having the upstairs bathroom done with Verde Marinache granite tops (looks live a river bed - flowing water & pebbles) Point is, I could have never gotten this through builder. 
Your builder wants your business - this is a very profitable area for them - INSIST, INSIST, INSIST!!!!! Wear them down or go elsewhere, knowing what I know now, I would NEVER not view my slab! Dan, USA,

A 1478: I am considering using soapstone for kitchen countertop. This seems to be popular in California. However, I am quite confused since the discussions in your website seem to be focusing on granite as the choice material for kitchen countertops. One other website claims the following "Soapstone is impervious to chemicals, acids, and heat. Low maintenance is another advantage: It resists food stains, and ordinary spills can easily be cleaned up with soap and water. If the countertop gets scratched, the scratch is easily removed with a light sanding". Can someone help resolve this dilemma - soapstone vs. granite? Faye, USA. Feb 27.

R1: Faye, The resolution will lie with you. The description you gave about soapstone is accurate. The comparison to granite is not apples to apples though. 
1) Most granites are polished and available in many colors. Soapstone start light gray and eventually oxidizes to a dark gray/green. You use mineral oil to help even out the oxidation. It is a matte finish also. 
2) Most granites will not easily scratch. therefore they would require professional tools and professional abilities to remove them.
3) Cost- most soapstone countertops are more expensive than granite countertops.
Hope this helped. Steven, USA,
 

A 1469: I have an opportunity to purchase a granite tile for my kitchen counter tops for China. I tested it for wine stains and sure enough it stained it but badly. I should tell you I did not seal it first. I did the lemon drop test and it went pretty well. My question: Can I absolutely install this stone and know I can remove wine stains should they occur? I need your unbiased opinion. Michael, Feb 23, 

R1: Michael, Don't be an idiot. You did a test and it performed poorly. NO! don't use it. How was that for unbiased? Steven, USA,  

A 1458: I am currently looking into white concrete or white corian because I was told that white limestone or white marble are too porous and will stain easily and need to be sealed multiple times a year. Ben, Feb 20.

R1: Well, I am not ing to dissuade you. I believe that you would be better suited using an engineered quartz product like Caesarstone over the Corian. The only thing I want to correct is the idea that marble is porous. It is not. It is just a calcium carbonate product that is soft and acid reactive. But then so is concrete and Corian. A light colored granite that does not need to be sealed multiple times per year is Bianco Sardo or Bianco Romano. They both need to be impregnated properly when 1st installed and checked based on how heavily used your kitchen is. The impregnation process is easy enough that I call it simple. Steven, USA,  

A 1446: How about using tumble marble as a black splash in a kitchen? Or what would be good against a granite counter top? Pat, Feb 16,

R1: Pat, The answer is whatever strikes your fancy. If you like tumbled marble then use it. Many other stones, ceramics, porcelains, and metals could be used also. You could also use wood bead board. Steven, USA,

A 1445: I have been told that Virginia Black granite has a tendency to have large (fist - sized) areas of solid black color in large slabs (i.e., slabs for countertops). Is this true? And how can we tell before we order this product?  We actually fell in love with the look of limestone for countertops (Lagos Azul), but were told by numerous sources that this is impossible to keep from staining, and virtually destroying. Is this true? We are still looking for a grayish limestone looking substitution, and liked a honed Virginia Black sample we saw. Do you have any other ideas to help us? Betsy, USA, Feb 16.

R1: Well, I agree that limestone is too soft for most kitchens. I also get a fair amount of consumer complaints about honed black. Why don't you try soapstone? It is a good material and it only requires mineral oil every so often to help its darkening process. Steven, USA,

We looked at soapstone, but it is simply much more black than we were interested in. (Once oiled,†it is very black.) Our interest is more towards a lighter gray, which is what the honed Jet Mist (or Virginia) Black gives the appearance of.†
Also, please advise why there are complaints about the honed granite! I was told that it is just as durable as the high polished granite...† Betsy, March 7,
 

A 1437: Why do customers find seams acceptable on some solid surface countertops, when they have a fit if the granite tops have the slightest seam? We fabricate our countertops to where our seams are minimal and slightly seen, but what is so hard to understand that granite cannot be fabricated throughout the kitchen with no seams? Feb 12.  

R4: I find black and dark green seams the hardest to hide.

R3: As a customer who had a beautiful granite countertop surface installed in our kitchen this past summer, I would recommend our fabricator's way of handling the seam issue. First, he encouraged us to visit his shop for our very first "serious" discussion, just to acquaint us with the materials and overall process of natural stone surface preparation. We got a tour of his slabs on hand and were shown the stone workers using the grinding machines in back. Then, when it came time to choose our material, we were given a list of several wholesale warehouses to visit, to view and select our slabs from. 
Any consumer that gets to see granite slabs first-hand immediately will understand that seams are going to be necessary. We collaborated with our fabricator on how best to plan the placement of seams to fit the ideal layout of our pattern and countertop runs. At the end of the day, we knew exactly what to expect and had no problem whatsoever with the end result. 
Above all, the emphasis must be that granite is a NATURAL product, cut in manageable blocks from mountainsides halfway around the world (Brazil in our case) - we felt grateful just to get some of it into our kitchen, no matter how the seams were placed! Cheers, Steve, USA,

R2: Customer expectations are hard to overcome after the fact. I have found that the best solution is to educate the customer as much as possible about seams well before hand. Different granites are going to seam differently of course due to differences in pattern and graining and no one should even imply a "seamless" look. If you have room in your location, put together a display that incorporates seamed pieces. This will create a standard to which you can allow yourself to be held to rather than a preconceived standard of "perfection" that the customer may hold. Also seam a few different granites pieces that you know are going to vary in how much the seams show. I have had customers that the seam look was so important to them that they chose a color that hid seams better, and most others that once they understood what to expect had no problem with the seams. Be sure that you are doing all you can to make your seams as attractive as possible. Are you using the best seaming materal available to you? Are your cuts as straight as they could be? Could tinting the seaming material or tinting it differently help hide the seams more? Seams are going to be a part of almost every granite installation and while it is important to do as good a job as possible to hide them, don't let yourself be held to unrealistic expectations. Bill, USA

R1: I don't understand the question. Would you please elaborate on what information you want. Generally, all granite and solid surface material come in sheets or slabs of specific sizes, therefore, all solid surface countertops have seams. Some materials that are one solid color can be adequately face sanded with a matching resin to render the seams invisible. Steven, USA

A 1433: What type of granite to use for a kitchen countertop (solid dark in color) any particular name I should be asking for? Jeff. Feb 12.

R1: Usually all dark colored "granites" are a good choice. Just choose the one you like the best, take home a piece of scrap of it, and run my little "lemon juice test." Maurizio,  

A 1425: We are building a house in Maine, and planning to use honed black granite (absolute black) for a 3' X 6' kitchen island, and "Coffee Brown" granite tiles for the front foyer. I noticed that Maurizio seems to indicate that honed black granite would be trouble.- Why?? Also- any comments on the "Coffee Brown" for floors? Al. Feb 10.

R1: Dear Al: I'm not the one who's saying that honed black granite is trouble. All the people who had it installed in their kitchens -- bar none -- are saying that, and I'm just reporting the facts on the forums I participate in. 
Honed black granite is gray, but everything humid that touches it -- even slightly humid, such as your fingertips -- will make it appear black. If it's just water, when dry it will leave some mineral deposit on the stone's surface that you will have to clean; if it's something with some oil in it (including your fingertips), the darker spots will remain, unless you clean them right away and all the time. Bottom line: While the same granite in its polished form will still get soiled but won't show much (only from a low angle, and when the light hits the spots in a certain way), therefore it will never represent an eyesore, and you can plan to clean it, say, once a day, in its honed form it will show every single little spot as soon as it occurs, in a dramatic way, from any angle and under any light. I hope you can picture it in your mind, because, believe you me, it is yucky!! 
The application of a penetrating sealer (impregnator) would be totally useless, because, first -- due to the inherent density of the stone -- only an insignificant amount will go in, and, second and most importantly, an impregnator helps prevent deep staining (which are not an issue with black granite), not certainly surface soiling. 
The only solution to minimize the problem would be the application of a stone color enhancer, which is basically a mineral oil that will "stain" the stone uniformly and almost permanently. This would mean to turn the countertop black -- though still honed. 
The question is: what were you looking for, a honed finish regardless of the color, or a gray honed color? You just can't have it both ways. Maurizio,
 

A 1402: I am in the market for new tops for my kitchen, but I need information on granite (natural stone), engineered granite and corian. Victoria. Feb 6.

R1: "Granite" is 100% natural stone. Engineered stone is 94% natural stone chips and 6% epoxy resin. Corian is plastic. Maurizio,

A 1397: I was wondering if you could suggest a type of flooring for the kitchen that would not be as porous as limestone or travertine. I am a lover of both but was told this would not be a wise decision. Unfortunately, after seeing the two above I could not stand the look of ceramic. As I'm sure you would agree they do look artificial. I am hoping that I am just not familiar with some other type of material. Are all natural materials the same story? Feb 5.

 

R3: while limestone is typically very absorbent, travertine is not. Absorbency, however, is not the real problem with calcite-based stones: the chemical make-up is. They are all very sensitive to acidic and unbalanced Alkaline substances, therefore they will get damaged, on , by such agents, which are typically plentiful in a kitchen. 
If you like natural stone, "granite" is your man in a kitchen environment. Be careful, though, you must choose the right "granite". Follow my little "lemon juice test" that you can find on the left bar of this page, and make your intelligent selection. Maurizio, USA,

R2: Dear Sir, The problems faced by Kitchen floors on the over all use of the kitchen and varies from county/culture as the cooking habits and kitchen use is different. Kitchen is not a large area where specific stone can be ordered and installed, therefore normally the selection is based on the best locally available material. As your mail do not give the particulars of your country/address it would be difficult to give you specific options on choice of stone. Please revert back with your address. Arun, India,

R1: Crab Orchard Flagstone with a silicon sealant can make a beautiful kitchen flooring. Randy, USA,  

A 1372: I am so confused on this granite issue. We are remodeling our kitchen and I was sure that we would use granite until our kitchen designer advised us against it because we have children. She said that if peanut butter, cheese, etc. was ever left on the granite it would have a permanent grease stain. Is this so? After reading some of the other questions it looked like stains could be taken out but it looked like it could be time consuming. Are there better colors to get or types of stone to get to avoid this maintenance or is granite not kid friendly. Rob. Jan 25.

R1: Rob, I believe that the focus should be on a low absorption stone. Many of them are dark colors. These do not need impregnators. Please plan on buying stone specific cleaners. It is easier to clean a stone with this type of cleaner and, if you choose a stone that needs to be impregnated, these cleaners won't harm the impregnator. My personal experience is that I have small children and find it easier to clean because things don't stick to the shiny, slick surface as readily. Steven, USA  

A 1362: Hi, I have fallen in love with Walnut Cobblestone!!! I have several questions for you. First, what classification of stone is cobblestone...during my research to find info about this stone, I have noticed that the usual categories for stone are granite, marble, travertine, sandstone, slate, etc. I am not having much luck finding ANY info about this stone - please help me understand the origin and make up of this beautiful stone!!! Secondly, I REALLY want to use it for my kitchen countertop. I have been given many
different opinions - pretty split down the middle about doing it (or not). I am a cleaner as I go and understand it will not be a smooth surface. If sealed properly, I have been told that it should perform beautifully. I know I will have to seal it periodically to prevent absorption of stains. Please give me the pros and cons about using it for this application. Thank you so much...your site is very insightful!! Stefanie, Jan 23,

R2: Dear Stafanie, Cobblestone is not a type of stone. It is the stone used for paving of
pathways and roads. You can still see them in some old cities in Europe, specially in
Italy. Cobblestones are hand dressed (shaped) blocks of naturally occurring stone which may be marble/granite/slate/sandstone or any other stone which is locally available. There is a similar type of paving called flagstone. These are large flat slabs of stone randomly fixed to form a path Arun, India,

R1: Cobblestone generally refers to a rounded stone used for paving. Walnut is a color associated many times with a travertine. If this is the case (I am not saying it is) then you do not want it for a kitchen countertop. I don't think the definition I supplied would come in slabs. Travertine does not make a good countertop. It is soft and acid reactive but not overly absorptive. Regards Steven, USA,

A 1359: In the 2001 fall issue of House Beautiful the kitchen cover story displayed this amazing kitchen countertop made of Pietra Grigio stone (similar to granite). I am interested in locating it and or finding out more about it. Jeri, Jan 22.

R1: Dear Jeri: Trust me, you are NOT interested in locating Piera Cardosa for your kitchen countertop. Magazines have the tendency to publish anything that looks "different" to keep stirring interest in their publication, but they don't know the first thing about many of the things they report about, especially when it comes to stone. Look how popular honed black granite for kitchen countertops has become, just because pictures of it were published by several magazines. The trail of tears left behind from the owner of such a maintenance nightmare could solve the drought problem of the Sahara desert!! 
Pietra Cardosa has a rate of absorbency which is much higher than granite, and hardly controllable with an impregnator-type penetrating sealer, to begin with (no matter what some salesman will try to say to you). On top of that it's chemically unstable and sensible to acidic spills almost as much as marble. Leave it on the pages of the magazine, and consider yourself lucky to have inquired about it in this forum. Maurizio, USA

A 1354: Each sales person selling granite for counter tops in our area (central Florida) has given us a different answer concern the viability of granite (care, drawbacks, etc) over other materials for the countertops in our new kitchen. Faye, Jan 21.

R1: Dear Faye (is it still you, from Central Florida?): 
Try my Lemon Juice Test. Take a piece of the scrap "granite" you want to test and spill a few drops of lemon juice onto it. If you see that under the drops of lemon it develops very quickly dark spots, it means that it's a very absorbent stone and I would advise you (and anybody else, for that matter) against it. If it takes, say, a minute or so to be absorbed, then you're dealing with a degree of absorbency that's easily manageable with the application of a good-quality impregnator-type sealer. If it doesn't absorb at all, then you have a winner right there! Go for it, and don't bother sealing it.
But hold your horses for an extra minute!
Now, why lemon juice and not simply water?
Because lemon juice is highly acidic, and, if for any chance, the "granite" you're considering is a mixed stone (with some calcite in it), it would etch. That is, it would have a permanent dull spot where the lemon was sitting, after you clean it up. If that's the case, you do NOT want that stone in your kitchen. Maurizio, USA,
 

A 1353: I have seen several pictures of new kitchens where Pietra Cardosa has been used. I like the look but it seems you do not think that stone is suitable for kitchen countertops? Could you please elaborate on it? Thank you for your time, Claire, Jan 21.

R3: Claire, Here is the counterpoint. I challenge any of the other panelists as to their practical, hands-on experience with Pietra de Cardoso. We are perhaps the largest importer of Cardoso in the U.S. (usually 2-3 containers per year when we can get our hands on it - it can be very difficult to acquire sometimes). Through the years we have furnished, fabricated and installed scores of kitchen countertops, custom kitchen sinks (both made from slab material and ones machined from a solid block of Cardoso with drainboards, etc.), fireplaces, etc. It is a wonderful material if you are looking for an alternative to a highly polished stone. It has a true "old world" look and feel to it. It is harder than Soapstone, softer than granite (comparable in hardness to Corian). It is more porous than most granites, less than some. We recommend using either a good quality impregnator or color enhancer (if you wish to darken it). Not only is it good enough for my customers but I have it in my own kitchen and abuse it daily (I have the resources to acquire nearly any stone I wish but I chose Cardoso for my own kitchen!) Maurizio is correct about honed black granite - we refuse to fab it any longer. It is nothing but problems because of it being near impossible to get a uniform finish. But he is wrong about Cardoso. No, it will not perform like Blue Pearl, but not everyone wants that look. Joe, USA,

R2: Hello, I happen to like Pietra Cardosa as well. I believe I have been told the product is a schist which means that it is OK. However a honed surface is difficult to live with. What I mean is this if you run your hand over a piece of polished granite it is typically smooth and your hand glides across it. If you run your hand over a honed surface you fell your hand dragging across it. This means the surface will also catch items and make it more difficult to clean than a polished surface. So you have to decide where you fit in the following scale. Do I clean things as they happen or do I wait? If you wait score 1 for a polished low absorption stone. 2. Do I buy things and expect them to stay the way I purchased them without maintaining them? If your expectations are an unchanging and relatively impervious surface score another 1 for a polished low absorption stone. I hope this helps. As with anything the answer will depend on subjective variables which include your attitude as well as the stone. Generally, Ask for a sample of the material, try to scratch it with a knife and spill things on it to see what it does. Steven, USA,

R1: Dear Claire: Pietra Cardosa is just as absorbent as some "bad" "granites", plus it etches, too! That's more than plenty, believe you me!! Ciao, Maurizio, USA,  

A 1342: I've been told by the manufacturer of a hard surface product that granite is easily stained and not appropriate for use in a kitchen, especially on a work counter. She said it stains easily and the stains cannot be removed. She also suggested that bacteria remains on the granite even when it's washed and is probably responsible for passing on diseases. I thought sealers eliminated the staining problem, but she claimed that once the surface is "violated", the granite's porous quality invites permanent stains, which is obviously not desirable. My husband is set to go with her recommendation, but I've had my heart set on granite for ever! Help. Deanna, Jan 17.  

R2: Dear Deanna: Is there any limit to what one would say and do to sell his or her product over the competition, especially when this competition is so far superior?! 
"Granite" is a product of nature, and, as such, does have its limitations, but, please, let's not compare it to a piece of plastic!! 
What's more, if properly selected, the limitations of "granite" are, by all intent and purposes of a kitchen countertop, totally immaterial. 
The greatly exaggerated venom spit out by that saleslady is not totally groundless, however. With a precious few exceptions, no rumor stems from absolutely nothing! 
The fact is that the mercantile classification of "granite" includes a variety of (natural) stones (mostly 100% siliceous) the vast majority of which have little to do (if anything at all!) with geological granite. For the intent and purposes of a kitchen countertop, many of these different stones are just as good, or even better than true granite. Many others, alas, are -- in my opinion -- an embarrassment (to say the least) to the stone industry, and, ultimately, the responsible of the rumor so colorfully spread by the plastic saleslady. 

Most people totally neglect to expose the problems that end-users would find if they'd go out buying "granite" and stumble upon one of those numerous stones that are (falsely) marketed as granite, but, if you ask me, should be banned altogether from a kitchen environment. Of course, the salesmen from this side of the fence, will "prove" that those stones are granite by showing you the invoice of the distributor (!), and will assure you that every problem will be once and for all solved by the application of the totally overrated, over promoted and over applied "miracle-in-a-bottle," "you-don't-need-to-know-s#@t-about-stone" that go under the label of "Stone impregnator-sealers." (I do make one of them, and a darn good one at that, so you can't certainly say that I'm biased!). 
The fact is that there's no substitute for professionalism and (specific) education, and no salesman carrying around some bottle and some fancy brochure can overcome that. 
So than, what to do? Does one has to give up buying "granite" because of this possible and hardly detectable pitfall? 
No. Although the stone industry is totally and shamelessly unregulated, there are quite a few good guys out there, and it should not be so difficult to spot them. What's more, here comes my infamous "lemon juice test" to the rescue!!. Rely on it more than anything you can hear in your shopping adventure, and, I promise, you will be a very "happy camper," proud granite countertop owner!   Maurizio, USA

R1: I believe that she has given you a lot of misinformation. Stone isn't a medium that allows bacteria to grow. Any countertop including granite and stainless steel could allow bacteria to grow if poor hygiene is the norm. I tell my wife who has an imperial red granite countertop to do what ever helps her germ phobia. I do not seal my countertop however, the caustic cleaning chemicals would destroy the impregnator. The stone you choose is as absorptive it will always be therefore, spend your time finding a low absorption stone by using Maurizio's absorption test. 
There are cleaning agents formulated for natural stone. Soap and water isn't one of them. Ask Maurizio about his. I have tested them and find them to be quite good. He won't tell you himself that is why I do.
Tell your manufacturer to stop being so blatantly biased as to resort to telling lies about another surface in order to sell the surface she likes. It is a sign of poor business practice. Is the purported negative qualities of granite the only positive qualities of the material she sells? Steven, USA

Thank you so very much for your informative . Also, is there a kit available for testing absorption on the various granites, or is that something I need to ask a local vendor? In addition, could you tell me why you chose not to use a sealer? Finally, another BIG THANK YOU for taking time to respond. I might get my granite countertop after all! Yeah! Deanna in Oregon, Jan 18.  

Dear Deanna: Why would you want to buy a kit (which doesn't exist, at least so far) to run a test for which you only need a few drops of lemon? (Please, don't ask too loud for this kit: some salesman may hear you and put it into production right away! We have enough marketing gimmics already on the marketplace!). Ciao, Maurizio,

Maurizio has already responded to you. The reason I didn't use an impregnator is #1 my wife likes to use bleach based products to clean up (I use my wonderful stone specific formulated products when I do it.) #2 The stone isn't very absorbtive.I followed my own advice and purchased a stone countertop that was low absorption with characteristics that I liked. Regards Steven  

A 1338: I'm looking for information on slate as a countertop material. I've been reading in a lot of cases that it is too soft, however are there some producers that have stronger / harder slate that is acceptable. If so, who are the best and where does the slate come from? Can you purchase just slabs and for how much? How much do fabricated slabs cost? Lorie, Jan 16.  

R2: Dear Lorie: In my opinion slate is not a good material for kitchen countertops. Being soft it does scratch easily. I really don't know of any "harder" slate. The "best" (the "less worse" better defines it!) is the one coming from New England. At least is not absorbent. Other slates, such as those coming from India of China, are very absorbent, too! In my fabrication shop I never wanted to get involved with slate or soapstone (nor honed black granite, for that matter), so I don't know about their fabrication costs. What can I say, I'm a weird businessman: I'd rather let a customer go some where else, rather than doing something stupid for him or her, just for the sake of making a sale. Maurizio, USA,  

R1: Slate slabs in general from the USA are harder and can be an acceptable countertop from the perspective of absorption and hardness. Though slate is not as hard as granite, with proper care and precautions it has served as a good countertop. From that perspective I have not been as pleased with the Chinese, Brazilian, nor Indian varieties as slab countertops. The cost depends on where you are and what the fabrication facility can procure. Many of the domestic quarries will sell fabricated pieces or slabs. The cost is in line with Soapstone 80-100 USD per sq. ft. Regards Steven, USA,  

A 1331: I am looking for information on soapstone countertops. I am a builder in the Portland Oregon area and have approximately 80sq ft of countertop that I would like to install soapstone on. Please provide any pertinent information. Trish, Jan 15.  

R1: Trish... why soapstone for a counter top? Soapstone is probably the softest, easiest to scratch and ding stone there is, and in my opinion would be a poor stone for this type of application. Personally, I'd be looking at the granites for durability and ease of maintenance. JVC, USA 

I understand that soapstone is one of the softer stones but it is also my understanding that scratches & dings can be sanded out & treated with mineral oil to return them to normal appearance. Whereas with granite such problems are relatively unfixable (reason #1). Granite seems to be very trendy right now, soapstone has been used for the last century or so in New England farmhomes so surely it is durable (reason #2). Granite slabs are very expensive, I don't like the tile look because of the grout issues (sealing, staining, etc.), soapstone slabs are relatively affordable since my husband, a builder, can fabricate them (reason #3). Overall, soapstone made sense to me but I'm certainly open to expert advice, which is where you brilliant folks come in!! Thanx so much for your time - any insight is very much appreciated. Trish, January 18,  

Dear Trish: If you like it so much, then buy soapstone and be happy with it. I'll stick to granite for myself, if you don't mind too much! Besides the fact that to me soapstone looks horrible (always dirty. But hey, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!), and your 3 so well organized points, the idea of having to treat a food handling area with mineral oil (it does leave a residue) every time I scratch it (which will be very often) doesn't appeal to me very much, somehow. I like my meat and vegetable to taste like meat and vegetable, not motor oil, thank you. Ciao, Maurizio, USA

A 1315: I live in the US, and have a good friend in India, and I have though about purchasing Marble for my kitchen countertop direct from India. I certainly could save a lot on the raw material, however the bigger question is this: I know that much of the cost comes from the fabrication and installation. Is it possible to still have the fabrication done in India, to save cost, and is there a good model for how to do this? Josh, Jan 10.

R2: Ha, I don't think so! Don't forget about shipping, crating and import costs. You have a much larger hill to climb than you think. Use the local and best qualified company you can find. Steven, USA

R1: Dear Josh: Saving money is everybody desire, but you're not going anywhere near at having a cheap kitchen countertop with your theory. How's going to template? Who's going to unload the truck? Who's going to install the darn thing? What about if there's something wrong that needs rectifying in the field; do you have the equipment and the necessary know-how to do that? What about if one of the components breaks during the trip (it does happen and more often that you may think!)? Who's going to pay for freight and custom? And ... most important of all, who's the idiot who wants marble in a kitchen?! Now, draw your own conclusions. Maurizio, USA

A 1246: Help! My wife and I are starting to put together some plans to completely remodel the dated 1953-era kitchen in our house. The only effective compromise that I have been able to craft between her desire for granite countertops and my desire for an affordable project is to use large (18" x 18") granite tiles instead of slab granite; thanks to some postings I have seen on the website. I have been given to understand that epoxy grout significantly reduces the cleaning and maintenance problems associated with conventional grout, which was her main issue with wanting granite to begin with. Since the going price for installed slab is upward of $65/sf, and the material cost for the tiles is about $8 - $10/sf, I thought I had it made, until our likely general contractor poured cold water all over the idea by asserting that the labor to install the granite tiles would offset any savings in materials. I recognize that I will need to do something at the front edge of the counter, but I think I have identified someone locally who bull nose them at fairly reasonable cost. If this is the case, what am I missing as to the source of the extra $50/sf for labor, recognizing that cutting and fitting conventional 6" or 8" ceramic tile has got to be at least as labor intensive? Is there *some* cost-effective way to make the granite tiles work on a kitchen counter? Dave Dec 9,

R1: It depends on what you find reasonable. Utilizing 18" tiles requires a flat substrate and a lot of cuts on the tiles themselves. Stop for a moment and assess which cost is most important. The cost of putting the countertops in inexpensively or the total cost including longevity of the installation. If you put something in and it looks bad how long will you want to keep it in? Beyond that, It is true that you can beat a $65.00 SF installation with granite tiles but only by about $10-15 SF.Steven, USA,

A 1198: Need information on kitchen counter tops that are low maintenance and dull or honed finish in gray color. Nov 20.

R1: Here is the very BEST help I can give you, and that's the only possible answer (among the sensible ones, that is): YOU DO NOT WANT ANY OF THOSE THINGS IN YOUR KITCHEN!!! Maurizio, USA,

A 1195: Advise on cleaning and sealing a limestone kitchen counter. The materials of course has to be food compatible. Nov 19. Reply
R2: With limestone, you might as well adopt the attitude of 'what will be will be'. Sealers will only help 1 small part. I won't lambast you for choosing the surface. I will only say that it will deteriorate. Didn't anyone try and talk you out of this as a countertop? Steven, USA
R1: "WHO ON EARTH GAVE YOU THE BRILLIANT IDEA TO USE LIMESTONE AS MATERIAL FOR A KITCHEN COUNTER TOP?" Ciao and good luck ( you really need it!!) Maurizio, USA
A 1180: You said ask anything, right? I just bought a classy second-hand Knoll table which used to come with
either formica, glass, or marble tops. Mine has the (aaaaaghh!) formica top.  How would you go about finding someone who could supply and cut very exactly and polish (all sides and top) a 27" square 3/4" thick calacatta or other fine marble? Do you have just a ballpark figure of what that might cost?  I live in San Francisco.  Thank you! Mike, USA, Nov 12.  

R1 Mike, Wow, man, you do need an expert for this one, all right! ok Ready? Get your local Yellow Pages and check the listings " Marble Natural" Here in the North East you'd be paying on or around $ 350, Now I'm so strained by this complex answer that I need a vacation ,Maurizio, USA  

A 1161: We are in Rome Georgia, USA, about 60 miles outside of Atlanta. We are in the process of purchasing a granite countertop. To save on cost, our builder says to use a 2 cm thick piece of granite vs. 3 cm. Is this ok? Secondly, we like a granite called "waves' which is a lighter gray than we would like. Any recommendations on a granite that has a wavy pattern and is slightly darker? Also, where is the most economical place to purchase granite counter tops. Neal, USA, Oct 31.
R1: First off, 2 cm. countertops end up to be more expensive than 3 cm. ones. In fact, to do a decent job, the edges of the top should be "laminated" (doubled), then shaped into their final design. This extra work, more than offset the little saving that can be realized by buying a 2 cm. slab, opposed to a 3 cm. Personally, I always encourage our customer to choose the 2 cm., because the final products will look more conspicuous (the edges will be 4 cm.), but end up being approximately 33% lighter, which is better for the cabinets and the floor joists (especially in the case of an island). As far as the type of "granite" that you mention, "waves" is concerned
I would suggest you to perform my "lemon juice test" on a scrap piece of it, then draw your own conclusions. Finally, the most economical way to buy a granite countertop is to shop around, ask for quotes, then chose the most expensive one! If a fabricator is good and cheap, he would be an idiot. And if he's an idiot, how good could he possibly be?! Maurizio, USA,


A 1158: I am trying to find out if marble countertops (slabs) are priced per square foot or linear foot. I have a job being quoted to me as square foot. The price of 865.00 is for 4 foot vanity with 4" surround back splash and
includes installation of the under mount sink. This price also includes tax. The marble is 2 cm thick. I am being quoted an extra charge of $64.00 for the extended beveled edge. The marble is the Dark Emperdor Marble.
It seems when you get different quotes, everyone quotes differently. What do you think? I live in New Orleans, La. Susan, USA, Oct 29.
R3: Dear Susan: What it seems is often what it is! You're right, different fabricators use different criteria.
The way I do it is a quote by the square foot (according with the type of marble, or granite, or whatever), PLUS an additional charge by the running foot (according with the type of edge). On top of that, there are additional charges for bowl cut-outs (whether drop-in or under mount), and faucet holes. As far as the backsplash is concerned, again by the square foot, plus a charge by the running foot for edging (if any). But then again, that does not represent a rule, although -- I believe -- is the most widely used. Maurizio, USA

R2: Hi, I am in the stone/ tile field. I do granite counter top quotes everyday and for my area that is to much. I work /live in the Charlotte NC. That top would run you here about $675.00.
R1: Hi Susan, The price seems reasonable on the surface or maybe a little low. Always get more than one proposal & don't necessarily use the lowest. We are an unregulated industry and it is true to the maxim that you get what you pay for. Steven, USA
A 1157: As part of a kitchen remodeling project, we installed 3 cm Baltic Brown granite countertops and a Baltic Brown granite table as well. Our contract with our kitchen designer/supplier called for a 4" backsplash along 29 feet of countertop, but after installation, our designer/supplier informed us that this backsplash would interfere with the tile we had chosen. He said it was not appropriate for him to issue us a credit, as his fabricator usually "throws in the backsplash for free". We agree that the backsplash would interfere with the tile, but we are not sure if we are being told the truth about the supplier's unwillingness to issue us a credit. I'd appreciate hearing what others consider to be the industry norm. Oct 29.
R2: When it comes with a standard 4" backsplash, many fabricators INCLUDE that in the total price. But, unless they wear a red suit, ride a reendeer-drawn sled, and go "HO, HO, HO!",  it doesn't mean that they're giving it to you as a gift! As a fabricator myself, to avoid any possible misunderstanding, I never "throw in" anything; in fact, I do have a separate charge for the backsplash, whether a standard 4" or not. And guess what, at the end of the day, the total cost of my countertop (all other factors being equal) is more or less the same of those that "give away" the backsplash! I personally feel that a credit should be granted, but there's no rule about that. If the fabricator wants to keep up the "masquerade" of the "free" backsplash you may find resistance. Maurizio, USA
R1: Hello, The industry norm is that it is different from fabricator to fabricator. I think it depends on when the decision was made. I have a non cancellation clause to my contracts that stipulate changes after a certain period of time will not result in a deduction. Humourously I will process additive change orders though. Best Steven, USA

A 1122: Looking for the best in kitchen flooring!  Trying to research the differences in granite, marble, limestone, tile, slate, and brick.  What would be most durable?  Provide the most sanitary environment? Provide the least upkeep? Thank you. Sharon, USA, Oct 4,
R6: Granites and ceramic tiles are the most durable materials, marbles and limestones can be scratched. Pores of limestones and some marbles can be sealed by dirt. Surface of slates are not smooth. I recommend you granite with not quite polished surface to avoid slipping. Daniel, Slovakia
R5: For durability and ease of maintenance, I would suggest either honed granite or matte porcelain. Aesthetics come into play however, and usually polished surfaces convey the image that most are looking for. Polished surfaces of these two types of materials would also be durable and relatively easy to maintain, but would eventually show wear patterns which would require some polish restoration. With good impregnation (sealing) and maintenance, both of these materials should be very durable, easy to keep looking new, and santized. Bob, USA,
R4: The answers to your questions...granite, granite and granite. But serviceability is not the be all and end all, it depends on what sort of effect you want.  Granite can be stylish but it can also make your home look cold and hard.  Marble in a home reminds me of a wonderful silk garment but most need the same amount of care.  Slate is warm, durable and casual - used inside it needs regular sealing.  Bricks in the right home sound great but abrasion can be a problem in high traffic areas. Decide on the look you want and balance that with the maintenance requirements. Jim, Australia,
R3: Granite.. tile........... slate............... limestone..... brick............... marble in that order for all questions asked. Steven, USA,
R2: Granite. Pini, USA,
R1: See my answers in the previous months. Maurizio, USA,

A 1092: Hi! I have fallen in love with the look of stone sinks, but can't find enough objective information about their durability and care. I have looked at granite, soapstone and slate sinks. Each fabricator assures me that his/her stone of choice is the "best" for a kitchen sink. I like the look of all three, but want the most durable, easiest to maintain. Jamie, USA, Sept 6,
 
R4: Dear Jamie, various color of granites are the most suitable for kitchen sink, marbles less. Daniel, Slovakia,

R3:
For use in the kitchen, whether it is the sink basin or the surrounding counter surface, granite will be the most durable and easiest to maintain.  The problem you will encounter with the soapstone is the softness of the material.  It will scratch and mar very easily, and on a polished surface these marks will show.  The slate is relatively soft also, although not as soft as soapstone. If you are planning to use one of these materials as the sink basin, check out the porosity of the stone also, and whatever you choose to use, plan on keeping it well sealed.  JVC, USA,

R2:
With regard to stone sinks-- The simple answer is that each sink has drawbacks. I normally see people want a stone sink that matches the stone countertop.
Soapstone requires a lot of elbow grease to clean plus to achieve the deep rich green color it requires oiling.
Slate is absorptive as well.
Polished granite may be good but you still would need to check the absorption rate as well as whether or not there is any iron that may oxidize.

I probably spend more time telling people to use more conventional materials like stainless steel and cast iron.
There are other considerations as well.
1) There is the fabrication of the sink to consider. Many times they are made from panels that are laminated together. Ask whether or not epoxy is used.
2) There is the installation of the sink to research. Check how the weight of the sink will be accommodated for.
Check with plumbing suppliers to be sure that the trap and disposal can be attached effectively.
In my house everything goes into the sink until the cleaning elf gets around to making it disappear. That fact presents all sorts of staining possibilities. If your kitchen is more of the show house variety, i.e. not used much, then any of the sinks will work.
As with many things, careful evaluation of all factors help us decide which product is right for us. Steven, USA,

R1:
Dear Jamie: Granite ---- Slate and ---------------------------------------------------- Soapstone. In that order, and at that distance from one another. Maurizio, USA
 
The response to my question regarding soapstone, slate and granite sinks was very helpful!!  It sounds like if my heart is set on stone, granite wins the prize.  Can you put me in touch with some companies that make granite sinks? Jamie, USA, Sept 13, .

A 1085: I am sure this is one of your least important questions, but here goes, I have been looking for a simple blackboard for my kitchen, thinking I would walk into my first store and I would have many choices, now after 100 stores and craft exhibits, I have not come upon any selection of blackboards! Any suggestions? Karen, USA, Sept. 2,
R1: Come to think of it, I haven't seen an old fashion blackboard in the retail market for quite a while also.  Seems like those "dry erase" white boards are the in-thing.  However, you could make your own without too much trouble since an old fashion blackboard is only a slab of slate. Slate is readily available (try local fabricators, or pool table supply houses --Yes the material under the felt on a pool table is traditionally slate -- Have the material cut to the size you want and build a frame around it. Or cut it your self, slate being relatively easy to saw with a masonry blade available from any hardware store on a skill saw. Or you could probably find an old school house blackboard through a building materials recycler, and cut that to size. Don't give up --there is nothing like the sound of chalk screeching across the black board to get everyoneís attention. JVC, USA,

A 1071: I have searched through the stone wholesale yard and found granite called "Marron Antique" (which is all I know about it.)  We are in process of getting a quote to have counter tops made from this material. How can I be sure that this is truly granite or simply a pretty stone that shouldn't be used in my application because it would be too porous etc.? Are there a couple of good questions to ask the dealer to determine if they know how to tell the difference? Jim, USA, Aug 19.
R1: Dear Jim: About this "granite" called "Marron Antique", it's either a brand new granite, or it's been called like that by your dealer, because I never heard of it (at least not under that name!). Either way, your concerns are legitimate. There is a very simple test you can perform yourself to find out if you want that "granite" in your house: Take a little cup of water from the tap or the water cooler, then go next to a slab of that material, dip a couple of your fingers into the water and rub them (your wet fingers, that is) with a circular motion on a spot of the stone (polished side) approximately a couple of square inches wide. If the stone become dark within a couple of seconds, get something else (repeat the test all the time!), no matter what your dealer is going to tell you. If it takes longer to become darker and only slightly, then you can safely buy it: The porosity of that stone can be easily controlled with a good-quality stone impregnator. If it doesn't become any darker at all, then you have a winner right there! Good luck and keep me posted! Maurizio, USA
 

A 1068: Care: I have looked at 'honed' granite for kitchen countertops that have a softer look than the typical high polish. I have been given various descriptions about how this granite who hold up, particularly to stains. It makes sense that honed granite might be more susceptible to stains but is this a real issue? Barbara, USA. August 16
R1: Dear Barbara: The "look" of honed granite is very "in" nowadays. Your concerns are legitimate. A honed stone surface is actually more absorbent than the same one finished to a polish, because the polishing process tightens the surface pores, somehow. The increase in degree of absorbency is only marginal, however, in the case of "granite". If the "granite" you would like to have is not too absorbent (whether honed or polished it doesn't matter) you can solve the porosity problem with a good-quality stone impregnator-sealer.
But ... What you have to understand now is that if you settle for a honed-finished "granite" you will naturally lose depth of color, over the same granite when polished. The most dramatic example is black granite: Once honed, it becomes gray. A good sealer will prevent staining agents to be absorbed into the stone, but won't prevent, of course, surface soiling. Sticking to the example of black granite, surface soiling -- especially of an oily nature -- will show a lot and represent a real eyesore!  To continuously keep your countertop clean, you will become a slave of it! To minimize the problem, you should opt for a penetrating sealer that's a color enhancer, too. What this product does is seal the stone below surface just as well as an impregnator sealer, but it will also make the stone almost as dark as if it were polished. Ciao and Good-luck! Maurizio, USA

 
A 1067: Suitability: I have been shown a slab apparently labeled "Italian soapstone" that the dealer is calling basalt. It is a uniform medium blue-gray material that has the soft feel of limestone. The dealer has used this in one counter and claims that it is a very dense and hard material and seems to think that it could be an ideal countertop for a kitchen if one likes the 'plainness'.  I can find no information on this material as a countertop. Any suggestions where I would look?. Barbara, USA, August 16,
R1: Dear Barbara: It can't be soapstone. Soapstone is very dense (therefore it won't take any sealer in), and is extremely soft. Itís used by many amateur sculptors and may be professional too. I'm sure because of its softness and its natural resistance to chipping, to make figurines and stuff. One can actually carve it -- without chisel and hammer -- by using special hand-held shaping tools. Nowadays it's very "in" as a material for kitchen countertops because of its look and feel (it actually feels like soap). As far as I am concerned, because of its extreme softness, I wouldn't use it as a kitchen countertop in my own home, not even if they pay me to have it! But it's just me: My wife and I actually use the kitchen a lot!
The stone you describe sounds to me like the Italian "Basaltina". It's a volcanic, extrusive rock that wanted to be "black granite", but never made it there! It's dark gray, very smooth to the touch, and very, Very, VERY absorbent. Because of that, even in this case, I wouldn't have it in my own kitchen! Let's make no mistake, I make a stone sealer (and, I would say, a pretty darn good one at that!), and business logic would dictate that I should sell as much of the stuff as possible. But what can I tell you, I am a naive Italian and a lousy salesman, too: I care about the satisfaction of the final consumer more than any business logic. I know I shouldn't, but I just can't help thinking that people like you are, after all, those who pay all our bills, and I am so stupid to respect that! Sealers do help a great deal in situations that can be helped. When we go into stones that "require a lot of sealer", even the best product would turn out to be just a fix. Try Black Absolute "granite" with a hone finish (have it sealed it well, maybe with a color enhancer. If you need more info, I am there to help you. Maurizio, USA

 

A 1061: Corian: I have a client who is in the medical business and has heard that granite or marble countertops are high risk for Salmonella (not sure how to spell this) poisoning. Could you tell me if there is any truth to this? She has also been told that marble is more porous than granite therefore is more of a risk. Lorne, USA, Aug 6.
R1: Dear Lorne: I'm glad to see that your friend in the medical business just "has heard" about that caka-baloney (not sure how to spell this); that is, he did not make that statement himself, or else I'd have some serious doubt about his medical abilities! Whoever talked to your friend so "intelligently" doesn't have a clue about Salmonella (yes, you spelled it right) and. Most importantly, he doesn't know the first thing about stone, either! I'm ready to bet money that that guy is somehow involved (or got that information from someone involved) in the "Corian" business.
The makers of the "Corian" garbage (that's how I feel about it) are mighty worried about the growing popularity of natural stone as a material for countertops. They have good reason to be: Stone looks much better than plastic (that's what "Corian" is), it doesn't scratch so easily, it is heat-resistant (if you put a hot pot onto a piece of "Corian" it will melt) and, to top it all, in many a case it turns out to be competitive price-wise, too! All that considered, who would be so dumb to buy "Corian"? Hence all the lies about stone being naturally soaked with "Radon" gas (can anybody actually believe that!!!!), and now that Salmonella garbage.
Regardless, just for the sake of the scientific truth, marble is not more absorbent than granite. In fact, it is the opposite: granite is, on average, twice as absorbent as marble. There are several considerations, however, to keep in mind. First off, regardless of absorbency (porosity), you do NOT want a polished marble (or travertine, or any other polished calcite-based stones) in your kitchen. The problem with these types of stone is not their absorbency (well, limestone is very absorbent, too), but their chemical make-up. Being that their major component is Calcite (Calcium Carbonate) they will react to acidic spills (orange juice, lemonade, vinegar, tomato sauce, salad dressing, most pop sodas, etc.) and get damaged by them on . The resulting visual effect is a "dull spot" -- kind of a water-spot -- or ring, or splatter, that is nothing but an etch mark, a mark of corrosion that the acid left behind.
These kinds of surface damage are those that make all the stone "geniuses" out there to conclude that marble is porous, because their limited IQ goes only by the look: "they look like stain, therefore they are stains".
To the best of my knowledge, no sealer -- as of this writing -- can prevent those surface damages from happening. They can be fixed, of course, but it's a chore that's beyond your average homeowner's abilities.
Another consideration to evaluate is the fact that marble is much "softer" than granite, therefore it scratches easily (not as easily as "Corian", though!). Therefore, granite is your "man" when it comes to a superior material for a kitchen countertop, no doubt. (Green marbles are a pretty good choice, too. In fact, they are not marbles. But that's another story).
But now I must talk about granite. As I had the opportunity to report in many other occasions, the industry world-wide is pretty much unregulated, to the point that when somewhere, in some remote corner of this blessed planet someone finds a pretty stone that can be polished and doesn't look like marble, they label it "granite" no matter what on earth that poor thing actually is (by the way, they don't look like granite, either!).  The result is that the vast majority of the stones traded as granite are, in fact, related to granite like a cat to a cow. Hence, we can have "granites" that are extremely dense (therefore less absorbent than granite and marble, too), while at the other end of the spectrum, we have "granites" that are as absorbent as sponges (and you do NOT want these latter types in your kitchen, no matter what some stone "Guru" is going to tell you about "using a good-quality stone sealer..."). In every industry that's unregulated, for as long as confusion and specific ignorance rule, everybody's happy (with the exception of the consumers, of course, but who cares? They are only there to pay all our bills, thatís all!)
My Italian blood goes into boiling when I hear about all the slanders put out by interest groups against natural stone; but it also boils by realizing that the practices implemented by the majority of stone industry operators, with the blessing of the recognized stone authorities, are unethical, to say the least. That's why, among other activities, I also offer consultation services (most of the time for free). Nonetheless, I'm upset. Maurizio, USA .

 
A 1056:I work in a restaurant and I am looking for some type of stone used tableside for appetizers that cook at the table. I have used something like this before but not sure of the stone. We put the stones in a 500 degrees oven for a couple of hours and then used them table side. any ideas? Brian, USA, July 24.
R1: What you are probably looking for is soapstone. This type of stone heats well, and holds the heat for a long period of time.  It is the stone of choice for lining stoves, and fireplaces in place of fire-brick. JVC, USA
 

A 1022: DIY: Thank you for such an informative website.  You may have answered my questions already but would love confirmation on this.  I bought some granite tiles (couldn't afford slab).  The tile (keep in mind, you see 1 example) had some veining and movement.  I'm going crazy trying to put this in an order on my countertops that makes sense -- I feel like I'm trying to put a Rubic's Cube together and all the squares have different colors, and patterns for that matter.  Any suggestions, or should I just give it up and go for that "mosaic" look? Solvi, USA. June 23
R1: If you can get your money back for the tile, there is a way I can probably make slab kitchen countertops available to you at a price you can afford. I have quite a few "pre fabricated" countertops that can be had for a very reasonable price.( + shipping , I donít know where in the US you are, I am in Michigan). For an example, you could get a 25.5" X 96" countertop in granite, with a 1 1/2" bullnose edge on the two short and one long edge. You then just need to cut it to the size you need, (Cutting off the side that will be against the wall). I could sell it to you for about $310.00 total per piece (have some 36x72 Islands available as well for around $490.00 full 1 1/2" bullnose edge on all four sides) you can me for more information.
If you decide to go with the tile, to achieve a pattern with assorted pattern tiles, (I can't see what you have so have to guess a bit). When you can't get the patterns and such to match, see if you can sort it out into two piles of LOTS OF VEIN / PATTERN and ALMOST NO VEIN / PATTERN. Set aside Middle of the road piece for now. If you can sort out enough that way, then go for a Checker-Board pattern using the heavy and light veined tiles as you would red and black tiles on a checker board. Nice thing about tile is you can to this and see what it looks like before you glue anything. Good luck. Bill, USA

A 999: I want information about maintenance and durability of limestone for use in kitchen counters, and comparisons between this and other natural stones for use in the kitchen. Zoghlin, USA. May 29
R3: Hi, Limestone is too soft and to porous for use in the kitchen, Use granite, less porous can't be scratched acid resistance etc. Pini, USA.  

 
R2: Dear Zoghlin, USA: I don't think you really want that! Maurizio, USA
 
R1: The properties of limestone can vary greatly.  Some limestone will stain very easily and needs to be sealed regularly. Check out your limestone by applying a drop of water on the surface and see how quickly it absorbs into the stone.  From this, you can get some idea of how easily your stone will stain. Limestone's also don't like acid, so be wary with acidic food, drink, or cleaning products.  Use a mild detergent to clean when necessary and minimise the amount of water on the stone. Jim, Australia

A 987: Inform me about standard thickness of granite countertops.  Ira, USA. May 18
R2: Dear Ira: There are no standards (official, that is). In general, however, kitchen countertops are manufactured in either 2 cm. (approx. 3/4"), or 3 cm. (approx. 1 1/4"). In the case of the 2 cm. a "lamination job" is recommendable. Lamination is the application of a strip of the same granite under and all along the edges of the counter. After the glue is properly cured, the shop operator will provide to shape and polish the edges as chosen by the customer. I like this kind of fabrication better than the 3 cm. In fact, visually it looks thicker than the 3 cm. (it is, in fact, 4 cm. -- approx. 1 1/2"). Overall it is lighter, which means that it's more "cabinet and floor friendly", but it is indeed stronger where it counts (along the edges, that is). Maurizio, USA

 
R1: 3/4" you can double it at the edge. Pini, USA.

A 983: I need to find something like a sealant and cleaner for red quarry tile we have in our liquid fill rooms. We are a neutricutical manufacturer so we mix food products in that room. Vanessa, USA. May 11 
R1: Dear Vanessa: That was one bad choice! Best advice? Rip the darn thing out and have waterproof tiles (ceramic or porcelain) installed. Sorry. Maurizio, USA


A 982: Pros and cons, honed verses polished granite for kitchen countertops. USA, May 10
R2: None whatsoever. (Absolute black, however, it's a pain in the neck to keep clean, when finished honed). You should be much more concerned with the type of "granite" you choose, than its finish. Maurizio, USA

 
R1: Hi! Honed is big porous polish is small, you better off with polish or seal heavily the hone surface. Pini, USA.
 
A 1050: Hi! I just completed gutting my kitchen and am searching for a specific granite for a countertop.  It is called Bianco Romano (beiges with hints of cream and tiny splotches of a reddish -brown).  I reside on the North Shore of Massachusetts (near Salem, MA).  If you know of a dealer in my area which carries this product, or know the following information, would you please email me the information:  
        1.   Price per linear foot for countertop
        2.   Price per linear foot for backsplash
        3.   Price of cutouts for an undermount sink and cooktop
        4.   Cost of a 1/2 bullnose edge (one side only)
        5.   Installation charge
        6.   Delivery charge
        Kate, USA, May 10.
 
A 981: I bought a beautiful lot of travertine marble,(polished & finished) cut into tiles 16"x16"x5/8". There are two different color ranges, the majority of it was a golden/taupe color that I successfully installed, as flooring.  I have plenty of the second color which is just like the gemstone (cat's eye), anyway what I would like to do is install this as a counter top, I'd even have enough to do the wall up to the base of the cabinets.  I would like to do this myself. Can you give me instruction in doing this.  What would I use as an underlayment? Cement board? Would I use a marble thinset to set it or an epoxy?  I am not crazy about a wood edge on stone countertops. I would like to join pieces together on the end, and cut it to make an attractive edge, like a granite countertop.  Is there some type of router attachment I can use to cut it? Or is it all industrial machinery they use to give it a finished edge? Also, would I use and epoxy and if so what type? And finally, I would like to hone and polish it, to try and make it look like one big piece.  Thank you. USA. May 9

R1: Simply put: YOU DO NOT WANT TO USE YOUR BEAUTIFUL POLISHED TRAVERTINE AS A KITCHEN COUNTERTOP MATERIAL. Maurizio, USA
 
A 977: I am remolding my kitchen and had my heart set on granite for a 5' island. I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the cost of bringing a slab that large is prohibitive.  We have found granite tile in 12" squares locally.  My questions is two fold: What do you think of putting tile on a countertop and what do you think of putting this granite tile on the kitchen island that will be used for most everything? USA, May 4
R1: Using tiles instead of a slab is not that bad of an idea, if you accept the look of the finished job. You major concern, however, should be on the type of "granite" you'll be using. Some of them are really a bad idea (slabs or tiles, it doesn't matter) as a material for kitchen countertops. Maurizio, USA


 
Q 966: I would like to use marble on my kitchen counter tops instead of the recommended granite.  The marble is a heavily veined one and I am prepared to "suffer" ring marks from glasses. This stuff is costly thoí and I donít want to make a mistake.  Will acids such as vinegar, lemon juice and tomato juice ruin the counter top even if not wiped up after one minute?  Will wine ruin it?  Can I sufficiently seal the marble and if I take a lot of care by sealing once a year will I be happy or will I regret not putting granite? Diana, USA. May 1
R2: Dear Diana: If you don't want to lose your own marbles, do NOT use polished marble in a kitchen! Only certain green marbles would be suitable. To answer your three specific questions: 1. Yes.  2. Yes.  3. Yes, you WILL regret it (sealing has nothing to do with it). Maurizio, USA

 
R1: Hi! Marble not a good idea, acids such as vinegar, lemon juice and tomato juice ruin the counter top even if not wiped up after one minute. YES. Pini, USA.
 

A 968: I have recently purchased "Natural" cherry cabinets for my kitchen and would like to know what color you would recommend to match the Natural Cherry. Please advise.  My floors will be tiled in a neutral tile color. Colleen, USA, April 25.  
R2: Dear Colleen, I can recommend you granites: NEW RUBY (homogenous), CARPAZI (homogenous), JACARANDA (veined), PARADISO CLASSICO (veined), marbles: ROSSO LAGUNA, ROSSO CARPAZI. Daniel, Slovakia

R1: Though this answer is late I believe you have two distinct directions to move in. Blend or contrast.
Though not specifically a granite by strict definition is Dakota Mahogany, a white is Bianco Romano, and a green Is Verde Jewel. Steven, USA
 

A 941 a: I'm in the process of buying a granite counter top for my kitchen. Prices range from $ 70 to $90 linear ft. I found a dealer selling it at $55 a linear ft installed. What questions should I ask to make sure I'm getting quality product. I don't know if there are different grades of granites. Christopher, March 16, USA.

R1: Dear Christopher: Wow, man, in which part of the country do you live? Here in the Northeast we're talking about $120 linear ft.! And that's without the sinkhole, the faucet-holes and the backsplash! Since, wherever it is that you live, the cost of a slab can't be any lower than here in the Northeast, I would have three questions for the guy who bid $55 installed.  
1. Are you related with Santa?
2. How do you manage to steal granite slabs without getting caught?
3. What kind of medication are you on?
The average cost of a granite slab is around $11 per square foot. The average cost for templating and installation comes in at around $12 per square foot. So far we are at $23 per square foot, that translates into $48 per linear foot. How can one possibly manage to fabricate (labor), amortize the machinery (rather expensive stuff), pay his overhead and make a profit out of $3.5 per square foot ($7 per linear foot) beats me and -- in my humble opinion -- any logic. As far as different grades of granite is concerned, the answer is YES, there are, but ... NO, there aren't! See my answer to Q 909. You're a lucky fellow, all right! Maurizio, USA