25

Feb

Countertops: What to Consider When Choosing Them

When looking for countertops for your kitchen or bathroom, you shouldn’t go blindly at it—you need to consider several factors to buy the right ones. Which are these factors to consider? Here they are:

Countertop material

If you have been researching countertops, you must have realized that they come in different materials ideal for various applications. The common materials are:

Solid surface: These materials are often artificially modified, but they contain some natural stone. Due to this combination, the countertops are durable and more affordable hence the perfect units to go for when operating on a tight budget.

The most popular countertops under this category are quartz countertops. Others are Corian, Avonite, polyester, acrylic, or a mix of the two.

Natural stone: As the name suggests, these are made from natural stone. Other than some cutting and shining, the countertops are unmodified. The most popular countertops under this category are: slate, soapstone, marble, and granite.

Since the pieces are unmodified and natural, they are often costly.

Wood: Wooden countertops are affordable, durable, and highly hygienic. Most wooden countertops are made from cherry, walnut, teak, marble, and oak.

Concrete: Although not as popular as the above countertops, concrete is beautiful when properly installed and durable when you take good care of it. When installing it, remember to give it time to cure for a couple of weeks before sealing it.

The most common problem with the countertop is cracking. To reduce the cracking, work with experienced contractors that know what they are doing. They will advise you on the best cement to use, the strengthening materials, and any other important fact.

Usage

How will you be using the countertops? This is important as different countertops are ideal for various applications. For example, if you love cooking and spend most of your time in the kitchen, you need a durable but easy-to-maintain countertop that can withstand abuse.

Do you love baking? Marble countertops are the best to go for.

If you aren’t sure about the right countertops to install, install two countertop materials in different areas of your house. For example, you can install granite countertops in one area and butcher block counters in another.

This not only makes your countertops more functional and exciting, but also much cheaper, so you save yourself a lot of money.

Aesthetics

How will the countertops look in your kitchen or bathroom after installation? It’s important to consider this as you want your surfaces to be functional and attractive to the eye. Marble countertops are hailed as the epitome of luxury, so if you’re going to give your surfaces a high-end look, these are countertops to go for.

Do you want to give your counters a natural feel and look? Granite countertops are the best to go for.

Solid surface countertops give your surfaces a unique look if you aren’t keen on naturalizing your counters.

To install the right countertops that give the feel you want, get the input of a professional.

Ease of maintenance

You don’t want pieces that will be a hassle to keep in top shape, do you? Natural stone countertops are often high maintenance, as they need regular sealing. You also have to be ultra-cautious with the liquids in the kitchen or bathroom as they stain easily.

If you lead a busy life and don’t have time to dedicate to your countertops, go for quartz countertops that are easy to maintain.

Do you have a commercial kitchen? Stainless steel countertops are the best to go for.

Cost

The final but vital factor to consider is the cost of the countertop materials. As mentioned above, natural stone countertops such as marble and granite countertops Rockville are much more expensive than the other materials, making them the wrong choice if operating on a tight budget.

Different stores sell their countertops at different prices, and it’s up to you to research and find the one selling at affordable prices. To avoid paying more than you should, visit different stores and see how much they sell their units.

08

Nov

What Is A Cheaper Alternative To Granite Countertops?

Every homeowner dreams about installing granite in their homes. Unfortunately, the countertops don’t come cheap. If you have always wanted to install granite in your home, but the price is out of your reach, you must be wondering, what is a cheaper alternative to granite countertops, right? Well, there are many of them, with the common ones being:

Quartz

Also known as engineered stone, quartz is one of the most affordable alternatives you can go with. Contractors recommend it when you are looking to achieve simple luxury. The good thing about it is that it comes in different shades and colors, so you will find one that fits your style.

Quartz is also non-porous, meaning that it’s easy to clean and doesn’t stain easily.

Since the countertop is an engineered stone, you can modify it to a glossy or matte surface. And the presence of resin means you don’t need to keep sealing it, which makes it even easier to maintain.

While quartz is an excellent alternative to granite, it has its drawbacks. One of the drawbacks being that it’s easily damaged by heat. This means that if you place hot pots and pans on it, the countertop is bound to melt and burn, leaving a blackened indentation.

Marble countertops

Yes, some marble varieties are cheaper than granite. To avoid spending too much money on the countertops, avoid rare and exotic varieties.

The beauty of marble is that it has a timeless beauty, and when properly installed, it’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing countertops you can have. The countertop also comes in a variety of colors and veining patterns.

While it comes in a variety of inviting colors, it’s relatively soft and porous which means that it will chip and scratch easily when put under pressure and hard wear. The porosity also puts the stone at the risk of staining.

It will also absorb any foods, liquids, and cleaning chemicals that you put on it, making it difficult to clean.

Quartzite

If you want a countertop that looks like marble but is more durable and heat resistant, you should consider quartzite. Quartzite forms when sandstone shifts deeper into the earth’s mantle, raising the sandstone’s temperature and forcing it to crystallize.

The good thing is that, unlike marble, quartzite is exceptionally durable and doesn’t scratch easily. The countertop is also heat and stain-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about scratching or burning it.

While the countertop is great and might look like marble, it’s limited in the color area where it doesn’t have as many color varieties as marble.

Sintered stone

Sintered stone is engineered stone made from quartz and ceramic particles. The particles that make up sintered stone are treated with high pressure and heat to form a crystallized stone in the lab.

Sintered stone can be made from different materials, which gives it different color varieties and patterns.

With a hardened level of 7/10 on the Mohs hardness scale, sintered stone is one of the hardest and durable materials you can have. It’s even less porous, making it easy to maintain as you don’t have to worry about sealing it.

It’s heat resistant, so you can place hot pots and pans on it without worrying about causing cracks and damage.

While the stone is great, its made in the laboratory which makes it less environmentally friendly than natural stone materials.

Wood

Wooden countertops can be made from different materials such as oak, maple, cherry, bamboo, and walnut.

Since it’s soft and more forgiving, when you drop a glass on a wooden countertop, it will never break like it’s the case with granite.

While this softness is good, it can sometimes result in chips, cut marks, and cracks.

To keep your wooden countertops looking great, you need to treat them monthly with mineral oils. You also should seal the countertops to keep them clean and stain-free.

There you go

These are some of the best and cheapest granite alternatives. If you aren’t sure about the right one to go for, get the input of a professional. They will advise whether to go for wood or quartz countertops Potomac depending on the look you want to achieve and your budget.

24

Jun

How Long Does It Take To Install Kitchen Countertops

When installing quartz kitchen countertops or any other kitchen countertops, the time it takes to install them is vital, as sometimes you might be having guests over, and you want to complete the installation before they arrive.

Wondering how long does it take to install kitchen countertops? Well, the time varies depending on the type of countertops you are looking to install.

Laminate countertops

They have the fastest turnaround times, so if you are looking for fast-to-install countertops, these are the best to go for. You will even install them faster if you go with off-the-rack countertops often found in home improvement stores.

You should note that while the off-the-rack countertops are easy to install, they often aren’t as beautiful as the custom laminate countertops, so you should be ready to make the compromise.

If you want that perfect look, install custom laminate countertops, and these take a long time as the contractor will have to visit your home and demonstrate the various laminate countertops they have in stock.

After you have selected your preferred pieces, the contractor will then take a few weeks or even months to make the countertops. Once the countertops are ready, the contractor will schedule a time to remove the old countertops and install the new ones.

Installing the new custom laminate countertops takes about a few days to a week, depending on the size of your kitchen and the contractor’s experience.

Granite and marble countertops

If you ask any homeowner, the type of countertops they are looking to install, they will tell you granite or marble. And there is a good reason for it: granite and marble countertops are tough and give your kitchen an elegant look.

The time it takes to install these countertops is similar to the other countertops, but with these countertops, instead of the contractor coming to your home, you have to visit the contractor’s showroom to see the various countertops available.

When you are in these stores, don’t simply pick the slab that sticks out the most for you. Remember, your kitchen size, the lighting in your kitchen, cabinet design, and color, will heavily impact how the slab looks in your kitchen, so always take a sample with you in your home and see how it looks there.

Only buy a slab if it looks good in your kitchen.

After you have settled on a given countertop slab, the contractor will find similar slabs as your chosen slab and begin preparing them for installation. This process often takes 1-3 months to complete, depending on the availability of the chosen slabs and the size of your kitchen.

Wood, glass, stainless steel, and engineered stone countertops

These take the same time as laminate countertops to install, and you have to follow the same installation process. The countertop contractor comes to your home with countertop samples, and it’s up to you to choose the ones you like.

You should then wait for the contractor to make the countertops, return to your home, remove the old countertops, and replace them with the new ones.

In most cases, from the time you begin looking at the countertop materials to the time you install them, it takes about 4 months.

Concrete countertops

You can go about the installation in two ways: have the countertops made offsite or have the concrete formed and poured on-site.

The contractor will visit your home and measure the size of your countertop surface so that he can make a countertop of the right size. It often takes longer to have the countertop made on site, as the contractor has to bring everything on the site.

Tile countertops

Unlike marble and granite countertops Rockville that come in large slabs, these countertops are usually small tiles (often 4” X 4”), so as you can expect, they take a long time to install.

You have to follow the same process where the contractor comes to your home and shows you their samples. After settling on the tiles, they make them, then come to your home and install them.

Unlike other countertops that you can begin using immediately after installation, wait for at least a week for the tiles to completely stick to the counter surfaces before using them.

17

Mar

How to Tell the Difference between Marble and Granite

On first look, marble and granite countertops look similar. Both are natural and porous, which can be confusing to many new homeowners. But are the two similar? Absolutely not.

While the two materials are similar in some aspects, they have their differences. If this is the first time buying the countertops, you need to be cautious, so you don’t buy the wrong one. To help you out, here is a guide on how to tell the difference between marble and granite:

Origin

Both marble and granite are natural, meaning they are both acquired through mining and excavation, but they have a few differences.

After being buried for millions of years, granite is a kind of igneous rock. It’s a byproduct of molten magma that has been seasoned down and solidified for decades. Granite forms after going through periodic heating and cooling, and this makes it hard and durable.

Marble goes through the same formation process as granite, but marble doesn’t involve magma heat. A marble is a combination of sedimentary rocks and other natural elements. It results after years of natural meshing of rock and soil. After being exposed to heat and pressure, you have the natural design of the stone.

During its making, plenty of minerals are involved, so marble tends to come in a wide range of colors. This means as a buyer, you have plenty of designs and colors to choose from.

Cost

Cost is often a deal-breaker when you are buying countertops, with marble being more expensive than granite. You should note that the price of the countertops isn’t only the buying cost. You also need to factor in the cost of installation. You can’t install the countertops by yourself, so you will need to hire a professional to help you out.

The installation technicians have different rates depending on their experience level, insurances, and location. It’s up to you to research and find a contractor that will provide you with great service at the least cost.

When you are operating on a tight budget, avoid hiring uptown companies as they will charge you a premium fee for nothing. You should note that the high fees charged by these companies aren’t a reflection of the services they provide, but rather than the fee they have to charge to stay afloat.

Simultaneously, avoid extremely cheap companies as they are most likely inexperienced and will do a shoddy job. Others will damage your countertops, which can lead to an expensive loss.

As mentioned, you need to do your research and find a company that provides you the sweet balance between cost and experience.

Porosity

As mentioned in the introduction, both marble and granite are porous, meaning that water penetrates the inner layers, putting the countertops at staining risk. While this is the case, marble is more porous, so you need to seal it more often to prevent it from staining.

Despite the high porosity, marble is still compact and sturdy, so it makes a great choice when you are looking to install durable and elegant kitchen countertops.

The marble’s high porosity makes it an ideal candidate for installation in hotter climates due to its ability to repel heat.

Although granite is less porous, you should note that it’s still porous, so you should protect it from oils, wine, condiments, and other materials that can stain the surface.

Aesthetics

For the untrained eye, both marble and granite look the same, but they have several distinct physical attributes that you can pick when you are cautious.

For example, granite has a veiny look that resembles specks on the surface and differs in color, where the different slabs have a variety of hues. Marble, too, has a veiny pattern, but the veins are larger and run through the slab with fairly consistent colors.

Durability and maintenance

For the countertops to last for a long time, you need to ensure they are properly installed by experienced granite installers Rockville or other professionals. Since marble is more porous, it’s more susceptible to stains and spills, so you will need to clean it up and seal it more often.

Granite is less porous, but you will still need to seal it at least once a year to improve its ability to resist stains and spills.

30

Sep

Why Is Marble So Popular And Not Granite Countertops?

With so many kitchen countertop options available such as quartz and granite countertops, when you mention countertops, the first thing that comes to the minds of most homeowners is marble. You must be wondering, why is marble so popular? There are plenty of reasons for this.

Humble beginnings

Before we go into details as to why marble is so popular, we need to go back down memory lane and first understand the history of the stone.

Marble was first used by the ancient Greeks, who used it to construct fireplaces, walls, fountains, kitchen hoods, and many other structures. Some of the notable masterpieces include: the Pantheon, Pisa Cathedral, the Taj Mahal, and Lincoln Memorial.

Why marble is so popular

Marble has plenty of attractive features that make it popular. These features include:

It’s durable

The main reason you will find marble in structures that have been around for centuries is because it’s exceptionally durable and resilient. When properly installed, it won’t chip or dent. When you install it in your kitchen or bathroom, you don’t worry about damaging it when you drop something on it or run into it.

On first look, marble appears fragile, but this isn’t the case. After all, some buildings are still standing centuries after construction.

Marble significantly improves your home value.

When you were scouting for a house, what impression did you have when the real estate agent told you the counters were made from marble? I’m sure you had the impression the house is a high-end property, right? This is what marble does to every home.

The premium stone not only gives you a sense of prestige, it also increases the value of your home. So if you are looking to sell the house at a later date, you sell it at a higher price.

Marble is beautiful

One of the reasons marble was used even in ancient buildings is due to its beauty. Marble comes in a wide array of colors and hues from which you will find one that will fit your décor and home design. If looking to give your house a sense of space, there are white countertops to go for.

If you have a large kitchen and looking to give the impression of elegance, go with one of the many dark options. You only need to ensure a professional undertakes marble countertop installation.

The countertops are easy to maintain

In addition to significantly improving your home value, marble is extremely easy to maintain. To clean it, you need to use mild soap and water. Use a soft cloth to wipe it down. If you have sealed the surfaces, you don’t need to scrub sticky spills. Wipe them as they happen.

Guide to buying marble countertops

Now that we have learned why marble is popular and the ways it can benefit your property, now let’s look at how to buy the ideal slab for your home. You need to consider plenty of factors such as:

Veining patterns

Different quarries have different ways of cutting marble that gives the stone different veining patterns. Some of the ways to cut the stone include: fleuri cut, crosscut, and many others. When making the purchase, carefully consider these patterns and only buy a stone that complements your home.

Cracks and fissures

You need to know the difference between cracks and fissures. Cracks are often large, and they are a sign the slab has been dropped or improperly handled. Don’t buy a slab with cracks on it.

Fissures, on the other hand, are small and natural. They aren’t a sign of a deformity, and there is no harm in buying a stone with fissures, especially if looking for a stone that will give your house a more rustic look.

Origin

Where is the stone mined from? You need to consider this when making the purchase. The best stones are those from Italy, so do your due diligence and make sure the stone you are buying is from Statuario or Carrara. Avoid buying those from china as they aren’t as beautiful and don’t last long.

Parting shot

Above are some of the reasons marble is so popular, and if you love it, you should go ahead and install it in your home. For best results, make sure professional granite countertop installers Rockville or other professionals install it. After installing the stone, finish the look with a penetrating sealer to give the stone a long life.

09

May

Can You Put Hot Pans On Granite Countertops?

If you know the history of granite countertops, you know that they are made from igneous rock through a process involving high temperatures and pressure. Due to this, you must be asking, can you put hot pans on granite?

Since it’s made from igneous rock, granite can withstand the heat, so a brief encounter with a hot pot won’t hurt them. While this is the case, regular exposure of the countertops to the heat will weaken the sealant putting the countertops at the risk of getting damaged.

To answer your question, yes, you can put hot pans on granite, but you shouldn’t do it too often as you will end up causing damage.

Protecting the countertops from damage

As we have seen, the countertops will get damaged if you place hot pans on them. So to protect them from damage, avoid placing the hot pots and pans directly on the surfaces. Instead, have a trivet or countertop cover in place.

If you have to place the pots and pans on the countertops, let them first cool down. Letting them cool for a few minutes is enough. Before placing them on the surfaces, wipe the underside to remove any black or burn marks that might be present.

Even if you are using an electric stove, wipe the surfaces to remove any materials that might have spilled or boiled over.

Restoring damaged countertops

In the event you destroy the countertops, you shouldn’t worry much as you can restore the damaged pieces. You do this using pastes and liquids. Buy the products from a local store and apply them by yourself—you don’t need to hire a professional to help you out.

If there are burn marks from the hot pans, you can easily rub them away with cleaning creams and solutions. You should note that while the products will remove the top marks, they aren’t effective at removing deeper marks.

In such a case, you don’t have a way out other than to consult a granite contractor. The contractor will advise you whether to apply a sealer or simply replace the countertops.

Other ways of keeping your countertops in top shape

Other than using trivets and pads when placing hot items on the countertops, there are plenty of other things you can do to keep the countertops in top shape. Some of these things include:

Don’t cut meat directly on the countertops.

The meat won’t destroy granite, but what is left behind is what is harmful. The meat might be containing salmonella and other bacteria that might find its way into the microscopic crevices of the countertops.

Also, when many homeowners handle meat, they have the urge to cleanse the countertop surfaces. Sometimes they use harsh chemicals that end up damaging the surfaces.

Get rid of the spills as soon as they happen.

When you are preparing food, it’s common for accidents to happen. Oils and acids can splatter all over the countertops, putting them at the risk of staining. To avoid this, you should clean the spills as soon as they happen.

When you notice spillage, use a mild cleanser or hot, soapy water and get rid of it as soon as possible. You should never let the spill sit on the countertops for long as it can etch the seal and stain the countertop.

Don’t sit or stand on the countertops.

Since the countertops are known to be tough, some homeowners have the impression that they can stand or sit on the countertops without any repercussions. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

Granite has plenty of fissures and striations that are vulnerable to cracking when you apply a lot of force on them. To keep your countertops free of damage, don’t climb or stand on them when reaching out to things, changing bulbs, painting, or engaging in any other activity.

Instead, use a sturdy stool or ladder to get the work done.

Conclusion

To reiterate, you can place hot pans on granite, but don’t make it a habit as you will damage the seal or even the countertops themselves. Granite installers Rockville recommend you always use trivets, hot pads, potholders, and other protective materials to keep the countertops in top shape.

09

Mar

FAQs About Granite Countertops

Granite countertops are one of the most popular countertop types in the market. While they have been around for a long time, few people know much about them. Here are some of the frequently asked questions about the countertops:

Should you use the countertops in the kitchen?

Granite is perfect for use in the kitchen. Since the material is tough, it doesn’t etch, scratch, or warp; therefore, you don’t need to do much to keep it in top condition. The only thing you should do is to seal it during the installation and at least once a year thereafter.

Can granite get damaged?

One of the prime reasons people go for the countertops is because they are tough. While this is the case, it doesn’t mean they can’t get damaged. If you don’t take good care of them, they are bound to get damaged. For example, if you hit the countertops with a hard object, the countertops will develop a crack.

The countertops will also get damaged if you place hot objects on the surfaces.

Does granite stain?

When you seal the countertops properly, they don’t stain; however, if you poorly stain them or leave them unstained, they are bound to get stained. So, to prevent stains from developing, you should ensure that the surfaces are sealed by a professional.

You should note that even if your surfaces are properly sealed, they will develop stains if you leave liquids on them for a long time. To avoid this, make it a habit of wiping off the liquids as soon as they happen.

Are the countertops expensive?

Just like any other good quality product, the countertops don’t come cheap. While this is the case, there are several things you can do to reduce the cost. When you decide to install the countertops, don’t rush to buying them. Take time to visit different stores and see what they have to offer.

Compare the prices and the quality and buy from the store selling the highest quality products at the least cost. You should note that if you come across a company selling the products at a cost that is below the standard market prices, you will most likely be getting scammed.

To avoid this, only buy from a reputable company. Luckily, you can tell how reliable the company is by reading their online reviews.

Does granite harbor bacteria?

In addition to being used in residential properties, it’s also heavily used in the food and medical industry due to its sanitary qualities. As long as you regularly clean and care for the granite, there are zero chances that it will harbor bacteria and cause illness.

Is it wise to cut on granite?

Due to its tough nature, you might have the impression that you can go ahead and cut on the countertops, but this would be wrong. While it’s tough, the knives, especially the hot ones, can get into the countertops causing minor scratches. If you repeatedly cut on the countertops, you leave too many marks that give the countertops a cheap look.

To preserve the look of the countertops, always use a cutting board anytime you are looking to cut anything. You also should avoid placing hot pots and pans on the countertops.

Do the countertops need to be cleaned?

You should clean the countertops just like you clean marble countertops and any other countertop pieces you might be having in your home. For ideal results, use dish soap, powdered soap, and all-purpose cleaners. Never use abrasive products as they will damage the surfaces.

When should you replace the countertops?

Granite is designed to last for years, but you can opt to replace it due to many reasons. One of the reasons is if you are no longer excited by the current look of the countertops. You also should consider replacing the countertops if you are looking to improve the design and look of your house.

It’s also wise to replace the countertops if they are too old. Regardless of the reason, you are looking to undertake countertop replacement, ensure that an expert granite contractor Potomac does the work. Just like with the countertops store, ensure that the contractor is reputable and has been providing the service for a long time.

09

Oct

5 Factors To Consider When Buying Quartz Kitchen Countertops And Other Kitchen Countertop Materials

Whether you are looking to install quartz kitchen countertops or any other types of countertops, you need to consider several factors that include:

Your budget

This is the first thing to think about. How much money are you planning to spend on the project? If this is the first time installing the units, sit down with an experienced contractor who will help you in making the calculations. When making the budget, think about the hidden costs such as the cost of transportation, the cost of the contractors, and other costs.

The worst thing you can do is to start a project and end up stopping in the middle or be required to take a second loan. Don’t rush to the stores and buy the countertop materials without fully understanding the amount of money you need.

Countertop materials

There are plenty of countertop materials in the market to choose from. The most common ones are:

Granite: A natural stone with plenty of colors to choose from, granite is preferred by many homeowners due to its ease of maintenance and durability. Granite countertops hold up excellently to regular kitchen use, and when you install them, you don’t have to worry about the surfaces getting burnt or scratched.

Marble: Marble is known for its soft and elegant look. Unlike granite, marble is high maintenance, stains, and etches easily. Despite these drawbacks, the stone has a unique veining and beautiful look. Due to the way they interact excellently with dough, Marble countertops are an excellent choice for bakers and pastry chefs.

Laminate: Laminate is the go-to countertop material for people operating on a tight budget. In addition to being affordable, it also comes in a wide range of patterns to choose from.

Wood: Made from wood strips, wood butcher block countertops give any kitchen homey warmth. While the countertops are susceptible to water damage, they are easy to refinish; therefore, you can easily maintain the new look for long. When they scratch or develop gouges, you only need to sand them.

Solid surface: These materials are ideal when you are looking for a seamless countertop surface. Made from a combination of polyester, acrylic, and pigments, solid surface countertops feature grooves that easily fit together, giving the surfaces a smooth look. To eliminate the seams, you only need to sand and buff them.

The look of the countertops

How do the countertops look in your kitchen? You need to think about it before you make the purchase. Many homeowners make the mistake of buying the countertops after seeing them in the stores. Remember how the pieces look in your kitchen depends on plenty of factors such as the design of the kitchen, the color of the tiles, among many other things.

Regardless of how beautiful the countertops look in the stores, don’t rush to place a large order. First, take a few slabs and go with them to your home. Place them on the counters and observe how well they blend with the kitchen. Only buy those that accentuate the look of the kitchen.

Durability

No one wants pieces that will come apart after a few uses. Your new kitchen countertops should last for a long time. They should hold up to spills and knife marks. Concrete countertops are quickly gaining popularity as they are durable and stylish. They are also resistant to cracking and chipping.

Natural stones such as quartz and granite are also durable. Unfortunately, they are prone to staining.

Cheaper materials such as laminate are stain-resistant, but they are easily damaged when exposed to kitchen knives and high heat.

When buying the pieces for the first time, consult an experienced contractor who will guide you on the right pieces that are not only durable but also will give your home a stylish and elegant look.

Ease of maintenance

The last thing to think about when making the purchase is how easy it is to own the countertops. The more the care you need to give to the countertops, the more expensive they are going to be in the long run. To ensure you know what you are getting yourself into, research thoroughly, and even consult granite companies Rockville and other professionals on the amount of care you have to give the various countertop materials.