a) Choosing Material
Granite characteristics include strength and durability. It’s a unique and elegant natural stone. It’s also one of the oldest, hardest, and strongest stones available. The looks obtained from using granite are versatile. From an unassuming elegance to a bold “look at me” statement. That means it is at home in a country farm house as well as in a modern high rise. It’s all about the color and texture you choose. The term granite is derived from the Latin word granum meaning grain. It is full of small and large grains of crystals. This stone starts out as a molten mass of magma and then forms into the rock granite as this magma cools deep within the earth. Granites are classified differently in scientific and industry terms. Granite is a highly durable siliceous stone. The main minerals in true granites are silicates, feldspar, and quartz. The most important mineral is quartz. It’s not granite without quartz. Compared to marble, it is more resistant to the acids found in lemons, vinegars, and cleaning products and usually will not etch. Granite characteristics make this stone virtually scratch proof. It will not scratch even when directly cut on. Things such as keys, coins, utensils, and appliances won’t scratch it either. In fact, granite will actually dull your knives. Little slivers of the knife can become embedded in your stone. This is very noticeable with the darker stones so make a note if you are using your stone as a cutting board. The characteristics of granite also make this stone heat resistant. It can withstand heat up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. It also has a lower water absorption rate when compared to marbles and Limestone. The crystals in darker stones are smaller or finer making it harder for any liquids to penetrate. It is most commonly used for countertops, flooring, window sills, shower surrounds, islands, fireplaces, bar tops, benches and monuments because of its outstanding durability. There are hundreds of colors and patterns to choose from. From simple whites to multi-color patterns, you can find all the colors of nature (and some you will swear couldn´t possibly be natural) in granite. There is truly a color for everyone. The texture or pattern of the stone is what will most likely influence which granite you choose. Some granite is speckled or have little flecks of color here and there while others have veining running throughout similar to marble. Figure out what your preferred color is and then look at textures or patterns in this color range. The pattern will change the whole look and feel of your room.
2-Engineered Stones (Quartz)
Engineered or man-made stone products is a “Green Product” that is increasingly popular and comparable to granite in just about every way. For those who love the look of granite but are concerned about its drawbacks, quartz may be the answer. And while granite is subject to unpredictable variations in color or pattern between slabs, engineered stone is uniform in color, pattern, and texture. It provides nearly all of the benefits of natural stone. Quartz (Silica/Silicon Dioxide, SiO2) is the most common mineral on the earth’s surface. It is present in nearly every geological environment and is a component of almost every rock type and exists in an impressive range of varieties and colors. Quartz ranks 7.0 on Moh’s Hardness Scale, which is used to measure the scratch-resistance of a material. Only the diamond (at 10), topaz and sapphire (at 9) are harder than quartz. (Granite is ranked 6 on the scale). Because quartz grows in clusters and does not form huge stone blocks like granite (which contains 40% – 60% quartz), limestone or other types of rock, it is not suitable in its natural state to make into countertops or other large slabs. The manufacturing process uses raw quartz crystals ranging in size from coarse grains to the size of rock salt. Once the quartz is ground and selected, the crystals are combined with bonding agents (resin) and color, then heated and vibro-compacted to form an impenetrable surface. The resulting slabs are a matrix of 93% quartz and 7% resin binders and pigments free of fissures and cracks, and impervious to water, moisture, or bacteria. Industry-wide, all quartz countertops are made with 93 percent quartz or they cannot claim the hardness, durability, or impermeability of a true quartz surface. The manufacturing process is a controlled process and quality-control measures exist for quartz that are not possible for natural granite countertops. The process used during production ensures that any sample slab will be identical in color and texture to the delivered product. Because they’re man-made, these materials can be fabricated in large sheets ( 55″W x 120″L), which makes it easier to fabricate large islands in one piece. In addition, curves, circles and other shapes are possible. Engineered stone is the most durable surface material, combining the hardness and durability of quartz with the exceptional low maintenance qualities of man-made materials Engineered stone products require no maintenance because they are non-porous. Their impervious surface provides stain and bacterial resistance. In addition to Kitchen/Laundry/Bath Countertops, engineered stone products can be used for vanities, Backsplashes, Wet Bars, Tub/Shower Surrounds and other surfaces throughout the home. They are ideal for commercial settings, especially daycare centers, hospitals and foodservice providers.
b) Choosing Color
Once you have decided what material to use, now the fun really begins, choosing your color! One value of natural stone is its ability to express personality. With colors ranging from Absolute Black to wild colors of the Rare Exotics the individual beauty of each stone will add to the elegance of any room. This is just one of the many reasons it is so desired by Designers. It is well known that natural stone is the ultimate choice in luxury for kitchen countertops and bathroom vanity tops and it being more affordable then ever it has also gained popularity for use in showers, tub surrounds, flooring, fireplaces and many other applications. Engineered stone is a “green” man made material and is produced from a formula so a small sample is usually an accurate representation of the whole slab. There have been some exciting advancements in the colors and patterns offered by manufactures. There are new patterns that mimic the movement and variation found in natural stone. Also, if you like consistent patterns, solid colors or honed finishes than an engineered material may be perfect for your project. The versatility of this product has made it an up and coming choice for progressive Designers. The possibilities are almost limitless. With all of the possibilities it can be a challenging task to select the perfect color and hue for your project. These natural works of art offer every color of the rainbow in limitless combinations. Even the same color of stone can vary from lot to lot. The first step in overcoming this challenge is to visit one of our locations and meet with a member of our knowledgeable staff. We are a fabricator that imports full slabs and offers over one hundred and fifty choices of natural stone, not just a few small samples. Ideally you would like the natural stone color to compliment your kitchen cabinets and flooring, therefore it would be advisable to bring a cabinet and flooring sample with you to allow you to envision the whole look. When you find just the right stone for your project, make sure to reserve that piece as the next lot may not have the exact same features that the current selection does. The staff will also offer to provide a “layout” of your stone countertops. This will give you an idea of what features and patterns will be visible in particular areas of your kitchen. For example: you wouldn´t want a feature that you like in the stone covered by an appliance garage or lost by a sink or cooktop cutout.
c) Choosing Edge
Natural Stone Countertops Edge Profiles Donít overlook the edge profile that gives your natural stone countertop or bathroom vanity the finishing touch. We offer a choice of ten edge profiles that will suit any taste and style. When choosing the edge profile for your countertop, consider the overall style of your kitchen or bathroom. Simple straight edge, bullnose, or semi bullnose will fit well in a contemporary kitchen with clean lines and smooth surfaces. Bevel edge will add a lot of dimension to the overall look of the counter and will make it perfectly finished. It will look great in an Art Deco interior. If the style of your kitchen is more formal, consider the beautiful ogee or double ogee. Choose bullnose, semi bullnose, or triple pencil edge for the comfort and weathered elegance of rustic style.
d) Choosing Sink
1. Undermount Sink
An undermount sink is installed under a countertop to create a seamless flow. It is not the best choice for every kitchen because it only works with countertops made out of stone, quartz, concrete or another solid material. If installed with a laminate countertop, a very specific model of undermountsink need to be used to avoid bubbling of the laminate edge It is very popular because of its seamless appearance. It is also easy to clean and take care of.
2. Drop-in Sink
Top-mount (drop-in, self-rimming) sinks are best for a tight budget. It sits directly on top of the counter. Top-mounts work with any countertop material and are the simplest to install. The grime build up around the lip of the sink can detract from the look of natural stone countertops.
3. Apron front (farmhouse) kitchen sink
An apron front, or farmhouse, kitchen sink usually has one large bowl with an exposed front panel. The unique design of the sink may need custom made cabinetry. Be sure to choose a sink that will match your kitchen’s decor. With the variety of materials and finishes, you can find a kitchen sink to match any kitchen decor.