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DWYER MARBLE & STONE  •  DESIGN NEWSLETTER  •  Vol. 2, Issue 2  •  Back Issues click to call: 248.476.4944
News & Views
 
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Pros & Cons Of Granite Countertops

© UseNaturalStone.com

When choosing a countertop surface for your kitchen, there are a lot of factors to consider. If granite has made it to the top of your list, read through the article below to ...   read more>>>

A Wild Ride Through The Rock Cycle

© UseNaturalStone.com

The forces that create natural stone are all around us. Some are right in our backyards and others operate miles deep inside the Earth. Geologists use the concept of the rock ...   read more>>>

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Pros & Cons Of Granite Countertops

by UNS Resource


When choosing a countertop surface for your kitchen, there are a lot of factors to consider. If granite has made it to the top of your list, read through the article below to determine if its advantages and disadvantages make it a good choice for your family.

Heat Resistance. Granite countertops will not melt or blister when exposed to heat. They are one of the most heat-resistant countertops on the market. Experts do recommend the use of a trivet when using appliances that emit heat for long periods of time, such as crockpots. Since the material is so dense, there is a small possibility heating one area of the top and not the entire thing, could cause the countertop to crack.

Scratch Resistance. Granite scores a seven on Moh's scale of hardness. This means that very few minerals are able to scratch it. You can cut on it, but it isn't recommended since this will dull your knives and possibly leave a metal residue behind that can be difficult to remove.

Stain Resistance. In general, darker granites are very dense and sometimes don't even require a sealer. Lighter granites are generally more porous and may require sealer to be considered stain resistant. Either way, if properly treated, granite is a stain-resistant countertop surface.

Resistance to Chemicals. Granite countertops are very resistant to chemicals. Acids and bases will not harm the material. Do be careful of repeated use, though, as some chemicals will wash away the sealer over time, causing the need for re-sealing before the recommended time.

Seams: In a typical kitchen, granite countertops will need to have 2-3 seams. Depending on the color of granite you choose, average slab size will vary. A typical expectation can be set at 9 feet by 5 feet. Large islands can often be done without seams. If you have an L or U shaped layout, expect seams where the countertops angle in a different direction. The good news is that many fabricators will mix custom color epoxy to adhere the seams together which does a great job at disguising them. Expect the seam to be around 1/8-inch thick.

Backsplash Options. Coved backsplashes that are common in laminate countertops are not available with granite. Typically, a separate 4" piece of the stone slab will be adhered on top of your countertop surface. Tile and full-height granite backsplashes are also used.

Sealing. Granite is a porous material. Most fabricators will apply a sealer to granite countertops before they are installed which will protect them from absorbing liquids too quickly. Being porous is not necessarily a bad quality. If liquids are left on the surface for long periods of time, they will eventually absorb. But just like they absorb, they will also evaporate. Depending on what the substance is that needs to be removed, you can apply different poultices to speed the process along. However, many will evaporate on their own without the use of cleaning products.

Maintenance. Granite countertops are considered to be a low-maintenance countertop surface. The likelihood of needing to be repaired or resurfaced is low. Technology for sealers has come a long way over the years. When they do need to be reapplied, it is something that most homeowners can do on their own as the process is similar to cleaning. Simply apply the product and wipe off the excess. It is a good idea to ask your installer which sealer was initially applied and use the same kind to reapply.

© UseNaturalStone.com


A Wild Ride Through The Rock Cycle

by Karin Kirk



The rock cycle. Photo courtesy of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

How Stone Is Formed | The Rock Cycle Explained

The forces that create natural stone are all around us. Some are right in our backyards and others operate miles deep inside the Earth. Geologists use the concept of the rock cycle to illustrate how rocks are born, and then are transformed by their journeys through the Earth, only to be recycled into new rocks all over again. Along the way, we get some amazing specimens of stone to enjoy, each one revealing telltale signs of its geologic past.

Rocks From Liquid Magma

Molten rock resides in pockets in the Earth's crust. In some cases it's not even all that deep, such as in Yellowstone National Park where magma lurks just a few miles underfoot. Rocks borne from liquid magma are called igneous rocks, and they include favorites such as Santa Cecilia, Ubatuba, and Blue Pearl.


Igneous rocks come from liquid magma, like this lava in Hawaii. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Magma underground isn't fully liquid; it's more like a slushy mixture of liquid and solid. As the magma cools, mineral crystals form. Magma that cools slowly gives us large crystals. When it cools more quickly, it will have smaller grains, like Absolute Black. If water mixes in with the magma, you can get giant crystals, called pegmatites (like Alaska White). In all of these cases, the rock cools off while still underground, a process that can take thousands of years. Sometimes magma erupts out onto Earth's surface in a lava flow or in a fiery cascade of airborne cinders. Lava rocks rarely make good structural or countertop stone because they tend to be porous and fragile. These specimens can add interest to your rock garden though.

Igneous rocks vary in color depending on the minerals in them. They range from light-colored granite (like Butterfly Beige) to black basalt. Geologists have an organized naming classification for all kinds of igneous rocks, but in the decorative stone industry they are often all categorized as granite. This makes some geologists crazy, but as long as we understand our different languages, it's okay!

Despite their range of colors and textures, most igneous rocks share similar properties. They are hard, dense, and they don't etch when exposed to household acids. That's why they are an enduring choice for countertops and floors.


Rocky Mountain gneiss shows the taffy-like pattern that formed when the rock was heated and compressed. Photo courtesy of Pacific Shore Stones.

Broken rocks are the ingredients for a new kind of stone

We know that igneous rocks form a few miles down in Earth's crust. Thanks to tectonic activity, rocks that form way down deep can be brought up to the surface where we can admire them and learn about where they've been. For example, most mountain ranges are made of once-deep rocks that have been forced upward. As magnificent as mountains are, they don't stick around forever. Their rocks get weathered, broken apart, and carried away by erosion. This is how sedimentary rocks form. Loose sediments roll down a mountainside, blow away in a dust cloud, or are swept downstream in a river. At some point, pieces pile up and become the ingredients for a sedimentary rock. With added layers on top of them, they'll compress into solid stone once again. In this manner, cobbles and gravel became conglomerate. Coastal currents form swooping layers, and tidal flats create intricate patterns.

Because these rocks form at or near the surface of the earth, they are not exposed to high pressure. The more deeply a rock is buried, the denser it becomes. Sedimentary rocks like sandstone can make exquisite stones for both structural and decorative purposes, but they can be porous — make sure the properties of the rock match the intended use.


Beach sand may have once been granite, and now it's on its way to becoming sandstone.

Heat and pressure transform rocks into new versions of themselves

The sandstone on our beach got to enjoy the sunshine for only a little while before layers of new sediment washed in on top of it. With each blanket of new material, the sandstone finds itself deeper, hotter, and under more pressure. To make matters worse, a pocket of magma gurgles up from below, and the whole area gets compressed and squeezed. As a final insult, hot, briny groundwater circulates all around, transforming this once pleasant environment to a Hadean torture chamber. These changes in heat, pressure, and chemistry make the rock change too.

Metamorphic rocks are those that are subjected to conditions that cause the rock to change. Sometimes new minerals form. Sometimes the minerals rearrange themselves in a linear or wavy pattern. The type of metamorphic rock that emerges depends on what the rock started out as, and what conditions it endured.

Our beach sandstone, when heated and compressed, turns into quartzite. The sand grains don't melt, but they become fused to their neighbors. This is why quartzite is less porous than sandstone.

If granite is heated and compressed, the resulting rock is called gneiss (pronounced "nice"). Gneiss has wavy, ribbon-like patterns in it, which are formed as the rock is squeezed. Rocky Mountain and Juparana are beautiful examples of gneiss. Some metamorphic rocks develop glittery mica minerals and are called schist.

In extreme conditions the rock may start to melt and turn back to magma. Stones like Titanium show the beginnings of this process, with fluid bands of melted quartz in an otherwise solid rock. This is called migmatite, which means "mixed rock" — part igneous, part metamorphic. If we keep dialing up the thermostat on our rock eventually it will melt completely and become liquid magma once again. The cycle begins anew.

Through these processes, hundreds of different rocks form on Earth, ranging in ages from billions of years old right up to rocks that are forming today. A kitchen countertop, a tiled floor, or a dry stacked stone wall are perfect ways to capture these geologic events to admire as part of your everyday life.

© UseNaturalStone.com


Thanks For Visiting Us At
The Aurea Stone Booth At KBIS!