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DWYER MARBLE & STONE  •  DESIGN NEWSLETTER  •  Vol. 2, Issue 5  •  Back Issues click to call: 248.476.4944
News & Views
 
How to Care For Your Granite Countertops

© UseNaturalStone.com

Granite has long been favored for countertops due to its beauty and ease of maintenance. Granite is a durable material, but like all surfaces, does require regular maintenance. We sat down with several experts to learn how best to care for granite countertops.

"Granite is one of the easiest to care for stones you can use in your home," says Galen Roth, owner of Roth ...   read more>>>

Romancing the Stone: In Search of the Perfect Kitchen Countertop

© UseNaturalStone.com

I was standing in the middle of a granite warehouse amid 42,000 square feet of stone slabs. My kitchen designer sent me here with just one piece of advice: see what speaks to you. I was overwhelmed ...   read more>>>

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How to Care For Your Granite Countertops

by Stephanie Vozza


Granite has long been favored for countertops due to its beauty and ease of maintenance. Granite is a durable material, but like all surfaces, does require regular maintenance. We sat down with several experts to learn how best to care for granite countertops.


Why Choose Granite?

"Granite is one of the easiest to care for stones you can use in your home," says Galen Roth, owner of Roth Restoration in Charleston, SC. "Most of the granite restoration calls we receive are for countertops that are 10 to 15 year old, when they become dull around sink and work areas. Otherwise, granite countertops need very little upkeep."

"Granite is a good choice for kitchen countertops because it's not sensitive to most common household acids," adds Brian Kornet, owner and president of Fabra-Clean in Plainview, New York. "If you have polished granite, it's very difficult for it to lose its shine."


Daily Maintenance

Roth recommends getting into a routine of wiping granite counters daily with a neutral cleaner. "That's all that's needed," he says. "You don't need to use a harsh soap because nothing sticks to granite; it's a smooth surface."

It's important to read labels — most major brands of cleaners make a version that is safe for stone surfaces. A natural stone cleaner made for daily use should not leave residue on stone, which Kornet says is important. He notes that people often use dish detergent to clean their granite countertops, which he does not recommend. "Soap has a fatty acid that leaves a greasy film, which can dull or leave streaks on stone surfaces. You won't get that with the right daily cleaner."

Simple preventative measures can go a long way in protecting granite countertops. Make sure to use cutting boards, trivets, and cooling racks. Kornet also recommends cleaning up spills and moisture as soon as possible. "If you have bottles of cleaning fluids, such as dish detergent, keep them in a dish," he says. "Dry underneath dishes regularly, and use coasters with glasses."

Water can cause a calcification on granite countertops. Jacqueline Tabbah, VP of International Stoneworks in Houston, TX, recommends using a neutral cleaner weekly to address the buildup.

"If you don't take the time to wipe off water each day, you will see the water start to calcify, turning white around the faucet and fixtures," she says. "If you let it go, you'll need a stone restoration, but it's cleanable using the right products."


Annual Maintenance

Our experts recommend sealing most granites, but the timeline can vary depending on use.

"The kitchen is the heart of the home and is used every day, and the bathroom has constant daily water exposure," says Tabbah. "Once a year, reseal these countertops using a penetrating sealer. It provides good water, oil, and grease resistance." Penetrating (or impregnating) sealers work just below the surface to help safeguard against stains.

Spray on the product and let it soak in for 15 to 20 minutes, then use a microfiber or cotton cloth to wipe away whatever sealer didn't soak in, testing after each application.

"Put a little hot water on an area, let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes, and then wipe it off," says Kornet. "If the stone darkens, it's still absorbing moisture. If it doesn't, it's sealed. The reason hot water is used is because it has smaller molecules."

A good sealer can last up to 10 years if using the right products to clean daily. "What will break down the sealer besides oxidation from sunlight and air is using improper cleaners," says Kornet.

If you see loss of shine, Tabbah says it's time to call a stone restoration specialist who can rehone or repolish the countertop.

"Restoration techniques takes care of surface scratches as well as areas that have lost their shine, getting the countertop back to a nice consistent finish and shine," she says. "It's on an as-needed basis."

"Granite makes a great countertop," says Kornet. "If you take care of it, it will last a long time."

© UseNaturalStone.com


Romancing the Stone: In Search of the Perfect Kitchen Countertop

by E. A. Aarons


Selecting Stone Countertops | How to Choose Granite & Marble

I was standing in the middle of a granite warehouse amid 42,000 square feet of stone slabs. My kitchen designer sent me here with just one piece of advice: see what speaks to you.

I was overwhelmed. Until I saw one particular slab. Then I was smitten.

Before I stepped into that stone yard, I had no idea granite slabs could vary so greatly, that dynamic forces of nature could create such fantastic colors out of rock and mineral. There were slabs with subtle glints of light, and slabs with full-on sparkle. Some streaky, others wavy and wild. They started to appear to me like big, beautiful canvases you'd expect to see on a wall, rather than on a countertop. Their crystallization formed impossibly beautiful patterns reminiscent of impressionism, expressionism, some even luminous fields of abstract color blocks. Other patterns looked like aerial photography of gauzy desert landscapes or bird's-eye-views of rushing rivers. Each slab had movement and volume.

I slowed down and took my time to enjoy the selection process. On a practical level, I've always been drawn to the high performance, low maintenance properties of granite. It's sturdy and strong. Aesthetically, I love its timeless elegance. Granite would fit as seamlessly into my 1925 Dutch Colonial as it would into a contemporary townhouse.


I also love the uniqueness. Even though granite is the most popular natural stone countertop material, there's nothing cookie-cutter about it. My neighbor's granite countertops would never look like my countertops. The idea that I could choose a rock that would be mine alone, not an off-the-shelf product, was compelling. Navigating my way around all these choices would be worth it. The fact is that my countertops would be the statement-making linchpin of the entire kitchen redesign.

Selecting the slab is step number one. Next is deciding on an edging profile. Square, bullnose, rounded, beveled and ogee were on the short list of choices. From there, a fabricator would create a template of my kitchen's countertops, dimensions, angles and openings. The granite slab is "fabbed" based on the template.

Granite warehouses like this one are the midpoint between quarry and fabricator, between raw ore and installed countertop. That these massive slabs may have originated in a 20-ton block plucked out of the earth is astonishing.

I circled the warehouse a few times. Certified Kitchen Designer Nancy Young says it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the choices. "People are always afraid to go with their gut. They hire kitchen designers like me because they don't feel confident with their selections."


There are no hard-and-fast rules in selecting granite. Some opt for contrast between cabinets and countertops, going with a design that has lighter colors to set off darker cabinets and vice versa. Others prefer a modern monochromatic look.

It's not always enough to simply pick out a particular slab. With granite that has a lot of movement, vein patterns, and color variations, it's also important to identify the section of the slab so the best part doesn't wind up as a left-over cutting on the fabricator's shop floor.

Another consideration is how long you plan to be in the home. "Are you going to be selling your house within the next five years or is it your dream house you're going to be in 20 years?" says Young. The longer the time frame, the less resale value plays into the decision. But in any case, you really want to love it. "It's not like a paint color you can easily change," she says.

Granite is quarried in dozens of countries around the world. Brazil accounts for just over half of all granite imported into the United States. Since 2000, the demand for granite has doubled. Prices aren't necessarily based on the country of origin, sometimes not even quality but on scarcity. The owner of the granite warehouse tells me exotic granites with vibrant colors and greater movement fetch some of the highest prices. The size of the quarry plays a part, too, says Young. "Quarries that are small or that aren't in use every day means the stone will be rarer."

In the end I opted for symmetry and uniformity to complement my white cabinets, settling on a blackish-green granite with the exotic name of Ubatuba and a bullnose edging. Flecks of golds and browns seem to appear and disappear in the changing light, an extraordinary detail millions of years in the making.

© UseNaturalStone.com