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|DWYER MARBLE & STONE • DESIGN NEWSLETTER • Vol. 1, Issue 6 • Back Issues||click to call: 248.476.4944|
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What To Expect When You're Expecting Stone Countertops
by Stephanie Vozza
Updating your home with natural stone kitchen countertops is an exciting home renovation project, and choosing the perfect material for your lifestyle and decor is just the first step. The next phase is installation, and if you've never gone through the process you might not know what to expect.
Choosing natural stone is only the first step in your countertop installation process. Photo courtesy of Natural Stone Designs. "Customers often don't understand all that's involved in having stone countertops installed," says Patty Davis, commercial business development manager for Natural Stone Designs, a natural stone fabrication shop located in Tualatin, Oregon. "They might not realize how heavy the stone is or the amount of time it takes to do it right."
That's why it's important to have realistic expectations, says Abby Sanders, marketing manager for Stone Interiors, a natural stone showroom and installer with locations in Louisiana, Alabama and South Carolina. "This is a major construction project, especially if the old countertops are being removed," she says. "As long as everybody is on the same page, it can be a seamless process from beginning to end."
Fabricators must know the make and model of sinks, faucets, and appliances going in or against countertops. Photo courtesy of Ontra Stone Concepts.
Installation of natural stone countertops can take two to three weeks, and the first step is having a measurer come to your home, says Sanders. "They will take measurements of your entire room so the fabricator can fit the stone to your unique space and appliances," she says. "We use digital measuring tools that get recorded in our system, and it takes about an hour. It's typically the first time we're in the customer's home." Prior to templating, your fabricator will also need to know the exact make and model of sinks, faucets, and appliances going in or against the countertops. They should also be made aware of other design details, including edge details, backsplashes, and rear wall treatments.
After the template is finished and approved, the stone is cut and fabricated into the countertop at the installer's workshop, and an installation date is scheduled. If old countertops are in place, they will need to be removed prior to installation to provide enough time to make repairs if cabinets become damaged in the process.
"We have to make sure the cabinet are perfectly level before the countertops are installed," says Davis. "If they're not, we can't set the stone."
In addition, the existing sink and cooktop will need to be removed, with water, gas and electricity shut off prior.
Homeowners can expect to welcome multiple installers into their homes for large installation projects. Photo courtesy of Ontra Stone Concepts.
Installing the Countertop
When the big day arrives, homeowners can expect to welcome at least two installers who will deliver the prepared countertop and put it in place. Large jobs may require as many as four people. Homeowners must be home during installation.
Before the team arrives, you will be asked to clear the pathway for the installers to enter the home. It's a good idea to take extra measures to protect valuables or breakables.
"We advise customers to cover items in cabinets to protect them from dust," says Sanders. "They also need to make arrangements for pets or kids to be out of the area. We prefer to have minimal interruptions when handling a very heavy stone slab back and forth from the truck into the home."
Mark Meriaux, Accreditation & Technical Manager at the Natural Stone Institute, offers this advice for homeowners during a countertop installation: "Stay out of the way! You've entrusted this skilled work to worthy professionals. Each job is unique and your project may already present challenges that will have to be overcome onsite. A hovering or ‘overly helpful' homeowner can send messages of distrust and even slow things down."
Most installations take four to eight hours. Large areas can sometimes take more than a day, adds Sanders. If the countertop has seams, a strong chemical adhesive is used to cement the pieces together. Then the countertops are adhered to the cabinets with silicone or paintable caulk. If your kitchen includes a cooktop instead of a slide-in range, the installers may cut the hole onsite.
Though countertop installations require a bit of preparation, choosing natural stone is worth it. Photo courtesy of Stone Interiors.
Once installation is complete, the homeowner will be responsible for scheduling a plumber to come and reconnect the water source, and an electrician to reconnect drains, water, gas, and electrical hookups. This generally happens the day after the countertops are installed to give them time to set. If you are having a backsplash installed, that should also be scheduled after the countertops are installed.
Your kitchen will likely need a good cleaning. "Usually the dust settles up to 24 hours after we leave the home," says Sanders. "Even though installers clean up after themselves, there is usually some minor clean up a homeowner should be prepared for."
Then your kitchen is ready to go. While the process requires a certain amount of prep work, it's well worth it. "You're investing in a piece that will last for years to come, contributing to value of your home and providing a piece that can be enjoyed possibly for generations," says Sanders.
Natural Stone Is Going Big and Bold in Interiors
by Megy Karydes
Natural stone is going big. Homeowners are asking for stone to be used on vertical surfaces indoors, especially slabs among high-end design projects, to make a bold design statement. New natural stone options are making it easier for homeowners to get creative.
Designers are starting to see natural stone used in new and refreshing applications. "We are noticing an increase in demand for the use of stone throughout people's homes," says Alyssa Bockman, design consultant with Stoneshop. "Even just in countertop applications, more customers are asking for waterfall panels and edge treatments to enhance the thickness and really create a 'wow' factor." Wall applications, she says, have definitely become a trend.
Photo courtesy of Dennis Jourdan.
Rebekah Zaveloff, co-founder and director of design of KitchenLab Design, also sees the trend for big and bold stone applications. Full-height marble or quartzite backsplashes and fireplace surrounds are trending, and slab materials are being used to wrap the inside frames of showers and niches on walls inside and outside the bathroom, she says.
Why are homeowners suddenly starting to go big with their natural stone applications?
Homeowners are beginning to appreciate the texture and dimension in stone, which is part of the reason Brock Mettz, owner and lead designer at Brock Lane Mettz Design, believes clients are asking to use very large format stone in projects. For many clients, bigger means better. "This leads to the beauty of the stone speaking for itself and acting as the decoration, instead of having to add extraneous decorative elements into the design," he says.
Mettz especially loves seeing manufacturers take a stone that they've been using in the industry for years, and then cut it from the stone block in an atypical fashion. "Depending on how the stone is cut from the large stone blocks, veins can be accentuated and new colors may pop that would have previously gone unnoticed," he notes.
Photo courtesy of Toni Soluri Photography.
When working with such large pieces, color matters. Sometimes it means you need to work with the color of the slab or what surrounds it. In most cases, designers will advise clients to consider the long-term decision of both color choices and the type of natural stone being used in a particular project. Choosing natural stone based solely on its color because it's trendy isn't something designers often recommend.
When clients ask Zaveloff about color choices, she encourages them to stick with what's timeless. Other colors in the room, such as paint color, are much easier to change.
Lauren Coburn, owner of Lauren Coburn, LLC, specializes in high-end residential interior design as well as interior architectural consulting, notes that when choosing natural stone, homeowners are making a big financial investment. "Choose a stone that can work with a bold color you like now, but one that will also work with more neutral colors down the line, should you choose to change the paint or wallcovering," she says.
More Options to Go Bold with Natural Stone
What's even more exciting when it comes to color and design trends and natural stone is that people have more options to get creative. "There are entire cladding collections that offer various shapes, dimensions and textures," says Mettz. "These dimensional and textured stones are excellent tools to create focal points and the offer seamless connection between inside and outside."
Bockman is intrigued by all of the finishes being applied to stone. "They are introducing new options such as leathered, antiqued, flamed, and acid washed finishes to more and more stones," she notes. "These finishes add another textured element to stone to create a more unique finished product in your home."
Zaveloff notices people aren't as afraid to use marble as they used to be. "When they ask about etching, staining, or chipping, I cite the use of marble in Italy, Spain, France, and all over Europe in public squares, roads, fountains, walls, buildings and inside," she says. "People are becoming less obsessed with perfect and more open to patina."
Coburn adds that with more options, clients are also realizing there are endless ways to use stone on walls. Since these are areas that aren't being touched a lot, more exotic and less practical materials can be used on them.
"I think using stone on a wall can provide one of the most dramatic statements in creating an interesting focal point when entering a room," says Coburn. "There are now many more interesting natural stone tiles and slabs being used on walls for aesthetic impact. They can take a room far in terms of the visual effect it has on the user."
Coburn notes that making a bold statement isn't restricted to a foyer or main living area. It can take place in a room like a master bath. Taking stone all the way up the walls in a room like a master bath can create a high-end ambiance without it feeling heavy or overwhelming, if the right stone is integrated into the project.