Natural Stone Countertops Basics!

Natural Stone Countertops Basics

They say that what you don’t know can’t hurt you!  But let me tell you something…. it can sure destroy one of the most valuable investiment you make in your home!! Your natural stone Countertops!!

So, before you venture into the wonderful world of “choosing your Natural Stone Countertops”…. let me share with you my “Natural Stone countertop Basics”!

I am that weird type or person who likes to understand why things work the way they do…. (I know, sometimes it anoys me too…lol)  however looking back and honestely speaking I believe so far that  has served me very well.

With that in mind I want to share with you a couple of  natural stone tips that I believe will be of great help to you. Once you understand them, you can  make an educated decision when selecting your natural stone countertops, or if you already have them at your home, you will be able to better care and maintain  those surfaces knowing exactly what to do and what kind of cleaners to use depending on your particular type of stone.

 

Natural stones in general are technically classified by its natural composition as siliceous or calcareous.

Siliceous Stones – The main composition of these stone is silica or quartz like particles. These stones are relatively easy to care for, they’re strong and can be maintained with mild cleaning solutions. Granite countertops , slate countertops, sandstone countertops  and quartzite countertops are some of the most used applications done with siliceous stones.

Granite  used for Island Countertop

 

                     Slate used on a kitchen Island slate island countertop

 

Quartzite Countertops

Taj Mahal Kitchen countertops

 

Calcareous stones – on the other hand are composed primarily composed of calcium carbonate, which makes naturally creates a chemical reaction to acidic foods such as lemons or tomatoes, some cleaners and even acidic water or rain. This reaction will result in a dulling on surface of the stone and alteration in texture, also known as “acid etching”.

Keep in mind that many cleaning products that work on siliceous stone may cause damage to calcareous surfaces. Some of the most popular Calcareous stones are used for  marble countertops, travertine countertops, limestone countertops and onyx countertops .

Marble CountertopsArtic white countertops

 

Travertine used on a vanity top

Travertine countertop

 

 Limestone Gascogne Blue, used on a vanity countertop

GascongeBlue limestone top

 

 White Onyx used on a kitchen Island

White Onyx Island countertop

Now you have it! Understanding the nature of your stone of choice is the first step on choosing the best natural stone for your home.

And as I always like to remind my customers, that there’s no right or wrong natural stone choice as long as you understand its nature and it fits your lifestyle!!

White Granite Countertops Colors

himalayan white graniteWhite granite has become one of the hottest trends within the natural stone countertop surfaces in the recent years. White granite is sort of a relative term when talking about granite colors. There’s no such a thing as a pure white granite, but if what you are really looking for is a natural stone option within the granite family with a predominance of whites, then yes, there are many colors available out there that fit that description. Most white granite colors are classified as white, due to its background color. With that said, you will come across some white granite, that will reflect shades of beige, browns, greys, blues while still classified as white granite colors.

From whites, off whites to greys tons, I’m sure you will able to find just the perfect color for your kitchen or bathroom countertops. Using a lighter stone surface will definitely brighten up the room. Although pretty much all white granite will have some sort of dark grey to black speckles, the overall appearance of the full slab will be white, other times will give you the illusion of grey, which is another very popular choice.
Keep in mind that granite a natural product, so I’ve seeing many white granite colors that will have a huge variation in their shades of white tons, from bundles to bundles. So, it’s always safe to meet with your sales rep and visit the stone fabricator or the local stone supplier to view and approve your granite slab.
You will find a wide range of white granite colors, as well as prices.

 

White Granite Countertops Price

Note that white granite colors with a lot of quartz inclusions will definitely be part of exotic colors and you will notice the increase on square footage price anytime you hear the word exotic used as a granite color classification. Some of them are White Princess, White Springs, Alaskan White Granite, White Ice Granite. One of the most popular colors with a quite a bit of quartz inclusions on its surface is the Delicatus White.

Now if you still want to give that new look to your outdated kitchen or bathroom countertops, and want to keep it more affordable, believe me you can still do it. Just try to look for colors such as: Dallas White granite, Viscount White, Giallo Verona, Moon white granite, White Samoa granite, White G. and a few others.
On the mid price range you will find colors like Kashimir White granite, River White granite, Colonial WhiteHimalayan white granite, Bianco Romano among others.

I hope you have fun and enjoy your search for white granite colors, just don’t forget that granite is a natural stone, so it will have variations in colors, veining and finishes.

 

 

Give a New Look to that Outdated Bathroom!

Trends come and go, and if you’re like thousands of homeowners that
are faced with the need of improving that boring old looking bathroom, but still don’t you want to spend a ton on that project…. The solutions comes down to “being creative”! But, above all, creating a room that reflects your personality and lifestyle still the word of the day!
Just like your kitchen, your bathroom is one of the most visited areas of your house and Spending time in a room that reminds you of your early years of marriage, or when the children were Little and you still have some of those crayons marks scrambled on the walls! That’s not only boring, it’s a plain mood killer!
So, let me give you here 5 Tips that will help you improve the look and feel of that boring and outdated looking bathroom; and some of them  are extremely budget friendly!

 
An Accent Wall!

Accent wall painted
Yes, accent walls in a bathroom are not only for restaurants, Spas and Nails Saloons! Not at all!
Painting a back or side wall with a bold color will not only add a dimensional illusion to your bathroom but it will also take your eye from all the other areas transforming that before unseeing area into the focal point in your bathroom! Now, if you feel a little extravagant, you can play with textures too, that alone will give more life to your bathroom!

 
Bring Light into that Bathroom!

LED Lighting

More and more we see an increase on skylights and windows bringing more natural light into the bathrooms. Although not all home owners’ association codes allow homeowners to make that kind of structural change to their homes, the ones that do, will have homeowners smiling at the energy savings they will have by not having to turn on the lights that often anymore.
Adding new lighting to your bathroom is something that’s being trending since last year and will continue this year, especially when LED lights are becoming more and more cost efficient as well. They have a very natural daylight feel and are being used mostly everywhere these days.

 

Accessorize it!

accessorized bathroom
Just don’t overdo it! Sometimes what started as a well intended décor project can turn out to be nothing more than clutter! Try to add details to enhance your bathroom, but still, keep it clean and down to the minimum.
Go for faucets and sinks that complement your home décor style. You can choose from Chrome, brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze. Oh and copper still a great choice as well. New faucet styles area now entering the residential space, and by those I mean the more straight, clean, high-tech kind of looking, they’re beautiful and are really trending now along with the crescent minimalist look.

 

Your Spa at Home!

Spa style home bathroom
By all means go for that! I just spend this past weekend at a local Spa and as I was sitting there enjoying myself … I started to notice that soothing, healing and so relaxing environment is what we’re seeing lately on magazines, home shows, tile showrooms, etc. Everywhere you look you will notice the Spa concept being introduced to us. The clean lines, lives plants, vertical gardens and geometric lines are a clear definition of what having your own Spa at home looks and feels like.

 

Update that old Countertop!

new bathroom countertop
Many might say that I’m actually bias by bringing up this Tip! Lol However, this holds to be very true. Many times you walk into a bathroom where the floors look nice, wall colors are well coordinated, cabinets are in great shape, but you still have that feeling that something still quite not right!! I could be that you are still holding on to that outdated countertop and it’s time to get them a new look! You would not believe how big a change you can create in your bathroom just by replacing your old countertops, getting new sinks and a stylish faucet!

 

Create a Tiled accent wall!

accent back wall

Being a native Brazilian, I grew up seeing tile walls everywhere… from the tiled porch walls  to entire kitchens and bathrooms – floors and walls covered with tiles! I guess part is due to the heavy European style and the  other part has to do with the warm weather, in most Tropical Countries, their architectural style makes you believe that  everything is “tileable”!

So, seeing the tile walls trend that started to emerge and keeps growing here in the States, in the recent years  is a breath of fresh air for me! I love it! Especially here in the Southern part of the States where the traditional Southern style has a strong influence and basically rules over the  entire home decor industry.
Now, something new is coming and according to the leaders in the tile industry, 2015 is the big year for the modern look. This wave brings in lots of creative concepts for floors and walls. One of them is making tile floors the focal point in the bathrooms. That also comes with lots of textures into play, along with geometric floors styles and clean spaces. Don’t forget about the walls, and why not take that one notch up and create accent walls that once again, bring that Spa feeling into your home? That’s all part of this new trend and if you have not yet noticed keep your eyes open and you will see yourself falling in love with it.

SOAPSTONE COUNTERTOPS

 Technically speaking Soapstone is a very dense rock with talc being one of its main components. Its wide variation on the talc component is the

responsible for its hardness variation. This hardness will vary from 30% to 80%, notice that the lowest that percentile the hardest the stone

grade will be. The talc component for the Soapstone used for architectural purposes, such as countertops, usually varies within the 30-40%.

Soapstone has a warm and soft feeling to the touch. Color wise Soapstone is predominantly grey to dark charcoal with subtle flowing veins.

soapstone-modern cabinets

Although Soapstone is softer than most of the other natural stones, its density it’s what sets it apart from all other stones. Soapstone is very

dense and therefore, non-porous, for that reason being one of the most used stones for chemistry labs and acid rooms around the world.

soapstone-texas

Soapstone has no natural competitors as far as its impenetrability; nothing will permeate or stain its surface. Due to its thermal

 nature soapstone is widely for different cookware applications, going from wine coolers, beer mugs to pots, pans and servers.

Dorado soapstone island

CARE AND MAINTENANCE CLEANING SOAPSTONE COUNTERTOPS

Cleaning your soapstone countertops on a daily basis is simple and can be done using a mild detergent or a ph neutral

stone cleaner.Although chemicals and acids will not harm your stone, they will remove the mineral oil treatment given to the stone.

Regular application of mineral oil enhances its beauty turning it into a dark charcoal gray and even black.

natural soaptone kitchenUntreated  Soapstone Countertops

oil treated soapstone kitchen-houzz

Oil Treated Soapstone Countertops

Getting rid of Soapstone Scratches

Soapstone is a soft stone; therefore it will scratch much easier than granite or marble. While many soapstone lovers can

appreciate that, applying mineral oil or light sanding easily hides those scratches.

SOAPSTONE SLABS

The slabs sizes and characteristics will vary depending on its Quarry. That’s one of the main reasons why Soapstone colors

are usually named after their Quarries, such as “Santa Rita Grey Soapstone” instead of just by their main color. Soapstone slabs

average 7-9’ long by 6’ tall. The Soapstone used here in the States comes mainly from Brazil, Finland and India.

de_Minas Half Waxed - Dorado Soapstone

Soapstone colors will vary from lights shades of gray and green, with subtle white Quartz veining, which gradually

darkens over time. Mineral oil application will enhance the soapstone deep colors and patterns.

Grey Brazilian Soapstone

Atlanta Soapstone Suppliers carry a large inventory of slabs where you can select the color and pattern that best fit your

application and lifestyle. Stone Connection is one of the Brazilian’s Soapstone Suppliers here in Atlanta.

SOAPSTONE COUNTERTOPS COST

 

Soapstone is a timeless and fit into any décor. Soapstone countertops price range can go anything from $75-$150

which is similar to mid-high end granite or Quartz.

SOAPSTONE_Oak cabinets

SOAPSTONE COUNTERTOPS PROS AND CONS

 

If you want natural stone in your home and also want to go almost “maintenance Free” this is the stone for you! For me and of the sales stand point, working with Soapstone is such an easy task! Customer will either love it or hate it! This for me is awesome! Soapstone lovers understand and appreciate the nature of this stone and usually pay no attention to the short “Cons” list.

In reality, Soapstone eliminates all three major concerns homeowners have when shopping for natural stones for their countertops.

 

PROS:

Soapstone is Heat, Acid and Stains resistant!

 

PROS:

Soapstone is Heat, Acid and Stains resistant!

-       Soapstone thermal characteristics make it an excellent head conductor and also resistant to high heat without suffering any damages.

-       Other natural stones, such as granite, marble, limestone will suffer a chemical reaction when in contact with acidic materials.

The sealer applied to the stone does not protect them against the acidic reaction caused by lemon, tomato sauce, wine and even plain water with a high ph.

-       It doesn’t need to be sealed. Soapstone is super dense, meaning it’s non-porous and will require no sealant.

There’s only a few granite colors will have that same property as soapstone, and don’t need to be sealed as well.

-       It’s age-old look fits the traditional and contemporary styles;

aged soapstone top

CONS:

–       Quite honest, as someone who grew up around soapstone countertops, pots, pans and farmer house sinks, I can hardly find any cons to offset

its Pros, versatility and visual appeal, other than its narrow range of colors.

–       Oiling or treating soapstone countertops is optional (not required by any means). It will not have any effect on the appearance or characteristics

of the stone other than darken it, giving it a more contemporary look.

   mirasol soapstone countertop

Bottom line is: Soapstone brings that age-old look into the traditional and modern lifestyle.

Soapstone ages gracefully and it’s beauty and strength will certainly out do yours!

Got a Granite Countertop Project?

Don’t Stress yourself,

We  have  a Few Tips  for you…

Okay let me guess… you finally got your husband to agree with that long dream of having your kitchen remodeled…. Hahaha!  You wish!!  You might be saying…. But still, even if all you got

was the go ahead on replacing those outdated kitchen countertops… Go ahead! And let me tell you,  that  just that alone,  could be all you need for now, after all with kids and a household to run…

let’s be honest, you already got your hands full my friend!

granite countertop_project

Here are a few tips that might help you along the way, and might end up saving you some money as well,

if you do your homework and help you get your new project done in a breeze…

calacatta gold countertop island

First, no matter where you are located, chances are you might have a few granite fabricators in your area, and let me tell you, that’s where you want to close your deal.

You might want to start by shopping online for granite or marble colors ideas, and even getting some Quotes online.  Then, maybe even going to one of the big box stores

for a second Quote. But remember, that Quote will serve you just for comparison  purposes; you will save money by going directly to one of the granite shops in your area!

Here is some information you need to have handy when shopping for Granite Quotes:

-        A rough drawing of your  kitchen layout with dimensions;

-        A picture of the kitchen area will help as well, (not required, but very helpful).

-        Square footage

Additional information, such as cook top cutout and sink cut outs will be needed as well. Also, if you can remove the existent countertops before installation date, that will

also save you some money.

You will have some free options for edge profile, so, take advantage of that. Most stone fabricators will give the option of choosing your own granite slab, so look for those.

Also, with Social media being such a great help these days, look up for the Company’s reviews online.

Once you narrow down, your best choices call them and get your project started. Usually you can get a good feeling about the company you’re going to do business with just

by speaking with someone over the phone. From there on each company will have their own procedures, but usually it’s pretty straight forward.   

And remember, if you want to save money and have a more personal experience during the process… look for a granite fabricator in your area with experience and great

customer service, they will provide you with a lot more service for a lot less.