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Natural Stone Countertop Care Guide

Countertop Care

Care & Cleaning of Natural Stone Surfaces

The natural stone you have purchased is an investment that will give your home or office many years of beautiful service. Simple care and maintenance will help preserve your stone’s beauty for generations to come! 

Care and Precautions:

Use coasters under all glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices. Many common foods and drinks contain acids that will etch or dull the surface of many stones. Do not place hot items directly on the stone surface. Use trivets or mats under hot dishes and placemats under china, ceramics, silver or other objects that can scratch the surface.

Cleaning Procedures and Recommendations:

Dust mop interior floors frequently using a clean non-treated dry dust mop. Sand, dirt and grit do the most damage to natural stone surfaces due to their abrasiveness. Mats or area rugs inside and outside an entrance will help to minimize the sand, dirt and grit that will scratch the stone floor. Be sure that the underside of the mat or rug is a non-slip surface. Normally, it will take a person about eight steps on a floor surface to remove sand or dirt from the bottom of their shoes.

Do not use vacuum cleaners that are worn. The metal or plastic attachments or the wheels may scratch the surface.

Clean stone surfaces with a few drops of neutral cleaner, stone soap or a mild liquid dishwashing detergent and warm water. Use a clean rag mop on floors and a soft cloth for other surfaces for best results. Too much cleaner or soap may leave a film and cause streaks. Do not use products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids on marble or other calcareous stones. Rinse the surface thoroughly after washing with the soap solution and dry with a soft cloth. Change the rinse water frequently. Do not use scouring powders or creams; these products contain abrasives that may scratch the stone.

In the bath or other wet areas, soap scum can be minimized by using a squeegee after each use. To remove soap scum, use a non-acidic soap scum remover or a solution of ammonia and water (about 1/2 cup ammonia to a gallon of water). Frequent or over-use of an ammonia solution may eventually dull the surface of the stone.

Vanity tops may need to have a penetrating sealer applied. Check with your installer for recommendations. A good quality marble wax or non-yellowing automobile paste wax can be applied to minimize water spotting.

In food preparation areas, the stone may need to have a penetrating sealer applied. Check with your installer for recommendations. If a sealer is applied, be sure that it is non-toxic and safe for use on food preparation surfaces. If there is a question, check with the sealer manufacturer.

In outdoor pool, patio or hot tub areas; flush with clear water and use a mild bleach solution to remove algae or moss. 

Know Your Stone:

Natural stone can be classified into two general categories according to its composition: siliceous stone or calcareous stone. Knowing the difference is critical when selecting cleaning products. 

  1. Siliceous Stone is composed mainly of silica or quartz-like particles. It tends to be very durable and relatively easy to clean with mild acidic cleaning solutions. Types of siliceous stone include granite, slate, sandstone, quartzite, brownstone and bluestone.
  2. Calcareous Stone is composed mainly of calcium carbonate. It is sensitive to acidic cleaning products and frequently requires different cleaning procedures than siliceous stone. Types of calcareous stone include marble, travertine, limestone and onyx.

What may work to clean siliceous stone may not be suitable on calcareous surfaces.

How to Tell the Difference:

A simple acid sensitivity test can be performed to determine whether a stone is calcareous or siliceous. You will need about 4oz. of a 10% solution of *muriatic acid and an eyedropper. Or you can use household vinegar and an eyedropper. Because this test may permanently etch the stone, select an out of the way area (a corner or closet) and several inches away from the mortar joint. Apply a few drops of the acid solution to the stone surface on an area about the size of a quarter.

  • If the stone is calcareous, the acid drops will begin to bubble or fizz vigorously.
  • If little or no reaction occurs, the stone can be considered siliceous.

Rinse the area thoroughly with clean water and wipe dry. This test may not be effective if surface sealers or liquid polishes have been applied. If an old sealer is present, chip a small piece of stone away and apply the acid solution to the fractured surface.

*CAUTION: Muriatic acid is corrosive and is considered to be a hazardous substance. Proper head and body protection is necessary when acid is used.  

Stone Finishes:

A polished finish on the stone has a glossy surface that reflects light and emphasizes the color and marking of the material. This type of finish is used on walls, furniture tops and other items, as well as floor tiles.

A honed finish is a satin-smooth surface with relatively little light reflection. Generally, a honed finish is preferred for floors, stair treads, thresholds and other locations where heavy traffic will wear off the polished finish. A honed finish may also be used on furniture tops and other surfaces. 

A flamed finish is a rough-textured surface used frequently on granite floor tiles.

Stone Colors and Appearance:

Granites and marbles are quarried throughout the world in a variety of colors with varying mineral compositions. In most cases, marbles and granites can be identified by visible particles at the surface of the stone. Marble will normally show “veins” or high concentrations. The minerals in granite will typically appear as small flecks distributed uniformly in the stone. Each type of stone is unique and will vary in color, texture and marking.

Sandstones vary widely in color due to different minerals and clays found in the stone. Sandstone is light gray to yellow or red. A dark reddish-brown sandstone, also called brownstone, has commonly been used in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. Bluestone is a dense, hard, fine-grained sandstone of greenish-gray or bluish-gray color and is quarried in the eastern United States.

Limestone is a widely used building stone with colors typically light gray, tan or buff. A distinguishing characteristic of many limestones is the presence of fossils that are frequently visible in the stone surface.

Slate is dark green, black, gray, dark red or multi-colored. It is most commonly used as a flooring material and for roof tiles and is often distinguished by its distinct cleft texture.

Spills and Stains: 

Blot the spill with a paper towel immediately. Don’t wipe the area, it will spread the spill. Flush the area with plain water and mild soap, rinse several times. Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth. Repeat as necessary. If the stain remains, refer to the Stain Removal instructions.

Stain Removal:

Identifying the type of stain on the stone surface is the key to removing it. If you don’t know what caused the stain, play detective. Where is the stain located? Is it near a plant, a food service area, an area where cosmetics are used? What color is it? What is the shape or pattern? What goes on in the area around the stain?

Surface stains can often be removed by cleaning with an appropriate cleaning product or household chemical. Deep-seated or stubborn stains may require using a poultice or calling in a professional. The following sections describe the types of stains that you may have to deal with and appropriate household chemicals to use and how to prepare and apply a poultice to remove the stain. 

Types of Stains and First Step Cleaning Actions:

  • OIL-BASED (grease, tar, cooking oil, milk, cosmetics): An oil-based stain will darken the stone and normally must be chemically dissolved so the source of the stain can be flushed or rinsed away. Clean gently with a soft liquid cleanser with bleach, a household detergent, ammonia, mineral spirits OR acetone.
  • ORGANIC (coffee, tea, fruit, tobacco, paper, food, urine, leaves, bark, bird dropping): May cause a pinkish-brown stain and may disappear after the source of the stain has been removed. Outdoors – with the sources removed, normal sun and rain action will generally bleach out the stains. Indoors – clean with 12% hydrogen peroxide (hair bleaching strength) and a few drops of ammonia.
  • METAL (iron, rust, copper, bronze): Iron or rust stains are orange to brown in color and follow the shape of the staining object such as nails, bolts, screws, cans, flowerpots, metal furniture. Copper and bronze stains appear as green or muddy-brown and result from the action of moisture on nearby or embedded bronze, copper or brass items. Metal stains must be removed with a poultice. Deep-seated, rusty stains are extremely difficult to remove and the stone may be permanently stained.
  • BIOLOGICAL (algae, mildew, lichens, moss, fungi): Clean with dilute (1/2 cup in a gallon of water) ammonia, bleach, OR hydrogen peroxide. DO NOT MIX BLEACH AND AMMONIA, THIS COMBINATION CREATES A TOXIC AND LETHAL GAS!
  • INK (magic marker, pen, ink): For light-colored stone – clean with bleach or hydrogen peroxide. For dark-colored stone – clean with lacquer thinner or acetone
  • PAINT: Small amounts can be removed with lacquer thinner or scraped off carefully with a razor blade. Heavy paint coverage should be removed only with a commercial “heavy liquid” paint stripper available from hardware stores and paint centers. These strippers normally contain caustic soda or lye. Do not use acids or flame tools to strip paint from stone. Paint strippers can etch the surface of the stone; repolishing may be necessary. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for use of these products, taking care to flush the area thoroughly with clean water. Protect yourself with rubber gloves and eye protection, and work in a well-ventilated area. Use only wood or plastic scrapers for removing the sludge and curdled paint. Normally, latex and acrylic paints will not cause staining. Oil-based paints, linseed oil, putty, caulks and sealants may cause oily stains.
  • WATER SPOTS and RINGS(surface accumulation of hard water): Buff with dry 0000 steel wool.
  • FIRE and SMOKE DAMAGE: Older stones and smoke or fire stained fireplaces may require a thorough cleaning to restore their original appearance. Commercially available “smoke removers” may save time and effort.
  • ETCH MARKS: Caused by acids left on the surface of the stone. Some materials will etch the finish but not leave a stain. Others will both etch and stain. Once the stain has been removed, wet the surface with clear water and sprinkle on marble polishing powder available from a hardware or lapidary store, or your local stone dealer. Rub the powder onto the stone with a damp cloth or by using a buffing pad with a low-speed power drill. Continue buffing until the etch mark disappears and the marble surface shines. Contact your stone dealer or call a professional stone restorer for refinishing or repolishing etched areas that you cannot remove.
  • EFFLORESCENCE: This white powder may appear on the surface of the stone. It is caused by water carrying mineral salts from below the surface of the stone rising through the stone and evaporating. When the water evaporates, it leaves the powdery substance. If the installation is new, dust mop or vacuums the powder. You may have to do this several times as the stone dries out. Do not use water to remove the powder; it will only temporarily disappear. If the problem persists, contact your installer to help identify and remove the cause of the moisture.
  • SCRATCHES and NICKS: Slight surface scratches may be buffed with dry 0000 steel wool. Deeper scratches and nicks in the surface of the stone should be repaired and repolished by a professional.

Making and Using a Poultice

A poultice is a liquid cleaner or chemical mixed with a white absorbent material to form a paste about the consistency of peanut butter. The poultice is spread over the stained area to a thickness of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch with a wood or plastic spatula, covered with plastic and left to work for 24 to 48 hours. The liquid cleaner or chemical will draw out the stain into the absorbent material. Poultice procedures may have to be repeated to thoroughly remove a stain but some stains may never be completely removed. 

Poultice Materials: 

Poultice materials include kaolin, fuller’s earth, whiting, diatomaceous earth, powdered chalk, white molding plaster or talc. Approximately one pound of prepared poultice material will cover one square foot. Do not use whiting or iron-type clays such as fuller’s earth with acid chemicals. The reaction will cancel the effect of the poultice. A poultice can also be prepared using white cotton balls, white paper towels or gauze pads. 

Cleaning Agents or Chemicals:

  • OIL-BASED stains: Poultice with baking soda and water OR one of the powdered poultice materials and mineral spirits.
  • ORGANIC stains: Poultice with one of the powdered poultice materials and 12% hydrogen peroxide solution (hair bleaching strength) OR use acetone instead of the hydrogen peroxide.
  • IRON stains: Poultice with diatomaceous earth and a commercially available rust remover. Rust stains are particularly difficult to remove. You may need to call a professional.
  • COPPER stains: Poultice with one of the powdered poultice materials and ammonia. These stains are difficult to remove. You may need to call a professional.
  • BIOLOGICAL stains: Poultice with dilute ammonia, bleach, OR hydrogen peroxide. *DO NOT MIX AMMONIA AND BLEACH, THIS COMBINATION CREATES A TOXIC AND LETHAL GAS!*

Applying the Poultice:

If using powder, mix the cleaning agent or chemical to a thick paste-like the consistency of peanut butter. 

If using paper, soak in the chemical and let drain. Don’t let the liquid drip.

  1. Wet the stained area with distilled water.
  2. Apply the poultice to the stained area about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and extend the poultice beyond the stained area by about one inch. Use a wood or plastic scraper to spread the poultice evenly.
  3. Cover the poultice with plastic and tape the edges to seal it.
  4. Allow the poultice to dry thoroughly, usually about 24 to 48 hours. The drying process is what pulls the stain out of the stone and into the poultice material. After about 24 hours, remove the plastic and allow the poultice to dry.
  5. Remove the poultice from the stain, rinse with distilled water and buff dry with a soft cloth. Use the wood or plastic scraper if necessary.
  6. Repeat the poultice application if the stain is not removed. It may take up to five applications for difficult stains.
  7. If the surface is etched by the chemical, apply a polishing powder and buff with burlap or felt buffing pad to restore the surface.

Do’s and Don’ts

DO Dust mop floors frequently

DO Clean surfaces with mild detergent or stone soap

DO Thoroughly rinse and dry the surface after washing

DO Blot up spills immediately

DO Protect floor surfaces with non-slip mats or area rugs and countertops surfaces with coasters, trivets or placemats

DON’T Use vinegar, lemon juice or other cleaners containing acids on marble, limestone, travertine or onyx surfaces

DON’T Use cleaners that contain acids such as bathroom cleaners, grout cleaners or tub and tile cleaners

DON’T Use abrasive cleaners such as dry cleansers or soft cleansers

DON’T Mix bleach and ammonia; this combination creates a toxic and lethal gas

DON’T Ever mix chemicals together unless directions specifically instruct you to do so

Call your professional stone supplier, installer, or restoration specialist for problems that appear too difficult to treat.

9 Hard Questions to Ask When Shopping for Stone

Article by: Anne Higuera CGR, CAPS

Deciding to use stone and choosing the kind to use are more complicated than just picking a finish you like. Because stone is a natural material, its appearance, durability and production can vary from one quarry to another, and from one batch to another, causing problems (or in some cases, providing benefits) you might not have anticipated. 

Here are nine questions you should consider before buying stone.

How thick does it need to be? Floor and wall tiles for interiors are usually ⅜ inch thick, while countertop slabs are typically 2 centimeters (¾ inch) or 3 centimeters (1¼ inches) thick.Exterior stone pavers could be 1½ inches or thicker.

Differences in counter and paver thicknesses can usually be accommodated if planned for in advance. It’s also not unusual to add a laminated edge to the front of a 2-centimeter counter to make it appear thicker.Tile for floors, however, can be tricky, particularly if you want your floor to flow to adjacent rooms without a transition. The best practice is to select floor tile early in the process and choose a material with consistent thickness.

We opened a box of specified slate tile on a project and discovered that each piece was a different thickness, with some well over ½ inch, making them higher than the adjacent wood floors even without thinset below. The clients opted to send it all back and ended up selecting a ceramic tile with similar colors but very consistent thickness.

Are there fissures?This is a question not just for countertop slabs but for tiles, as well.A fissure is a natural weak point in the stone, usually visible as a hairline crack. A fissure’s location can prevent you from using the stone if cuts will result in the weakest point’s being located where the stone needs to be strong, like around a sink or on an overhang. It can also result in the slab’s breaking during fabrication.

Fragile stone tile can also break during cutting, which means tile setters have to anticipate more waste. Instead of ordering the usual 5 to 10 percent extra for waste, they might add 15 to 20 percent more. The best practice is to select a slab and have the fabricator review it for flaws and fissures, so that you’ll have time to select something else if it won’t work.

What’s your finish? The most common finishes for stone are polished and honed.Both have a sheen, although honed has a fine texture that minimizes reflection.A heavier texture can be achieved with acids, buffing and heat, resulting in “antiqued,” “tumbled”and “flamed” finishes. Which one you choose depends upon personal taste, except when it comes to matters of safety. The larger the tile and the more polished the finish, the more likely it will be slippery under wet feet or shoes.

An easy way around slipperiness is to install the material in a smaller size — 4 inches square or less — or to select a material with more texture.

How well will samples match what arrives at your home?Because stone is a natural material, it can vary in color and in many other ways.If you can, get a large sampling of what’s in stock — five to 10 pieces of 12- by 12-inch tiles, for example — so you can see what you’re likely to get in a typical box.If there’s a huge variation in color or quality, you may want to look at something else.

This backsplash (far end) is a mix of onyx and glass mosaic tile. The onyx tile arrived at the jobsite with some bright red streaks across the face, which weren’t visible in the sample. The clients opted to buy additional tile and piece in nonred stone to make the results more consistent. 

Is it strong enough to span?Countertops are sometimes designed to span significant distances — over dishwashers, breakfast bars and desks, for example. Manufactured materials like quartz have specific maximum spans, but the fabricator may recommend a variety of solutions with stone, depending upon how large the unsupported portion is: a decorative corbel or other support; a concealed steel brace; or even a routed area under the stone for a steel or fiberglass rod. Your fabricator will help you determine how much support your counter needs.

How porous is it? All stone is not created equal. Some stones, such as limestone and marble, are more porous than others, and are more likely to absorb stains from substances like red wine and coffee. Acidic substances like lemons can etch surfaces, and even hair dye can stain a shower. Some stones, such as soapstone, are softer than others and can be scratched. 

Before committing to a stone, think carefully about how you plan to use it, and how much contact it’ll have with potentially damaging substances.

Will it hold up? The answer to this question depends on your lifestyle, how much you plan to use the stone surface and how careful you are with cleaning. (Cleaning products can etch limestone, marble and other materials.)

We once had clients whose old limestone counters were covered in coffee stains and had to be removed. They replaced them with Caesarstone, which remains in great shape many years later. My own granite counters are pristine almost a decade after installation, with no resealing.

To seal or not to seal?Sealants are frequently used on grout and sometimes on natural stone.Some sealants darken or even give a shiny look to otherwise honed or textured surfaces.If you’re considering a sealant for your stone, request a sample showing you different options, so you’ll know how the finished surface will look.

What’s the source?Stone comes from quarries across the globe, including the United States. Part of selecting a material involves thinking about where it comes from, how it is produced, the environmental impact of transporting it to your locality, and whether it is a sustainable, sensible and long-lasting material.

If you still have questions, ask your local supplier, fabricator, contractor or designer about the specifics for your project.

Monte Carlo Simulation Proves Safety of Granite Countertops

Supreme Granite Kitchen Island – Project Manager: Randy Wilson. A comprehensive new scientific study sponsored by the Marble Institute of America definitively shows that granite countertops are an insignificant source of radon in the home and that 99.95% of countertops produce lower radon concentrations than are typically found outdoors in the U.S. The study also concluded that in normal applications there is no risk granite countertops will produce radon concentrations even close to levels the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says require remediation (4 picocuries/liter).

Radon is a natural radioactive gas found in soil and stone. Most radon seeps harmlessly into the atmosphere. Prolonged exposure to high concentrations of radon can cause lung cancer.

“Our analysis shows that the likelihood of a granite countertop leading to a negative health impact due to radon is almost a statistical impossibility,”said Dr. Joseph Allen of Environmental Health & Engineering Inc., who led the study team. “The most typical granite countertop installation would produce radon concentrations in the home that are 10,000 times lower than the EPA action level, and are so low that they are not even measurable.” Dr. Allen also stated that their model predicated that there was only a one-in-a-million chance of a granite countertop producing radon concentrations in the home that approached the EPA action level of 4 pCI/l, and that specific simulated countertop purchase involved an unrealistic scenario where 13& of the home’s surface area was countertop. Dr. Allen reiterated the final conclusion in their paper, “this research supports evidence previously published in the scientific literature that the health risk of radon exposure from granite countertops is negligible.”

The independent study, sponsored by the Marble Institute of America, involved a Monte Carlo simulation, a computer analysis to determine risks associated with various purchase decisions. The study simulates the installation of 1 million countertops of different kinds of granite in homes of different sizes and with different air exchange rates. The goal was to determine the probability that any countertop would produce significant radon concentrations. 

Monte Carlo simulations analyze the results of radon emissions for the full spectrum of granite installations including extreme possibilities, such as installing unrealistically large countertops in small, tightly insulated homes. The original analysis method was developed by scientists working on the first atom bomb. It is commonly used to assess risks in finance, engineering, insurance and other industries that deal with the interaction of many variables.

“Science again proves the safety of granite,” said G.K. Naquin, MIA president. “Because the beauty and durability of natural stone is unparalleled, some manufacturers of competing materials have tried to scare the public into believing it may be dangerous. This study shows granite is safe.”

The analysis will be submitted for publication to a peer-reviewed, scientific journal. This is the third MIA sponsored granite study to be submitted for publication. The first two, published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, appeared in 2010.

The MIA has invested in several studies to determine the safety and durability of natural stone countertops, to provide clear, unambiguous information for consumers to make educated decisions and to also protect the industry from baseless attacks by manufacturers of competing materials. 


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What Others Are Saying About Natural Stone

Natural stone is a key part of two of the top 10 elements of design in the home that are resonating with today’s buyers: the desire for low-maintenance/no-maintenance materials and the use of natural materials inside and outside the home.

-Builder Magazine

National Association of Home Builders

Homeowners who remodel recover the following percentages of their remodeling costs at resale (note -upscale projects include stone):

  1. Bathroom remodel-upscale: 92.6%

  2. Bathroom addition-upscale: 84.3%

  3. Kitchen remodel-upscale: 79.6%

-Cost vs. Value Report

Remodeling Magazine

In a study of materials for kitchen countertops, granite had the highest number of “excellent” ratings of any surface.

-Consumer Reports

If, like us, you define value as ‘performance over time’, then natural stone should be your material of choice and engineered products will never be ‘just as good’ as natural stone until they pass the same test of time.”

-Ed Walsh, Sturgis Materials, Inc.


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Types of Natural Stone

Granite

An excellent choice for kitchen countertops, floors, and other heavily used surfaces

Granite, quarried from the mountains of Italy, the U.S., India, and dozens of other countries, is one of the most popular natural stones on the market. Available in a striking array of colors; granite’s durability and longevity make it ideal for kitchen countertops and other heavily used surfaces including table tops and floors. 

While some synthetic surfaces scartch easily and melt under hot cookware, granite resists heat. Granite is also one of the most bacteria-resistant kitchen surfaces and it is not affected by citric acid, coffee, tea, alcohol, or wine. It is also nearly impossible to scratch and with proper cleaning will not stain under normal use (ask your professional contractor; like American Cabinet & Flooring, about sealants available to further improve resistance to staining.)

A leading consumer magazine recently compared granite with engineered stone, ceramic tile, laminate, butcher block, and other manufactured surfaces. Granite received the hightest overall performance rating as a kitchen countertop material.

Because of its exceptional strength, granite is well suited for exterior applications such as cladding, paving, and curbing. 

Marble

Ideal for foyers, bathrooms, floors, and hearths

Marble is found in the mountainous regions of Canada, Italy, Germany, Spain, and the U.S., and other countries. Because of its beauty and elegance, marble is a popular choice for countertops, floors, foyers, fireplace facings and hearths, walls, and windowsills.

Marble adds a sophisticated element to your home, and its wonderful appearance, superior engineering characteristics, and ease of maintenance make it a natural choice for floors, wall coverings, table tops, and bathroom walls, floors, vanity tops, tub decks, and showers. 

Marble should be cared for as you would a fine wood finish. Using coasters on table tops and cleaning up spills immediately will preserve marble’s natural beauty.

Another option for marble-loving homeowners is using a serpentine for kitchen counters. Sometimes called the “green” marble, serpentine is not a true marble but offers a marble-like look. And because it is magnesium-silicate based, it is not sensitive to citric acid and other kitchen spills. 

Travertine, Limestone, Soapstone, Sandstone, and Slate

Beautiful enhancements for your home, inside and out

Travertine, limestone, soapstone, sandstone, and slate are other examples of natural stone frequently used in residential applications. 

Travertine is a type of limestone and one of the most popular natural stones for interior and exterior wall cladding, interior and exterior paving, statuary, and curbing.

Limestone is widely used as a building stone because it is readily available and easy to handle. Popular applications include countertops, flooring, interior and exterior wall cladding, and exterior paving. 

Soapstone is growing in popularity. Popular uses include kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, fireplace surrounds, stoves and stair treads. Care and maintenance is easy, but different than other stone types.

Sandstone is frequently used for fireplace facings, chimneys, garden walls, patio benches, and at poolside.

Slate is a popular flooring material and sandstone and slate are often used for exterior paving or pavers. Other slate applications include kitchen countertops, fireplace facings, table tops, and roofing. 


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How to Choose the Right Stone for Your Home

You have many options when it comes to beautiful, long-lasting natural stone for your home’s interior and exterior: Slate, granite, marble, quartz-based stone, soapstone, and limestone, just to name a few. Choosing a natural stone for your home is a very personal decision, much like selecting wallpaper or artwork. While there are scores of natural stones to consider, some are better suited than others to particular uses in and around the home. The team of experienced design specialists at American Cabinet & Flooring can help you explore your options and offer guidance on the right stone for your home project.

Factors to Consider in Selecting a Natural Stone

Color

Natural Stones are available in a beautiful spectrum of colors. Colors in granite and marble, for instance; can range from soft beiges and pinks and classic black-and-whites to rich corals, greens, and multi-colors. Marble traditionally features swirls and “veins” of colors, while granite has a flecked or pebbled appearance. Unlike the repetitive uniformity of materials produced by machine or assembly line, natural stone’s varied appearance has wonderful character and creates a one-of-a-kind effect everywhere it is used.

Finish

Natural stone can be polished, honed, or flamed for a distinctive appearance.

  • A polished finish has a glossy surface that reflects light and emphasizes the color and marking of the stone. This finish is typically used on walls, furniture tops, and floor tiles.

  • A honed finish is a satin-smooth surface with relatively little light reflection. It is generally preferred for floors, stair treads, thresholds, and other areas where heavy traffic will wear off a polished finish.

  • A flamed finish is a rough-textured surface used frequently on granite floor tiles.

Usage

The harder the stone, the more it resists abrasion. One measure of natural stone’s strength is the Measurement of Hardness (MOH) rating –> 1 the softest and 10 the hardest. On the MOH scale, most marbles rate “3” and quartz-based granites rate “7”. Using a softer stone simply requires the homeowner to use gentler cleansers and more frequent dusting to prevent scratching.


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The Benefits of Natural Stone

Classic Beauty

Durability

Easy Maintenance

Superior Quality

Affordability

Increased Home Value

Natural stone has been the premium building material of choice since the beginning of time. Quarried from rock beds formed over millions of years, natural stone used in residential and commercial settings comes from all parts of the world, including Italy, Spain, the U.S., Brazil, Canada, China, France, Israel, Greece, India, Mexico, Germany, Taiwan, and Turkey. 

Marble and granite, two of the most popular stones among homeowners, are quarried in the form of huge blocks; some weighing up to 35 tons. These blocks are cut into slabs generally 3/4″ or 1 1/2″ thick and the faces polished to the specified finish. The slabs are then carefully crated and shipped to fabricators worldwide who process them into the final product. 

Whether you’re building a new home or remodeling; natural stone offers you unparalleled beauty, performance, and uniqueness as well as it adds true value to your home. 

Because stone is a natural, not manufactured, product; no two pieces are exactly alike. This means each finished countertop, wall, floor, mantle, or sill is distinctive and matchless. 

Unlike synthetic imitations natural stone can be three-dimensional and used as columns, statuary, balustrades, doorjambs, and even furniture pieces. When used in exterior applications natural stone has also proven superior to manufactured or engineered stones in withstanding the effects of nature.


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Facts About Natural Stone

  • Granite ranked #1 in clean ability when compared to six other countertop surfaces including stainless steel. (Based on a 1999 study by the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management.)

  • Natural stone is competitively priced with quartz surface products and often priced lower.

  • Marble and Granite have the same level of clean ability as engineered stone. (Based on a 2006 study by the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management.)

  • Natural stone is low maintenance often only requiring warm water, mild dish washing liquid and a soft cloth to maintain its beauty.

  • Granite countertops have never been known to emit dangerous levels of radon gas. Environmental Health and Engineering (EHE) recently conducted one of the largest studies of granite countertops, in which no stone was identified as a health risk when used as a countertop surface. EHE also conducted a global review of published studies, and these data show that radon emissions from granite countertops pose no health threat. For more information on these studies, go to www.marble-institute.com for the “Radon Information” article and links to the scientific study data.

  • Many varieties of natural stone do not need to be sealed, although many are for customer peace of mind.

  • Stone is a product of nature and has its own unique qualities that distinguish it from quartz surface materials. The wonderful character that is offered by vein patterns, color variations, and other design characteristics of stone should be taken into consideration when selecting the perfect stone for your project. Discuss these characteristic with your natural stone supplier.


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How to Select a Natural Stone Contractor

  1. Visit www.marble-instutute.com to find a stone professional like American Cabinet & Flooring, Inc.

  2. Ask family, friends, and neighbors for referrals and call local stone/tile suppliers for recommendations.

  3. After you have identified several contractors, schedule appointments for estimates. Most will be free, but confirm in advance.

  4. During your estimate, describe the “look” you’d like to achieve and ask questions.

  5. Evaluate your quotes, request references, and check them. Ask to see examples of other projects recently completed by the contractor.

  6. Request proof of liability and workers’ compensation insurance.

  7. Select a contractor you believe is skilled and trustworthy, and with whom you feel comfortable. Make sure everything you and your contractor agree to is included in your contract. Don’t sign anything until you understand and agree with all the terms.

  8. Plan your project carefully, then keep the lines of communication open with your contractor throughout the project. Keep a job file of all important documentation.

  9. Ask your contractor to estimate a time frame for the job and plan accordingly.

  10. Schedule periodic inspections with your contractor to achieve the end result you desire.


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