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What To Put On Kitchen Counters To Decorate?

Whether you have installed granite kitchen countertops or any other countertop material, you will agree that the countertops don’t reflect your personality, and they can be boring to look at.

Luckily, you can place several items on the countertops to give them your personal touch, express your taste, and improve their look.

Wondering what to put on kitchen counters to decorate? Here are some of the best ones:

Fresh fruits

Since fruits don’t need refrigeration and you can leave them at room temperature, you can definitely use them to decorate your counters. All you need to do is place the fruits in a beautiful bowl and place them strategically on your countertops.

To get the most from the fruits, go for fruits with bright colors such as bright yellow, green, or orange. Some of the excellent fruits to use for decoration include: lemon, lime, orange, and apples.

Fruits dry out with time so remember to replace them with fresh ones every few days.

Cookbooks

Cookbooks are an excellent way to polish your cooking skills and improve the look of the countertops. To decorate your counters, stack a couple of hardboard cookbooks on your counters. You can also lay them flat, vertically, or horizontally, depending on the look you want to achieve and the style of your countertops.

To amp up your presentation, display books with a bit of color and keep them color-coordinated with the rest of the kitchen theme.

You can use any cookbooks, but it’s best you use books of your favorite cuisines. For example, if you love Asian Cuisine, use books with an oriental touch.

Plants

Plants are easy to carry, and they give life to your kitchen. You can use a single plant if you have a small kitchen or several plants if your kitchen is large.

The beauty is there are many types of plants you can choose from, and you can display them in different ways. For example, you can display them in a stylish pot or planter.

As you choose the plants, choose low-maintenance plants, as they will survive even if you aren’t in the house for days or don’t expose them to sunlight.

If you aren’t sure about the right plants to go for, get the input of a professional.

Cutting boards

Many homeowners use cutting boards as places to chop their vegetables and meat, but did you know that you can also use them as decoration surfaces?

To decorate your countertops using the boards, you should collect a few boards of different shapes and types and stack them together on your counter. If you don’t like the look, lean them against your kitchen’s backsplash to transform the look of your kitchen.

To make the boards even more exciting, mix boards are made from different materials such as marble and wood as they will create a significant visual contrast with the rest of the kitchen surface.

The boards also come in handy at improving the kitchen texture and adding a warm touch to the countertops.

You should be cautious about the type of boards you go for as some might make your kitchen look tacky, and you don’t want this, do you? So, if you aren’t sure about the boards you should go for, get the input of a professional.

Fresh flowers

A colorful bouquet of fresh flowers can transform boring basic countertops into beautiful surfaces you can’t get your eyes from. The beauty of fresh flowers is they are soft and give your surfaces a subtle touch.

To decorate your surfaces, put the flowers in a vase and place them in strategic areas of the kitchen counters.

To make your counters even more interesting, place several flower bouquets in different areas of the kitchen, then switch them up every week to give your counters a brand new look. If you have the budget, granite contractors NC recommend that you get different vases and switch them regularly.

You should note that flowers tend to wither with time, so to prevent your kitchen from looking dead, get fresh flowers at least once every two to three days.

Does Black Granite Need To Be Sealed?

On a casual look, black granite countertops appear tough and different from the other granite stones. And due to this, you will hear many homeowners asking, does black granite need to be sealed?

The truth is other than the color, there is nothing unique about black granite counters, so you will need to seal them like any other granite counters.

How does the granite sealant work?

Also known as an impregnator, the granite sealant is made of a resin dissolved in water or petroleum-based solvent. When you apply it on the porous granite surface, it creates a film that gets to the inner layers of the stone and fills the pores, and when the solvent or water evaporates from the mixture, the resin hardens, creating a tough barrier that liquids, dirt, bacteria and other materials can’t easily pass through.

Upon properly sealing the countertops, you keep the spills on the surface, which gives you time to clean the surface before the liquids can seep into the stone and stain it.

Although the granite sealant creates an effective barrier, it’s not foolproof. This means that if you leave liquids on the countertops long enough, they will seep through the resin barrier and stain your expensive countertops. To prevent this from happening, make it a habit to wipe off the spills as soon as they happen.

How often should you seal the countertops?

For maximum protection, seal the surfaces at the time of installation, then every six months to one year thereafter. Sometimes you may seal the surfaces more frequently if you use the counters more frequently.

You should note that even with frequent sealing, you shouldn’t let the liquid spills stay on the countertops in the event of a spillage. Instead, move with haste and get rid of them immediately before they start seeping into the deeper layers.

Besides getting rid of spills, also make it a habit to clean granite countertops regularly. And you don’t have to be fancy about it. A simple washcloth or sponge and a gentle soap and water will get it done.

After cleaning the surfaces, dry them thoroughly with a clean, dry towel. Regardless of how clean you want the countertops to be, don’t use harsh abrasives or acidic solutions as they will dull and scratch the surfaces instead.

It’s common for bacteria to adhere to the countertop pores. To prevent the bacteria from getting to your food, make it a habit to disinfect the surfaces at least once a week.

There are plenty of granite disinfectants in the market you can use, so avoid using bleach and other chemicals to disinfect the countertops. If you have to use bleach, dilute it enough, then rinse it thoroughly after application.

Even with the best care, it’s common for stains to happen. When they come about, remove them using a baking soda and water paste and gently rub it into the stain using a soft cloth. For stubborn stains, you may have to repeat the process a few times.

Who should apply the sealant?

Although you can apply the sealant by yourself and protect your countertops, avoid doing the work, especially if you have never done it before. Instead, let a professional help you out.

An experienced contractor will apply the sealant evenly, so it covers the entire surface from all sides. The contractor will also recommend the best sealant for the work.

Like other products in the market, there are many types of sealants you can go for. For the sealer to protect your countertops for a long time, you need to ensure its high quality and doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals that can cause irritation or emit strong odors.

Avoid any sealer containing harsh chemicals that might damage the countertops. An ideal sealant should be high quality and gentle enough, so you don’t have to worry that the granite contractors NC you hired will get hurt when applying it.

A good quality sealer will also provide you with the liquid, dirt, and bacteria protection you are looking for. The sealer also won’t give off an offensive smell after application making your house uncomfortable to live in.

Is Granite Countertop Out Of Style?

Is granite countertop out of style? This is a question we get so often when new homeowners are looking to install countertops for the first time. The short answer is NO. Granite is not going out of style. In fact, it’s not going anywhere soon.

One of the primary reasons is because granite countertops are 100% natural, and like wood, plants, and stones, it won’t go out of style. Not sure whether you should go for granite? Consider these points:

Granite selection isn’t static.

Granite comes in plenty of colors and patterns to choose from. While there are some colors such as Indian Coffee brown, Uba tuba granite, and Giallo ornamental granite that are more popular than others, there are still plenty of colors, some that are even yet to be discovered that you can go for.

Since granite is natural, it’s infrequent to find two identical slabs.

It’s easy to re-decorate around granite to change the look of the room.

If you feel your house will look tacky after installing granite, think about how you can change the room’s look by re-decorating around the stone. One of the ways is painting the area around in paint colors that can go with granite.

If you don’t like the countertops’ current look, you can always change the color of your old appliances.

Thinking about these things beforehand helps you know the changes you can make to your countertops if you are bored with them instead of focusing on the trends.

Focus on creating a beautiful space

To ensure your countertops never go out of style, you should avoid paying too close attention to fashion and popularity. Instead, buy countertops that are pleasing to your eyes and meet your ideals.

Guide to buying granite counters

Buying the right countertop materials is the key to getting the most from them. Unfortunately, it takes time to choose materials that are beautiful and durable. To have an easy time, consider these tips when making your purchase:

Buy thick counters

When buying the countertops, avoid cheap materials, as, like other cheap products, they don’t last long. They also don’t give you a look you are looking for.

For best results, avoid the popular ¾ inch countertops as they are more fragile and require laminate edges and supports. To be sure the counters will last for long and give you the results you are looking for, avoid any slabs that are less than 1 inch.

Be on the lookout for hairline cracks and natural pits.

While the cracks and natural pits add natural beauty to the stone, they sometimes increase the countertops’ chances of getting damaged, especially if the countertops are less than 1 inch thick.

While at the store, ask the countertop fabricator or seller to explain how the different imperfections affect the stone and whether they are of any harm to your countertops.

Buy seamless granite counters.

Although, the seamless counters are more expensive, they often look better. Over time, the seams look ugly, so although the countertops might be looking nice now, they will be so unpleasant to look at to the extent you will have to replace them in five to ten years.

Visit the countertop store.

While there are many online stores you can buy your slabs from and have them delivered, it’s still good to visit the physical stores and check the countertop slabs by yourself.

While there, carefully inspect every slab and even carry a piece to your home and see how it blends with the other home appliances and counters. If you don’t like how the slab looks, return it to the store and get a new one.

Hire a granite contractor beforehand

Many people walk to the countertop stores by themselves. While there is nothing wrong with this, you often pick the wrong material, which results in wastage of time and money.

To avoid this, hire granite countertop installers NC beforehand. This way, the contractor will help you choose the right countertop for your home. They will even point you to the right countertop store to buy from.

The last thing you want is buying a countertop with resin stains, large cracks, and other imperfections, forcing you to return the slab then pick it up again.

Tips On How to Break Granite Countertops

Granite is one of the most robust materials you can install in your home. With its unique, attractive colors, the material gives your kitchen an attractive and adorable look. Unfortunately, like other countertop materials, it wears out, gets old, or gets damaged, so you have to replace it.

Removing the countertop requires skills and strength. Are you wondering how to break granite countertops? Here is a guide on how to do it:

Get the necessary equipment.

You need to have the right tools for the job to break granite. The tools you need include: rubber gloves, bucket, air hammer drill, safety goggles, and Dexpan or any other explosive demolition agent.

Mark a line

Using water-soluble chalk, mark a line where you want to break granite. You should then drill holes measuring 1-1/2 to 2 inches wide into the granite slab along the line. For best results, space the holes 12-24 inches apart while ensuring each hole is 80% the total depth of the granite slab.

Mix the demolition agent

Following the package instructions, mix the non-explosive demolition agent with clean water. The best way to do is to mix one part agent with three parts water in a bucket until the powder has completely dissolved into the liquid. To protect yourself, wear rubber gloves and safety goggles.

Clean the holes

You should clean the holes with an air compressor before filling them with the mixture. You should fill the holes 2 inches from the top with the mixture then back away. Allow 45 -60 minutes for the mixture to expand within the hole, causing the granite to break along the line you created.

Avoid pouring the mixture when the temperatures are incredibly high. If possible, pour the mixture in the night and allow granite to break early in the morning or in the evening after the sun has set. If the holes are exposed to direct sunlight, cover them with a tarp until the slab breaks.

Clear the area

After breaking granite, you should now make a move to remove the countertops. Before you begin removing the countertops from your surfaces, remove any countertop accessories and appliances present. You also should empty drawers and products contained in the bottom rack of your drawers to prevent dust contamination and provide uncomplicated access towards the countertops.

Remember also to clear the utensils and cookware region.

Release the area

Identify the connection in the area between the cabinet’s front brace and the bottom of the countertop. You should look inside the head of the cabinet to see it. Using a hammer, hit the edge of the pry bar then screw softly to release any glue.

If you find plywood underneath the granite, work under it to detach or separate it from plywood. You should then tap a wooden shim into the already open joint to hold the countertop in that area. You should operate along the front side, screwing and shimming before you slowly raise the entire front rim.

Raise granite away from the cabinet supports

Using a pry bar, raise granite away from the cabinet supports beginning from the front and over to the back. Remember to insert shims as you proceed. You should proceed lightly to avoid breaking granite. Work along the length of the countertop, prying back only the next few centimeters.

You should continue working in section until you raise the entire countertop from one end to the other.

Tilt the countertop

Working together with a few assistants, slowly tilt the countertop from the back edge and transfer the granite to your place for storage.

You should store the granite with the top facing down. If granite has plywood underneath that needs to be replaced, carefully pry it free. Be gentle and lightly detach the seal and extract the plywood. If there is extra plywood remaining, pull or paint it with a sturdy scraper from the granite base.

Parting shot

Breaking and removing granite kitchen countertops Durham isn’t hard when you have the right removal tools and know what you are doing. If you are a DIY enthusiast, you can save some money by doing the work yourself but for best results and avoid damaging the cabinets in the process, let experts help you out.

Is Sealing Granite Countertops Necessary?

granite kitchen countertops

Imagine this. You spend an arm and a leg installing a new granite slab on top of your new cabinets then out of nowhere, your granite contractor starts talking about the need for a granite sealer to seal the countertops. It sounds like a scam. After all, granite is a rock, right? Why would it need to be sealed? Is sealing granite countertops necessary?

The short answer to this question is NO, you don’t have to seal the countertops. I know you have read that granite is porous, so you need to seal it to prevent stains from coming about, but this is not the case. Before you begin throwing stones at me,

Let me explain the deal.

While new granite slabs need a seal to prevent them from staining, it doesn’t mean you should blindly apply the sealer on any new slab you come across. You should note that most granite slabs don’t need sealing.

The dark coloured slabs don’t need the application of the granite sealer as they are already too dense to absorb liquids and stain. Aren’t sure whether you should seal your slabs? To determine whether your countertops need sealing, you should do a test.

Test to determine whether you need to seal the countertops

The cool thing is you don’t need to call the CSI or spend a fortune to tell whether your countertops are ripe for sealing. You can easily do it on your own at the comfort of your home. Here is how to do it:

  1. Begin with filling a cup with clear, cool tap water. You don’t need a lot of it—a quarter of a cup is enough.
  2. Set a timer on your watch or phone and time the absorption rate of the countertop
  3. Pour a small amount of water onto the countertop. You should pour just enough to create a pool, the size of the hand. For best results, pour it in two or three places across the counter.
  4. After pouring, start the timer or make a note of the time you poured the water.
  5. You should wait for 30 minutes or until there is no standing water on the countertop.

If the countertop absorbs the water immediately, the stone is highly porous, and you need to apply the sealant at least once every 3 months.

If the slab absorbs the water in 4-5 minutes, you should apply the countertop sealant at least once a year for maximum protection.

Does the countertop absorb the water after 10 minutes? Then the slab isn’t too porous, and you can get away with sealing it once every 2 years.

If the slab doesn’t absorb the water after 30 minutes, you don’t need to seal the surfaces to prevent them from staining. You can still seal the slab, if you want to, to avoid scratching and etching.

How to seal granite countertops

If you have undertaken the test and determined you have to seal the slab, you should go ahead and do it. The beauty is that it’s easy to seal the surfaces as you only need to spray the sealer and let it sit on the countertop and then find out if you need to apply a second layer.

If you used a high-quality sealer, you won’t need a second layer so you should always go for the high-quality product.

When buying the sealant, look for one with an advanced chemical technology that will make it possible to form a more permanent bond on the granite slab.

While the high-quality product will cost you more to purchase, it will save you a lot of money in the long run as it will last for a long time.

Sometimes sealing the countertops is messy and you might not know whether you should apply a second layer. To avoid applying less or too much sealing product, you should let a professional do the work.

Countertop care and precautions

Hiring granite companies NC to seal the countertops isn’t enough—you still need to observe the right habits to ensure your countertops are always in tip-top shape. Never place hot items directly on the countertops as you will damage them. To protect the surfaces, use coasters, trivets, mats and other protective items.

Can Granite Countertops Be Repaired?

best kitchen countertop contractor

Imagine this. You spend a fortune on the best granite in your area, hire the most reputable countertop contractors, then one day you notice a crack on your countertops. Frustrating, right? You can’t imagine pouring money on new countertops, so you ask, can granite countertops be repaired?

Yes, you can repair the countertops. Here are some of the ways of doing it:

Etch marks

Etch marks happen due to various reasons, but the most popular ones are due to the use of harsh cleaning materials or cutting lemons or tomatoes directly on the surfaces.

To fix etch marks, begin with cleaning the affected areas using water or stone soap, to wipe away dirt and scum. You should then dry the area thoroughly then apply granite polishing powder. You should follow up by buffering it with an electric drill. For best results, keep the granite powder on the stone as you buff it. Once you are done, clean it off.

Separated cracks

Separated cracks are large, and you can easily see them. You should fix the cracks as soon as possible to prevent them from getting worse. One of the best ways of fixing the issue is by filling in the gaps with an epoxy glue that matches the color of the stone.

If you can’t find the exact color of your countertops, use the dust from the broken area. It’s recommended you hire a professional to help you fix it, but if you don’t have the budget for it, do it yourself. When doing it, ensure that you thoroughly clean the area before applying the glue.

Many homeowners make the mistakes of applying glue to the surrounding areas, which gives the surfaces an ugly look. To avoid this, put masking tape around the area you are trying to repair.

After gluing the separated cracks, re-polish the surface, so it matches the rest of the counter.

Hairline cracks

These happen naturally in granite, and when you notice them, you have no reason to raise the alarm. The cracks are tiny, and most people can’t even tell they are there. The cracks don’t affect the look of the counters, their cleaning, and use. If you have the cracks on your countertops, don’t do anything. Just let them be.

Tips to prevent countertop damage

While the countertops can be repaired, isn’t it wise to prevent the problems from coming about other than fixing them? Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can do it. Some of these ways include:

Invest in high-quality countertops

Good quality granite slab counters don’t come cheap, so in the bid of saving money, homeowners look for cheap pieces that they can come across. While it’s possible to find cheap, decent granite slabs, in most cases, the cheap slabs are poor quality; hence they get damaged easily.

Others go faux granite countertops. While these might be durable, they don’t give you the same toughness you find in natural granite.

To reduce the chances of your countertops cracking or suffering from any other form of damage, you should only buy high-quality slabs. You find these in reputable natural stone stores. When making the purchase, avoid large stores as they not only sell the stones at high prices, they also lack variety.

Have the countertops professionally installed

Buying high-quality slabs isn’t enough—you also need to ensure the slabs are professionally installed. Poorly installed countertops are not only unpleasing to look at, they also tend to get easily damaged.

How can you ensure your countertops are professionally installed? Simple. Hire an experienced professional.

Its wise you hire the countertop contractor from the same company you buy the granite slabs. This is because professionals working there are usually experienced enough, and they give nothing but top-notch services.

Seal the countertops

One of the flaws with granite is it’s porous, so you have to seal it to prevent stains from coming about. When you don’t seal it according to the manufacturer’s instructions, bacteria will get into the stone, putting your life at risk, especially if you like preparing your food directly on the surfaces.

Failing to seal the surfaces also means water will get into the stone and weaken it.

To avoid this, ask granite contractors Durham to seal the countertops at the time of installation. You also should make it a habit to seal the surfaces one a year.

What To And What Not To Put On Your Kitchen Countertops

kitchen countertops

Did you know not everything is ideal to be placed on your kitchen countertops? In this article, we are going to look at the things you can place on the countertops and those you can’t. Read on to know more:

What to place on the counters

Some of the things you can place on the counters:

Coffee maker: If you make coffee every day, there is no better place to place your coffee maker than on your kitchen counter. To give your counters a great look, set up a coffee zone. This calls for you to gather everything you use to make coffee with and store it above and below the counter where your coffee maker sits.

Some of the things you should include with the coffee maker include mugs, coffee filters, coffee, and to-go cups.

Mixer: Only a few drawers and cabinets can store large appliances such as a mixer, and the large size and weight of the appliance will damage the cabinets. One of the best places to put the mixer is on the counter.

Tools: You should keep the crock right next to the stove together with spoons, tongs, ladles, spatulas, and other kitchen equipment. Having these items at your disposal makes it easy to reach them when the need arises.

Canisters: Large or small canisters are pieces you store on the counters for decoration or to contain small items. You use them to contain grab and go snacks, napkins, and other small odds and ends that will keep the counters from getting cluttered.

Dish rack: A dish rack is a must-have whether you have a dishwasher or not.

Salt and pepper shaker: Since you are going to be using these all the time, it makes sense to have them on the counters all the time.

Fruit basket: You are rarely going to refrigerate most of the fruits and vegetables—you are most likely going to eat them. To have an easy time reaching out to them, isn’t it wise to have a fruit basket on the counters?

Cutting board: Who doesn’t love large cutting boards on their counters? Unfortunately, most of us don’t have enough space for them, but if you love chopping, you should highly consider having them on your counters. This way you don’t cut directly on the counters and end up damaging them.

What not to place on the counters

Just as there are some items you can comfortably place on the counters, there are some you can’t. They include:

Papers: Papers on the counters gives them a cheap look, and you don’t want this, do you? If you aren’t using them, you should store them in a message center contraption. Preferably on the wall above the counter.

Appliances you rarely use: Are there appliances you rarely use? If you got them and you don’t use them every day, they are better off placed away from the counters as they will not only be giving your counters a cheap, dirty look, but they also will be putting a lot of unnecessary stress on the counters.

Collections: It’s normal to be attached to valuables. Whether its teacups, photographs, or figurines, it’s tempting to display them on the counters, but don’t do this. Instead of having them there, mount them on the wall.

Serving pieces: Only have these on your counters if you entertain daily. If you don’t, they will be taking a lot of space on the surfaces, and you are better off with them in the cabinet. You can also mount them on the wall as décor.

Other ways of taking care of your kitchen countertops

Other than being cautious of the items you place on the counters, there are plenty of other things you can do to prevent your countertops from getting damaged. Some of these things include:

Clean the countertops regularly: You must keep your countertops clean all the time. How do you do this? By cleaning them regularly. This way, you get rid of harmful materials on the surfaces. While cleaning the surfaces is vital, avoid using harsh materials as they will etch the surfaces and cause serious damage.

Cutting directly on the counters:  One of the things you should have on the counters is a cutting board, and you should always use it when cutting meat and other materials. Whether you have marble or granite countertops Durham, always use a cutting board to protect them from damage.

Do Granite Countertops Stain?

granite kitchen countertops

Granite is one of the toughest countertop materials in the market, but it’s not impervious to damage. So if you are asking, do granite countertops stain? Yes, they do stain. While the countertop is tough, it’s porous, and liquids can penetrate the surfaces and cause stains.

Types of stains

The countertops can be affected by different types of stains that include:

Water stains: Water stains are temporary and when they happen, they darken or lighten the countertop material. The good thing is when water evaporates, the color of the stone returns to normal.

Organic stains: These are brought about by organic materials such as mustard, soda, tea, and others.

Inorganic stains: They result from dyes, dirt, ink, and others.

Oil stains: Butter, cooking oil, and mineral oils will damage the countertops when they land on them.

Biological stains: Popular biological stains include: mold and mildew.

Metal stains: Metal stains include rust, copper and many others.

What should you do when your countertops stain?

To retain the elegant look of the countertops, you should remove the stains as soon as they happen. How you remove the stains depends on the nature of the stain. To remove the stains, follow these steps:

Begin with creating a thick paste of hydrogen peroxide and talc powder. For ideal results, ensure the paste has a consistency of putty.

You should then apply the mix to the stained area while taking care not to apply it on the unstained areas. Experts recommend you keep the layer of paste one-fourth of an inch thick and should overlap the stain by about half an inch.

After applying the paste, cover the area with a plastic wrap and tape the edges. Let the paste sit for 24 hours after which you should remove it only leaving the poultice in place. Let the poultice stay on the stain until it completely dries up.

You should then use a plastic scraper and scrape away all the paste. If any paste remains, wipe it with a clean cloth. Follow up with cleaning the countertops normally and dry it with a clean cloth.

In most cases, this will remove the stain, but if it doesn’t, repeat the process and the stain will go away.

Can you prevent stains from coming about?

Yes, you can do it by taking good care of the countertops.  When you are in the kitchen, take care not to spill products on the countertops. Even when spills happen, hurry and clean them up.

To prevent water spills, seal the countertops. For ideal results, follow the right sealing procedure:

Begin with cleaning the counters with water and allow them to dry out completely.

You should then shake the sealer and apply it liberally to every part of the countertop using paper towels, paint roller, or paintbrush. When applying the sealer, ensure you have a thin film on the entire surface of the stone.

After applying the sealer, let it soak into the counters for at least 15 minutes after which you should wipe it off with a clean cloth.

If your countertops are white or have another color susceptible to staining, apply a second sealer coat. Upon applying the first coat, wait for at least 48 hours then apply the second coat.

Once done, wipe the counters with clean towels and paper towels, making sure you wipe away excess sealer. Before you start using the countertops, leave them for at least 24 hours.

Other ways to protect granite

Other than sealing the countertops, there are plenty of different ways you can protect them from stains and other forms of damage. Some of these ways include:

Protect them from UV rays: Most granites are combined with resins susceptible to UV-ray damage that leads to fading and dulling of color. In addition to keeping curtains closed when it’s sunny, talk to your granite contractors Durham and understand the best product to provide maximum protection.

Use pH-neutral cleaners: Granite is sensitive to acidic and alkaline-based cleaners so only use pH-neutral cleaners.  Using the wrong products not only stains the surfaces, but it also etches them, so you have to replace them, which is expensive.

How to Tell If Countertop Is Granite or Quartz

best quartz countertop

When homeowners are looking to remodel their homes, the popular debate is whether they should install granite or quartz countertops. The experienced homeowners know the difference between the two, but the new ones are always asking how to tell if the countertop is granite or quartz.

Before we tell you how to tell the difference, let’s start with knowing about each countertop material.

What is quartz?

Quartz is a manmade material made up of 90-95% quartz and 5-10% resin. Often referred to as engineered stone, the material is made from leftover quartz that is ground and mixed with resin.

Quartz occurs in a variety of colors ranging from whites to purples and blues. You can leave the countertop material naturally colored or enhance it to achieve a particular color or pattern. Since quartz is manufactured, it comes in a variety of slab sizes and shapes.

What is granite?

Granite is a 100% natural occurring rock formed over some time by the cooling of molten lava. As lava cools and compresses over centuries, it forms flecks and striations that give the countertops its character.

The granite stone is made up of several minerals that give each slab different colours and characteristics.

Granite is harvested in a quarry where it’s later cut into manageable slab sizes. From there it’s sent to the supplier where it’s polished to achieve its characteristic shine. The supplier then cuts it again to fit your bathroom countertop or kitchen island size.

How can you tell if a countertop material is granite or quartz?

For you to tell the countertop material you are dealing with; you need to look at several factors that include:

Appearance

Since granite is natural, it has an earthier texture that results from mineral crystals which often bear microscopic fissures.

Quartz is bound with resin which means the countertop doesn’t have the crystalline structure or natural fissures similar to those you find in granite. Due to this, quartz has a smoother texture. You should note that the more finely ground the quartz is, the glossier and more polished the overall appearance is.

Price

Just like any other countertop material, the cost of granite and quartz varies depending on the slab thickness, color, edge profile, and whether the countertop will house a sink.

Regardless of all this, quartz is generally cheaper than granite. The extra cost of granite is due to the months, or even years it can take to locate and quarry granite. It’s also expensive to transport granite from India, Russia, and Brazil, where most of the world’s supply is found.

Quartz is abundant and often mined in the United States (primarily Arkansas) hence the lower costs which are passed on to you.

Size

A standard granite slab measures 105 by 54 inches which is narrower and shorter than standard-sized quartz slab that measures 120 by 55 inches or the jumbo-sized quartz slab at 129 by 65 inches.

While the smaller size makes it easier to install granite slabs as the granite installers have an easier time handling the slabs, the slabs cover a smaller area; hence you have to purchase many of them. It also means you have many unsightly seams to deal with.

Wider and taller quartz slabs allow you to cover small and large countertop areas with fewer slabs. This means more savings and fewer seams.

Maintenance and durability

Although, both materials are durable, granite is relatively porous hence requires sealing after installation, then periodic sealing on an ongoing basis. Granite slabs also tend to have natural flaws that make them prone to cracking.

Quartz doesn’t require any sealing and its uniform throughout, which means it rarely cracks.

The resins in quartz slabs makes them highly resistant to staining compared to granite. The resins also make quartz less susceptible to harboring bacteria.

Which one is better?

Your choice between the two is solely dependent on your preferences. You might be attracted to the natural veining and beauty of granite slabs or be drawn to the consistency of quartz.

Regardless of the material you choose, you should note that none is DIY friendly so you will have to hire granite contractors Durham to help you with the installation.

How To Cut Granite Countertops By Hand

granite countertops

One of the prime reasons you may want to cut granite countertops by hand is if you have small granite blocks that were left behind by the contractor, and you would like to use them in other applications such as making stools or other surfaces.

There are plenty of tools you can use to do the cutting. The most common one is the wide-bladed chisel. When cutting the countertops, you need to consider plenty of factors that include:

Safety tips

You need to be safe when cutting the countertops. To do it:

  • Ensure that your hand is out of the way, so you don’t hurt yourself.
  • Roll up your sleeves and tie your hair back, so it doesn’t hurt you.
  • It’s wise you wear safety goggles and a dust mask. This keeps granite from getting into your eyes and silica dust from entering your lungs.
  • You should wear ear protection.

Set up the work area

The work area should be sturdy such that it can effectively hold the granite in place. To have an easy time cleaning once you are done, cut the granite outdoors. If cutting the granite indoors, lay drop cloths on the floor to cover the areas of interest. It’s also wise you have a shop-type vacuum in the area to help you with the cleaning.

Mark the area you want to cut.

Measure the desired length and width you want to cut on the granite then place three strips of painter’s tape on the area you are looking to cut. You should note that you don’t have to be precise when placing the tape as the purpose of the tape is to protect the surface and reduce the risk of chipping.

Before you begin cutting, double-check the measurements, and ensure they are correct.  Remember to add an extra 1/6 of an inch for the chisel and saw blade width and mark the measurements with a pencil.

Once you are sure that the measurements are correct, position the granite section directly in front so that it’s visible. You should then put on your safety goggles and position the carbide-tipped point chisel directly in the top edge of the marked line.

The line should be at one of the edges of the granite section. Hold the grip of the chisel with the point resting against the granite, and using your other hand, gently tap the head with a mallet.

Chisel a groove

At one corner, chisel a groove at least ½ inch in depth. You should then chisel marks directly along the straight line you drew across the granite section. When making marks, ensure they are in a perfect line. Continue until you have chiseled at least six inches along the line from the end of the countertop.

Insert a blade into the groove

After completing making grooves, place the chisel and mallet aside and insert the blade of your handsaw into the groove. Cut the granite with a sawing motion until you successfully cut the entire section.

To cut down on dust accumulation, wet the blade as desired, then continue cutting until you cut the entire line of granite.

Polish the countertop

If the cut end of the granite slab or countertop will be facing a wall or another object, you should polish it. To smoothen it, fit an angle grinder with a diamond grinding wheel, then smooth and shape the edges to your liking.

Tips when cutting granite with hand

To avoid injury, avoid wearing gloves, especially when using a saw. This is because groves will weaken your grip on the saw.

When cutting or polishing the countertop, ensure you use the right blade. As a rule of thumb, use blades designed to cut natural stone. In addition to the wrong blade putting you at the risk of getting hurt, you can also damage the saw or blade.

Parting shot

This is what you need to know when you are cutting a granite slab with your hands. The process is risky, so if you aren’t ready for it, hire granite contractors Raleigh to help you out. The good thing is that the contractors will come with specialized tools, so they will get the work done fast.