Industry News

GRANITE AND QUARTZ COUNTERTOP SEAMS – TOP 10 TIPS

Most residential kitchens do require at least one seam in their countertops. Many clients want to know what they should expect in terms of the quality and visibility of the seam. Here are some tips to help ensure good seam quality.

  1. Realistic Expectations – Have realistic expectations of the material. Although a good seam should be inconspicuous, do not expect it to be invisible. A seam in granite and quartz countertops will always be something that you can both see and feel. (Seam quality in picture to right is unacceptable.)
  2. Color and Pattern – The color and pattern selected can make a difference as to the appearance of the seam. Light colors (white, beige, light grays) with a solid or very small pattern will have more conspicuous seams than a material with multiple colors and patterns.
  3. See a Sample – Be sure to have your fabricator show you a sample of their seam quality. A fabricator should either have a showroom that you can go to and view a seam or they should be able to provide a list of past clients that are willing to let you come to their home and see the quality of work that has been installed.
  4. Seam Location – There is some controversy as to whether a seam should be put in the middle of a sink or cooktop cut out. Some fabricators feel that the seam is more vulnerable to breakage in those areas. However, if you prefer to have a seam in one or both of these locations ask your fabricator if the material can handle such a small seam.
  5. Seam Layout – Seam layouts should be done prior to cutting material. Your fabricator should know the length and width of your material and should be able to determine the exact position prior to cutting. If you have a preference, discuss the seam location when the fabricator is making the pattern (template) for you countertop. Be sure to be present while they are doing final field measurements so you can discuss seam location.
  6. Epoxy Seams – Countertop deck seams should be bonded with an epoxy that is similar in color(s) to the granite / quartz material. Deck seams should not be bonded with silicone.
  7. “Industry Standards” – This is a fancy term used to say the seam is “Good Enough”. Industry standards recommends deck seams can be up to 1/16” wide with a +/- tolerance of 1/64”. Veteran fabricators work to achieve a much tighter fit.
  8. Lippage – A good seam should be level. Many times fabricators encounter un-level cabinets, varied slab thickness and bowed or warped material. This requires the fabricator to shim the countertops, or modify the material in order get a quality seam. Even minor amounts of lippage are noticeable and sometimes unavoidable due to permanent warp in the material.
  9. Final Positioning – When your fabricator comes to install your countertops it’s not typical to have the seam fit together perfectly the first time. Most fabricators will layout the tops and do a “dry fit” the first time and then take the tops out of the house to make slight modifications. This may need to be done multiple times to achieve a great it. This is normal and you should not be alarmed.
  10. See It Yourself – Be sure to be present on the day your fabricator installs the countertops. If you have any concerns about the appearance of the seam it can be addressed immediately before countertops have been permanently set in place.

Stainless Steel Sinks – Can They Rust?

Stainless steel sinks are beautiful, stylish and functional additions to any modern kitchen. From their sleek good looks to their easy care, they are the perfect industrial accompaniment to stainless appliances and fixtures, and complement the natural, organic aesthetic of a granite or quartz countertop.

One question many homeowners share is — are stainless steel sinks prone to rusting? The simple answer is yes. While stainless steel is a versatile, useful metal, it comes in many grades. The common grade for kitchen sinks is Austenitic stainless steel. Classified as 304 by the American Iron and Steel Institute’s AISI, it is used in the manufacturing of kitchen sinks and other appliances. When investing in a new sink, it is important to realize that not all 304 grade stainless products are created equal.

304 Stainless Steel Grades

18/8 is the most commonly used steel in sinks, meaning that it is composed of 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel by weight. The chromium creates a barrier against oxygen and moisture, which causes corrosion and rust. The chromium content must be at least 18 percent to effectively safeguard against rust. It also provides resistance to stress corrosion and cracking.

Rust Prevention

Stainless steel sinks can, and do rust. Prevent damage by caring for your new sink properly.

  • Leaving cast iron cookware in your sink for any length of time will because iron particles to attach to the sink, causing the appearance of rust. Instead, promptly wash the cookware, dry it and remove it from your sink.
  • Always air-dry dishes on your countertop, not in the sink.
  • Never use steel wool to scour your stainless sink – steel wool breaks apart and will leave particles behind that will cause rust.
  • Opening a can of vegetables or soup and leaving it in the sink will cause a ring to appear. Your best bet is to make an effort not to leave items in your sink.
  • After using your sink, clean it with the cleansers specifically formulated for stainless sinks, which will keep particles from attaching to the sink and giving the appearance of rust.
  • Always rinse cleaning products away thoroughly to keep them from drying on the surface and degrading the finish.
  • If your sink has yet to be used, but already displays small, scattered rust stains, Clean the sink immediately after installation.

Even with care, your sink may develop rust through no fault of yours. Purchasing quality sink products that don’t opt to use less nickel, or replace it with other cheaper alloys will ensure that your sink lasts and provides years of rust-free beauty in your kitchen.

Sink Comparison

Kitchen Countertop Sink Comparison

Real estate experts and other design experts in the housing industry stress that kitchens and bathrooms add value to a home. People also renovate their kitchens to make them more functional and to reflect their current lifestyle and needs.

The sink is one of the most important parts of a good room design, and according to Consumer Reports Sink Buying Guide, most people fall in love with the style of a sink before thinking about functionality. Home designers explain that this is the wrong way to go about choosing any type of sink. Although the appliances are the flashiest part of a kitchen design, the sink is equally important because realistically, much of the time spent in that room is spent at the sink.

Top Mount

These are the sinks that are installed after the countertop is in place. These sinks are the most reasonable in price and are suitable for any type of countertop surface. The main disadvantage is the amount of grime that builds up around the sink, and they detract from the look of more sophisticated counters.

Undermount Sinks

Undermount sinks are the most common. Unlike top-mount sinks which are installed from above, undermount sinks are installed below the counter top. Because there is lip that overhangs and may accumulate dirt, it is easy to wipe a counter off. The mounting method may mean that the sink is a bit lower. They are more expensive to purchase and are not suitable for surfaces that aren’t waterproof — including laminate surfaces and most woods.

Seamed-In

Solid surface or seamed-in sinks are created out of the same material as a countertop. This all-in-one product adheres to the bottom of the countertop, creating a seamless, one piece for both the countertop and sink. There is no visible seam. This option is perfect for people looking for a low maintenance sink.

Farmstyle Sink

The style is also known as an apron-front sink because the front of the sink is exposed. These deep sinks are very stylish, and complement country-style or traditional style kitchen designs very well. This particular style requires a special cabinet, and the sinks themselves are expensive.

Choosing a new sink is a personal choice. While style is important, always think about every possible purpose for which you will use the sink.

Tile Backsplash Top Ten Tips

Tile Backsplash – Top 10 Tips

On a daily basis, I have clients come into the showroom asking me if they should use tile for the backsplash. While it’s not for everyone, tile backsplash can add tons of character to any kitchen. With thousands of style and colors the design options are endless.

Top 10 Tips to a Beautiful Tile Backsplash:

  1. Add Some Character – A little bit of glass or accent tile can really add some style and character.
  2. Under-Counter Lighting – Lighting really accentuates the beauty of the tile, highlighting the texture and beauty of the tile and grout.
  3. Silicone – Talk with your installer prior to starting the job. The tile should not be grouted to the countertop surface. Leave a space equal to the grout line and apply a color matched silicone between the two. The silicone remains flexible and will allow for expansion and contraction of walls, countertops, etc. and can eliminate the grout joint cracking thus eliminating the need to re-grout.
  4. Flat and Level – Install countertop flat and level. Very important to have the countertop flat. This will ensure the tile stays nice and level with straight grout lines.
  5. Proportional Grout – While some tile such as terracotta need a thick grout line, most tile is best when inconspicuous. Typically, the smaller the tile, the tighter the grout line. When shopping for tile, take a look at the different sample boards to get a feel for the size you might like.
  6. Cove Splash – If you plan to use a product like Corian, Staron or HI-MACS, a tile backsplash can be a beautiful compliment to the material. With ‘Corian’ clients, I suggest a small coved backsplash (anywhere from 1-4’’ in height). The cove splash provides a nice seamless transition that is easy to clean.
  7. Neutral Tones – When selecting a tile for granite, select a light or neutral color to offset the darker color granite.
  8. Pizazz – Don’t be afraid to add some pizazz. This is your opportunity to really add the style you want at a low cost. When you are tired of the design the cost to replace will be substantially less than replacing the countertop.
  9. Low Cost Countertop – Tile can really dress up a countertop. Selecting a lower cost product like Corian, the addition of tile can transform a basic countertop into a masterpiece.
  10. DIY Project – If you feel comfortable with basic carpentry tools, tile backsplashes can be the perfect project. All tools and supplies can be purchased from your local home center. Tile saw rental may be a great option if using glass or ceramic tiles.
Tile Removal

Tile Countertop Replacement

Many of our customers come to our showroom wanting to replace their existing tile countertops. They are simply tired of cleaning the grout. Though removing the tile countertops is a must, replacing the cabinets is not an option.

“Is this possible”, they ask?

Of course it is possible! We do replacement countertops all the time.

Because maintenance is the number one reason for replacement, we begin by introducing our customers to either solid surface or quartz surfacing material. Both of the products offer easy maintenance and virtually endless design possibilities.

Removing a tile countertop can be a daunting task. Following these basic steps can make the process as pain free as possible.

THE MESS

Removing tile is a messy job. But there are certainly steps that can be taken, including covering the floors with tarps, using plastic to mask off the area of work, dust collection on tools, etc. that help to keep the mess to a minimum.

Zip Walls are also a great way to contain any stray dust. Zip Walls are temporary, plastic walls that go floor to ceiling, limiting the migration of dust to adjacent rooms. Be sure to ask your fabricator how they protect the area that they will be working in.

THE DAMAGE

Yes, absolutely there will be damage to walls and cabinets when tile is removed. Typically, tile is set in a mortar base and most tile installers use the large 2’’ drop edge pieces where there is finished edges on countertops.

When that tile and mortar is removed you will typically find that there will be some damage, or at least fading of stain on the front of the cabinets. This can certainly be remedied by asking your countertop fabricator to extend your edge height from the typical 1 ½’’ to a 2 – 2 ½’’ height to cover the damage. Keep in mind, there is additional cost involved in taller edges, but that cost would certainly be much less expensive than refinishing or re-facing existing cabinets.

If you have tile extending up the wall for backsplash, the removal of that tile will most certainly damage the drywall or plaster behind it. Again, there is no reason to panic. A quality countertop fabricator should be able to create a backsplash with the same material you have chosen for your countertop to cover up any damage to the wall. In fact, you can even ask your installer to go up a ¼’’ – ½’’ or so past what is the existing height of your current backsplash in order to cover up any old paint or grout lines.

CONCLUSION

When your tile countertops are past the point of repair, don’t let the tile removal process overwhelm you. With the right tools and equipment, removal of existing tile countertop will be as smooth as selecting the new counter.

Water Absorption Test

Is Granite Porous

Lemon Test – The lemon test is to determine the ability of your granite to resist etching. Follow the steps below:

  • Place a wedge of lemon or lime, cut side down, on the sample overnight.
  • Wipe the sample in the morning and hold it at an angle to the light.
  • Check for a rough spot where the lemon was placed.
  • Etching will appear dull and rough.

Etches normally occur where calcium or calcite is present in the make-up of the stone. If your sample reacts to the lemon wedge, we DO NOT recommend this for your kitchen.

Water Absorption Test – Test the suitability of your granite to resist water absorption. The tighter the grain the less absorption.

Follow these steps:

  • Place a few small drops of water on the sample.
  • Let stand for about 15 minutes.
  • Wipe excess water.

If the granite sample absorbed the water as soon as you put it on, DO NOT use this granite. A quality sealer would help prevent some absorption, but would require constant maintenance.

If there is still a bit of water left on the surface, it will be suitable for your kitchen. We recommend a sealer for all granite.