Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ
We are really experts on all aspects of countertop design, fabrication and installation. Here’s some of the most common questions our customers have.
What material is the most durable, granite or manufactured quartz?
Granite and manufactured quarts are extremely durable and composed of natural stone, making both products the best choice for a durable and long lasting counter top.
What are the differences between manufactured stone (quartz) and natural granite?
Granite is a natural stone formed deep in the earth billions of years ago, consisting of primarily feldspar, quartz, and many various crystallized minerals. Manufactured stone (quartz) consists of approximately 93% natural quartz, approximately 3% polymers, and the balance consisting of miscellaneous pigments and materials
What are the pros and cons of natural stone versus manufactured stone?
Natural granite has become extremely popular recently for two main reasons, one being affordability, the other maintenance. In recent years, due to high demand, there has been an increase in quarrying worldwide, driving the price down, thus making common granites less expensive than most solid surfaces or quartz products. With the introduction of dry treatment products, such as Diamond Seal, natural granite has become virtually maintenance free. In the past it was recommended that granite be sealed annually, however the dry treatments are engineered to “last a lifetime”. Natural granite is not affected by heat from a cook top or frying pan, even a lit flame placed under the granite will have no melting affect or leave burn marks. Granite counter tops are your best choice for outdoor use, since it is not affected by moisture, heat, cold or UV rays. Manufactured stone, or quartz products, are very strong and durable, however, they do have polymers which hold the material together that can be affected by high heat (over 400 degrees Fahrenheit) and are affected by UV rays, therefore are not recommended for outdoor use due to fading of color. Quartz has two distinct advantages over natural stone. One, it is sealed all the way through the stone, making it completely non-porous, therefore, not needing any additional sealers or treatment. The second advantage is the almost unlimited color and pattern options from a wild bright orange or green to a subdued pattern, the choices allow from contemporary to warm color choices for any home design.
Will we be without a kitchen during the process?
When we template over your existing cabinets, we usually disconnect your plumbing and remove your existing counter top. If you happen to have a laminate top, we can re-install it and reconnect the plumbing, allowing for a temporary top until your stone is installed. If you have an existing tile countertop, we can arrange for use of a temporary top with sink if you need one. Once your new countertop is installed, we request that you not use your sink for 24 hours, allowing time for the silicone to properly adhere (for under mounted sink). If you choose to use a drop-in sink, there is no waiting period. Learn more about our processes.
What do I do for a backsplash?
For years before granite or engineered stone became the “norm”, most counter tops were made of laminate or solid surface plastics. These countertops allowed for a backsplash to be molded into the counter top. We can duplicate the 4” or 6” splash design by fabricating the strip and mounting it to the wall. We have found that the most popular choice for backsplash is more of a custom look, utilizing natural stone, glass, or porcelain tile. In some cases, full height stone backsplashes can be installed for a specific design scheme, and are commonly marble or granite with interesting patterns or movement. United Stoneworks has many sources for tile and we utilize multiple showrooms to provide our customers with many options to fit any lifestyle or design. Our employees are trained to assist through this very important stage of design for your particular project. Learn more about countertop styles.
Why do stone countertops need seams?
Because granite and quartz are made of stone and weigh approximately 20 pounds per square foot, there are limitations for mining and/or producing slabs larger than 10’ long and 7’ wide. In large kitchens, islands, or large “L” shaped designs, one or more seams may be necessary. Our staff will work with you to ensure proper seam placement and best use of material for a world class job. Our fabrication shop utilizes laser guided diamond saws for razor sharp cuts, which give a seam less than 1/16”. In addition to having thin seams, our installation crews are trained to colorize the material used to bond the stone together, which in turn hides the seam even further.
Why is it important to have matching slabs of stone?
In most cases, more than one slab of stone is required to properly configure a job. Because two pieces in a run may need to be seamed together, it is important that any “movement” in the stone is matched at that seam, as well as having island pieces flow with the main runs of counters. It is important to not only have slabs from the same block of quarried stone, but also book matched (almost identical face to face), or consecutively cut, depending on the layout.
What is a viewing?
United Stoneworks invites all of our clients to preview the template layouts on the actual slabs prior to the fabrication of your countertop. Since many types of natural granites, marbles, and onyx may have minerals or movements that may have more or less visual appeal, this process allows our client to see what the counter tops will look like finished. In addition to picking out areas that are more appealing than others, our fabricators will explain sink placement, faucet offsets, radiuses, and seams. Our fabricators do their best to accommodate client requests, while utilizing the slab efficiently.
What if I want my vanities or bar top in a different color material?
We have a fully stocked remnant yard, jam packed with smaller, or leftover pieces from large jobs. We offer any piece of stone, whether natural or quartz, at a significantly reduced price that includes template, fabrication, and installation. Remnants change daily and consist of everything from exotic to classic granites to onyx, quartz, and marble. Our yard is available for viewing by appointment only. Picking your piece of stone is like going to the pet store and picking a puppy, so many options, and they all look great. Bring a sample color for your cabinets, floors, or walls and it will help make your selection easier.
How do I care for my countertop once it’s installed?
Care depends on the type of material used and the sealers that may have been applied. If you have a manufactured stone, no treatments are necessary to seal it. For cleaning quartz, it is recommended that you use a biodegradable liquid dish soap, however, any mild surface cleaner is ok with the exception of products such as “Soft Scrub”, since they can destroy the surface polish and void the manufacturers warranties. For natural granite, we strongly recommend having a dry treat product, such as Diamond Seal, applied to your granite. Diamond Seal is a trade name for a compound originally developed for military aircraft windshield applications to repel water deposits and debris, and has recently been found to be an excellent sealer for granite, and is warranted for 15 years. You can also find topical sealers, which work fine, but need to be applied every six to twelve months. Cleaning your sealed granite is virtually the same as cleaning quartz. Mild, soapy water will not harm your sealers, and you will find a myriad of non ammonia stone cleaners available at your local grocery store that will clean and shine your granite beautifully. Marble has always been a popular choice for counter tops, and due to the porosity of this sedimentary stone, it is prone to staining. It is important that marble is sealed properly, and spills should be cleaned up immediately, especially citrus or acidic liquids such as coffee or wine. Another sedimentary stone is onyx, which like marble is porous. In addition, onyx is more sensitive to heat, making it a poor choice for kitchen counter tops, but can be used on vanities, fireplaces facades, etc. Sealing is important for onyx, and mild cleaners only should be used to clean it. Learn more about cleaning & maintenance.
Can my existing countertop be repaired?
It depends on the type of damage, for instance, if the damage consists of a small divot or chip in granite or quartz then it can be filled with unique colorized two-part filler and then polished to a smooth finish. Please note that filler cannot be polished to the same sheen due to differences in surface tension). Cracks are a different issue and require one of our professionals to evaluate before any recommendation can be made, even it even can be permanently repaired. Usually, a crack occurs because the substrate that the material is affixed to has swelled by moisture or a poor quality installation where the tops are not level which causes seams to split apart.
My countertops are dull, what can I do to make them shine again?
Like any repair, the solution depends on the severity of the damage, type of material and cause. Here are some example:
- Dull granite that had been professionally Diamond Sealed can appear dull after mineral deposits build up through evaporation, these can easily be removed with a basic razor blade without damaging the surface.
- If the granite had not been sealed properly the dullness might be what we refer to as etching which is caused when a low PH or acid liquid such as lemon juice or vinegar has reacted with the natural stone and actually dissolves the micro polish making the stone look dull, the solution is surface polishing which may work by hand polishing, however, if the etching is more severe it may require a professional to polish the surface with a special diamond impregnated cup wheel.
- Marble and Travertine: These materials are primarily calcified minerals which will react with something as simple as a water ring caused by a glass left on the countertop for even a small length of time, and might need polishing very frequently and therefore not recommended products where they get exposed to liquids and heavy use.
Can stains be removed from my countertops?
This is another very vague question will usually require a professional evaluation; however, the good news is that if the stain was not of the stone when it came out of the earth then most likely it can be removed. Though the product(s) used to remove them will depend on what the stain is, what causes them and what material they are in. Here are some of the most common staining problems and the solution.
1. Red juice stains and usually caused by berries, fruit juices, tomato or chili sauces. Solution: Clean with lacquer thinner and use a wet or dry poultice to extract.
2. Oil Staining (usually by stove top): Remove with lacquer, and in extreme cases, some products can remove oil and silicone we refer to as” silicone digester.”
3. Green or blue stains inside the stone that seem to appear from nowhere. These are typical causes when certain chemicals, especially ones that contain propellants for spray-on applications that cause a reaction with certain types of stone which contain copper minerals and create an accelerated oxidation process. In this case, multiple applications of several products must be applied by a professional for best results, and in some cases, miner surface polishing may be required for the chemicals to penetrate the stone and then be surface polished after treatment.