Monthly Archives: February 2015

Stone Counter Thicknesses

Stone countertops are available in a wide range of different thicknesses. Some stones are more likely to be available in one thickness versus another, while others may be able to be built up to appear thicker than they are. Most counters, however, are available in standard thicknesses from the majority of fabricators.

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2cm is one of the more common thicknesses for marble and some granites. Also known as ¾-inch stone, this is often a less expensive option usually seen in bathrooms. 2cm thick stone may be more prone to problems with overhangs if used in kitchens or on bars, and sometimes needs and underlayment of plywood for support.

3cm stone is the other more common thickness for most granites and some marbles. Also known as 1-1/4-inch stone, this is the preferred choice of most homeowners for kitchens and other larger counters. If the stone is durable enough, it can sometimes be used without any supports beneath it on the cabinets.

Some proprietary stones for sink legs and other decorative settings may be available in 2 or 3-inch thicknesses as well. This is particularly popular for Bianco Carrara and other white marbles, although it should be noted that most faucet stems are not long enough to go through this size of stone, so an extender is needed, or the stone should be carved away in the back to accommodate it.

Another popular option for homeowners that want the look of thicker stone, but not the accompanying expense, is to use a built edge. This involves epoxying another piece of stone to the underside of the overhang or edge and grinding and polishing the two pieces together into one edge. Unless you look closely at the edge to see the seam, it can make the stone appear to be much more substantial.

Some manufactured stones, such as agate and other gemstone-based counters, can also be produced or cast to have a thick-looking edge as well.

Countertop thicknesses are fairly universal, meaning that most fabricators will offer similar options to give you the most choices for your home.

Choosing a Granite for Your Kitchen

Granite choices for the kitchen can seem nearly endless. With the array of different colors and grain patterns available, many homeowners can feel overwhelmed trying to determine the best choice. There are a few tricks that can help, however, so you can get the perfect fit for your décor.

The first is to make choosing your granite the first step in your design process. Some homeowners may end up choosing their cabinets first, but this often limits the selection process of the stone unnecessarily.

By starting with the granite, you will quickly find that some stones lend themselves better to some cabinet door styles. For example, stones with tightly flecked patterns work best with raised panel doors, while Shaker, beaded, and slab style doors all work well with looser more open grain patterns.

The next is to not begin your search by looking at small stone samples. Stone samples can be several years old, which may mean that the colors of the stone are no longer an accurate representation of what’s leaving the quarries. A visit to the stone yard is the better choice, because you can see the actual stones and the current color and grain choices.

Once you’ve seen a few stones, you should be able to quickly determine the direction you want to move. Whether that’s to stones of a certain color, or stones that have wild or sedate grain patterns. Once you know what it is that you like about the stone, designers can help direct you to other stones that you may like.

Once you’ve narrowed it down, you have a few choices. You can ask for a sample from the slab to check it against the cabinets and tiles that you have in mind, or you can commit to a specific stone. Either way, be sure to get a sample from the stone, and to indicate which section of a slab you want for areas like peninsulas and islands if the stone has a particularly dramatic pattern. By putting your granite first and looking at the actual slabs themselves, you can easily get the right choice for your kitchen.

 

Cost Differences in Stone

Many people searching for natural stone for tiles or countertops often encounter a wide range of different prices. Stones like granite, for example, can vary in cost by hundreds of dollars per square foot, leaving some people to wonder if one stone is more desirable than another. For example, blue stones like Blue Bahia tend to cost a lot more money than gray stones do. This can lead to people second guessing their decisions, and even annoyance at a perceived “jacking” of the prices of some stones. There are several factors that go into the pricing of stone, however, and understanding them can give you a better sense of value for the material you choose for your home.

The first factor is availability. Some stones are extremely accessible, and there is a lot of them. This makes it easy to retrieve them and keeps costs relatively low. Other stones, however, are more rare. It costs more money to retrieve them, and there isn’t as much of them which also drives the price up.

The second factor may be transport. Most stones are imported from other countries, and with the cost of oil constantly fluctuating, there are times when the cost of importing a stone can dramatically impact its cost when it comes to market.

Fragility or strength of the stone can also play a role. Some stones which break easily and need to be reinforced with fiberglass, or which are difficult to get larger pieces of can also be more expensive than those stones that are hardy, dense and don’t fracture or break easily when being moved or installed.

The finish and potential edge treatments you may want on your stone, as well as the thickness of it can also impact the final cost, because some treatments can be more difficult to carry out, costing more in labor and broken stones, which leads to higher prices.

So while one stone may cost dramatically more than another, it says nothing at all about the quality of the stone you are considering, and more about stone manufacturing instead.

Popular Granite Colors for 2015

While trends have changed and a lot of different materials are on the market today for countertops, granite remains one of the more popular options amongst homeowners. And while for several years there was a clear cut group of favorite stones that showed up in kitchens again and again, changing trends have meant that a range of different stones are beginning to emerge as the most popular.

White and light colored granites have replaced the tans and blacks that were so popular just a few years ago. Bianco Romano, Kashmir White, and White Piracema are all nice alternatives to white marbles in the kitchen, but still get the white, clean look that is so popular right now. Stones like Shivakashi, which feature a light background with lots of swirling color are particularly popular as they have a lot of interest and movement in them as well as a light color.

Stones with a lot of movement that also have a distinctive color to them are also trending upward. Stones like Lady Dream which have a pink/gold background with a lot of movement, as well as stones like Costa Esmerelda, with a shifting green, yellow, and blue background are gaining a lot of traction for homeowners that want something a little different, but aren’t ready to commit to wild and dramatic granites.

Stones that are closer to the neutrals of the last decade, but that have richer colors and veins can also be seen in many homes. This includes granites such as Copper Canyon and Golden Crystal. These stones have the more neutral background that some homeowners prefer, but they have a lot movement, as well as unusual patterns, which helps them to fit in with the gemstone trend as well.

Granite is expected to remain popular into the next decade as trends move toward more natural materials. Look for more popular colors to keep on trend.