Monthly Archives: September 2016

Choosing Your Stone Counter Thickness

Homeowners today have lot of choices when it comes to natural stone countertops. The type of stone, the color and the edge treatment are all considerations that a lot of homeowners are prepared to make when it’s time to visit the stone yard and choose their new counter. What many homeowners may not realize, however, is that for some stones, there is one more choice to be made, and that’s the thickness of the counter as well.

New House - Wayne, PA

The vast majority of stone slabs come in two standard thicknesses – 2cm and 3cm, or roughly translated, ¾-inch and 1-1/4-inch. Some stones, such as marble, are more likely to be found only in 2cm, while some granites may only be available in 3cm.

In some places, such as in the western part of the United States, the trend is to use a thinner counter – 2cm – regardless of where it is installed. In other places the trend is to use a thicker, 3cm, counter in the kitchen, while bar areas and bathroom counters use a thinner, 2cm stone.

Generally, however, a larger slab counter like a kitchen will do better with a 3cm stone. This is because some 2cm stones may need additional support in order to avoid slight bowing or cracking over time. Many homeowners may choose to use the 2cm slab thinking that the less expensive stone fits into their budget better, but often the bracing required during installation brings the price back up again.

Occasionally, you may also find slab counters in 2 or even 3-inch thicknesses. These thick slabs are generally more expensive than the others, but other than in extreme overhangs, they don’t usually add a lot of additional structure or function to the stone.

For most large countertops, a 3cm thick stone is generally sufficient, provided that overhangs have enough support. If the stone you love only comes in 2cm, however, it can still make a beautiful, functional countertop, as long as reinforcements are used.

Stone thickness is often driven by availability, area trend, and price. Weigh these considerations together to find the best stone for your home.

Should You Hone Your Countertop?

Trends in kitchen design come and go, but natural stone has remained one of the more popular choices for countertops for the last several years. The color of the stone and the stone itself may change, but the beauty and durability of the material is lasting and not something that’s going to change soon. One of the trends that seems to be reemerging again this year is using honed stone in the kitchen. Honing refers to the finish given to the surface of the stone – a flat, matte finish as opposed to a polished one. Any stone can technically be honed, giving your kitchen a more natural and muted appearance. That said, it isn’t always the best idea to get a honed counter, however, even if that choice is available to you.

Honed Granite Island

Some stones naturally look beautiful when honed. Absolute Black granite, for example takes on a softer color and appearance when honed that works well in Country kitchens. Other stones perform better when honed. Bianco Carrara, for example, does not show etch marks and scratches quite as much on a honed counter as on a polished one.

The vast majority of stones, though, react very differently to being honed. Some stones, such as Labrador Antique, which contains a lot of mica in its surface, shows numerous pits and fissures when honed that weren’t readily apparent when the surface was polished. This is because a polished surface reflects light away from these areas, disguising them. Other stones such as Rainforest Green, which is known for its beautiful colors and veining, may appear dull and muddy when the polish is gone, because the polish is what brings those colors out and makes them pop.

In some cases, that duller color is what will make the counter work best in your kitchen, while in others that duller color will detract from the look of the stone. Therefore, whenever possible, see if your fabricator will hone a small sample of the stone for you before you commit to the whole slab. A sample may not give you all the colors and variation in a slab, but it can give you a general idea of what that stone will look like without its polish, helping you make a better choice for your kitchen.

While honing is popular right now, it might not always be. Make a decision that suits your kitchen and not the trend to get the best look for the stone and for the space.

Creating a Waterfall Island Countertop

More and more homeowners are beginning to feel that the kitchen is just not complete without an island in the middle. The kitchen island gives you additional storage, seating, and workspace that you might not have otherwise. It also gives you the opportunity to add some dimension to the kitchen design by giving you the ability to use a different color or style of cabinetry, as well as a different type or style of countertop as well. And one of the most popular island counters emerging right now is the waterfall counter.

Kitchen + Bath Artisans

A waterfall countertop features a slab counter – usually stone – on top of the island. The slab then turns 90 degrees and flows down the side of the island from the top of the counter straight to the floor. While this does restrict the use of the island on this side, it makes a very striking and interesting focal point for the entire room.

Because the waterfall counter is so eye catching, it makes sense to choose a countertop material that is going to be eye catching on its own. Using a gemstone countertop, a marble or granite with wild and prominent veins, or a stone that has a very vivid counter is one way to ensure that your waterfall counter is going to become the focal point you intend.

The key to a really successful waterfall counter is making sure that the join between the two sections is as unobtrusive as possible. For this reason, you may want to work with your fabricator to ensure that any lines or veins in the stone change direction with the direction the counter is moving so that it looks natural. If the direction of the veins sudden went from horizontal to vertical, for example, this could detract from the beauty of the island. A smooth, mitered edge is also a nice attribute to include at the point where the counter turns, otherwise the change in edge may be too obvious, also detracting from the space.

If you want to bring your island to the next level of design, consider using a waterfall stone countertop to highlight your style.

Decoding Stone Names

Granite and marble are two of the most popular materials out there for use in and around the home. There are also numerous variations of each, with hundreds of choices. There are a lot of ways that you can go about narrowing down your field of options, including price and size. But if you don’t know where to begin, and you’re just searching for options either online or at stone yards, you may want to look by color. Because most stone yards don’t organize their slabs this way, however, you may want to start by searching out specific stones in the colors you’re interested in. Some of these are easy, “Coast Green” for example, is easily identifiable as a green-colored stone. Some are trickier, however, because part or all of their name may be the language of the country where the stone was quarried from. Learning to decode some of the more popular names for colors and stones can help you determine if you want to see these stones in person before you get to the stone yard.

Eclectic Bathroom

Giallo is the name for “gold” and usually refers to any granite or marble that is yellow or gold in tone, including Giallo Ornamentale and Giallo Antico.

Azul is the name for blue, but this one is a little more misleading. Some stones with azul in the name will be blue – Azul Macuba or Azul Celeste. Some stones, however, such as Lagos Azul, are gray in color, but may have a cool or blue undertone to them.

Bleu is another name for blue sometimes found on stones, such as Gascoigne Bleu. These stones are not always blue, and may be a shade of gray as well.

Many black-colored stones may include the words “Nero” or “Negro” in their name, such as Nero Marquina.

Some stones may also be named for their place of origin, or for their appearance in other ways. Jerusalem stones such as Jerusalem Gold and Jerusalem Bone both refer to their place of origin, and both indicate color at the same time. Vermont Danby is another stone that refers to its location, as is Bianco Carrara – Bianco meaning white and Carrara referring to the quarry the stone was found at.

It’s also important to note that some quarries and stone yards will rename stones on occasion, as well. While not every stone will have a name that is easily translated, many do, and learning the key can help you come to your perfect selection sooner.