Granite and what you don't know.

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I have spent some time writing specs for an architectural firm in regards to countertops. I specialize in solid surface products, such as Corian, Staron, Meganite, Gibraltar and such. More and more do people ask for upgrades like granite and engineered stone. eStone, as I call it, is basically all the same 'Breton' process. Silestone, Hanstone, CeasarStone, Zodiaq. Granite, however, is not so easily identified and is misunderstood in way too many ways. Hence my post. Acrylic solid surface and eStone *IS* created pretty much the same way. 10-year warranties included. Granite is not. For instance 'Blue Pearl', in my opinion is one of the prettiest of them all. 'Emerald Pearl' can be fantabulous. Now here comes the problem: there are 5 grades of those 'pearls'. Some are soft as butter, some are full of fissures, some are hard as..well...stone. They DO look the same. A fabricator will select his router's running speed and feed-speed depending on hardness of those granites. Some of those decisions are made after a slab is picked up by grippers and a rubber mallet is whacked upon a 5' x 10' sheet. If it rings like a bell, GREAT.. if a dull THUD...not-so-great. When buying granite, you really have to take a very close look at your fabricator. Ask for references and CALL them! You be careful out there! Did you know you can stain granite if you forget to seal it?
r
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I've had the opportunity to see "Paperstone" in action. Words fail me. JP
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Yea...I'm just starting to learn about that stuff. So much to learn. You do know that 'laminate', like Arborite and Formica and such already are 'paper' products?
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Robatoy,
What do you think of the quartz surfaces? Do they look as nice as granite?
Durable? Thanks
Joe
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VERY durable. Some of the 'patterns' are uncanningly like the ones you'd find in nature. Tropical Brown granite and its quartz cousin are so close. I like quartz countertops because they are so predictable in colour.
As nice as granite? ...sometimes nicer.
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I am real fan of uniformity. Uniformity is good; I don't like having the conversation begining with "I dont' think this is the piece I picked out".
I love the look of some of the granites, but I don't think they are very practical for a hard used kitchen. The feeback I get is that they scratch fairly easily, etch a little sometimes, and the edges can be easy to chip. For me personally, if I have the large skillet full of chicken cacciatore, another large pot of linguine, another of marinara sauce, and the last burner taken with a skillet of fresh chopped garlic in olive oil, I don't want to be watching out for a bump into the edges of the counter, and errant spill that I miss and don't clean up for several hours, etc.
Since most people just admire their pans these days, hard use is not usually a problem. However, for those that do I am hearing a real mixed bag on the feedback for granite. Not near so much so for the quartz products.
I ran into a guy that absolutely LOVES granite tops. He bought a franchise that repairs them (as well as quartz). But says he, granite is 90% of his business. Quartz is soft; a metal or glass mixing bowl can scratch it if slid or moved without picking it up. He fixes a lot of chipped outside corners where something whacked off the edge. He fills and seals a lot as the imperfections in the top gather tiny amounts of gunk that you can see in the lighter colors. He polishes a lot as all the tiny scratches gather and keep new tops from having that mirror finish everyone wants.
He said he is so busy he is running two trucks now, and his company is about a year old. I stopped to talk to him as the repair part of the granite countertop business was something that always intrigued me - ever since I found out what was charged to a lady that set a hot pan down on the top (uh oh...) when she was distracted with something else.
Still looking into it - I like the idea of polishing out and sealing the tops. It looks like that could be a good holiday business for the right employee. Extremely low risk, low material cost, low equipment cost - sounds good to me!
r - if you are still following this thread - what do you think of the new arcylic epoxy based quartz toppings they are putting on formica and her sisters? I saw at a recent show that they sand the old counters down, prep them some way, then apply this goop with the stones in it at about 1/2" thick. It looks like Silestone when it is finsihed, and it looked pretty good. They told me an average kitchen only takes 3 - 4 days and I seem to remember it having a long warranty, too.
Any thoughts?
Robert
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I think a lot of folks would disagree with the above. We did a lot of asking around (of people in the know who were NOT in a position to sell us anything) when we redid our kitchen about 18 months ago. By far, the consensus of opinion was that granite was the way to go, with quartz being a good alternative if you preferred its greater uniformity.
We picked out a relatively dark pattern (you can see it here - http://www.loyno.edu/~cbmarsh/cdrack.htm ) and even though I've never sealed it, staining has not been a problem. No chips either, and we cook every day, have lots of parties with teenagers wreaking havoc, etc., etc.
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A man after my own heart . . . er, stomach. What time do we eat? My mama's mama was a Pizzo (Sicilian!)
--
NuWave Dave in Houston



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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

???? What does a hot pan do to granite?

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The granite can crack/break/shatter/otherbadthings from thermal shock.
Not always, but can...enough so that it's best to assume that it will.
Mike
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Exactly. I was actually in a friend's house when his wife sat a hot pan (one of her nice heavyweight stainless jobs), right off the stove onto the cold granite. We heard these popping noises a little like crackle, and didn't see any damage.
But when she cleaned up that night a couple of small pieces of quartz came out on the sponge. She was in tears.
I have heard, but not seen personally that a hot pan would also discolor granite. I would guess it would have to be a really hot pan on a really cold surface though. Just a guess.
Robert
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wrote:

No thoughts. None. I'm all out of thoughts. Seriously. I do not know of what thou speaketh. Needless to say, I'm very interested to learn more. Any further info....please.
I haven't been keeping up with the latest...and watching TV simply hasn't been an option these days. Moving into the bigger premises has been a much bigger task than I anticipated. I had deadlines to meet during the move as well. But...I'm a lot happier now as the efficiency has doubled.
I'll post a pic of the partially completed fabrication section on ABPW maybe later this evening.
r
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Doubled! Wow... I just don't think I have the energy anymore. But that is impressive - I am happy with 25% these days!

Hope so. I sure seems that over the last several months you have put a ton back into feeding the business. I would like to see where you have taken it.
I'll look into that counter topper. I personally don't know anything at all about it except what I got back from someone that went to one of our larger homeshows when it was here. I >think< it is a franchise deal.
Robert

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No kiddin'. We are having chamber of commerce weather here, and I am moving as fast as I can (the actual speed may not be too impressive...) to get as much done as possible. But right now, I am looking for the bead after this post. Going to a BBQ contest and chili cookoff tomorrow! Yeehaw!

I found this, and I am pretty sure this is it. They apparently cast it like the old days of cast marble (resin and marble dust) to make them as they are overlays. I wasn't able to find out that the product was cast until I read the "limited material warranty" and it described the mother of pearl additives, etc. This sure sounds like it is what the guy described to me as they fit over the counters, cast to fit.
http://www.granitetransformations.com/home.html
But then, I found this deal, which is actually fiberglass reinforced granite, cut thin and layed in with glass. This stuff looks cool, and it seems like it would cut the possiblity of damage down quite a bit since it is lighter, and well reinforced. Depending on edge treatments, I don't know how easy it would be to tell this from a regular granite installation. It looks like it could be a helluva money and time saver.
http://www.granitclad.com /
Pretty interesting stuff.
Like to hear what you think about these. Note that they are both "franchisable". I wouldn't bite on a franchise, but I would like to know about the products.
Back here in a couple of days. Gonna go be a good German and drink me some beer, eat some grilled, homemade sausages, try out the chilli and other BBQed meats, and support the local high school volunteers that sponsor this event for this tiny little town.
Robert
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In principle from empirical reports yes, but with my geologist's hat on I can't think how you manage to do this. Granite is (or ought to be) pretty tough stuff - impervious mineral grains that are closely bonded without any sort of pervious matrix. Barring the odd mechanical fissure, just how do you "stain" granite? What happens here - do the grains change colour, or does some visible stain get absorbed into the material? Which granites (chemically) are prone to it? What substances will cause staining?
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Grantites that are low in quartz (and other hard minerals) are softer and more porus. They will absorb water (and stains). The softer minerals can also be etched by acids (e.g. lemon juice).
Obviously, light colored plan granites are more prone to show the stains. I have Blue Pearl GT and that's pretty non-porus and the darker color means stains won't show unless serious. Nevertheless, I seal it every six months; only takes 20 mins.
A near white granite will show the slightest stain. A black granite will show the slightest etching from acids or powerful cleaners.
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On Oct 25, 10:01 am, snipped-for-privacy@malch.com (Malcolm Hoar) wrote:

Thank you for handling Andy's question. Well done. I have nothing to add.
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<snip>

What are the 'soft" minerals?
Granites consist of varying proportions of quartz, plagioclase feldspar, potassium feldspar (microcline), perthite; some mafic (dark) minerals like amphiboles (hornblende, reibekite) and less commonly pyroxenes (augite, enstatite), and micas (biotite); and lesser proportions of accessroy minerals (epidote, sphene, zircon, clinozoisite, etc.).
None of these minerals are soft or porous; most have minimum hardensses of 6-7 . The mafic minerals may be subject to chemical attack moreso than the quartz and feldspars, but even that should be minimal.
Glass (basically fused quartz with impurities) and hard minerals can be etched with strong acids, but have very low permeabilty and are resistant to "staining" without the presence of acids. I suspect that the granite counters that get stained are from quarries in 'low-quality" granite, i.e. rocks that have been weathered (i.e. the feldspars partially altered to (soft) clay minerals, or quarried from parts of the granitic pluton that underwent late-stage magmatic ("dueteric") alteration (which also causes the feldspars to alter to clay minerals).
Anyway, I'd still like a granite countertop.
-Zz, M.S., PhD.
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On Thu, 25 Oct 2007 14:01:03 GMT, Malcolm Hoar wrote:

My 5+ year-old kitchen has a dark granite (Emerald Pearl, I think) countertop. No stains. Just a few scratches, and a couple of small chips on the top at the front edge (guess I should not have had a square edge treatment put on it).
It hasn't been sealed since new. What should I seal it with?
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Art Greenberg
artg at eclipse dot net
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My fabricator recommended this range of products and that's what I'm using:
http://www.stonetechpro.com /
I'm just using one of their sealers -- I don't bother with fancy cleaners/polishes/enhancers etc. A large bottle cost me $50 but I figure it will last me close to a decade.
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