How to Clean Every Stone Surface

To Make Your Countertops Last A Lifetime

 

February, 2018

by Abby Sanders

We all know the feeling of that tragic first spill on your new kitchen island. It’s inevitable: someone trips over the dog and knocks over a wine glass, or the kids leave a lemon wedge over after their first homemade lemonade attempt. In a perfect world, the key to preserving any stone countertop is prevention. But we know that even the most careful home-owners will eventually have some type of spill to reckon with. Never fear. Most stone surfaces are relatively easy to care for, and you’re often better off using gentle cleaners you already have in your home rather than expensive specialty cleaners or heavy-duty solutions. Whether you have granite, marble, quartz, or quartzite surfaces in your home, get acquainted with your stone’s maintenance needs so you’re not caught off guard the next time your glass of sangria gets elbowed. Granite In our showroom, granite remains one of the most popular surface materials for busy kitchens, and for good reason. Your daily clean-up routine only requires three things: a soft cloth, warm water, and dish soap (or any mild disinfectant). Avoid Windex, vinegar, bleach, and other acidic cleaners. A quick wipe-down with soap and water will take care of 99% of food spills and cooking mishaps that your granite countertop withstands day to day. For tough stains, make a paste of baking soda and water. Apply the paste to the stain with a soft cloth; you might even want to let it set for a few minutes before wiping it off. Depending upon the type of sealant used when your countertops were installed, you may want to re-seal your countertops every few years. This is a job best left to the professionals, so ask your countertop fabricator how often your particular stone should be sealed. The small investment is worth it in the long run: the right type of sealant will leave your granite countertop looking shiny and new again, and (more importantly) will protect it from future stains.
Cleaning A Marble Kitchen Countertop
Marble Marble, a beautiful choice for any kitchen, is also notoriously vulnerable to stains. Any acidic stains, like citrus, wine, or tomato sauce, can cause etching: a dull spot in the stone that appears when the acid reacts with the calcium carbonate in the stone. Clean up any spills as quickly as possible with mild dish soap and a soft cloth, avoiding any cleaner that contains acidic or bleach. If this initial clean-up isn’t enough, you may want to purchase a marble polishing powder. Follow the instructions on the label to gently rub the powder into the stain. It’s always a good idea to research the many types of polishing materials available on the market, and even partner with a stone professional to see which products they recommend. If the spot is glaring enough, you can hire a local stone fabricator to hone the marble for you. This will even out the appearance of the surface so you won’t notice any variation in color or light reflection (although keep in mind that it won’t leave a glossy finish). As long as you’re comfortable with a soft, dull finish (which many find just as appealing as a polished look), having your marble re-honed is a viable option. Quartz Because it is non-porous, quartz is naturally stain resistant. As long as you clean up stains shortly after they occur, your quartz countertop or vanity will look beautiful even after years of use. Wipe off spills with warm water, a soft cloth, and a bit of mild soap if needed. Unlike many other surface materials, quartz does not typically need to be re-sealed. And because this hard material naturally resists scratching and chipping, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to call anyone in for repairs. For these reasons, quartz is considered one of the most low-maintenance options out there for home owners, in kitchens and bathrooms alike. We should note that quartz is susceptible to high temperatures, so do yourself a favor and use trivets and coasters to protect your quartz counter. Direct contact with a high-temperature material could cause lasting damage, so prep the surface with a hot pad before you pick up your pot of boiling pasta water.
Cleaning A Quartz Kitchen Counter
Quartzite Like granite and other natural stones, stains and spills on any quartzite countertop or vanity are best cleaned with mild soap, warm water, and a soft, non-abrasive cloth. Avoid heavy-duty cleaning solutions that may harm the stone with acidic materials or bleach. Persistent stains can usually be erased with a paste of baking soda and water. Let the paste sit on the stain for a few minutes before gently wiping it off. It’s important that quartzite surfaces be periodically re-sealed, so ask your local stone fabrication shop which sealer is best and how long it should last. If over time your quartzite countertop starts to collect stubborn stains that don’t go away with your normal cleaning routine, hire a stone professional to polish and repair the stone for you. You made an investment in your home by purchasing high quality stone countertops. So preserve the life of your stone surfaces with these simple cleaning techniques, and all of these materials will offer you years of service in any room of the house.

3 Things You Need to Do

Before Buying New Countertops

 

 

1. If you're getting new cabinets, buy those first. One of the first questions any countertop fabricator will ask is whether your cabinets are already installed.

 

It’s important that you have your cabinets installed before your countertop fabricator takes any measurements. If the cabinets are replaced between your measure appointment and the installation date, the measurements may be off, and the countertop may not fit the new dimensions.

 

If you haven’t considered getting new cabinets, consult with your countertop fabricator. They’ll be able to tell you if your existing cabinets are level and stable enough, or if you’ll need to shell out for new ones. (If you do, it’s a worthy investment!). Some stone fabricators like Stone Interiors offer complimentary in-home consultations to answer these types of questions before you even have to make a decision about your countertop.

 

2. If you're buying new appliances, get those too. Debating a new stove or fridge? Go ahead and buy those larger items before scheduling a measure appointment for your  countertop. The fabricator will need to measure the exact dimensions of your existing kitchen layout, including stove, fridge, and dish washer.

 

Take a good hard look at your stove. If it's seen better days and you think you may need to replace it in the next year, do it now. That way you don't have to worry about a new stove not fitting with your countertops down the line. It's also a good idea to check that the height of your stove will be even with the new countertop; you can find a good guide to checking your stove and countertop height here.

 

If you’re in the market for a new sink, your countertop fabricator may carry a range of sinks and faucets for you to choose from. If you decide to purchase your sink elsewhere, you’ll need to know the exact dimensions prior to your measure appointment (these are often provided by the manufacturer with your purchase).

 

3. Research your materials. Picking a color scheme is the fun part. Not so easy is wading through the vast amount of information on different materials, and weighing the various costs and benefits of each. Marble might be your first choice aesthetically, but is it too high maintenance? You were considering Formica, but what other options do you have within your price range?

January, 2018

Abby Sanders

New Cabinets and Countertop
Purchase cabinets and appliances before your countertop.
New Sink Installed in Countertop
Many countertop fabricators also carry quality sinks and faucets. 2018: the year of new beginnings, new gym memberships, new kitchen islands. We take it you (or one of your clients) is planning to invest in a new countertop next year. Here are the first steps you’ll need to take to prep your home for a quick and easy countertop installation.

It can be overwhelming for anyone. Your first step is to partner with an expert in the industry who can help you cut through the lingo and figure out which surface will actually work for you and your lifestyle. Work with a countertop installer who is willing to walk you through your options before pushing you into a sale. Any company worth their salt will gladly schedule an initial consultation at your home before pressuring you to buy, making sure you end up with a material that will serve you well for years to come.

Top Home Design Trends of 2018

 

Okay, we can't predict the future. If we could we'd be trading stocks instead of selling countertops. But, we do have some well-reasoned guesses at what to expect in the world of home design in 2018. Let's take a look at what (may) lie ahead.

 

Warm Neutrals

Grey is fading into beige in 2018. According to Gates Interior Design, 2018 design trends are leaning towards neutrals and browns rather than the stark whites and light greys that have graced kitchens for the last few years. Thanks to this trend, we expect to see growing interest in warm-hued granites like Tanami and beige quartz colors like Oakmoor.

 

Feeling Earthy & Going Green

Consumers continue to become more environmentally conscious – and they also want to feel closer to nature. Homes to Love predicts that trends in earthy, natural tones and materials will mirror our desire to separate ourselves from technology and feel a little closer to nature, even when we’re relaxing in our homes. This may very well signal a shift from formica and “faux” granite looks to the real deal.

 

Beauty in Imperfection

Victoria Redshaw, a professional trend forecaster, expects to see more consumers seeking out a “Wabi Sabi” way of life: “the ancient Japanese philosophy of finding beauty in imperfection.” We’ll find ourselves seeking out products and materials that naturally change over time, and embracing the unique ways that these materials age and grow with us. We expect that marble, which is notorious for developing a unique patina over time, will be popping up in even more kitchens in 2018.

January, 2018

Abby Sanders

In 2018, we expect to see more warm, natural hues.
Home Design Trends 2018
Marble kitchen island
We may see even more marble in 2018.

Most Durable Countertop Materials:

Who Can Take The Heat?

 

Among the many factors to consider when choosing a countertop surface is how well it will withstand the abuse of a busy kitchen. With cooler months upon us and more nights spent inside prepping meals, many of us may be looking at our kitchens and realizing it’s time for an upgrade – in both style and function.

 

There are two clear leaders in the category of heat resistance and overall durability. These options can be counted on to hold up to a hot pan or crock pot without suffering any cracks or lasting damage.

 

Granite

Granite has remained one of the most popular countertop materials for decades, and for good reason: it’s naturally heat resistant and low maintenance. Unless you plan to try out new steel welding techniques on your kitchen island, your granite counter should withstand normal cooking temperatures, even if it comes in direct contact with a hot frying pan once in a while.

 

Even so, you should take some measures to protect your counter – mostly so you don’t have to worry about re-applying the sealer that protects your granite from stains. Invest in a trivet to make your granite last. And be careful about placing extremely hot items near cold ones, especially near an overhang. Granite is susceptible to thermal shock, which can be caused be extreme temperature changes.

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  • Marble
  • Marble is naturally heat resistant. It’s often used for fireplace surrounds since it can endure an open flame – so your hot cookie sheet is nothing. Marble is not quite as impervious as granite, and if you’re using it in your kitchen, it will require a little extra TLC to protect it from scratches and stains. But rest assured that when it comes to high temperatures, marble is one of the most heat resistant stones available.

 

What About Quartz?

Quartz is growing in popularity, and we're always hearing questions about its durability. How does Quartz, which is technically an engineered product, measure up to granite and marble?

 

Quartz is harder than both granite and marble, and therefore often referred to as more durable. However, it is not as heat resistant as granite or marble. When weighing your options, be sure to ask your countertop fabricator about the specific pros and cons of each product.

 

Home owners who cook frequently and spend substantial time in their kitchen may be looking for a surface material that’s not only aesthetically beautiful, but can also hold up to the occasional crock pot or pizza stone. When planning an overhaul of your kitchen, consider how often you’ll be actively using your cooking space. If a reliable surface that is naturally heat-resistant is your top priority, then granite and marble are two safe bets.

November, 2017

Abby Sanders

Marble Fireplace Surround

Marble fireplace surround by Stone Interiors Alabama

You'll Fall for the Waterfall Effect

 

Creating a “waterfall effect” by extending the edge of a kitchen island all the way to the floor is becoming increasingly popular thanks to the clean, modern shape it creates. When done right, these edges make the slab look thicker and lend a high-end feel. It also serves as the perfect way to show off the stone you so carefully selected, while transforming your kitchen island into a work of art in its own right. The precise, geometric edges make this countertop edge the perfect complement for any modern kitchen.

 

But while waterfall edges are gorgeous, they don’t come easy. Creating the perfect waterfall effect while continuing the natural grain of the stone poses its own special challenge for countertop fabricators. The corner angle needs to be perfectly cut in order to achieve a seamless look and continuous pattern. Even the slightest miscalculation could compromise the overall look of the piece and take away from the visual impact.

 

So if you're considering a waterfall effect (or any other premium edge option, for that matter), carefully consider the fabrication shop you're working with. Here are a few key indicators that you're working with a quality fabricator that can get the job done right:

  • They should have CNC cutting and electronic measuring equipment. This ensures they can take accurate measurements of your space, and have state of the art machinery that can cut precise seams and edges.
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  • Find out if your fabricator has the software to create digital slab replicas. This technology allows your fabrication team to perfectly match the veins of the particular slabs they're using for your countertop.
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  • It's a good sign if your countertop fabricator is MIA accredited. This means they've been thoroughly vetted by the Marble Institute of America and are dedicated to meeting the highest standards in the industry.
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  • Take a look at their previous work and ask questions throughout the process. Have they performed edges like this for previous clients? A fabricator that's been in business for some time should be able to show you photos from previous jobs and answer any questions you may have about their team and facilities.

 

Getting a new countertop is an investment of your time and money, so familiarize yourself with the fabrication company responsible for delivering the countertop you envision. And if you crave  a modern kitchen, a waterfall effect may be just what  you're looking for.

Waterfall Effect Stone Kitchen Island

November, 2017

Abby Sanders

Photo courtesy of Nordic Kitchens and Baths Inc.

At Home with the Outdoors:

One Gorgeous Home's Use of Outdoor Space

 

One sign of a successful home design is not necessarily how beautiful the structure itself is, but how well it complements the surrounding landscape. We had the pleasure of working on a home that perfect accentuates its outdoor space, and incorporates the sunny backdrop of Gulfport, Mississippi into the living space.

 

When viewed from the front, it would be hard to believe that more than half of this home’s total volume is an outdoor space. Even within the indoor rooms and atriums, rustic Cleopatra stone flooring and big, open windows blend the surrounding landscape into the home.

 

When the sun is shining, the sliding wooden door on the far wall of the foyer open up to expose the home's gorgeous pool. The pool area is one of the most impressive uses of outdoor space we've seen, in terms of both its structure and the variety of stone applications. The surrounding patio includes multiple sitting areas, a grill, bar, and a cozy fireplace, making this space more than just a pool, but an extension of the living space. The stone floor tiles transition seamlessly from the indoor space to the patio, making the space feel cohesive with the rest of the home. Colonial Gold granite makes for a durable grill workspace and bar. But as beautiful as the design is, it's hard not to look up. A ceiling of windows allows for a panoramic vista of the skies and back bays of Gulfport, Mississippi.

 

In the master bathroom, Calacatta Gold extends the natural glow provided by the large windows adjacent to the tub. The granite is tinted very slightly with a creamy gold, as the name suggests.

 

The kitchen countertops are Colonial Gold, finished with a teak wood eating bar that adds warmth and texture to the contrast the industrial-style kitchen.

 

Thanks to its structure and design, this breathtaking home invites the blissful Southern landscape right into the living space. The materials used highlight the warmth and natural light typical of the Southeast, and make for a home that simply would not be the same anywhere else.

 

 

Colonial Gold Kitchen Countertop
Beautiful Coastal Home Design
Cleopatra Stone Flooring
Stone Tile Pool
Calacatta Gold Bathroom

Unique Lighting Makes This Bathroom Vanity

One of A Kind

 

This master bath would be stunning enough with the soft Cappuccino Onyx vanity and crystal sink bowls. But this home owner decided to incorporate a unique twist that's both eye-catching and surprisingly functional.

 

This bathroom vanity can be independently lit from beneath the stone surface. A number of LED lights line the interior of each cabinet, underneath the vanity. Thanks to the translucency of the Cappuccino Onyx, the bright light emitted by the LEDs shines through. The result is a unique, unexpected glow that lights the room, without being so bright as to shock drowsy eyes at night.

 

The crystal sink bowls at each vanity enhance the glow of the backlit stone with a vibrant sparkle. The warm hues of beige and gold create a cohesive look and make for a bathroom that is both luxurious, and also warm and inviting.

 

The bathroom's dual beauty and functionality is carried out even in the fine details. A small stone pillar, matching the shades of the vanity, functions as both a lamp and a toothbrush cover, while blending in with the rest of the space.

 

We admire any room with original features that serve a purpose. This backlit stone vanity is certainly memorable, and had us wondering why home owners don't incorporate lighting features like this more often.

 

Stone Bathroom Vanity with Crystal Sink Bowls
Backlit Stone Bathroom Vanity
Cappuccino Onyx bathroom vanity features

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