(Frequently Asked Questions and Answers)
Architectural Stone FAQs
How do I know if my stone has been sealed? Can I do the sealing myself and how long before I have to re-seal?
The best way to know for sure if your stone has been sealed or not is to splash some water onto the surface. The water will either bead and remain on the surface or it will slowly be absorbed into the stone creating dark spots in comparison to the rest of the surface area. If dark spots can then be removed with a hair dryer then your stone is considered to not be sealed and will continue to absorb water and be easily stained. You can seal your stone without the help of a pro but you will need a professional product including a few preparation and application tips to do a professional job. Once sealed your stone will be protected and adequately preserved from 6 months to 3 years without the need for resealing. The stone type, its finished qualities, and the amount of exposure in its setting will determine the longevity of any premium sealers which are applied.
Will sealing protect my stone countertop from scratching, etching, or bruising?
Sealing should not be confused with other preservation methods such as surface coatings. Preserving your stone with an impregnating sealer leaves no visible traces behind since it is completely absorbed by the stone. An exception would be enhancer-fused sealing products which serve to darken and accentuate color patterns in the stone. The impregnator sealing action occurs from within and allows moisture vapors to pass through without building up in the form of stains. No residual sealing product is left on the surface of the stone and as such no physical barrier protection is formed to protect from scratches, etching, or bruising. Coatings, whether in the form of waxes, acrylics, urethanes or epoxies, add a physical protective barrier to the surface which will resist degrees of scratching damage. Coatings restrict the stone's ability to "breathe" since moisture and chemical vapors from behind and within the stone are unable to pass through freely. Eventually the coating bond will fail as stains accumulate beneathe its surface and will be made visible since the coatings are either translucent or transparent in appearance.
Can Granite countertops be stained? Will Granite scratch if I cut on it or burn if in contact with a hot pot?
Granite can be stained if not sealed correctly or if in contact with organic and inorganic compounds which are able to dissolve the sealer and create a potential stain. Sealers are very resistant to almost every possible compound one might encounter in the home however very stong alkaline and corrosive chemicals are able to break down the sealers and pass through. Rest assured knowing that should your granite ever become stained it can always be completely removed. True granites will not scratch if in contact with a steel bladed kitchen knife, however, not all granites are granites and some softer igneous stones can be potentially scratched or etched from the impact of steel objects. Pots and pans off a hot stove element then in direct contact with the stone surface will not cause burn marks although the heat and condensation may leave a water mark if the granite has not been sealed properly.
What products and special supplies will I need to purchase to maintain my natural stone surfaces?
For regular stone cleaning and maintenance a mild and biodegradable stone care product will be effective when combined with proper pre-wash and rinsing techniques. These include coarse terry cloth towels, hot wash and rinse water, as well as nylon scrub pads of various coarseness. The granite type with its factory finished surface qualities should be assessed and factored in when designing a well-matched and effective maintenance program. Spray, liquid, and paste waxes, are also available to add some extra luster and brilliance to keep the stone's surface looking like new. I do not recommend pre-purchasing stain removal or intensive stone cleaning products until faced with a problem which should be considered from all angles and usually assessed with the assitance of a stone care professional in order to be effective.
Will my stone countertop be installed in one piece or will it be more than one piece joined together?
Large granite countertop spans, L-shaped, and irregular configurations are limited in size due to stone slab dimensions, material strength, grain pattern preferences, obstacles and risks for breakage during installation, as well as budgetary constraints. Smaller joined pieces if installed correctly and seamed appropriately can be aesthetically pleasing and securely fitted. A larger installed piece of granite is not necessarily more durable and in fact can become a detriment since material thickness in relation to span lengths are important factors in determing overall strength and durability.
Can worn, weathered, or damaged stone surfaces be restored with off-the-shelf stone products?
In my experience the answer is usually no. The renewal process usually involves some form of refinishing with specialized equipment and diamond tooling. Seldom are any chemical products used in this process except to clean and remove deeply imbedded stains or to seal and preserve after completion. Restoration stone products are usually not commercially available to the non-professional and have many hazards associated with their useage requiring experienced technicians and many safety precautions.
Are Engineered Quartz Stone countertops better than Granite countertops and what are their differences?
Granite as a natural occuring material when processed creates a building material suitable for countertop surfacing, exterior building cladding, and monumental stonework. Nothing is essentially added to increase granite's structural integrity with the excepetion of sealers and epoxy micro-fillers to preserve or enhance its natural beauty. Engineered Quartz stone is a composite man-made product consisting of pulverized quartz crystals, powders, and color pigments in an epoxy matrix bond. Granite is appreciated for it hi-gloss brilliance, translucent depth of color, and varying grain patterns as uniquely formed by nature over millions of years. Engineered stone offers a more opaque look with less sheen approximating the muted color tones of limestones and sandstones and with a durability which exceeds that of sedimentary and most metamorphic stones. Granite as an igneous stone is more economical by comparison and the ultimate choice for those who seek the best that nature has to offer.
What types of stones are used to fabricate countertops and which ones are the best to install in my home?
Granite, marble, travertine, limestone, sandstone, onyx, slate, quartzite, soapstone to name a few. Granite is the most durably formed and tempered mineral-rich igneous stone. Granite is mined in quarries all over the world which have grown in numbers over the past two decades and now produce hundreds of varities of granites with a wide spectrum of colors and patterns. Sedimentary stone like limestone and metamorphic marbles are organic decompositions and reformations of organic sea life over millions of years. All stone can be appreciated in your home and used as countertop surfacing with granite being the most durable. There are new emerging technologies available to coat and protect softer stones in applications where traditionally they were not practical choices to be used as countertop surfaces.
Why is Granite so popular and what are the benefits of using Granite and other natural stones in my home?
Granite has always been popular and has been used throughout time as a premier building material. The technologies needed to process granite up until the past few decades were the major limiting factors in shaping its availability. What was once a luxury product in its larger dimensional form only to be
used in grand settings was re-invented and made commercially available through the introduction of industrial diamond technologies. These technologies have enabled the processing of dimensional grade building stone into thin granite slabs called veneers. The alternative use of veneers over thick dimensional stone has lead to the popular and widespread use of natural stone for relatively lightweight countertop surfacing and cladding solutions. The benefits of using granite are its durability and natural beauty in design and when counterposed with many of today's building materials which tend to be faux and man-made and with a larger environmental footprint.
Why do stone slab sizes and colors patterns differ and why are some stones more expensive than others?
The geological formations of dimensional stone will determine the size and shapes of blocks which can be quarried and processed into slabs. Color pattern differences are unique as a consqeuence of the stones' minerology and the forces which formed them. These myriadal patterns can be viewed differently depending on which direction the slabs are cut from the blocks and by the different textures which are applied in surface finishing. The pricing differences amongst stone types can be accounted for by the driving forces of consumer trends, quarry yields versus waste losses, as well as geographical proximity to shipping and processing facilities.
Preventative Stonecare considers design criteria, material selection, and after care pre-planning prior to fabrication and installation and is by far the most effective and practical approach to stone care maintenance.
Dimensional Stone FAQs