Mohs scale of mineral hardness helps define the strength of minerals and natural stone, and is often referenced in countertop design and manufacturing.
The scale is based on one stone or mineral’s ability to scratch another mineral. A very simple test, a rating is determined by taking one material and scraping it on another. If the material is able to produce a visible scratch on the other, it is considered harder. The scale was created by mineralogist, Friedrich Mohs in 1812.
Numbers are assigned to minerals based on their hardness. The higher the number, the harder the mineral is. While harder elements have since been discovered, Mohs original scale is still used as a guideline.
Using a very simple comparison of materials, the results have proven to be reliable, and the test is easy to conduct in the field. Mohs scale also includes items such as a fingernail, which has a hardness of 2.5; a copper penny (3.5) and a window’s glass (6.5).
Which the scale doesn’t directly relate to countertops, it is often a consideration for homeowners and designers who are concerned with countertop strength and scratch resistance. According to Mohs scale, popular countertop materials would be rated and ranked in this order:
Of course, keep in mind there are varying degrees of hardness and quality within each stone type. For example one slab of granite could be rated a 6 on Mohs scale, while another slab could be an 8. Also, there are many manufacturing methods and other factors involved in countertop production that determine the true hardness. Generally, Mohs scale is a good guide, however.
If you’re looking for a very durable countertop that is scratch resistant, quartz and granite are top choices for kitchen countertops, bars and bathroom vanities.
If you have questions about natural stone countertops, or which stone is best for your project, give us a call:
With so many kitchen countertop options on the market, it can be difficult to figure out which material is best suited for your family. We’ve broken done the most popular stone countertop options based on lifestyle. While every family has unique needs and goals for their kitchen, natural stone countertops offer an excellent variety of colors and patterns, price points, and levels of quality. There are certainly stone countertop options to fit any budget or lifestyle.
For busy families with young children.
If you're looking for a durable, low maintenance kitchen countertop that can withstand lots of abuse, your two best bets are granite and quartz.
Granite - This natural stone is one of the most durable options available. It’s virtually scratch proof, and it is a very hard material that isn’t likely to chip or crack. Granite provides excellent heat resistance, and as long as it’s properly sealed, it’s not likely to stain or fade. Some granite does require a sealer to protect the stone from spills, so grainte can require a little more maintenance than quartz. Typically a sealer and a polish are applied once per year. It is important clean up spill on granite soon after they occur, because the stone is porous and some acid foods and chemicals can cause discolorations. Granite has been one of the most popular stone countertops on the market for many years, and it’s likely to stay on that list for many years to come.
Quartz - Quartz is very similar in price to granite. Because it is engineered from quartz aggregate, it’s even stronger that most granite, though not quite as scratch proof. Quartz typically has a more subtle pattern, and a sleek modern look, which some people prefer. Because it is non-porous, it doesn’t require any sealing and it’s more forgiving with food spills. Other than basic cleaning, quartz countertops are maintenance-free.
For Families who prefer luxury.
If aesthetics and luxury are your top priority, you might be in the market for marble, soapstone or (again) granite. These options take price out of the equation, and assume you’re not going to be terribly rough on the countertop. These countertops choices are strictly about design and luxury, rather than just utility.
Granite - We’ve established that granite is a versatile and durable stone, and while it is normally less expensive than more exotic and high-end stones like marble, some granite slabs are more rare and unique, and subsequently more sought after. This can drive up the cost. You may also want to explore more unique edge profiles, cutouts and sink installations that can raise the total cost. So while granite is typically very cost effective, there are more luxurious options available for families looking for a unique style.
Marble - Known for its elegance and striking beauty, marble is used quite often in high-end home design. It is not typically suggested for busy kitchens, especially for large families or families with children who could damage the stone. Marble can chip easily if heavy items impact the edges, the surface is prone to scratches, and spills and food debris can cause stains and etching. However with proper care and minimal maintenance, marble offers a high-end look and classic design style that can’t be matched.
Soapstone - If you want a truly unique look, soapstone is an excellent choice to make your kitchen stand out. This stone offers a modern aesthetic, but organic feel. A smooth matte finish and dark neutral tones make it versatile option for a number of kitchen design styles. Because it is not used as often as other stones, it instantly attracts attention. A softer stone, soapstone does scratch easily, but can be repaired by the homeowner. No sealing is required, but an occasional oil application will help keep a consistent color while minimizing the visibility of scratches.
Families who want the maintenance free countertops.
If are looking for a low maintenance stone countertop, quartz is probably the best choice. Because of the way it is engineered, it doesn’t require sealing like Granite. Quartz is extremely durable and and scratch resistance, though it is more likely to scratch than granite (you cannot cut directly on the surface of quartz). The heat tolerance is very good, though you should not leave extremely hot pots or pans directly on the surface. Quartz is easy to clean, and is very forgiving when it comes to stains and etching.
Natural stone countertops are a top choice for kitchens because of their durability, resale value and design versatility. If you’re researching the best countertop for your family, you’ll certainly find several suitable stone options to fit your budget and lifestyle. Check out our gallery of kitchen countertops to learn more. If you have any questions about our stone products, call us at: 316-946-0530
Polished granite has a shiny, glossy finish. This option is very common for countertops because the polished look brings out a wide range of colors that compliment the design of many kitchens and bathrooms.
After polishing the stone it becomes darker, and the colors more rich. The granite surface also becomes somewhat reflective. It’s an elegant look, and because of the many color options granite provides it can easily match any design style.
Granite is usually polished by the fabricator before it is installed, but it can be repolished after installation. Re-polishing will be necessary every 5-10 years, depending on the amount of use the stone gets, and if any damage occurs. Some homeowners re-polish their own countertops with a variable speed buffer, but it is a bit of an art, so many people opt to hire a countertop expert to refinish the stone.
Honed granite is basically the opposite of polished. This finish has very little shine, it’s more of a matte or satin look. Honed granite isn’t typically as dark as polished, and there is less contrast in the stone’s colors.
While this finish still provides the class and elegance that people look for in granite, it is more subtle than the polished option.
Technically, all granite is polished, as the stone’s surface is rough when it is first extracted from the earth. Honed granite however, does not go through as much, or as fine grinding and buffing as polished granite. Both finishes are flat and smooth to the touch.
Which Finish is Best?
As far as durability and maintenance, there aren’t huge differences between the two. Both are very strong, and virtually scratch resistant. Honed granite is more porous, so it will require slightly more frequent sealing (again, depends on usage). Polished finishes are more likely to show blemishes, because the glossy will be worn down in damaged areas. But with proper maintenance and care, both are great choices for a kitchen or bath.
Many homeowners choose between polished and honed granite based strictly on their design preference. Polished is the default option, but for homes with a more rustic or subtle aesthetic, a honed surface may be a better match.
If you’d like to see the difference between these two finishes in person, visit our showroom in west Wichita.
If you have a spot of super glue, Crazy Glue or Gorilla Glue on your quartz countertop, don’t worry, it can be removed.
These fast drying glues tend to adhere to quartz quickly and firmly, so it’s not likely that soap and water will work, but start there. Use warm water and a soft rubber or plastic edge to gently scrap the spot (e.g. rubber spatula or plastic baking scraper).
If that doesn't do the trick you’ll need three things:
Put some of the acetone/water mixture on the pad or towel and get the glue damp. Try to keep the acetone only in the area of the glue, allow it to sit for a few seconds. (Do not allow acetone to sit on the quartz surface for long periods of time.)
Holding the razor blade almost flat (try for less than 45 degrees to the surface) very gently scrape the glue. Use a light touch, it should start coming off almost right away. Don't press the blade into the counter, just slide it across the surface and let find its way under the glue.
Watch the surface closely as you are scraping, look at it from different angles. Adjust your angle and the lighting will help you ensure you're getting all of the glue and not scratching the countertop.
Repeat the acetone application and scraping until all of the glue is gone. Immediately wipe up any excess acetone when complete.
Lastly, thoroughly clean the countertop. Use a mild soap and warm water mixture, or a quartz-safe cleaner.
While this is an aggressive, and slightly risky tactic (remember, quartz is scratch resistant, not scratch proof), if you’re dealing with hardened glue, it may be your best option. Just take your time and be gentle, and that glue will be gone for good.
Note, you should check with your manufacturer to ensure it is safe to use acetone on your particular brand of quartz, while this is generally fine, the use some chemical products may not be supported by your warranty.
Granite or quartz are your best bets for a bar top.
A bar top requires a durable material that can withstand the impact of glass bottles, and the risk of scratches from corkscrews, bottle openers and sharp bottle caps.
For this reason, it’s best to stay away from softer stones such a marble and soapstone which are more likely to scratch and chip. You may also want to avoid very porous stones like limestone, as you’re sure to have some spills. A porous stone will be more susceptible to stains and etching when liquids interact with the stone.
Granite or Quartz are probably the best options for an indoor bar top. Both are extremely durable and they are available in a wide range of colors and styles that should suit any design.
Granite bar top benefits
Granite may require sealing periodically (yearly) to ensure liquids do not penetrate the stone. This is a simple process that can be done by the homeowner, or by a stone countertop professional. Check with your stone manufacture to determine if, and how often you may need to seal the stone.
Granite bar top benefits
Quartz is harder and more durable than granite, and it does not require sealing (less maintenance), however granite is more scratch proof and has a higher heat tolerance.
Granite and quartz are similar in price, about $45-$125 per square foot installed. A common sized bar might cost around $2000, thought your stone selection, exact dimensions and required cutouts will impact the exact price.
Both of these stones are excellent choice for a bar top. The differences are fairly minor, and many homeowners will make their decision based primarily on the look. Granite is often used in more elegant settings, while quartz is more modern and/or minimalist. Visit our showroom to the differences between the two. If you'd like to learn more about these stones, you can also visit our FAQ pages - Granite and Quartz.
If you’re considering natural stone for your bathroom countertops, or a vanity top, you have several great options. There are a few things to consider before selecting which stone is best for you project:
A typical bathroom doesn’t get the same type of abuse that a kitchen does. There are fewer heavy objects that could impact the countertop, there aren’t extremely hot pots and pans moving around, and the bathroom isn’t a gathering point the way a kitchen is. This means it’s safer to use softer and less heat resistant stones. However, bathrooms often have chemicals like hairspray, nail polish remover, and shower cleaners that can cause damage to some stones. Here are some stone countertops to consider for your bathroom project, and the pros and cons for each.
Marble Bathroom Countertops
An elegant stone often used in high-end homes, marble is known for its clean look and exceptional beauty. Usually a shade of white, the stone often has gray, black, light blue, pink, reddish, tan or green veining that compliments many design styles. The stone can be polished, for a bright shiny finish, or honed for a more matte look.
Many home builders and designers avoid using marble in kitchens because it not as strong as granite or quartz, and it is more prone to damage from chemicals. This however, is not the case for bathrooms. Compared to most non-stone countertops, marble is incredibly durable and stain resistant. Only a few natural stones could be considered “better”, and marble would be much more durable than many other non-stone surfaces. For bathrooms, marble is a leading choice.
Most people choose marble for it’s aesthetics. The stone has been used for centuries in building, homes, and art. There is an instant feeling of class and elegance when you see it. It has a subtle, but powerful look that can really enhance the beauty of a bathroom. Many people also like marble because it is somewhat rare. It’s not used nearly as often as granite and other surfaces, so it can make your home feel unique and more luxurious.
Marble is one of the more porous stone countertop materials, so it does require sealing every year or so. When properly sealed and polished there is little risk of damage. It is important to clean marble regularly and immediately deal with any spills however, especially if the spill is any substance that’s acidic. Acids and harsh chemicals can cause etching and stains.
On the high-end, marble can be very expensive, but standard marble slabs are often only slightly more expensive than granite or quartz. If you love the look of marble, there’s often no substitute.
Marble is also a material that can add value to a home. Because it’s a durable and long-lasting stone, it is desirable to many homeowners. It’s a luxurious material that offers a timeless style, so its presence can be attractive to real estate agencies and home buyers.
Granite Bathroom Countertops
Granite is perhaps the strongest, most durable stone countertop on the market. It’s available in many colors and patterns, and it is a very popular choice for bathroom countertops and vanities. The stone is virtually impossible to scratch, and the heat tolerance is very good, perfect for a busy bathroom.
Granite has a natural earthy appearance, and you’ll find a style that will match almost any decor. This stone has been a popular choice for many years, and it tends to add value to homes when compared to non-stone countertops. A granite vanity or bathroom countertop can last a lifetime. And its timeless look and design versatility means homeowners and home buyers alike, will enjoy this surface for many years to come.
Granite is a very low maintenance stone. It should be cleaned regularly, and you should avoid getting harsh cleaners, chemicals and acidic substances on the surface. But typically, just wiping the countertop down periodically and cleaning up messes is all that is required. Granite is often sealed at the factory or during installation to protect it from chemicals and other damage. This is much less of a problem in a bathroom than a kitchen, but the stone may require resealing every year or so.
Quartz Bathroom Countertops
Quartz is a natural stone that is engineered using ground up stone material and resin. So while it is mostly natural, the slabs aren’t cut directly from the earth the way marble and granite are. Often quartz is indistinguishable from a traditional natural stone.
Quartz is an excellent choice for a bathroom because of its durability (on par with granite) and extremely low maintenance requirements. Another benefit is that if you are using multiple slabs, quartz will have a much more uniform look as the slabs are manufactured, there is no need to attempt to match patterns and veining from slab to slab. For a large bathroom may be important.
This stone is more modern looking than granite and marble. The patterns in the stone are not as organic, and overall there’s a more subtle, minimalist feel. Because it is engineered, there are a wide range of color options that you won’t find with other materials. It is safe to say that quartz can match just about any bathroom design style, and decor.
Unlike marble and granite, quartz is non-porous, so it is the least susceptible to stains. This also makes it very easy to clean and maintain, as no sealers are required. This is one of the main reasons many homeowners opt for Quartz in both kitchens and bathrooms.
The only real downside to quartz is the heat resistance. While it is good, it’s not as good as granite or marble. In a bathroom, you’ll have to be careful not to leave a hot iron, or other extremely hot tool on the countertop for vanity surface for a long period of time.
Quartz bathroom countertops will be less expensive than most marble, and typically about the same price as granite. Like other natural stones, quartz bathroom surfaces are very desirable and can improve the value of your home.
down the materials that work best for your situation.
While these are our top choices for bathroom countertops and vanities, we also carry some other options that may be more suitable for your design aesthetic or budget. These include onyx, soapstone, limestone and slate. If you have any questions about our natural stones, or would like to ask specific questions about your project, contact us any time.
It's normal for granite countertops to eventually become dull or appear faded. Don’t worry, your countertop's surface can be restored to its original shine.
How does granite become dull?
A lot of granite goes through a polishing process during manufacturing. This adds a natural shine to the stone. Over time substances can build up on the stone’s surface. For example, hard water deposits, food debris, calcium deposits, grease and soap residue can build up on the surface over the course of years, and you probably won’t notice. This build up causes the stone to deflect light rather than reflect it, which makes the countertop appear less shiny. In many cases the granite looks dull or cloudy. So, granite countertops don’t exactly fade or change in tone, they are often coated with substances that make the surface appear dull. Technically, the shine is still in there.
Another important note: if your granite countertops are sealed, you should expect for this sealer to wear down over time. While a dull countertop looks bad, the breaking down of the sealer can allow damage to the stone. When the seal is no longer effective, the stone can be penetrated by substances that can cause stains or etching. How long your sealant will last depends on how often your countertops are used, how much abuse they take, and the quality of the sealer. Generally you should expect to reseal your granite every couple of years. If you see stains and what look like water rings or discolorations on your stone, the seal may be bad.
Solutions for Dull Granite
Dull granite can easily be restored through several methods. First, you should consider the age of the countertop and how well you’ve kept it clean. For minor dulling, you can probably do the repair yourself. For stones that haven’t been well maintained or cleaned regularly, or for granite that has severe stains and damage such as etching, you may want to hire an expert.
If you only have minor dullness, you might be able to restore your granite’s shine yourself with some off-the-shelf products. Make sure to check your warranty and your stone manufacturer’s guidelines before attempting this process on your own.
Remove Residue and Soap Film
There are a number of granite-safe soap film removers you can purchase that can restore some of your stone's shine. Make sure to use a pH neutral product that is safe for granite. These products do a good job covering small and large areas, but only for minor dullness related to hard water and soap deposits.
For small areas that are more difficult, many people use a razor blade to lightly scrape, flatly, across the stone. You should see the residue come off the stone right away when you scrape. Then use a super fine steel wool to sand the area. This method often works well around sinks and cooktops where residue build up is more common.
After scraping away the residue and cleaning the stone with water, you can use a polishing powder to restore the shine. These polishing products are safe for most stone. You will need to reseal the stone after completing this process.
Another option for small areas is Stone Scrub or Acetone to remove residue. These are slightly abrasive liquid products that can be applied by hand or with a variable speed polisher/buffer. You will need to polish reseal your stone after using this product.
For large areas, you may want to try one of the above methods to clean problem areas, then use a granite polishing powder to restore the entire countertop, rather than just the small area. This will give you a uniform finish with a like-new shine. You will likely want to use a variable speed buffer for this. You'll simply work the dry powder into the stone, covering the entire countertop. This process will remove minor scratches and stains and help restore the stone’s natural shine.
Polish and Reseal Granite
There are several polishing compounds on the market that are effective. Make sure you select one for your stone’s specific color, and again ensure it is okay to use the product on your countertop by referring to your manufacturer's guidelines. After buffing or polishing with a compound, you will need to reseal the granite.
While some people polish and reseal their granite on their own, Quality Granite and Marble advises calling a professional. If you live in the Wichita area, call us to ensure your granite restoration is done correctly.
If your countertops are damaged, badly dulled, if they've never been thoroughly cleaned or if they have etching, a professional can completely refinish and reseal the granite.
Call Quality Granite and Marble today at 316-946-0530 for granite restoration.
If you’re considering stone for your fireplace surround, you have a number of excellent options.
Natural stone is one of the most popular materials for fireplace surrounds for a number of reasons. First, because the fireplace is often the focal point of a room, aesthetics are key. Stone fireplace surrounds are available in a wide range of colors, patterns and textures that can match any interior design style.
In addition to design versatility, natural stone also offers a high level of durability. From its heat tolerance, to it’s hard, scratch resistant surface, natural stone can handle the rigors of day-to-day use.
Lastly, value. Natural stone may cost more than low-end fireplace materials, but overall it’s an exceptional value. It will require fewer repairs, it will last longer, and because it is a premium material it can add value to your home.
Here are a few stone choices to consider for your fireplace project:
Perhaps the most popular option for a fireplace surround, granite is one of the most durable materials you can buy. It’s extremely scratch resistant, unlikely to crack or chip, and it has good heat tolerance.
Granite is suitable for gas or wood burning fireplaces. The stone does require regular sealing, but it is relatively low maintenance and easy to care for. You’ll find hundreds of unique colors and patterns in granite slabs, sure to fit any design aesthetic.
Slightly more expensive than granite, and not quite as durable, many people choose marble because of its timeless beauty. It’s an elegant stone that has been associated with quality for centuries.
Marble has excellent heat tolerance and can be used with wood burning, gas or electric fireplaces.
When properly cared for Marble rarely suffers from stains, cracks and chips. Typically available in white, and light colors, marble will require more cleaning than darker stones, such as granite.
Limestone doesn’t fit every design style, but it is a beautiful stone with an earthy, rustic feel. It is also one of the less expensive stone options.
Like other natural stones, limestone is very durable and has good heat tolerance. However, this stone should only be used with electric or gas fireplaces. Like granite, limestone requires regular sealing to prevent stains, but when properly cared for it can handle a great deal of abuse.
Limestone fireplace surrounds are available in neutral colors, often light cream colors or tan and on the darker side light browns, whites and grays.
A durable, hard material, slate offers a darker color options, such as reds, greens, blacks and grays. This option is a little more expensive than limestone, but less than granite.
Slate is typically characterized by an uneven surface, so it has a more rustic look. Slate is resistant to heat, but only appropriate for gas and electric fireplaces, the heat from wood fires can be too intense.
Slate is able to fit almost any design style thanks to the many color and texture options.
If you're thinking about a stone fireplace surround, visit our showroom to see these and other options.
While you can cut directly on some stone countertops, it is not recommended.
Granite is one of the most durable countertop materials you can buy, and it can certainly withstand cuts from a knife blade. However, if your granite has a sealer on it, cutting can eventually wear down the sealant. Over time, this can lead to liquids and food absorbing into the stone, which can cause stains and other issues that require repair.
With unsealed granite, cutting may be be less of an issue, though again not suggested. Generally the stone is hard enough to be cut on without scratching, however it is also hard enough to dull your knife blades rather quickly.
Similarly, quartz is a very durable, scratch resistant countertop that in most cases can be cut on without damaging the stone. Quartz is not completely scratch proof though, so it is still possible to cause some damage.
Other natural stones are softer and are more likely to scratch if a knife is used on the surface. Marble, limestone and sandstone are among these. Many of these stones also require a sealer, which again can be damaged and lead to scratches and stains. Soapstone is a softer stone that scratches quite easily, however it can be restored with mineral oil or by sanding.
While it is possible to cut directly on natural stone, it's generally safer and easier in the long run to use a cutting board.
Quartz countertops are the easiest natural stone to take care of. They are engineered using ground stone and resin, so they don’t require regular sealing they way most granite and marble countertops do. This stone is non-porous, so it does not easily stain or etch. Other than cleaning regularly, quartz doesn't require any ongoing maintenance. It’s a great choice for a busy kitchen. This engineered stone is comparable in price to granite and synthetic solid surface countertops. See our quartz FAQs.
Soapstone is very dense, and naturally non-porous. Just like quartz, this countertop doesn’t have to be sealed or polished. Many people apply mineral oil to soapstone semi-regularly to help even out the natural darkening that occurs in the stone. Other than that, there is no additional maintenance. Soapstone doesn’t stain easily and it offers excellent heat resistance. While this the look of soapstone isn’t for everyone, many people enjoy the rustic style and natural patina of this low-maintenance material. See our soapstone FAQs.
While many granite countertops require annual sealing, overall the stone is generally easy to care for. Granite is very durable, so it’s very difficult to scratch. It has high heat resistance and doesn’t easily crack or chip. When properly sealed the stone doesn’t stain, so if you clean up spills quickly and ensure the sealer is strong, there’s really very little maintenance to worry about. See our granite FAQs.
While no counter is 100% maintenance free, most natural stones offer great durability and more pros than cons when it comes to long-term value. If you enjoy the look of natural stone and are looking for a durable material that can often last a lifetime, the amount of maintenance for most stones is minimal. If you have questions about which countertop might best suit your household and lifestyle, learn more in our countertop education center.
Other than perhaps stainless steel, no countertop is 100% stain proof. Quartz is the most stain resistant material because it is engineered with ground-up natural stone and resin. This creates a non-porous material that is highly stain resistant. Quartz is also easy to maintain as no sealer is required.
After quartz, a solid surface countertop such as the Corian brand, would offer the next best stain resistance. Solid surface countertops are synthetic and don’t offer the same quality and durability of a natural stone. However, these materials are non-porous and don’t stain easily. Certain chemicals and acidic foods can stain these countertops if left on the surface for long periods of time.
Next, granite countertops offer good stain resistance. There are many type of granite and granite sealers that impact exactly how stain proof this stone is. When properly sealed, it’s almost as good as quartz. Sealants however break down over time, which allows food and chemicals to interact with the stone. Unsealed stones may change color temporarily when wet, but permanent stains can occur if substance like wine, juice, acidic foods or oils are allowed to sit on the stone.
More commonly, granite countertops suffer from etching, not staining. Etching is when a substance actually begins to eat away at the stone causing a dullness or discoloration. With proper upkeep and sealing, this is rarely an issue.
Soapstone is naturally non-porous, so it is technically very stain resistant. The stone does change color when the surface is wet, and many substance can cause mild discolorations if not cleaned up properly. So while Soapstone doesn’t technically “stain” easily, it does often have marks and darker areas caused by water and other substances. Upkeep using mineral oil can minimize these inconsistencies in the stone’s color.
On the other end of the spectrum, the countertops that do stain easily include: unsealed concrete, travertine and many laminate countertops. Marble is another stone that suffers from etching if not properly sealed.
If you’re not interested in a stone countertop; stainless steel or synthetic solid surface countertops are your best bet for a stain-free kitchen.
If you’re concerned about stains and like the look of natural stone; granite and quartz are your best options. These stones are also very durable and a good choice for a busy household. To learn more about these natural stones, read our quartz faq and granite faq.
Most granite is very stain resistant and does not “require” sealing. However, sealing is an added precaution, and many fabricators and installers do recommend it. Quality Granite & Marble typically makes this determination, and applies sealer when needed.
A general rule used when manufacturing is, if water darkens the stone, it needs a sealer.
It’s important to know a little about the granite slab fabrication process before sealing. Resin coating applies an epoxy over the stone slabs. This resin fills the voids, veins, and fissures. This process was developed to make unstable stone sellable. The more the process was used, the more common it became. Many fabricators simply apply resin coating to all slabs to keep things simple. When you mix a sealer with an unknown resin, it may turn the resin cloudy. This is one reason you may not want to blindly apply a sealer. Check with your installer first.
For stones that do require, or would benefit from, sealing, there are a few variables to considers when determining how often new sealer is needed.
Many sealers applied at the factory last 10-15 years, while store bought (DIY) sealers may only be good for 6-12 months. So it’s important to know if you had a sealer before, and what type.
A simple water test will help you determine if sealer is needed. Pour about a quarter cup of water on a few areas of the counter. See how long it takes for the water to absorb. If the water absorbs into the stone in less than five minutes, the stone does need to be sealed. If the water is still standing after 30 minutes, no sealer is needed. Anywhere in between five and 30 minutes, the stone may benefit a sealer.
Sealing granite is a relatively simple process and can be done by a professional or by homeowners. Before sealing, it is important to know the makeup of your stone, so check with your fabricator and/or installation documentation to make sure you select the correct product and sealing process. If you have questions about how often you should seal your granite, call us at 316-946-0530.
Marble is a beautiful, elegant and timeless stone. If you’re in love with the look of marble, there’s probably no substitute. However, to retain marble’s beauty, a little extra care is required. Don't worry, it's worth it.
Don’t let spills sit. Clean up any messes immediately to reduce the risk of staining and etching. Don’t use abrasive scrubbers or rough cloths when cleaning, because they can scratch the stone. For big messes and deeper cleaning, follow the steps below.
Use cutting boards, trivets and coasters. Marble is by no means fragile, but it is susceptible to damage from extreme heat, sharp edges, wet spots and a number of chemical reactions. Cutting boards, hotpads or coasters aren’t always needed, but they are a simple precaution that will help prevent damage.
Avoid contact with acids. Never use vinegar or citrus solutions such as lemon or orange for cleaning marble. In fact, avoid contact with these substances altogether. Marble is very sensitive to acids. They can eat into the surface leaving discoloration and rough spots. You’ll hear the term “etching” a lot when learning about marble. Etching is a corrosive chemical reaction that occurs when acids interact with the stone. It causes physical damage to the stone. You can learn more in our Marble FAQ.
Here are a few items to avoid using on marble countertops:
The best way to clean marble is with non-abrasive dish soap and warm water. Make sure it’s a pH neutral, non-acidic soap. Apply a thorough covering of the soapy water. A spray bottle can be used to evenly distribute the soap solution. You can gently scrub the stone with a soft cloth if needed. Don’t use rough sponges or scrubbing cloths, just a nice soft towel.
Next, use a clean wet cloth to wipe away the soap. It's sometimes helpful to use another spray bottle with plain water to rinse the counter. You may need to repeat this step a few times to make sure you get rid of all the soap residue.
Finally, use a clean, dry soft towel to dry the countertop thoroughly. After wiping away all of the moisture, a final pass with a chamois or microfiber cloth will add some shine. Don’t leave any water behind. Marble is porous, so standing water and liquids that penetrate unsealed areas could lead to stains or etching.
There are a number of marble-specific cleaning products and polishes available in stores. Many of these products are fine, as long as you make sure they're made for marble and not some other stone. Also, make sure you have reviewed your stone manufacturer/installers guidelines for cleaning your specific stone, as methods may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
The best way to help your marble countertop retain its natural beauty is to seal your marble regularly, make frequent cleaning a habit and follow preventative maintenance suggestions. A little TLC will help your stone counter last a lifetime.
Marble and soapstone are often used in luxury home design. Both stones are suitable for kitchen, bath or bar countertops. While they both offer class and elegance, the color and style of the stones are likely to be the deciding factor for most consumers.
Marble is generally white or grey with darker gray veins. While there are some black marble products on the market, they are less common than traditional marble, and often not available locally. Traditional marble is known for its brightness, and shiny finish.
Soapstone is darker than most marble, and it often darkens further with age. Color choices are limited to the gray/charcoal family. The surface is far more muted, and it doesn’t have the same glossy feel of marble. While soapstone fits well into modern and elegant designs, it is much more rustic and worn in appearance. Soapstone is not used as frequently for countertops as marble or granite, so it tends to give rooms a very unique feel.
Neither of the stones are ideal for heavy abuse. While they are both fairly durable, they are usually selected for their visual impact and style over durability. For high traffic areas, consider granite or quartz.
Marble and Soapstone Comparison
So which will you choose? If you’re going for a more natural look, and like a darker, flatter finish, you’ll probably prefer soapstone. If you design calls for a brighter, more traditional elegance, marble might be the way to go. If you’re in the process of choosing between marble and soapstone, visit our Wichita showroom to browse some samples. Or feel free call us at to learn more about which countertop material might be right for your project.
While natural stones are a great choice for outdoor countertops, the selection process isn’t quite as simple as indoor counters.
An outdoor kitchen is going to be exposed to a variety of weather conditions that aren’t a problem indoors. In addition to extreme temperature changes, most outdoor kitchens are subject to some amount of moisture and direct sunlight that can damage natural stone. This limits your material choice a bit, but for many people the beauty and durability of natural stone cannot be matched.
You’ll want to select non-porous stone for outdoor countertops because they do not absorb moisture. In most stones, moisture will cause stains and discolorations. Marble is particularly porous and not suggested for outdoor use. Quartz is non-porous, but the process used to color and seal this engineered stone can fade and discolor significantly in direct sunlight.
While marble and quartz aren’t great for outdoor countertops, there are two natural stones that work well outside, Soapstone and Granite.
This is a durable stone that weathers naturally over time. It’s a softer material than granite or quartz, so scratches are more common. This however is part of soapstones charm. Imperfections and changes in color add character to the stone over time.
Soapstone does not require sealing, but regularly cleaning and mineral oil application will help soapstone appear darker and add contrast to the natural colors.
Soapstone can handle extreme temperatures, including freezing and thawing. Direct sunlight will not damage the stone, but expect color changes over time.
Because soapstone is non-porous, rain, bird droppings, and dirt will not stain the countertop.
Granite is arguably the best choice for an outdoor countertop. Granite is very durable, and when properly maintained it is not easily stained by moisture or sunlight.
While granite does require sealing periodically, it is relatively easy to maintain. Sealing frequency will vary depending on the type of sealer used, and how much abuse the countertop gets, but expect to reseal about once a year. Your countertop installer will provide more specific information about sealing and maintenance.
Granite is harder than soapstone, so you won’t experience natural wearing over time. In fact, if you keep the countertop properly sealed, it should maintain its original color and strength for many years.
In addition to being able to withstand the weather and direct sunlight, granite countertops provide excellent heat tolerance, which is great for outdoor cooking.
Both soapstone and granite are available in a variety of colors. Soapstone tends to have a more rustic look compared to the more modern or elegant feel of granite.
If you’re creating an outdoor kitchen or bar, visit our Wichita showroom to get some ideas. Or call us at 316-946-0530. to learn more about which countertop material might be right for your project.
Quartz is non-porous, which makes it one of the easiest countertop surfaces to maintain and clean.
As with any stone countertop, it’s a good idea to clean up spills right away. Even though quartz is non-porous and stain resistant, it is not completely stain proof. Spills left to sit for long periods of time can cause discolorations. Plus, the longer a stain sits, the harder it becomes to clean.
Here are the dos and don’ts of cleaning quartz countertops:
Many people use Windex® or similar cleaners to help shine their countertops, while this is okay for most quartz, you should avoid cleaners with bleach or ammonia. Windex®, for example, comes in an ammonia-free version.
The real key to caring for quartz is to be gentle. Don’t use any harsh chemicals or cleaning tools that can scratch the surface. Long-term, the real goal is to avoid scratches. The resins used to seal quartz protect the stone, but scratches allow food and other substances into the stone. This can cause damage and stains.
If you avoid cleaning with sharp or abrasive products and/or harsh chemicals, you’ll help prolong the life and beauty of your quartz countertops.
Quartz is an engineered stone, meaning companies manufacture it, so it’s not 100% natural. Different brands of quartz may have slightly different instructions for care, so check with your manufacturer or installer to make sure you know the best methods for cleaning your countertops. If you have questions, give us a call at 316-946-0530.
Sealed granite countertops are easy to clean, but there are a few things you should know before cleaning to help you protect your countertops.
First, most granite requires sealing about once a year to protect the stone from stains and scratches. The amount of time the sealant lasts can vary depending on how often use your countertops, how hard you use them and the type of sealing used. It’s important to know the state of your seal before cleaning.
Unsealed granite or a countertop where the seal has worn off will allow the stone to absorb liquids and spills, potentially creating stains. To test your seal, put a couple of drops of water in a few spots on your countertop and wait a couple of minutes. If the water soaks into the stone, it is probably time to reseal. If the water remains beaded on the surface of the granite, the seal is good.
When it comes to caring for granite, the number one rule is be gentle. Here are the dos and don’ts:
A solution of 50% water and 50% isopropyl alcohol (91% or less) can be used occasionally to restore the granite's shine.
While some commercial cleaners are okay, they may break down the seal faster. It’s best to use only dish soap and water. Cleaning granite is simple: just mix warm water with a mild dish soap and wipe the countertops gently until clean. After cleaning, dry with a microfiber cloth or terrycloth towel cloth to get rid of streaks. It's that simple.
If you need to scrape something off your granite countertop, be careful. Don't use metal or anything with sharp edges that could damage the stone or sealer. Try a rubber spatula or plastic pastry scraper.
Preventive maintenance goes a long way with granite. If you clean up spills quickly, seal regularly and avoid using anything abrasive on the countertop, you can expect your granite to retain its beauty for a lifetime.
If you have questions about caring for you granite, or about new countertop installations or repairs, give us a call at 316-946-0530. We provide service for homeowners and contractors in the Wichita area.
Granite and Marble are both all natural stone materials, they are similar in many ways.
Marble is a higher-end product that requires more care than Granite, however it offers a timeless elegance that is hard to match.
Visually, the patterns and color variations you see in Granite are small flecks, compared to swirling lines in a Marble. Marble’s color has more of a fluid feel, while granite is more random. Marble offers a cleaner, brighter feel, while Granite is more earthy and modern.
If you’ve narrowed your selection down to Granite and Marble, here’s what you need to know to decide which countertop is right for your home.
The main difference between Granite and Marble for many people is simply about the desire for an elegant luxury product that is more rare (Marble), compared to a more practical stone with less of a high-end feel (Granite). Both countertops are durable, and can last for decades when properly cared for, so either is a great choice.
Generally Marble is better suite for areas that will get less abuse such as bathrooms, accents or areas designed for baking. Granite is a more all-purpose stone that will hold up better in busy kitchens.
However, even though Marble is more expensive and more difficult to maintain. With proper care, it provides a timeless beauty that Granite cannot match. For this reason, Marble is often used in high-end applications. Marble Is known to raise the value of a property. If you’re willing to take the extra care to maintain your countertops, Marble is suitable for most homes.
Granite is more practical for high traffic areas and large families. It’s one of the most commonly used materials for higher-end countertops. While not a unique as Marble, it’s popularity speaks to its quality and durability.
Consider how your family will use your countertops over the years and give us a call if you’d like to start comparing the two products in person. We have a large selection of Marble and Granite in our Wichita showroom. 316-946-0530
If you’re looking for kitchen, bath or bar design ideas, take a look at our Granite and Marble galleries here.
Granite and Quartz are both great choices for a kitchen, bathroom or bar countertop. The two materials are very similar in price and durability, and choosing often boils down to a few personal preferences.
If you’re looking for a more traditional, elegant look or if you like more varied and unique patterns, you’ll prefer Granite. The only cons with Granite are that you have to seal and polish the countertop about once a year, so there are some maintenance costs. High-end and exotic Granite slabs can also be very expensive.
If you want a more modern look, or countertop that require less maintenance, you’ll like Quartz. Quartz countertops aren’t as resilient to heat though, so you’ll have to exercise a little care with very hot objects.
Pricing variations in both types of countertops occur depending how many slabs are required, customizations and the number of cuts required, edge treatments, color and grade.
Granite and Quartz are currently (2019) the most popular countertop material for new homes and remodeling projects in the U.S. Either stone is a great choice and most homeowners are very happy with their selection after they’ve learned which option best fits their home design, budget and lifestyle.
If you’re looking for design ideas, take a look at our countertop galleries, or visit our Wichita showroom to get some ideas.