For homeowners who can afford its luxury, custom-cut stone countertops are becoming the surface of choice. With fabrication costs dropping to make stone countertops competitively priced in comparison to solid-surface materials, more and more homeowners are looking to stone as an option.
Granite, Brazilian granite in particular, is the most popular. According to Len Malave, owner of Granite and Marble by Malave, "Granite is popular because of its strength and durability, and the beauty of the stone itself." Granite makes a good material for countertops because it’s more dense and hard than other types of stone. Its highly variable appearance can include large or fine grains, veins and waves. Other stone types commonly used as countertops include marble, limestone, travertine and slate.
Malave recommends that remodelers take a class in stone handling before attempting to install any stone item, reducing the risk of breakage and making it easier to do the job well. "Normally, the weight of the stone does not become an issue when the installer is experienced in handling the stone," Malave says.
Stone countertops aren’t for every homeowner, however. Because stone is naturally a porous material, the risk of food contamination is increased. Stone pores must be sealed annually by wiping sealant over the countertops with a cloth. It is possible to scratch a stone countertop, too, especially when dealing with softer stones, such as marble. Repairable solid-surface countertops may be a better match for homeowners who see a lot of heavy traffic in their kitchen.
Preparing homeowners for the installation of stone countertops also includes preparing them for the natural variations of stone. "Unfortunately, there are some people in the industry who don’t educate the consumer. People receive their stone products, expecting them to have a consistent look, and they will be disappointed," says Malave. "When it’s what they’re expecting, 99 percent of the time they’re happy it is different. When the vendor does not educate, then you have problems."
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