Frequently asked questions about stone and countertops

What is a Hard Surface counter top?
There are many different types of hard surface counter tops such as Granite, Marble, Quartz, Onyx and Limestone. These are natural materials and mined in quarries all over the world.

How should I clean my counter tops?
For everyday cleaning, mild dish soap and water should be sufficient. There are also cleaners available at your local home improvement stores. To avoid water streaks, wipe counters dry after cleaning. Windex or similar products can be used to clean up excess oil but are not recommended for daily use due to the acidic levels in the product. These types of cleaners also contain dyes and should not be left on the counters for an extended period of time.

Can I stain my counter tops?
Almost anything can be stained, but sealed natural stone will resist most common stains. Solid Surface and Engineered quartz can not be stained due to their chemical make up. Plastic laminate will resist many stains, but can not be sealed to be "stain-proof".

How often do I need to seal my counter tops?
The 'Marble Institute of America' recommends sealing natural stone once every 6 to 12 months. Using highly acidic or harsh chemicals may deteriorate the original seal, therefore requiring sealing more often. If water is no longer beading up on the top, it's time to reseal. Over sealing can lead to a hazy look. Engineered quartz, solid surface and plastic laminate do not require sealing.

I left a cold drink on my hard surface and now there is a dark ring. What do I do?
Nothing, just as the cold liquid inside the glass pulled water from the air to create condensation on the outside of the glass, the cold has condensed water (under the sealer) within the stone. Simply remove the glass; wipe up excess water, the condensed water within the stone will dissipate after a few hours.

Why are customers encouraged to view their natural stone slabs prior to fabrication?
Because stone is a natural material, color variations, and veining are perfectly normal. There may be vast differences between samples viewed and a customer's actual material. Because this material is a natural product consistency cannot be guaranteed, even within a single slab. Some materials are very consistent while other colors may change in color/shading/veining from slab to slab.

What am I looking for when I view my granite/marble?
You should be looking at the overall coloring of the natural stone, to be sure that this is what you envisioned in your home. Since tiles, paint, flooring and wallpaper come in various shades it is much easier to match these items after you have selected your natural stone slab.

Can I have counter tops installed over older existing cabinets?
New counter tops can be installed over existing cabinetry however we will not install if the cabinets are not structurally sound or are not level. This will be established at the time of your field measurement to determine whether or not new cabinets will be required to ensure stability for your new tops.

I have tile above my current backsplash. Will the new splashes meet these tile lines?
Your new counter tops are cut straight and your tile may not be installed completely level. We recommend removing existing tile prior to installation of your new counter tops and replacing the tile after new tops are installed. We will be able to determine how uneven your tiles are at the time of field measurement and can make a wise suggestion then.

Why 3cm material for hard surfaces recommended for kitchens?
In most kitchens you will have long lengths of counter top which could contain a large cut out (sink or cook top). To minimize the risk of breakage during fabrication transportation and installation the 3cm material is recommended. 2cm material is more commonly used in bathrooms for vanities and smaller counter tops.

What is the longest counter top piece I can have with out a seam?
For hard natural surfaces, this will be determined after the field measure. Generally natural slab lengths vary from 100" to 125"; the average slab length is 110". Engineered quartz slab sizes are smaller than natural stone, averaging sizes of 52" x 118". Also keep in mind the weight of hard surfaces, which can weigh up to 20 pounds per square foot. For example, an island measuring 48" x 96" could weigh up to 600 pounds and would require 3-4 men to carry. In addition, the entry into the home must accommodate this size counter top, which may even prohibit larger sizes depending on hall ways, elevators or staircases. Long 4"-6" splashes may need to be cut into more than one piece to prevent breakage during transport and installation. The typical maximum length of a 4"-6" splash is 84" ‚ 96" (7'-8').

What is the maximum overhang allowed?
For hard surfaces, any overhang up to 12" will rely upon the 2/3 rule applies: 2/3 of the material needs to be supported for the 1/3 over hang. A 24" cabinet can safely have up to a 12" overhang without support. Generally any overhang over 12" should be supported. Supports can range from wood corbels to metal 'L' brackets. Customers will be advised if supports are needed at the time of measurement, if so, they will need to be installed at the time of countertop installation. Supports must be installed by the customer, and are not part of the installation services provided by Exotic Stones, LLC.

Why would I want the underside of the hard surface polished on an overhang?
In the situation of a breakfast bar facing a family room, where the underside will be visible when seated, the undersides of the over-hang may be polished. This can be done for an additional charge. Please speak with your sales person for pricing.

Can I place hot items directly on my countertops?
Yes. Granite will tolerate temperatures in excess of 1200 degrees (F.) and engineered stone is rated higher. You can safely places items from your oven, stove top or grill directly on the hard surface with out a trivet or hot pad. WARNING: Due to the extreme temperature differences, hot glass dishes may crack when placed on the cool surface of the granite or engineered quartz; this is known as thermal shock. For this reason alone glass or Pyrex dishes should be placed on a trivet or hot pad.

Can I use my counter top as a cutting board?
Yes. Diamond-tipped tools are needed to cut through granite and engineered stone. Regular steel knives are no match for their hardness; however you will need to sharpen your knives more frequently.

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