Granite Vs. Marble: What to Know Before You Choose

Natural stone countertops are the most beautiful and functional part of any kitchen. Some feature dramatic swirls, others have charming speckles or long meandering veins. Natural stone comes in multiple types, each with its own qualities and characteristics. Two of the most common stone types are granite and marble. While these two stone types may seem similar, the differences are numerous. Selecting the right stone for your kitchen is important. Here’s what you need to know before you make your selection.

Granite

Granite is one of the hardest and most durable types of stone available, so it’s a natural choice for countertops. It comes in many colors, though the most common colors are white, black and shades of brown. Granite is highly resistant to chips and scratches, even with consistent use in the kitchen. Its long-lasting durability makes it a natural choice for people who do a lot of cooking.

Pros and Cons

  • Pro: Granite countertops are so durable that they can continue to look their best in the kitchen, even after many years of use.
  • Pro: Granite comes in a range of colors and patterns, to match nearly any kitchen.
  • Pro: Granite’s natural speckles can easily hide stray crumbs, so they always look their best.
  • Con: Granite that isn’t properly sealed can become stained by cooking oil, red wine and other dark liquids. (see maintenance requirements below)
  • Con: Granite can be etched by acidic cleaners and foods.

Marble

Marble is a lovely stone with a delicate, other-worldly beauty. Though marble can be found in a variety of colors, most commercially available marble is snowy white and soft gray. Compared to granite, marble is a softer material that’s easily scratched and etched. Marble needs to be protected from surfaces that could scratch it. Use of trivets under pots can help.

Pros and Cons

  • Pro: Marble has an artful beauty that makes it a favorite among homeowners seeking a traditional, elegant stone for their kitchen.
  • Pro: Properly maintained, marble will last for decades or even a lifetime.
  • Pro: Marble is impressive to visitors, especially when paired with a traditional kitchen decor.
  • Con: Marble is comparatively soft. It can be scratched and etched when exposed to acidic food products like vinegar and wine.
  • Con: Like granite, marble needs to be periodically sealed in order to be stain resistant. (see maintenance requirements below)

Maintenance Requirements

Marble and granite, though one is softer and one is harder, have similar maintenance instructions. Here’s what you can expect to do to maintain your granite or marble countertops when they’re installed:

Clean countertops daily. Clean your countertops with a dry cloth to wipe away crumbs, or use a sponge dampened with warm, soapy water for a more thorough cleaning. Dry your countertops with a microfiber cloth. Liquid dishwashing soap is adequate to clean granite and marble. Never use an acidic or abrasive cleaning product to clean marble or granite.

Wipe up spills immediately. Wipe up any spills from your natural stone as soon as they occur, especially if your countertops haven’t been sealed in a while.

Seal marble and granite regularly. Granite and marble are both porous, which means they can absorb spilled liquids and oils. When sealed, both stones will repel liquids and resist staining. Both types of stone must be re-sealed on a regular basis in order to maintain this resistance to liquids.

You can tell when your countertops need to be resealed by observing what happens when a small quantity of water is poured on the stone. If the water beads up on the surface, it’s properly sealed. If the water soaks into the surface of the stone, it’s time to reseal. To test the stone, pour a tablespoon of water onto the surface and leave it there for 15 minutes, then wipe away the water.

If a wet mark is left on the stone after the water is wiped away, this means it’s time to reseal. The water will eventually evaporate, but any oil or darker liquids that are left on the stone will create a stain. Reseal your countertops as soon as possible to avoid this problem. How often your stone needs to be resealed depends in part on how often you use your countertops as well as the quality of the sealer.

Stone sealer is available for sale in home improvement stores and hardware stores. Resealing is easy and doesn’t require a handy man or contractor to do the work; just follow the instructions.

Granite or Marble: Making a Decision

Be realistic. Consider your cooking style, how often you use your countertops and what level of maintenance you’re able to maintain when your countertops are installed. Marble can be a higher-maintenance material, but is suitable for a homeowner who can take care to protect marble from scratches. Granite is a durable stone that is well-suited for homeowners who do a lot of cooking and need a high-performing stone.

View the options in person. The beauty of natural stone is that every slab is different, and every type of stone has unique characteristics. Viewing the options in person can help you make a decision. If your stone fabricator gives you the choice, take home samples to view them in your kitchen. Consider the color and markings of each stone.

Select your countertops from a fabricator that offers many options. Choose a stone fabricator that offers a wide range of options. Having many choices will help you find a stone with a look that you’ll love.

Designing for Entertaining at Home – 10 Kitchen Remodeling Ideas

It’s fun to host fantastic parties, especially when you’ve got the right kitchen for the job. From new stone countertops to a built-in espresso maker, there are many features you can add to make your kitchen the perfect space for entertaining.

Creating that space starts with choosing the right materials. Long-lasting, high-performing materials that easily withstand a lot of wear and tear can make your kitchen the place to be at your next party. Below, we’ve listed ten fantastic ideas for ways to make your kitchen the party center you’ve been wanting.

1. Install a Multi-Level Kitchen Island

The island is the center of activity in the kitchen, where the cook creates beautiful dishes and where the guests line up to chat, sample goodies and get more to drink. Low countertops are just right for meal prep, while taller countertops are better for sitting and socializing. The multi-level kitchen island supports both activities, giving the cook somewhere to create a masterpiece while the guests look on and visit.

2. Create an Open Layout

Open layouts are perfect for facilitating large group activities. With no barriers between the living room, dining room and kitchen, party goers are free to mingle while roaming from one space to another, one group to another.

Older homes rarely have an open layout by design, but this trick can be achieved by knocking out a few well-chosen walls. Consult with a contractor to perform the work. If you feel like you can knock the wall out safely on your own, it’s still wise to check with the professional to ensure that the wall isn’t load bearing.

3. Install Specialized Appliances

Gadgets like built-in espresso makers and beverage coolers make entertaining more fun for everybody, including the guests and the host. If it’s in your budget, install all new appliances and purchase matching finishes, to reinforce the visual continuity in the room.

If installing a countertop appliance, like a freestanding espresso maker, consider installing more counters to avoid loss of valuable cooking space. Your contractor can help you come up with creative ways to make room for additional counters. A small addition, called a bump out, may be what you need to make extra room for more cabinets and counters.

4. Select Durable, Easy to Maintain Counters

Countertops are like works of art, featuring swirls, speckles and layers of color that add flair to your kitchen. They’re also meant to be strong and durable, able to withstand the everyday wear and tear that comes from cooking, cleaning and eating.

Stone countertops are popular because they fill both of these needs at once. Stone is one of the hardest and most durable substances on earth, and also comes in a range of colors. Many types of stone have additional characteristics that serve homeowners well when entertaining. Marble, for example, never fails to impress guests with its stunning beauty, while the durability of granite makes it a high-performing stone for homeowners who do a lot of cooking.

There’s only one countertop material that could be said to out-perform natural stone: quartz. Quartz countertops mimic the look and texture of natural stone, but they’re even more durable and require no maintenance besides regular cleaning. Whatever you choose for your home, be sure to buy from a quality stone fabricator to get the best value for your money.

5. Create a Serving Area

For homeowners who like buffet-style entertaining, a serving area is an important feature for any kitchen and dining space. Build in a hutch to create a sophisticated and elegant fixture to showcase your meals, or have your contractor design a kitchen island with a serving area.

Do you sometimes use a catering service for your parties? A butler kitchen creates an out-of-the-way area where staff can easily set up their dishes for serving. Match the countertops in the hutch or butler kitchen to the countertops in the rest of the kitchen to create a uniform space.

6. Consider Warming Drawers

Keep dishes hot while you’re waiting to serve with professional warming drawers. This is a must-have in a kitchen where you regularly cook large meals for big groups or meals with multiple courses.

7. Focus on Lighting

No party is complete without mood lighting. Your kitchen needs multiple types of lighting, including task lighting under the cabinets, and ambient recessed lighting for clean up after the party is over. During the party, dimmers make the kitchen a little cozier and more comfortable, while layers of light keep prevent shadows from creating tripping hazards.

8. Double Up on Appliances

Big dinner parties may require extra appliances to help with meal prep and clean up. Two dishwashers makes clean up easier, while two ovens makes it possible to cook meals for larger groups. Consider installing a wall-oven above your warming drawers, and a cooktop on your kitchen island for cooking sauces and soups.

9. Install a Flat-Screen TV

A flat screen TV gives guests something to look at while you’re chopping and serving up drinks. If no counter space can be spared for such a luxury, consider installing a wall mount television with a moveable arm, so you can adjust the television as needed. This is a good feature if you enjoy game day parties, or if you have a big group of friends over for World Cup or Super Bowl activities.

10. Create Ambiance With a Fireplace

For those holiday meals like Thanksgiving and Christmas, install a gas burning fireplace to create ambiance. Gas burning fireplaces don’t take up as much room as you might think, and they create an atmosphere guests find charming. If your kitchen already has a gas line for a stove, then it won’t take much to divert a gas line for this purpose.

Quartz Brands For Countertops – A Breakdown

Nothing tops the beauty of natural stone – except, perhaps, quartz. Featuring the look and feel of marble, granite, and other stones found in nature, quartz is a product that improves upon nature’s design. Also known as engineered stone, quartz is made from a mixture of durable resin and natural crushed stone to create a non-porous surface that never needs to be sealed in order to be waterproof. Quartz looks so much like natural stone that it’s impossible to tell the difference, but because it’s completely waterproof, it also requires far less maintenance.

Here is a breakdown of our current quartz stone for countertop selection. Look to this section for new additions in the near future:

Cambria

Cambria is a producer of high-end quartz, made entirely in the United States. Cambria’s products come in 140 design and color options, and offer a Lifetime Limited Warranty.

Cambria is known for producing quartz that offers superior performance, and to cater to their high-end clientele, Cambria also offers a range of distinguished services, including a free one-on-one design consultation and an outstanding customer support team that provides help to clients even after the purchase is made. If you’re having a hard time choosing the right Cambria product for your project, check out their paint match tool.

QSTONE

QSTONE is made from a special formula of engineered resin that’s particularly resistant to scratches, cracking and impacts. QSTONE offers quartz countertops in more than 30 colors, including shades like green and red, for customers who want colors a little off the beaten path. This durable, hard wearing stone can be installed on horizontal and vertical surfaces, to be used on countertops, backsplashes and more.

Silestone

Silestone products come in a range of colors and textures, and offer a variety of edge styles, making it easy for homeowners to find the type of countertop material they prefer. Silestone company makes their countertops from recycled materials and natural stone, for a sustainable product that can be used in bathrooms, kitchens, flooring and wall siding.

Silestone comes in colors ranging from neutrals like cream, gray and white to brighter, bolder colors like oranges, reds and greens. Silestone’s website offers a range of tools for homeowners choosing their countertops, including a 3D kitchen design app and a color assistant. All Silestone products come with a 25 year warranty, to help homeowners protect their investment and get the most out of their countertops.

Wilsonart

Wilsonart creates a range of kitchen products including quartz countertops that come in a range of styes, including solid colors and veined countertops that mimic the look and feel of real stone. Wilsonart countertops are designed emulate the beauty of natural stone, even as they offer the durability of quartz. The company provides online tools for homeowners who want help visualizing their countertops in a kitchen setting.

Wilsonart countertops are durable and flexible and can be used in a variety of settings, not just residential. Their products can be found in education settings, offices, healthcare settings, hospitality settings and more.

Pental

Pental creates a flexible product available in many finishes, styles and colors, to match with your kitchen or bathroom. Pental’s highly durable engineered stone comes in polished, satin and honed finish. Pental also provides an online visualizer to help you decide which style and color is right for your home. Pental’s countertops in honed and satin finishes can develop a patina over time, so choose wisely when selecting the countertop for you.

Quantra

Quantra quartz countertops are made from a flexible, low-maintenance material that comes in colors ranging from beige, black, blue, brown, green, gray and white. Quantra makes a variety of products including sinks, basins and shower trays.

All Quantra products are covered by a robust warranty. In addition to residential applications, Quantra engineered stone can be found in a variety of settings such as airports, malls, offices, restaurants and more. Whether you’re a commercial or residential property owner, you can enjoy the luxury and beauty of Quantra countertops in your bathrooms and kitchens.

Laminam

Laminam is a unique company in the engineered stone world because their products are made from all organic materials – no resins. Laminam brings extraordinary beauty to your kitchen and bathroom spaces. Each countertop is made from wet-ground raw materials that are compacted and fired in a kiln, creating a heat-resistant, stain-resistant and scratch-resistant product.

Laminam engineered stone comes in a range of colors including neutrals like brown, black, white and gray, and some surprising colors as well, including teal and gold. We wrote about Laminam products recently – you can see more about Laminam in our blog.

Eterno

Eterno is a private line of quartz made by the Boston Granite Exchange. Like other quartz products, Eterno is so similar to natural stone in appearance that it’s impossible to tell the difference. What distinguishes Eterno is how budget-friendly BGE’s products can be. BGE’s quartz collection is made for residential and commercial uses. Each style comes in a range of finishes from polished to crepe.

Compac

Compac is a high-end quartz imported from Portugal. Compac stone comes in many elegant colors and finishes, and can be used for tables, countertops, food prep surfaces, reception desks, kitchen sinks and more. Most Compac stone comes in tasteful neutral colors like gray, black and white – some resemble marble while others are similar to flecked granite. All of Compac quartz products are protected by a lifetime warranty.

Additional Kitchen Interior Design Options To Consider

For many homeowners, designing and decorating a kitchen is an opportunity for self-expression. It’s important to choose a kitchen style you love. Recently, we posted Part I of an article outlining the various kitchen styles. There are so many ways that you can design a kitchen that we were only able to get through half of them in that first article. In this article, we’ll finish our exploration.

Industrial

The Industrial style is easy to recognize. With its exposed brick, wood beam ceilings and large windows emitting natural daylight, Industrial styles are usually found in urban settings like converted lofts and old warehouses. Gray and brown are the colors of choice in these spaces, where iron, wood and steel come together to create a rugged and edgy ambiance.

Feel free to mix and match metals in these spaces including copper, brushed brass and stainless steel. Reclaimed wood floors, Edison bulbs in pendant lights and black granite or gray soapstone counters help set the tone.

Japandi

Japandi combines Scandinavian design and Japanese elegance, using blond wood, sleek lines and minimalist sensibilities. Colors in the Japandi style tend to be neutral, including brown, gray and white. Despite the very simple design, some surfaces in Japandi style tend to be pleasantly textured with natural materials like stone and wood.

Mediterranean

Mediterranean style is a heavy-handed design, consisting of warm tones, elaborately decorated wood fixtures, and patterns and textures on nearly every surface. To decorate your kitchen with a Mediterranean ambiance, install a mosaic tile pattern backsplash and install faucets made of warm-colored metals like copper or brushed brass. Replace doorways with archways. Consider installing white or green marble countertops, or an engineered stone that looks like marble.

Mid-century

Mid-century styles were popular in the 1940’s through the 1960’s, but it’s a style that’s never gone completely out of fashion. Characterized by clean lines, minimal ornamentation and organic shapes, Mid-century is a style that many might refer to as simply “retro”. Mid-century prioritizes functional and practical design over all else. For this look, we recommend an understated countertop stone such as white quartz.

Minimalist

Minimalist design is easy to recognize. White furnishings and cabinets of plain wood are typical in a minimalist kitchen. Wood floors coordinate nicely with the other features in the room, and hidden hardware keeps the focus on the larger forms. Uncluttered countertops of gray or white stone with few veins are most appropriate for this type of space.

Modern

Modern is a less defined type of style, but similar to minimalist, featuring a sleek and streamlined ambiance, some patterning on the walls and large fixtures like cabinets. The limited color palette keeps attention on the larger forms. Install quartz countertops to match or coordinate with whatever colors you can see in the space. Modern kitchens have plenty of light, artificial as well as natural, to ensure any easy cooking experience for homeowners.

Rustic

Rustic is a style that’s similar to the Mediterranean kitchen, with exposed wood beams, brick and rough stone, and a large space with vaulted ceilings. Rough reclaimed wood on the floors or in the furnishings adds to the ambiance in the room, while warm candle chandelier lighting prevents the space from feeling a little too unfinished. Dark countertops, like soapstone or a warm brown granite, look great in this type of kitchen.

Scandinavian

Scandinavian has a less-is-more aesthetic with white and blond wood features laid out in a functional design. With the occasional pop of artistic flair, Scandinavian has a contemporary/minimalist feel with extra personality mixed in. Choose a white quartz countertop for the Scandinavian look.

Shabby Chic

Shabby Chic style is feminine and flouncy, with richly patterned upholstery, painted wood cabinets with distressed edges, and an eclectic feel that seems as random and charming as if it just came out of your grandma’s attic. This look is best for kitchens with lots of space, and wood or tile flooring. Warm brown granite countertops add to the casual, family-like feel.

Southwestern

Southwestern style is easily recognized by its warm colors like burnt sienna and beige, combined with crisp, clean white on the walls or cabinets. In a southwestern kitchen, you’ll see clay tile floors, textured walls and warm metals like copper or brushed brass. Warm brown granite or white quartz look perfectly at home in this type of kitchen.

Traditional

A traditional style kitchen style is hard to define. Overall, traditional kitchens have white cabinets and white granite countertops (or white quartz). All that white exists in stark contrast with dark hardwood floors, which add a sense of gravity and beauty to the space. Small decorative elements like a fruit bowl or a potted plant stand out in this dark-against-white space.

Transitional

The transitional kitchen is a blend of contemporary and traditional kitchen styles, with Shaker style cabinetry, modern hardware, modern pendant lighting and soapstone countertops. In this space, you’ll find natural materials like hardwood floors, wood beams in ceiling, leather stools and so on. Paint the cabinetry for a pop of color, and coordinate the countertop with the cabinetry for best results.

Interior Design Styles and How They Might Apply To Your Kitchen

The kitchen is like the crown jewel of your house: it’s where guests congregate before a meal, and where family members re-connect at the end of a long day. A stylish kitchen adds value to your home and can even set the tone for decor in other rooms.

There are many styles that you can use when decorating and designing your kitchen. If you’re planning to remodel your kitchen in the near future, choose a style that speaks to you. This article is part one of two outlining different kitchen styles and what you can do to make your kitchen reflect that style.

Art Deco

The Art Deco style is characterized by geometric patterns and shapes on interior surfaces like walls, moldings, tabletops and more. You’ll often see these patterns in shades of gold mixed with black and white, although any bold color can be incorporated into an Art Deco kitchen. Natural stone fits in perfectly in this kind of space. We recommend a soft, understated white marble countertop to add grace and elegance to your space.

Art Moderne

Art moderne style is similar to Art Deco but with a contemporary sheen. Compared to Art Deco, Art Moderne is slightly understated, with an emphasis on minimalism. With this style of kitchen, you’ll still see quite a few black and white elements, and a greater focus on natural materials, like wood and stone. For an Art Moderne kitchen, we recommend black granite countertops with gold veins.

Asian Zen

Asian Zen decor shifts the focus more completely to natural materials, making the kitchen a place of calm and relaxation. In this type of kitchen, you’ll see blond wood cabinets with natural lighting from multiple windows. Plants in the corners add an organic beauty to this kitchen, and stone countertops add the finishing touch.

Bauhaus

They say less is more with the Bauhaus style. With this type of kitchen, you’ll see a range of geometric shapes, mostly squares and circles, and a focus on functionality. Bauhaus kitchens often have flat, undecorated surfaces and minimalist decor with fixtures made from materials like glass, steel and wood. Sparing glimpses of primary colors add some decoration to the space without removing the emphasis on functionality.

Bohemian

Bohemian decor is relaxed and artistic, combining warm, bright colors and eclectic patterns with natural materials. Bohemian themes can be a bit chaotic, with many visual elements to look at all at once. In these spaces, plants like mint or basil create a friendly, wholesome cooking environment. Paint your cabinets to add color and flair. For this kitchen, granite countertops around the perimeter combine beautifully with butcher block countertops on the island in the center.

Coastal

Coastal kitchens are light and breezy, with colors like sea green or pale blue mixed with white and gray. Position tall metal stools, like you might find at a beach stand, at the countertop bar for guests. Rattan pendant light fixtures add an element of casual beauty to your kitchen. Tie all this together with light, bright marble countertops.

Contemporary

Contemporary is a modern style with undecorated surfaces and industrial notes. Black metal pendant light fixtures combine with open spaces in a sleek, sophisticated kitchen space. In this type of kitchen, you’ll see warm wood combined with cold metal and neutral-colored countertops. A soft, gray soapstone is the perfect material for this type of kitchen.

Country House

In a country house kitchen, you’ll see a beautiful kitchen sink with an apron, Shaker style cabinetry, painted wood table and durable, practical engineered stone countertops – you pick the color. This type of kitchen often features hardwood flooring and electric candle chandelier lighting to create a cozy, homey feel.

Eclectic

Eclectic kitchen styles feature a mixture of bold colors, visually varied pendant lighting,  and heavily veined stone countertops. You may also see a mixture of different metal types – chrome, copper and brushed brass, for example. For eclectic style kitchens, the more textures and patterns, the better. In these spaces, don’t be afraid to try unusual combinations of materials, and patterns mixed with solids.

Farmhouse

Farmhouse style and country house style are similar. “Simplicity” is key in farmhouse style, including reclaimed wood floors and cabinets, wide open spaces for preparing large meals, and a focus on natural lighting. Farmhouse style is rustic, so a heavily oiled soapstone is a good countertop material for this type of kitchen.

French Country

A French country kitchen has a rustic quality with some small touches of flair. For example, try distressing your cabinets with layers of paint, and purchase a large hutch for displaying favorite dishes. Open shelving puts your favorite pitchers and cups on display, and black or gray granite countertops add an element of elegance to the space.

Hollywood Glam

Hollywood Glam style is similar to Art Deco with some modern accents mixed in. For example, use of glass and brass adds shine and sparkle to the kitchen. Consider a glass table and brushed brass faucets. Use black and white to bring drama to the space, and place a few large palm plants around the table. Install dramatic carrara marble countertops, illuminated by unique, flashy pendant lighting.

Stone Fireplaces – Stone Considerations

Stone has natural beauty and durability that’s perfectly well-suited for the fireplace. From the rugged, handsome appearance of granite to the smooth, classic elegance of marble, there’s just no material more appropriate and attractive on a fireplace.

If you’re installing a stone fireplace in your home, start by choosing the right stone for your tastes. Once the fireplace is installed, knowing how to maintain it is important. In this article, we’ll cover various types of stone and give you maintenance tips so that your home’s stone can continue to dazzle you for decades to come.

Which Stone to Use?

Natural stone has a lot of personality. Each type comes in different colors and has different properties, so you can choose the best stone for your house. 

Marble

Marble is a relatively soft stone that’s easy to shape. This porous rock absorbs liquids and stains easily, and often comes in relatively light colors that show ash quickly. Marble needs to be carefully maintained in order to continue looking new and clean. It can be sealed in order to resist staining, but the sealant needs to be replaced on a regular basis, or it will wear off, and the marble will begin to stain. 

Marble is a stone that’s been used in homes for centuries, so if you’re seeking a material with timelessness and sophistication, marble is it. It comes in a range of colors, including gray, cream, white, green and blue.

Granite

Granite is a hard, porous rock that varies in color. It’s used on various surfaces around modern homes, including countertops, floors, back splashes and more. Granite typically comes in earthy colors like brown, red and black – although it can also be found in other shades including blue, green, white and gold.   

Granite is very durable and long-lasting. It’s a much harder stone than marble, so it’s far less prone to chipping and scratching. Like marble, granite can be stained if it isn’t properly cleaned and occasionally sealed. However, with its speckled patterning and darker colors, granite can hide stains more easily than marble.

Soapstone

Soapstone comes in shades of dark gray, broken up by cream-colored veining. This stone is very dense and will not stain, not even with regular exposure to ashes, soot and smoke residue. Unlike many other types of natural stone, soapstone doesn’t need to be sealed in order to maintain its stain resistance. Like marble, soapstone is soft and can be scratched. 

Engineered Stone

Engineered stone, also known as quartz, is a man-man product that looks and feels just like real stone. Engineered stone is made from stone dust and resin, and can be made to resemble nearly any type of natural stone. Unlike natural stone, quartz requires no sealing. It’s non-porous, so it doesn’t stain.

Like granite, quartz can be found just about anywhere in the house, from the kitchen to the bathroom. Quartz is one of the most popular stone types available, and is growing in popularity every year.

Tips on Selecting the Right Stone for Your Fireplace

If you’re having a hard time picking the right type of stone, these tips can help:

  • See the stone in person. Visit a reputable stone fabricator’s showroom to view the different types of stone.
  • Consider your home’s coloring and architectural style. For a timeless look, consider marble. For a modern minimal aesthetic, consider granite or quartz.
  • Make a budget. Stone costs can vary. Knowing your budget will help you pick a stone for your house.   

How to Maintain Your Fireplace Stone?

Clean Stone With Safe Cleansers

Most stone can be cleaned with water and a rag. Remaining stains can be cleaned with warm to hot water and a soft-bristle scrub brush. Household cleaners like dish soap can also be used, but avoid using harsh cleaners like bleach, vinegar (it’s acidic) and trisodium phosphate. Try any cleaning products on a small area before cleaning your fireplace all over. Watch for the stone to become streaked or damaged in some way.

If the cleaning product seems to work in that small area, then you can use it on other parts of the fireplace. If the stone was recently installed, it may be covered under warranty. Read the warranty to find out which cleaning products are not recommended for your product.

Remove Ashes Regularly

Cleaning out the ashes on the fireplace regularly can help prevent ashes and soot from finding their way onto the stone surrounding the fireplace. Wait until the ashes have cooled for at least 24 hours after the fire has burned out before removing them.

Before taking the ash out, sprinkle it with wet coffee grounds. This prevents the ash from billowing up when it’s removed. Never put your hands into ash, as some of it may still be hot. Instead, use fireplace tools, including an ash bucked and shovel, to remove ash from the firebox.

Sprinkle the ashes with cool water to prevent hot coals from igniting in the bucket, then set ashes outside to cool before throwing them away. Do this at least once a week.

Maintain Your Fireplace

Maintaining your fireplace is good for your house and good for your stone. Have your fireplace inspected and cleaned by a chimney sweep at least once annually, before using your fireplace for the season. Inspect and clean your fireplace even if you didn’t use your fireplace last season, as birds may have built a nest in the chimney. 

Most chimney sweeps offer a free inspection with a chimney cleaning. The inspection may come back with recommendations for repair. Follow these recommendations to ensure that your chimney and firebox remain safe to use.

During the cleaning, the chimney sweep will remove deposits of creosote from the chimney’s interior. Creosote is a highly flammable, sticky substance that can coat the inside of the chimney, causing a chimney fire. Creosote builds up in the chimney over time, which is another reason to have the chimney inspected by a professional on a regular basis.

Use Well-Seasoned Wood

If your fireplace is wood burning, buy your firewood from a reputable firewood dealer that only sells well-seasoned wood. “Green” firewood produces a lot of smoke and other byproducts that can cause soot buildup around your fireplace, creating more work for you.  

Get Your Fireplace Stone From a Reputable Dealer

Your fireplace is a focal point in your home, and when it’s made with natural stone, it’s also a true work of art. It’s important to work with a reputable stone fabricator to create your stone fireplace. Contact Seacoast Stone to see our selection of granite, marble, quartz and soapstone.

 

Pairing Your Kitchen Countertops with the 2022 Color of the Year

There isn’t just one 2022 color of the year – there are many! Most paint manufacturers choose their own color of the year, as do businesses like Pantone, the company that created a standardized color matching system for printers and designers. This means that in any given year, consumers may see a rainbow of colors designated as the “color of the year.”

Despite this, many of the 2022 colors of the year have something in common. Some examples:

Do you notice a theme?

That’s right – many paint and design companies agree that green is the color of 2022. Looking through these various shades of green, you’ll see there’s some disagreement about the nature and character of the 2022 shade of green – some are more muted and neutral, while others are brighter, lighter and more cheerful.

The green trend can be found all over in homes, from the paint on the kitchen cabinets to the accent colors that homeowners have integrated into their home decor.

Are Homeowners Tired of White Kitchens?

Before we talk more about green, let’s turn our attention to a trend that’s been gaining steam with homeowners around the country: the addition of color to standard residential kitchens. White kitchens were popular for years. White, after all, is associated with cleanliness, lightness and open spaces. The whiter your kitchen, the bigger and cleaner the space – right?

Unfortunately, white kitchens can be hard to maintain. White shows stains easily, and white surfaces need to be washed constantly in order to maintain their pristine appearance. White can also be cold. Homeowners hoping to create a warm, inviting kitchen environment have found this to be a challenge in a white kitchen. You can read more about this problem in a recent Insider article.

So, Green Kitchens Are In!

Perhaps not by coincidence, green kitchens are rising in popularity. Green cabinets, green walls and green floors are attractive to homeowners seeking ways to integrate colors into their kitchens.

What Countertops Pair Nicely with Green?

If you’re a homeowner who is remodeling their kitchen and seeking some way to coordinate their countertops with shades of green, the team at Seacoast Stone can help. Our fabricated countertop materials are designed to help you turn your kitchen into a work of art.

Seacoast Stone sells countertop materials made from natural stone and engineered stone, which is made from crushed stone dust and resin. Our countertops come in a range of colors, including the colors below.

Neutrals. Most natural stones come in a range of neutral colors, from browns to creams, grays and blacks. Seacoast Stone sells marble, granite, soapstone and more, and all of these stones are available in a range of neutral colors. When you’re trying to choose a neutral-colored countertop material for a kitchen with green cabinets or green walls, consider the shade of green you’re matching to the countertops.

Gray-green, for example, is most successful when matched with gray, white or black countertops. A brighter, lime-colored shade of green may work better when paired with khaki, brown or cream-colored countertops.

Shades of green. Some stones come in shades of green, green-gray or green flecked with black, gray and white. Different types of stone come in different shades of green.

When installing green countertops in your kitchen, consider neutral paint colors for your walls or cabinets, to avoid a green overload and keep your kitchen balanced. When coordinating multiple shades of green in the same space, proceed with caution to avoid juxtaposing two shades of green that clash.

Kitchen Remodeling Tips for Countertops and Colors

When you’re choosing new countertops for your kitchen remodel, the following tips can help.

Neutrals provide flexibility. Neutral colored countertops can be matched to more colors than just green. If you decide to remodel your kitchen again in the future and change the color of the kitchen, neutral-colored countertops will coordinate with a variety of other shades.

Look at samples. When shopping for new countertops, view them in person to get a true sense of what the countertops will look like in your home. Natural stone is often less consistent than engineered stone, and may have more variations in color throughout the slab.

If it’s important to you to have consistent coloring throughout the countertop, consider engineered stone. If you’re committed to installing natural stone in your home, work with your fabricator to view large samples of the stone to ensure that the color variations throughout are right for your home.

Shop around. Don’t buy the first countertop you see – shop around until you’re sure you’ve found the right countertop for you. Be choosy! Stone countertops can last for decades, so you don’t want to choose the wrong type of stone for your home.

Choose the right fabricator. Work with a countertop fabricator that has a reputation for excellence and only works with quality products. If you’re not sure how to find a good fabricator in your area, talk to your contractor, or get referrals from homeowners that you know who have recently remodeled their kitchen.

Know the pros and cons of each countertop material. Looks aren’t everything! When choosing a countertop material for your kitchen, familiarize yourself with the durability and maintenance needs of each type of material you’re considering.

For example, some types of natural stone need to be sealed on a regular basis, or they may stain over time. Engineered stone never needs to be sealed. Choose the type of countertop material that will match your lifestyle and meet your needs.

Pairing Kitchen Countertops, Backsplashes and Cabinets

5 Tips for Pairing Cabinets and Countertops

Cabinets and countertops are the focal point of most kitchens. You could even say that well-paired countertops and cabinets are like art – they give the kitchen its character, beauty and aesthetic appeal.

Finding the perfect combination of cabinets and countertops for your kitchen isn’t easy. Both fixtures can be made in a variety of materials and finishes, which gives homeowners a lot of choices to sort through. While there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to which cabinets and countertops are best, there’s definitely a process for finding the combination you’ll love best.

Give yourself time. Shopping around, testing different combinations and exploring all the possibilities can lead to a successful match – and years of happiness with your new kitchen.

1. Choose Colors Wisely

Coloring is one of the first things to consider when pairing cabinets and countertops. Cabinets and counters both come in a range of colors. Natural and engineered stone countertops – the most popular options available today – typically come in neutral colors like black, brown, cream and gray. Cabinets are made from many species of wood and can be stained or painted in just about any color you can imagine.

The color combination you choose for your kitchen depends on your personal preferences.

Pairing Neutrals

Neutral colors can easily be combined without concern that they’ll clash. Brown combines easily with white or cream. Gray pairs easily with white and cream as well.

When trying to combine neutrals in the same space, remember that blacks and browns can clash when not paired thoughtfully. If it’s important to you to install cabinets with a natural brown finish and black countertops, add accents of black elsewhere in the kitchen to help the black integrate into the space. Consider finishing your cabinets with a cooler brown that will combine easily with black, as warm brown cabinets may clash with your black countertops.

One Bold Color and One Neutral

Are you attracted to bold blue cabinets? Or perhaps green granite countertops? Combine bold colors with neutrals. This enables the bold color to stand out, and the neutral colors to fall into the background in a supporting role. Avoid combining multiple bold, non-neutral colors in the same space. Too many vibrant colors can create a sense of chaos in the room.

Hold Samples Against Each Other

Collecting samples of cabinet finishes, paint finishes and stone samples can make your job easier. Hold samples against each other in the space where they’ll be installed. Look at the samples in various qualities of light, to get a more accurate picture of how the materials will look.

2. Select Material Carefully

Color isn’t everything. Each material has qualities that should be taken into consideration when trying to decide what to install in your kitchen.

Durability and longevity. How much do you use your kitchen? How careful are you while cooking and cleaning? Do you have children and pets who may scratch surfaces or cause damage? How long do you want your cabinets and countertop materials to last?

  • Soft stone like marble can scratch easily while porous stone (marble and granite) can absorb stains. If you’re in need of a long-lasting, scratch-resistant, stain-resistant stone, engineered stone (also called quartz) may be the right product for you.
  • Wood can be scratched and vulnerable to stains and rot if not properly maintained. If you’re seeking a truly durable and long-lasting cabinet material, consider engineered wood.

ROI. The cabinets and countertops in your kitchen contribute to your kitchen’s value and your home’s overall value. If you’re seeking a high ROI countertop product, stone and engineered stone deliver the biggest return on investment.

Ready-to-assemble cabinets tend to be low-quality and come with the fewest style options. Semi-custom cabinets are more attractive, tend to be higher quality and are often more impressive to buyers when the time comes to sell your home.

Maintenance. Consider the level of maintenance you’re able to keep up with before choosing the materials. For example, many types of natural stone countertops need regular sealing to maintain a durable finish. If you’re not able to keep up with sealing and maintaining your countertops, consider an engineered stone countertop for your home.

3. Set Your Budget Before Making a Purchase

Know how much you can afford to spend on your countertops and cabinets before making your selection. Some tips for setting a budget:

  • Get multiple quotes from various remodeling professionals to determine how much you’re likely to spend on your upcoming remodel.
  • Shop around for financing (if financing is required) to find the right loan for your project. Determine how much you can afford to pay back per month, and ensure that the loan you’re considering has a repayment schedule that works for you.

4. Buy From Quality Suppliers

Your cabinets and countertops will only continue to look right together as long as they remain in good condition. One of the things you can do to ensure that your cabinets and countertops will remain in good condition is to buy them from quality suppliers that only sell good quality products.

Do your research before choosing a supplier. If you’re working with a good contractor to remodel your home, they may refer you to some reputable suppliers in your area. If you’re choosing the suppliers on your own, some suggestions:

  • Check references
  • Read online reviews
  • Shop around

5. Consider the Kitchen Environment

In addition to matching each other, your countertops and cabinets need to integrate into the surrounding kitchen. Consider the wall color, floors, and appliances in the area around your kitchen.

Most likely, you’re installing countertops and cabinets in your kitchen as a part of a larger remodel. Hold paint samples, wallpaper and backsplash samples against your countertop and cabinet finish samples. Work with a designer if you need suggestions or help – or work with a contractor that offers some design

Bathroom Remodel Do’s and Don’ts

According to this 2022 Cost Vs. Value Report , the average cost for a bathroom remodel in New Hampshire is around $25,000, so you can imagine how important it is to get your bathroom remodel project right the first time.

This list of do’s and don’ts includes tips that can help you find success in your bathroom remodel. Seacoast Stone has been helping New Hampshire homeowners with their bathroom renovations for years. We’re happy to offer helpful suggestions that can make your project easier and more rewarding. Here’s what you need to know.

Do: Make a Budget

How much can you afford to spend on your bathroom remodel? Are you getting a loan? How much will it cost to accomplish your remodeling goals?

If you can’t answer these questions, then you may not be ready to remodel. Making a budget can help you avoid overspending. Not sure how to make a budget? Some suggestions:

  1. Make a list of priorities. Knowing what you hope to accomplish will make it easier to have discussions with contractors. Knowing your goals will also help contractors suggest a price for your bathroom remodel.
  2. Get quotes. We recommend getting at least quotes from three reputable contractors in your area. These quotes will make it easier to determine how much you can expect to spend and how much you’ll need to borrow.
  3. Explore loan options. If you need to get a loan for your upcoming remodel, shop around for different loan options. Find out how much money you’re approved to borrow, what the payment terms will be and how much you’ll have to pay back monthly. Work these numbers into your monthly budget to ensure that you’re able to afford a loan, and then, pick a maximum amount you’re willing to spend.

Don’t: Get Too Trendy

Trends come and go, but your bathroom will be here for a long time. Following trends too closely can date your bathroom and may lead you to spend a lot of extra money changing your bathroom in coming years. This is especially true if you’re planning to sell your house soon, because buyers can be reluctant to purchase a home they think will soon need to be “fixed.”

Focus on buying timeless, durable, attractive materials, and colors that you’ll want to live with for years to come. Neutral colors, for example, create a calming, almost spa-like atmosphere. Natural stone and engineered stone can also add to the beauty of your bathroom without dating it.

Avoid unusual fixtures and bright colors that just recently started appearing in bathrooms. Tried and true materials and colors have staying power, which makes it easier to enjoy your bathroom for a long time to come.

Do: Choose One Area to “Splurge”

Maybe you want a fancy, luxurious shower with granite stone surround. Or, perhaps you’ve always wanted a jetted soaking tub with lumbar support. Pick one area of your bathroom that you would LOVE to splurge on, and then let yourself do it.

This might include a large, custom-made vanity with custom-cut stone countertops, or perhaps a luxury toilet with self-cleaning deodorizing features. If you can fit something like this into your budget, you’ll love spending time in your new bathroom.

Don’t: Forget Storage

Storage is an important part of all bathrooms because of the natural clutter that comes from shampoo bottles, soaps, makeup and medicines. Good storage is vital in a bathroom. Work with your contractor to ensure that the storage you choose for your bathroom meets your needs.

Consider the items you routinely keep in your bathroom, from the towels to the toiletries, and then discuss the options available to you. Your contractor will point you in the direction of storage options that will meet your needs.

Do: Give Yourself Time to Shop Around

Seeing materials and fixtures in person makes it easier to choose the ones you’ll love best. Shopping around will also help you find the best deals for your bathroom remodel. Your contractor will likely point you in the direction of trusted material suppliers, to give you peace of mind when choosing items for your remodel.

Don’t: Fail to Consider Maintenance

Not all materials are practical for bathrooms. Hardwood floors, for example, can easily deteriorate if they’re not properly sealed periodically. By contrast, luxury vinyl tile bathroom flooring looks like real hardwood but is waterproof, so it’s safe for your bathroom.

Another example: most types of natural stone need to be sealed against water intrusion periodically, but engineered stone never needs to be sealed. Failing to consider maintenance needs can leave you with extra chores that you’re not prepared to perform.

Know what kind of maintenance each type of material requires, and then choose the material based on what you can manage in your regular cleaning and home maintenance routines.

Do: Buy Quality Materials and Pay for Experienced, Skilled Labor

Some materials practically last forever. Engineered and natural stone, for example, can easily last for decades. Buying the right materials can help ensure that your bathroom will look its best for years – and even decades – to come. These materials cost more up front, but you’ll save money in the long run because you won’t have to replace them for a long time.

The same concept can be applied to hiring skilled labor. A contractor that keeps their prices dramatically lower than the competition may be cutting corners in ways that can lead to maintenance problems and repairs. Be wary of contractors that dramatically undercut the competition. Ask yourself why that contractor costs less. Compare their itemized bid to the itemized bids of other contractors, and always check references.

Buy Quality Custom Stone Countertops from Seacoast Stone

There’s no comparison between custom stone countertops and other countertop materials. You can see for yourself what difference stone makes at Seacoast Stone. Stop by our showroom to find the stone countertop material that’s just right for your bathroom.

Upgrading Your Kitchen In the New Year

2022 is here! Are you ready for a change? You’re not alone! This is the perfect time to upgrade your kitchen with an all-new look. With a few well-planned changes, you can make your kitchen a like-new space. You don’t have to break the bank – or remodel your entire kitchen – to make your kitchen fresh and beautiful. By upgrading a few choice features, like your countertops or light fixtures, you can make your kitchen the place to spend time in 2022.

1. Replace Plumbing Fixtures

You’d be amazed how much you can improve your kitchen by simply replacing your plumbing fixtures. A high-end kitchen faucet, for example, can make your whole sink look brand new!

When you’re picking a new faucet for your kitchen, use the color of the metal to create an accent color, or pull together other colors found in your kitchen. For example, maybe some of your pots are made of copper, and your counters have copper overtones. Use this opportunity to make copper a repeating color in your kitchen by installing a copper kitchen faucet.

Just a few years ago, the most popular fixtures were made from brushed stainless steel and chrome. Today, warmer colors are becoming more common, including brushed brass, brushed bronze and oil-rubbed bronze.

2. Refinish Cabinets

Want to make your kitchen pop without incurring a big expense? Refinish your cabinets. Just a few years ago, white and gray were the preferred cabinet colors in residential kitchens, but trends have changed. Now homeowners are painting their kitchens in bright, bold colors. This means that you’ve got a perfect opportunity to add color and flair to your kitchen – and you can do it over a long weekend.

Blues and greens are very popular right now, but you can choose the colors that make the most sense to you. When you’re refinishing your cabinets, start by removing hardware and doors. Next, rough up the old finish with sandpaper or sealer remover. This creates a rough surface on your cabinets and gives the new finish something to adhere to. When you apply the paint, use a glossy paint. Some paint companies make paint specifically meant for cabinets. Give the paint long enough to cure before putting the hardware back on.

3. Install New Light Fixtures

Light fixtures add beauty and personality to your kitchen. You can hire an electrician to install your new light fixture, or do it yourself.

Kitchen lights are divided into three categories: ambient lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. Ambient overhead lighting is the generalized bright light that illuminates the entire space of your kitchen. Examples of ambient lighting include ceiling-mounted lights and chandeliers. This is the type of lighting you should replace (or install more of) if your kitchen feels generally dark, even with all lights turned on.

Task lighting is the lighting that is used for specific tasks, like preparing food. In the kitchen, task lighting is often found under cabinets. If your kitchen is generally bright enough, but you’d like more light for cutting foods, then you probably need some task lighting.

Accent lighting illuminates features like decorations and cabinet interiors.

When you’re trying to decide what kind of lighting to install in your kitchen, assess the overall light conditions in your kitchen. Where is it dark? What light fixtures do you dislike? Which ones do you love? The answers to these questions will help you decide which light fixtures to replace (or add) first.

4. Replace Counters with Beautiful Stone

Over time, countertops made from synthetic material can become scratched, stained and even burned. These cosmetic problems can drag down the appearance of your kitchen and in some cases can even be a health and safety hazard because cracks can harbor bacteria.

You don’t have to live with your old countertops anymore! Make 2022 the year you upgrade your countertops by replacing them with stone. Stone and engineered stone countertops are far more durable than any other type of countertop available. Stone also comes in many colors and patterns, so you can choose the countertop that’s best for your home.

At Seacoast Stone, we sell granite, marble, soapstone and quartz. Each type of stone has its own characteristics, so you’ll need to choose the type that’s best for you.

  • Granite is one of the most durable natural stones available for residential use. It comes in many colors and patterns but needs regular sealing to remain water-resistant.
  • Marble is a soft stone with unparalleled natural beauty. It can be scratched and must be protected from heavy pots and sharp tools. Like granite, marble must be sealed regularly.
  • Soapstone is a very dense stone that never needs to be sealed to maintain its natural water resistance.
  • Quartz is an engineered stone that can be made to look like any other type of stone. It’s naturally very hard and water-resistant, and thus never needs to be sealed.