Light at the end of the tunnel – Stage 4
There are so many options for countertops these days that I can certainly understand how a customer might feel confused and overwhelmed. The man-made materials that mimic natural stone are a great choice for people who are concerned with the maintenance of a natural stone. Cambria, Vicostone, Silestone and Caesarstone are some of the more common choices. These materials are all known as Quartz surfaces. They vary in the colors so it truly becomes a personal preference for each space. The Quartz materials come in slabs and are fabricated the same way as a natural stone. And the price will vary depending on the color and manufacturer, just as there is a variety in pricing for natural stone.
In most cases, natural stone is not difficult to maintain, especially when cared for appropriately through daily use. The fabricators typically seal the stone prior to or at installation. The sealing of the stone helps it to resist any of the normal wear and tear that a kitchen can deliver. When it comes to natural stone, being diligent about wiping up spills will help reduce the chance of staining. And some natural stones are naturally more dense than others. Even from granite to granite, some are more dense than others and thus more stain resistant.
The key to selecting your countertop material is to be educated and aware of the pro’s and cons of each surface. The man made quartz material has some stone looks, but Mother Nature’s paint brush can’t be duplicated that easily.
Natural stone was the first choice for us – I did have a back-up plan for a quartz material if we couldn’t find a natural stone that would work in our home and our kitchen. But my personal preference has always been to use granite in my kitchen.
When we went to shop for our stone, we made an appointment at T&M in Wheeling, IL. (http://www.tmsupply.com/) We spent several hours and had a great time checking out all the materials – we had our cabinet door sample with us and were able to put it up against the various slabs to see how it coordinated. Was it too dark or too light? Was the veining desirable? Was the color appropriate? Did they have enough material to do our kitchen?
My husband actually suggested the material we selected – it’s a beautiful quartzite (not a quartz) that was perfect for our kitchen. The slabs were tagged for us and held until the fabricator was ready to pick them up for production. So, last week we went to the fabricators shop to view how the stone was going to be cut and fit in our kitchen. This was a very different experience than in the past!
It used to be that you would go to the fabricators shop where they would pull your slabs. They would be set on “A” frame stands side by side. Then the real work started. The fabricator would bring out the templates that were created from the job site measure. These paper templates would be laid on the stone so you could see what pieces would have what movement. And then you would have to work through different placements to plan the location of the seams and make sure you maximize the yield of the stone.
If you have a stone that has a lot of varied movement and color, the placement of the seams can be tricky. Turning a corner with a stone (or other countertop material) that is directional in the movement can be quite a challenge. If the colors of the stone or the veins don’t blend at the seam, it can really take away from the overall look, and will be disappointing. The good thing is that the fabricators are well versed in looking for subtleties in the stone that will match from piece to piece. That way when the stone is installed, it won’t look like someone just dropped a rock on your cabinets!
While we were there to view the templates on our slabs and approve the locations of the seams, etc., we had the luxury of viewing digital photography and a computer with a skilled technician walking us through how best to lay out our kitchen! We sat in an air conditioned room (thank goodness!) and looked at a computer screen. The technician, Cody, was very helpful! He took us through the process of how he decided to put the templates in their location, then he moved them around on the screen for us to see options for each piece. Ultimately we decided on the original positioning that he had recommended, and we are very pleased with how things worked out. Thank you Old World Stone in Huntley, IL! (http://www.owstone.com/)
We had some small details to work out and confirm – things like the edge treatment and sink location for the island sink. I’m not going to give it all away, but suffice it to say that the island sink was a little bit of a challenge but it worked it out well!
So, tomorrow morning between 8 am and 10 am, the fabricators are scheduled to arrive to install these tops. It’s probably an installation that could take 4 to 5 hours! WOW! But it’s well worth it when the project is done right!
The tile backsplash will be installed this week. The trim around the cabinets and the hardware also will be installed – we might be functional by the weekend, but at the very least, I will be able to start to clean things and get ready to move back in to my home!