There are three basic types of natural stone and several types of man-made, or engineered, stone used for countertops:

Granite is by far the most common, because of its abundance in the natural world and its scratch resistance. Granite or granitic (granite-like) stones are mostly quartz, feldspar, and mica, making them quite hard—around 7 on a 1-10 scale. They are igneous rocks, which are formed when hot molten lava cools into various crystalline forms. Granite is the most popular stone countertop material by far because it withstands heat better than other products, is stain resistant when sealed, is very hard (resists scratches), and comes in hundreds of spectacular colors.

Care and Maintenance: At our fabrication shop, we permanently seal every top with Dry-Treat STAIN-PROOF. It requires no maintenance throughout the life of the countertop. For daily cleaning use soap and water, or clear spray cleaners. While colored cleaners, like Simple Green and others, work well and won’t damage the finish, we’ve found that as they evaporate, some leave a tinted residue behind that can build up over time. We recommend and sell the StoneTech Professional cleaners Revitalizer and Granquartz 3-in-1 spray, and leave a complimentary can with every project.

For stone products that you own now, without a permanent sealer, you should re-seal every 1-5 years as needed. To determine this, sprinkle a few drops of water on your countertop. Wait a few minutes then wipe them up–if the stone is darker where the water was, then the stone is absorbing the water, so reseal it! Otherwise, enjoy it.

Marble, Travertine, and Limestone arise from different circumstances in nature, but all are composed of mostly calcium carbonate (think of very dense Tums). Limestone formed in ancient sea beds as the shells from microscopic organisms accumulated and were compressed. If that limestone were subjected to heat and even more pressure underground, it would eventually re-crystallize into marble, which is why limestone may include fossils but marble never does. Travertine forms as dissolved minerals at and around hot springs are deposited over time, similar to the formations at “Old Faithful.” All of these stones are softer than granite—3 on a 1-10 scale—and are susceptible to etching from even weak acids (Who spilled this Margarita?). So we recommend a honed finish (more about Finishes later) wherever acids may be present.

Care and maintenance: Care is similar to granite. These stones can be scratched by cutlery or unfinished ceramic, such as mug bottoms. Also, their polished finishes can be dissolved, or etched, and made dull by things like lemon juice, cola, or coffee, so more care is required. When you use acidic products, you need to diligently wipe them up before they can do any damage.

Soapstone was once the standard for New England kitchens, and people are re-appreciating its virtues. Predominantly talc, like the powder, it’s quite soft—1.5 on a 1-10 scale. However, it is non-reactive and non-porous (remember those high school chem-lab tables?), so it will survive almost anything. It is virtually impossible to stain soapstone because of its density.

Care and Maintenance: Soapstone never needs to be sealed because it is inherently non-porous. It is easy to scratch, but a few swipes with 80 grit sandpaper will bring it back to its original state. Most people choose to apply mineral oil to the surface to neutralize the tonal differences and hide minor scratches, while bringing out the depth of the stone. Un-oiled stone looks more rustic, and work areas will quickly develop a patina. Oiling the entire top will eliminate this. For another option that may last longer than mineral oil, we can apply a dry wax. This will give you a dark look without needing frequent re-oiling.

Quartz are “man-made” or “engineered” materials of natural quartz chips encased in a resin base. They typically are very consistent in their colors because they are made in factories using specific mixtures. They do not require resealing. Quartz is scratch resistant and heat resistant but manufacturers will always require the use of trivets for hot pans. You can buy quartz under the names Silestone, Zodiaq, Viatera, Caesarstone, Colorquartz, Chroma and others.

Care and Maintenance: Quartz products are typically cleaned with simple soap and water or mild household cleaners.

Green Products are made from 100% recycled glass and concrete and come in dozens of colors. They perform very much like natural stone and are sealed like granite or marble. Brands include IceStone, Vetrazzo, Eco, and other products with recycled content. To varying degrees, these products can accrue LEED points for your projects.

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Stone choice

Yes! The standard MOHS (Measure of Hardness Scale) goes from 1 (Talc) to 10 (Diamond). Granites are typically in the range of 7, marbles around 3-4, soapstone 1.5. It is illuminating to know that steel is a 5 on the scale. So if you run a knife on granite, you get a dull knife. If you run a knife on marble, you’ll have scratched marble.

Today’s designers and architects often suggest marble and other soft stones in a kitchen for aesthetic reasons. People have used marble in kitchens for centuries, and the patina that the stone develops from use is part of the beauty of the stone. This is a viable option provided you are aware of the intricacies of such an installation.

Marble and other soft stones are particularly porous and can stain easily. At Bedrock, we are uniquely qualified to manage this issue because we use the STAIN-PROOF sealing product and are skill-certified by Dry-Treat, the manufacturer. (We provide this lifetime sealing free of charge at the time we fabricate your countertop; others charge as much as $500 for it.)

Sealing protects the stone from discoloration, but the surface of softer stones will be “etched” by acidic elements like citrus, vinegars, coffee, etc. If you use these products with a polished finish, you definitely will experience etching that will be visible. In addition, due to the heavy duty use of kitchen counters, polished surfaces will show scratches. To avoid this, using a honed surface, rather than a polished one, will dramatically reduce, though not eliminate, the visibility of scratches and etching. We encourage the use of honed surfaces when marbles are used in kitchen applications.

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Using Marble for Kitchen Countertops

Every natural stone slab is unique. Some variations you might encounter and should be aware of include:

PitsPits appear as tiny divots or chips where grains were released during the polishing process. Pits are so small they often are not visible in certain light or from different viewing angles. They are very common in some stones. Pits do not in any way affect the integrity of the stone. Therefore, it is very important to feel your slab when choosing stone so you will not be surprised upon close inspection after installation.

The word granite derives from the root for grain, and because of its granular nature, it may include tiny pits on the surface. As the Marble Institute of America’s Design Manual, the industry reference manual, explains: “Granites are made up of several different minerals, each having a different hardness. … Biotites, the black minerals throughout the slab, are by contrast very soft and flake easily. All true granites have biotite in their composition. Because biotites are soft and flaky, the first few layers are removed during the polishing process, causing pits. … Pitting does not make the granite less durable or of inferior quality. Pits exist in all granites and should be expected when dealing with a natural, polished stone containing several types of minerals with different hardness.”

Veining—ALL types of stone can have veining; one slab may have none while the next looks like a metropolitan roadmap. This simply indicates the presence of a different mineral than the background composition.

Inclusions—This is a fancy way of saying a portion of the slab that looks different from the rest. They can be small, medium or large; barely noticeable or quite obvious—and beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

Fissures—These look like hair-line cracks in the stone, but are just surface features, and will not widen or grow over time. They do NOT affect the structural integrity of the stone. Usually if you can’t feel it, it’s a fissure. If you can, it’s cracked. Fissures are not something to be repaired; cracks can often be repaired if necessary.

Fill—When slabs are cut from the large chunks of stone at the quarry, there are often voids in the surface. The softer stones, like travertines and limestones, sometimes have so many voids they look like a dense sponge. The quarries will fill these voids and then polish the surface smooth. Sometimes these voids are evident on the cut edges of the slabs. Colored fill is often a prominent feature in the stone. You may find slabs where the fill is not particularly well color-matched.

All of these characteristics of natural stone, although they add to its charm and uniqueness, illustrate why we suggest everyone view their slabs prior to fabrication. You can even locate your template on your slab to maximize or avoid specific areas.

This is a good general question because most stone fabricators charge by the slab. However, with RE, this number needn’t concern you because we charge you only for the amount of stone we install, not for the number of slabs it took to make it. For the record, a typical kitchen will use some portion of two slabs. But even if we need to use three or four slabs to do the job right, you pay the same amount.

No, with Bedrock Granite Co., you buy only the stone we actually install for you.

When we cut a job from new slabs, there are often leftover pieces, called remnants. We inventory the ones that are large enough to use for smaller projects. Most often, remnants are used for vanities, fireplace hearths and surrounds, and other smaller jobs. This is a great way to get fancier stone in your home without breaking the bank, since we sell them at a discount to the regular price.