Q: What is granite?
A: Granite (from the Latin granum, or grain, signifying its characteristic structure), an igneous rock, was formed billions of years ago when magma cooled deep beneath the earth’s crust. Nearly as durable as diamond, granite owes its density and hardness to its origins, solidified deep within the earth under extreme pressure.
Q: What is marble?
A: Marble (and its wildly varying relatives: travertine, limestone and onyx) is a metamorphic form of limestone. Marble formed when sediment and other materials forged together beneath the weight of heavy bodies of water. After millions of years, these crystallized minerals resulted in a natural stone that is typically white with streaks of color, capable of taking a hard polish.
Q: What should I know before purchasing natural stone?
A: Natural stone is a one-of-a-kind building material. Because graining and coloration come from the earth itself – mineral deposits, tectonic shifts, temperature, natural chemicals and pressure over millions of years – granite cannot be mimicked or manufactured.
Unique markings and inconsistencies are hallmarks of natural stone. No two are alike. And, depending on how the surface is finished, myriad visual characteristics may be revealed. When selecting granite and other natural stone, there may be a certain lack of predictability in regard to color and veining, which adds to its beauty, charm and design potential.
Equally important is that you choose stone that is optimized for its intended purpose. For example, because of the porous nature of limestone, its surface may be absorbent, making it a poor choice for a bathroom countertop. And, while marble may make a beautiful floor, depending on how it is finished it may be dangerously slick. Your fabricator or Cold Spring Granite Selection Center specialist will help you determine which stone to use.
Q: What are the benefits of a granite countertop?
A: Next to diamonds, there’s nothing harder than granite. It is not affected by extremes in temperature and under normal conditions granite resists etching by knives, household acids and kitchenware. In addition, granite:
· Is 100% natural and non-toxic
· Cleans without difficulty
· When sealed, is a sanitary countertop material that does not harbor bacteria
· Offers several finishes and hundreds of color choices, patterns
· Resists scratching
· Resists burning or charring from hot items (fryers, griddles, toasters)
· Serves as a natural rolling board for preparing pastries, cookies and candy
· Can be easily fabricated, using curves, arches and 90-degree angles
· Is both aesthetically pleasing and a smart investment
Q: Does natural stone require sealing?
A: By its nature, a stone surface is porous. Absorption may result in discoloring or staining. Immediately after installation, the granite countertop is sealed. The sealer penetrates the stone, clogs the pores and creates a virtually impenetrable surface that resists absorbing alcohol, juice, soft drinks, coffee, food, oil, cosmetics and cleaners. With proper care and commercial grade cleaners, it is easy to maintain the original luster for years.
Q: Should I be concerned about Radon in my granite countertop?
A: It is extremely unlikely that granite countertops emit harmful levels of radon. Recent studies reveal that the risk, if any, is too small to be measured. Visit the Marble Institute of America to learn more about the strength of granite and the minimal risk that radon contamination presents.
Q: How do you clean a granite countertop?
A: Always avoid using powdered cleansers (which typically contain pumice, a powdered volcanic stone) abrasive pads or acidic products. Instead, use sealers and cleaning products specifically designed for natural stone.
Spray a light mist of stone cleanser on the area to be cleaned, let it sit for about 30 seconds, scrub with a sponge, wipe dry and buff with a cotton cloth or paper towel.
Q: Will granite chip or crack?
A: Under ordinary circumstances, granite will not chip or crack. However, it is not indestructible. Sharp objects that make hard impact on the surface can damage granite, most of which may be fairly easily repaired.
Q: Does granite show seams?
A: Granite is a natural stone that is mined from a quarry in blocks. Your countertop will likely have seams. Their visibility will depend on the grain, color and pattern.
Q: What is limestone and how is it used?
A: Limestone is a common sedimentary rock derived from the fossil deposits of marine animals and composed mainly of calcium carbonate. The complex organic and chemical origins of the sediments are witnessed in limestone’s wide range of textures and fabrics.
Limestone is generally less expensive than other stones because of its wide availability and comparatively easy fabrication. It is often used in residential and commercial interior and exterior cladding, fireplace surrounds, entryways, landscaping and other design elements.