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Granite FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to the installation of a natrual stone countertop, backsplash, shower basin, or other custom pieces.

Q. How do I go about getting granite from USP Granite?
A.
Simply call us and we will send a representative from our company out to your home or where ever the project is located. They will have a good selection of colors and samples for you to choose from. They will give you a written estimate on a form breaking down every detail including the Labor cost and the material cost separately so you can see where your money is being spent. If you decide to hire USP GRANITE a deposit is required. After the deposit is turned in we will send some one else out with in a week to perform what's called the templating. This is the exact cutting measurements that will be performed on your Counter Tops. We will need your new sink at the point of templating, if you did not purchase your sink through us you will need to have it on site at time of template. Once the template is turned in, your Granite should be installed with in 2 to 3 weeks depending on the work pace of the shop.

Q. Can you give me an estimate if I e-mail or FAX a sketch?
A.
Certainly. Please make all the measurements as accurate as possible and allow for an 1.5 inch overhang on all the cabinets. Mark special areas (curves etc), indicate your preferred edge(s), colors, and details of your sink (undermount or drop-in). Also indicate whether we will need to remove your old countertop and backsplash. While estimates done this way can be quite close to the final numbers we cannot finalize the costs until we visit your project measure ourselves and discuss all the aspects of your job.

Q. The Timeline - how long will all this take and in what sequence?
A.
• Call to schedule an estimate.
• Get the estimate and select your granite color. (We will bring samples to your       home)
• Finalize choices (granite, sinks, faucet, cooktop etc) and schedule a templating      and reserve an installation date.
• Also make sure your faucet choice goes with your sink choice
• Consider the layout for the holes that may need to be drilled in the granite.
• Templates are made (remember to clear off your existing countertops).
• The granite is purchased by the fabricator and cut to size, edged and polished.
• On installation day the old counters are removed, new ones installed and the sink      is mounted.
• For undermount sinks the plumber should connect the faucets/ drains on the next    day (giving time for the adhesives to fully cure).
• The party is scheduled to show off your new (515 million year old) natural stone    countertops.

Q. What is the time frame of a Kitchen counter installation?
A. The average kitchen two-slab job takes approximately four hours to install.

Q. Can you re-connect my electrical and plumbing connections?
A.

We are not licensed electricians or plumbers. Therefore, we can not make electrical or plumbing re-connections. We can, in some instances however, recommend reputable and licensed individuals or companies to complete these tasks for you. This keeps us focused on the natural stone business to provide the best product for the lowest cost. When we leave your home the sink is fully installed on (or under) the countertop, but a plumber or the homeowner will have to re-connect faucets and drain lines the next day after all the adhesives and caulks have fully cured.

Please Note * The critical path for most jobs is choosing a color and locking in an installation date. As soon as you are ready to go ahead with the project, even if you haven't fully settled on a color choice, call to set the schedule. Depending on the time of year we, at USP Granite, have a two to four week lead time - i.e. when you decide to go ahead our first available installation dates will be two to four weeks out. Unlike many other fabricators, we will be able to set your installation date at the very beginning of your project and stick to it. There are always special considerations which can mix up the normal scheduling sequence so be sure to discuss them with us during the estimating process.

Q. Are granite countertops sanitary?
A.

Once upon a time . . there was a report circulating that granite countertops were unsafe, harbor bacteria and can produce disease. This is absolutely FALSE.
NIOSH and the CDC have no reports of granite or any other stone used as a countertop as being unsanitary. These rumors are circulated by the Solid Surface Industry in an attempt to compete with the Stone Industry.


Q. Why is granite an excellent material for kitchen countertops?
A.

Next to diamond, sapphire, and ruby, granite is the hardest natural product on earth. Once polished, natural granite will maintain its high gloss virtually forever. Normal use of kitchen knives, cutlery, and cookware leaves no scratches. Heat has almost no effect on natural granite, making it much safer than synthetic surfaces with polyesters and resins. Pots and pans heated to 900 degrees Fahrenheit will not dull natural granite's lustrous finish, but the use of trivets is recommended to keep your granite counter clean.Next to diamond, sapphire, and ruby, granite is the hardest natural product on earth. Once polished, natural granite will maintain its high gloss virtually forever. Normal use of kitchen knives, cutlery, and cookware leaves no scratches. Heat has almost no effect on natural granite, making it much safer than synthetic surfaces with polyesters and resins. Pots and pans heated to 900 degrees Fahrenheit will not dull natural granite's lustrous finish, but the use of trivets is recommended to keep your granite counter clean.

Other benefits of natural stone...
There is almost unlimited number of colors and patterns to choose from, so that matching your custom project will notbe a problem
Scratch resistant (second in hardness only to diamonds)
Heat resistant
Cleaning and maintenance is a breeze
Resale value on your home

Q. Can you stain granite and do I need to seal it on a regular basis?
A.
Granite is a highly dense material and relatively porous so it can get stained if a spill is not cleaned quickly. Sealing the surface with a water-based sealant is therefore recommended to protect the granite from water patches and stains. Sealing can be done once a year or once every two years depending on the usage of the surface.

Q. What is an edge detail, and how do I choose one?
A. An edge detail is the shape of the outer-edge of the granite countertop. There are many different types of edge, and cost is one factor to consider when choosing a "premium" edge.

Q. Do I have to buy the whole sheet/slab of granite?
A.
Slabs are always sold intact. Buying random slabs is similar to buying fabric. Like a seamstress or tailor, your fabricator buys the raw material and sells you a completed installation. In the price is included the cost of transporting the material, making field measurements and templates, cutting, polishing, bringing the pieces to your job site and fitting them into place. How much material he needs is determined by the layout and the amount of waste. The fabricator will lay out your job in a way that will minimize the amount of waste material while maximizing the natural beauty of veining and pattern. Slabs range from 45 square feet up to 63 square feet. The average slabs is figured at 55 square feet. There is normally a 20% to 25% waste factor when cutting stone.

Q. What is granite?
A. The term "granite" is used to cover a group of related stones, all of which have their origin deep in the earth's molten mantle. As this extremely hot liquid material rises and cools, it forms a crystalline, granular structure, hence the term granite. Granite and other granite-like stones are formed of hard minerals such as quarts, feldspar and mica, which are fused together into a very hard stone ideal for kitchen counters because its polish is resistant to household acids such as citrus and vinegar and is hard enough to resist scratching from knives and pots and pans.

Q. How should I care for my marble or granite?
A.

Daily and weekly maintenance is the most important factor to keep your natural stone looking its best. A good rule of thumb is never use anything you wouldn't use on your hands. Simply follow the instructions below:

Blot spills immediately
Clean with a pH-balanced cleaner and clean cloth. The term "pH" refers to the potential of Hydrogen, and is used to measure the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. A pH balanced cleaner will be a neutral solution, meaning that it will measure a 7 on the pH scale of 0-14.
You may also use a stone cleaner (available at most hardware stores) or a small amount of ordinary dish soap (white or clear) and water to wipe down your surface. Diluted window cleaner (50% water, 50% cleaner) also works well. Do not use old kitchen sponges, they may contain oil from your dishes and leave a film on your surface.
Squeegee Shower walls daily
Wipe down shower walls weekly with a pH-balance solution

Q. What is the difference between "honed" and "polished" granite?
A.

"Honed" and "Polished" refer to the finish of the granite. The finish of honed granite will range from flat to a low sheen gloss, which gives the stone a softer look. Polished granite refers to the glossy, highly reflective appearance, giving it a smooth, sleek look.

Strictly speaking, granite is called "honed" when the polishing process is halted just before a reflective shiny surface is achieved. This gives a softer, matte appearance to the stone. Cold Spring uses a special process called "Velvet" which enhances and deepens the colors as well. Some fabricators can hone polished granite if they have special equipment to remove the polished surface, but this can sometimes result in wheel marks from the polishing head.


Q. What is flamed granite?
A.

Granite is flamed by applying blowtorch-strength heat to the surface of the stone. This causes the surface to melt and some of the crystals to shatter, leaving a highly textured surface which is ideal for exterior paving or wet areas where optimum non-slipperiness is required.


Q. Can I cut on my granite countertop?
A.

Only if you want to ruin your good knives. Granite is harder than your knife blades and will dull them very quickly, if you use the countertop as a cutting surface. Always cut and chop on a wooden or plastic cutting board. Hardness is measured on a MOH scale of 1 to 10, with ten being the hardest, and granite is a seven a stainless steel knife blade is around a six, so you cannot scratch granite with it.


Q. What is the difference between marble and granite?
A.

Although both are stones and both are quarried from the earth, granite and marble (and marble's relatives - limestone, onyx and travertine) are very different from each other. Granite is formed deep in the earth's mantle at extremely high temperatures, and is a very hard, resistant stone made of crystallized minerals. The marble family - limestone, travertine, marble, and onyx - starts out as sediment - animal skeletons and shells, plant matter, silt - at the bottom of bodies of water. After millions of years this solidifies into stone. Because its main component is calcium, acids such as vinegar and citrus beverages can affect it.


Q. Why is granite good for countertops?
A.

Granite adds elegance and style to kitchens, baths and other areas of the home with a richness that cannot be duplicated in synthetic materials. Granite is highly resistant to scratching, cracking and staining. Impervious to heat: daily kitchen activities pose no problem and it can take a hot pot without the use of a trivet. Because granite is very hard stone that's formed at very high temperatures deep in the earth, its polish is not subject to etching by household acids, or scratching by knives and pots and pans. Thus, making granite an ideal choice for countertops.


Q. Can granite be damaged?
A.

Like any solid surface, high impact blows can harm granite. Because of its crystalline structure, it can chip if subjected to sharp hard objects. Unsealed, granite can absorb stains such as oil, which can ultimately cause dark spots or discoloration. Heat from pots and pans or burning liquids will not affect granite under normal circumstances. A chip can be filled with a granite dust and epoxy mixture.


Q. Granite damples sometimes look pitted and cracked. Will I have these pit-parks and cracks in my countertops?
A.

Granite, which is crystalline in structure, always has tiny pits and spaces between the various mineral crystals. You don't see them on a larger piece because the overall appearance is polished and mirror-like. Granite sometimes has natural fissures as well, which may look like cracks, but are not structural defects and are a naturally occurring result of the immense heat and pressure that formed the granite eons ago. These characteristics are part of the natural beauty of stone and will not impair the function or durability of the material. A product of nature cannot be expected to look manmade.


Q. Can granite crack?
A.

Not with ordinary use. Granite is most susceptible to cracks during shipping and installation. Normal use will not overstress this durable material. Normal use does not include standing on the countertops.


Q. Can you scratch granite?
A.

Granite is one of the hardest stones in the world. It is highly resistant to scratching in ordinary use. A knife blade will not scratch granite. It can only be scratched by another piece of granite or with specially sharpened tools designed to work with granite like tungsten and diamond blades.


Q. Can you stain granite?
A.

In general, no. All stone, however, is porous to some extent, but Granite has very little porosity. A few colors may absorb some moisture with prolonged contact compared to others. For example, a puddle of water left on the counter, for some colors, may show a dark spot when the water is wiped away. Usually, no evidence remains once the liquid is removed and the granite dries. A stone sealer is highly recommended for all granite after installation.


Marble FAQ's

Q. What is marble?
A.

True geological marble is limestone that has been subjected to great pressure and heat, which has changed its structure to a crystalline, sugary texture. It is generally white or whitish, sometimes translucent, with some veining or color provided by other minerals present at its formation. White Carrara, Thassos, Colorado Yule and Bianco Rosa are true marbles. Commercially, the term "marble" applies to any compact limestone that will take a polish, which includes most of the colored marbles, except some of the greens.


Q. Can I use marble on my kitchen countertops?
A.

We do not recommend the use of marble as kitchen counters because marbles (and limestone and travertine) are calcium carbonate, and their polished surface is more vulnerable to household acids including vinegar, mustard, catsup, citrus and a host of other food-related products. These acidic substances cause a chemical reaction, which will remove the polish. Additionally, marble and limestone can be scratched more easily than harder stones such as granite. Marble is, however, sometimes used in the kitchen as a pastry slab; its perfectly smooth, cool surface is ideal for rolling out dough and pie crusts.


Q. Does green marble require special treatment?
A.

Some green stones, such as the "jades" from Taiwan, are not truly marble, but a different material called serpentinite. Serpentinites, or serpentines, as they are sometimes called, do not etch or react to acids the way limestone and marble do, and are somewhat harder. Green tiles of this family must always be installed with an epoxy adhesive to prevent the curling that can take place if a water-based setting material is used.


Q. What is honed marble or limestone and where is can it be used?
A.

Marble, travertine, or limestone that is honed has a matte or satin finish, rather than a high reflective polish. This is achieved at the factory by stopping just short of the last stage of polishing. Some fabricators have special equipment and can hone marble in their shops by removing the factory polish. One feature of honed marble is that it doesn't show etching as readily, or wear patterns on floors. It is preferred by some because it has a less formal, softer appearance than polished stone.


Q. What is etching?
A.

Etching happens when acid in some form comes in contact with a polished marble or limestone surface. This causes a chemical reaction, which removes the polish, or roughens the surface of honed marble or limestone. Green marbles, such as the "jades" from China are resistant to etching, and granite is impervious to any common household acids.

 

Recommendations to Prepare for Installations:

Installation Preparedness
Access: Granite countertops are extremely heavy, and installers need clear access to entry ways.
Please have your walkways and driveways as clear as possible.

Cabinets:
We recommend that you empty all cabinets and drawers.

Safety:
Please remove any breakable items and cover items to protect them from dust. Granite installation can create a lot of dust.
Our installers do try to control the mess the best they can, but please remember that this is construction and it is by definition a messy business.

Faucets:
Please have ready any faucets, soap dispensers, hot water taps, dishwasher air gaps, reverse osmosis filters
and any other items that need to be drilled into the countertops.

Sinks:
Top mount sinks will be cut on site and whenever possible will be done outside, in a garage or in a shop.
Undermount sinks are cut and polished at our shop and attached at the job site.

Cook Tops and Ranges:
These will be cut on site and whenever possible and done outside, in a garage, or in a shop whenever possible.

Dishwashers:
These need to be in their final position so that we can attach them to the countertop. All other appliances need to be out of the area.

 

 



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