Frequently Asked Questions

How do I care for porcelain countertops?2020-12-25T14:05:00-08:00

The surface of the porcelain is waterproof making it easy to clean. Warm-water wiping or cleanup is enough to keep the surface clean and hygienic. With that being said, a porcelain countertop can sustain harsh cleaning, for instance, using harsh chemicals such as bleach or ammonia.

Is porcelain stain resistant?2020-12-25T14:00:37-08:00

Yes. Porcelain countertops have less than a 0.5% water absorption rate. This is a requirement to pass the AST C373 material test. This means you don’t have to worry about wiping the counter every time there is a spill.

Aside from non-porous feature of the porcelain, the surface tile is also stain resistant. While no surface is 100% stain-proof, porcelain comes close. The fired glazing prevents water penetration and provides substantial stain resistance.

Unlike engineered stone and solid surface counters, porcelain slab countertops are rated for exterior use. So you can create continuity between outdoor and indoor kitchens.

What is porcelain?2020-12-25T13:56:39-08:00

The formal description of porcelain is a white translucent ceramic that is rich in kaolinite. It is part of the family of engineered stone derived from kaolinite clay baked at high temperatures. Kaolinite clay contains several minerals, which include silica, feldspar, mineral oxides. These impurities contribute to the strength and richness in colors of porcelain.

What’s the difference between granite, marble, and quartz?2020-12-25T10:42:19-08:00

Granite and Marble are 100% natural stone quarried from the earth, while Quartz is a synthetic man-made material made to mimic natural stone.

Granite and Marble have similarities, they come in many colors, each slab being unique. They are both durable, resistant to heat, scratches, and stains, they also have many differences. Granite and Marble are both relatively easy to maintain, they should both be sealed during the fabrication process prior to customer installation.

Granite and marble also have many differences. Granite is formed deep in the earth’s mantle at extremely high temperatures. It is a very hard, resistant stone made of crystallized minerals. The marble family (limestone, travertine, marble, and onyx) start out as sediment. They are animal skeletons and shells, plant matter, silt, at the bottom of bodies of water. This solidifies into stone. Because its main component is calcium, it can be affected by acids such as vinegar and citrus. When it comes to care and maintenance, Marble is not quite as tough as Granite and Quartz as it is a porous material and is more susceptible to stains, chips, and scratches.

Quartz, being a man-made product, has, in most cases, a uniform appearance in comparison to granite or marble. Quartz countertops are engineered from approximately 93% natural quartz, blended with advanced polymer resins and colorfast pigments to create an elegant, durable work surface. In a quartz countertop you may have small pieces of quartz, granite, and even recycled mirror particles or colored glass. These materials are all mixed together with the resin, poured into a large block mold. Vacuums and Vibration help to press out the air, then the quartz blocks are “baked” in a special process using heat and pressure. Once the quartz block is baked, it is loaded into a gangsaw to be sliced, you can liken this to a bread slicer slicing a loaf of bread.

Then the slabs are polished on one face and prepared for shipment. Once at the stone fabricator, the quartz slabs can be finished with any custom countertop edge, based on customer preference. Quartz countertops come standard in a polished finished, and can be customized with a honed finish as well. Additionally, some quartz manufacturers offer a leathered finish for some colors.

What do I need to consider when buying marble or granite?2020-12-25T10:38:22-08:00

Being natural stones, marble and granite have been blessed with remarkable characteristics that have captivated humans throughout the ages. Inherent in such natural products is a certain lack of predictability that architects and designers celebrate.

Homeowners who are less acquainted with the material expect the stone ordered to be identical to a picture or sample they were shown. Although sample stones are intended to be representative of the quarry’s product, the material quarried at one time may differ slightly in color and veining from the sample.

Moreover, even a single marble or granite slab will possess a certain amount of color variation from one end to the other.

Interior designers and architects have come to view this tendency of natural stone as an advantage. Slight irregularities can be pleasing, introducing an element of the natural into human-designed spaces.

Is marble appropriate for high traffic areas?2020-12-25T10:35:52-08:00

Yes. Marble since ancient times has been used in all areas of homes from furnishings to floors. Marble has proven as durable as materials traditionally considered to be sturdier with the added benefit of creating a warm welcoming atmosphere.

How do I care for granite countertops?2020-12-25T09:59:43-08:00

Granite will last for years with proper cleaning and maintenance. Make sure to blot spills right away to ensure acidic substances, like wine or coffee, don’t stain the surface. Use a sponge or soft cloth and hot water for quick cleanups, and a natural granite cleaner to protect the sealed surface. Use coasters under glasses and cups to minimize possible temporary water rings. Generally, hot pads are not required with most natural stone tops.

What is quartz?2021-01-01T10:19:05-08:00

Quartz countertops are composed mostly of quartz, one of the hardest mineral. The quartz is combined with high-quality polymer resins and pigments and then compacted under intense vibration, vacuum, and pressure into dense, non-porous slabs.

Southward Contracting is a certified fabricator of the most popular quartz countertops brands: Silestone, and Caesarstone.

What is quartz used for?2020-12-25T09:31:38-08:00

Quartz surfaces can be used in kitchens, bathrooms, floors, fireplace surrounds, indoor application: for countertops, vanities, island tops, shower surrounds, walls, tabletops, fireplace surrounds and more.

How do I care for my quartz countertop?2020-12-25T09:30:57-08:00

Marble, granite and limestone must be sealed regularly to prevent stains. But quartz is non-porous, so it does not need to be sealed. Quartz surface is easy to clean. Quartz is very hard mineral, so quartz countertops are naturally scratch-resistant.

Quartz is highly resistant to stains from wine, coffee, lemon juice and other.

It is scorch-resistant, but the use of trivets or hot pads are recommended with hot pots and a cutting board is recommended when using a knife.

For routine cleaning, use a damp cloth or paper towel and, if necessary, a small amount of non-bleach, nonabrasive cleanser.

Can I use marble for my kitchen countertop?2020-12-25T09:25:31-08:00

Marble countertops can be scratched more easily than harder stone such as granite. Marble is sometimes used in the kitchen as a pastry slab because it is a perfectly smooth cool surface. Marble is ideal for rolling out dough and pie crusts. However keep in mind that the ideal material for the kitchen is granite. Marble pieces that have a honed finish will not etch because their surfaces start out with a matte finish.

Because marble (and limestone) are calcium carbonate, the polished surface is more vulnerable to household acids including vinegar, mustard, ketchup, citrus and a host of other food-related products. These acidic substances cause a chemical reaction that will remove the polish.

What is marble?2021-01-01T10:20:41-08:00

It is a natural stone formed from fossil sediment deposits, which have been placed under the earth with tremendous pressure.  The combination of the natural materials in these deposits, along with natural geologic events, produces unique veining with a richness of depth and intensity. Marble material is generally softer than granite, therefore scratching occurs more so on marble. This characteristic should be considered when making your stone selection.

Generally, marble countertops are recommended for such places as: bathrooms, bar tops, fireplaces, etc; and granite countertops are generally utilized for kitchen countertops. However, if desired, marble can be used for any countertop.

Marble is available in a multitude of colors from light to dark, and generally boasts beautiful flowing veins. This unequalled beauty makes marble a natural choice for countertops, bath vanities, wall and floor tiles or slabs, and tub and fireplace surrounds.

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.

What is etching?2020-12-25T09:21:28-08:00

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

Does green marble countertop require special treatment?2020-12-25T09:20:49-08:00

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.

Can I cut on my granite countertop?2020-12-25T09:12:28-08:00

Yes. However, granite is harder than your knife blades and will dull them quickly, if you use the countertop as a cutting surface. Also, if you do not seal your countertop as required (at least once a year; every 90 days for heavy usage), you could potentially stain them. Never chop on your countertop. While it is unlikely you will damage your granite countertops, it is possible. It′s a reliable routine to always chop on a wooden or plastic cutting board.

What is honed granite?2020-12-25T09:11:28-08:00

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.

What is flamed granite?2020-12-25T09:10:36-08:00

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 for non-slipperiness.

Can granite countertops be damaged?2020-12-25T09:09:29-08:00

Like any solid surface, high impact blows can harm granite countertops. Because of its crystalline structure, it can chip if subjected to sharp hard objects. Unsealed, granite countertops 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 countertops under normal circumstances.

What is granite and what is it usually used for?2020-12-25T09:07:25-08:00

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 very hard minerals such as quarts, feldspar and mica, which are fused together into a very hard stone ideal for kitchen countertops because its polish is resistant to acids such as citrus and vinegar and is hard for resisting scratching from knives, pots and pans.

Granite is commonly used for countertops as well as for floor tiles, wall tiles, other surfaces such as fireplaces, columns, balustrades, water tables, steps, thresholds & windowsills. It′s much harder then marble and can be used for anything in your home or business.

Today′s designers choose granite as the ultimate custom countertop material. Every home magazine features natural stone over other plastic or artificial products. And thanks to our improved fabrication processes, natural stone is also priced competitively with other solid surface alternatives.

Contact us to find out how granite countertops and natural stones in general can enhance your home.

How do you make porcelain countertops shine?2020-12-24T08:51:26-08:00

You can find porcelain countertops that were manufactured specifically with a high-gloss glaze. You can also have an additional high-gloss finish added after manufacturing. Day-to-day cleaning with soap and water will help you retain a blotch-free finish.

How are porcelain countertops made?2020-12-24T08:50:43-08:00

Porcelain countertops are made by exposing ceramic clay, and various minerals such as kaolinite and silica to extremely high temperatures (2200-2650 degrees Fahrenheit). These extremely high temperatures produce a durable countertop that is resistant to scratching, cracking, UV light, and heat.

How durable are porcelain countertops?2020-12-24T08:48:11-08:00

Porcelain countertops are very durable. The manufacturing process results in a countertop that is highly resistant to scratching, heat damage, and cracks.

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