Marble and granite add a luxurious touch to homes and offices in San Mateo County. These natural stone products bring beauty to kitchens, bathrooms, floors, and throughout the house. Natural stones come in many different colors. Their natural differentiation makes them appealing for a variety of uses across the house. As you admire their beauty, you may want to know a little bit more about them before you invest.
Your marble and granite adventure has two big parts – finding the stone and finding the stone cutter. You may visit a marble and granite shop that both supplies the material and fabricates it. Fabricating refers to cutting and polishing the stone to the customer's specifications. Fabricators are also called installers. Or you may select marble and granite at a warehouse or supply yard and have a fabricator or installer then cut the granite or marble for you and install it. If you do not already have a stone in mind, speak with your fabricator. Often, the fabricator has partnerships with marble and granite suppliers so that you can get a better deal by going through the fabricator. The fabricator will frequently also make the arrangements to move the stone from the supplier to the fabricator. Ask your fabricator or installer how they source stone, what services they offer. Will the installer move the materials to their own shop? Be clear on who is responsible for what.
Use the articles below to understand a bit more about marble and granite and the possibility of using them in your home or office.
How do You Choose the Marble and Granite to Install in Your San Mateo County Home?
You've come to a conclusion – you are going to add marble and granite to your home or office in San Mateo County, whether in Foster City, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Hillsborough, or Pacifica. Your next step is to find the right stone. Your choice may depend in part on the attributes of the stone itself. Granite is the most popular material for countertops. Some of the materials used are not granites as geologists define granite, but they share the same characteristics as true granite. The stones called granite are the hardest type available, which allows them to resist scratches or other abrasions. They are made up of minerals that are not too affected by most household chemicals, though some trace minerals in the granite may be susceptible to some acids.
Marble offers users a number of colors and beautiful veining. Similar stones, serpentines and onyxes also share the same characteristics as marble, though some serpentines are as dense as some granites. Broadly speaking, marbles and associated stones are less strong than granite. Marble will scratch easily. It can be marked by acids, including lemons, vinegar, and tomatoes, as well as by household cleaners. Abrasive cleaners may also scratch or etch marble. If you choose marble, you will want to use cutting boards to protect the surface and non-abrasive cleaners. Some sealants protect the marble from a degree of acidity, but will never completely eradicate the problem. For these reasons, you may be warned away from using marble as a kitchen countertop.
Slate has characteristics found in both marble and granite. It is very resistant to chemicals, but it is softer than granite, which lets it scratch easily. Slate in its natural state does not offer a smooth surface. If you want a smooth slate surface, also called a honed surface, be sure to request it. Like marble, slate requires that you take care to prevent damaging it.
Travertine and limestone can be likened to marble, since they are also calcium-based. This means you can scratch them easily, especially when they have a polished, or shiny, surface. They are also vulnerable to acids and abrasive cleaners. Any calcium-based stone is porous to some degree. These stones absorb water, so a sealant can be applied to help them resist absorbing water.
Stone tiles are an option for those who do not want to work with stone panels. Any stone tiles you choose will share the characteristics and requirements of the stone from which they are made. Also be aware that the grout, epoxy, resin, or plastic sealant used to join tiles or large stone panels will have its own care requirements.
You may fall in love with a beautiful stone immediately. Be sure to inspect it closely, however. Since stone is a natural material, there may be pitting, veining, cracks, mineral deposits, or other characteristics that you do not want. Your supplier should point any distinctive markings in the stone out to you so that you are aware of them. You should also consider that the stone may look different when the stone is in a different position, for example, moved to the horizontal instead of the vertical. More or less light may also affect how predominant the markings are. You should also realize that some prize these vary characteristics – it's really about your sense of style.
Getting Your San Mateo County Home Ready for Marble and Granite Installation
You'll do a good amount of design and planning before installing marble and granite in your San Mateo County home, whether in San Mateo, Redwood City, South San Francisco, San Bruno, Palomar Park, or Daly City. You'll need to have your layout down and know where fixtures are going. You should know what appliances, including sinks, will be in place along with the marble and granite. You need to know the type of sink, as well. A top-mounted sink will place a load on the countertop, since the rim sits on the countertop. A bottom-mounted sink may be supported by a subtop or may be attached to the underside of the stone counter. When the sink is especially heavy, for example, a cast iron sink, subtops or additional supporting material may be required. You also need to figure out any other appliances you want to set into the countertop, so that cutouts can be designed to accommodate those appliances. You should know where everything will be placed, and you should have the layout of your kitchen.
Starting with a rough sketch of your room's layout can be useful so that your marble and granite installer gets a good sense of the project. Before your actual design is complete, however, the project space will be measured by a technician from the supplier or fabricator. The space must be in a certain state of completeness before the measuring can occur. Let's examine a kitchen, for example. The cabinet doors and hardware must be installed, as well as the end panels. Electrical outlets and plumbing outlets must be roughed in, at very the least. The sink and cook top should be in place or should be available for measurement, if they will be installed after the countertop. If you want a full-height splash, the exhaust vent should be installed or available for measurement. If the refrigerator will be affected by the countertop, it should be installed or available for measurement.
The marble and granite installer will use the technician's measurements for the project and incorporate the measurements into the shop drawing. The shop drawing shows where the stone will be placed, where the seams will be, and what any corners and edges will look like. The shop drawing depicts the final room, so this is the time to ask all your questions, especially about items like seam placement, placement of sink cutouts, etc., and any other detail that will affect the final outcome of the project. The shop drawing will show the final product, so be sure it represents what you want. The marble and granite installer should ask you to approve the shop drawing once it is final. Once the shop drawing is complete, some fabricators go on to make a template, or pattern, that will be used to cut the stone.
The next step is to use the template, the shop drawing, or other design aids to decide how to cut your piece of stone. You should be present for this process. Especially if your material is very highly variegated, you will want some voice in which pieces are used where, and how the pieces fit together. Most good shops request that you be there when it comes to matching the stone placement to the shop drawing or template. You should ask to be present if shop does not invite you.
Designing Using Marble and Granite in Your San Mateo County Home
You will have a number of design decisions to make. If you are installing countertops, you will be asked to choose an edge design. Edges can be handled as simple squares, or as fancy curved pieces. Your edge selection will also be one of the biggest factors when it comes to the cost of your stone. Your fabricator should be able to show you many edge designs to choose from. Sometimes, pieces come from suppliers with edges already on them. Make sure you know what kind of edge you want and speak with your fabricator about who will create the edge. Keep in mind that the thinner the edge, the more susceptible it is to chipping, especially with the more fragile stones. Besides edges, you'll also have to decide if you want a polished surface – one that is smooth and shiny – or a honed surface. A honed surface is smooth but not shiny.
Some technical details of installing marble and granite in your home in San Mateo County, whether in Redwood City, South San Francisco, San Mateo, Daly City, San Bruno, or East Palo Alto, require attention. Seam placement, which is also called joinery layout, is particularly important. Where the seams fall makes a great deal of difference to how the installed stone looks. Your fabricator should be able to show samples or pictures of different seam placement and help you place your seams for the best appearance for your space.
Stone is heavy, and it may be supporting other fixtures, too, so it needs proper support. The stone industry has standards defining the support, or framing, required. For example, if your stone panel is three-quarters of an inch thick, it can only run a maximum of two feet between supports, while with one and one-quarter inch thick stone, the supports can be three feet apart. Sometimes, the countertop extends beyond the edge of the cabinets underneath it. This is called a cantilever. The cantilever must not be greater than one-third the width of the countertop. For stone that is three-quarters of an inch thick, the cantilever may not be longer than six inches. The cantilever should not be longer than 10 inches for stone that is one and one-quarter of an inch thick. For fragile stones and cantilevers that exceed these guidelines, you may have to install corbels to prop up the cantilever.
In some cases, you may need an additional substrate, or support layer, for example for extra heavy stone, for fragile stone, or for heavy appliances like a cast-iron sink. For countertops, the underlying support structure is called a subtop. The subtop helps support the weight of appliances, of the stone itself, or supports a fragile stone. Any countertop made of stone tile must have a subtop of cementicious backer board or exterior-grade plywood. Subtops for stone panel countertops may be made of marine-grade plywood, exterior-grade plywood, furring strips, or medium-density particle board.
When It's Time to Install Marble and Granite in Your San Mateo County Home
The day has come. You're installing the marble and granite in place in your San Mateo County home, whether in San Mateo, Redwood City, San Bruno, Daly City, or South San Francisco. Make sure you've taken a few sensible precautions. Don't have people working on other parts of the house if those people will be in the way of the marble and granite installers. You should make sure that the plumbing fixtures and electrical outlets are at least roughed in. Make sure cabinets and their hardware are installed if you are working in a kitchen or bathroom on countertops. Make sure that workers can move through clear paths in your home – stone is heavy!
A dry run is a good sign that you've found a good marble and granite installer. In a dry run, the stone is put in place with no adhesives or joining materials. Once the stone is properly in place and approved, the actual installation can take place. There are some things you need to be aware of before the final installation. For example, the stone industry has guidelines about levelness. The countertop must be level. The installation team may use a shim, made of wood or plastic, to help level the countertop. Alternatively, the installation team may also use filler material, such as epoxy or polyester resin, to "hard pack" the countertop so that it is level. The final installed countertop should be level. You should also check that the stone thickness itself does not vary by more than an eighth of an inch across the length of the countertop.
The stone industry offers standards and tolerances for putting in stone. These standards include joint widths, filler heights, and lippage. Seams, or joints, are where two pieces come together. Their width should not exceed the standard, and they should be filled with an approved sealant. The sealant typically should come to the level of the top surface. Lippage refers to when two stones are placed next to each other and are uneven. There should be no lippage at the front and rear edges of a countertop. Lippage may not be avoidable in other places due to the natural variation of stone. In all cases, you should know the defined tolerances for seam widths. Pay special attention to seams where two different kinds of material come together. You should know the standards for how much stone thickness can vary, and for the levelness of the countertop. In some cases, the standards cannot be achieved. In such a case, you should give written permission to not follow the standards.
Stone tiles have their own set of standards and concerns. For example, the edge of stone tiles on a countertop may be finished with stone, wood, or metal. When stone is used, the stone should extend down the front of the underlying cabinets to help limit stress on the join. This structure is referred to as an apron, when the stone covers the top of the front of the cabinets where they meet the countertop. Also watch your stone tile installer to be sure they use the "back-buttering" technique. Stone tiles are set in a bed of setting material. In addition, some of the setting material must also be applied to the back of the stone tile, so that the complete tile surface is sure to adhere. Check to see that the installer uses two passes, going north-south, then east-west, so that the entire tile back is covered.
A dry-run is even more important if you use tiles. Stone tiles vary in color, so you should have the tiles laid without adhesives and approve the layout before they are actually installed. If the stone tile is of a fragile material, the installer might adhere a fiberglass mesh to the back of the tile. If this fiberglass mesh is installed, an epoxy-based thin-set compound is usually used instead of a Portland-cement-based thin-set.
Do You Need to Reinforce the Marble and Granite in Your San Mateo County Home?
Your San Mateo County home or office may need addition reinforcing techniques applied when marble and granite are installed. Reinforcing may be especially applicable where you have a large cutout, for example, for a sink. One technique is to apply fiberglass mesh. The mesh is usually applied at the fabricator's shop. Another techniques is to use liner blocks of some stone material to support seams or other places where needed. A rod may be used when there are narrow strips of stone. A groove is carved in the underside of the stone. This groove, or kerf, then receives a metal rod or fiberglass rod that is surrounded with epoxy or polyester resin. The metal provides greater resistance against bowing than the stone. In a spline technique, a slot is cut into the adjoining sides of two pieces of stone. A metal key, for example, a washer, is then placed in one piece of the stone, with the washer extending half-way out. The adjacent stone's slot is then slipped over the protruding washer, so that the stones are held together by the metal key in the slots. The washer or other key is surrounded by polyester or epoxy resin.
To Seal or not to Seal the Marble and Granite in Your San Mateo County Home
The marble and granite have been installed in your San Mateo County home or office, whether in Redwood City, South San Francisco, Daly City, San Bruno, or San Mateo. The adhesives have cured. Now, it's time to apply any sealant you may have decided on to the countertops or floors. Sealers can help marbles or similar stones resist acids, but they will not totally insulate the stones. In effect, sealant on any surface is basically an added layer to help protect the surface. The sealant is there to take the brunt of abrasion and acids. Given its use, it makes sense to replace sealants on a regular basis. A sealant alternative, an impregnator is designed to prevent liquid from leaching into the stone. An impregnator is less likely to change the stone's appearance because the impregnator goes beneath the surface. A water-based impregnator is called hydrophobic, while an oil-based impregnator is oleophobic. Replace impregnators as recommended by the manufacturer.
When Marble or Granite in Your San Mateo County Home Needs Help
On occasion, the marble and granite in your San Mateo County home, whether you live in San Bruno, Redwood City, San Mateo, or South San Francisco, might sustain some damage. There are a few things you can do. Cracks and fissures are both cases where the stone breaks. Cracks are manmade, and fissures are natural. Chips occur when little pieces are broken off the edges. You may try to repair fissures, cracks, or chips by filling them with epoxy or polyester resin. Sometimes the resin is dyed to match the stone, but it often looks better if not dyed. Once the resin is cured, the stone is buffed. Often, the entire stone has to be rebuffed. If the crack or chip cannot be repaired, the stone may need to be replaced. Pitting is a naturally occurring phenomenon in stone. The pits do not affect the granite's durability, and they do not qualify the stone for replacement. It's usually recommended that you do not attempt to fix the pits.
Some Concerns About Resin-Impregnated Stone
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Be cautious if you are offered resin-impregnated stone. Resin is applied to a stone in an attempt to make the stone look better and address any pits, cracks, or fissures. The resin will be applied by the time you are choosing the stone – whether in a yard or at the fabricator's. You can often tell if a stone has been treated with resin by looking at the edges of the stone for excess resin. Be aware of a few issues with resin-impregnated stone. The resin may darken the stone's color. This means that the edge of such a countertop will be lighter in color than the rest of the countertop, because the resin is only on the top and bottom surfaces. Resin may mask fissures or other structural characteristics of the stone, making it hard to determine if the stone is structurally sound. Resins can change colors when exposed to ultraviolet light, making it unsound for exterior application. And resins may interact with sealants to form a blotchy or cloudy appearance.