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June 2nd, 2011 (no comments)

Granite Countertops Dallas: recommended contractors

If you live in the DFW metroplex and you are thinking about a bathroom or a kitchen remodel and you are considering granite countertops, marble vanity tops or natural stone tile, you’ve come to the right place. We want to recommend you several countertop and tile contractors in Dallas that will deliver outstanding value for your money. If you are looking for a unique look and a dazzling design, please take a look at our top three luxury granite countertop contractors in Dallas. If you are on tight budget but still want to enjoy the beauty of natural stone in your home, check out our top three budget granite countertop contractors.

- Top three luxury granite countertop contractors in Dallas & Fort Worth:

Infinity Granite & Marble Design – 3045 Park Ln, Dallas, TX

Infinity Granite & Marble offers an excellent quality and a very professional and helpful service at competitive prices. Despite building high-quality granite countertops, marble vanity tops or any other natural stone application, its prices are very competitive. This contractor’s service is everything a customer hopes for: very personal (instead of trying to oversell, they help you stay within your budget), reliable, fast (the whole process takes about a week but the installation typically only one day), clean and responsive. Learn more about this contractor.

Onis Stone - 1116 E Vickery Blvd, Fort Worth, TX

For over 17 years, Onis Stone has worked on natural stone projects for some of the most recognizable homeowners and businesses in the DFW area. This contractor draws from its extensive experience to assist its clients in the design and the material selection phases to ensure they absolutely fall in love with their new kitchens of bathrooms. Onis Stone always pursues its customers utmost satisfaction by providing them with the highest quality and a great service based on honesty and integrity. Learn more about this contractor.


Absolute Stone Fabricators – 1130 Dragon St 150, Dallas, TX

Absolute Stone Fabricators is a high-end contractor that has been crafting fine granite countertops and other stone applications in the DFW area for almost two decades. The firm regularly assists its customers in the design process either directly or by working closely with their designers. It provides expert advice on surface options as well as post-installation stone care and maintenace. Absolute Stone Fabricators offers best-in-class service centered around the customer’s needs, focusing on reliability and a quick turnaround. Learn more about this contractor.

- Top three budget granite countertop contractors in Dallas & Fort Worth:

DFW Granite – Bickham Rd, Dallas, TX

DFW Granite offers competitive prices, very good quality and great service. Given their high volumes, they can quote lower prices without compromising the quality of their work. They are used to working with any type of stone and any application (vanity tops, floor tile, walls, backsplashes…) but their specialty are granite countertops. DFW has been garnering thousands of happy customers all over the DFW Metroplex due to its focus on serving and keeping the customer informed. Learn more about this contractor.

Granite Countertop Outlet – 10655 King William Dr, Dallas, TX

Granite Countertop Outlet’s value proposition is based on offering almost unbeatable prices. They have been fabricating granite countertops in Dallas for many years and they have a very good reputation in the market. If you are looking for low budget granite countertops and you want to make sure they are done right, Granite Countertop Outlet is your contractor. Learn more about this contractor.

Texas Marble & Granite Services – 3215 Oradell Ln, Dallas, TX

Texas Marble & Granite combines good quality results with a very quick turnaround to offer cheap granite countertops in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metro Area. The firm is very reliable and fast; you’ll have a great looking granite countertop in less than a week for a very good price. They are very conscious about keeping its customers’ houses clean while they work and they are very professional. Learn more about this contractor.

May 9th, 2011 (1 comment)

How to Choose Granite for Your Kitchen or Bathroom

In recent years, natural stone has become much more affordable for even ordinary houses. In fact, it is easy to go to your local Home Depot or Lowe’s and find a big slab of granite and out front as an inducement to purchase granite countertops in your kitchen. Some tips that will be helpful.

Granite Is Not Always Though

Although it is true that granite does a fairly good job of resisting staining, however still it is porous and does require frequent sealing. Granite is as dense as vitreous tile, so both have the same properties with respect to heat and water.

Granite Strength Ratings

One thing to note about purchasing granite for kitchen or bathroom is that natural stone does not receive strength ratings like manufactured ceramic tiles do. So granite does vary in strength. That is why you will typically find thicker granite tiles then you will find with ceramic tiles—usually 3/8 inch thick or even thicker.

Granite Installation

One nice thing about granite installation is that’s possible to install a granite countertop using 12 inch square tiles, rather than single slabs of granite. It does not look as good as the continuous slab, but you save tremendous sums of money on the professional installation.

Another positive about granite countertop installation is that you don’t have to use thinset mortar or grout. Simply lay the tile close together on clear silicone caulk. When finished, apply sealer across the entire surface (you may need to apply several coats to fill all cracks).

Some links that can help:

May 9th, 2011 (734 comments)

Cleaning Care and Repair Marble Stone

Marble is stone that is generally polished and used in fine building work, furniture, or decorative art. It may be white or colored. It is porous, and easily stained. Marble is etched by acids. Wipe off anything spilled on marble immediately, as you would on a wood surface. Avoid setting beverage glasses directly on marble as they leave rings.

Regular Cleaning

Occasionally wash marble surfaces with lukewarm water and wipe dry with a clean cloth. Wiping surface with a damp chamois will not leave streaks. Once or twice a year, depending on soil, wash with a mild detergent solution (hand dish-washing detergent and warm water), rinse and wipe dry.

A light coat of wax will protect the surface of marble but is not considered essential. Use colorless wax. Don’t wax white marble as it may tend to yellow it. A marble sealer can be applied to clean marble, which will protect from staining and allow soil to be wiped off with a damp cloth.

Marble Stone Bathroom

Special Cleaning

Marble which has become dull can be livened up by using a commercial marble cleaner and polish. Buy from a company that sells marble. Companies generally carry imported polish-cleaners, which are used on softer imported marbles and hence safe for the harder U.S. marble. They work faster and easier than the old “marble care kits” which used to be distributed by marble companies.

Putty powder (tin oxide) can be used to polish dulled or etched surfaces, rubbing on with a damp cloth, folding and refolding to clean damp areas, and preferably using an electric polisher for buffing. However it’s very hard to find. Severely damaged surfaces, scratched or etched, can be polished by a business making and selling tombstones or other marble products.

Stain Removal

Make a poultice from white absorbent material such as a napkin, blotter, paper towel or facial tissue, dampened with the chemical recommended below to dissolve that stain; or mix whiting with that chemical to make a soft paste to cover the stain. The poultice should be left on the stain from 1 hour up to 48 hours, depending on the age and depth of the stain. Plastic wrap, held in place by masking tape, can be put over the poultice to keep it damp; otherwise it will have to be re-dampened with the chemical periodically. Mix only enough poultice for immediate use; mix a second batch later if another application is needed.

Organic Stains: Tea, coffee, colors bleached from paper, textiles or soft drinks. Make poultice soaked with 20 percent peroxide (hair bleaching strength) and a few drops of ammonia.

Oil Stains: Oil stains may include butter, hand cream or lotion. As soon as possible, spread surface with an absorbent fine powder such as whiting or even corn starch. After short time brush to remove and reapply more powder. Let stand 24 hours. To remove: Scrub with hot, sudsy (detergent) solution and stiff brush. Or wipe with ammonia-dampened cloth. In either case, then rinse and wipe dry. If these alkaline solutions don’t remove all the oil, you can try a solvent. Make a poultice dampened with acetone or amyl acetate (available at drug stores), or with home dry cleaning fluid. Use good ventilation with windows open to remove fumes, do not use near spark or flame, and do not leave on too long.

Rust Stains: Usually the result of metal items such as a lamp, metal container in which plant is placed etc. Use a commercial rust stain remover. Follow directions exactly and do not leave on surface very long as acid in many rust removers can etch the surface.

Acids Fruit juice, carbonated beverages or other acids will etch (remove shiny surface) if allowed to remain on marble. Wipe up acid spill immediately, and wipe surface with wet cloth. If surfaced is etched, polishing may be required.

Source: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/marble#ixzz11qcmwI2Z

May 9th, 2011 (11 comments)

Natural stone brings unique beauty to your home

Nature is what gives natural stone its beauty

Granite, marble, travertine and other popular natural stones are not man-made; they are extracted from quarries all over the world after millions of years of formation. All that man does in the process is cutting it, polishing its rough finish and sometimes adding resin to cover the pores to maximize its performance.

Marble Quarry

Natural stone brings uniqueness to your kitchen

Each piece of stone is unique because it was uniquely made by nature as opposed to an industrial manufacturing process (as it is the case for engineered quartz stone). This implies that your countertop will never look exactly the same as you neighbors’ or anybody else’s even if it was extracted from the same quarry. In the case of exotic stones, the difference between products from the same quarry can be absolutely dazzling.

Fusion Quartzite

Fusion Quartzite Green

There are so many that you’ll always find a stone that will make your kitchen or bath breathtaking

With thousands of different natural stone quarries all over the world, nature gives us an almost unlimited range of colors and patterns to choose from. Mistones.com is a great guide to assist you in selecting from all these options. We let you explore as many as you want (we almost have 2,000 different colors for your to pick from) but we also guide in you in the process because we know it can get overwhelming and a bit stressful. Our goal is to help you find the best stone for your home!

Veins and other so-called “defects” are what make natural stone uniquely beautiful

Part of that uniqueness are the veins, fissures, pits or spots characteristic of some stones. These features should not be regarded as defects because they are precisely what makes stone unique and provide it with character and personality. In fact, stones that tend to present some of these characteristics tend to be much more expensive than the more standard ones that don’t.

Veins are lines of different sizes (thick or thin, long or small) that present a different color from the ones that prevail on the rest of the stone surface. These lines make stone a piece of art because they enrich the stone which, as a result, highlights its presence in the room (in a good way if combined properly with the other elements: kitchen cabinets, floor, sinks, etc.). However, while looking at a slab for a countertop, it is usually important to make sure that the veins are consistent across the slab and that they don’t concentrate on one side. In other words, when you chose a slab for your countertop you need to make sure that it cannot be divided into two highly differentiated sides unless your fabricator assures you that he can work around that given the layout of your kitchen. The reason behind this is simple: you don’t want your countertop to look as if it had been made with two completely different stones.

Fissures also occur naturally in many stone types. Since granite is composed by a mix of different minerals, some are not as strong as others and break. These fissures can in many cases be fixed during the production process making the affected area as strong as the rest.

Pits are holes in the surface of the slab that usually appear when the polishing heads go over small areas filled with sand or other easily removable materials. If the material is properly worked, those holes should be filled and they should’t be a problem for the product’s performance on your countertop or vanity top.

Cracks, on the other hand, are originated by misshandling the slab or tile. This can actually be considered a defect which, opposite to what you may think might work as an advantage to you. Your fabricator may be able to work around the crack given the layout of your countertop or vanity top. Make sure to ask the fabricator to apply the discount to your final price!

Natural stone is the only product that will give a unique look to your kitchen, bathroom or floor and that will give you enough options to make sure you find exactly the color that matches your expectations.

May 9th, 2011 (2 comments)

Kozmus granite problems

I was one of the first to import Kozmus granite into the United States a few years ago. Black granites where very popular but also very plain. I bet on Kozmus because it wasn’t bit less elegant than your average indian black and yet it had a lot more personality and richness with its golden and silver tones mingled with that deep black. I was also one of the first to learn about the issues fabricators encountered when they started working with this stone.

As most Brazilian black granites, Kozmus can be scratched with steel or iron and other elements that are typically softer than granite. But the main problem comes from the material’s composition. Some parts of the stone (the silver looking areas) are very soft and they flake when the fabricator cuts the slab across those areas or when he polishes the parts of the edges with that silver component.

Fabricators therefore, often try to persuade their customers not to choose this granite by either telling them about the issues or, more likely, by marking up the price of the slab and/or the job to cover for the extra time and the risk of having to replace the slab because a it fell apart.

If you really like Kozmus granite and you think it would look terrific as your kitchen counter, I recommend that you spend a little time trying to find the right fabricator. Experienced and skilled fabricators will know how to properly cut, polish and install Kozmus in your kitchen without too much pain. But quality fabricators are usually not the cheapest in town. My experience with fabricators is that most of the time you get what you pay for; with Kozmus granite even more so.

May 9th, 2011 (1 comment)

Stone bookmatch

A bookmatch is a way of displaying stone slabs or tile by which at least two pieces are symmetrically placed one next to the other. Here’s a good example:

Bookmatch

This is a very popular way of displaying expensive marbles, onyxes, quartzites and some granites. The reason is simple: they look much better! They are typically stones with strong veins and lines that, when bookmatched, create very geometric patterns that make your floor, walls or countertops much more interesting. Statuary white, a very exclusive white marble quarried in Carrara (Italy), really shows its beauty when bookmatched:

Bookmatch

Not every stone can be bookmatched. Apart from the fact that some stones are two plain to be bookmatch (you wouldn’t even notice it), the factory that cuts and polishes the stone, needs to change the process when it wants the slab to bookmatch. Instead of polishing the same face of each slab, it needs to alternate for them to bookmatch. This obviously implies an extra cost for the factory, so it’s only done with expensive stones that, given their naturally formed veins and lines, look beautiful bookmatched.

Our recommendation: when you are shopping for stone tile or slabs, ask the sales person at your distributor to tell which stones they have available for bookmatch.

May 9th, 2011 (1 comment)

Going exotic: exotic granite vs. basic granite

Amongst stone industry professionals, we tend to classify granite into two clearly differentiated groups: basic and exotic.

Basic granite relates to all those types of granite that present a very homogeneous pattern with little movement. Typically similarly sized dots or spots evenly spread over a consistent color background. The price of these granites is at the low end of the spectrum due to their abundance and lack of exclusivity. Because of their consistency and low price, they are preferred for large projects (they were extremely popular when track homes where being built).

Some of the best selling basic granites include: Santa CeciliaVerde UbatubaTropic Brown, and New Venetian Gold.

Exotic granites are the maximum expression of nature’s work in the natural stone world. Exotic granites are as unpredictable as a modern painting. Mixing several different colors, with lots of movement and veins combining several backgrounds. Choosing an exotic granite ensures your countertop will be unique. Exotic granite is more expensive than basic granite because it is much more exclusive and, in many cases, supply is very limited.  However, since the price of granite is typically only about 25% to 30% of the total price you will pay for your countertop (the rest are fabrication and installation fees), the difference in price between a basic and an exotic stone is much smaller than it seems.

Let me use an example to explain that the difference in the final price of your countertop will not be what you expect. Lets assume we have a good size kitchen with an island that will need you to purchase about 100 sqft. of granite. If we choose a basic $10 per square foot granite, the price of the kitchen countertop will be about $4,000 ($1,000 for the two slabs of granite and $3,000 for the fabrication and installation). If we choose a $20 per square foot exotic granite instead, the price of the countertop will be $5,000 ($2,000 for the granite and $3,000 for the labor). So, for only 25% more, you can get a granite 100% more expensive, much more exclusive and unique.

Some examples of the best selling exotic granites include: Mascarello, Lapidus, Magma Gold, Kozmus, and Typhoon Bordeaux.

Basic granites are cheaper and more consistent. Exotic granites are more expensive, more beautiful, more exclusive and unique. The price difference between a basic and an exotic granite countertop is not that large. Why not go exotic?

May 9th, 2011 (365 comments)

Granite Colors: Brown Granite

Brown granite is one of the most popular choices in America for kitchen countertops. The reason is quite simple: brown combines great with wood so, matching it with your cabinets or you kitchen floor becomes an easy task. Most brown granites are therefore a safe choice that will make your kitchen look warm and elegant.

Here are is my selection of 10 types of brown granite that will really enhance your kitchen.

1. Tropic Brown Granite

Tropic Brown is a basic granite quarried in Najran, Saudi Arabia. It combines brown crystals with black crystals. The brown spots can range from a lighter greenish brown to a darker almost reddish brown. Tropic Brown is one of the most popular granites in America. Once extracted from the quarry, the blocks used to be sent all over the world to be cut (Italy, Spain, India and especially China). Now, after a plant was opened in Saudi Arabia, it is mostly produced there. Here are a couple pictures of Tropic Brown countertops. To see more click here:

Granite Tropic Brown Kitchen

2. Baltic Brown Granite

Baltic Brown is a basic granite quarried in Finland. It combines circular light brown spots of different sizes with smaller brown and sometimes dark green spots over a black background. There are several quarries of this granite in Finland, the tone and distribution of the spots will change from quarry to quarry. The most popular and most expensive Baltic Brown type is the one coming from the “Palin Granit Oy” quarry in Ylamaa because it presents the darkest brown spots, the cleanest patterns and the least amount of green. You should be aware that some factories artificially enhance the brown spots of lighter Baltic Brown types applying colored resins on the surface of the slab during the production process. An easy way to spot this is by looking at the edge of the slab to see if there are any suspicious tone variations. Here are a couple pictures of Baltic Brown countertops. To see more click here:

Granite Baltic Brown Bathroom

3. Tan Brown Granite

Tan Brown is a basic granite quarried in Karimnagar, India. It presents faded brown spots over a black background with different micro gray lines and spots. The tone of the brown spots will change considerably depending of the quarry it was extracted from. The darker brown quarries are more popular than the lighter ones. Here are a couple pictures of Tan Brown countertops. To see more click here:

Granite Tan Brown Kitchen

4. Labrador Antique Granite

Labrador Antique is a beautiful granite quarried in Norway. It cannot be considered an exotic stone because it is fairly consistent but it is much more exclusive and varied than a basic stone. It combines iridescent (reflecting light) blue mica spots with black areas over a grained light brown background. A true jewell for your kitchen countertop! Here are a couple pictures of Labrador Antique countertops. To see more click here:

Granite Labrador Antique Kitchen

5. Brown Antique Granite

Brown Antique or Antique Brown is quarried in Angola. It combines large brown crystals of different tones, some of them iridescent. Depending on the quarry, it can present golden flakes and/or long white veins. Marron Cohiba is often considered a part of the Antique Brown family; it is darker almost black looking brown with slightly smaller crystals. Marron Cohiba is less likely to have fissures and it is sold in larger slabs. It’s hard to top the elegance of an Antique Brown leather finish countertop. Here are a couple pictures of Antique Brown countertops. To see more click here:

Granite Brown Antique Kitchen

May 9th, 2011 (1 comment)

Granite Colors: Gold Granite

The top two best selling granites in the United States are part of the gold granite (or yellow granite) family. Gold granite is extremely popular because it is a warm and conservative color that combines very well with almost any type of environment.

Here are is my selection of 10 types of gold granite that will really enhance your kitchen.

1 Santa Cecilia Granite

Santa Cecilia is a basic granite quarried in Brazil. Hundreds of small dark spots over a yellow background give Santa Cecilia a very nice leopard skin look. The background tone can range from a lighter yellow to a darker even orange tone depending on the quarry. Santa Cecilia is the best selling granite in the United States due to its incredible consistency, the beauty of its pattern, its abundant supply and its low price. Here is a picture of a Santa Cecilia countertop. To see more click here:

2 New Venetian Gold Granite

New Venetian Gold (or Ouro Brasil as it is called in its native country) is a basic granite quarried in Brazil. The background displays a combination of yellow crystals and small white areas. Dark brown small spots are what give this stone its character. Unlike Santa Cecilia, New Venetian Gold countertops might present naturally formed veins or even spots typical of the original Ouro Brasil quarry in the Brazilian state of Espirito Santo. As a typical basic, New Venetian Gold is fairly consistent, easy to find in any local distribution center and very affordable. Here is a picture of a New Venetian Gold countertop. To see more click here:

3 Giallo Ornamental

Giallo Ornamental is a basic granite quarried in Brazil. It presents the same type of pattern as Santa Cecilia and New Venetian Gold over a lighter yellow and even creamy background. Giallo Ornamental is an extremely popular choice for granite countertops across the nation but it is specially demanded in areas where a cooler look is preferred. There are several quarries but the one preferred by the American market is the mountain owned by Guidoni form which the “Guidoni Giallo Ornamental” is extracted. Here is a picture of a Giallo Ornamental countertop. To see more click here:

4 Magma Gold Granite

Magma Gold is an exotic granite quarried in Brazil. This granite was originally introduced into the US market in 2007 under the name of Sedna. The name was quickly changed by a leading Italian factory that bought part of the quarry’s production and started cutting and polishing the stone in Italy. Magma Gold presents a very unique pattern: large gold veins move across a black background. These veins can show a stronger tone or a lighter one. The price of this granite is pretty high even for an exotic stone but it is well worth it because nature ensures that your countertop will be unique. The only thing you need to be aware of when picking out the slabs, is that the placement of the veins is balanced across the slab. This is, if you cut the slab in half, you don’t want one half to be almost black and the other almost gold. Here is a picture of a Magma Gold countertop. To see more click here:

5 Typhoon Bordeaux

Typhoon Bordeaux is an exotic granite quarried in Brazil. There are two varieties of this stone depending on which side of the quarry it is extracted from. The blocks taken from the upper side of the quarry have been more exposed to oxidation and, therefore, they present gold veins. The stone extracted from this side of the quarry is commonly known as Golden Typhoon Bordeaux. This granite is a real piece of art made by nature. A unique combination of cream, white, grey, bordeaux and gold will give your kitchen an exquisit look. Supply of this stone is limited but it is worth looking around town for it is not that hard to find. Here is a picture of a Typhon Bordeaux countertop. To see more click here:

December 9th, 2010 (5 comments)

Granite Colors: Green Granite

Green granite is a very popular choice in America because it can bring the freshness of nature to any kitchen. From more sober tones to the most exotic patterns that will fill your kitchen with the charm and beauty of a Brazilian forrest.

Here is my selection of 10 types of green granite that will really enhance your kitchen.

1. Verde Ubatuba Granite

Verde Ubatuba or Green Ubatuba is a basic granite quarried in Brazil. Dark green crystals consistently spread over the slab combining with golden flakes. These crystals range in size depending on the quarry; the amount of golden flakes ranges to. This granite is blue when it’s first extracted from the quarry but, with exposure to the sun and oxidation during the cutting process, it starts developing a gold tone that, combined with blue gives Ubatuba its genuine green tone. The only issue you need to look out for when you pick the slabs are small golden “hairs” that could lead to fissures when the slab is cut. Below is a picture of an Ubatuba countertop. To see more click here.

2. Peacock Green

Peacock Green is a basic granite quarried in Brazil. Coming from the same family of Ubatuba and Green Butterfly, it presents the same dark green crystals with a touch of gold. The main difference between Ubatuba and Peacock is the size of the green crystals; Peacock’s are larger. Green Butterfly is different because it also includes numerous white spots all over the slab. The most beautiful peacock green is quarried and manufactured by Marbrasa in the town of Cachoeiro de Itapemirim, in the Brazilian state of Espirito Santo. Below is a picture of a Peacock Green countertop. To see more click here.

3. Sea Foam Green

Sea Foam Green is an exotic stone quarried in brazil. This stone is extremely unique and somewhat hard to find. There are only a few factories in Brazil that produce it. This means that very few wholesalers in your area will carry it in stock. Green crystals of different tones combine with small darker spots along with large washed out areas that used to be holes in the slab but have been carefully filled and repaired by the factory. The tone ranges from a more pure green tone to a yellowish green. The slabs are typically not very impressive but, once they have been installed, Sea Foam Green countertops look majestic. If you really want to have a stunningly beautiful countertop try the leather or satin finish. Below is a picture of a Sea Foam Green countertop. To see more click here.

4. Costa Esmeralda

Costa Esmeralda is an exotic granite manufactured in Italy. Yellowish green veins move across a light green background combined with white areas. Costa Esmeralda has been a popular choice for American kitchens for a decade because it rests on the more conservative side of the exotic granite spectrum. Elegant and unique at the same time. Below is a picture of a Costa Esmeralda countertop. To see more click here.

5. Labradorite Blue Australe

Labradorite Blue Australe is a super exotic granite quarried in the African island of Madagascar but masterfully manufactured by the best Italian factories. Large iridescent blue flakes on top of mystic combination of greens that give a unique sense of depth to this granite. Ideal for the luxurious ambiences, Labradorite Blue Australe’s breathtaking beauty won’t leave anyone indifferent. Below is a picture of a Labradorite Blue countertop. To see more click here.