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Granite Counter Top Care: Do’s & Don’ts

Granite counters can be the stunning focal point of your kitchen, but you need to make sure they stay in good condition. That might sound like a tall order, but all you really need to do is learn good habits and avoid the bad ones.

With that in mind, here are all the granite counter care dos and don’ts that you need to take into account.

Granite Counter Care Dos

  • Quickly Blot Up Spills: Acidic substances, such as fruit juice, coffee, wine, and soft drinks, can leave stains of they are allowed to settle.
  • Clean Using a Sponge or Soft Cloth: Combine a natural stone cleaner with a soft cloth or sponge for cleaning. Repeated use of dish soap will dull the shine of your granite.
  • Use Coasters: Place them under all glasses, bottles, and cans. You might have sworn you’d never nag people about coasters, but it’s worth it to protect your counters.
  • Use Trivets and Hot Pads: When you take a pan from the oven or a pot from the stovetop, place it on a trivet or hot pad. Sudden heat can crack granite, though this is rare, and grit that gets trapped between the two can create scratches.
  • Use Cutting Boards: Knives can scratch granite counters, so always use cutting boards instead of cutting right on the counter.
  • Sweep Away Dust Regularly: Dust can cause scratches or stains if a build-up is allowed to be created over your granite counters, so try to keep them dust-free.
  • Use Door Mats, Runners, and Area Rugs: Avoid carrying in dirt, grit, and sand, all of which can cause wear and scratches.

Granite Counter Care Don’ts

  • Use Generic Cleaners: Bleach, de-greases, glass cleaners, these all contain acids, alkalis, and other chemicals that can only serve to damage your granite and make it more vulnerable to staining.
  • Use Vinegar, Ammonia, Lemon or Orange: These might seem relatively innocuous, especially when touted as ‘natural’, but their acidic compounds are awful for your granite counters.
  • Bathroom Cleaners: Bathroom cleaners typically contain abrasive elements. These are perfect for scrubbing stains from a bathtub, but they can scratch and dull your granite counters.
  • Sit or Stand on Them: Granite might be extremely tough, but it isn’t very flexible. Placing your whole weight across a counter could cause a crack.
  • Store Toiletries on the Surface: Perfume, lotions, creams, and hair products – all of them could leak to create nasty stains.

Granite vs. Quartz

Granite and quartz countertops are both derived from natural materials, although quartz countertops will contain manmade elements, and they’re both very popular choices. Maintaining quite a similar appearance and providing homes with the rich, timeless beauty that comes with any stone countertop, it isn’t hard to see why these materials are so widely utilized, but they do have their own separate benefits and drawbacks.

Quartz

Though referred to simply as quartz, quartz countertops will actually be made using a mixture of 93% crushed quartz and 7% resin. The fact that quartz countertops aren’t completely natural turns many buyers away from them, but it is their artificial nature that presents the most compelling benefits.

Because quartz countertops can be manufactured with different colours of resin, you enjoy much greater flexibility when it comes to colouration. Additionally, there will be no imperfections to deal with. Quartz is also completely non-porous, will never require sealing, and is incredibly durable and stain-resistant.

However, quartz is a lot heavier than granite, so expect to pay more for professional installation. It also discolours over time when exposed to direct sunlight, which can be a real problem if only one section of your countertop will be regularly hit by sunlight. Furthermore, the seams between slabs are sometimes easier to see. However, this problem can be greatly mitigated by choosing slabs that are dark and very similar in colour and shading.

Granite

Granite, on the other hand, is a completely natural product that is taken directly from the ground in large chunks before being shaped into slabs. The expense associated with this quarrying and shaping process tends to push the price of granite slabs up compared to quartz, so granite countertops don’t often play well with tighter budgets.

That said, many people prefer the more natural appearance that granite countertops can provide. The stone itself is not quite as hard as quartz, and it will require resealing every two years or so, but it is certainly still durable enough to stand up to everyday use without any breaks or chips unless subjected to particularly heavy abuse.

However, one thing to remember is that it’s almost impossible to hide the seams between stones, although this simply reinforces the natural appearance of granite for many homeowners.

How to Clean Marble Countertops

Marble is used to create some of the most stunningly beautiful countertops around, but it does require a little extra TLC if you want it to remain free of dirt, scuffs, and stains. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of the fact that some cleaning agents and methods can have a negative impact on their marble countertops. To make sure yours stay looking as wonderful as the day they were installed, keep the following points in mind.

Use the Right Cleaning Agents

Marble is closely related to limestone, so it is soft, porous, and quite sensitive to the acids found in wine, citrus fruits, and many everyday cleaning products. Spilling coffee on your marble countertop can cause staining, but using an acidic cleaner can do damage all by itself.

This means that you need to look for pH-neutral cleaning products, although it is easier to simply pick up a specialty marble cleaner. Make sure that it is resistant to grease and water, rinse-free, and able to provide a streak-free finish. Additionally, make sure you read the safety instructions carefully before you use it.

Keep it Regular

When dealing with marble, it is crucial that you clean regularly in order to prevent discoloration and staining. You don’t need to spend hours each day scrubbing away, but you should never let dirt build up.

The best thing to do is commit to a regular cleaning schedule. Take a mild, bleach-free detergent or speciality marble cleaner, then add it to water. Lightly wipe down your countertops, then rinse with clean water and dry them off quickly with a micro-fibre cloth.

Seal It Up

Your marble countertops will probably come pre-sealed, but that seal won’t last forever. This means that you’ll need to commit to resealing every six months or so to ensure that your surfaces remain free from damage. Since countertops are used to make food, you can’t use just any sealant; look for one that has been approved for food preparation areas.

Go Natural

If you need to clean a part of your marble countertop right away in order to avoid staining, just create a quick and easy cleaning product by mixing one-part baking soda to 20-parts water. Wet a cloth with the solution, then apply to the appropriate area. Instead of using an abrasive brush or cloth, simply use increased pressure across stained areas. Leave to dry for 1-2 hours, then rinse with water and dry off with a clean cotton cloth.

7 Top Benefits of a Marble Fireplace

Whether you’re upgrading your current fireplace or adding a whole new one, the material you use is going to be a major concern. There are several available options, but marble normally comes out on top, and here are just seven reasons why.

  1. Stunning Appearance

If you were asked to name a luxurious building material, it’s likely that marble would spring instantly to mind. Valued for thousands of years, it offers an upscale appearance while remaining both inviting and sophisticated. Your fireplace will be a focal point of the room in question, so opting for a superior material makes perfect sense.

  1. Easy to Maintain

Marble fireplaces are far easier to maintain than you probably imagine. Any spilt foods or drinks can be wiped up with a damp washcloth, and even soot will be easily wiped away when dealt with quickly. Other materials require daily attention, but marble is far more convenient.

  1. Range of Options

Marble is just diverse as it is durable. You’ll almost certainly be familiar with the famous pure white marble of ancient statues and monuments, but marble can be quarried from all over the world, and each site brings its own unique colorations.

  1. Resistant to Heat and Fire

Marble is very dense, meaning that it insulates against heat extremely well. Even with a roaring fire going, it will remain comfortably cool to the touch.

  1. Extremely Durable

Marble is softer than many stones; it is this quality that makes it so prized among sculptors. However, it is also far more durable than other fireplace materials. Remember, a fireplace isn’t something that is going to need to resist hard-wearing usage, but it does need to remain looking as good as new for years to come. Marble can offer that kind of longevity.

  1. Fits Diverse Styles

There aren’t many building materials that fit in with all kinds of styles. Quartz, for example, comes with benefits of its own, but it works far better with a clean, modern style than when you’re trying to create a period atmosphere. Whether you’re going for ornate and lavish or keenly minimalist, marble is going to work wonderfully.

  1. Adds Value

With all these benefits in mind, it should come as no surprise to learn that a marble fireplace can add a significant amount of value to your home. When you come to sell, you might just find that it pays for itself.

How to Clean Granite Countertops and Worktops

Granite is an incredibly tough material that is able to last for decades when used for countertops and worktops. However, it isn’t invulnerable to damage, and even using the wrong kind of cleaning agent can have negative consequences. You’ll naturally want to keep your granite countertops looking their best. That doesn’t just mean cleaning– it also means knowing how to clean effectively.

Here are the three steps you need to take.

Step 1: Use the Correct Products

Don’t make the mistake of using abrasive materials or acidic chemicals when you’re cleaning your granite countertops. Granite might be tough, but the wrong products can do far more harm than good.

Luckily enough, there are plenty of specialist granite cleaners available. All you’ll need to do is find one, read the instructions, spray it across your granite countertops, and then wipe it off. Of course, you don’t need to use a specialist granite cleaner every time you use your countertops. A simple micro-fibre cloth and a small amount of water are good enough for everyday use – specialist cleaners only need to be used once or twice each week.

Step 2: Use a Sealer

Granite is a natural product, so it does come with some natural flaws. The most problematic property of granite is that it is slightly porous. It might seem odd to think of that hard, smooth surface as porous, but it contains tiny mineral channels that can be penetrated and stained.

The best way to prevent this from happening is by using a granite sealer. Just make sure you find one with a water-based formula. You’ll have to reseal every year or so, but this will go a long way towards keeping your granite countertops and worktops in like-new condition.

Step 3: Commit to Regular Cleaning

People often think that stone countertops and worktops are resilient enough towards staining and discolouration that they only need to be cleaned once in a blue moon, but this just isn’t the case. As with most other surfaces, the best way to keep granite looking its best is by committing to a regular cleaning schedule.

Taking the time to wipe down your granite countertops and worktops after each use and using a specialist cleaner on a regular basis will pay off in the long run, so make sure you develop a cleaning schedule and stick to it as closely as possible.

Dekton

If you’re looking for worktop materials, you’ve probably encountered granite and quartz. What you might not be aware of is that there is now a whole new product that can unite the benefits of those two materials.

That product is Dekton.

Dekton is made using the same raw materials that make up glass, porcelain, and quartz surfaces. Creating a sophisticated blend of those materials through a state of the art process, Dekton creates something in hours that would have taken mother nature millennia, but it’s also quite distinct from other manmade products.

Those traditional manmade materials tend to use 7% resin to hold themselves together, but Dekton has innovated beyond that method to ensure that it cannot be damaged by the common household chemicals, such as bleach, drain cleaners, and oven degreasers, that are the perennial antagonists of other stone slabs.

What you’re left with is a highly resilient stone that is available in 15 different colours, three thicknesses, and three finishes across three different collections: Solid Collection, Natural Collection and Tech Collection. You can have Dekton almost any way you want it.

Further advantages that come with Dekton include:

  • UV Resistance: When quartz is struck by UV light it tends to discolour, which can leave oddly-coloured patches across the surface. This is not a problem with Dekton, making it ideal for both indoor and outdoor use.
  • Incredibly Scratch-Resistant: With Dekton, you never need to worry about slipping with a knife and causing a deep gouge in the surface of your worktop. In fact, Dekton boasts the most scratch resistant surface on the market.
  • Stain Proof: Some stones, such as marble, are very easy to stain, others, such as granite, are relatively stain-resistant. Dekton accepts nothing less than a completely stain-proof surface. Even the darkest of red wines and coffees can be easily wiped away without any worries of leaving a mark.
  • Highly Resistant to Fire and Heat: When you subject Dekton to extreme temperatures, it can stand up to the heat without taking burns, scorches, or cracks. When you’re carrying a hot pan, just place it right down on your counter without a care.
  • Highly Resistant to Abrasion: Granite used to be unrivalled when it came to resisting abrasion, but Dekton has toppled it from the top spot. Other surfaces might develop wear over time, but even Dekton placed in high traffic areas will last for years without ever requiring resurfacing or refinishing.

Types of Granite Countertops

Granite is sourced for kitchen countertops from locations all over the world, so you can pick up a wide selection of colours to suit the exact style that you’re trying to foster.

The main types of granite used for countertops are Costa Esmeralda, Black Granite, and Bianco Romano.

To help you select the right variety, we’ve created this quick and easy rundown of each option’s properties and how best to utilize them within your current renovation project.

Costa Esmeralda

Costa Esmeralda granite offers homeowners a greater array of hues and colours than either Black Granite or Bianco Romano. Colours range from light grey to blue to green, with blended veins typically running across the surface.

Costa Esmeralda doesn’t provide the same prominent colour contrasts of other marbles, but it does have a charm of its own. Its light and welcoming appearance puts owners in mind of soft rocks rising out of the sea; in fact, it shares its name with a stretch of beaches running along the coast of Mexico. This type of marble tends to work well in kitchens that seek to appear inviting and open.

Black Granite

Black Granite, as the name implies, is pure, dark, and simple. Of course, no granite will ever achieve a complete, unbroken blackness; Black Granite carries shining flecks across its surface. Overall, this is the ideal option if you’re trying to cultivate a bold or minimalist aesthetic within your kitchen.

Black famously matches anything, but Black Granite countertops can seem overbearing if you don’t use them correctly. Complement their style with lots of silver and light grey metals, or contrast with white cabinets. If you run from the homely to embrace sophistication, Black Granite could be right up your alley.

Bianco Romano

Bianco Romano translates simply to Roman White, and the name is a perfect indication of what you will receive. Often mistaken for the lustrous white marble that so defined the ancient city, this is a light granite from Italy; true to its Mediterranean origin, Bianco Romano works well if you’d like your kitchen to appear warm, sunny, and bright. It also makes for easy food prep as ingredients stand out well against it.

For the best results, try combining Bianco Romano with warm-toned cabinets and features; this prevents the room from looking washed out. You can also include secondary colours, such as grey and black.

 

Spruce Up Your Kitchen This Summer with Quartz Worktops

The warm sunshine and long days that come along with summer make it everyone’s favourite time of year, and it also represents the perfect time to take care of some renovation work.

You’ll be able to have tradesmen come and go without tramping rainwater into your home, and there will be no unpleasant breezes coming in as the transformation takes place. Best of all, you’ll be all sorted by the time winter rolls around.

Kitchens are usually the focus of such renovations, and worktops often represent the bulk of the work. When you choose new worktops, one of the first things you’re going to have to decide upon is what kind of material you’d like to use. There are plenty available, from bamboo to granite, but quartz is one of the best.

Here are just a few reasons why quartz has become the go-to material for kitchen worktops all over the country.

Reduced Cost

Keeping to your budget is always going to be important, and quartz can help make that happen. Of course, stone will usually be pricier than other options, but you’ll find the costs associated with quartz far more manageable than those associated with granite and marble.

Styling

One of the most appealing things about quartz is that it isn’t actually a natural product; rather, it is manmade in factories. This means that you can control the colour, texture, and pattern that you’re after, and you don’t have to worry about flaws.

Durability

Quartz counters are made of at least 90% natural quartz mixed with resin binder and colourant. The result is an extremely tough stone that is stronger than either marble or granite. Durable and scratch-resistant, it can take dropped dishes and slipped knives without enduring a dent or a scratch.

Non-Porous

Not all stones are non-porous – many contain small capillary channels between minerals, and this can cause problems. To start with, spilled substances sink into these channels and stain the stone. Furthermore, bacteria can invade and start to make your stone countertop less hygienic. To help prevent this, other stone countertops require regular sealing; quartz countertops do not.

Heat Resistant

You shouldn’t go leaving hot pots and pans directly on the surface of a quartz countertop, but this material does boast an impressive resistance to heat. If you place those pots and pans on a wooden or plastic surface, you’d probably be faced with either a large black scorch mark or a ring of melted plastic.

The Advantages of DEKTON

Glass, porcelain, and quartz surfaces aren’t usually thought of as cutting-edge materials; with Dekton, they are. For the raw materials of those surfaces to be created, we used to need precise conditions, the right materials, and time – thousands of years of time. Employing Dekton technology, we can accomplish in hours what the natural world would realise over millennia.

That process is sintering; the compacting of atoms from different materials by heat and pressure to form one solid piece. Dekton imitates this process using proprietary technology in a state of the art facility that demanded a $172m investment. The raw materials used in the glass, porcelain tiles, and quartz surfaces are created here, and it’s a bold leap forward in terms of more than time. This is a more sophisticated material than couldn’t have been imagined just a few decades ago.

Dekton engineering doesn’t just offer an accelerated version of metamorphic change, it also allows for numerous further advantages. The creation process results in zero porosity and a complete lack of micro-defects. There are no weak spots when you use Dekton. In fact, the material is even more resistant to abrasion than granite, and it will never need to be re-surfaced or re-finished. The slip of a knife won’t cause scratches, and the repeated traffic experienced by well-used sections of flooring won’t make an impact over time.

Even UV rays cannot damage it; you’ll experience zero fading or degradation over time, whether the material is kept inside or out. Staining from even wine, coffee, and rust cannot find a foothold, high temperatures will fail to burn, scorch, or crack, and Dekton’s low coefficient of thermal expansion means that it can’t be shocked by extreme cold.

Beyond the longevity, durability, and versatility that Dekton boasts, it offers a variety of design benefits. Your choices will be unlimited when you come to choose your colour palette. Since it enjoys over 5 times the flexural strength of granite, Dekton can be installed in thinner material over larger spans; you’ll be able to achieve a 12-inch supported overhang on countertops, bar tops, and islands.

Dekton looks like traditional surfaces, but it represents a radical evolution in the way they are made, the way that they function, and the things you can expect from them. With a diverse range of applications and a growing awareness of its advantages, Dekton is becoming increasingly acknowledged as a vital next step forward.

Caring for a stone worktop

If you have invested in a natural stone worktop then you owe it to yourself to take care of it. A stone worktop is a serious investment and you want it to look as good in years to come as it does right now. For that to happen, you need to treat it well, so here is a simple guide to taking care of your worktop.

Caring for quartz

Quartz is the easiest stone to take care of, thanks to its low-absorbent surface material, but like any form of stone it has its own requirements. First of all, don’t put hot pans on it for any length of time and you should really use a heat resistant pad or a trivet to keep pans off the surface. That’s because the resin can melt and pans can easily leave an impression on the surface.

Quartz can also be damaged by strong solvents such as chlorides, triclorethane, paint, permanent inks, nail polish removers and even bleach can damage a quartz worktop. So don’t get too aggressive with the cleaning products.

In fact to clean quartz, a damp cloth will usually do the job and for serious sticky spots you can use a general cleaning solvent. Washing up liquid is normally sufficient, but for extremely stubborn spots you can opt for a non-metallic scouring pad or a steam cleaner.

You can use a blade or putty knife to remove dried on stains, but it’s better to simply deal with problems as they arise and prevent them from leaving serious marks.

Try to avoid serious impacts on the surface, too, as quartz is essentially a powder held together by resin and it can chip or fracture.

Caring for Granite and Marble

Granite and marble are, naturally, exceptionally hard and resilient surfaces that will withstand a good deal of mistreatment. Considering the investment you have made in your worktop, though, it is better not to mistreat it at all.

To clean general marks you can simply use a sponge and washing up liquid, but the trick to maintaining the shine is to dry it properly and to treat it like glass. That does not mean you should clean it with vinegar, though, as the acid can attack the surface and dull your surface. The same goes for lemon juice, wine and even the likes of nail polish remover. Keep them away from your surfaces.

Do not use abrasive cleaners, either. That goes for the cleaning fluids themselves and the pads you might use to clean a worktop. These can leave a permanent impression on the sealant that is used on most granite worktops and kill the shine altogether.

If you encounter a strong dried on stain then you can use fine, 000-grade steel wool, but there are better options. Soapy water and a little elbow grease will break down most dried on strains and a steam mop is another option that will remove almost any stain without opting for the abrasive extensions.

While a granite and marble worktop is resilient to hot pans, it’s still not a good idea to repetitively put hot pans on the same spot. This is the way it works in a kitchen, though, so you would be well-advised to use a heat resistant plate or trivet in any case.

Do not chop food on the granite worktop, too. Technically it works, but the granite can scratch and you will blunt your knives. Even china can scratch the granite if you drag plates across the surface, so be careful.