Here is a helpful guide to shopping for natural stone countertops.
Buying stone may be a little overwhelming at times, but the process is quite simple. Different varieties of stones are quarried from all over the world, where they are cut and polished into finished slabs. These slabs are numbered in sequence, packaged into bundles and shipped by container overseas to arrive at the doors of one of our many EleMar Marble and Granite warehouse locations. EleMar New England is open to the public for slab for viewing and slab selection. Our helpful warehouse staff will guide you through showroom where you can view slabs and inquire about the origin and availability of the stone. Once the stone is selected, arrangements are made for notification of your fabricator, informing them of your slab selection. The fabricator will then contact EleMar and arrange delivery. EleMar will put material on “hold” for a customer for a period of 7 days with no money down. A fabricator can hold the slabs for a longer period of time if needed, but a purchase order and deposit is required in order to secure the material indefinitely. Selecting a stone is a very important and personal process that deserves a lot of consideration. Feel free to bring in color and cabinet samples to compare with varying stones. Ask a lot of questions. Lighting is important, and if you need more light our staff will be happy to provide it. Courtesy is the first rule at EleMar because understand the importance of your investment in natural stone. It is an investment that will stand the test of time and pay dividends in beauty and
Thank you for allowing EleMar New England to help you in your stone selection process. Please feel free to contact any EleMar staff member with any further questions.
Granite is igneous rock with visible crystalline formation and textures. It is composed of feldspar and quartz, with small amounts of mica and other minor minerals. Granite crystallizes from magma that cools slowly, deep below the earth's surface. The rate of cooling gives rise to various crystal grain structures. Typically, the slower the lava cools, the larger the crystals become. Granite, along with other crystalline rocks, constitutes the foundation of the continental masses, and it is the most common rock exposed at the earth's surface. Granite has greater strength and hardness than sandstone, limestone, and marble making it more difficult to quarry. Gang saws take up to 6 days running 24 hours a day to slice through a block. Slabs are numbered in sequence and polished. It is usually a good idea to select slabs that are from the same block for your countertop project. The variance in color patterns from block to block can be significant. Granite as a countertop surface provides one of the most attractive and durable surfaces available. It is highly resistant to scratches, stains and heat and will last virtually forever. Granite does not harbor bacteria and resealing only needs to be done when water stops beading on the counter surface.
Marble is metamorphosed limestone, composed of very pure calcium carbonate. The softness of marble and it’s consistency makes marble very desirable for sculpture and building. Marble is essentially limestone, that has been subjected to much higher amounts of temperature and pressure during it’s metamorphosis. Three primary locations for marble are Carrara Italy, Pentelicus Greece, and Proconnesus Turkey. Marble may be subject to stains from acidic foods and juices, but many new sealers help to retard staining. Typical uses include floors, wall coverings, tabletops, bathroom walls, floors, vanity tops and showers. There is no doubt, in the hands of the right designer, Marble can make a most stunning statement in your home.
Soapstone has traditionally been used in America for centuries. First found by Native Americans, domestic soapstone derives geologically from a line of talc and accompanying mineral deposits running along the Appalachian Mountains from New England to Georgia. While easy to fabricate, soapstone also provided these early users with superior thermal properties and natural acid resistance. Colonial fireplaces were in fact lined with soapstone and farmhouse box sinks could be fashioned by the settlers themselves from its slabs. Today, we enjoy many of these same great properties, and once again, soapstone has become a popular material of choice in American homes. With countertops and bar tops where products like vinegar, wine or lemons are present, soapstone’s acid resistant properties are essential.
What is soapstone?
Technically called Steatite by geologists, soapstone is a very dense variety of talc, formed from the composition of talc and other minerals during rock metamorphosis. It is principally grey or grey/green in color, with varying degrees of white veins of pure talc. Soapstone is best known for having a soapy feel - hence the name. The surface of soapstone is most commonly sold with a honed finish, which is smooth, like a polish, but is non-reflective. Other finishes are also available, like leather finish.
Traditionally, soapstone is treated with mineral oil to aid in sealing, and to enrich the color by turning it a dark rich color. A periodic application of mineral oil is the only maintenance it needs. Like old silver, soapstone develops a patina over time, which gives it a rich, antique character.
There are several finishes available for natural stone countertops and new finishes appear in the market regularly keeping pace with consumer demands. A description of a few of the finishes commonly available follows:
Polished. A high gloss, mirror like finish with sharp reflections. This finish is achieved using multiple grinding heads and progressively finer abrasives. A polished finish intensifies the color and pattern of natural stone.
Honed. A non-reflective, satin-like finish. This finish is achieved using multiple grinding heads and progressively finer abrasives stopping short of a polish. A honed finish shows fewer scratches.
Brushed/Antique/Leather. The use of these "finish" names is not fully standardized within the industry. Often, the terms are used interchangeably, and depending on the stone type, distinctly different processes are used to get a similar finish result. Most commonly, they describe a finish that has been achieved by abrading a smooth (or honed) surface with an abrasive, often diamond, brush. The resultant finish can have varying levels of sheen and relief. The hardness of the mineral matrix within the stone to which it is applied will also affect the final product.