Marble In The Kitchen

Currently, one of the latest designer trends is having marble installed for your kitchen countertops. This has always been discouraged due to the fact that marble is softer and more porous than some other materials like granite, Silestone or Cambria. But many designers and homeowners are doing it anyway.

Below is a photo of a beautiful kitchen we installed a few weeks ago. The island marble surrounding the sink is inlaid in a large butcher block piece of wood. This homeowner also chose to have a large piece of marble installed behind her stove as her backsplash. The look is simple and and very elegant.

Carrera White marble in the Kitchen

Carrera White Countertops

If you are tempted to use a marble in your kitchen, there a few things to remember. Marble is more porous and softer than some other choices. Even though it will be sealed after installation by Queen of the Tile, you will probably end up staining it at some point. Some foods like lemon juice or wine, and many cleaners are acidic. If left on your marble countertops, the acid will etch the surface. You may probably drag a large pot or cookie jar across it or drop a heavy item from the cupboard. You will end up “beating” it up a bit. These things are to be expected and will only add to the vibrance and character of your marble as the years pass.

As I like to tell my customers, your countertops will be like your favorite pair of leather shoes. The more you wear them, the more you love them as you break them in.

This kitchen remodel, along with the pantry, guest bath and laundry room were all done by Holliday Interiors of Spring, Tx.

Elegant Vanity in Powder Bath

Gorgeous Vanity with Marble Top

Advertisements

Lammax! 1/8″ Thick Porcelain Sheets

1/8" Porcelain Sheet Countertop

The lastest in countertops

The latest trend in countertops is using a new product called Lammax, 1/8″ thick porcelain sheets. Lammax comes in 13 different colors (no patterns yet) and the sheets are 147″ x 48″. The sheets are very fragile until they are installed on a solid plywood or cement board substrate.

So far, Queen of the Tile has installed Lammax in a laundry room (including 4″ backsplashes) in a beach house on Boliver, some table tops at a Westheimer Plumbing showroom in Houston and the restaurant installation you see in the photo. Next week we will be installing more lammax in a tile showroom for La Nova Tile in Houston. I’ll be posting some of those pictures soon.

As far as cost compared to other materials like granite and silestone, lammax is comparable to a mid-range granite. If you are looking for a clean, contemporary look, you may want to come by Medusa Tile in Galveston, TX. We have a small vanity with an U/M sink hole in the showroom and all the colors available.

Remodeling – Where Do I Start?

I had a customer call the other day and tell me they want to remodel their kitchen and 3 bathrooms! I thought to myself, “Great, that’s a nice job!” Then I thought about all the decisions they will have to make to get to the goal. So I decided to write a “To Do List” for them.

These are My Suggestions Only!
– start with one room at a time. there are many decisions to be made, so focus on one project. you might want to lump your secondary baths together, but probably not so each room will have its own personality.
– decide how much of each room you want to remodel. for example, you may not want to change the layout of your kitchen cabinets because it works for you, but changing the door and drawer fronts will totally change the look, while not hurting your budget as much. even changing the hardware can change the look from traditional to contemporary.
– in each room, pick the focal point. it may be the granite or silestone color you want or that glass backsplash mosaic you have got to have in your kitchen!
– pick the style you are going for: contemporary, traditional, old world, etc. visiting open houses and design magazines will help you with this task. be sure to take pictures of rooms you like or cut out pictures from the magazines so you can show your designer, carpenter or countertop fabricator.

Granite Tub Deck and Glass Mosaic

Gorgeous Granite Tub Deck and Glass Mosaic Backsplash

These are just a few guidelines that may help you on your journey. I think that once you have the style and focal point, other decisions just seem to fall into place. You can expect that some things will not work out perfectly, but if you use quality companies to help you, any obstacles should be easily overcome. And remember…..remodeling should be fun!

Pre-Fab Granite Means An Ugly Installation

Custom outdoor planter by Queen of the Tile

No Pre-Fabs Used For This Project

This post relates to an earlier post about why granite pricing varies so much. I brought up the fact that lower granite priced fabricators are probably using pre-fabricated granite tops. This post will explain why Queen of the Tile dislikes using these for a granite project.

As a fabricator of any slab material, we make many decisions about your granite installation. These decisions are based on a few things like the layout of your kitchen, the length of your countertops, how big your island is, where your kitchen sink and stove/cooktop are located and how big your actual slabs measure. These are all important because of minimizing seams in your kitchen.

Seams are a dirty little word in the granite fabrication business. They are necessary, but not fun! The goal of any good fabricator is to minimize the number of seams in a kitchen because this is about the only thing a customer might complain about. But often our hands are tied since we can’t stretch out a slab to make it fit your kitchen project. For example, if you have a galley kitchen with your tops measuring 10′ long and your fabricator is using pre-fab granite that only comes in 9′ long pieces, you will end up with a seam in both of your 10′ long runs. If your fabricator gives you the option of going to the slab yard and choosing a slab (a good fabricator will!), you will have many choices of granite colors measuring more than 10′ long. Thus your kitchen countertops will have no seams in either run.

What if your kitchen configuration is a U-shaped kitchen and your fabricator only uses pre-fab granite? Since the pre-fabs only come in 9′ lengths, you will have at least 2 seams in your kitchen because everytime your countertops change direction, the pre-fab granite has to be cut and seamed. And worse yet, if your countertops are longer than 9′ in any of your 3 runs, then you will have 2 seams PLUS a seam on the run longer than 9′! So you will have 3 seams now!

Does your kitchen have an island/peninsula or a highbar? Using pre-fabs, your island or peninsula will have to have a seam since the pre-fabs are usually only 26″ wide. This makes for a very unsightly installation with seams which would not be necessary using slab granite.

At Queen of the Tile, we pride ourselves on minimizing seams in your kitchen remodel. If we do need a seam, it will very likely be hard to see. We have had customers say they searched for the seam for 10 minutes before they found it!! Seams are necessary in the granite fabrication business, but why accept more seams than is really necessary? We invite our customers to participate in the layout of their project to show off veins and unique areas of the granite and to ask their preference in seam placement. Call us today for all you natural stone or silestone needs!

Why is There a Huge Range in Granite Countertop Pricing?

Have you seen those signs around town saying “Granite Installed for $ 18.00/SF”? Or the one for $ 99.00 a piece? A piece of what? Why is there such a difference in pricing? There are a few reasons. When shopping for countertops, as with anything else, be sure to compare apples to apples because there is a vast difference in natural stone countertop fabrication.

Many of the less expensive companies can offer a lower price for these reasons:

1. They are using pre-fabricated granite material. This is a 8′ or 9′ long granite piece that already has a Full Bull Nose edge on one of the long run sides. These pre-fabs are cut and edged at the factories in China or India. They are done very cheaply. There are not many colors to choose from. There also is not a consistency from 1 piece to the next, so if your project requires a seam because it is longer than 9′, the seam is likely to look bad. If you are updating a bath vanity, a pre-fab may work okay, but if your project is your kitchen which has a turn or two in the configuration, I would not recommend pre-fabs. (I will go into more details about this at a later date.)

2. This less expensive company probably does not have a true shop or warehouse and is going to cut your pieces in your driveway and make a huge mess.

3. This company may hire illegal workers, pays their workers in cash, does not withhold for social securty,etc. and probably does not have insurance.

The bottom line is this. If you are working on a rental house or something you are flipping, the less expensive guys might be okay. But if you are shopping around for your personal home, I would stay away from the guys with a sign on the side of the road. It’s just like your Mom told you growing up, “You get what you pay for.”

The kitchen project below was NOT done using pre-fab granite and was installed by Queen of the Tile!

Granite Island with Silestone Countertops

Victoria Regio Countertops with Green Beach Sea Glass Mosaic