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

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Cracks in your New Shower!!

I had a previous customer call the other day that she had cracks in her shower wall corners. Thank God we installed her kitchen countertops and backsplash, not the shower!! So I went over the other day to take a look.

Slight crack in a Backsplash

Very Slight Crack

This is a common occurrence when your tile person does not have enough experience to use grout and matching caulk for your tile project. Let’s face it. All houses move and shift, be it a house on pilings or a house on a slab foundation. All houses move! And where is the first place you will see cracks or movement? Anywhere one plane of material meets another plane. In other words, where two walls meet in a corner, where your ceiling meets your walls, where your backsplash meets your countertop or in the walls of your shower.

Big Crack in the Grout

Large Crack in Grout

As an experienced tile setter, I learned a long time ago that all grouts have a matching caulk of the same color. I rarely buy grout at the box store on the Island because they only carry a few of the matching caulk colors. So I always buy my grout and caulk at Master Tile (now Crossville Tile) since they carry all the grouts and matching caulks. If they don’t have the one you need in stock, they will order it for you.

This is not an expensive step to take, but it is more time consuming on the job site and requires a bit more clean up. If cracking still occurs, there may be more issues at hand since we did all we could to prevent the cracks. If you have cracks after the fact, try and match the caulk as best as you can, scrape out as much old grout as you can and put a nice bead of matching caulk in its place. Caulk clean up is not hard if you don’t cut the caulk tube too far up the nozzle and use a damp sponge for clean up. After a few feet of caulking, you will be a pro. Or just call us at Queen of the Tile and Medusa Tile. We’ll take care of it for you. Happy Caulking!!

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

Mosaic Art

Granite, Marble & Porcelain Mosaic Art

Home on The Range

There are many forms of mosaic art, this piece only being one form.  The original artwork was drawn by my older brother, Richard deLeon.  (He is much more artistic than I am.)  I asked him to draw the design in the exact size I wanted the finished piece to be.  I then transferred it to posterboard and cut out each individual piece of the picture.  I had to keep in mind that the material I was going to be cutting the individual pieces from were mainly 12 x 12 tiles, so i had to make breaks in some of the pieces.  For example, three of the horses legs are made of 2 larger pieces and a separate piece defined the joints in the two front legs.

After I had the pieces cut out of posterboard, I then transferred the shapes onto each of the materials it was to be cut out of.  For example, the horses body was made from Tropical Brown 12 x 12 granite tiles, so i laid out the paper templates and transferred the shape onto the tile.  I think i used a grease pencil because of the next step which was the actual cutting of each piece.

Before Ike, I had a wet band saw with diamond coated blades.  It was pretty fancy.  Too bad it floated away!  Anyway, that is how i cut those curved and in some cases, very intricate pieces.  Then each piece was installed with thinset to hardiboard and grouted.

This is only one example of a mosaic tile piece.  There are many forms of mosaic including using broken pieces of pottery to tiny micro mosaic pieces and even a mixture of different sizes and media, limited only by the artists or customer’s imagination.  There are many talented artists in Houston and Galveston.   I have been amazed at the number of artist on Galveston with their own kilns!  Mosaics are truly a creative and fun way to enhance any room in your home, an outdoor table, a pot to decorate your patio or even the bottom of your pool!

At Medusa Tile, we have some very conservatively material to expensive mosaics.  We even have glow in the dark tiles made from recycled auto windshields.  If you are doing it yourself, or looking for material for an artist you’ve hired, we should be able to fill all your needs.  Come on by the store and talk to Lucy or Marisa.

Hello Stone and Tile Lovers!

4 x 12 Caramel Clear Glass installed on Backsplash
A Beautiful Kitchen!

I LOVE Natural Stone and Tile!

My name is Marisa, owner of Queen of the Tile and Medusa Tile. Queen of the Tile is my granite countertop business. We fabricate and install natural stone slabs like granite, marble, slate and onyx and man made quartz slabs like Silestone, Cambria and Icestone. Our installations include kitchen and bath countertops, tub decks, showers, fireplaces, outdoor kitchens and floors.

Medusa Tile is my tile business. We install all tiles including porcelain, ceramic, natural stone, glass and stone and glass mosaics. We have done backsplashes, showers, tub decks, fireplaces, floors and walls.

I look forward to sharing my knowledge of the industry, posting pictures of installations and answering any questions people may have.