A Sleek and Cool Silestone Fireplace

Queen of the Tile was asked to work on a very cool, contemporary project in Houston.  It involved a shower pan repair, new tile on the kitchen floor, new Silestone countertops in the kitchen and one of the most interesting fireplace designs that we have ever installed.  The Silestone color selected was Kensho from the Volcano Series.  Here is the “Before” picture of the fireplace.

Image

The architect and general contractor for the project was Jesse Hager from Content in Houston.  The installation took two days because some of the pieces like the caps and side wall could not be measured and fabricated until after installing the larger face of the fireplace.  Below is the “After” picture.

Image

This installation was very detailed due to the precise cuts for the shelf and firebox openings and all the corners (top and side) were all mitred corners as can be seen in the next picture.

Image

Alot of other fabricators would probably find a project like this a pain in the a__, but Queen of the Tile is always ready for an interesting and different challenge.

Advertisements

Do Renovations Pay Off?

According to Remodeling Magazine’s annual survey, only steel entry-door replacements can be counted on to boost home value enough to recoup 100 percent of costs. Of course, the value of a renovation doesn’t depend on the resale price alone, which makes deciding whether to do one more complicated than just crunching numbers.

“If the purchaser walks into a home and says, ‘Wow, look at this kitchen, honey, it’s so great,’ and if that home sells quicker, the seller still gets value from the renovation, whether they get the return on investment or not,” says Kit Hale, general manager of MKB Realtors in Roanoke, Va. The home might sell quicker, or the buyer might be so excited about a particular feature that they ignore other problems, such as water damage or much-needed maintenance elsewhere.

For anyone trying to decide whether to take on a home renovation, these five tips can help:

1. Think about what you, the current homeowner, want from your home.

Homeowners can get a lot of value out of renovations before they even put the home on the market. “If you have a dated kitchen or the stove doesn’t work, you can invest money now to glean some enjoyment as well as make the home more appealing when you sell it,” says Hale.

That’s what Erin Schaff and her boyfriend did when they decided to upgrade their two-bedroom condo in Victoria, Canada, several years ago. “It wasn’t in horrible shape, but we wanted to upgrade,” she says, so they spent about $10,000 replacing the baseboards, window trim, and floors. They also remodeled the bathrooms and upgraded the hardware. In addition, they put new cabinets, appliances, and granite countertops in the kitchen.

Schaff and her boyfriend enjoyed all those upgrades before deciding to sell their home earlier this year. She believes the renovations paid off, too. “Had we not renovated, we probably would have lost money as we had purchased the condo at the peak of the real estate boom. Instead, we turned a profit and covered most of the costs of purchasing the house we now live in,” she says.

To see the whole article, please follow this link.

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!

Jaw-Dropping Kitchens and Baths: Add Unique Touches to Your Home for Improved Function, Increased Value

Hand Made Subway Tile

As Realtors, we notice that many clients, upon seeing a new home for the first time, quickly inspect the kitchen and bath areas. “The kitchen is the heart of the home”, as the saying goes, and we find this to be true: at parties, family gatherings, breakfast on Sunday-the kitchen seems to have a gravitational pull where everyone wants to gather and mingle.
Additionally, bathrooms play an important role in the eyes of homeowners as well. Certainly, it’s a room originally built for function and that alone, but taking things a step further and adding some creature comforts and eye catching features not only attract buyers, but can add to the overall satisfaction and happiness of the homeowner once the purchase is complete.
An effective method to add a little ‘eye candy’ to both kitchens and baths is through the use of unique materials for countertops, back splashes and showers. There are some breathtaking choices available now for countertops, such as amethyst. There is even a technique your local tile and granite specialist can perform that gives the look of leather, imagine that! They provide a refreshing alternative to the ordinary, and certainly make a room stand out. Another item that recently caught our eye while visiting Medusa Tile was glow in the dark tile. Yes, that’s right, glow in the dark! By day, it keeps its wonderful secret hidden, but when the lights go out….Baby, you’ve never seen an effect like this! Tile your shower floor, add a few accents pieces along the wall, or use your imagination to create a dramatic effect no other home is likely to possess.
The way you install your new choices can add function and interest as well. Rounding out the end of a kitchen island to accommodate a seating area is a popular and sought-after feature in many homes. It provides a convenient area for kids to have breakfast, friends to sit and chat, or even to lay out a buffet style dinner for guests.
Perhaps you’ve even considered adding a mural in either room with the use of glass mosaics? There are so many choices that can be made, we’ve seen much of this work firsthand and it truly adds to the beauty of a room and gives a unique twist to it that will set your home apart from the rest of the block. It is proven that updating your kitchen and baths adds significant value to your property’s value when it comes time to sell.
With so many decisions to make and products to choose from, you should contact a local specialist that can give you ideas and educate you on all the materials available for use in your home. Whichever products you choose, your home is bound to stand out above the rest with a little help from the experts. Let Marisa at Medusa Tile help you with your selections and installations and let our dynamic team, Debbie and Natalie, help you get your property sold!

This article was written by Natalie Clark and Debbie Olsen at Galveston Real Estate. Thanks very much girls!!

Granite or Silestone: That’s the Question

Silestone Countertops

Blanco-Zeus Silestone Kitchen

Customers ask me this all the time:  What material is better for kitchen countertops, granite or silestone?  Well, I’m a bit partial, but I will be as honest as I can on this subject.  They are both wonderful products and each have pros and cons.

Let’s talk about Silestone first.  Silestone is a man-made quartz product that comes in 2cm and 3 cm thicknesses and a variety of beautiful rich colors.  Silestone is made with anti-bacterial magic stuff put into all slabs, thus the need for sealing is not necessary.  Silestone is also a more flexible material, thus eliminating the need for plywood decking for support.  Although sometimes decking will still be required so the drawers do not interfere with the edge lamination.  Your builder or granite fabricator should be able to help you with this option.

Granite is a natural stone that is quarried from all over the world, sliced to 2 cm and 3cm thicknesses, polished and imported to our area.  All natural stone varies in its porosity, but all natural stone should be sealed.  This may sound scary, but it is not.  Sealing is included in all installations by Queen of the Tile.  This process should last 2 – 3 years depending on how you are cleaning your countertops.  I encourage all our customers to use a Stone Tech product called Revitalizer.  It is a cleaner and a sealer, so everytime you are using it, you are re-sealing your tops and should never have any problems.

Have you figured it out yet?  I believe that  whatever shortfalls granite or silestone  may have, these issues can be easily overcome one way or another.  So I tell my customers to pick the color that best suits their decor and just go with it!

Granite and Silestone Edge Options

Edge Options for Granite and Silestone Countertops

3 Edge Options for Slab Countertops

There are 4 things that will decide how much you pay for your granite countertops.  The material and color  you choose, the edge option you choose, the slab yard your material comes from and the fabricator you choose to do the fabrication and installation.  I have already touched on the slab yard experience that is a must for your project.  In fact, if your granite fabricator or remodel store does NOT let you select your own slabs*, you should not use them!!  This means that they might be buying inferior material from an natural stone importer that is bringing in poor quality slabs.  If you are “flipping” a house or your project is for a rental property, this might be okay.  But if your project is for your home, I would run away from this fabricator or remodel store!  I encourage customers to make that trip to the yard so they know exactly which granite slabs (and color shading) will be going into their home.

Let’s talk about material thickness today.  Natural stone and quartz slabs come in 2 thicknesses:  3/4″ (also called 2 cm) and 1 1/4″ (also called 3 cm).  You have 3 common options on what edge thickness you will have installed.  Please see the sketch I have drawn to better illustrate the edge options.  What’s the difference in the two materials, you ask?  Obviously, 2 cm material costs less(on average about $ 5.00-$ 7.00/SF) than the 3 cm material because you are buying less material.

The common edge choices when using the 2cm thickness is a 3/4″ edge or a 1 1/2″ laminated edge.  The second choice is laminated because a 1 1/2″ strip of material is glued to the bottom edge of the countertop, making the edge 1 1/2″ thick.  When using 3 cm thick material, the common edge is 1 1/4″.  We have laminated the 3 cm material before, making the final edge thickness equal to 2 1/2″ thick.  We have also used 2 laminations on the 2cm material, making the final edge thickness equal to 2 1/4″.  These were done due to the need to cover 2 layers of plywood decking for a bartop or just due to customer preference.  You must be careful that your granite laminations do not interfere with the drawers opening after installation.  On some occasions, more plywood decking must be installed.

As noted earlier, the 2 cm natural stone material costs less than the 3 cm material and there are often more color choices in 2 cm material.  I’m not quite sure why, but the Houston countertop market has focused more on the 2 cm material, while the Austin and Dallas markets install more 3 cm granite material.  It is also a common miconception that using 3 cm material will lower your labor costs since the fabricator is skipping the lamination step. While this is true, 3 cm material is so much heavier to install that 4 – 6 men or more are required to lift these pieces when a 2 cm job is usually installed by 2 men.  You will save some money due to the fact that plywood decking** is not necessary for a 3 cm installation.

*  If your selection of countertops is a quartz product like Silestone, you won’t be asked to go select your slabs because this product is a man-made product.  While some specific colors will probably vary a bit, the overall color and pattern remain fairly consistant to the samples you see in the store.

**  Plywood decking is not required when installing a quartz material like Silestone since these quartz products have a bit more flexibility than a natural stone has.