FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS HARD SURFACE COUNTER TOP?
There are many different types of hard surface counter tops such as Granite, Marble, Soapstone and Limestone. These are natural materials and are mined in quarries all over the world.
WHAT IS SOLID SURFACE COUNTER TOP?
This is a man-made material that does not stain, does not require sealing and will not breed bacteria. This material has the ability to be adhered together, allowing a “seamless” appearance, although the seams are meant to be inconspicuous but not invisible. This material also typically comes with a ten (10) year warranty form the manufacturer.
WHAT IS ENGINEERED QUARTZ OR STONE COUNTER TOP?
This material has the look and feel of natural stone, but is actually stronger due to its engineered make-up. This is a man-made material that does not stain, does not require sealing and will not breed bacteria. This material also typically comes with a ten (10) year warranty from the manufacturer.
WHAT IS A PLASTIC LAMINATE COUNTER TOP?
This is a man-made material that is adhered to a wood frame to make a counter top. This material has many colors and textures but can scratch and chip more easily than hard and solid surfaces.
HOW SHOULD I CLEAN MY COUNTER TOPS?
For everyday cleaning, mild dish soap and ware should be sufficient. There are also cleaners available at you local home improvement stores. To avoid water streaks, wipe counters dry after cleaning. Windex (without ammonia) or similar products can be used to clean up excess oil but are not recommended for daily use due to the acidic levels in the product. These types of cleaner also contain dyes and should not be left on the counters for an extended period of time.
CAN I STAIN MY COUNTER TOPS?
Almost anything can be stained, but sealed natural stone will resist most common stains. Solid Surface and Engineered quartz cannot be stained due to their chemical make up. Plastic laminate will resist many stains, but cannot be sealed to be “stain-proof”.
HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO SEAL MY COUNTER TOPS?
The ‘Marble Institute of America’ recommends sealing polished natural stone once every 6 to 12 months. Using highly acidic or harsh chemicals may deteriorate the original seal, therefore requiring sealing more often. If water is no longer beading up on the top, it’s time to reseal. Over sealing can lead to a hazy look. Engineered quartz, solid surface and plastic laminate do not require sealing.
I LEFT A COLD DRINK ON MY HARD SURFACE AND NOW THERE IS A DARK RING. WHAT DO I DO?
Nothing. Just as the cold liquid inside the glass pulled water from the air to create sweat on the outside of the glass, the cold has condensed water (under the sealer) within the stone. Simply remove the glass; wipe up excess water, the condensed water within the stone will dissipate after a few hours.
WHY ARE CUSTOMERS ENCOURAGED TO VIEW THEIR NATURAL STONE SLABS PRIOR TO FABRICATION?
Stone is a natural material, allowing for color variations and veining which are perfectly normal. There may be vast differences between samples viewed and a customer’s actual material. Because this material is a natural product, consistency cannot be guaranteed, even within a single slab, Some materials are very consistent while other colors may change in color/shading/veining in from slab to slab or within the slab (from top to bottom or left to right).
WHAT AM I LOOKING FOR WHEN I VIEW MY GRANITE/MARBLE?
You should be looking at the overall coloring of the natural stone, to be sure that this is what you envisioned in your home. Since tiles, paint, flooring and wallpaper come in various shades it is much easier to match these items after you have sleeved your natural stone slab.
DO I HAVE TO VIEW MY NEW COUNTER TOP MATERIAL BEFORE IT IS FABRICATED?
No, as some materials are very consistent. However, other colors may change in color shading or veining throughout the entire slab. Since engineered quartz, solid surface and plastic laminate are man-made, the pattern is consistent with the sample that you viewed. Please note that the choice to view your material is up to you, however if you choose not to view your material (natural material) prior to fabrication, you will be required to sign a waiver.
WHAT DO SEAMS LOOK LIKE?
For hard surfaces, the standard seam allowance between two pieces of granite can range from 1/16” to 1/8” wide. A color matched stone adhesive is used to join the two pieces of counter top. Once cured (approximately 4-6 hours), this adhesive is food safe. Seams are necessary and are not invisible. We will do our bet to provide a clean seam and color match the basic color tone of the hard surface.
For solid surface, the material is adhered together and an inconspicuous seam is made. Please note that these seams are not necessarily invisible.
For plastic laminate, the material is glued together and seams are minimized, but visible.
CAN I HAVE COUNTER TOPS INSTALLED OVER OLD EXISTING CABINETS?
New counter tops can be installed over existing cabinetry; however we will not be able to install new counter tops if the cabinets are not structurally sound or are not level. If the cabinets are not level or structurally sound upon arrival of our installers, your installation will be rescheduled once these issues have been rectified. Cabinets need to be leveled within ¼” for a 10’ length. A trip fee of $250 will be charged for a job site that is not ready to accept the new counter tops.
I HAVE TILE ABOVE MY CURRENT BACK SPLASH. WILL THE NEW SPLASHES MEET THESE TILE LINES?
Your new counter tops are cut straight and you tile may not be installed completely level. We recommend removing existing tile prior to installation of your new counter tops and replacing the tile after new tops are installed.
WHY IS 1 ¼” (3 CM) MATERIAL FOR HARD SURFACES RECOMMENDED FOR KITCHENS?
In most kitchens you will have long lengths of counter top which could contain a large cut out (sink or cook top). To minimize the risk of breakage during fabrication and installation, the 1 ¼” (3 cm) material is recommended. ¾” (2 cm) material is more common in bathrooms and smaller counter tops.
WHAT IS THE LONGEST COUNTER TOP PIECE I CAN HAVE WITH OUT A SEAM?
For hard natural surfaces, this will be determined after the field measure. Generally natural slab lengths vary from 100” to 125”; the average slab length is 110”. Engineered quartz slab sizes are smaller than natural stone, averaging sizes of 52” x 118”. Also keep in mind the weight of hard surfaces, which can weigh up to 20 pounds per square foot. For example, an island measuring 48” x 96” could weigh up to 600 pounds and would require 3-4 men to carry. In addition, the entry into the home must accommodate this size counter top, which may even prohibit larger sizes depending on hallways, elevators or staircases. Long 4”-6” splashes may need to be cut into more than one piece to prevent breakage during transit and installation. Seams are at the discretion of the measurer and fabrication departments. The typical maximum length of a 4”-6” splash is 84”-96” (7’-8’).
WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM OVERHANG ALLOWED?
For hard surfaces, any overhang up to 12” will rely upon the 2/3 rule: 2/3 of the material needs to be supported for the 1/3 over hang. As an example, a 24” cabinet can safely have up to a 12” overhang without support.
For solid surfaces and plastic laminate, any overhang over 6” will need to be supported. A solid wood support will be installed under the counter top by The Countertop Factory.
Generally, any overhand over 12” should be supported. Supports can range from wood corbels to metal ‘L’ brackets. Customers will be advised if supports are needed at time of measure and these need to be in place before the counter tops are installed. Supports must be installed by the customer prior to counter top installation, and are not part of the installation services provided by The Countertop Factory.
WHY WOULD I WANT THE UNDERSIDE OF THE HARD SURFACE POLISHED ON AN OVERHANG?
In the situation of a breakfast bar facing a family room, where the underside will be visible when seated, the undersides of the over-hang can be polished. This can be done for an additional charge. Please speak with your sales person pricing.
CAN I PLACE HOT ITEMS DIRECTLY ON MY COUNTER TOPS?
For hard surfaces, yes. Granite will tolerate temperature in excess of 1200 degrees (F.) and engineered stone is rated higher. You can safely place items from your oven, stove top or grill directly on the hard surface with out a trivet or hot pad. WARNING: Due to the extreme temperature differences, hot glass dishes may crack when placed on the cool surface of the granite or engineered quartz; this is know as the thermal shock. For this reason alone, glass or Pyrek dishes should be placed on a trivet or hot pad.
For solid surfaces and plastic laminate, no. These materials are much softer and direct heat is not advisable.
CAN I USE MY COUNTER TOP AS A CUTTING BOARD?
For hard surfaces, yes. Diamond-tipped tools are needed to cut through granite and engineered stone. Regular steel knives are no match for their hardness; however you will need to sharpen your knives more frequently.
For solid surface, yes, but not recommended. Please note that cutting directly on the counter top can lead to scratching, However, due to the renewable nature of solid surface, these scratches can be easily buffed our and your countertops will look brand new.
For plastic laminate, no. Scratched can be reversed on this type of material.