COUNTERTOP FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We care about your safety and satisfaction. If you are shopping around, please consider these frequently asked questions. If your question is not answered here, feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to help. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to earn your trust.
“The bitter taste of poor quality lingers far longer than the initial sweetness of a cheap price.”
You will wake up to your kitchen and bathroom countertops every day. Make sure you choose the right product and professionals to get the job done. Capitol Granite Design Center aspires to be the value proposition for countertop surfaces. The following questions will help you know what to look for in a countertop company when all you have is a price quote to compare:
Is the countertop fabricator qualified to perform the work?
If another company is offering you prices that seem too good to be true, they probably are. Some companies skip the cost of insurance to offer lower prices, or are not qualified to be performing the level of contracting services required by Virginia law. If an injury occurs at your residence, you can be personally liable for any damage or injury that may occur in your home during the course of the project. Capitol Granite is fully licensed (Class A #2705 137158A), insured and bonded, providing you peace of mind for the ‘tough’ questions before hiring a contractor.
Who will be in my home and can I trust them?
Many discount fabricators offering too-good-to-be-true pricing force you to take that risk by using unknown subcontractors, general day laborers, or employees who are not background checked for installation work. Often, the homeowner cannot communicate with the installation crew about their needs/desires during the tear-out and reconstruction of their kitchen or bath. Capitol Granite spares no expense and takes no risks when it comes to safety and assurance for our customers:
- All members of all crews pass an extensive background check
- All members of all crews are subjected to random drug-testing
- All members of all crews speak English so you can easily communicate needs
- All crews are direct employees, no external subcontractors or laborers are employed
What is the fabricator’s reputation?
Since 2003 we have been creating happy customers. Capitol Granite has installed more than 50,000 projects over the past decade in the Central Virginia area. Every customer generates our reputation for quality and service through word of mouth; our strongest sales tool. We are also one of a handful of fabricators in Virginia who hold the designation as a “Natural Stone Institute Accredited Fabricator”; an arduous process of demonstrating quality, service, and safety through documented processes and results. Please take a look at our customer testimonials and reviews on Facebook and Google. Other rewards/notables include:
- Richmond Magazine’s Best Granite Fabricator, 2o15
- Stone World magazine’s Fabricator of the Year, 2008
- Top 1% of all U.S. countertop fabricators with coveted Natural Stone Insitute Accreditation
- A+ BBB rating
- Parade of Homes multiple “Gold Winner” kitchen awards
Does the fabricator have a yard for you to choose and approve slabs?
Many fabricators will send their clients to their supplier for selection of material. We believe that an educated customer is a good customer. At Capitol Granite Design Center, we stock the most popular colors and hand-select the material for quality, stability, pattern, color variation, size and other considerations. Part of the selections is an education in materials. We are also capable of answering the ‘cost’ questions regarding different materials that the supplier will intentionally avoid. We carry a large variety of slabs in stock, and have a tremendous list of remnants/partials for your small project!
Does the fabricator use a CNC machine for the most precise and smooth edges or do they fabricate by hand?
Some fabricators have limited resources and cut costs by cutting the countertops by hand. This can result in unsightly wavy edges that do not match the luster of the stone and imprecise dimensions. At Capitol Granite, all of our cuts are made with the most modern, state-of-the-art saw-jets, and are profiled by CNC equipment for smooth edges, perfectly contoured arches, and straight, precise sink cutouts every time. We also practice “wet cutting” which provides for a safer environment for our employees and our clients. If you see another company dry cutting with dust flying everywhere, they’re breaking the law and creating a very dangerous environment.
How does the fabricator mount the dishwasher?
Some fabricators make this the homeowner’s responsibility, and others who perform the work are using a hammer drill or simply glue to hold the dishwasher in place. At Capitol Granite, we will mechanically attach your dishwasher to the underside of the stone utilizing an embedded flush wood strip (set at the factory), facilitating a wood screw anchor.
Does the fabricator use rodding around a cooktop or sink?
You might be asking yourself what this is. Rodding is similar to the dishwasher mounting strip, but instead of embedding a wood strip, a steel or fiberglass rod is embedded in epoxy in the front and back of your sink or cooktop cutout. This adds additional strength to the cutouts. Rodding the material also helps fissures from expanding throughout the countertop.
Through the ages, builders and architects have selected to use stone because of its durability and aesthetic value. Today, with the discovery of a growing number of options in stone, the selection process has become more intricate, requiring the consideration of many factors. It is beautiful, durable, sustainable, and more affordable than ever with tooling automation.
Natural stone is a product of nature and cannot be manufactured. Blocks of stone are removed from a quarry, a type of open-pit mine, and from those blocks slabs are cut. The slabs are then fabricated into the final stone to be installed. Natural stone generally comes from all over the world except the United States for countertops. Caledonia , Dakota Mahogany, Virginia Mist are a few granites quarried domestically, among many marbles. Green materials are generally associated with South America, blue hues from the Nordic area of the world, and earth tone colors from the Middle East. If you are interested in a specific material’s country of origin, just ask!
Each extracted block is different, and in turn, each slab is also different. The idea of each and every stone having its own uniqueness is often times a selling point. When working with or choosing natural stone, “uniformity of material” is understood to be one of the best characteristics. The direction of cut from block to slab will also determine the look of the material.
Variegated or veined stone, like marble, is “faulted” by nature and although it makes for a remarkable aesthetic, the material is not usually used for exterior applications and has a greater value when applied to interior installations that highlight the decorative element. With extremely light colored marbles and onyxes, the crystal composition creates translucence which is also an interesting quality for decorative purposes. The light transmitted varies depending on the thickness and finish of the stone. The structural capacities of each type of stone are taken into account for practical applications. In terms of appearance alone, consumers should be aware of the amount of variations in each piece.
Within the stone industry, both of these terms are used without consistency. In science, the word fissure is used to describe a major crack, break or fracture in the rock. In contrast, when used in the stone world, the term refers to a very slight separation, visible along intercrystalline boundaries. Mostly the differential is recognized by how it occurred. For instance, the accepted standard is that a fissure is naturally occurring in nature, whereas a crack is created by something in response to a stressor like handling, transport, fabrication, or installation. The difference can be seen most easily by looking at a low angle. A crack has two different planes of reflection; a fissure is stable, and part of how the stone was formed.
The main difference between granite and marble is that granite is a highly dense material composed deep inside the earth’s core, while marble is formed from sediments under the seabed. Both solidify into stone after millions of years but the mineral composition of the two stones makes marble and granite react differently to various chemicals and household cleaners. Although both are stones and both are quarried from the earth, granite and marble (and marble’s relatives – limestone, onyx, and travertine) are very different from each other. Granite is formed at extremely high temperatures and is a very hard, resistant stone made of crystallized minerals. The marble family starts out as sediment – animal skeletons and shells, plant matter, silt – at the bottom of bodies of water. After millions of years this solidifies into stone. Because its main component is calcium, it can be affected by acids such as vinegar and citrus. Quartz is a type of engineered stone made from natural quartz, one of the hardest non-gem minerals in the world. Quartz is three times harder than granite and has four times the flexural strength. It is made by combining quartz crystals, dyes and resins to achieve a material that exhibits pure brilliance. The material has a very high degree of stain, heat and scratch resistance. Quartz does not require sealing.
Deciding on a stone finish is essential in the selection process and can include anything from saw cut to high polish. It can drastically change the interpretation of the stone, particularly in regards to color. Color will appear lighter with a textured finish, whereas with each degree of polish more light is reflected, bringing out the color. Selecting a combination of finishes can also add interest to the stone. With every passing year, new finishes are becoming available on the market. Capital Granite keeps up to date with these introductions and can educate you on your countertop finish options. A polished finish is the most naturally resistant to water and is most commonly chosen.
A polished finish has sharp reflections and is considered a mirror gloss. A honed finish means the stone has been textured with abrasive heads making for a dull sheen that can vary from light to heavy. Flamed or thermal finishes change the color of the stone as the plane surface is finished at a high temperature by mechanically controlled operations that ensure uniformity. Similarly, the water jet flamed finish allows for more of the natural color to show through a uniformly textured finish. When a stone is split into any number of thicknesses, a cleavage face forms, this is called a natural cleft finish. Slate is a common example of a material that is cleft or honed. When a machine is used to grind a material into a specific thickness using circular abrasives the finish is called gauged.
After you choose your slabs, we will give you the opportunity to approve your exact slab layout. While this may not be necessary with an unpatterned material, it is highly suggested for veined or irregular patterned slabs. Capitol Granite Design Center is a fully digital shop, unlike most others and has invested in the latest technology so we don’t leave your happiness to chance. Other fabricators use hard templates laid on top of the material, leaving you to visualize the finished product, especially where seams come together. At Capitol Granite, we photograph your exact slab in high resolution and render over the electronic templates of your project. This rendering program allows custom layouts so ‘what you see is what you get’. Through this process, you can fully visualize the layout of the stone for your countertops. This also allows you the opportunity to approve the slab layout before we prepare it to be cut and helps to ensure there are no surprises at install.
Sealants are typically solvent-based, a small-sized carrier molecule that gets the sealer deep into the stone. Once dry, it prevents water and oil from penetrating and absorbing into the surface for a period of time of exposure.
Design elements should be taken into consideration in addition to aesthetic, strength, and durability, especially in terms of interior applications. As a fabricator, we guide the homeowner or designer in helping them understand the capacity of the materials as they integrate these limitations, or possibilities, into their imaginative creations. Most design considerations are around allowable overhangs. 6″ to 8″ unsupported for natural stone, following the 1/3 rule (no more than 1/3 of the piece overhanging, and no more than 1/3 of the piece cut out). Much more can be done with quartz. If you have questions about a specific project, please call us for a consultation.
In the stone industry, wastage refers to materials that are damaged, outdated, reduced, or unsaleable, and for the most part, destined to be thrown away. It is important to make sure there will be enough material to complete the project at hand before making a final selection of stone. When taking wastage into account, an often overlooked fact is that current material availability at a quarry differs from what was available in previous months.
The selection begins by focusing on vertical or horizontal planes. Interior vertical surfaces factor in highly used areas, mainly in commercial buildings, which lead to stones that are dense, resistant, and easily maintained. These invariably prove to be a better choice in long-term investments. Water resistance becomes important in areas such as fountains and showers because the stones must be able to endure constant contact with water. Traffic is a consideration in interior horizontal surfaces, especially when selecting floor stone. Heavy-volume traffic needs to withstand vehicles or carts, high heels, mud and sand, salting compounds, etc, requiring stone of maximum resistance. In medium-volume traffic areas, dimension stones with a honed finish work well and are more easily maintained as they mask wear like scratching and etching. In residential areas and other light-volume traffic zones, making a decision based on both aesthetics and functionality is important. Food preparation is a major factor in kitchens so functionality is the primary concern in selecting a kitchen countertop. Bathroom countertops see little wear besides occasional contact with cosmetics and other beauty/care products so they can be chosen more or less to taste.
These samples are small pieces representing the proposed material of use. These should be used for the consideration of color and style only. Depending on the material, a small sample may not be the best representation of the surface’s design, particularly if there is veining or other detail. The promotional sample supplied will probably be 4″ x 4″. Please contact one of our sales representative for samples.
The price of a project is generally a major factor in the selection of stone. In part to new technology, stone is bountiful and therefore competitively priced. The budget for the entire project includes the design, installation, and the stone itself. In the phase of considering the stone only, the specifier should ask for an overall project budget to help determine the true cost of each component.
The size and waste factor of the slabs are used to determine the finished project price, as does the thickness of the stone, typically 3 cm. Some 2 cm material is available to clients for use in bathrooms, or laminate it to 1 1/2″ for the kitchen, sometimes called “2+2”. Laminated edge treatment typically offsets the savings associated with buying 2 cm material for “2+2”.
A multitude of factors come into play when determining the cost of a particular stone at any given time. Market demand, quality, ease of extraction, availability, and transportation are a few notable variables. The advantage to making cost an issue is that it opens the door to explore alternatives based on the original parameters. Within a particular material, the efficiency of layout for the slab sizes available, and logistics of getting to the point of use are the most prevalent factors.
Large projects typically yield a more efficient use of manpower to template and install. This may be true of material selections as well.
After your layout approval and fabrication is complete, it’s time for your new countertops to be installed! We schedule the installation for your convenience, send only screened employees to your home, and are fully insured to protect you from liability.
We have a unique process of creating seams in which we use Gorilla Grips. This is a really cool machine that makes your seams as tight and level as possible. We also biscuit the underside of the seam for additional strength and color match the surface. Most companies will just push the pieces together and silicone the gap, leaving wide, unsightly seams.
Many people overlook the importance of maintenance after the stone is installed. It is important to understand what is required to maintain the color and finish of your selected stone for years to come. Generally, for some natural stones, sealing is all that is required. The length of time between sealing is typically determined by the cleaners used that degrade the sealer over time, the porosity of the stone, and other factors like density/mineral content.
No. Due to the numerous amount of variables in each case, a prescribed industry standard limitation does not exist. Many companies set their own dimensional limits in their own shops and use soundness, thickness, strength, and stock availability in making a decision.
Ask for a printed document outlining the warranty specifications. We will give you a copy of our warranty as well as some other useful information to make sure you’re 100% educated and prepared for the process and care of your new countertops. We believe an educated customer is a happy customer!