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Sat, April 20

Ask the Contractor: Granite reigns for kitchen countertops

We are remodeling our kitchen and new countertops are planned. Of course, there is a little conflict between my husband and myself — he wants granite and I am thinking quartz. Sandy, help us make up our mind! Tom and Sheila, Prescott.

The arbitrator, umpire, ref and mediator not! But let’s give it a go and I will share my opinion.

Granite reigns for kitchen countertops. Granite is the granddaddy of countertop material. Remember when laminate countertops, such as Formica, were commonplace a few decades ago and we were thrilled when new colors and designs hit the market. Butcher Block was cool back then.

Today granite is by far the most popular countertop material in the Prescott region, local experts say. It’s been that way for at least a decade and they don’t see it changing any time soon. Granite is an igneous rock, and its natural properties and wide range of colors make it a stylish choice for today’s countertops. Granite can be used to make many household objects, including floor tiles and paving stones, but countertops are one of the most popular ways to use the material.

“Granite will never go out of style,” says Tim Connolly, owner and lead fabricator at Artisan Stone Surfaces of Prescott. “It’s timeless. It’s a piece of nature you can have in your home.” Many business owners I talked with say homeowners want granite because it lasts forever and won’t necessarily go out of style. Granite has a wide range of color and movement. There is really no other material that has the beauty of nature. Some granite slabs even feature fossils or quartzite.

I personally selected quartz for my kitchen countertops. Quartz is a popular countertop material, and is called engineered stone, typically consisting of about 93 percent aggregate rock mixed with resin. Engineered quartz is harder than granite so it doesn’t need to be sealed, notes Bob Myers, owner of Northern Arizona Woodworking in Prescott Valley. Quartz has pizzazz, zing and flair and can add personality to one’s kitchen. Quartz is non-porous and in using that material you have more control over size and shape. It’s a perfect option for homeowners who want increasingly popular jumbo-sized kitchen islands, because it can be cut to size and therefore be seamless. If you like uniformity, then quartz is your material because there are consistent colors. Quartz has come a long way over the past decade with color choices and consistency. There is a relatively new quartz product which has a soapstone look. Cambria alone offers more than 200 quartz colors.

There is no substitute for stopping by local showrooms to see all the options. You need to consider your lifestyle, your cabinet color, flooring and of course the natural light into the kitchen.

There are other countertop materials to consider as well:

• Concrete: Diversified Concrete Crafters in Prescott has been creating custom concrete countertops in any color or texture that customer’s desire. They can even incorporate optic fibers and glow rocks.

• Laminate: It’s seen a lot of improvement. There are stone patterns that look like granite right down to the tiny pits. Thousands of colors are available at low cost. Seams near sinks can swell if water sits there too long, since laminate consists of plastic with particle board layers under it. It also can burn and scratch. Laminate is usually relegated out of the kitchen and into the laundry room, Smith says.

• Marble: Offers a cleaner look. It’s softer than granite and requires more maintenance, however.

• Tiles: Baked of porcelain or ceramic clay, some people still use tiles but others don’t like cleaning the grout joints.

• Recycled glass: Expensive but contemporary.

Whatever countertop material you select, remember to take home samples and look at them in all hours of the day and night, lights on, window blinds open, natural light, cloudy days, because the appearance changes and it is important to fall in love with your countertop material. When you walk through the door at night or pitter patter into the kitchen in the morning, your countertop material needs to make you happy.

Here are some cleaning tips for granite and quartz:

Acidic cleaning products and anything vinegar-based can damage granite or quartz, so only use warm water, a conservative amount of soap and a wet sponge or soft cloth to clean the surface. Granite can be porous if it isn’t sealed properly, so it should be cleaned thoroughly and sealed before it’s installed. If you do select granite, it is important to talk with your granite provider or the company that installed your countertops to inquire about specialized products.

The secret to keeping your countertop clean is to blot up a spill before it becomes a stain. Of course, this may not be so simple if you have a chaotic family or are throwing a party. But wiping something up with simple soap and water is much easier than having to deal with a stain later.

Here are a few things that could hurt your countertops:

Coffee or soda can dull the surface.

Although solid surface material can withstand the heat of a pot or other cookware, use a trivet or coaster to avoid sliding the pan, which can cause scratching.

Don’t use any vinegar, ammonia or citrus-based cleaners, because they’re too acidic and can dull the surface.

Daily maintenance of your countertops requires only a cloth and some warm water. Dry the counter thoroughly to avoid water stains.

What if you miss a spill and it becomes a stain? Try this gentle baking soda solution. If your stain is water-based, add a little hydrogen peroxide to the baking soda. If your stain is oil-based, add water instead. Make your baking soda/liquid mixture into a paste. Spread it over the stain and let it sit overnight — or even a day or two for stubborn stains. Then, rinse off and dry the counter. This homemade paste is called a poultice. You can buy it premade at any home improvement store.

Keep us posted as to the material that wins your hearts and whatever that is, enjoy.

Remember to tune in to YCCA’s Hammer Time every Saturday and Sunday morning 7 a.m. on KQNA 11:30 a.m., 99.9 fm, 95.5 fm or the web Listen to Sandy to Mike talk about the construction industry, meet your local community partners and so much more. What a great way to start your weekend.


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