Helping Your Customers Help You?

How often have you had a customer come into your shop and start asking you all kinds of questions about granite. Many times they are misinformed and have been giving false information. If only you had something in writing that you could give them to help clear up this confusion. The following is a brief guide that I have prepared to hand out to your customers. Hopefully, this will help eliminate the confusion and help you sell more stone.

Introduction

Congratulations on considering using granite for your new countertops. Granite is becoming the number one material used for countertops in all buildings, and it should be. In a recent study by the Kitchen and Bath Association, granite countertops are being used in nearly one third of all new homes being built today. Granite is a durable material with many advantages over other materials traditionally used. You probably have many questions that need to be answered before you start shopping for your new countertops. We are here to help answer your questions and, most importantly, to provide you with a stone countertop that will last you for years.

Granite from (Your Shop Name)

Granite is an excellent choice for countertops. It is very scratch resistant. Most granite will not be affected by acidic foods. Hot plates can be placed directly on the surface. Some granites are moderately porous and can stain very easily; therefore, proper sealing is a must. We seal all stone before it is installed. Granite is also available in polished and matte finishes. Granite is also expensive but is one of the most beautiful countertops available.

Granite—Dispelling the Myths

Many of you will use granite for your new countertops, and you will run into many myths when shopping for granite. The following will help you deal with these myths and rumors.

Do not use granite. It is dangerous and can harm you. Granite emits radon, and it can also harbor bacteria. These are some of the statements that are being rumored lately. They are absolutely not true. Let’s take a look at each one of these rumors:

Myth #1—Granite can harbor harmful bacteria!
This statement is simply untrue. We contacted The Center for Disease Control(CDC) and The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to find out how many cases they had on file where granite has caused any illness or disease as a result of bacteria. They could not find one case, proving that granite will not harbor bacteria. In addition, you would expect someone to clean his or her countertops on a regular basis.

Myth #2—Granite contains harmful radon gasses!
This is another myth that is untrue. This claim was investigated by Donald Langmuir, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Geochemistry at the Colorado School of Mines and President of Hydrochemical Systems Corp. Mr. Langmuir’s response can be found at http://www.natural-stone.com/radonmyth.html

Myth #3—Granite is difficult to clean!
Also, not true. Anyone who works with or owns a granite countertop knows it is very easy to clean. It simply requires wiping with a good stone cleaner. There are even disinfectant cleaners now available for both granite and solid surfaces.

What to Look For

Now that you have decided on granite, it is now time to visit the shop and choose your countertop. As we mentioned, not all granite is the same, and you should look at the slab or slabs from which your granite countertop will be fabricated. The following are some tips that should help avoid any problems.

Slab Selection

Your new granite countertop will be made from a slab of granite. A slab is a large rectangular piece of stone from which your countertop will be cut. Slabs come in various sizes and two thickness (three fourths and one and one fourth inches).

Once you have selected the type of granite you like, then you need to examine the slab very carefully. Look for imperfections, such as nicks, pits, etc. Some of these imperfections can be filled. Check to make sure the granite is not scratched.

If we already have your template made, we will take the template and place it on the slab. This will give you a real good idea of how the countertop will look. If there are any unusual natural flaws, the template may be arranged so that these flaws are not on the countertop when complete. Now is the time to discover these flaws, not when the countertop is already cut.

Things to Discuss Before the Slab is Cut

There are several things you need to discuss with us before the slab is cut.

Seams: How thick will the seams be? A seam is where two pieces of stone meet. An extremely wide seam will be unsightly. Seams should be no wider than one eigth of an inch.

Our shop will place the seams in areas that will provide full support of your new stone countertop.

Cabinets: Before we can measure or template your countertops, the cabinet installer must have the cabinets set and leveled. This is the responsibility of the cabinet installer.

Sinks, cook tops, and fixtures: Before your countertop is fabricated it is important to have your sink, cook top, etc. and all the fixtures you plan on using. Once we cut the openings for the fixtures and appliances, it is too late. Even if a template is available, many times the fixtures and appliances will change and the template will not work. The only way to avoid this is to have the actual sink, cook top, and fixtures available.

Door pulls and cabinet hardware: It is important that the cabinet’s door pulls and hardware are installed. The reason for this is to make sure that the pulls are easily accessible when the countertop is installed.

Overhangs: If you plan on having a large overhang on any of the countertops there is a limit as to how much the countertops can overhang without any additional support. Your fabricator should be able to guide you on the proper overhang limits. For overhangs larger than those recommend you should have them properly supported to withstand a person’s weight. This means placing metal or wood brackets under the countertop.

Installation of your New Countertops

There are also several things you need to discuss about the installation of your countertops. Of course, this is best done before the countertop is installed.

What to Discuss to Ensure a Smooth Installation

Fixture installation: Normally the installation of the fixtures is performed by a plumber. Most plumbers are professionals and know what they are doing, however, many plumbers are not familiar with stone. The number one problem with installation of fixtures is the use of plumber’s putty. Plumbers putty is used on the fixtures to help seal them. Plumbers putty will also stain very easily. Make sure to tell the plumber to use a non-staining putty. Once the countertops are stained with plumber’s putty, it is very difficult to remove.

Acceptable repairs: Many times during fabrication or installation the stone may chip. It is common practice to repair these chips with a polymer type filler. This is considered acceptable by the stone industry as long as the repair does not effect the structural integrity of the stone and that the color of the repair does not detract from the appearance of the stone. Remember, stone is a product of nature, and it may have naturally occurring holes, chips, etc.