Our family has been involved in the mining, cutting, finishing, installing and repairing of natural stone for over 40 years. This working knowledge of the entire process allows us to offer answers to these frequently asked questions about Granite. Marble. Onyx. Travertine. Quartzite.
What is the difference between marble and granite?
Apart from the fact that both are stone, they have little in common except time.
Marble is formed when limestone is subjected to eons of heat and pressure from the earth’s crust. During this time, the limestone changes in texture and makeup, a process known as recrystallization. Impurities present during the process give marble its variety of colors. The purest marble is white. Ancient Greeks used marble in statues and buildings. A number of the sculptures of the Italian genius, Michelangelo are marble.
Granite is formed when magma, or molten rock, is forced into crevasses in other rocks in the earth’s crust, typically deep within mountain ranges. The material, generally made up of quartz, feldspar and mica, cools and crystallizes underground. Granite can be pink or gray. It takes its color from the composition of the feldspar. Granite is most commonly used in building materials.
Granite is an igneous rock, which is a much harder stone. Therefore, it may need harder abrasives for refinishing.
To identify granite, do a scratch test. Take a knife blade, and try scratching the surface (in an inconspicuous place). If it's hard to scratch, then it's likely to be granite (or some type of igneous rock). If you are able to scratch the stone, it is either marble or limestone.
Granite generally doesn't react with acids (with the exception of Hydrofluoric Acid - HF).
Marble is a much softer stone than granite. Marble is a metamorphic rock containing calcium carbonate, which reacts to acids. With this information, you now know that acidic cleaners will damage most marble surfaces.
Marble is also sensitive to acidic foods like lemon and vinegar, so it's not always a good choice for kitchen countertops.
You can usually identify marble because of its distinct swirls or veins.
Before caring for stone surfaces, make sure you know with what type of stone you're dealing. Once you know that, you'll be able to choose the right cleaner for the job.
Why is marble harder to care for than granite in kitchen countertops?
After fabrication, the marble is sealed, just as granite is. But since marble is created from limestone, it is innately more porous than granite and therefore more difficult to make impervious to stains. It also is a softer stone and more susceptible to damage in the kitchen where spills and dropped objects are common.
What are the best uses for marble?
This luxurious stone is best used in floors, to face fireplaces, and in elegant bath, shower and hot tub enclosures.
What’s the best way to clean marble countertops?
Wipe well with a damp soft cloth and buff dry with a chamois once a week. For stains, use a non-abrasive cleaner, such as acetone, hydrogen peroxide or clear ammonia. Apply the cleaner with a clean cloth, and buff dry. Countertops can be polished using a marble polish containing tin oxide.
How should I clean a marble floor?
We recommend cleaning marble flooring with a stone sealer and a standard, non-abrasive floor cleaner.
Are there ways to protect my marble?
We recommend always using coasters under glasses, plastic under cosmetics, and rugs in high-traffic areas of marble floors. Refer scratches to a professional.
Which stone should I use for kitchen countertops?
The sheer beauty of marble has convinced many homeowners to choose it for kitchen countertops, despite the fact that it is more difficult to maintain. It can be sealed, but it is more porous than granite and therefore more susceptible to stains, as well as chipping and cracking. Marble is much better suited to bathroom vanities, tabletops, shelving, floors and accents around fireplaces. With hundreds of colors and shades available, granite is the better choice for kitchen countertops.
How many choices of granite colors and patterns are there?
There are more than 1,000. Some of our most popular are Baltic Brown, Ubatuba Green, Santa Cecilia, New Venetian Gold, Blue Pearl, Tan Brown, Tropic Brown, Crema Bordeaux, Giallo Ornamental, Giallo Napoleone, GialloVeneziano, Peacock Green, Butterfly Green and Giallo Fioritto.
Can granite be damaged?
Certainly it can be, but not easily. A sharp blow from a heavy object can chip it. However, heat from pots, pans and boiling liquids generally won’t harm the stone. However, granite does need to be sealed or it will absorb stains, causing dark spots or discoloration. Like marble, granite also is porous, but far less so. You might find small pits in the surface of your countertops. This is natural and part of the beauty of the stone.
Will my knives scratch granite?
Probably not, but granite will dull your knives. Make sure to use cutting boards.
Will the granite I choose online or in the store be identical in color and pattern to what’s installed in my home?
The chances are better with some colorations than with others. But because your countertops are not likely to come from the same slab of granite as store samples, there could be some variation, since each granite deposit takes on the coloration of the materials that formed it. For best results, you should pick out in person the granite slabs that will become your project.
Granite is heavy. Can it be cantilevered?
Provided it has proper support, yes. Never use unsupported granite where it might be subjected to significant stress, such as someone sitting or standing on it.
What if my granite needs to be seamed? Won’t that spoil the look?
No, not if installation is done correctly. Seams are made when two pieces of granite are put together and bonded with a thin line of epoxy mixed with a color that matches the stone. The joint is then smoothed, leaving the seam barely visible.
What if my granite does get chipped?
Generally, it can be repaired using a mixture of epoxy and ground up granite of similar color. If you can find and saved the chipped pieces, they can be used in the repair.
What’s the best way to clean a granite countertop?
Use a mild, phosphate-free biodegradable soap with no aromatics, a thorough, clean-water rinse and a dry polish with cotton or chamois. Don’t use detergent. It will build a soap scum that will dull the granite’s finish.
What is travertine?
Like marble, travertine is from the limestone family and often forms near warm or hot springs where bubbles in the water cause voids in the stone. When such springs go cold, onyx is formed, which is why it is not uncommon to find bands of onyx in travertine beds. Since travertine is highly susceptible to scorching, scratching, staining, acidity and even standing water, it is best used for flooring, tub and bath enclosures and outdoor accents. Travertine is available in hundreds of colors.
What is saturnia?
It’s the same thing as travertine, cut differently. Saturnia is cut across the grain of the stone rather than along the grain, as travertine is usually processed.
Could I use onyx for anything?
Onyx makes a bold statement in vanity sinks. Onyx, a semi-precious form of chalcedony, has alternating bands of color, most commonly shades of brown, red, white and black.
Will Excell seal my stone?
Yes, once installation is complete, Excell technicians will seal the surfaces.
How long will the sealer last, and how should I renew it?
The sealer lasts about 18 months. Excell will reseal it for you when needed, or you can do it yourself with a granite sealer available at most hardware and home-improvement stores.
Does Excell install sinks and faucets?
Yes. We have a selection available, or you can buy them elsewhere. Make sure they are the right size and style and that you have enough inside cabinet space for your choices. You will need to know if your countertop requires a drop-in sink or an under-counter mount style. We will include the installation in our project price.
Will you do the plumbing?
Though we do install sinks, our license does not include plumbing. We recommend you hire a licensed plumber to do that work 24 hours after sink installation to be sure the silicone seals are properly dried.
When my old countertops are removed, how long will I be without counters, sinks and water?
Generally, we can remove the old countertops and install the new ones in a single day. If the plumbing is done the following day, you will be without water for only 24 to 36 hours. If the job cannot be done in a day, then old counters would be removed one day and the new ones installed the next day.