The Other Stone Countertops

The Other Stone Countertops

When most people think about natural stone countertops, granite and marble usually come to mind first. They are the two most written about, most popular and most widespread natural stone materials that people are familiar with. However, there are several other natural stone materials that should also be considered for countertop projects. Here, we will explore some of the other natural stone choices.

Limestone

Advantages:

  • Cost – Limestone usually does not cost as much as some other natural stones.
  • A variety of color hues – While largely neutral, limestone does come in a color range including tan, rose, gray, and variety of other neutral tones
  • Durability – Limestone is a very durable natural stone that will last beautifully for years.

Disadvantages

  • Softness – Limestone is a softer stone, so it is more prone to scratching.
  • Porosity – Since it is a soft stone, it is more porous than some other natural stones. To buy yourself some time against stains, make sure to keep your limestone sealed properly.
  • Acid sensitive – Common acidic foods like lemons, limes, tomatoes, and red wine or vinegar can etch limestone. Just be careful when preparing or using these items on your limestone countertop, even with a cutting board.

Quartzite

Advantages:

  • Very hard and durable – Actually scores just a bit better on the Mohs scale than granite.
  • Easy to clean – After sealing, it just needs soap and water cleanup.
  • UV resistant – Quartzite won’t fade or darken in direct sunlight.

 Disadvantages:

  • Usually more costly – The stone itself is rarer, so it does usually cost more than some other natural stones.
  • Prone to etching and staining – Even with sealing, spills will need to be tended to as quickly as possible to prevent staining and /or etching.
  • Not DIY friendly – DIY folks should not install or try to repair this stone.

 Soapstone

Advantages:

  • DIY friendly – Soapstone is a softer stone, so it does scratch. However, most scratches can be dealt with by the homeowner. Also, since soapstone doesn’t need sealing, only waxing or oiling, this can also be a DIY project as well.
  • Doesn’t stain – Soapstone is considered a non-porous material, which means it doesn’t stain.
  • Durable – Even though it is a softer stone, soapstone is very durable and can last for years if not decades when properly maintained.

Disadvantages:

  • Limited color range – Soapstone usually comes in grey or black, although it can contain hues of green or blue with some white veining.
  • Maintenance – Soapstone will develop a patina over time and also wear unevenly. To help alleviate the uneven wear appearance, soapstone should be oiled or waxed.
  • Scratches easily – It is a softer stone, so it is prone to scratching. However, as mentioned above, most scratches can be a DIY fix.

Sandstone

Advantages: 

  • The look – Sandstone has an earthy look and depth that offers a unique and stunning visual appearance.
  • Durability – The main component in sandstone is either quartz or feldspar, making it a very durable stone material.
  • Maintenance – Once properly sealed, sandstone doesn’t require any special cleaners. Water, mild detergent, and a soft cloth are all that is necessary.

Disadvantages:

  • Porosity – Sandstone is very porous and soaks up liquid quickly, which can lead to unsightly stains.
  • Scratches – Using a cutting board on sandstone is highly recommended since it does scratch easily.
  • Sealing – Sandstone, because it is so porous, needs to be sealed and regularly resealed with a high-quality impregnating sealer. An impregnating sealer does not prevent staining. It does give you more time to deal with the spill before it becomes a stain.

Soapstone is the most DIY friendly natural stone choice. Most scratches and other imperfections, such as uneven wear can be dealt with by the homeowner. However, other natural stone materials can be renewed or repaired by qualified, professional restoration technicians.

Sometimes we get preconditioned. Granite, marble, granite, and marble is all we hear. There are many other wonderful natural stone choices out there for countertops. If granite and marble were our only natural options, then mother nature wouldn’t have given us all those other beautiful choices.


By Sharon Koehler. This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

How to Clean and Maintain a Stone Pool Deck

By Frederick M. Hueston

Do you have a stone pool deck and are wondering how to maintain it? Do you need to seal it? How do you deal with stains? The following will give you guidance from a pro on what you need to do to keep your stone pool deck looking great.

Basic Stone Pool Deck Maintenance

To maintain a stone pool deck, you should regularly:

  1. Sweep or blow leaves and debris off the deck to prevent staining and discoloration.
  2. Clean the deck with a neutral cleaner and water to remove any dirt or algae that may have accumulated.
  3. Seal the deck every 1-2 years to protect the stone from water damage and staining.
  4. Check for and repair any cracks or chips in the stone to prevent further damage.
  5. Keep the pH levels of your pool water balanced to prevent damage to the deck.
  6. Keep the trees and plants around the pool trimmed to prevent leaves and branches from falling on the deck.
  7. Use mats or rugs to prevent any scratches or stains from pool chairs and other furniture.
  8. Consider using a professional cleaning service to maintain your stone pool deck for best results.

Other Issues that May Arise

Sinking Pavers – If you notice your pavers becoming uneven or sinking, consider the location of the affected area. If it is around the pool shell, it may be due to a broken pipe or improper backfill compaction, which requires professional repair. If the sinking is happening in other areas, it’s probably due to a poor sub-base compaction. To fix this, remove the pavers in the affected area and add more fill.

Weed Growth – Weeds grow by seedlings landing in joint spaces where sand has washed out between pavers, not from the bottom up. Properly installed pavers with good materials can help prevent weed growth, but weeds can still find ways to grow. Spot weed killers can effectively treat isolated weed issues, but avoid oil-based products as they can stain natural stone pavers.

Ants – Ants can create unsightly sand dunes on your patio and pose a stinging hazard. To get rid of them, you can use a mild insect repellent and spray it on any nests or areas with a lot of ants. As a longer-term solution, consider having insect treatment sprayed around the area. Additionally, using a product like “sand lock” can prevent ants from accessing the sand between your pavers.

Other helpful hints for avoiding ants are as follows:

  1. Keep the area clean: Ants are attracted to food and sugary substances, so make sure to clean up any spills or crumbs on the pool deck.
  2. Use ant baits: Ant baits contain a slow-acting poison that the ants will take back to their colony, killing the queen and the rest of the colony.
  3. Use a natural repellent: Essential oils like peppermint, cinnamon, and citrus can help to repel ants. Mix a few drops of the oil with water and place in containers around the perimeter of the pool deck.
  4. Use a barrier: a barrier of diatomaceous earth or talcum powder can help to keep ants off the pool deck.
  5. Call a professional exterminator: If the ant problem persists, you may want to consider calling a professional exterminator to help control the infestation.

It’s important to remember that preventing ants from entering your home is the best way to control an ant problem indoors.

Sealing Your Stone Pool Deck

To seal your stone paver pool deck you will want to use an excellent quality stone impregnating sealer. Impregnators are designed to sink into the pores of the stone and protect it from within. You DO NOT want to use any sealers that place a topical layer over the surface of the stone.This will block the breathing of the stone and will not allow it to breathe.

Caution: Avoid impregnators that are designed for color enhancing. These sealers will darken the stone.

How do you know if your stone deck needs to be sealed?

Test the stone surface by placing some water on the stone. Wait five minutes to see if the water soaks into the stone. This will result in a dark area. If the stone soaks up the water then seal it with a superior quality stone impregnating sealer, per directions below.

DIY directions for applying the impregnator:

  1. Clean the surface of the stone thoroughly using a neutral cleaner and water, making sure to remove any dirt, dust, or stains.
  2. Allow the stone to dry completely. This may take several days. Ideally check with a moisture meter.
  3. Shake the impregnator well before use.
  4. Apply the impregnator to the stone surface using a brush, roller, or sprayer. Be sure to saturate the stone completely, but avoid leaving any excess impregnator on the surface.
  5. Allow the impregnator to penetrate the stone for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer. I like to allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
  6. Wipe any excess impregnator off the surface of the stone with a clean, dry cloth.
  7. Allow the impregnator to cure completely before using the stone surface or applying any sealers.

Usually, 24 hours is sufficient for curing. Please note that different impregnators may have different instructions, please always refer to the product directions before use.

How to Remove Rust Stains from Stone Pool Pavers

Rust stains can occur from furniture placed on the stone surface as well as from irrigation water,etc. To remove them, it is important to use the following procedures as soon as possible.

To remove rust stains from marble using a poultice

You will need the following materials:

  1. A mixing bowl
  2. A spoon or spatula
  3. A white, powdery rust remover (such as Iron Out*)
  4. A white, absorbent material (such as flour or talcum powder)
  5. Plastic wrap
  6. Painters tape

Steps for making your poultice

  1. In the mixing bowl, combine equal parts of the rust remover and the absorbent material and water until it forms a paste.
  2. Spread the paste over the rust stain (about 1/8 inch thick) and cover it with plastic wrap.
  3. Secure the plastic wrap in place with tape.
  4. Allow the poultice to sit on the stain for at least 24 hours.
  5. Remove the plastic wrap and discard the poultice.
  6. Rinse the area thoroughly with water and dry it with a clean cloth.
  7. It is always recommended to test the solution on a small area before applying to the entire surface.

Important! Iron Out is available in a liquid and powder form. Do not use the liquid. Only use the powdered Iron Out.

Removing Other Stains from Your Stone Pool Deck

Stains other than rust can be caused by wine or other food and drinks. The following is how to treat them.

  1. Mix a cleaning agent that is proper for the type of stain and the type of stone. Common cleaning agents used in poultices include hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and ammonia. Most wine and other food and drink stains can be removed with the above procedure with a 20 volume hydrogen peroxide solution. This peroxide can be purchased at most beauty supply stores (sold as hair developer).
  2. Add an absorbent material to the cleaning agent to create a thick paste. Common absorbent materials used in poultices include flour, talcum powder, and diatomaceous earth.
  3. Apply the poultice mixture to the stain and cover it with plastic wrap or wax paper to keep it from drying out too fast.
  4. Allow the poultice to sit on the stain for at least 24 hours, or longer if the stain is particularly stubborn.
  5. Remove the poultice and wipe the area with a clean, damp cloth.
  6. Rinse the area thoroughly with water and dry it with a clean cloth.

Note: Before trying the poultice method, test the cleaning agent on a small, inconspicuous area of the stone to make sure it doesn’t damage or discolor the stone. Also always make sure to read the instructions for the cleaning agent and for the stone.

Follow the above maintenance instructions and you will enjoy your stone pool deck for years.


By Fred Hueston. This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

Carpet Cleaning Extra Services

Do I need to have my carpet professionally cleaned?

The short answer is yes. Carpet manufacturers all recommend that you have your carpets professionally cleaned on a regular basis. Regular cleaning helps to prolong the look and life of your carpets. Regular cleaning doesn’t mean weekly or even monthly. Depending on the type of carpet you have, wear and tear, foot traffic and if you have children or pets, regular cleaning is recommended every 6-18 months.

Is basic carpet cleaning service good enough?

Again, the short answer is yes. However, there may be circumstances where you need some “extra services” that the carpet cleaner can provide.

What are some of the extra services my carpet cleaner may provide?

  • Furniture moving – Some carpet cleaners charge for this service, some do not. Check with your cleaner to see how they handle it. There may also be a limit to how much and what they will move.
  • Stain removal – Some stains you can handle yourself, some you can’t. If you happen to have a stubborn stain that you can’t get out yourself, let your carpet cleaner know. Be prepared by knowing what the stain is (coffee, pet accident, etc.), how old it is, what you tried to clean it with and what your carpet type is. This information will help your service provider to bring the right cleaning materials for your situation.
  • Step or staircase cleaning – Obviously, steps and staircases aren’t flat, so they do require more work to clean them. Also, staircases are not always lit the same way a room is, so you may not realize how dirty your steps are. If you know you need this service, inform your cleaner from the start. It may be part of a service package they offer, or there may be an extra charge. If you are unsure, talk to your service provider when they are in your home.
  • Deodorizing – Deodorizing is meant to eliminate odor. This added step will have your carpet or rug smelling good, to go along with looking good after the cleaning. You might wonder if you really need it since you are having your carpet cleaned anyway. Keep in mind that no process is 100%. This is especially true if you have pets or small children, there is a smoker in the home, or if it has been a while since you last had your carpet cleaned. These circumstances may dictate a deodorizing procedure.
  • Sanitizing – If you are having your carpet steam cleaned, this added step may not be necessary since the hot water will kill most germs and bacteria. However, again, keep in mind that no process is 100%. If you have young pets or children prone to accidents, or if someone with allergies or breathing issues is in the home, you should discuss this with your service provider.
  • Stain repellent – There are products your service provider can put on your carpet that will help prevent staining. This application is usually recommended for high traffic or high use areas where accidents and spills are more likely to occur.

Regular carpet cleaning is a great way to enhance the beauty of your carpeted areas, plus it helps to minimize the damage regular wear and tear can create. Extra services provided by your carpet cleaning professional can boost the effect of carpet cleaning and help to prolong the life and beauty of your carpets. Just be sure to discuss your budget, circumstances, and concerns with your service provider so they can best assist you with your concerns and expectations.


By Sharon Koehler. This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

The Versatility of Stone

We may need to change how we think about natural stone

Most of the time, when people think about natural stone, what comes to mind is building facades, countertops, shower surrounds, floors, and other “big” projects. That doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Natural stone is great for smaller projects outside as well as inside.

Why is natural stone great for smaller outdoor projects?

Since natural stone is created by nature in combination with the environment, it contains the natural elements of the earth. It doesn’t need to be protected from environmental issues such as rain, snow, heat, or cold. It will age with the weather, remaining beautiful and strong for years to come. However, if somehow it does become damaged, natural stone is renewable and repairable. A simple call to a natural stone restoration contractor can get your outside stone restored.

What are some smaller outdoor projects for natural stone?

  • Firepits – Natural stone can be cut into rectangular and sometimes curved blocks to create a firepit.
  • Walkways – Natural stone pavers are an excellent choice for walkways and sidewalks.
  • Tabletops – There is no better way to accessorize your outdoor look than with natural stone tabletops for your outdoor coffee or end tables. Fabricators usually have an assortment of smaller pieces left over from installed projects.
  • Garden edging – Add color and charm to your garden by using natural stone for garden edging and dividers. Showcase or spotlight those special areas of interest in your garden.

Why is natural stone great for smaller indoor projects?

Natural stone comes in a wide variety of colors, sizes, shapes, and stone types. With all this variety, there are so many smaller projects that can be done with natural stone. Natural stone is renewable and repairable so if it does become dull or damaged, it can be repaired.

  • Shelves – Keeping in mind that natural stone can be heavy, 2 cm might be better for shelf projects. However, with proper support, natural stone does make unique, beautiful shelves.
  • Windowsills – Wooden windowsills can be affected by several things, including weather (sometimes we forget to close the windows when it rains), in home humidity, and age. You can replace aging wooden windowsills with natural stone windowsills that will add beauty to any room and will last indefinitely. This is especially nice if you are getting a new countertop and you get a matching windowsill in your kitchen or bath.
  • Curbs and thresholds – If you are getting a new natural stone vanity top, or tub surround, consider getting a shower curb to match. You can also replace the dirty, worn thresholds in your home with natural stone. Natural stone will clean easily and hold up well. If it does become damaged, a simple call to a natural stone restoration contractor can get your inside stone restored.
  • Raised feeding platform for pets – If you have a large dog, vets recommend that you raise their feeding dishes off the floor. The trouble is that large dogs are strong, and they can push those feeding platforms around, causing a mess. A natural stone platform is heavy and difficult to push around, but very easy to clean.

Can smaller natural stone projects be used around food and drink?

Absolutely. Natural stone has many uses in these areas. Pastry chefs love marble countertops and pastry boards for making great desserts. Soapstone whiskey stones stay cold, don’t dilute drinks, and are a great conversation starter. A natural stone mortar and pestle can be used for grinding spices AND think about how stunning a natural stone charcuterie board would be!

Natural stone can be used in so many ways, big or small. It can add style and pop inside and out. It seems a shame to only think about it in terms of “big” projects.


By Sharon Koehler. This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

Upright vs Canister Vacuums

Choosing a Vacuum Cleaner

It’s common knowledge that having your carpet and floors professionally cleaned regularly extends their life and keeps them looking newer longer. Yet, there needs to be some routine cleaning done in-between professional cleanings. Spills and stains need to be addressed as soon as possible and routine vacuuming is essential to keeping your carpets and floors clean in between professional cleanings. However, what you vacuum with is just as important as the vacuuming itself. Here we are going to look at the pros and cons of the 2 most commonly used types of vacuums: upright and cannister vacuums.

Pros of Upright Vacuum Cleaners

Ease of Use: Due to the all-in-one design, an upright is easier to move. It can be pushed easily from room to room with little effort.

Wide Footprint: The vacuum head of an upright is usually bigger than a canister making it quicker to vacuum even the largest of areas.

Emptying Debris: Most modern uprights have plastic containers that collect the debris. These containers snap in and out quickly and easily, plus they have a one touch button making emptying easy.

Storage: Their design makes it possible for uprights to stand alone in corners or closets without taking up much space.

Pros of Cannister Vacuum Cleaners

Noise: Cannister vacuums are a bit quieter than uprights. Their decibel level is about the same as a washing machine. This may be a factor if you have babies, dogs or someone in your home that has sensitive hearing.

Suction: Generally, cannister vacuums have more suction power. They are great at cleaning bare floors and can clean carpets effectively.

Cords: Retractable cords are stored inside a cannister vacuum. This reduces the chance of a trip and fall accident while it is in use or in storage.

Weight: Cannister vacuums usually weigh less. The difference in pounds may not be much, but their design makes them seem less cumbersome and heavy.

Cons of Upright Vacuum Cleaners

Noise: Their nose level is louder than cannister vacuums. It is something close to a coffee grinder. If you have babies or dogs, they may find it uncomfortable.

Weight: Uprights can weigh 20 pounds or more. While they push fairly easily, if you have stairs, lugging 20+ pounds up and down can get tiresome. You might want to consider a hand-held or stick vac for stairs.

Maneuverability: The vacuum head is bigger and wider on an upright so it doesn’t get into all the little corners and may require balancing on stairs if the head is wider than the stair itself.

Cords: Cords are stored on the outside of the vacuum and frequently lay on the floor while in use. This presents a trip and fall hazard.

Cons of Cannister Vacuums

Storage: Due to their design, cannister vacuums along with their cords and attachments take up much more space than an upright. If you have limited storage space, that may be a consideration.

Effectiveness: Even though they generally have more suction power than an upright, uprights are routinely rated to clean carpets more effectively. Take into consideration what types of flooring surfaces you have in your home when making a vacuum decision.

Maneuverability: A cannister vacuum rolls on wheels as you pull it from room to room. If you have thick carpet or rugs, the smaller wheels may get bogged down or stuck in the carpet.

Emptying Debris: Bagged cannister vacuums are more efficient at picking up dirt and debris. However, throwing away a dirty bag filled with debris and dust can be a hassle. Those vacuum bags need to be replaced every month or two, so you are continuously having to buy new bags. That can become costly over time. There are bagless models available, but they tend to be more expensive.

A vacuum clearer should be considered an investment in helping to extend the life of your flooring surfaces. Price should not be the only consideration.

  • What types of surfaces do you have?
  • Are there stairs involved?
  • Do you have pets?
  • Are there people or animals that may be bothered by noise?
  • Does anyone have a respiratory problem?

All these things need to be taken into consideration when purchasing a vacuum cleaner. In this particular situation, if all you consider is price, you may end up not getting what you need.


By Sharon Koehler. This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

5 Common Stone Misconceptions

In all phases of life, different products come and go. Some are good, some are not. The one thing they all have in common is that every product, no matter what it is, has some sort of “misconception” or mistruth told about it. Carrots improve night vision, canned vegetables are not healthy, coffee stunts growth, etc. Stone is no different. There are plenty of misconceptions surrounding natural stone and natural stone projects.

Let’s take a look at some of the more common stone misconceptions:

#1 – Natural Stone is High Maintenance: Natural stone does require maintenance but it is not necessarily “high maintenance.” Cutting boards are recommended on stone, but they are for other types of countertops as well. Regular cleaning is recommended, but again, for other types of countertop material also, not just stone. The biggest difference is sealing. Most stone does require sealing but that doesn’t have to be a big deal. Fabricators will seal it before installation. If it ever needs resealing, your stone pro can help with that.

#2 – Natural Stone is Expensive: Granted, some natural stone can be expensive BUT natural stone comes in a wide variety of price ranges. It is inexpensive enough that homeowners, home builders, and contractors use it for their projects every day. It is also expensive enough to go into high-end projects. The price of stone depends on a lot of different things, but stone can fit into almost any budget.

#3 – Natural Stone Cannot be Repaired: Restoration contractors repair stone every day, fabricators and installers as well. All sorts of damage to stone can be fixed. Chips, pits, cracks, and stains are among some of the things that can be successfully corrected by stone professionals. In fact, stone can be repaired to like new, unlike many other materials.

#4 – Stone is Out of Style: Trends have come and gone throughout time. Quartz, laminate, butcher block, porcelain, etc. have all shared the market with natural stone. However, natural stone has been, and still is, a wise choice for projects, inside and out. Natural stone has a lasting style. It has been the center of projects, big and small for centuries. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Mount Rushmore, and Angkor Wat are but a few testaments to its lasting durability. The millions of kitchen countertops, fireplace surrounds, and floor and wall projects are a tribute to its beauty and sustainability.

#5 – Natural Stone Stains Quickly and Easily: Yes, natural stone can stain. However, a properly sealed surface can buy you time to deal with a spill before it becomes a stain. Sealers slow down the absorption of the potential stain. You would naturally wipe up any spills on any other material, stone is just the same. On the off chance that it does stain, you can consult our stain guide under the resources tab on our website or call us for help.

Natural stone, like everything else out there, has misconceptions and and mistruths. When shopping for material for a project, make sure you get the truth of the material and not the “misconceptions” connected to it.


By Sharon Koehler. This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

Carpet Padding

What is carpet padding?

Carpet padding is a separate piece of underlayment that you put down between the floor and the bottom of your carpet or area rug. It can be made of a variety of different materials, such as rubber, fiber, or foam. Carpet padding can normally be purchased as a pad or a roll and if needed, it can be cut, usually with scissors, to fit your space

Why do I need carpet padding?

There are several reasons you should always get carpet padding under your carpet or area rug.

  • Makes walking easier – Carpet padding absorbs the shock and impact of your footsteps, helping to alleviate walking fatigue. It also makes walking softer and more comfortable.
    Absorbs sounds- Studies show that carpet padding actually absorbs sound, making your footsteps quieter and less likely to disturb other people. This is especially important in multi-story homes.
  • Carpet Life – Having a carpet pad under your carpet or area rug helps to extend the life of your carpet. A carpet pad helps to reduce fiber crushing and keeps your carpet looking and feeling softer for much longer than a carpet without a pad underneath. It also absorbs the impact of everyday wear and tear, which also extends the life of your carpet.
  • Insulation – Carpet padding helps to insulate your home. It helps with heat retention in the winter and cool air retention in the summer, in turn helping to reduce your heating and cooling bills.
  • Protection – A carpet pad underneath your carpet or rug helps to protect your original floor from damage. Sometimes the backing on a carpet can scratch your original floor. Plus, any spills or pet stains that seep through the carpet itself, will also have to go through the pad before it reaches the original floor.
  • Safety – This is important with area rugs. Padding can keep area rugs from slipping and sliding, reducing slip and fall accidents

Does thickness matter?

The thickness of carpet padding actually does matter. The thickness of the pad should range somewhere between ¼ inch and 7/16 of an inch, although some experts say ½ inch is fine. Thickness should depend on the type of carpet fiber and the location where the carpet is being put.

  • If your padding is too thin, it will not absorb the shocks, and wear and tear needed to extend the life of your carpet or area rug. Plus, it will not cushion your footsteps or absorb sounds as well.
  • If your padding is too thick, it can cause uneven wear on your carpet, as well as promote seam splitting.
  • Talk to your carpet specialist about the thickness that is best for the carpet or rug you have.

Can carpet padding be cleaned?

Sometimes yes and sometimes no. The trick to cleaning the pad is to remove the carpet on top. With wall-to-wall carpet, that is not so easy. With area rugs, that process is much easier. However, if you can’t remove the carpet or if the stain is very bad, the best thing to do is to consult your carpet cleaning specialists. They can guide you on the best course of action for cleaning your pad.

You wouldn’t wash dishes without detergent or get a new computer without virus software. You shouldn’t get new carpet or rugs without the correct padding underneath. Consider the padding to be a helper in your carpet or rug investment. It will help to extend the life of your carpet or rug and make you more comfortable at the same time. Remember, always get the padding with the carpet.


This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

Granite vs Porcelain for Countertops

Times change, trends change. In the recent past, laminate was the countertop of choice. Over time, that trend gave way to natural stone, like granite, soapstone, or marble. Then quartz came along and became popular. Now, porcelain has entered the countertop market. Not as tile (although that is an option), but as full-size slabs for countertops. The question is: How does porcelain stack up against granite for countertops?

What is Granite?

Granite is a 100% natural stone product, created by the ongoing processes of mother nature and the earth. Man finds it and mines it but has nothing to do with its creation.

What is Porcelain?

Porcelain is a man-made product, created by engineers. It contains soft, white clay and various other materials such as feldspar, quartz, ash, sand, and other ingredients. Once mixed, these materials are shaped and then heated to over 2,200 degrees.

Pros and Cons of Granite Countertops:

Pros:
  • 100% natural
  • Stain resistant – When properly sealed, granite is stain resistant.
  • Unique – Not only is each color unique but no two slabs in a color are the same.
  • LEED points – Granite can contribute to LEED points in projects.
  • Variety – Granite comes in hundreds of assorted colors.
  • Readily available – Granite is mined throughout the world.
  • Heat resistant – Hot pots and pans can be placed on granite surfaces. (Although trivets are recommended.)
  • Repairs – If granite is damaged, it can be normally be repaired by a qualified stone restoration technician.
  • Longevity – Granite has been around for thousands of years. It has shown itself to be a stable, beautiful, versatile product we can use for countertops and various other projects.
Cons:
  • Seams – Depending on the size of the project there may be visible seams.
  • Expense – Granite comes in a wide range of price points, but depending on the look and color you want, it may be costly.
  • Damage – Granite is a very durable product but it can be damaged. Chips and cracks can happen if something is dropped on the stone.
  • Maintenance – Granite is not maintenance free. To avoid stains, wipe up spills as soon as possible, and clean with a stone safe cleaner as needed.
  • Sealing – Granite sealer is not permanent. Occasionally, resealing your granite may be necessary. This should be done by a qualified stone technician that understands the qualities of your specific granite.

Pros and Cons of Porcelain Countertops:

Pros:
  • Heat proof – Porcelain is created with extremely high heat, so the normal heat of hot pots and pans won’t normally harm it.
  • Low maintenance – Clean with soap and water. Sealing is not needed.
  • UV resistant – Porcelain won’t fade in the sunlight, making it great for outdoor projects.
  • Chemical resistant – Acidic foods or harsh chemicals won’t etch, fade, or dull the surface.
Cons:
  • Edges – Porcelain is a thinner material than granite, so the edge options are limited.
  • Variety – Porcelain does offer a variety of colors and patterns but because the countertop aspect of porcelain is still new, it does not have the wide variety of granite.
  • Longevity – Porcelain for countertops is relatively new to the market so there are not a lot of statistics or information about the long-term stability of porcelain as a countertop material.
  • Expense – While porcelain may not be more expensive than granite, because it is a thinner material, edges may have to be laminated or the countertop may need a backer board, adding to fabrication costs.
  • Depth of color – Unless you specifically request through body porcelain (a product where the pattern of the porcelain goes all the way through the slab), you may end up with a color body product. A color body porcelain only has the pattern on top of the slab. It does not go all the way through, so when cut, the edges will not be the same as the top of the slab.
  • Cracking – Porcelain, while very durable, can be prone to cracking. Porcelain is a rigid, thinner material making it much more susceptible to cracking during fabrication, installation, and everyday use.

No one product is 100% perfect for every project. It’s best to do the research, and talk to professionals, weigh the pros and cons of each surface and decide which one best suits your needs. Taking these steps will ensure you choose the surface that is best for you.


This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

Sealers Can Help Protect Your Stone

[This article was originally published in October of 2018]

Kitchen countertops, bathroom vanity tops, bar tops, and the like can be prone to staining because they are exposed to oily or dye-containing substances on a daily, or sometimes, even an hourly basis. Consequently, a sealer should be applied to help prevent staining. Choosing the correct type of sealer can be very important for how the sealer performs. An experienced, professional stone restoration contractor will know which sealer is best, taking into consideration the characteristics of the particular type of stone to which it will be applied and the location where the stone is installed.

Impregnating Sealers

Impregnating sealers, also known as penetrating sealers, are the most commonly used sealers. They are applied to natural stone to inhibit staining. Impregnating sealers penetrate below the surface and protect the stone from within. They are formulated with water-repellent and oil-repellent substances. Topical sealers are available, but can be problematic, and are very seldom recommended.

Misconceptions About Sealers

There are many misconceptions about what a sealer does and doesn’t do. It is important to note that sealers do not prevent traffic patterns or etching. The surface of the stone is still vulnerable to acidic substances, scratches, dullness, and other damage. In addition, natural stone, even when it is properly sealed, is not stain proof, it is merely stain resistant. In other words, it buys some time so that spills can be cleaned before they penetrate into the stone and become stains. After natural stone is sealed, it still needs to be regularly cleaned with pH neutral stone care products and periodically refinished or resealed.

New High Performance Protective Treatments

There are new protective treatments that, unlike impregnating sealers, offer both etch and stain protection.

Ask us about how we can help protect your natural stone.


This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

Why You Should Rearrange Your Furniture

There is a Lot to Be Said for Rearranging Your Furniture

[This article was originally published in October 2018]

Furniture arrangement sets a tone for how a space is used. Once you’ve settled on a layout that works for you, why change it? Well, it turns out that there are actually quite a few benefits associated with changing your furniture layout. Here are the details.

Psychological Benefits

Did you know there may actually be psychological benefits to rearranging furniture? For creative people, rearranging furniture is an opportunity for creative expression. For people who want to hit an emotional reset button, rearranging furniture provides physical and visual evidence of change. If the urge for a fresh decorating scheme hits you, rearranging furniture can create a sense of newness without the expense of replacing your current furniture. And last but not least, it certainly can’t hurt to take the focus off of the TV and establish a space that is more conducive to social interaction.

It’s Good for Carpets and Rugs

Carpets and rugs are subject to damage from foot traffic, heavy furniture, and sun fading. Rearranging your furniture is a great way to combat all three problems. The more you are able to alter traffic patterns and create new walkways in a space, the less likely your carpets and rugs are to develop uneven wear, tracking, and footpaths. Moving heavy furniture also helps prevent excessive compression of the fibers, because it gives the fibers a chance to recuperate and bounce back. When you rotate the position of furniture, solar damage is spread more evenly and is less noticeable.

Better Health and Fatter Pocketbook

Dust and dander tend to collect under and behind furniture. Every time you rearrange your furniture, it creates a convenient opportunity for some quick spring cleaning. If you have carpeting or rugs, they act as giant air filters, reducing the allergens in the air you breathe, and consequently, they should be professionally cleaned on a regular basis. Many of our clients time their furniture rearranging with our services twice per year. Their most used furniture is placed according to the season, maximizing warmth coming in from a sunny window or near a fireplace in the fall or winter and taking advantage of coolness near an air conditioner vent or open window in the spring or summer.

Overcoming Limitations

If the room size limits your ability to rearrange furniture, consider reducing how much furniture you have or replacing large pieces with smaller ones. An overcrowded room feels oppressive. The more walking space there is, as well as the more space there is between walls and furniture, the less confining a room will feel. Having less furniture or smaller size furniture can really help.

If, for whatever reason, you can’t rearrange your room entirely, consider adjusting the furniture by a few inches every few months to avoid excessive compression of the carpet and rug fibers.


By Sharon Koehler. This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.