Counters and vanities alike typically make or break the design of a room. Between functionality, durability and beauty, many people find themselves at a loss when trying to determine what material to select for their counters and vanities.
With the amount of wear and tear our kitchens and bathroom counter surfaces take on a daily basis, we typically recommend scheduling your counter and vanity surfaces on an annual to semi-annual maintenance program (depending on the surface type).
The MOH's Scale of hardness is important as it tells us how dense and hard a surface type is. It also helps us to identify the scratchability. We need to identify a surface type's scratchability for two reasons. 1) What will the maintenance be like for a surface type and 2) a polish is a scratch pattern. The finer the scratches, the more the pores close and the shinier a surface becomes.
Each surface type category is listed below and also listed is the recommended maintenance program.
Natural Stone countertops deliver gorgeous aesthetics in kitchens and bathrooms and offer many benefits.
Granite and Quartzite Countertops
Quartz based stones offer a rich, dense, durable beauty that few other countertop materials can match. Granite is compromised with minerals they fall into the Moh's scale from 7 - 9. It is a durable product, yet one that is difficult to mechanically polish to achieve that high gloss look. This is why fabricators typically add a resin to the finished product. What kind of resin matters. Ideally you want a slab that has been stored indoors and has an acrylic based resin, not a polyester based resin.
These natural products give a timeless aura and appeal and take a high-quality kitchen or bathroom to the next level visually and often become the centerpiece of the room. With many shades to work with, you can easily find one that blends perfectly with your decor.
(Tip: If you have a backsplash, do not use sanded grout as the sands of the grout will come out and can scratch the resin that helps give your granite that beautiful shine. If you already have sanded grout on your backsplash, do not fret, there is no need to suddenly re-grout. You can color seal your grout to lock in those sands.)
These surface can be very resistant to stains and won’t absorb liquids when it is properly sealed. A well educated professional will be able to seal it correctly so that it maintains its attractive good looks indefinitely. Do not fall for the hype of "permanently sealing" your stone surfaces. There really is no such thing and remember, this is a natural organic material that does need to breathe.
Residential Recommended maintenance program is every 12- 18 months
Marble, Onyx, Travertine, Limestone, Slate, Soapstone Countertops
These materials are very elegant and bring a beautiful focal point to any room. These materials are often comprised of very soft minerals which vary on the Moh's scale between 2 and 3. These stones are pretty absorbent and scratch easily. It is easier to get a polish with these softer stones, but without proper education and experience, one can orange peel or burn the surface quickly.
Sanded grout should not be used on or around these surface types because the aggregate sand used as an added filler in these grouts will scratch the minerals of your stone.
(Tip: You want to try to stay away from Chinese or Indian stones. These are typically poorly doctored stones that will compromise the longevity and maintenance of your surface. Although less expensive to begin with, in the end it is more costly as these tend to need more maintenance or replacement sooner than a good quality manufacturer.)
With literally hundreds of options of colors, finishes and textures, there is no issue with finding the right match for your decorative needs.
Residential Recommended maintenance program is every 6 - 12 months
Faux marble (aka cultured marble), Corian, Quartz, Zodiac, Porcelain, Ceramic and other hard surface materials that are not natural, these all still need care and maintenance. Although these surfaces are often treated very differently. These are commonly treated very similarly to the body of an automobile because these do not offer the layer by layer that natural stone offers. These cannot just be brought down to the next layer and refinished. Although we do often work with these materials, in many cases, color matching and repairs are generally very difficult.
Residential Recommended maintenance program is on an as needed basis. Ideally every 12 months to avoid irreversible staining or damage.
Moh's Hardness Scale of Minerals
The lower the number, the softer the material is
Moh's Hardness Scale of Common Objects
Fingernail 2 - 2.5
Copper Penny 3
Common Construction Nail 4
Knife Blade 5 - 6.5
Steel File 6.5
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