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Marble & Granite for Counters

Marble & Granite for Counters
These marble counters look sleek and clean.
Most granite and marble fabricators have a good stock of remnant pieces on hand that are left over from previous jobs where they were cut from large slabs. These remnants may cost substantially less per square foot than the original stone. In addition, you generate less waste material because you start with smaller pieces. Remnants can often be found that are around 80-by-40 inches or 60-by-40 inches, which is large enough for a bathroom vanity or even a small kitchen island.

Typical stone whole slab sizes, as shown in this view of the storage yard at Fox Marble in San Francisco, range from around 100-by-58 inches to 116-by-70 inches.
About Granite & Marble 
Granite is a beautiful natural stone that is igneous (volcanic) in origin. Each piece is unique and there is a vast range of colors and patterns. Granite ranges in price from $10 to $60 and more per square foot but good quality, interesting granite can be had for $15 to $30 per square foot. It is scratch, stain, and heat resistant.

Granite comes in two common finishes, honed and polished -- the island and counters in the kitchen of Plan 132-207, shown here, are polished granite. Most granite remnants will come with a polished finish. Honed granite has a matte finish and is less reflective under kitchen lights.

Marble is a softer stone. It is beautiful in its own right and has a long tradition going back to the Greeks and Romans. Marble varies from $20 square foot up to $60 to $70 and more per square foot.

The counter in this bathroom from Ranch House Plan 888-3 is white Carrara marble.

Marble is a metamorphosed limestone. It is composed of calcium carbonate and is very reactive to acids such as citric acid (lemon juice). Acid will etch marble and leave the surface pitted and no longer shiny. If marble is used for the kitchen counter, it's important to wipe up spills right away, put all drinks on coasters and take other steps to protect the stone.
Marble also comes with a honed or polished finish. For kitchen applications, a honed finish is a better choice; the inevitable scratches will be much less visible on a honed surface. Your fabricator can usually hone a polished surface or polish a honed surface.

Check for Quality
It is important to inspect slabs for cracks, scratches and imperfections. Anything that compromises the integrity of the stone should be avoided.

Select a Fabricator
There are granite and marble fabricators in most cities. The Marble Institute of America has a list of certified fabricators. These fabricators have the tools and experience to cut stone, shape the edges and deal with the surface texture. Your contractor will supply the fabricator with a template of the finished vanity or countertop.  The fabricator will then cut to size, drill any holes and cut outs for the the sink and hone or polish the surface to the customers’ specifications.The Marble Institute of America is the go-to source for information on granite and marble as well as other stone products. They also have a list of certified contractors and information on stone care and maintenance.
Granite and marble edges come in a wide variety of profiles. Edges can be cut into bullnose, ogee, waterfall

and many other shapes, as illustrated in this graphic courtesy  The fabricator has cutting tools on a large CNC machine or may do this work by hand using a special router. Edging costs range from $15 to $50 per linear foot, depending on the detail.

Sealing Granite and Marble
After the granite or marble is installed, it is important to seal the surface. Sealants make stone stain-resistant, not stain-proof. They penetrate into the stone and fill the voids with a solid resin. The sealer prevents liquids from penetrating into the stones’ pores, which allows more time to wipe up a spill before it penetrates the surface. The best granite sealers are flouorocarbon alphatic resin sealers, such as Dry-Treat, available online or from stone and tile centers. To seal follow the steps below:

-- Clean and degrease with denatured alcohol: an important step as the sealer needs to penetrate into the pores of the stone which must be free of dirt and grease.
-- Apply sealer with a nylon brush.  
-- Clean with a dry cloth.
-- Porous stone -- usually lighter colors -- will require additional applications.
-- After 24 hours, repeat the process and add a second coat.

For marble, follow the same steps but be sure to apply at least two coats.

Use warm water and a cleaner designed specifically for granite or marble countertops. Cleaners such asthose available from work well.
Never use acidic or ammonia based products to clean counters. They will destroy your sealant and can pit the countertop.

Marble & Granite for Counters Inspiration

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