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   ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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COUNTERTOP MATERIALS

Rembrandt specializes in the fabrication of Granite, Engineered Quartz (aka Engineered Stone),
and Solid Surface (aka Corian). Rembrandt also fabricates most other natural stones, (like Marble
and Travertine, etc.), green products like Recycled Glass & Concrete, and other Hybrid countertop
materials. Each material has its own unique characteristics, physical properties, benefits, and
shortcomings. Understanding what each material offers or what it lacks is the key to choosing the
right material.


Granite’s intrinsic beauty, uniqueness, rich deep colors, hardness, and heat resistance has made it the countertop hallmark of quality and prestige for hundreds of years.  Granite is available in a large variety of colors and looks.  Today, with modern quarrying and finishing techniques, granite has become more affordable and more extensively used in homes.  In addition, modern sealers provide an excellent barrier to resist the natural stones staining and absorption of liquids.

+learn more link to material detail below

Solid Surface was invented by chemists at DuPont®.  In 1967, DuPont® began marketing its Solid Surface material under the Corian® brand.  The name Corian® has become synonymous with all Solid Surface materials.  Available in a large variety of colors and looks, Solid Surface is an excellent countertop material.  It is non-porous, non-staining, does not support the growth of mold or mildew, and is 100% repairable.

+learn more link to material detail below

Solid Surface was invented by chemists at DuPont®.  In 1967, DuPont® began marketing its Solid Surface material under the Corian® brand.  The name Corian® has become synonymous with all Solid Surface materials.  Available in a large variety of colors and looks, Solid Surface is an excellent countertop material.  It is non-porous, non-staining, does not support the growth of mold or mildew, and is 100% repairable.

+learn more link to material detail below

Marble has been prized for sculpture since classical times, especially white marble.  This preference has to do with the softness and relative consistency and resistance to shattering.  As a countertop material its porosity, compared to Granite, is more susceptible to staining.  Marble offers limited color choices compared to Granites.
+learn more link to material detail below

Limestone has been primarily used throughout the centuries in buildings and sculptures worldwide.  As Limestone is very reactive to acid solutions, when used as a countertop, it should be cleaned with a neutral or mild alkaline-based cleaner.  Limestone offers limited color choices compared to Granites.
+learn more link to material detail below

Travertine, similar but different than Limestone and Marble in chemical composition, has been used extensively worldwide as a building and paving material.  It is highly porous and often has many voids when quarried into slabs.  When Travertine is used for countertops, the voids are usually filled with a clear or tinted epoxy at the quarry.  Travertine offers limited color choices compared to Granites.
+learn more link to material detail below

Recycled Glass and Cement countertops are comprised of 100% recycled glass and cement mixture which creates a highly durable surface.  Although the material is very heavy and porous, it has gained popularity as a “green” countertop material.  Recycled Glass and Cement offers limited color choices compared to Granites.
+learn more link to material detail below

Other Recycled & Hybrid Products are being introduced into the market as the demand for “Green” products increases.  These products provide the user with alternatives to the conventionally used surfacing materials mentioned above.  Each product, because of its composition, has its own character, performance characteristics, and appeal.
+learn more link to material detail below

Soapstone is a relatively soft stone making it ideal for carving three dimensional shapes.  In recent years it has gained some popularity as a material for kitchen sinks.  Because of its high talc content it may feel soapy when touched, hence its name.  Soapstone will patina over time and exposure to various liquids.  Soapstone offers limited color choices compared to Granites.
+learn more link to material detail below

Cultured Marble is a man-made surface material comprised of a thin coating of pigmented resin (Gelcoat) and filled with calcium carbonate (marble dust) in a binder.  The result is an inexpensive countertop material usually used in bathrooms.  Cultured Marble offers limited color choices compared to Granites.
+learn more link to material detail below

 


All of the commonly used countertop materials listed above have their pluses and minuses.  The Additional information sections describes each specific material but does not cover its strengths and weaknesses relative to countertop applications.

 

 

 

 



COUNTERTOP MATREIAL CHARACTERISTICS - COMPARISON CHART

Characteristics

Unsealed Unpolished Granite

Unsealed Polished Granite

Polished & Sealed Granite

Engineered Stone (Quartz)

Solid Surface

Marble

Limestone

Travertine

Recycled Glass & Concrete

Cultured Marble

PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES

Natural vs.  Man-Made

Natural

Natural

Natural

Man-Made with 90%+ Natural Stone

Man-Made

Man-Made

Natural

Natural

Man-Made

Man-Made

Cost

Moderate to Very High

Moderate to Very High

Moderate to Very High

Moderate to  High

Moderate to  High

Moderate to Very High

Moderate to Very High

Moderate to Very High

High

Low

Typical Availability

Limited

Local

Local

Local

Local

Limited

Limited

Limited

Long Lead Time

Local

Porous

Extremely

Very

No

No

No

Extremely

Extremely

Extremely

Somewhat

No

Heat Resistant

Very

Very

Very

Somewhat

Somewhat

Very

Very

Very

Somewhat

No

Hardness

Extremely

Extremely

Extremely

Extremely

Moderate

Very

Very

Very

Very

Somewhat

Supports Bacterial Growth

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Unknown

Unknown

Prone to UV Yellowing

No

No

No

Slightly

Slightly

No

No

No

Unknown

Yes

Fade Resistant

Extremely

Extremely

Extremely

Somewhat

Somewhat

Extremely

Extremely

Extremely

Unknown

Unknown

Chemical Resistant

Moderate to Poor

Moderate to Poor

Moderate to Poor

Excellent

Excellent

Moderate to Poor

Moderate to Poor

Moderate to Poor

Unknown

Moderate to Poor

Thermal Cracking

None

None

None

Possible

Possible

None

None

None

Unknown

Unknown

Green Material

No

No

No

Yes

Some Are - Yes

No

No

No

Yes

No

Strength

Moderate to Poor

Moderate to Poor

Moderate to Poor

Good

Good

Moderate to Poor

Moderate to Poor

Moderate to Poor

Good

Unknown

Color & Pattern Selection

Extensive

Extensive

Extensive

Somewhat Limited

Extensive

Limited

Limited

Limited

Limited

Limited

Fissures, Pitted Surface, & Cracks

Typical - Varying Amount by Color

Typical - Varying Amount by Color

Typical - Varying Amount by Color

None

None

Typical - Varying Amount by Color

Typical - Varying Amount by Color

Typical - Varying Amount by Color

None

None

Color Uniformity Slab to Slab

None - Bookmarked Slabs are Similar

None - Bookmarked Slabs are Similar

None - Bookmarked Slabs are Similar

No Consistency

Yes - Will Vary Batch to Batch

None - Bookmarked Slabs are Similar

None - Bookmarked Slabs are Similar

None - Bookmarked Slabs are Similar

No Consistency

N/A

Color Uniformity Along Edge

Varies with Stone Pattern

Varies with Stone Pattern

Varies with Stone Pattern

Good Uniformity

Good to Fair Uniformity

Varies with Stone Pattern

Varies with Stone Pattern

Varies with Stone Pattern

Poor Uniformity

None

Color Uniformity Within Slab

Varies with Stone Pattern

Varies with Stone Pattern

Varies with Stone Pattern

Visible Variation

Consistent

Varies with Stone Pattern

Varies with Stone Pattern

Varies with Stone Pattern

Visible Variation

N/A

Material Uniformity of Composition

Variable

Variable

Variable

Good

Good

Variable

Variable

Variable

Fair

N/A

FABRICATED ATTRIBUTES

Warranty

None

None

None

10 to 15 Year

10 Year

None

None

None

Unknown

Unknown

Repairable

Limited

Limited

Limited

Limited

Yes

Limited

Limited

Limited

Limited

No

Periodic Maintenance

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Integral Sink

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Yes

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Yes

Visible Seams

Visible

Visible

Visible

Somewhat Visible

Virtually Invisible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Visible

Uniform Overall Surface Finish

Slightly Mottled

Slightly Mottled

Slightly Mottled

Slightly Mottled

Uniform

Slightly Mottled

Slightly Mottled

Slightly Mottled

Mottled

Uniform

Uniform Surface Finish at Seams

Rembrandt     - Yes       Others - Yes

Rembrandt     - Yes       Others - Yes

Rembrandt     - Yes       Others - Yes

Rembrandt     - Yes       Others - Rarely

Rembrandt     - Yes       Others - Yes

Rembrandt     - Yes       Others - Yes

Rembrandt     - Yes       Others - Yes

Rembrandt     - Yes       Others - Yes

Rembrandt     - Yes       Others - Rarely

Rembrandt     - N/A       Others - Usually

Seams vs. Material Size

65" x 115"

65" x 115"

65" x 115"

55" x 120"

N/A

60" x 100"

60" x 100"

60" x 100"

52" x 96"

N/A

Decorative Inlays

Available

Available

Available

Available

Available

Available

Available

Available

Not Available

Not Available



MATERIAL CHARACTERISTICS

For centuries, the bellwether for countertop materials has been Granite.  Therefore, the following information will compare the pluses and minuses of other materials primarily to Granite.  As each material has its own unique characteristics, physical properties, benefits, and shortcomings, some of the alternate materials to Granite may not have direct characteristics to compare.  The following material properties describe each specific material but do not cover its strengths and weaknesses relative to countertop applications.

 

 

The following charts and comments have been gathered from years of Rembrandt’s in-plant and on-the-job experience with the materials. Therefore, they may not echo the information disseminated by manufacturers of the man-made products or concur with what is considered common knowledge about the natural stones. From Rembrandt’s experience and knowledge, Rembrandt’s comments are deemed to be honest and unbiased. They are not intended to slant the reader toward one material over another.

 

 

GRANITE

Attributes – Plus & Minus

 

GRANITE AS COUNTERTOP MATREIAL - PLUSES & MINUSES

Characteristics

Comments, Description, & Observations

PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES

Unsealed Unpolished Granite

Typically referred to as a Honed or Leather finish, unsealed and unpolished Granite is stone as it comes from the quarry.  Looking at the honed Granite surface from a low angle is a good way to judge the surface finish.  Typically the overall appearance is uniform.

Unsealed Polished Granite

Depending on the type of Granite, polished Granite may or may not repel liquid absorption.  Further when polishing Granite, different minerals within the Granite polish differently.  Looking at the Granite surface from a low angle is a good way to judge the surface finish.  Overall, Granite will have small areas where the finish is not as glossy as the majority of the surface.

Polished & Sealed Granite

With the introduction of Solid Surface and Engineered Stone, the natural stone industry had to include surface treatments to the stone to enhance its resistance to staining and other shortcomings of polished stone.  Today these chemical treatments virtually eliminates liquid absorption, staining, visible surface blemishes like fine cracks and fissures.

Cost

Granite has a very wide cost range.  With the high demand for Granite countertops and modern quarrying methods, many Granites compete in price with Solid Surface.  Therefore, the selection of Granite will have a profound impact on the cost of the project.

Typical Availability

Most of Rembrandt's Granite vendors have a large selection of materials on hand.  However, the more expensive and exotic Granites may have a longer lead time.  Also, there may be additional cost associated with the exotic stones due to shipping.

Heat Resistant

Granite is an ideal surface for tolerating the intense thermal shock to a countertop without cracking, even when a hot pan from the range or hot pot from the oven is placed on the Granite.

Hardness

The hardness of Granite is largely dependent upon the minerals that make up the stone.  In most Granites, the primary minerals are quartz and feldspars.  Feldspar and quartz, with a hardness of 6 to 7 on the Moh's Scale, give Granite its exceptional abrasion resistance and durability.  Quartz is the third hardest naturally occurring mineral on earth.

Supports Bacterial Growth

The porosity of natural stone allows liquids and food particles permeate the stone surface and interior.  With unsealed or improperly sealed Granite, wiping the surface will not eliminate the problem of germs, mold or other harmful contaminate.  Properly sealed Granite will form a barrier and provide a hygienically clean surface.

Prone to Yellowing

There is no evidence that any discoloration will occur over time.  This type of yellowing comes from the resins used in other countertop materials, like Cultured Marble.

Fade Resistant

There is no evidence that discoloration will occur due to direct or indirect exposure to sunlight. 

Chemical Resistant

Caustic chemicals like those found in common household cleaners like Windex and 409 can etch the Granite surface.  Additionally, citrus juices which are mild acids, can etch Granite.  Always check labels and/or test  cleaners before using.  Any spill should be wiped away immediately to prevent or minimize potential damage.

Thermal Cracking

This is relatively a new phrase relating to inherent problems with Engineered Stone and doesn’t apply to Granite.  See Heat Resistance comments above.

Green Material

The "Green" term refers to recycled and/or eco-friendly materials.  Granite, being a natural stone doesn’t meet the definition of a "green" material.

Strength

Granite slabs are very hard but not very strong.  Made up of a multitude of layered minerals, deposited over millions of years, Granites are prone to breaking or cracking when flexed.  The more fragile Granites will have a fiberglass mesh adhered to the back of the slab, added at the quarry, to give it strength in handling.

Color & Pattern

Of all the material used for countertops, Granites have the greatest range of colors, patterns and visual depth.  Its individual uniqueness makes it the most widely used countertop material.

Fissures, Pitted Surface, & Cracks

Fissures, a pitted surface, and cracks are common in Granite.  Natures imperfections are very evident in Granite.  Proper sealing the Granite will minimize the visual appearance of these flaws.

Color Uniformity Slab to Slab

The individuality of Granite slabs guarantees that variations in color will be evident.  The more visual the Granites pattern, the greater the variation in color.  In multi-slab countertops, bookmarked consecutively numbered slabs will minimize color discontinuity at seams.

Color Uniformity Along Edge

To create laminated edge profiles, multi-layers of Granite are bonded together.  The visual color affect is that the pattern is not continuous - even in single thickness countertops.

Color Uniformity Within Slab

The individuality of every Granite slab guarantees that variations in color will be evident.  The more visual the Granites pattern, the greater the variation in color.  In multi-slab countertops, bookmarked slabs will minimize color discontinuity at seams.

Material Uniformity of Composition

Made up of a multitude of layered minerals, deposited over millions of years, Granites vary in their chemical composition, physical properties, and coloration.  These variations give the Granite its look and unique characteristics.

FABRICATED ATTRIBUTES

Warranty

Industry wide, there is no warranty on Granite.  Rembrandt does provide a 1 year warranty in its workmanship and installation.

Repairable

Rembrandt has the unique ability to repair damaged Granite.  Many times Rembrandt's repair is virtually invisible.  The actual result varies with the stone and the extent of the damage.

Periodic Maintenance

Rembrandt seals all Granite countertops it fabricates and installs.  Granite should be resealed on a regular basis - typically once a year depending on usage and the stone.

Integral Sink

Granite countertops do not allow for incorporation an integral sink.  Sinks used with a Granite countertop are either undermounted or top mounted (drop-in).

Visible Seams

Seams are visible with all Granite countertops.  Some seams are less conspicuous than others due to the materials pattern. Bookmarked seams, although visible, have good color continuity.  Rembrandt takes the care and time to make inconspicuous seams.

Uniform Surface Finish

Polished Granite has an overall uniform appearing surface.  Looking at the surface in bright light and at a low angle, the finish is slightly mottled looking.  This is due to the different minerals in the Granite polish differently.

Uniform Finish at Seams

Where seams occur, Rembrandt takes the time to re-polish the surface to insure that the surface finish is uniform and appears the same as the quarry finish on the Granite.

Seams vs. Material Size

The number of seams on a countertop has a direct relationship to the available slab size and the countertop size.  Rembrandt has no control over the slab size available from the vendor.  Once the slabs for a job are received, Rembrandt prepares a layout showing the pattern of each section of the Granite and the location of seams.

Decorative Inlays

Rembrandt's CNC programmable water jet allows for intricate designs to be inlayed into the countertop.  This is popular with company logos, but used in residential applications as well.

 

Granite Colors

Granite and other natural stones are available in a large variety of colors and a very broad price rangePricing is more dependent on the stone’s abundance, accessibility, and mineral composition than appearance.  As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, an inexpensive stone may have equal or greater appeal than an expensive stone.  Conversely, a more exotic looking stone may only be slightly more costly than one in a lower price group.  Choice will have a very profound impact on the cost of any project.  Therefore keep your options open to similar looking stones when making a choice.

Rembrandt’s showroom features an extensive array of sample materials it fabricates.  In addition, the internet provides access to view materials offered by Rembrandt’s Trade Partners.  When it comes to selecting Granite and other natural stone, Rembrandt’s showroom samples are limited and Rembrandt encourages its clients to visit its trade partner’s warehouses to select the actual stone for their project. 

The following are a few examples of the most popular Granite colors Rembrandt regularly fabricates.  The examples shown are grouped into three price groups.  Keep in mind that material cost is more dependent on its abundance, accessibility, and mineral composition than on its appearance.  As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, an inexpensive stone may have equal or greater appeal than a more expensive stone.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


Rembrandt’s clients can select materials from any of the following stone importers and distributors.  The actual wholesale material cost, is what Rembrandt charges its clients.  Therefore, all Rembrandt’s clients are able to take advantage of Rembrandt’s wholesale pricing and volume buying.

Each type of material may come from a different source.   By selecting materials form the Trade Partners Links listed below, you will be connected to the vast array of the materials they offer.  Many of their web sites offer the ability to order actual color samples.

 

______

 

 

Arizona Tile         http://www.arizonatile.com/gallery/gallery_by_material.aspx?cat=3
Cactus Stone      http://www.cactustile.com/catagory.aspx?id=3068
Dal Tile               http://products.daltile.com/catalog.cfm?log=4&subType=2
IMC Stone          http://www.imcstone.com/imc_slab_granite
Stone Quarry      http://www.stonequarryinc.com/stone_gallery.php?catid=1
MSI Stone          http://www.msistone.com/material-selector/
Stoneburg          http://www.stoneburg.com/index.taf?_menu=menu&level=1&fdid=prod&mnid=1061848809&wtyp=M&fkid=

 

Slab Selection Tips (Granite, Marble, Limestone, Travertine, and Soapstone)

The following comments lump together all of the natural stones used for countertops.  When selecting a specific stone the considerations may vary from Granite.  In general they are very similar.  Thus, the following information specifically applies to Granite.

  1. Of all of the materials used for countertops, Granite has the broadest range of pricing.  It can range from the very inexpensive to extremely expensive.  As cost is always a primary consideration, knowing what the Granite cost, or what price group it is in, could save time in the selection process.

 

  1. As Granite is quarried stone created by nature, it inherently has many flaws and defects. The quarries will patch, fill, reinforce the back of the slab, and make other cosmetic enhancements in order to avoid scraping slabs.  Thus, carefully and thoroughly, visually inspect each slab.  Look for repairs, cracks, voids, fissures, and other imperfections.  If these material imperfections are in the center of the stone, it will become part of the countertop.  If they are on the edges of the slab, it may or may not be eliminated from the countertop.  Will these imperfections be acceptable?  If not, DO NOT select the slab.
  1. After completing the visual inspection, run your fingers over the Granite’s surface.  Your touch will uncover flaws that your eye missed.

 

  1. Finally look at the back of the slab.  If there is a mesh adhered to the back of the slab, the material is more prone to cracking and breaking.  The mesh is a red flag to look for quarry made repairs to cracks, voids, and fissures in the stone.  Even without the mesh backing, inspect closely for quarry made repairs and for un-repaired cracks, voids, and fissures in the stone.
  1. Does the Granite being selected have dramatic color variations and/or veining throughout the slab?  If so, seams in the fabricated countertop will be more apparent due to the color and/or grain shift from section to section. In order to minimize the apparent discontinuity, bookmarked slabs should be selected.  That is, the slabs are quarried from the same stone block and are taken from the block in consecutive order.  Bookmarking generally creates more waist from slabs as the color and pattern matching are more important than yield.

 

  1. To assure consistency in the Granite slabs, Rembrandt conducts this extensive and rigorous inspection process when material is received from the distributor.

 

Physical Description

Granite comes from the Latin granum, a grain, in reference to the coarse-grained structure of such a crystalline rock.  Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock.  Granite has a medium to coarse texture.  Granites can be pink to dark gray or even black, depending on their chemistry and mineralogy.

Granite is nearly always massive (lacking internal structures), hard and tough, and therefore it has gained widespread use as a construction stone.  The average density of granite is 2.75 g/cm3 (172 lb/ft3) and its viscosity at standard temperature and pressure is ~4.5 • 1019 Pas.

 

Granite is named according to the percentage of quartz and feldspar within its composition.  True granite, according to modern petrologic convention, contains both plagioclase and alkali feldspars.  A worldwide average proportion of the different chemical components in granites, in descending order by weight percent, is: SiO2 – 72.04%, Al2O3 – 14.42%, K2O – 4.12%, Na2O – 3.69%, CaO – 1.82%, FeO – 1.68%, MgO – 0.71%, TiO2 – 0.30%, P2O5 – 0.12%, & MnO – 0.05%.

Granite is currently known only on Earth where it forms a major part of continental crust and is the most abundant basement rock that underlies the relatively thin sedimentary veneer of the continents.  Granite is an igneous rock and is formed from magma.  Granitic magma has many potential origins but it must intrude other rocks.  Most granite intrusions are emplaced at depth within the crust, usually greater than 1.5 kilometers and up to 50 km depth within thick continental crust.

Granite is a natural source of radiation, like most natural stones.  However, some granites have been reported to have higher radioactivity thereby raising some concerns about their safety.

Some granites contain around 10 to 20 parts per million of uranium.  By contrast, more mafic rocks such as tonalite, gabbro or diorite have 1 to 5 ppm uranium, and limestone and sedimentary rocks usually have equally low amounts.  Cellars and basements sunk into soils over granite can become a trap for radon gas, which is formed by the decay of uranium.  Radon gas poses significant health concerns, and is the #2 cause of lung cancer in the US behind smoking.
Most materials sold as granite countertops or as building material are not thought an acute health threat. One expert, Dr. Dan Steck of St. Johns University, has stated that approximately 5% of all granites will be of concern, with the caveat that only a tiny percentage of the tens of thousands of granite slabs have been actually tested.  Various resources from national geological survey organizations are accessible online to assist in assessing the risk factors in granite country and design rules relating, in particular, to preventing accumulation of radon gas in enclosed basements and dwellings.

"A study of Granite Countertops was done (initiated and paid for by the Marble Institute of America) in November 2008 by National Health and Engineering Inc. of USA, and found that 18 of the 39 full size granite slabs that were measured for the study failed to meet the European Union safety standards.

Furthermore, all but one of the 39 full size slabs tested in the E, H, & E study had Activity Concentration Indexes above that which the EU regulations require dose assessments.  The Marble Institute dealt with this issue by stating that the European Union granite countertop regulations were flawed.  The stones tested include types of granite that comprise approximately 80 percent of the annual US market share for granite countertops, based on the most recent market data available."

Other researchers and organizations do not agree with the Marble Institute's stated position on granite safety, including AARST (American Association of Radon Scientists and Technicians) and the CRCPD (Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors, an organization of state radiation protection officials).  Both organizations have committees currently setting maximum allowed levels of radiation/radon as well as protocols for measuring radiation/radon from granite countertops.  The European Union regulations will likely serve as the basis for new EPA based regulations for granite building materials here in the US.

 

 

ENGINEERED QUARTZ (ENGINEERED STONE)

 

Attributes – Plus & Minus

 

 



 
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