Building a custom home is an exciting proposition for most. However, when it comes to design details, prospective homeowners often find themselves with a plethora of questions surrounding countertop selections. Texas Counter Fitters’ co-founder, Andrew Gilbert, recently conducted a fun discussion with the hosts of Welcome Home: The John Houston Homes Podcast. In this podcast episode, Andrew fielded John Houston Homes clients’ most asked questions with an easy-to-understand overview, offering an excellent topline education in countertop composition in less than 30 minutes.
Types of Stone
When it comes to building a home, designers and homeowners can choose from natural stone or manmade stone, both of which offer unique qualities to fit the final design. Today’s most common natural stones include granite, marble, quartz, quartzite, and engineered marble. Many people reference “granite” to discuss all kinds of natural stone as a ‘bucket’ term of sorts, although officially, it is only one specific type of rock.
Natural stone comes from quarries, and Texas Counter Fitters (TCF) sources its significant natural stone supply from around the world. Some of the most popular natural stone options include granite, marble and natural quartzite. Once selected, they are cut into slabs and fabricated to your specific design needs. Natural stone can offer different levels of strength and hardness depending on its intended use. Their strength is measured by the Mohs Hardness Scale, where 10 is the hardest. For example, quartzite falls under 9 on this scale – as a result, it can be more costly due to the process of excavating it from mountains. Granite, on the other hand, ranges from 5 to 7.5 on the hardness scale.
Manmade variations of stone fall under such names as engineered (also called cultured) marble and quartz. Unlike its natural counterpart, engineered marble is made of resin powder. It is a thinner product, and one that makes great sense in areas such as secondary bathrooms. Similarly, engineered quartz stone countertops are made from silica sand and resin. This method means that many colors can be achieved, as 90% of silica sand is mixed with colored resin to make the color preferred. One benefit of engineered quartz is that it does not have to be sealed like natural stone and it will have a more consistent color. In terms of hardness, this manmade stone is around a 7 on the Mohs scale.
Finishing the Product
When it comes to a finished product, you must also consider the final touches, such as your edge. Determining your preferred edge is all about your personal preference. Some clients like a natural, chiseled edge, while others prefer the contemporary, sleek option of slightly ‘rolled edges’ at top and bottom. Seeing the options in person can be very helpful. Find more specific details from our recent post regarding how to choose your edge.
Relative to seams, the purpose is to ensure your material fits into the space properly without disrupting the look of the stone. TCF works hard to keep seams to a minimum. A seam may be needed if a slab is not big enough, but overall, it is preferred not to use them unless it is absolutely necessary. However, it is most common in kitchens relative to a perimeter – especially in the L shape formations.
Working with a Stone Provider
Builders, like John Houston Homes, who take a very relationship-centric approach are an important differentiator to TCF. This approach allows builders and TCF to focus on helping their clients make the custom choices that they want through the stone selections offered in-person at TCF’s Richardson-based stone campus. TCF offers access to over 200,000 slabs and over 2,000 colors of natural and engineered stone in an indoor/outdoor stone campus that is open to the public.
Hosts Chelsie Frasier and Whitney Prior concluded that saying that they highly recommend visiting the stone campus after experiencing it first-hand themselves. “Andrew, coming to the showroom, you really feel like you are in an art exhibit. I got lost in the rows and rows and rows of options. I kept coming back to pieces, staring in awe as I found new beautiful stones.”
They continued by giving listeners a bit of advice: “If you are designing your dream home, one of the most important places to consider where you spend your money is your countertop. In open home designs to the kitchen, it is such a conversation piece. You’ll have a cool piece of natural art with a unique history of where it came from. Even if just upgrading your home, the countertop is a great place to start – a functional piece of art in your home.”
Listen to the full podcast here: