There are stones on the market such a travertine, soapstone, and quartzite that work perfectly well for home and office applications, as do the manufactured products. But far and away the two stones with which customers are most familiar and which are utilized most frequently are granite and marble, said Sinan Sepkin, president of Academy Marble & Granite in Bethel.
In the six years that Mr Sepkin has operated the stone fabrication and installation company at 101 Wooster Street, he has only seen a rise in the number of clients seeking to add the beauty of stone to their residential or commercial space. In the stone business since 1996, Mr Sepkin said he is familiar with the many stones available, “from quarry to finished product.”
Kitchens and baths are the two rooms most likely to be outfitted in one of the durable materials, he said, and fireplaces in new construction are often made of granite or marble instead of wood or flagstone.
In the kitchen, a high traffic area, the extremely hard-wearing granite is the popular choice. Counters receive a great deal of wear and tear, and with colors that range from muted grays and bright whites to deep reds and black, there is a granite color for every taste, Mr Sepkin said.
Academy customers select the granite they like from the huge slabs that stand in the yard outside of the office building. “Every lot will be different,” Mr Sepkin said, so it is important to have customer input. It is only one of the many steps directly involving clients from selection to finished product that makes his business stand out from others, he said. “It’s very customized, and not every fabricator will do this,” Mr Sepkin said, “but we don’t like surprises. We want to know that the customers get what they want.”
In a kitchen that is not going to be subjected to constant, daily use, or for customers willing to put more effort into upkeep, marble can be used for the counter surface. “Designers prefer marble over granite,” Mr Sepkin said, “because of the warmer look they feel it has.” But because it is a much softer stone than granite, it is more apt to scratch.
Those who desire the look of marble in the kitchen rarely have to concern themselves with the problem of staining, which was once an issue, he added. Due to modern technology, sealants today protect the marble surface from staining. Marble is more frequently used in baths than in kitchens, though, he said, for vanities, sinks, tub decks, and toilet seats.
Homeowners who select marble are aware of its delicacy and tend to take good care of it, Mr Sepkin said. With natural stone running from $40 to hundreds of dollars per square foot, it is an investment people do not want to take for granted.
Beware of “stone pirates,” Mr Sepkin cautioned, who will provide a low per square foot cost for stone, but fail to include additional costs such as shipping, fabrication, or installation prices until a nonrefundable deposit is taken, jacking the price up considerably. Be sure that any contract contains start to finish costs, and use a reputable dealer, Mr Sepkin said.
Whether choosing granite or marble, Mr Sepkin said that the trend in recent years has been toward white stone. “People used to choose granite that would contrast with their cabinets,” he said, “but that’s not so anymore.” Customers want a clean, monochromatic look today in the kitchen.
As long lasting as stone is, some care is necessary to ensure its continued beauty through the years. Mr Sepkin offered advice on the simple steps to do so. The number one thing, he said, is to make sure that the stone is sealed by the fabricator or installer. Only a pH-neutral soap with water is needed for daily cleaning, and avoid abrasives.
As a general rule, the lighter colored granites are more susceptible to staining, so wipe up any spills immediately, particularly those that are acidic.
Granite will tolerate a hot pot set down on it, but marble and manufactured materials will be damaged. Use a trivet or cloth to protect the surface from hot saucepans.
If a matte finish sealant is used on marble, rather than a glossy finish, any etching caused by an acidic product can be repaired more easily, Mr Sepkin said. The etched surface can be lightly sanded down, in that case, and be nearly indistinguishable.
Manufactured surfaces can be cleaned with any commercial cleaners, but like the stone products, abrasives and hot pots should be avoided.
With a little care, from selection to daily use, customers can enjoy a lifetime with installations made of marble or granite.