This is a helpful video put together by Consumer Reports. They rate different countertop materials. *Note: They limit some details to their subscription service but there is still helpful information here. Here's a link to the article - http://bit.ly/m1QdOg
So, you want to purchase granite countertops for your kitchen but you don't know how to go about the process. Depending on the market, there is a huge selection of fabricators to choose from. The key for the consumer is to identify their specific needs and see which fabricator might pair up with them the best; there have to be questions asked to determine how each fabricator differs from the others being considered. Besides the normal questions about price, service, and quality, the following 4 tips will help in deciding if the fabricator you are considering is the right one for you:
1. Does the fabricator use any subs for the work to be performed in your home? Oftentimes, the larger fabrication and installation companies will have a team of different people coming to your home on each visit. You might have one crew do the templates or measuring, one crew for doing the tearout of the old counters, and then finally a 3rd crew to do the installation. Unfortunately, there can be a lot lost in communication between these sets of people and one detail missed could ruin the job. Having consistency within the company's workforce leads to better quality work typically because the mistakes that might be made limited.
2. Does the fabricator provide references for their work? And I don't mean 4 or 5 homeowners...That isn't really a good sample size of people to determine whether or not the fabricator is qualified to work in your home. Any company will have 4 or 5 references where the job went perfectly; the potential fabricator should give you a list of at least 10. More important than quantity of references is the type of references. Are all of them homeowners or does the fabricator have designers. contractors, cabinet makers, kitchen and bath dealers, etc. on his referral list? The more varied the reference sources are, the more confident you should feel about hiring the fabricator. These types of referral sources will have worked with the fabricator on mulitple jobs and will provide a much better review of the fabricator's work.
3. Does the fabricator have a showroom where you can see their work? There are a lot of "fabricators" out there that work out of a truck only. They don't even have a physical location that you can go to...just a number to call on the side of the truck and that's it. God forbid that there might be a problem with the fabrication or installation; how would you get them to come back if you discover an issue a week after install and final payment has already been made? It is important to look for fabricators that have a showroom; this legitimizes them in the eyes of a customer. Also, you get to see in person the quality of their work: do they have samples of the seams that they might be putting in your kitchen? how nice of a polish do they do on the edges? are their sink cutouts done properly? how do they mount their sinks to the counters? All of these questions would be answered if the fabricator has a legitimate showroom.
4. Does the fabricator have a familiarity of working with the stone that you are considering? This is a commonly overlooked aspect of the decision making process when hiring a fabricator. There are hundreds of stones on the marketplace between granite, marble, travertine, limestone, soapstone, onyx, etc. that the consumer needs to make sure that the fabricator has experience working with the various types. Not all stones are created equal in how to work them; they vary tremendously in their geology. Taking it a step further, not all granites are created equally. Even though a particular color might be classified as a "granite" it might not fabricate like a typical granite would. Your fabricator must have superior skills especially when working with such granites as Sedna or Golden Beach or marbles such as Calacatta Gold or White Carrara just to name a few.
Obviously there are many other factors to consider when choosing a fabricator, but I think the information above is sometimes overlooked in the marketplace and definitely would help in a consumer's making an educated decision.
Thanks for your time!
One of the aspects of a countertop install that I am most asked about by my customers is the countertop seam. "How many will there be?" and "how will it look?" are the questions most often asked and I am happy to answer these questions because I know that Soma Stoneworks will do a great job. However, I have lot of potential customers that do not know what they can expect out of a seam. The following pic is of a typical seam in the Atlanta granite countertop market today:
The sad, but unfortunate, aspect of this picture is that the customer probably saved a couple hundred dollars but in turn has to look at this for as long as they are in their home. A beautiful Verde Butterfly granite kitchen has been marred by the average-at-best fabrication and installation by this granite company. There is a popular saying that we think fits this situation:
"The bitterness of poor quality remains long after low price is forgotten..."
Following is another example of poor seamwork in an Ubatuba granite countertop:
Finally, you can even have color matching problems at the seam as evidenced by this Santa Cecilia granite counterop:
Without consumer education, this type of work will continue to be passable in our industry and it brings down the quality of work throughout. This particular blog post exemplifies my desire to educate and inform the local marketplace about what you can expect from natural stone countertop and engineered quartz countertop fabricators locally. I feel that our work exemplifies what you SHOULD expect:
Not all kitchen layouts will require seams in the countertops. Many factors such as material selection, access into the home, cabinet layout, etc. will determine whether or not a seam is needed. Following is a picture of a kitchen we did that did not have a seam at all:
Most fabricators would have put a seam in this layout but we like to go the extra mile with our customers and try to respect and honor the wishes of our clients.
Thanks for your time!
Soma Stoneworks, Inc. exhibited at the Fall Atlanta Home Show this past weekend and we had a great turnout! Along with our normal display of natural stone tile including granite, marble, and onyx, we had a granite countertop seam sample as well as a display of Espresso Caesarstone on an island.
Our industry partner Kitchen Solvers of Roswell-Alpharetta had a 10' x 20' booth that showed off their beautiful cabinet refacing displays as well as our natural stone countertops and Caesarstone counters.
Our show promotion was a free 18 gauge stainless steel sink with the purchase of 35 square feet of countertop as well as a reduced price on New Caledonia granite for $35 per square foot installed! The highlight of our booth as always was the seam display. Many people who already have granite counter tops were truly amazed by our seams and wished that their seams looked as nice as ours. A couple of renovators/remodelers took our information and commented on how they couldn't feel our seams and were truly impressed by our craftsmanship.
For the first time we brought out a 6cm Laminated Roman Ogee/Half Bullnose-profiled Ecuador White granite island that was a big hit. The edge looked spectacular and was a source of pride for all of us at Soma as we received many compliments.
The wonderful turnout was a positive sign for the local economy as all the exhibitors were pleased with the amount of potential customers that came and visited their respective booths. We hope to keep busy this Fall with all of the potential customers that we met. See you all at the next home show this Spring at the Cobb Galleria and please check out our show specials for that show as time draws nearer at www.atlantahomeshow.com.
Hello everyone out there in cyberspace. We decided to start this blog for various reasons. We felt that there was a lot of misinformation out there regarding granite countertops especially in the Atlanta granite market. Hopefully with the future articles we post, we can try to educate and inform those that question whether using stone countertops in their home would be the right option for them.
We also thought that it would be a great way for our past, present, and future customers, our vendors, as well as the general public to post any questions or observations regarding granite counters and other types of natural stone as well as engineered quartz counter tops.
Finally, we thought it would be a great way to post some of our recent pictures of work we have done as well as describe any new processes or techniques that we have implemented. The stone counter top industry is fairly young and there are always new and cool technologies coming to the forefront.
Thanks for your interest!