Counter tops

The counter tops were installed last week, and it was gratifying to see the material we tagged back in January finally make it into the house.

week 21-1

The fabricator, who located the material for us, did a good job manufacturing the edge treatment we wanted. Unfortunately, there are two issues that have us stressed because we don’t know how easily they can be corrected—considering that stone slabs typically offer one chance to get it right, and the one chance has already been used up. More on that in a minute.

We went into our building experience knowing that traditional granite would probably fall near the bottom of our list of desired counter top materials. Our Colorado kitchen had granite and while we appreciated its durability, aesthetically, we didn’t care for it.

week 21-2

With two teenage boys in the house and constant kitchen activity, I could never tell if the counters needed cleaning or not. The busy pattern and coloring in the stone hid crumbs, spills, dribbles, dirt. For some, that may be a good thing, but I need to see whether my kitchen is clean or not when I walk into it.

So we visited a lot of stone yards in search of a light, white or close-to-white material and discovered quartzite.

week 21-3

Quartzite is a kind of granite that is primarily quartz. Granite is a rock with a mixture of three minerals: quartz, feldspar, and hornblende. Hornblende is black, feldspar can be tan to red with all shades in between, and quartz is clear but usually appears white, pale pink or brown. In this way granite can be all kinds of colors depending on the different mixtures of the three minerals in it.

week 21-4

Quartzite has very little hornblende or feldspar so it will appear white if the crystals are small or dull gray like window glass if the crystals are large. Quartzite is generally less porous (fewer void spaces in the rock) than other kinds of granite, so it won’t stain as easily as other kinds of granite.

We used quartzite in the kitchen and butler’s pantry,

week 21-5

the downstairs half bath,

week 21-6

and the mud room.

week 21-7

We were elated to learn that there was enough quartzite to make the bench seat in the mud room. A month ago, we toured one of our builder’s other in-progress homes in which the homeowner had used her counter top material for the bench seat in the mud room. We liked the idea so much, we decided on the spot to do the same thing. It was one of the fastest and easiest decisions we’ve made about the house; the hard part was waiting to learn whether there was enough material.

week 21-8

For the bathrooms, we chose an ultra-white marble without a lot of heavy veining:

week 21-9

Slabs arrived at the job site with the edge treatment already completed. The crew cut and shaped the sink openings and the backsplashes, drilled holes for the faucets and then installed the sinks and counter tops.

Slabs arrived at the job site with the edge treatment already completed. The crew cut and shaped the sink openings and the backsplashes, drilled holes for the faucets and then installed the sinks and counter tops.

week 21-11

It’s difficult to take a good photo through plastic, but you get the idea.

It’s difficult to take a good photo through plastic, but you get the idea.

Here is the master bathroom window sill being cut and shaped.

The sill is getting marble because it’s next to the tub and we wanted it to be wet-tolerant and match the tub surround. It will be installed whenever the tub is scheduled to go in.

The sill is getting marble because it’s next to the tub and we wanted it to be wet-tolerant and match the tub surround.

Now, about our issues with the fabrication of the quartzite: The first involves one of the kitchen backsplashes which was cut four inches wide instead of three. While it is good that it’s not the other way around, the issue is whether the pieces can be wrestled off the wall without getting broken. If they do break, is matching quartzite available?

The second issue deals with the cut out around the kitchen sink and this diagram, sums it up:

week 21-14

It’s hard to fathom that there wasn’t an extra ¼-inch available to shave off. For me, it’s akin to cutting off the points in your star block: you don’t do it. Ever.

This week will be interesting.

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