The following is a continuation of last month’s Q&A on countertops. To read previous installments of this series, click here.

3)How should the various types of countertops be cared for/cleaned/maintained?

Sung Yeung (SY), Manager, Hope Kitchen & Stone Supply, LLC, Bridgeport, (203) 610-6147; “Granite and marble need to be sealed every six months to maintain their polished look and to prevent absorption.  Silestone, Formica, and Corian have less maintenance.  No special maintenance is needed, but normal cleaning is required.”

Michael Fisher (MF), Showroom Manager, U.S. Granite Inc., Danbury, (203) 743-1124; “Soap and water or a granite cleaner suitable for sealed surfaces is all that’s needed to maintain a polished granite countertop. Household cleaners with ammonia or acidic content should be avoided and with prolonged use will eat through the sealer which is applied at installation. If you choose a honed finish or a marble, because of the nature of the stone being more porous, extra care and maintenance should be expected. A sealer should be applied yearly.”

Robin Leigh (RL), Owner,, a division of Country Gardens and Pools LLC, New Milford and Wilton, (203) 834-2427: “The latest concrete sealing products are excellent. We seal the counters in our workshop and allow them to cure before we complete the installation. The only maintenance is to keep the counters clean by wiping down with any regular cleaning product. It is always a good idea to avoid letting any chemical or food product to sit on the counter for more than a few hours.”

Laurie Boxer (LB), Showroom Manager, Countertops By Starian, Danbury, (203) 743-6808; “Granite should be sealed once a year and cleaned with products specifically made for stone so you don’t ruin the seal. Use a revitalizer to keep up the shine. For engineered stone/quartz, polish to keep up the shine. Laminate has no maintenance, while Paperstone and butcher block need to be oiled.”

Fabiano Lomba (FL), Owner, Venezia Custom Marble & Granite, Ridgefield, (203) 544-7625; “Clean your marble countertop regularly with a damp soft cloth (microfiber works well) to avoid streaks. Wipe dry with a clean cloth. Never let it air dry because marble is prone to water spots. For deeper cleaning, use a ph-neutral dishwashing liquid mixed with warm water. Rinse thoroughly to get rid of any residue and wipe completely dry. Use a product formulated especially for marble’s porous surface.

“For limestone, slate or soapstone, wipe the surface with warm, soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Don’t use abrasive cleanser or scrub pads because they may scratch the surface.

“For quartz, use a paper towel or a damp cloth to clean cultured stone (also known as quartz surfacing or engineered stone) countertops. Use non-abrasive cleaners that do not include bleach which can discolor the surface. Quartz surfacing does not require sealing.”


4) How do you help your clients coordinate kitchen countertops with the other elements (i.e., cabinets, backsplash, flooring, appliances) in their kitchens? Are there particular countertop trends? What about mixing countertops throughout the kitchen?

FL: “Some of our clients like to mix countertops throughout the kitchen, perhaps with a lighter color on the island and a darker color on the rest of the countertops.”

RL: “Every client has a different idea of what they would like. We get as much information as possible and then try to create a mix design that will satisfy the customer’s needs and result in a totally unique kitchen work surface. We visit the client and then create some sample tiles to their specification. This helps them coordinate other elements.”

MF: “The look and feel of natural stone combined with the durability of granite and the vast array of color provides our customers with some excellent options. Some homeowners who have an island in the kitchen will even use a different stone to compliment the perimeter and a different edge detail to really make a statement. Perhaps an ogee edge on the counters and a double ogee on the island. Small details – big results. Whether in a contemporary, transitional or traditional setting, the right granite selection reflects the customer’s personal style.”

LB: “Clients are asked to bring in a drawer or door of their cabinets so we can coordinate the color of the top with the cabinet. They are given samples if the need to coordinate a tile or they can use the same material as the top for a backsplash.

“We sometimes will mix in a different material for an island or put a piece of butcher block in a work area for cutting and preparing food.”

SY: “When clients pick their countertops, we try helping them by matching colors and patterns together.  Therefore, we give them sample cabinet doors, floor tiles, and a piece of stone to help them decide. Some clients do a lot of contrasting, for instance, black and white.

“Many of our clients choose granite because it’s more durable and has unique colors.  Some clients mix stones, but usually the limit is two colors. For example, the island might be completely different, so it can stand out more.”


5)What are the approximate costs associated with the countertops you carry? What is the turnaround time from placing the order to the installation?

SY: “Granite cost can vary from $45 per sq/ft up to $200-$300 per sq/ft. The average price ranges from $60-$80. The turnaround time from placing the order to the installation is between seven to ten days.”

LB: “Normal kitchen countertops will be approximately $3,000 to $5,000, depending on material and color choice. From template to install is usually two weeks, but since we template over existing tops, you are never without the use of your kitchen.”

MF: “The savvy consumer who now realizes that a small investment of $49 a square foot which includes template, fabrication and can be installed within 3-7 days pays great dividends in the resale market. So, selecting a stone with classic appeal or in a neutral tone is both wise and logical.”

RL: “Concrete countertops are not inexpensive. They are the most customized element of any kitchen and are made completely by hand. The typical cost of a 1/5” thick counter will be around $80-$100 per square foot.”

6) Any additional advice?

LB: “Usually the most frequently asked questions is, ‘Can I cut on the countertops?’ The answer is yes, on granite and quartz you can, but you will ruin your knives and you can chip or scratch the surface. You can cut on butcher block and Corian but you will leave scratches. Everything should be cut on a cutting board. Another popular question: ‘Can I put a hot pot on the tops?’ You should always use a hot plate no matter what type of top you have. With granite tops you could ruin the seal and risk getting a steam ring or stain. Quartz no longer warrantees against damage from hot pots.”

RL: “It’s  important to understand that concrete counters are not machine made and do not look absolutely perfect like a factory cut granite or composite counter would. They have subtle differences and imperfections from piece to piece that make them totally unique. A skilled artisan will have spent dozens of hours working by hand on your counters. It really is worth paying the extra.”

MF: “The consumer who is planning on living in the home for years to come can seize the opportunity to transform a drab kitchen into a vivacious living space by selecting from a multitude of stone choices, colors and patterns. The kitchen is the heart of the home and where memories are made!”


Kitchen Remodeling: Previous installments

  1. October 2012 — Part 1: Countertops – can beauty marry function?
  2.  Sept./Aug. 2012 — Cabinetry sets the tone
  3.  July 2012 — Great Expectations