Once only seen in upper-end homes, but now a feature most everyone is looking for, granite countertops are one hot commodity. We got the inside scoop on what to ask for and how to spot quality products and installation from Danny Hallum, vice president of sales for Stone Bridge Homes. Danny has worked in home building and specifically in the business of granite for many years. According to Danny, here is what every buyer needs to know about granite -- that most people don't:
1. Granite can be fabricated by hand or machine
Good craftsmen fabricate better by hand, while the large granite companies do everything by machine. Machine fabricating is quicker, but doesn't polish the edges as well as hand-polishers. To compensate, some companies wax the edges to make them look better, but wax wears off over time. Ask your granite company if they use wax and require them to state in your contract that they don't. Good companies using machines also have employees who manually polish after the machines are done. Ask your fabricator if they manually polish machine edges.
2. Ask about seams
Some granite companies fabricate each piece individually, while others put pieces together, then fabricate. The edging looks better when pieces are fabricated preassembled. Make sure your fabricator installs seams with a suction-automated seam machine. It holds the granite in place and levels the seam much better.
3. Find out if your granite company does its own installs
The large warehouse chains do not fabricate or install. Always use local suppliers who have their own install team. Installation is the key -- you always want local support. Out-of-town and third-party installers are consistently unavailable if you have problems with your install. Local people will support you much better.
4. Insist on 3-centimeter granite
Three-centimeter granite is 70 percent less likely to break than 2-centimeter products. Buy Brazilian or Italian granite only. Most granite is mined in Brazil or Italy, and you want to buy from people who either own the mines or buy directly from the mines. Ask your fabricator if they buy their granite direct or through distributors. Distributors guarantee their quality. They are a little more expensive but worth it, because you can send back anything you don't like.
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