Welcome to our Education Center

Welcome to the Hard Rock Stone Works education page. This page is designed to answer some of the most commonly asked questions concerning natural, as well as man made stone. It covers a variety of topics from the definition of granite to preparing for installation. Please review the questions to the left and select the ones that apply to your situation. If you don’t see the topic you are interested in, please ask your question using the form on this page.

 

What is Granite?
What are “fissures” and “pits”?
Is it normal to have small chips along the seam?
Why are some seams not “perfectly” smooth?
Will the sample I received in the store be an exact representation of my stone?
How often do I need to seal my tops?
Some of the walls in my Kitchen are bowed and inconsistent. Will the granite follow the bow and conform to the wall?
I would like to increase the overhang of my new granite countertops on my island or peninsula to allow for bar stools and an eating area. Can I do this?
What are some things I should know about the installation of my new granite countertops?
How quickly can the tops be installed?
Do I need to be there during the measuring/templating of the countertops?
Do I need to have the existing countertops removed prior to the templating date?
Can I have Hard Rock Stone Works remove my existing countertops?
What other items do I need prior to templating?
What are some things I should know about the tear out of my existing countertops?
Are my cabinets structurally sound to handle the weight of the stone?
Dry-Treat impregnating sealer technology is different.
How To Choose The Best Granite Sealer
Try the lemon juice test
Every customer wants to know what they are getting for their money
Is sealing granite easy?

What is Granite?

Granite is a natural stone, formed many years ago when molten rock from the center of the earth’s core was pushed towards the surface. Granite’s extreme hardness, which approaches that of diamonds, makes it an uncommonly durable surface. It has natural beauty which makes it appealing when used as countertops or other surfaces in the home. You can be sure that the granite you choose will stand the test of time and provide many years of enjoyment and service in your home.

What are “fissures” and “pits”?

Fissures occur naturally and in many stone types. The term “fissure” is used commercially in the stone industry to describe a visible separation along intercrystalline boundaries. This separation may start and stop within the field of the stone or extend through an edge. A fissure differs from a crack in that it is a naturally occurring feature of the stone. All granites contain some degree of fissure. Some contain more than others. Fissures are not a flaw. Countertops will not be replaced due to the presences of fissures within your tops.

Pitting of the countertop surface, particularly in granite, is a commonly seen characteristic of natural stone. Granites are made up of several minerals, each mineral having different harnesses’. Granites contain quartz, feldspar, biotite, amphibole, ferrous titanium oxides, and other mineral combinations. On the Mohs Scale, diamonds are the hardest mineral with a rating of 10. Quartz and Feldspar have a hardness of 6.5-7 and are very durable. Biotite (small, black minerals found throughout the slab) on the other hand is very soft (2.5) and flakes easily. All true granites have biotite in their composition. Because Biotite is relatively soft and flakey, the first few layers can be removed during the polishing process. The pits do not make the granite less durable or otherwise inferior, and do not in themselves qualify the slab for replacement. Pits are common in all granite and should be expected when dealing with a natural polished stone. Countertops will not be replaced nor will any financial compensation be allowed due to pitting in the surface of and granite countertop.
 

Is it normal to have small chips along the seam?

Chipping will occur, particularly in the igneous stone varieties, as a result of sawing operations. The exiting portion of the diamond blade used to cut granite will create many small chips. A small chamfer, called an “arris”, of approximately 1/16” x 1/16” can be used to eliminate most of these small chips. The use of an arris will make the seam appear wider than its actual dimension when filled. Larger chips may be repaired with epoxy or polyester resin if the completed repair is consistent in color and texture with un-repaired areas of the slab. Hard Rock Stone Works does not use arrises when installing granite countertops, as it makes the seams appear much wider. Seams are assembled and small chips are filled with polyester resin. Countertops will not be replaced nor will any financial compensation be allowed due to chipping along the seams of granite countertops. 

Why are some seams not “perfectly” smooth?

The term “Lippage” as used in the stone industry, is the planar offset of the finished surfaces of two adjacent stone units.  Due to the relatively tight seam used in countertop installations, even minor amounts of lippage are noticeable. Lippage may be unavoidable due to permanent wrap in the slab stock. There should be no detectable lippage at the front or rear edge of the countertop. Maximum lippage at the center of the countertop is 1/32” (0.8mm), Countertops will not be replaced nor will any financial compensation be allowed due to lippage within acceptable industry standards.

Will the sample I received in the store be an exact representation of my stone?

The sample used to make your color selection may not exactly match the slabs used to produce your countertops. Some granite colors, due to the different types of minerals in them, are more consistent than others. We recommend you schedule a time to view the lot of material that your countertops will be cut from. Unlike other fabricators, HRSW will allow you to pick the exact slabs that will be used in your project. Slab viewing is by appointment only. Please call 586-532-7763 to schedule an appointment. Countertops will not be replaced nor will financial compensation be allowed for countertops that do not match the sample that was used to make the selection.

How often do I need to seal my tops?

Sealing a countertop will not prevent staining. Instead it gives you a buffer of time to address and clean the spill properly. High use areas (opposite sides of stove), may collect oils, grease, and spatter that could stain, or darken that area over time. The sealer prevents it from absorbing into the stone, but if it is not cleaned in a timely fashion, it could discolor that area. Since the makeup of each stone varies, there is no way to determine what that time window is. 

Every top Hard Rock Stone Works installs come with an automatic 1 year warranty against staining. That means, if you do stain it, we will service, or replace the top for 1 full year from installation. At that time you would need to seal the tops yourself and refer to the manufacturer guidelines for application frequency.

Hard Rock also offers 5 year, and lifetime warranty protection for an additional cost. Please see your salesperson for details.
 

Some of the walls in my Kitchen are bowed and inconsistent. Will the granite follow the bow and conform to the wall?

Granite is extremely rigid and can not bend to follow the irregularities of walls. No wall is perfectly straight. There will be areas where small gaps are visible. The size of these gaps is determined by the severity of the bows in the wall. Hard Rock Stone Works will caulk any gaps between the wall and the granite. Countertops will not be scribed in an attempt to follow the irregularity of any wall. Countertops will not be replaced nor will financial compensation be allowed due to gaps between walls and granite countertops. 

I would like to increase the overhang of my new granite countertops on my island or peninsula to allow for bar stools and an eating area. Can I do this?

Unsupported overhang can not exceed 1/3 of the support top, to a maximum of 6” on 2cm material and 10” on 3cm material. Supports such as corbels or brackets should be installed by the homeowner or contractor after the granite installation. Hard Rock Stone Works can install these supports if not done by the homeowner or contractor prior to the installation of the countertops. 

What are some things I should know about the installation of my new granite countertops?

  • Owner or a designated owner’s representative must be onsite during the entire installation process. Owner’s representative must be able to make decisions on issues which may arise during the installation. They will be required to sign the completion forms at the conclusion of the installation.
  • All seams will be placed at the discretion of the fabricator. Every effort will be made to indicate seam locations during the template of your project. The fabricator reserves the right to move seam locations as needed to cut around inclusions, cracks, or other major irregularities within the slab, or to maximize slab usage. No financial compensation will be allowed for the movement of seams.
  • When two pieces of granite are seamed together, there may be slight differences in the thickness of the stone. This area will be “feathered” to blend the pieces together. Countertops will not be replaced due to “feathering” at the seams. This occurs in approximately 80% of all installations.
  • Cutouts for under mount sinks will be made to have an overhang into the bowl. This reduces the risk of food particles collecting on the ledge of the sink and molding. Overhangs will vary as no bowl is perfectly straight. Overhangs should be between 1/16”-5/16”.
  • Overhangs will vary slightly over the length of the top.
  • Gaps behind tops and splashes are caused by irregularities in walls. Hard Rock Stone Works will
  • Caulking is done only on areas where stone meets stone. Hard Rock Stone Works will use white, paintable caulk.
  • Caulking is done only to 4” backsplash. Hard Rock Stone Works will not be responsible if the backsplash does not cover paint or wallpaper lines. It is the customer’s responsibility to have electrical outlets moved to miss the backsplash or to fall within the backsplash. This must be done prior to the installation.
  • Hard Rock Stone Works will adhere a dishwasher strip if applicable. The dishwasher must be installed prior to our arrival. Hard Rock Stone Works will not adhere clips to wood, nor wood to stone. Should a dishwasher strip become unattached at a later date, it will be the responsibility of the homeowner to reattach it.
  • Undermount sinks may be connected to plumbing 24 hours post installation of the new countertops. Reattaching the plumbing before the sink has had time to set may result in the sink moving or dropping. If this occurs, it will be the owner’s responsibility to correct.
  • The tear out and installation of countertops is a major construction process. Cook tops and surface mounted sinks will be cut on site to reduce risk of breakage. THERE WILL BE DUST generated during this process The owner should remove or protect any items in or under the cabinets. You should turn off your heat/ac. You may want to drape or cover the area to contain dust. Construction site will be left broom clean. Dust will settle for hours after the installation is over. Customer is responsible for this clean up. HRSW does not provide any tarps or other covering. No financial compensation will be allowed due to dust or clean up related issues.
  • Mirrors in bathroom that are permanently affixed to the wall and rest on or within 1”above the top of the existing backsplash or countertop must be removed before the tear out of the existing countertops or installation of new countertops. And damage to mirrors not removed will be the homeowner’s responsibility.
  • Installers are not expected to move appliances.
  • Installers cannot remove their shoes, nor wear shoe covers, so it is the responsibility of the homeowner to cover the floors if there is concerns about dirt being tracked in.
  • The installation process can create large amounts of dust which contain silica. This can be harmful if inhaled. No one other than the installers should be in the immediate area of the work being done unless requested by the installer.
  • Is the responsibility of the homeowner to provide a safe and clear area for our installers to work. There will be many trips between the jobsite and the installation vehicle. The pathway should be clean and clear of any debris as well as items of value such as statues, painting, vases, and other items which may be damaged. Granite pieces are very heavy and difficult to maneuver. Children and animals are not allowed near the jobsite at any time. Please ensure that all animals are up and out of the area. The home owner should indicate an area to the installers that is acceptable to use of cutting and staging of the material.

How quickly can the tops be installed?

Typically we can install a top 7-10 days from the day it is measured. This is providing that ALL the information we need to measure is on site. Also, any variance will need to be addressed expediently in order to assure this timeline. 

Remember that this is a construction project. Sometimes events occur that can delay or even postpone an installation. Weather, traffic, or sickness can affect the schedule at any time. Rarely tops will break during transportation, or during the installation process.  Hard Rock Stone Works will repair or remake the top and schedule re-installation as quickly as possible.

Though these occurrences are rare, please keep this in mind when scheduling other trades, or scheduling an event. A good rule would to have a buffer of at least 3 weeks from installation until any planned event that you are hosting. No compensation will be provided for delays or for the impact these days may have on events planned by the customer.
 

Do I need to be there during the measuring/templating of the countertops?

Yes. The customer or a responsible representative over the age of 21 who can sign paperwork must be present during this process to review items such as; seam locations, overhangs, radius corners, and other such issues which commonly arise. You will be asked to sign the drawing of your countertops which will indicate the approximate location of the seams and other specific information of your project.

Do I need to have the existing countertops removed prior to the templating date?

While it is highly recommended we measure without existing countertops, Hard Rock Stone Works recognizes that being without a working kitchen for several weeks would be very difficult. Although it is more accurate to measure for the tightest fit with the existing tops removed, it is not mandatory.  With that being said, occasionally the measure tech will not see something that becomes visible after the existing tops are removed. It is the customer’s responsibility to make sure that cabinets are level, in good shape and have adequate support. Hard Rock Stone Works does offer plumbing disconnect and reconnect services. You may also purchase an expedited tear out (not including any plumbing), measure and install for an additional fee. If you purchase an Expedited package, your countertops will be scheduled to be removed on a Monday morning, measured on Monday afternoon and installed by Thursday IF all your color and sink final decisions have already been made and are in stock. Any leveling or cabinet repair needed after the tear out is the responsibility of the homeowner and must be completed before we return for install. Hard Rock Stone Works will not disconnect any plumbing or hardwired electric or gas line! Those must be disconnected prior to our arrival for the tear out. No financial compensation or replacement will be allowed for delays in installation due to pieces being measured incorrectly if existing tops are not removed.

Can I have Hard Rock Stone Works remove my existing countertops?

Yes, Hard Rock Stone Works offers this service to all customers. Please contact your salesperson to determine the cost associated with this service. 

What other items do I need prior to templating?

  • Final pricing will be based on actual field measurements and conditions.
  • Undermount sinks, faucets, an cooktops must be onsite during templating.
  • It is the CUSTOMER’S responsibility to make sure that the sink and cooktop fit into the base cabinet and that the faucets will fit and be fully functional in the space between the sink and any backsplash material. This is HRSW number one cause of remade countertops at the homeowners expense. Please alert your salesperson prior to measure if you have any unusual depths/configurations on vanity cabinets or kitchen base cabinets less than 36” wide
  • Existing countertops should be cleared of all items prior. They will interfere with the measuring process and HRSW is not allowed to move any of your items.
  • The appointment to template is the last chance to make changes to the original order, changes must be made in writing and be given to your salesperson in person, by fax or e-mail. They can be reached at 586-532-7763. There are no over the phone changes. Changes must be made in writing. Some changes may delay the installation.
  • Cabinets must be fully installed, including all finished panels, before templates can be made. Some cabinets are installed with finished panels on the ends and some are not. No panels may be added after templates have been made. Cabinets must be finished as if the new countertops were being installed that day.
  • Upper cabinets must be installed if the job requires a full height backsplash.

What are some things I should know about the tear out of my existing countertops?

It is the homeowner’s responsibility to have countertops removed unless you pay for this service with HRSW. Prior to removing your countertops; the sinks, faucets and dishwasher will need to be disconnected. Most homes has shut off valves under the sink. If your home does not have shut off valves, a plumber should be contacted to have them installed. A countertop installation, in rare cases, may take a few days to complete and shut off valves for the kitchen faucets must be in place to avoid having water completely shut off to your home during this process. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure all cutoff valves are in working order and do not leak. Hard Rock Stone Works will not be responsible for leaking plumbing or shut off valves that break when turned. HRSW will not disconnect any hardwired electrical or gas lines or move appliances.

There will be some unavoidable damage done during the tear out to surrounding walls, existing tiles, and possibly cabinets. Countertops installers are not responsible for this damage. This type of damage occurs with most installations and the customer should be prepared to make touchups and repairs once the countertops are installed.

The removal of existing countertops and the installation of new countertops is a major construction process. There will be minor damage to surrounding areas and large amounts of dust and debris will be created. No financial compensation will be allowed for this type of damage during the tear out process. 

Are my cabinets structurally sound to handle the weight of the stone?

That is a great question. Most cabinets can easily handle the weight of granite countertops. It is often not possible to assess cabinet problems prior to the removal of the existing countertops. If significant problems are detected after the removal of the existing tops, either in structure or if the cabinets are not level, the installation of the new countertops may be delayed. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to have the cabinets repaired to acceptable standards of levelness and structure. If the installation must be rescheduled due to cabinet issues and a new appointment day is needed, return trip fees will apply. Countertops can be shimmed and installed with cabinets out of level up to 3/8”. Beyond 3/8” the cabinets must be repaired by the customer or a professional. Countertops sit directly on top of the cabinets and are held in place with silicone. 

Dry-Treat impregnating sealer technology is different.

The special penetrating sealer molecules are hundreds of times smaller than competitor stone sealers and penetrate much deeper into the pore structure, even dense natural stones like granite. Inside the pores our special sealing molecules bond permanently by chemical reactions , creating a substantial, deep oil and water-repellent barrier.

The deeper Dry-Treat barrier, not only provides great surface stain protection, but also protection against more serious common types of damage cause by water ingress (penetration), including efflorescence, salt spalling, freeze-thaw spalling, and picture framing.

How To Choose The Best Granite Sealer

When should you NOT be sealing granite?  Granite sealer can prevent stains unless you’re sealing granite countertops that specifically should not be sealed (black granite for example).  Now you’ve created a problem that even the best granite sealer and cleaner can’t fix.

Granite sealers are often misunderstood and misused as a marketing weapon.  It’s the result of ignorance in the stone industry and malicious intent by sales people of competing countertop materials.  See best sealer for granite.

It’s generally believed that when a material is delicate and hard to maintain, it needs to be sealed.  The stone industry set out to solve the concerns of staining granite countertops by soliciting chemists to find a sealer for stone.  Unfortunately, the chemists didn’t know the first thing about petrography.

Why are these granite care products the only ones you should ever use to protect your  granite investment?

Is your granite sealed properly?

Granite sealer, the miracle in a bottle, became what I consider one of the most over-promoted, overrated, and over-applied products in history.

As a fabricator and installer, we always degreased countertops and gave them their final cleaning with denatured alcohol. Denatured alcohol, it turns out, does wonders for cleaning granite and cutting through film buildup on your counters. The result is the original shiny surface.

Cleaning granite countertops should only be done with specialized cleaners, not Windex or ammonia.  The best performing product we have found is MB Stone Care MB-5 Marble, Granite and More Spray Cleaner.

We have provided this to all our customers as part of a stone care kit when we install a new countertop and when we show them how to clean granite.  See Cleaning Granite Tops.

So What is the Best Granite Sealer?

Sealers for stone (also known as impregnators) are below-surface penetrating sealers, not topical hard shell sealers like those, for instance, that are applied onto wood floors or furniture.

They are delivered inside the stone by natural absorption.

Some stones absorb more than others.  Granite sealer consists of a solid part, or resin, and a solvent or water carrier.  The solid stays in the stone and clogs the pores of the stone to keep liquid stains out.  The carrier brings the solid into the stone and then evaporates.

One of the most important phases of the whole sealing process, is the thorough and complete cleaning and removal of any residue from the stone surface.  This prevents any alterations to the color or the finish of the stone surface.  See Granite Sealers for suppliers of high quality granite cleaner and sealer.

Now, knowing that the resin is absorbed for the purpose of sealing the stones natural pores, it stands to reason that an impregnator cannot, and does not, offer any protection whatsoever to the surface of the stone –physical or chemical damage such as scratches or etching by acids.

 

It should be pretty clear that to work, an impregnator must go into the stone.  But to do that, it has to be absorbed by it.  Several commercial granites don’t absorb anything due to their inherent density.

Therefore no impregnator will ever go in.

If you apply it anyway, there’s the distinct chance that some of it will remain on the surface of the stone and it will be affected by spills, giving the impression that the stone is damaged.

This damage will appear in the form of “ghost water stains” or “water rings”.  Some of the best stone surfaces available can be made to look “stained” by sealing them.  When in fact, the sealer is what is stained.  Do not seal granite countertops that do not need it.  Especially black granite.

Try the lemon juice test

How do you know if sealing granite is necessary?  See the Lemon Juice Test.

Different granites each have their own needs depending on how porous they are.  Some granites never need sealer and should never be sealed (black stones especially).  Others need several coats of sealer.  Granite is very different than marble or limestone, so first make sure you are dealing with granite.

You can test your stone to see if it needs sealer by putting a few drops of lemon juice in an inconspicuous place.  If dark spots appear quickly, the stone is potentially a problem since it is reacting with an acid.  Chances are it cannot be sealed properly.  This is what happens with limestone counters.  If the drops take a minute or so to be absorbed, you can protect the top with sealer.

If the lemon juice doesn’t absorb at all, the stone does not need to be sealed.  Contrary to what you may have heard, sealing granite is not always a necessary part of granite counter care.  In fact, the performance of various granites can differ greatly.  Some need sealer to prevent a granite stain while others don’t. MB Stone Care.

How to seal granite

Many granite companies use poor quality silicone or siloxane based sealers that require re-application every 6 months or every year.  These sealers are very common and many misconceptions about sealing granite come from widespread use of them.

We recommend and use a fluorocarbon alphatic resin sealer.  Unlike silicon sealers, it will not evaporate or go through any type of natural deterioration.  That is why the particular brand we use for all our sealing, MB Stone MB-4 impregnator, comes with a 10-year warranty.

Unfortunately, fluorocarbon alphatic resin is more expensive, but you get what you pay for.  And in this case it is peace of mind and easy maintenance.

If you’re dealing with calcium based stones like limestone or marble, no matter what sealer you use, you cannot avoid the damage caused by acids.  Anyone who tells you differently is wrong.

Every customer wants to know what they are getting for their money

And every customer wants to pay the lowest price possible. Most customers–and salespeople–get so hung up on dealing with issues of price that they forget about the issue of value. That’s because value is much more difficult to sell and measure. To value something means to consider its worth, excellence, usefulness or importance. Therefore, value is relative to the needs of the individual, whereas a price is a price is a price. The most successful salespeople constantly sell value; the least successful rely on price.

Is sealing granite easy?

Sealing granite is as easy as spray on, let sit, and wipe off.  There’s no polishing, buffing, or strange applicators.  It literally takes minutes.  And if you’re using high quality alphatic resin granite sealers, you don’t need to keep applying coats year after year.

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  • 2922 Industrial Row
  • Troy, MI 48084
  • Main: (248) 280-8000
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  • Sterling Heights
  • 44038 Phoenix Dr.
  • Sterling Heights, MI 48314
  • Main: (586) 532-7763
  • Fax: (586) 532-7764
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