What’s the Big Deal about Quartz?
Unless you happen to be a geologist, there’s a good chance you don’t look forward to the process of comparing slabs. History shows that people have been collecting stone for many years to be used in sculptures, columns, tables, and countless other things. Because of its durability and natural beauty, it is just as popular today as it ever was. With modern engineering there are more options than ever for beautiful, durable stone countertops. Composite quartz helps to make your living space more functional than ever - many times for a much lower price tag! As quartz is growing in popularity, and consumers are becoming more aware, you may find yourself wondering what exactly sets quartz apart. Here are some of the most common benefits of quartz countertops.
How is Quartz Made?
Quartz, is a natural stone, however, countertops made of quartz are actually a polymer resin, quartz, and pigment composite. Quartz countertops have actually been in existence for over three decades, but only in recent years have they become an affordable option that makes it a possibility for most homeowners.
Granite and quartz are both incredibly strong materials that are difficult to damage. The main difference is that quartz is created, and inspected in a lab, meaning that you know exactly what the stone consists of from the inside out. Granite is all natural which makes it impossible to know what materials could be inside of the stone and where frail spots which are prone to cracking may be. Not to mention, natural stone will always be porous, but quartz is a solid non-porous composition.
One of the many benefits of quartz is that it comes in a variety of colors. The pigment used in the composition is artificial which means you aren’t limited only to muted colors. You can expect bright, pure colors that pop in every piece of quartz.
Are you thinking about building your dream kitchen? One that is versatile enough to be used for cooking a simple meal, and also for hosting a large dinner for extended family and friends. When you have acquired everything you need to bring your dream kitchen to life, a top consideration should be what type of countertops you will install.
There are so many different countertop types to choose from. They vary from inexpensive, and poor quality to extremely expensive luxury items. It's important to understand that purchasing expensive countertops is not a bad thing, however, price is not the only way (or even the best way) to determine quality or durabiltiy. A larger price tag is well-worthwhile if the quality of the product matches the price, but unfortunately that simply isn't true. Most natural stones are priced based on rarity, an extremely rare marble - while durable and beautiful, is unlikely to stand the test of time as readily as granite which is a fraction of the cost, and neither marble or granite are as strong or durable as quartz, which begins at $40 per square foot installed. Doing your research and ensuring you are investing in the right countertop for your family could be one of the most important home design decisions you ever make. Our design staff is able to assist you in selecting a stone that will best suit your current lifestyle and aspirations for your home.
Picture yourself stepping into your dream kitchen space. You have a great layout, with plenty of room, and an ergonomic design, your cabinets look perfect, you chose exactly the right faucet and sink, then your vision lands on hideous countertops.
This unattractive mental image is unfortunately a reality for many homeowners that don't budget and plan accordingly at the beginning of their project and it prevents them from ever truly achieving a kitchen they are proud of. At Southern Stone, our granite starts at $35 per square foot which means you can have a beautiful, natural stone counter, for only a little more than you'd spend on formica. Since Granite and Quartz are both made from stone, you can count on them to last longer with simple maintenance, plus they are naturally anti-bacterial.
When you are ready to explore your options and design your dream kitchen, give us a call or stop by our showroom in Birmingham or Huntsville and our design team will help set you on the right path, and build a beautiful kitchen that is within your budget, and made to last!
FAQs – House Flips and Countertop Installations
Each week, we work with people who are remodeling for the purpose of flipping a house or reselling their starter home. Remodeling kitchens and bathrooms can be an incredibly costly and time-consuming endeavor but with help from our design team, we can help make reselling for profit a breeze! Here are a few things to consider when flipping houses.
1.The location of the property.
A small home in an up and coming urban neighborhood will have different demands from a luxury vacation home on the water. Consider the median home value in your area, and the current value of the materials you are using. A luxury home with laminate countertops will not garner the same attention or price tag, as a luxury home with a nice, marbled quartz surface.
2.The color scheme of the home.
Visual appeal must be taken into account whenever you are preparing to sell a home. If you are simply replacing countertops and keeping old cabinets, you should plan on bringing a cabinet door with you when you are selecting your stone to ensure the colors will not clash.
3.The versatility of the slab you choose.
It is true that all-light, and all-dark kitchens and bathrooms are trending right now; however, most homeowners still prefer a traditional look which means contrast, and neutral colors. It is important to remain cognizant of the fact that you are not designing your dream kitchen or bathroom – you are helping to design the future home owners dream kitchen or bathroom. Granite such as Napoli White, or New Venetian Ice are both common colors that rarely clash with cabinets, fixtures, or tile work.
4.The true market value of the home.
Quartz, granite, and marble countertops all have the ability to raise the value of your home. But at what cost? Depending on the current market value, and the true profitability of the home, you may need to scale down, or scale up on the total you are willing to spend on countertops. At Southern Stone, our granite prices start at $36 per square foot, and our quartz starts at $40 per square foot. Plus, we have a large selection of remnant stone you can choose from for small jobs that will save you even more money on the total installation cost!
New Year’s Game-Plan for Home Owners
With 2017 just around the corner everyone is setting New Year’s Resolutions, we decided to compile a list of goals that will help make 2017 a breeze for homeowners!
1.Start the New Year with a Clean Slate!
House cleaning is essential if you are planning any home remodeling projects. We suggest making a list of your upcoming renovations based on priority, and work your way down the list as you do deep-cleaning! Pay special attention to areas that you don’t normally notice or clean, such as under countertops, and top shelves and cabinets that installation crews may have to remove or work around. Deep cleaning also serves as a great preventative, because it allows you to identify structural issues early on that could lead to expensive repairs.
2.Get in the Habit of Donating!
One of the best ways to keep your house in good repair, is by donating old items you don’t need or use regularly. We’ve found that one of the best ways to keep your home in good repair all year long, is by keeping a small box in a closet specifically for items you want to donate, and then scheduling a non-profit organization to come pick-up items each month. You can feel good about making a difference in your community, and keeping your home clean!
3.Schedule Your Preventative Maintenance Now!
When you are a homeowner, you can plan on being caught-of-guard by emergency home issues, but a little routine maintenance can keep emergencies at bay. Routine maintenance may include:
4.Schedule Special Celebrations Ahead!
Birthdays, anniversaries, and holiday parties come around each and every year, don’t make these special moments more difficult than they have to be – create a game plan now, and then when these special occasions arrive, you can spend more time celebrating, and less time stressing!
5.Begin Scheduling Estimates!
If you are planning on getting custom work done on your home in 2017, January is a great time to begin scheduling your estimates or measurements. At Southern Stone, your estimates stay on file in our system until you are ready for installation. In the Spring, home renovations become more popular than ever and it can be difficult to schedule an estimate, which delays your installation! Give us a call today to schedule your free in-home estimate.
Why a Modern Kitchen Design Might be Right for You
It is no wonder that many home owners today are choosing a modern kitchen design, with clean lines, pure functionality, and utter simplicity – it almost seems like a no-brainer to home designers. However, many home owners often find the choice between going the modern route, and designing a traditional kitchen a difficult decision. Here are a few reasons why a contemporary kitchen is an amazing option.
More Connected Living Space
In most households, the kitchen is one of the most heavily used areas. Traditional kitchens are typically more closed off and can leave the family chef feeling excluded from household events. The open-space that generally accompanies a modern kitchen creates a more inclusive household, and as a bonus – it is great for hosting large gatherings of friends and family!
Bright Natural Lighting
Most contemporary designers build simplistic and beautiful kitchens around natural, bright-lighting. Not only is natural lighting beautiful – it is good for you and creates a more positive atmosphere within your home!
Modern home design coupled with minimalism creates so much open space. This helps eliminate any feeling of being uncomfortable or crowded as you move through your kitchen.
Flexible Décor Options
Sleek lines, open spaces, and simple colors all add up to one beautiful thing – options! If you value progression and change in your life, the simplicity afforded to you by a modern design plan leaves you open to the possibility of changing your décor, furniture, or style at any point in time without creating too much extra work for yourself.
You are going to get more than flexibility, and breathing room when you decide on a modern kitchen design - you also are going to get the chance to accurately display your personality for all of your house guests to see. You can easily build your kitchen around a single piece of art, or furniture that reflects your personal sense of style.
The reality is, there is no wrong way to design your own home, if you are on the fence about a modern or traditional looking kitchen, these are just a few of the many great points to consider!
Tips for Buying New Cabinets
One detail that is often overlooked in new homes designs, or remodels, is the cabinetry. Many homeowners view cabinetry as a necessity instead of a design statement that can impact the overall aesthetic of your home, as well as the value of your property. Her are a few things to consider when looking at new cabinetry for your home.
Consider Your Budget
When remodeling your home, the first thing you should consider is your budget. Set a desired budget and then set a maximum budget that will give you some room for necessary upgrades, or unexpected emergencies. Cabinetry pricing can vary greatly. At Southern Stone, our cabinets are all-wood, and manufactured to fit all price points.
Consider Your Cabinet Style
Do you desire framed cabinets, or do you prefer a sleek frameless look? Will natural wood colors match the appearance of your home, or would it be better to have white or grey panels? When choosing your cabinet style you should consider the important focal points in your kitchen or bathroom. Do you want your countertops to stand out, or perhaps a unique backsplash? If so, traditional cabinets may be the best option for you.
Consider the Hardware
Although some modern designers prefer to ignore the accessories to maintain a very simple aesthetic, you should know that the right accessories can, and will improve cabinet functionality. They also can be a pretty serious investment. The majority of your time shopping will likely be spent searching for the right handles and accessories. Don’t forget there are more than just handles that need to be taken into consideration though – you also may want to consider mounted lighting fixtures to have installed on your upper cabinets! For best results, you should make sure your cabinet fixtures match your sink and/or faucet - this is an important and often overlooked detail!
If you are interested in designing a dream kitchen at a price you can afford, contact us at Southern Stone, Inc. today to schedule your free in-home countertop and cabinet estimate!
Preparing Your Home for Holiday Guests
Unfortunately, this time of year causes anxiety levels to rise in many home owners as they begin to recognize how under-prepared they are to create a warm, cozy atmosphere for friends and family coming to stay for the holidays. If you can relate to being overwhelmed and under-prepared, this list should help put you on track for a happy holiday season!
30 Days Before Guests Arrive
Depending on where your guests are travelling from, you likely will know a month ahead of time what their plans for the holidays are. This is the time to take inventory of large home projects that you would like to see completed before your guests arrive. 30 days is more than enough time for most local businesses to evaluate and execute your project without having to worry about any unusual surprises. At Southern Stone, we do our best to get your new countertops and cabinets from our showroom, into your home within 14 days. If you have a granite or quartz project on the horizon, give us a call immediately so we can schedule your free estimate and installation before your guests even pull into the driveway!
20 Days Before Guests Arrive
Create a shopping list and make time to purchase items that will make your guests feel more at home. Consider the things that make you more comfortable when travelling. Additional pillows for guest bedrooms, heavier blankets to keep the chill away, and nightlights to help your guests avoid stumbling through a dark hallway are all really great places to start. Lastly, consider possible child-proofing needs if your guest has little ones. More trips to the emergency room occur between November and December than the entire rest of the year combined, so it is important to consider the safety of children, or elderly houseguests that may be more susceptible to preventable injuries.
2 Weeks Before Guests Arrive
Clean linens and guest bedrooms. If you do not frequently use your guest bedrooms, the bedding and curtains might be collecting dust and harboring other airborne bacteria. Two weeks in advance is plenty of time to dust, vacuum, polish the appropriate furniture, and launder all bed linens so your guest can feel perfectly comfortable in your home.
You should also begin creating a meal plan, and finalize any scheduled activities you and your house guests are looking forward to. This will help you avoid unexpected delays or disappointments in your schedule so you can make the most of time with your friends and family.
1 Week Before Guests Arrive
If you have followed the above steps, you should be feeling rather confident in your ability to receive guests into your home, so now it is simply time to begin with the finishing touches that make being home for the holidays so much fun. Take the meal plan you created last week, and make a quick trip to the grocery store to purchase everything that you need now, so you won’t have to worry about any trips to the store for ingredients while your guests are with you. This week is also a good opportunity to pull out your final holiday decorations, and candles to create an inviting feel for yourself and your guests!
Now that you have a game-plan in place, you shouldn’t have to worry about being unprepared, or whether or not your guests will be completely comfortable. All that’s left to do, is pour yourself a glass of eggnog, and curl up by the fireplace!
There are many materials available for kitchen and bathroom counters; however, marble countertops are often viewed as the most elegant option. Boasting more than just a pretty face, marble countertops can be excellent performers and, in many cases, and if properly cared for they may be the last counters you will ever need to install. Understanding the benefits and the drawbacks of this natural stone is, of course, an important element in making your home design decision. Here are a few points that may help you decide whether marble counter installation is right for your home.
Marble Kitchen Counters
While the popularity of, granite, cannot be denied, marble kitchen counters are still regarded as the go-to luxury countertop. When it comes to performance, both granite and marble kitchen counters are at the top of the list; the real difference between the two lies in appearance. Both stones can vary dramatically in looks depending on where they are taken from, and it is generally personal taste that decides which one is a better fit for a particular situation. Each stone is somewhat porous, and must be sealed to prevent stains; this is particularly important in kitchen spaces, as the likelihood of spilling a staining liquid like juice or wine is high. It should be noted, that while they are each similar in care requirements, marble is more porous naturally and due to this, it is highly prone to staining. Marble kitchen counters are also very expensive, so installing marble over every inch of your kitchen counter space is almost always at an extremely high cost. Some homeowners save money by using this product on accent pieces within the home: install it on top of an island, a wet bar, or inset so that you can have all the benefits of the material without all the cost.
Marble Bathroom Counters
Though they won’t be quite the statement piece that marble kitchen counters are, marble bathroom counters are still beautiful. Since bathrooms are a fraction of the size most kitchens are, marble bathroom counters general should be slightly less cost-prohibitive; additionally, the type of spills you’ll see in a bathroom (water, soap, etc.) are much less likely to result in permanent stains, especially when the stone is properly sealed.
Cultured Marble Counter Installation
Cultured marble countertops are formed of marble dust and plastic, and since they are less “pure” and partially manmade they are not as expensive as true marble counter. Installation is a little easier because cultured marble is lighter, and since they’re somewhat synthetic, they’re also more durable against damage and cracking. The only real drawback to installing cultured marble counters is the fact that they are not real marble; though the look is very convincing, the material will not carry the same weight (literally and figuratively) in your home.
Marble Counter Maintenance
Though marble counters are extremely heavy and they may seem tough, they aren’t indestructible. The reality is, marble countertops take quite a lot of extra care if you are concerned about maintaining your investment. It takes a lot of protection, preservation, and prevention to have and keep beautiful countertops. Clean up spills as soon as possible, particularly when the spilled liquid has a deep color or is very acidic. Always use hot pads or pans on the surface of your marble countertops. At installation, it is always a good idea to speak to your installers about routine care and maintenance such as sealing, which will keep your marble countertops beautiful for many years to come!
Visit our showroom at: 2044 Valleydale Terrace Birmingham, AL 35244
or call us at: 205-989-5699 to schedule your free in-home estimate today!
Recognizing When It’s Best to Call in the Professional’s
When you are facing a large home renovation project, the costs can be overwhelming. There are many steps you can take to save money on your remodel, but it is important to understand the difference between a money-saving opportunity, and a potentially costly mistake. Here are a few helpful things to take into consideration.
The Scope of Your Project
You must understand the scope of your project before you commit to completing it yourself. If you are looking for a temporary solution to make your home more attractive and are not interested in raising the value of your home, or keeping the renovation long term, it may be appropriate to do-it-yourself. On the other hand, if you are invested in increasing your home value and making it beautiful long-term, you should definitely consider calling in the experts to ensure the project is properly completed and becomes and asset instead of a liability.
The Equipment Necessary to Complete
Not all jobs are created equally. For a small project it may be appropriate to find work-arounds with some equipment. For a larger job, it is always a good choice to use the best equipment available. Equipment rentals are costly and you cannot guarantee that the equipment you receive has been properly maintained which may make renovations more difficult. When a job requires large equipment or a wide array of equipment – it’s a good idea to call in the experts for help.
How You Will Handle a Poor Outcome
It is hard to truly grasp what your final results may be when you decide to do it yourself. Sometimes, materials break, equipment quits working, or the job ends up taking too much time and simply goes uncompleted. At Southern Stone, we have a one year warranty on labor and that allows us to replace materials that are damaged or
More often than not, hiring a professional to complete your home renovation project will ultimately save you more time, money, and energy. At Southern Stone, we are committed to helping bring your dream kitchen to life at an affordable cost. We are happy to work with reclaimed materials as well as brand new projects.
Contact us at (205) 989-5699 to schedule your free in-home countertop estimate today!
Extending the Life of Your Granite Countertops
One of the most important things to consider when you purchase new countertops is maintenance. New countertops can be a rather large investment depending on the rarity of the stone you choose, so it is natural that you would want to keep your counters looking brand-new for as long as possible. Granite is not immune to damage, however, it is extremely durable and with just a little bit of routine maintenance, it will remain beautiful for years to come!
Seal Your Counter Annually
Granite is very moisture resistant, but unfortunately it is also porous. To prevent liquids from seeping into your countertops and staining them, you should apply sealer to the surface once every year or two. Normal liquids will not harm a properly sealed granite surface.
Clean Your Counter after Each Use
After your granite has been sealed, all you really need to be concerned with is your routine maintenance. This means it would be a good idea use a cutting board when cooking, and also wipe away any leftover crumbs or dust that may be abrasive to the surface of your counters. You can also wipe your counters clean after usage, using a mild detergent mixed with water.
Do Not Use Acidic Cleaning Products
Avoid acidic cleaners and opt for natural products that are granite-safe. Acidic liquids are extremely harmful to granite and can cut through the sealant in no-time, exposing your granite to a higher likelihood of staining.
For most people, the reward of having beautiful countertops that raise the value of your home - far outweighs the minimal inconvenience of proper care and maintenance. At Southern Stone, we are always happy to guide you through the basics of countertop care as you begin remodeling your kitchen or bathroom!
Contact us at (205) 989-5699 to schedule your free in-home estimate today!
Southern Stone is where your dream kitchen and bathroom can come to life at an affordable price without compromising the integrity of our work. We offer a beautiful selection of solid wood cabinets, along with quartz, and granite counter tops for your kitchen and bathroom.