How to Properly Clean Your Countertops

Stone countertops are a beautiful addition to any home. Their intricate designs and patterns bring a touch of nature indoors while their hard surface can stand strong against just about any task. However, over time, everyday wear and tear can take its toll on countertops. If you neglect to take care of them, they may lose their shine, become scratched, stained, and begin to cloud. And while they may still do the job that they are intended to do, you will have lost that beautiful touch of nature in your home’s design. Some stone requires more maintenance than others, but overall, cleaning and maintaining your stone countertop is a reasonably easy job, if you keep up with it.

Quartz

Beginning with the lowest maintenance of the three countertops, Quartz requires very little routine-maintenance. Warm water and dish soap are all that are needed to clean daily spills and stains that your Quartz countertop will endure. Denatured/isopropyl alcohol is handy for those stubborn stains that you are unable to get out with just soap and water. If your countertop is looking a bit lackluster, a simple glass cleaner can be used to restore it to its original splendor.

Granite

Granite holds the maintenance middle ground between Quartz and Marble. The first step is ensuring your countertop has been properly sealed. If it was recently installed, it is likely that it has already been sealed, but if not, you should purchase a sealant for it. Most sealants last 10-15 years, so this is not a step you will have to repeat often.

Once your Granite is sealed, the maintenance is similar to Quartz. Washing it daily with warm water and soap is still recommended, but make sure you use a PH neutral soap. Any soap or cleaner with an acid-base will eat through the sealant over time, this means staying away from most glass cleaners as well. Baking soda and water will take care of any oil-based stains that you cannot get out with soap and water, and baking soda plus hydrogen peroxide will take care of any water-based ones. If your counter begins to lose its shine, it is recommended to buy a polish intended for Granite.

Marble

Marble may require the most care from these three stone options, but it is still by no means challenging to maintain. Like the Granite, Marble requires a sealant, but it needs to be sealed on a more regular basis, at least once a year is recommended. Marble is even more sensitive than Granite is to scratches and to acids, so be sure to use a nonabrasive sponge or towel and a neutral, mild soap to clean it daily. When faced with more difficult stains, you can use a stronger cleaning product and a more abrasive sponge; just make sure you have sealant ready because the cleaner will take the sealant along with the stain.

A well-maintained countertop can look exquisite and last a lifetime. Make sure you know how to care for your countertops to ensure they stay beautiful and resistant to your everyday wear and tear. Any additional care ideas that you may have can be posted below in the comment section. Thanks for reading!

Pros and Cons of Granite Countertops

There are many great countertop options to choose from on the market today. Granite is the number one desired countertop solution. It is highly durable and versatile. While this counter is excellent, it is not flawless. Understanding how this countertop system works and functions can help you decide if it is the right fit for your home.

Pro – Durability

Granite is extremely durable. Although not recommended, you can directly cut with a knife on the surface without damaging it. Additionally, you can also set hot pans right on it without hurting the material. This makes it perfect for the kitchen and bathroom! That being said, you should be cautious about hot materials and not using a cutting board.

Con – Cost

Granite is extremely desirable in many households, and it can increase its market value. However, it is not the most affordable countertop solution out there on the market. That being said, these countertops are made to last, so they may be better in the long run.

Pro – Easy to Clean and Disinfect

Granite is very easy to wipe down and disinfect. This feature can prevent bacterial contamination in your kitchen and keep your home a cleaner place.

Con – Heavy

Granite is, by no surprise, very heavy. This characteristic means you may need to have support installed on your countertops. You can also break your counters if you stand on them near a ledge or a weak area.

Pro – Aesthetics

It is no secret that granite is beautiful. In fact, granite has a lot of character and looks great in any home. Its spectacle look can adapt to various design styles, making it a versatile material.

Con – Maintenance

Granite needs annual maintenance. The material is porous and is vulnerable to staining. This is why it is imperative to have your countertops sealed. Your sealant will wear over time and will need to be refinished once or twice every year for the life of the product.

All in all, granite is beautiful and can help increase your home’s market value. Homeowners believe its many pros outweigh its minor cons. Plus, it will work great in your bathroom or kitchen and is extremely versatile. Understanding it can help you better decide if it is right for your home.

Design Center: Kitchen Plans

Kitchen 1 (1)Do you have a vision for your perfect kitchen? Perhaps you’ve visited friends with beautiful kitchens, selected some of your favorites from magazines and Pinterest, or just pictured the kitchen you would love to work in every day.

Well, you can do more than just dream of that kitchen; you can create it at the Fulton Design Center. With literally thousands of combinations of cabinets, countertops, flooring, appliances, faucets, lighting and backsplashes, your kitchen plan can come to life.

Cabinets Design Center 032Start by selecting your cabinets. With your choice of woods, styles and stains or paint, and your other options such as glass doors on upper cabinets, you are only limited by your imagination.

Countertops are a good second Design Center 014selection. Do you want granite or quartz? Light or dark, or maybe a gold with streaks of brown or black? Choose your favorite, using the sample of your cabinet choice to help narrow your decision.

Flooring comes as a natural next step, and you want to make sure the choice meshes well with your other selections. Enjoy the rich selection of tile available, possibly choosing one that reflects the tones of your countertop.

You might also take a look at the exciting new option of tile that patterns itself after wood, providing the warmth of that look while also including the low maintenance advantages of tile.

Consider a backsplash that adds a dash of daring to your kitchen space; one that you will enjoy looking at every time you fix a meal in the dream kitchen you planned for yourself. For more ideas, visit the Fulton Homes Pinterest board “Kitchens”.

Exploring the Fulton Design Center: Kitchen Counters

Design Center 018In our last Fulton Design Center blog, we recommended starting your kitchen design plan by choosing your cabinets. The next decision is countertops. Do you want granite? The look and feel of real stone is dramatic, and it seems that everyone’s dream kitchen includes granite countertops.

Fulton offers a wealth of granite choices, along with the option to pick out your slab, which helps to ensure that you are happy with your selection. Certainly granite adds to a kitchen. Take a look at the strong personality of the granite in this kitchen. It picks up the warm tones from the cabinets but also adds some cooler colors to connect the cabinets with the stainless appliances. This countertop choice truly pulls the kitchen together.Granite Design Center 015

Large slabs of the most popular granite options allow you to really see and appreciate impact of each stone. And with today’s sealed granite, it no longer requires the repeated treatment that was common not so many years ago.

Although you may be captured by this countertop option, take the time to look at some of the other choices. Quartz and other countertop materials may suit your taste more than granite. It pays to at least consider other countertops.

One final tip when making your selection: remember to create contrast in your kitchen. If your cabinets are dark, a lighter countertop can build a well-defined distinction between various aspects of your kitchen. Decide if you want your counters to add a strong personality or subtly blend into the background.

Will your kitchen be an adventure or a refuge? Your countertop choice helps contribute to the mood and feel of your final kitchen design.

Consider Granite

3 cm chiseled countertopAlmost every new homeowner wants granite countertops in the kitchen. Recognizing that, Fulton Homes made granite kitchen counters standard in all of its kitchens.

Granite is an incredibly durable choice. The stone has the second highest hardness rating after diamonds, and it lasts a lifetime.

Fulton Homes Design Online provides an interesting introduction to granite. You may want to start by learning more about granite through the product tours: one provides insight on maintenance and the other gives general disclosure information. One good thing to know is that the newest granite sealers are almost maintenance-free.

Granite comes in about 100 different colors, and shopping your choices is an amazing experience. Remember, your decision doesn’t stop with the slab selection. Take a look at one of the more exotic choices of edge detail in the above photo– a chiseled edge. This option really shows off the stone. Take the time to investigate your edging choices.

granite bathroom upgradeUpgrade to granite for a luxurious look in the master bath. This photo shows the impact of adding granite – supporting the spa feel of the space with a splash of warm brown and gold. Want to enjoy a bath that feels decadent and inviting? How about this one?

Sorting, folding, cleaning and drying the family’s clothes require some serious time in the laundry room. How about granite countertops to spoil yourself a little?

As a natural stone, no two pieces of granite are alike. The individual markings and even variances in the stone itself add to the charm of each piece. Your counters have a unique personality. When you review your countertop options throughout your home – start with granite.

Choosing your Countertops

Think of your countertops as serving two purposes. You want them to look good, but first they need to be functional. Do you want the rich sturdy characteristics of granite? While it may require sealing once a year or so, overall its strength and durability make it an ideal surface for someone who is more than a casual cook.

Perhaps you want something that is totally maintenance free? Quartz and other manmade solid surfaces mimic stone or provide other inviting looks with no sealing or special treatment. This choice is both practical and beautiful.

If granite is your preference, just take a look at a few of your options at the Fulton Homes Design Center. Would you prefer darker tones or lighter? Do you want a consistent design or one with lots of changes in color and personality? The samples in this room are large enough to give you a good sense of each variety and help you decide how you want your countertops to add drama and style to your kitchen.

At Fulton Homes, you have the opportunity to choose your own granite slab. Since every piece of natural stone is somewhat different, this gives you the chance to find one that suits you. Be sure to bring in a sample of the cabinets you chose along with your flooring. You may want to wait to choose a backsplash until after you select your countertop so that you can make sure everything works well together.

If combining all of these selections seems overwhelming, don’t worry. That’s why you have a designer assigned to work with you. This way you benefit from their years of experience and knowledge to ensure that you achieve the kitchen of your dreams.