Granite Choice Issues

So how do you choose a granite material?   Most people pick a color that they
fall in love with, in fact, few other materials inspire and along with the movement
of veins make granite hands down one of the most beautiful materials for
countertops.

Some consumers pick a color and then research the stone in an attempt to
make a wise choice.  There are many stone websites such as stoneadvice.com
and findstone.com that can offer opinions on individual granite types.  You will
find that many of so called granites are really "granites", which is one sites way
of showing the difference between true geological granite that makes an
excellent countertop and the mercantile "granites" which can be anything but
granite.

It seems an easy task, chose a few colors that work well with your kitchen color
schemes, then look them up on the Internet....

Well, if only it were so easy.....

One of the problems with researching an individual granite is finding out it's
aliases or other trading names.   Many shops, distributors, or importers will
rename a stone to prevent consumers from learning it's true name to avoid the
stones bad reputation or to keep consumers from shopping around for the best
price.

This site does a good explanation on Absolute Black and what to watch out for
as well as how complex it may be to find out the true name of their choice.

This site has a good technical description of what is a granite and what is
something else.

Some stone sites are sensitive about negative information about natural stone.  
This was the case with a very valuable thread to consumers, the Black List over
at stoneadvice.com which was a compilation of hard to use stones and poor
quality stones put together by stone fabricators.  There was some disagreement
on some stones, but most were universally known as problem materials.

Once the Black List was publicized on a consumer site, stoneadvice.com pulled
it off the pages that the public could access and put in their "Dark Room", where
sensitive info could be accessed by members but away from the prying eyes of
consumers.  The reason given was that consumers would not understand the
reason for the Black List, yet the four page thread was easy to read, non
technical, really an asset to any one shopping for granite for their kitchen.

The entire matter was debated on a consumer web site, Gardenweb.com in
front of consumers in which a fight ensued.

Some of the posters were granite owners, with a large investment in their
countertops and weren't happy that any negative info was coming out about
even unhappier about the turn of events.  There was a long running battle on
that site over negative granite info being presented and some of the posters
would get very nasty and abusive, so much so that the moderator had to
continually edit the threads.

Note that the original poster was upset at the long post, refused to read the
Black List info for whatever reason.   Granite is an emotional decision for some
people and they don't want much more than someone reassuring them their
choice is a good one.

Also note that the Original Poster (OP) of that thread was concerned about
grainy residue and water staining despite sealing the granite, then the next
poster says she has experienced the same problems.

About a quarter of the way down, the last page of the Black List was copied and
pasted into the thread.  From reading the stone fabricators comments, it is clear
that the Black List was intended to be just that.   Sure some of the stones were
hard to fabricate, but most were just bad material.

About halfway down, the OP states she still hasn't found the reason for the
grainy residue, wasn't happy but the fabricator was of little help.  Note the
fabricator telling her to seal every six months, something that, while good
advice, is not often heard from granite fabricators.  Some of them think it will
hurt sales if the truth be known.

One of the regular posters claimed the reason the Black List was pulled was
that it was useless without the notes that showed why the particular stone was
being Black Listed.  Funny thing was that the Black List had all of those notes, it
was only summarized at the very end of the thread.

Here is
another link to the stoneadvice.com site that speaks of the black list,
including some shops that don't warranty any granites on the Black List.

Here is
another link the weekend the Black List was removed from consumer
view.

And
another that proves how useful the Black List was for both consumers and
fabricators.

And the
last link shows that none of the granite fabricators answering the
consumers questions claimed the Black list was not to be used for picking out
granite for a countertop.  Not a peep that the list was intended any other way
than it being a black list of poor quality stones.

This episode showed the under belly of the granite industry, it's willingness to
hide negative information if they felt it would affect sales of their product.  Their
use of trading names to hide the identity of poor performing materials.  Also
shown was the total lack of integrity when caught red handed.

Solid surface fabricators will willingly tell consumers of poor performing
products.  With the long warranties involved and the possibility of losing
certification, most take pains to sell only quality materials.   In my own shop, we
have four or five boxes sitting inside cabinets in case a consumer comes in
looking for the material.   When asked, we pull it out and tell why it is hidden
away.   Some are notorious for poor quality, some are known for poor warranty
response to problems, others have filed bankruptcy in the past on product lines,
others are just known for screwing over fabricators and what they will do to a
fabricator, they will do to a consumer.

So, say you eventually find a granite you like, research it by spending long
hours on the Internet, finding out all of the granites trading names and track
them down one by one.  Hopefully, you had the right name to begin with....

So now it is time to pick your slabs out for your kitchen.  Well, yes, you have to
pick them out.  Slabs vary way too much, even within a bundle.  So you meet
your fabricator down at the slab yard and as the workers move the slabs with a
forklift, you reject or accept till you have enough.   Of course you have to keep
sequential numbers so that the slabs match as closely as possible,  if more than
two slabs, you don't dare reject one if it breaks up the set.   Oh, yeah, someone
has already put a hold on two of the slabs in that bundle, so out of five slabs
you have to leave two numbered in sequence.  That leaves you with two
choices, 1 through 3,   or 4 through 6.   Not much leeway anymore, is there.  
Just an illusion of choice really.

Then, slabs look totally different laid flat than they do standing up.   You will not
see most of the defects or fissures.   Once you countertops are delivered, you
are wondering if these really are the slabs you picked out that day or have they
been switched.

Another thing that happens is breakage.   One out of five countertops is broken
during fabrication or installation.  When it happens,  another slab might be
needed, one that hopefully matches what you already have.  Some times there
is enough waste left over to redo the broken top, sometimes you go back down
to the slab yard and start all over again.

With Solid Surface, you look at a small sample and what you see is what you get
almost every time.  Some colors of some brands are known for variation, which
you will be warned about in advance.  In those few and far between cases, the
slabs are ordered and then approved before being cut up.  Some companies
are renowned for excellent color match even after years have gone by.   I have
personally ordered sheets three years after a job was completed to repair or
add to tops, with perfect color matching.

Hopefully this page will leave you with some ideas on why choosing a granite is
more difficult than choosing other types of materials.
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