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Granite Worktops - Truth, Lies and misinformation

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  • handfulhandful Forumite
    265 posts
    Another advice on granite post I'm afraid! I am in Somerset and looking for recommendations for my area if possible. I have a quote from Diapol as they seem to get good reviews but am put off slightly by not being able to see what I'm buying prior to fitment. I also see a big difference in price according to colour. Can anyone (maybe Alan M ;)) give me some advice on their Spike Black colour as it seems only to be listed under that name by a couple of suppliers. Presumably it's known by another name? I asked for some info from Diapol and their very efficient lady called Lia advised the quality is very good but is cheaper because of the cost of sourcing it (from India). For my litchen it would be around £600 less than another more popular colour such as Emerald Pearl or Star Galaxy. Has anyone used Diapol recently as most opinions about them are good but also fairly old. Any advice very much appreciated :D
  • Alan_M_2Alan_M_2 Forumite
    2.8K posts
    I had a quick look on the Diapol site, I'd say Spike Black looks very similar to Angolan Black (which is a recognised trade name) however they may be sourcing a very similar stone from India, the explanation is certainly feasible.

    In comparison, Star Galaxy and Emerald Pearl are both at the top end of the cost structure so there will appear to be more of a cost difference between the two.

    The cost of granite is directly related to its natural abundance, geographical situation, amount of wastage during production and demand for the product.

    Lets take some common examples:-

    Star Galaxy, occurs in one region of India only, approximately 400 acres of mountain and that's it, once it's gone it's gone. It's also in high deamand and the UK market will only accept the highest quality of product quarried. therefore it's a bit pricey.

    Emerald (and Blue) Pearl
    . - Emerald Pearl is actually a dark version of Blue Pearl - it's effectively different shades of the same stone. Occurs generally in Norway, are quarried in blocks then shipped to India or China for production, then back to the UK for sale..So you can see how the simple movement of the raw material pushes up the costs. Only a small percentage of the quarried blocks are acceptable for the UK market - maybe 20% or less.

    Black Pearl (also Steel grey)- A very abundant stone sourced in India, there is little wastage during production, there are plenty of quarries available and economies of scale keep the prices sensible.

    Angolan Black, Impala, Bon accord - Variations on a theme of black.dark grey granite generally sourced from Africa with a noticeable grain/fleck. Similar to Black Pearl / Steel grey in abundance and ease of processing. Can change quite dramatically from batch to batch so don't buy on a sample insist on seeing slabs to make sure you're happy.

    Absolute Black, Nero Zimbabwe, Nero Assoluto, Premium Black, Jet Black.......All variations on a theme. the deeper and more consistant the black the more money this will cost. Nero assoluto has been the standard for many years, much of this actually came from Zimbabwe but with all the political problems there it's difficult to come by now. India has become the place of choice with Premium Black, but there are limited resources and the quarry owners are aware of the demand and charging accordingly. A pure jet black material is now more expensive than Star Galaxy.

    Absolute black is a good compromise, it's has a very fine grain to it but should be consitant in colour and grain throughout.

    There are also some extreme examples of stunning Brazilian stones that cost a fortune simply becasue they are quarried in the middle of a rainforest and have to be airlifted out by helicopter....these can cost as much as £600 sq/m trade and are simply expensive due to production and handling costs.

    Always remember this doesn't make the stone "Better" but it does make it more exclusive as only very few people are willing to pay the price.

    Some stones are less dense and are a bit of pig to work with (tendency to break) - the most common of which are Verde Ubatuba and Baltic Brown. Still suitable for worktops but if you have very large cut outs and fiddly areas to do these aren't a great first choice.

    Bottom line is, go and look at the stock, pick what you like and don't get hung up on "quality"...it's what looks right that matters.

  • kmmrkmmr Forumite
    1.4K posts
    ✭✭✭
    Hi Alan,

    One of the earlier posters refers to a cornflower blue granite top. I've had a look around and can't find anything like that - would you have any suggestions on what that stone is likely to be called.

    Thanks for your great advice!

    KMMR
  • Alan_M_2Alan_M_2 Forumite
    2.8K posts
    That's definitely a made up name, have to as the poster if they can actually remember what it was called.

    Some of the more obscure, therefore less popular colours can be quite reasonable.

  • edited 6 January 2010 at 9:38PM
    stonemason_2stonemason_2 Forumite
    3 posts
    edited 6 January 2010 at 9:38PM
    Their spike black looks like an african black stone.
    Over here it would be called a type of Zimbabwe, but you have to go look at the slabs to see the batches. as theres 2/3 variations although a Slab supplier here who will have it is the granite centre in essex. I've seen this stone and had to fix a piece involving buying some But you'll have to find a stone mason to do this as the material comes in real scants/slabs 3000 x 1800+ x 30mm are the most common sizes so they'll need a saw A to cut it down and B to make sure the edges are kept straight while they do this and C to stop any chipping while cutting.

    Whenever you buy granite you should always ask how they'll be cutting the edges down, angle grinders will cut of course however this edge is very hard to keep straight and near on impossible on long lengths

    KMMR - Could it be Lavendar Blue - beautiful granite ;-)

    ALAN - After reading your post about suppliers selling precut and saying there bespoke and cut from slab........I could'nt agree more, i've seen a couple of pieces work where the joints are 6/9mm wide.
    which if you cut by a bridge/bench saw will make the joint 1/2mm wide or if you go down mitre road we bring the joint down to 0.3/0.5mm wide. all can be accomplished by using a saw.
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  • Alan_M_2Alan_M_2 Forumite
    2.8K posts
    Out of pure conincidence my Indian producer has asked me today If I'd like samples of a stone called "Spice Black"...sounds remarkably similar to the one mentioned above.

    I'll take a look at it next week when He drops some samples in.

    StoneMason:- Have you ever come across a "Blue Ripper" or "Blue Ripper Jnr" mobile wet saw? It provide astonishingly accurate results for a portable saw. I've had two customer ditch bridge saws in favour of this piece of equipment.

    Many of my customers also use Alpha Saws when trim on site adjustments are required, again very accurate for such a low cost piece of equipment.

  • edited 7 January 2010 at 6:19AM
    davey_005davey_005 Forumite
    8 posts
    edited 7 January 2010 at 6:19AM
    Alan,

    Could you post some advice on how to look after granite. I am concerned about it staining and having done various google searches I can't seem to come up with a definitive answer. Some people say it's bulletproof and others seem to think that just about everything you might use in a kitchen will stain it and needs wiping up immediately.

    Also, should it be sealed and if so what should it be sealed with? If it is sealed, how often will it need to be re-done? My supplier advises that both their granite and quartz is only stain resistant. I want to know how to advise my customers.
  • Alan_M_2Alan_M_2 Forumite
    2.8K posts
    It actually depends on which granite you have, the darker the colour the more dense the product, (therefore more stain resistant). This is one of many reasons why blacks are so popular.

    The difference in density between say Star Galaxy and Kashmir White is vast and the two stones need to be treated differently.

    On the quartz comment, it's a common misconception that this is the best thing since sliced bread.....which is not quite the case.

    I like quartz, it gives a range of colours that could never occur naturally. But we have to be careful how we store it. Unlike granite it's can't be stored out doors, acid rain etches it and UV (daylight) bleaches it (these are manufacturer specs). However it is less pourous than granite so less prone to staining, but can be more prone to scratching (depending which granite you're comparing it to).

  • alan_m wrote: »

    StoneMason:- Have you ever come across a "Blue Ripper" or "Blue Ripper Jnr" mobile wet saw? It provide astonishingly accurate results for a portable saw. I've had two customer ditch bridge saws in favour of this piece of equipment.

    Many of my customers also use Alpha Saws when trim on site adjustments are required, again very accurate for such a low cost piece of equipment.

    I had'nt before now, although a quick google search found what i wanted in the US.
    Although you need folklifts to lay slabs down onto the bed/table which with a bridge saw you just lift the table up horizontal and then lower back down when the slab is on. The saws your suggesting are rail saws which clip on to a slab and i would hate to imagine how you would lay these down and onto what to cut them Perfect!

    You have a client who prefers a rail saw than a bridge saw? He may well do, although 90% of the companies i know who have bridge saws would laugh at this guy.
    Also angle cuts are not possible.

    DAVEY005 - Lithofin stain stop (excellent sealler for granite)
    theres 2 types stainstop which will not change the color (ie change color: the stone will not appear as wet highlighting the colors)
    And stain stop plus which will highlight the color.
    Should do this around the sink area, grooves if you have them and hob area at least every year. Put ample on, and let it soak in to the tops for 2/3 hours and then wipe off.(elbow grease needed)
  • Alan_M_2Alan_M_2 Forumite
    2.8K posts
    I'd second Stain Stop. Although some of the very dense black materials may not absorb much/any.

    For lighter materials it's an absolute must. Stonemasons advice above is spot on, although I always avoided Stain Stop Plus (which also contains a colour intensifier) as it's easy to get it a bit streaky if you're not used to applying it.

    Opinion is divided on sealants in granite across the industry, some traditional suppliers are convinced nothing is required other than regular cleaning with soapy water.

    I'm firmly in the sealant camp.

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