Selecting a Natural Stone
Granite, marble, limestone, onyx and slate slabs are distributed by about a dozen importers in the Baltimore-Washington area.
The major importers will stock hundreds of colors and varieties of stone. When selections are made at a distributor the information is conveyed to Bluemoon for estimating the total cost of the project. The cost of the stone is an important variable to the cost of the project but waste factors are often more significant than the raw material costs.
That’s why Bluemoon stocks about dozen of the most popular colors of stone. If only 1 ½ slabs are needed, you will only be charged for 1/1/2 slabs if it comes from Bluemoon’s inventory. However, if slabs are being purchased from an importer, 2 slabs will have to be purchased.
Distributors will not hold selected slabs indefinitely. A one or two week hold is typical.
These are the distributors in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area. Some of the distributors have pictures of their current inventories available online:
GRANINTER USA, INC.
8240 Stayton Drive
Jessup, MD 20794
45805 Woodland Rd.
Sterling, VA 20166
AVANTI MARBLE & GRANITE
Rep: Chris, Steve or Bill
3909 Cornell Place
Frederick, MD 21703
22890 Quicksilver Dr. # 189
Dulles, VA 20166
14790 Flint Lee Rd.
Chantilly, VA 20151
Bramati Marble & Granite
295 Bailes Lane
Frederick, MD 21701
Rep: Marcelo or Paul
9570 Berger Rd
Columbia, MD 21046
631 South Pickett St
Alexandria, VA 22304
Marble & Granite
717 I-J Hammonds Ferry Rd
Linthicum, MD 21090
Rep: Larry or Indira
12225 Distribution Way
Beltsville, MD 20705
McKay Stone In
3222 Hubbard Rd.
Landover, MD 20785
Estimates and Costs
Bluemoon Granite provides estimates for completed projects, including templates and measurement, fabrication, installation, and taxes. Beware of square foot estimates that may not reflect all of the nuances of the project.
Estimates are often based on plan view drawings with dimensions. The drawings don’t necessarily have to be professional but accuracy is always beneficial. Getting an estimate can be as simple as faxing the drawing to Bluemoon.
The most accurate estimate wil be based on the exact stone that is selected. But we can also estimate in 4 generic price levels if a final selection has not been made. Most granite kitchen countertops, probably 90% of them, cost between $3,000 and $5,000.
We can provide an estimate within 24 hours. But beware: estimates are no more accurate than the information upon which they are based.
Templates and Measurements
Templates are the patterns used to cut the stone for your project. Bluemoon favors ¼” plywood patterns that duplicate exactly the final product.
To make accurate templates all of the cabinets must be installed and such accoutrements as supporting brackets must be installed and level. Cabinets such as tambour units that sit directly on the countertops are the exception and should not be installed prior to templating.
All appliances, sinks, faucets and fixtures must be at the job site on the day of templating in order to determine cutout dimensions and clearance tolerances. The location of all through-counter plumbing drillings should have been determined prior to templating; designing on the fly is not a good idea.
The fabricator cannot correct cabinet errors such as cabinets out of level. The countertops will be shimmed to level and the resulting gaps underneath are the responsibility of others. The template mechanic will leave a form with pertinent observations and recommendations at the job site when the templates have been completed.
It is Bluemoon Granite’s goal to template, fabricate, and install a granite or marble project as efficiently and quickly as possible without compromising quality and accuracy.
Bluemoon Granite installs all projects 5 days after templating. Without exception. Our schedule is always committed up to 2 weeks in advance, but once in the schedule, the 5 day turnaround is guaranteed. A delay in the template day almost invariably means that the project is moved to the next available slot, often weeks later.
Hence a “little” delay invariably becomes a huge delay. Adherence to a predictable schedule is one of several keys to a successful project.
Installation is usually a one day event that at Bluemoon Granite always occurs 5 working days after templates have been made.
Access issues are key to installations. Some pieces may be as heavy as half a ton (1,000 lbs) and invariably must be moved by hand. Lack of hard surfaces to support rolling carts, incomplete steps or porches, mud, and stairs with sharp turns are access issues that will impede a successful installation.
Every effort is made to make seams as inconspicuous as possible. Polymeric adhesives are used that can be dyed to mimic the various colors of granite and marble. Still, the reality is that a seam represents two rocks pushed flush together; stones with extreme variability will have more obvious seams.
Bowls are mechanically bolted to the underside of the counter but we do not make the plumbing connections. Dishwasher anchors are epoxied to the underside of the counters. The dishwasher must be on site to accurately position the anchors.
Finally, the counters are sealed not once but twice with the finest silicone sealer available, and the worksite is cleaned thoroughly prior to departure.
Cleaning & Maintenance
Granite can be cleaned with virtually anything in the kitchen, with the exception of hard abrasives such as Comet and Ajax. Granite, like glass, has a high quartz content and can be shined with ammoniated window cleaners.
The sealers used by Bluemoon Granite should last for the life of the counters and does not need to be replaced periodically.
There is very little that will affect granite. It is impervious to hot pans. Metal will not scratch it. Only diamond or other granites will scratch it, but it is possible to chip it if hit hard enough with a heavy object such as a cast iron skillet.
Engineered stones are granite chips in a polymeric matrix and hence do not require sealing. However, they are susceptible to heat such as hot pans. Engineered stones are more resistant to scratches than marble, but more susceptible than granite.
Marble is a relatively soft stone that is sensitive to acids commonly found in the kitchen such as citrus fruits and juices and carbonated beverages. Acid spills can result in etching that can only be repaired by a skilled professional. Sealers do not protect against acid etches. Marble also scratches much more easily than granite.
Marble should be cleaned with a pH-neutral cleaner such as Mr. Clean, Top Job, or Spic & Span, and abrasive cleaners should be avoided. Like granite, marble is impervious to heat. The sealers used on marble will last the life of the stone.
The Bluemoon Granite warranty covers materials and workmanship for a year. It covers everything except client abuse. For example, a fracture at a sink caused by the homeowner standing on it to change a light bulb would not be covered under our warranty.
Perceived “cracks" are frequent warranty issues. Granite is wrenched out of the ground and drug, sawn, and polished into slab form. What is sometimes perceived as a “crack” is actually a surface fissure that doesn’t affect the structural integrity of the stone. Fissures are not warranty issues.
Chips are warranty issues if detected within a reasonable period.
In new construction situations warranty issues often involve appliances that weren’t made available at the time of templates or installation. A service call to address such situations is billable and not a warranty issue.
To minimize warranty issues we use a check list at the completion of installations. The list calls attention to overhangs, edges, seams, etc in order to address issues prior to the departure of our installers.