Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hamlet at the Granite Yard

The wife and I went to a stone yard today to select granite for a kitchen remodel. We reserved two big slabs of stone this size, but NOT this pattern.

It was about 15 degrees outside, and the warehouse was unheated and not a bit warmer. Still, it was a fun run!

Some of the stuff we saw was fantastic. Who knew God painted massive stone with as much madness as Miro?  And who the hell can afford a $30,000 kitchen counter??!!  

We are looking at pretty normal stuff we can afford.  Our new kitchen will be 17 feet by 20 feet. and counters start at $50 a square foot installed!  With cabinets and a new floor. and all new appliances, it all adds up fast!

It is absolutely true that some of the granite you see in the yard is epic art, but I am not sure I could live with most of it. There's a reason my house does not look like a Kandinsky painting!

There are other considerations, as well. Ultimately the granite you choose has to fit in with other items in the room in terms of floor, cabinet, and wall color. The stronger the pattern and color in the granite, the more limits you have put on the room over time. You can always repaint a wall or a cabinet; you cannot repaint granite.

In addition, while a big slab of granite may look fantastic all by itself, it will ultimately be cut down into two-foot wide counters, and perhaps a big island. If there is a lot of "movement" in the stone's pattern, you may get dramatic changes from one slab to another, and it may not look right. And if you need more than one slab, as we do, continuity issues magnify a bit more.

Finally, there is cost. Trust me that is always a driver, as few of us are made of money!

Since we are putting in a new slate floor as part of the kitchen build, we want a pretty dark counter to contrast with the white cabinets, but we also want to add a little color. In the end, we may ended up with a "boring" granite with very little "movement" called Baltic Brown. It's pretty popular stuff, and not without a reason.

Baltic Brown granite is also known as Rapakivi granite. The good folks at Wikipedia inform me that this is a:

[H]ornblende-biotite granite containing large rounded crystals of orthoclase mantled with oligoclase. The name has come to be used most frequently as a textural term where it implies plagioclase rims around orthoclase in plutonic rocks. Rapakivi is Finnish for "crumbly rock," because the different heat expansion coefficients of the component minerals make exposed rapakivi crumbly.
Right.  I read that paragraph twice, and I'm still not sure what it means. What I did learn is that this type of granite can be found in North and South America, parts of the Baltic Shield, southern Greenland, southern Africa, India, and China. So, to put a point on it, it's not rare.

A woman in one store said the average kitchen project took two years from beginning to end.  We will not spend that kind of time on this project, but there are a lot of choices to be made.  Slowly, slowly.

Tonight the wife and I will go over the kitchen cabinet elevations again, and we will hash through slate choices as well. I am moving back towards a very plain Virginia slate rather than the Indian peacock slate we talked about earlier.  You can always paint a wall -- it's tough to paint a stone floor!  Ideally, I think the kitchen floor should match the wonderful old Virginia slate in the entryway.  Let's see if I can get my lovely bride to agree!


Rick said...

The more you plan, the fewer surprises you will have during the work. And you want a contractor who checks ALL of his subs work on a regular basis.

geonni banner said...

My kitchen counter is black granite. It has little glittery bits in it like mica. Dunno what kind it is. But it's been the counter in the last several places I've lived.

Most of those places where you get that marble and granite have a place out back that they call a "boneyard." I got my counter from one of these. It came in two pieces, one cost 15 dollars and the other cost 8 dollars. Each has an uncut side. That side goes toward the wall.

I tend to live in beater apartments - usually one big room, and it spruces up the crappy Home Depot counters that idiots who don't own a cutting board have ruined. Since it's black it doesn't stain, and I can plunk down a hot pot anywhere. I love my 23 dollar granite counter!