Fireplace & Granite Blog

Granite Counter tops vs Concrete Countertops

Recently I had a customer ask about the difference between using granite for her counter tops vs concrete counter tops.  After some research on my part, I found there are quite a few differences between granite countertops and concrete countertops, the biggest difference being cost.  The upkeep with concrete counter tops requires a lot of work as well.


Concrete countertops:


The biggest advantage I can find in using concrete is the wide variety of colors to choose from.


The concrete can be tinted to any color you choose to use in your countertop. There are a few textures to use as well.  After these two advantages, I could not find any other advantage over using concrete rather than granite.


Concrete is one of the most expensive types of countertops you can use. The average cost is $100 per sq. ft.  Compare that to the average granite installation at $45 to $55 per sq. ft., you can see the big difference.  The other biggest disadvantage is the up keep.  You must seal the concrete on a regular basis.  Depending upon your time spent in the kitchen, you may have to seal it every month.  This can get costly depending upon your sq. footage.  Concrete countertops are not usually a few days process.  After the template and molds are made, they must be poured and cured before being brought out to your home for installation.  As far as cleanliness, concrete is the middle of the road.


Granite countertops:


The number one reason for using granite is the look.


If you are selling your home, the fastest way to impress the buyer is with granite countertops.  Besides tile, granite is the oldest material used in building to date.  There are many different types of granite to choose from.  Most granite comes from Brazil, India, and Italy.  Other countries with granite quarries are Africa and China.


The cost of granite varies depending upon the rarity and supply and demand.  The average cost of granite installed is between $45 and $55 per sq. ft.  There are a few texture techniques available for granite.  Leathering, river rocked, honed, brushed, and of course, polished are a few of the finishes available with granite.


Another advantage of granite is that granite is virtually scratch resistant.  You can cut and prepare food right on the surface.  The only two things that scratch granite are granite and diamond.


Remember, if you ask for a piece of granite to use for a decorative piece, you must put some type of protective covering on the underside of it to protect your granite countertops. Granite is also heat resistant.  Hot plates and skillets could be placed right on the surface without damage.  Granite is the most durable and best looking source for your countertops.  The most important advantage, I think, in using granite is that no two slabs are exactly alike so, your granite countertop is a one of a kind countertop.

Granite in New Charlotte Homes

New Charlotte Homes are being installed with Granite Countertops!

Check out this installation that Frankie just did for Georiga Mills Lot 29. This is a new Charlotte home in the process of being built. Within just a few months, there will be a new Charlotte home owner living in this home.

When you are looking to sell your home, you need to think about the potential buyers mind. If new homes are being installed with granite countertops as a standard, then they will automatically assume you will have granite countertops. Granite countertops are important for all Charlotte homes, new and old. Just by adding granite to your home, you will add value — and in turn, be able to sell your home for more.

If you are looking to buy a new Charlotte home, then you are looking for the best “deal”. A home that has it all can easily be found throughout Charlotte. Granite countertops are a classy feature being sold as a standard in many homes. Check out the videos below to see a granite installation we just did for a new home in Georgia Mills, built by Adams Homes.

Maybe this will be your new Charlotte home?

Check out these videos, detailing the process of our granite installation. This granite kitchen was installed by Frankie. Frankie is an expert granite fabricator and installer. He is from Columbia, SC and installs many of our granite countertops throughout the Charlotte and Columbia area.

Here is the before video:

Here is the during video — watch as our seams come together. We have the best granite seams in Charlotte. Our granite countertop seals are barely visible

Here is the finished product. Granite countertops completed and installed in Georgia Mills, and Adams Home community in Charlotte.


Granite Charlotte || How to sell your charlotte home

Next time you think of it, pick up a newspaper or magazine advertising homes. Take a look for a phrase you won’t find: ‘Synthetic Stone countertops’ or ‘Engineered Stone countertops’. Why not? You’ll certainly see the words Granite Countertop or Marble or Natural Stone. I wonder why?
Oh, that’s right. They add value to your most expensive investment.

I often get phone calls from people selling their homes; they want to do something to make their Charlotte home sell quickly! This market is difficult for anybody to sell and sell profitably. Are you in the right location is one of the questions to ask yourself. If you are lucky enough to answer yes to that question, than will granite countertops be the key to selling their Charlotte House?

Granite Countertops are “in” and people love to see that you have taken care of your Charlotte house by updating a kitchen or bathroom. To help you sell your Charlotte home quicker granite would be a perfect upgrade and it help to increase your asking price by as much as 10%.  Quick and easy upgrade, granite countertops can be installed in your existing Charlotte home in 1 day. The decision on color, edge treatment and sink configuration will be an easy choice with pictures of current jobs recently completed as well as taking a good look at the entire slab of granite to get your perfect piece of the earth.

If you want to put your hard earned money into giving your Charlotte home an edge over the competition on the housing market than kitchen and bathrooms are the places to get the biggest bag out your buck. And Granite Countertops will help you go that extra mile towards selling your Charlotte Home.

Granite Charlotte | Charlotte Homes

Charlotte Homes Need Granite!

Granite Countertops are becoming a must-have among Charlotte homes. Charlotte homeowners and builders alike are starting to see that Granite Countertops do not cost as much as it used to.

Charlotte HomesWhile your builder may have tried to charge you thousands for granite in your home — a typical Charlotte home owner can also purchase new countertops for one, low, whole sale price.

Charlotte homes are now typically being built with granite countertops and what is called a “gourmet kitchen”. Inside this gourmet kitchen, the charlotte home owner can enjoy a custom tile backsplash with 3CM granite counters.

If you have a charlotte home, now is the time to remodel!
Charlotte Homes Need Granite!

Just check out these photos of Charlotte homes!
Charlotte Homes

Charlotte Homes - Granite

Bathroom Ideas | Bathroom Remodeling, Granite and Tile

Remodeling a bathroom is a great investment for your home.  Rather you have large bathroom with tub, shower, toilet room, and dressing area or a small bathroom with a toilet and vanity, updating your bathroom can help sell your house. You may be overwhelmed with different ideas for your bathroom.  There are plenty of idea books out there to help in your decisions.

   I have many ideas on remodeling a bathroom. But, before we go into them, the most important thing to do first is to set your budget.  It is very easy to spend thousands on a bathroom remodel.  You can update your bathroom on a simple budget with proper planning.  I can assist you in your planning with one visit to your home.

  Your floors and vanity will make the biggest impact when remodeling your bathroom. The first choice you should make is which granite to use in your bathroom.  Since most vanities are less than 70” long, granite remnants can be used for your bathroom. (Using a granite remnant will not only save you money, but give you additional bathroom ideas. Granite remnants are usually priced per square foot and sometimes you can find an exotic granite color for a very low price this way.)  When choosing a remnant, keep in mind you will need enough granite for a backsplash.  Most backsplashes are 4” high.  Now is also a good time to add a second sink if your vanity is long enough.  If it isn’t, you may want to change out your vanity, too.  Double sinks in a master bath are a plus in resale value.  The pickled wood finish is a good look for a bathroom.  Giallo Vecenzia Granite and Giallo Fiorti Granite are great choices in bathrooms.  After deciding on your vanity and granite, your floors should be your next step.

   Pull that vinyl up and put travertine tile down.  Travertine comes in many different tones and colors.  That will be the easiest decision you have to make in remodeling your bathroom.  Deciding on the pattern is the next step in your floor choice.  You have standard line, diagonal, and a French pattern as the most common.  You must also decide on the size of your tile.  Keep in mind, the smaller the tile, the more grout lines you will have.  Once you have your tile selection made.  It’s time to decide if you want to keep current your tub or shower surround or update it with tile to complement your new tile floor and granite countertop on your new vanity.

  When updating your tub or shower surround, decide on the little things that make the biggest impact.  A shower seat, soap niche, and a tile border are those items you always wish you had done in the beginning so now is the time to add them.  Another choice to make is rather to keep your shower doors or update them.  Seamless frames and doors give your bathroom a very modern look.

As you can see, there are lots of things to consider when planning your budget for your new bathroom.  The easiest way is to go with a company that can offer you everything in one stop.  We can do that for you and help with maintaining your budget while making the best choices for remodeling your bathroom.

Light Granite Colors, New Venetian Gold and Granite Level Price

The pricing of your granite usually depends on the level or type of granite you choose. Most granite companies have several granite levels. Granite level or price is not determined by color, but by quality of the stone. You can read more about granite levels and how they are priced by reading Bob’s blog at: GraniteCountertop Prices and Granite Levels

New Venetian Gold is just one of many light color granites.  New Venetian Gold has a gold background with quartz, garnet, light brown, sometimes rust or orange colors throughout the granite color. New Venetian Gold also has a sporadic pattern showing very little movement.

When choosing your color of granite, you should consider your floors and cabinets over the maintenance.  With darker cabinets and floors, your best choice would be light color granite. This light color granite will give more of a contrast between the countertop and cabinets.

New Venetian Gold and Sante Cecelia are two very popular light color granite colors. Both granite colors are typically Level II pricing. Both colors do have more movement than a Level I Color.

With lighter color cabinets, a darker granite will stand out more than the lighter granite.  Tan Brown and Tropic Brown are the most common darker granites to use.

Here are some photos of New Venetian Gold (a lighter granite color with gold):

New Venetian Gold Granite Slabs

New Venetian Gold Granite

New Venetian Gold Granite Slab

New Venetian Gold Granite Installed

New Venetian Granite Countertops

New Venetian Gold Granite Countertop 

Light Color Granite Maintenance

Most customers go with darker granite over the lighter granite.  I find this is due to maintenance more than anything.  As the darker color granites do have easier maintenance, with the proper sealer, the lighter color granites can have the same type of maintenance.  There are other factors over maintenance that should guide you in your granite color choice.

As granite is a form of a rock, granite will absorb liquids.  When using granite in your kitchen, a proper sealer should always be applied.  The lighter the granite, the stronger the sealer should be.  We use a one year sealer on our granite as our standard.  We have a fifteen year sealer and a lifetime sealer available at an additional cost.  The fifteen year sealer will protect your granite for fifteen years with proper care.  The lifetime sealer, Granite Shield, will protect your granite for the life of your granite, again as with most sealers, with the proper care.  When using lighter granite such as New Venetian Gold, Sante Cecelia, or one of the many exotic granites, the fifteen year sealer or Granite Shield would be a very wise investment.  With these sealers, you can go use most commercial cleaners on your granite.  The sealers also keep the granite from absorbing liquids, which in turn, keeps your granite from staining.

When choosing your granite, let your likes and dislikes dictate your decision, not the maintenance of the granite.

Tile Backsplash Designs Charlotte

Tile Backsplash DesignThere is so much to learn when choosing your tile backsplash, especially if you are adding it to go with your new granite countertops. One of the first things to consider is color or shadingDo you want the tile to match your granite countertops or do you want the colors to contrast with your granite countertops?When deciding this, you must take into consideration your wall, cabinet, floor, and granite color.

For example:  A kitchen with white cabinets, dark granite countertops and dark floors may look best with a contrasting lighter tile color.  The color difference between the dark countertops and light background would make both items stick out, while still complimenting the entire kitchen.

Another item to consider when choosing your tile backsplash is the size and shape of your tile. Smaller kitchens usually work well with 4 x 4 squares or subway tiles, while larger kitchens can handle any size or larger tile shapes. Tile Design CharlotteWhen choosing the size, take into consideration the height from the surface of your countertops to the bottom of your upper cabinets.  If you have 18″ or less, small tiles, like 4 x 4 or smaller, will be able to be shown completely, whereas larger size tiles may have to be cut to fit the smaller space. 4 x 4 tiles or subway tiles tend to look best with smaller heights. If you have 18″ of space or larger, between the countertop and cabinet, then you will have more space to show the complete tile and more of the tile pattern.

If you have any questions with the height between your countertop and cabinet, please call us and a design specialist, such as myself, can help you with your tile design and show you what tiles would fit best for your space.

Another thing to consider when making your decision is whether to use ceramic tile or natural tile. Ceramic tile has easier maintenance than the natural tile, but with the right sealer on your natural tile, the natural tile can be just as easy. Ceramic tiles also come in glossy, semi-glossy, & matte finishes. Natural tiles tend to have pits and crevasses, which would be filled in with grout to complete the tile. You will have more choices in color when using ceramic tile but, with the right assistance, you can also find the perfect color in natural tile as well.

Choosing your tile backsplash can be a time consuming task but it can be a fun process. The best thing to know is that there are many options regarding tile color, design and sizes to choose from. It may take a few different times reviewing shapes, sizes, designs and colors before finding the perfect tile backsplash and granite combination.

Here are some photos of different granite countertops and tile backsplashes designs we have installed:

Tile Design Charlotte

Charlotte Subway Tile Design

Granite Countertop with Tile Design

Tropic Brown Granite with Tile Design - Charlotte

Custom Tile Designs

Granite Price Per Square Foot?

Low Per Square Foot Granite Countertop PricingIf I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me that question, I would have a lot of nickels. As I stated in a previous blog, there are many factors that go into determining the cost of the raw slabs themselves, let alone the cost per square foot of the granite with installation.

When someone is only concerned with the lowest price per square foot–this is what they are going to get:

— the least qualified company to fabricate
— the least experienced installer available to install
— the worst quality materials available

This is a recipe for the best price per square foot but it is also a recipe for a less then desirable granite countertop purchasing experience.

Fabricators and “box stores” that advertise a low price per square foot are usually found guilty of practicing a marketing strategy called “bait and switch“. They lure you in with a low price (the bait), usually on some obscure color that even Helen Keller would find offensive, and then they proceed to switch you into a more expensive purchase.

But if you don’t switch ito a more expensive purchase, its okay, they will just a la carte you to death.
Oh did you want a sink? That will be $300 more.
A decorative edge? That is $10/ft
Removal of old tops? $2-300.
Did you want that installed? Well that will be extra, too.

You get the point. It does not really matter where you start at, what matters is where you end up at the bottom line. We at Fireplace and Granite Distributors strongly believe in NOT playing marketing games with our customers. Instead of posting low per square foot prices, we provide you with a quote that includes everything you need to make a risk-free, no games allowed, buying decision.

Our one bottom line price includes many popular color choices, templating, removal of old tops, custom fabrication (with stove top and sink cuts included), faucet holes, reinforcement of sinks, choice of several undermount sinks AND sales taxes ALL INCLUDED.
And did I mention that all this is accomplished in only ONE DAY?

I have been in competitive bids against many $39, $29 and even $19 per square foot granite companies. When all is said and done, our customers find we provide a better price. Combine our best price with our superior materials, as well as friendly, experienced sales, service, and installation personnel makes us, Fireplace and Granite Distributors, the best value for your Granite needs!

Granite Countertop Bar Tops, Island Overhangs

Granite Countertop Corbel CharlotteIf you have a granite countertop installed that has an overhang, most likely you will need some type of reinforcement or support underneath it. This reinforcement will help support your countertop on your cabinet or bar area. A rule of thumb for overhang reinforcement is that a support is needed anytime when you have more than one-third (1/3) of the overall countertop space as an overhang.

There are many different types of supports that can be used, such as wall brackets (which stay hidden) , T-brackets, or corbels.

Many people choose corbals because corbels are designed to be more appealing to the eye and come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors. Corbals are a more decorative option rather than brackets that remain hidden beneath the countertop space.

Granite Countertop Installed on Island CabinetI recently had a customer that had installed a center island cabinet in their kitchen. When I measured for their countertop, they explained how much they wanted the countertop to extend over the cabinet.

I measured the length, and it turned out that the granite was going to overhang more than 21″ over the cabinet (more than 1/3 the overall countertop space). This was the first time I had encountered something like this, so I suggested the use of wall brackets. That was not right. When the granite installers came out, they could not install the wall brackets because there was no wall in the cabinet for the wall brackets to connect to! This is a very common mistake that is made with overhangs — some people do not even realise they need a support to be installed!

We supported their island with a temporary support before coming back out again to install a T-bracket support.
Granite Countertop Island - Concord, NCThis was definately a learning expirence for myself and my customers as we discovered why we needed to use a T-Bracket. Our T-Brackets are specifically designed to support longer overhangs. The T-Bracket is 24″ long and is mounted to the cabinet and countertop. Its strong material can carry the weight of the granite and support their island properly.

Here is a final photo of their granite countertop island in their kitchen — supported by a T-bracket:

Uba Tuba Granite Island Countertop - Concord, NC

When you have any kind of overhang, you always need to be sure there is a support underneath. Granite weighs about 18lbs per square foot. It is a very heavy material and if not properly supported, it can cause damage to your home, cabinets, floors, or to anyone near it.

Here are some additional photos of granite bar tops, overhangs, supports and corbels:

Granite Countertop Corbel

Granite Countertop Supports

Granite Bar Top & Tile

Granite Countertop Bar Steel Gray Granite

Granite Countertop Support

Granite Countertops Charlotte NC

Reface or Replace Cabinets

When choosing to reface or replace your kitchen cabinets, there are a few things you need to know.

First off, the price of replacing and refacing your cabinets are not that different. In some cases, like we have seen with our own customers, refacing can costs hundreds to a thousand dollars more, yet you are actually receiving a lot less.

Secondly, refacing your cabinets will not get rid of any problems that cannot be seen—problems such as mold. We work with many plumbers in the Charlotte area and have spoken to them on the benefits of refacing and replacing cabinets. Most agree it is best to replace because of the hidden water damage they see so regularly that goes unseen between the back of the cabinet and your wall. Because of the water damage, you could be hiding a severe mold problem, and never know it.

Choosing to Reface or Replace Your Cabinets

Does anyone in your family have allergies? If so, replacing may be the best option, just to ensure that any hidden mold behind your cabinets is removed and water damage can be repaired.

Here are some more photos of mold hidden behind cabinets. If you reface your cabinets, you would never discover this problem, and the problem would not be removd. Even if you don’t notice it now, water damage and mold, if not treated or fixed, will continue to grow into a larger health issue. The mold can also eat into your walls and cause more significant damage that will in turn cause you to replace your cabinets or more at a later time.

Reface or Replace Kitchen Cabinets

Reface or Replace Kitchen Cabients

Another benefit of replacing your cabinets is the privledge to pick out the stain finish of your new cabinets, design options, and the fun you will have while the work is being done. Plus, the bragging benefits that come with it to show off your newly remodeled kitchen or bath after it is completed.

Replacing cabinets does not take much time. A regular size kitchen can have the old cabinets removed, new cabinets installed and new tops installed sometimes in the very same day — giving you access to your kitchen immediately. We value your time and understand the need to have your kitchen functioning — so we always work our best with your schedule to finish a project quickly.

The latest kitchen remodel we completed was in the Charlotte neighborhood Highland Creek. Our installers arrived promply at 8AM in the morning, tore out the old cabinets and countertops, installed the new cabinets and granite countertops — and were completed before 5PM the same day. We even scheduled a plumber to come out the same day — so this homeowner’s kitchen was up and running by the time we left. Photos are below showing the before — an all white kitchen, and the after — a spice maple color cabinet and new granite countertops:

Highland Creek Concord Charlotte - Before Photo Highland Creek Cabinet Replace After Photo

There are definately many benefits to replacing cabinets rather than refacing.

1) Why reface when you can replace for less and get MORE? — Generally the cost is the same, or replacing could even cost LESS

2) Refacing only covers up problems — Refacing cabinets will not get rid of unwanted mold, hidden damage or water problems — Even if these problems are unseen, only replacing will find what is hidden between the walls and cabinet or under the cabinet. These problems, if left ignored, will litterally grow and spread into a larger issue.

3) Replacing gives you options — Design your kitchen the way you want it, with the colors you want. Personalize your kitchen from dull, boring, and ordinary into EXTRAORDINARY, classy, and then take the bragging rights that come with it.

I hope this helps you decide when it comes to refacing or replacing your kitchen cabinets. Refacing only covers up problems, while replacing will give you new options, design features, benefits and a beautiful, clean kitchen that everyone can enjoy.