This Father’s Day, Think Outside the Tie

The day to celebrate dads is coming up in a couple Sundays, Sunday, June 15 to be exact! This Father’s Day, think outside the tie. Gather your siblings and talk to mom about giving dad the gift of a home renovation. When it comes to redesigning the home, people typically think this is female territory. While mom may be more concerned with colors and coordinating the throw pillows with the drapes, dad could certainly appreciate any project that involves power tools. The leading online men’s magazine, AskMen, wrote an article on the Manliest Home Renovations. There are five of them that we think would be perfect alternatives to the typical Father’s Day gifts.

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1. The Fireplace: What man doesn’t love to throw a stack of firewood on his shoulder, swoop in, and start a fire with his bare hands? Updating or adding a fireplace is a home renovation project dad can totally get behind. Granite fireplaces are handsome and naturally flame resistant.

Atlanta Granite Kitchen Countertops

Granite Kitchen Countertops

2. Take Down a Wall: Need we say more? Expand one of dad’s favorite rooms in the house! Maybe dad’s a chef and would like a bigger and better kitchen. Lose that walk-in coat closet and add more kitchen counter space!

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3. The Basement: According to a 2014 report from Remodeling Magazine, the basement is one of the key areas of the house that can add value to your home. We know dad will like the sound of that! Finishing the basement or renovating the basement will give him an awesome new area to entertain and maybe even a new showpiece like a bar. He’ll enjoy it now, and it will pay off later! Win-win!

Papermill Outdoor Kitchen

4. Outdoor Living Space: At first glance an outdoor living space doesn’t sound like the manliest renovation. Add an outdoor kitchen, a wet bar, or a special place for dad’s coveted Big Green Egg, and now we’ve created an outdoor living space dad will never want to leave! It’s the perfect time of year to get outdoors, and what better way to do so than enjoying a brand new living space in your own backyard!

Atlanta Granite Wet Bar

5. A Bar:  Again, need we say more? What dad wouldn’t love a bar in his very own home? Whether you add or update a bar in the kitchen, basement, or backyard, a handsome bar in your home creates the ultimate space to entertain.

If you’re looking to think outside the tie this Father’s Day and think a remodeling project would be the perfect gift for dad, contact us at Precision Stoneworks. We would love to help you with your granite and natural stone needs as you remodel your fireplace, kitchen, basement, outdoor living space, or bar. Spring and summer are the perfect seasons to start a renovation project dad will love. We’re devoted to quality and attention to detail and each project. Learn more about our process today!

The Possibility of Granite on Mars

Just last year, NASA researchers found large amounts of new minerals on Mars. The evidence of the minerals in ancient volcanos on the Red Planet was a groundbreaking discovery by NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover. The Mars Curiosity rover detected signs of light colored rock as it explored. Our very own astronomy team at the Georgia Institute of Technology got in on the study of the findings.

For many years, Mars was believed to be fairly homogenous when it comes to its makeup. It primarily consists of basalt, a dark lava rock rich in iron and magnesium found on Earth’s ocean floor and the Hawaiian Islands. Ultimately, the makeup of Mars was considered to be far less complex than the composition of Earth. After analyzing the discovery made by the Mars Curiosity rover, the Georgia Tech team determined the light colored rock contained feldspar, a group of rock-forming minerals that make up about 60% of Earth’s crust, and possibly quartz. Interestingly, in the areas where feldspar was detected, basalt was almost completely absent.  Thus, Mars may be a far more complex planet than we believed.

PHOTO CREDIT: NANA. Here in a volcanic caldera, bright magenta outcrops have a distinctive feldspar-rich composition.

PHOTO CREDIT: NASA. Here in a volcanic caldera, bright magenta outcrops have a distinctive feldspar-rich composition.

So, what does this mean about the possibility of granite on Mars? Feldspar and quartz, along with mica and other amphibole minerals, are the primary components of granite. By definition, granite consists of up to 65% feldspar and at least 20% quartz by volume. On Earth, granite is abundant and frequently found in tectonically active regions, so it makes sense that traces of feldspar were located near volcanic regions on Mars. The analysis of the region on Mars in combination with generated computer simulations shows that the intricate process by which granite is formed could occur inside an active volcano on Mars over a long period of time.

Evidence shows that the volcanos on Mars were likely active for billions of years and could result in the generation of granite. Most volcanos on Mars are blanketed with dust, but the particular volcano where evidence of feldspar was detected, the volcano Syrtis Major, is dust free due to being sand blasted by powerful, fast-moving sand dunes on the planet. According to the lead author of the study “Prolonged magmatic activity on Mars inferred from the detection of felsic rocks” and astronomer at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Dr. James Wray, if Syrtis Major is indicative of other volcanic regions on Mars, a percent or two or three of the planet is comprised of these granite rocks, plus another ten percent or so with a similar composition to granite.

*The full study of these findings is published in the journal Nature Geoscience

Celebrating National Home Remodeling Month

INTRODUCTION

It’s that time of year again. The brutal winter is over. The days are longer. The schools are heading out for summer vacation. It’s the perfect time to think about the home remodeling projects you’ve been considering all winter. This is why May is National Home Remodeling Month. It marks a time when homeowners around the country are gearing up for summer projects in their homes.

WHY REMODEL?

There are a variety of reasons why you may be thinking about remodeling your home. Maybe you want to redesign a portion of your home to better suit your family’s current lifestyle. Maybe you recently moved into a new home, and you want to make it your own. Maybe you’re planning a move and want to add value to your home before you put it on the market. No matter what your reason for considering home renovation, it can feel like a daunting commitment. Redesigning your home should be fun and exciting not intimidating or binding. We’re here to help. If you’re considering a remodel of your kitchen, bathroom, bar, laundry room, fireplace, or outdoor kitchen, Precision Stoneworks would be proud to assist you!

TOP REMODELING PROJECTS

According to a 2012 survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), remodelers found bathroom renovation to be the most common remodeling project and kitchen renovation to be the second most common remodeling project. In our weekly blog articles, we discuss a number of things you need to know before planning your next remodeling project from design inspiration to insider tips to maintaining your home’s beauty after the project is complete. In celebration of National Home Remodeling Month, we’re compiling some our top insights in this post.

DESIGN

Kitchen-showhouse (2)

The top design trend for bathrooms and kitchens revolves around color. Color is one of the simplest ways to update a space. Neutral pallets continue to be a popular trend in the design world in 2014. Black and white is a classic color combination that is crisp and clean, and it never goes out of style. Be daring and consider updating the colors in your home. It could be as simple as getting new bathroom or kitchen countertops and adding a fresh coat of paint to your cabinets. Remember, you don’t have to renovate an entire room. Just make a couple bold changes for a perfectly refreshed look. Continue learning about the other top design trends for bathrooms and kitchens in these posts: Bathroom Design Trends for 2014 and Kitchen Design Trends for 2014.

TIPS

DIY farmhouse sink, courtesy of blogger Pretty Handy Girl

DIY farmhouse sink, courtesy of blogger Pretty Handy Girl

Starting a new home renovation is both exciting and scary. On one hand, you can’t wait to enjoy your newly remodeled space, and on the other hand, you know it is going to take some time and money to get there. Whether you’re preparing for your first renovation or you’re a renovation veteran, there can always be unexpected twists and turns once a project is underway. The best way to avoid unnecessary stress and headaches during a remodeling project is to prepare and cope as best you can before, during, and after the job. In case you need a little guidance, here’s a post with some tips on how to survive your next renovation: Tips on How to Survive Your Next Renovation.

MAINTENANCE

Granite Sealing Sealer

Granite being sealed during fabrication at Precision Stoneworks

If updating or adding granite to your home is part of your remodeling plans, you need to know how to keep it beautiful for years to come. Although granite is a very hard, durable natural stone and is less porous than other natural stones, such as marble, it still needs a little special attention when it comes to cleaning. If granite is not cleaned properly, it can become damaged and discolored or its finish can become dulled. The typical cleaning products you have in your home to clean other surfaces are too harsh to use on granite, but don’t worry! It’s not too hard and is not going to break the bank to maintain the beauty of your granite. You likely have all the products you need to clean your granite in your home right now. To learn how to clean your granite countertops, check out this post: How to Clean Your Granite.

THE BOTTOM LINE

granite-bathroom

Whether you’re in the process of preparing for a move, planning a move in the near future, or just like to be proactive, the primary reason for remodeling your home is ultimately to add value. When it comes to selling your home in the current market or down the road, you want every competitive edge you can have to set you apart to potential buyers. A 2014 report from Remodeling Magazine weighs the costs of home improvement options with the return value when it comes to reselling your home. To explore the bottom line and how to add value to your home, read our post, The Bottom Line: How to Add Value to Your Home.

How to Clean Your Granite

Why Does Granite Require Special Cleaning?

Although granite is a very hard, durable natural stone and is less porous than other natural stones, such as marble, it still needs a little special attention when it comes to cleaning. If granite is not cleaned properly, it can become damaged and discolored or its finish can become dulled. The typical cleaning products you have in your home to clean other surfaces are too harsh to use on granite, but don’t worry! It’s not too hard and is not going to break the bank to maintain the beauty of your granite. You likely have all the products you need to clean your granite in your home right now. So, let’s explore how to clean your granite countertops!

Step 1: Seal Your Granite

Granite Sealing Sealer

Granite being sealed during fabrication at Precision Stoneworks

First, make sure your granite is sealed. Depending on the type of granite you have, it may need to be sealed as often as every three months or it may need to be sealed only once per year. Typically, darker natural stones are denser than lighter ones. So, a general rule of thumb is, the lighter the natural stone, the more frequently you should seal it. There are also fifteen year granite sealing products. There are both advantages and disadvantages to these products, but ultimately, the long term success of these products is yet to be determined because they have not been on the market for fifteen years!

Step 2: Cleaning Your Granite

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The best way to maintain the original beauty of your granite is to clean it often. If you keep up with cleaning your granite, you will avoid any permanent damages or stains that will require more involved or costly measures. First, dust the surface of your granite to remove any dry buildup, residue, dust, hair, etc. Next, mix a mild dish soap with water. All you need is a few drops of mild dish soap diluted in water. Make things easy by using distilled water (to prevent mold) and store the mixture in a spray bottle for future use! Be sure to label it “Granite Cleaner” so you remember what it is! Do not apply the solution directly to your granite! Instead, apply the mixture to a cotton or microfiber cloth or a soft sponge. Do not use an abrasive scrubber! Also be sure to wring out your cloth or sponge. Granite is an absorbent natural stone and can become damaged or discolored by standing water. Wipe down the granite surface with the cloth or sponge. The next step is very important! Dry off the granite surface with a dry cloth.

Step 3: Removing a Stain from Your Granite

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If you granite surface has a stain, there are some more detailed cleaning measures you can take to remove the mark. First, identify the source of the stain. Is the stain water or oil based? In either case, start with baking soda. If the stain is water based, mix the baking soda with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. If the stain is oil based, mix the baking soda with a small amount of water. Be sure you are using a very small amount of liquid when creating these pastes! These fixatives should be very thick in texture but still spreadable. Generously apply the paste over the stain. Next, cover the area with plastic wrap and tape down the edges with a gentle tape, like blue painters tape, to seal the area. Leave the application for at least twenty-four hours, or, if possible, for a couple of days. After the time has passed, thoroughly rinse and wipe down the granite surface using the cleaning method in Step 2 (above), disregarding the dusting step of course!

Recap!

To clean or remove stains from your granite surface, all you need are five simple household items!

To Clean You Will Need:

1. Duster

2. Mild Dish Soap

3. Water or Distilled Water (optional)

4. 2 Cotton or Microfiber Cloths of Soft, Non-Abrasive Sponges

5. Spray Bottle (optional)

For Stain Removal You Will Need:

1. All of the Items Above

2. Baking Soda

3. Hydrogen Peroxide or Water (depending on type of stain)

4. Plastic Wrap

5. Gentle Tape, like Blue Painters Tape

Burgeoning U.S. Natural Stone Imports

The first few months in 2014 have marked a big boom in U.S. granite and marble imports. According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, over 72,000 metric tons of worked granite were imported from China in February 2014. This boosted total imports of natural stone over 267,000 metric tons in January and February 2014 combined, which means about a 20% increase from January and February 2013. The increase in granite imports from China also means that China has now surpassed Brazil as the leading granite importer in the United States. China also led in imports of marble tile and slab into the U.S. in January and February 2014. In this case, they bested the former chief marble importer in the U.S., Italy. In addition to China’s burgeoning U.S. marble imports, the total amount of marble imported into the U.S. in January and February 2014 is up over 20% from January and February of last year. Overall this is very promising news for the natural stone industry, but it begs the question: what has caused this boom in natural stone imports?

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The increase in demand for natural stone imports may be directly related to the growing demand for natural stone countertops. According to a study last fall by the Freedonia Group, a leading international business research company, the annual installation of natural stone countertops is expect to rise to 130 million square feet by 2017. This means the demand for natural stone countertops is estimated to grow roughly 7% annually and the demand overall for new countertops is predicted to increase approximately 5% annually. The report shows a decrease in the market share for laminates, which has been the number one choice for countertops for years. Another factor that contributes to the study is the distinction between residential and commercial countertop demand. Commercial countertops are anticipated to account for a majority of the demand, and therefore the yearly growth rate of commercial demand is actually projected to exceed the overall average.

granite bathroom vanities

As the demand for natural stone increases over the next several years, we hope you will turn to Precision Stoneworks for your granite, marble, and other natural stone needs. We are proud to celebrate 15 years of custom granite, marble, and natural stone fabrication and installation. From individual homeowners to residential and commercial builders, we have the skills, knowledge, and proficiency to execute any granite installation to your exact specifications. We are devoted to quality and attention to detail in every project no matter what the scope. At Precision Stoneworks, we pride ourselves in being a cut above the rest while sustaining competitive prices. Please contact us with any inquiries about your next natural stone project. We would love to work with you!

*The analysis of these studies has been interpreted from Stone Update, All the Latest in Hard Surfaces.

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Granite FAQ

Check out our Ganite FAQ to find answers to some common questions about granite, marble, and natural stone. Click here to be taken to our Granite and Stone FAQ.