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After Harvey – Countertop removal

So we just had our first day back in business after Hurricane Harvey, and from the sound of it people are getting back to work.  A few neighborhoods are still flooded or in danger of flooding, but most have moved on to assessing the damage and figuring out what to do next.  We have fielded a bunch of calls about removing peoples countertops, so here’s what I recommend:

First of all, take tons of pictures of everything. More pictures than you could ever imagine.  If you want the insurance company to pay for it, take pictures and add notes. 

Get all wet stuff out of your house immediately.  Especially carpets and soggy sheetrock. Cut above any wet sheetrock. I think 4′ is the height of most sheetrock panels, so cut way higher than you need to.

For countertops, don’t assume you can remove them without breaking some pieces.  And even if you can save them, don’t assume you can reuse them.  We have trained professionals that have a better chance of removing countertops without breaking them, but sometimes they still crack. Also, matching pieces is very time consuming and difficult.  Even with quartz tops, different batches don’t usually match, which makes for bad seams. Do not plan on being to match something perfectly just because you know the original name.

So for insurance reasons, if your cabinets have to come out, then you should plan on buying new counters too.

And our final piece of advice, be very careful about contractors.  We will eventually hear about lots of people whose contractors disappeared with deposits without doing the work, or people whose remodels took way longer than expected because the contractor was too overloaded. Be very careful about vetting these companies to make sure they are legit.  Sometimes you have to pay a little more for the good ones. Check Angies List, BBB, or the GHBA for references.  Companies with physical locations tend to have leases and equipment that are expensive to abandon. Businesses with longstanding ties to your community tend to be trustworthy.

Once you have a contractor, realize that all upgrades are out of pocket, and as you go through the process you will want upgrades.  Whether it is design details like nice countertops or a mosaic backsplash, or functional items like a nicer cooktop or faucet, unexpected expenses will come up. And you will probably have to pay for these up front, so keep a little cash put to the side to keep your project moving forward. Most things cost more today than they did 5, 10 or 25 years ago, so be careful valuing the stuff in your house by old receipts.

I am going to try to get some opinions from insurance companies and contractors we deal with often to update this post with better information.

Unusual marbles

At this point, if you are looking at kitchen countertop options, you’ve probably seen Calacatta marble kitchens. Polished, honed, even satin and leather finishes.  You’ve seen Carrara marble kitchens.  You’ve seen engineered quartz versions by Silestone, Caesarstone and all the rest of them.  Now the sintered surfaces have taken it to another level.  Neolith, Epic, Sapienstone, Dekton, Laminam, Stonepeak, Fiandre and more are all producing incredible large format slabs of Calacatta and Estatuario marble that don’t stain or scratch.  They are in magazines, on TV, in restaurants and bars, and at your friends house, and they are beautiful.  Some are understated and some are big and bold.  Each one unique and incredible in its own way.  We’ve done them in classic old world kitchens and clean contemporary kitchens, and each one turns out better than the one before it.  If you’ve been to Italy, you’ve seen it in museums, delicately carved into sculptures but also on the countertops in the restrooms or on the floors.  To us it is the definition of classic style, always contemporary, having been used for centuries and will go on being used for centuries. I cannot recommend against this stone.

But if I was to offer an alternative in the natural stone world, there are some “new” marbles popping up.  Less used and maybe a little more difficult to imagine, but beautiful and definitely unique.  Now marble is coming out Turkey, China, Brazil, the U.S. and more, offering a wider variety than ever before. Here are 2 that are on a ship coming to us right now.  They book-match to incredible patterns.  Probably harder to match with a tile backsplash, but you can use it as backsplash too! Or go with a simpler tile than normal.

 

Dalmata marble slab

Panda White marble slab

Grey marble

Over the last few years we’ve seen a lot of white marble. Its classic and beautiful and makes complete sense. It works in all kinds of different styles, plus it looks great in kitchens and bathrooms.  There are a ton of variations from dramatic to subdued, and lots of different secondary colors from oranges to blacks to greys to cream. Recently we’ve had a few more people come in looking at different grey slabs.  Marble, limestone, soapstone and quartz all come in different shades of grey.  Bardiglio and Grigio Verona are 2 Italian marbles that we’ve used lately.

Bardiglio marble slab

Bardiglio marble slab

Grigio Verona marble slab

Grigio Verona marble slab

 

Showroom under construction

If you are planning on visiting this week, let us know as we are redoing all the floors (Thank God). We’re still open, just running a little lean as all the samples are boxed up. We should be back in full by next week (February 25th at the latest).

 

Before we looked like this

Patchwork quilt flooring

Patchwork quilt flooring

Then briefly like this

Turns out there was perfectly good concrete under the old tile

Turns out there was perfectly good concrete under the old tile

Then today it finally started to come together. The 4’x8′ tiles are incredible. Large format tiles are such a game changer.

Starting to get a feel for the new floor

Starting to get a feel for the new floor

AIA Modern Home Tour Houston

We’ve got some work displayed in the modern home tour in Houston this weekend if you have some time to run by. Allegro Modern did a great job with the design work and used a few unique aspects of our company to complement their project.

All the main kitchen counters are 1.2cm Neolith, and a great example of how to use simple clean lines in a modern application.  We have a lot of clients who have a hard time envisioning 1/2″ thick counters when the norm is 3 times thicker, but it looks perfect in this house. We have access to all kinds of specialty products and the knowledge to work with them in all situations. Our waterjet and CNC technology allow us to accommodate tight tolerances and perform cleaner cuts than you could ever achieve by hand. This is especially true on miters and with difficult materials like sintered stone (Neolith, et al) and natural stone like marble and quartzite.

Neolith perimeter

Neolith perimeter

The fireplace surround is Striato Olimpico marble.  Feature walls, whether marble, onyx or natural stone require specific slabs and installation expertise to make sure they don’t fail post-install. With slabsmith technology, we can perfectly book-match and give multiple digital layout options to choose from. You can either come into our office or we can e-mail you different layouts.

marble fireplace wall

marble fireplace wall

Then they were able to fill out some closets, pantries and other rooms using smaller remnants and half-slabs from our inventory to help keep budget down. We have tons of interesting stones in smaller pieces so you don’t have to buy a big slab. On a big project things tend to get out of budget quickly, so using remnants to fill out secondary areas can allow you to have different colors in different areas without buying whole slabs or just keep costs down.

closet2

Carrara marble

Carrara marble

Backlit onyx

This would have a greater effect at night, but backlighting onyx in your closet is definitely awesome, even if our phone video-ing skills are less impressive.

closetloop

Fusion Quartzite 2016

We get more calls about a photo of a particular slab of Fusion quartzite than any other thing we’ve ever posted. Unfortunately it was sold years ago, but here is a current pic of a dramatic 3cm slab that just arrived. There are plenty of other varieties but this one was fairly unique…

fusion quartzite slab in 3cm

fusion quartzite slab in 3cm