counter intelligence - choosing the perfect stone for your job

September 2015 Newsletter

counter intelligence: choosing the right stone for your job

If you are in the process of remodeling your kitchen, you might feel that you are spending an inordinate amount of time selecting the perfect material for your counter. Consider this time well spent since the counter is an important element that touches on functionality and aesthetics in equal measure. 

In this issue, our frequent collaborator Dimitar Marchev of Custom Stone showed us around his state-of-the-art Oakland workshop and taught us a thing or two about stones, both natural and engineered.

quartz is king

We are referring to engineered quartz surfaces made with up to 93% quartz (a natural stone) and binders. Popular brands include Caesarstone, Cambria, Silestone. According to Dimitar, "ten years ago, 80% of homeowners chose natural stones, mostly granite, and 20% chose quartz. Today, the trend is practically reversed."

No wonder, quartz is non-porous, stain and heat resistant, and requires no sealing and no wax. There are endless options in terms of colors and textures and more innovative new products have been coming on the market recently. Modernists tend to prefer the quiet elegance of quartz with its consistent and subdued colors and patterns. Caesarstone, the company which pioneered quartz counters in 1987, just launched three stunning models: raw, fresh, and sleek concrete in a suede (lightly textured) finish.

secrets for success

Dimitar and co-owner Peytcho Peytchev have worked their magic on many of building Lab's projects. In these beautiful kitchen and bathroom counters, their exact measurement, fabrication, and installation are much appreciated. Dimitar thinks communication is most important in this kind of custom work. Both partners are trained in all phases of production, although Dimitar usually takes care of the business end, and Peytcho focuses on fabrication. They try to purchase the best and latest equipment; but ultimately this is a craft that depends a lot on their skilled hands.

tips for homeowners

  • Know your tolerance: Marble - timeless beauty, susceptible to heat, stain and aging, needs annual resealing. More suitable for bath than kitchen. Granite - generally heat and stain resistant and relatively easy to repair. Quality varies a lot depending on the composition. Panels with pronounced patterns and colors tend to crack more easily. Quartz - easy to maintain, but more difficult to repair and re-polish once damaged. Dark and plain colors are harder to repair (repairing a plain black surface is really hard!) Neolith - a new high-tech porcelain slab that is highly resistant to water, chemical, heat, and abrasion.
  • Modernists beware: sharp edges are generally easier to chip!
  • Use PH neutral products and non-abrasive pads for cleaning. Be sure to read manufacturer's guidelines.

the founder

Dimitar came to the U.S. from Bulgaria in 1998 with a degree in accounting and economics. His first job in this country was in construction. He soon became a remodeling contractor and met his future business partner. He and Peytcho started Custom Stone in 2004.
Photo captions: L-R
1. Caesarstone 'London Grey'   2. Carrara marble
Caesarstone 'Sleek Concrete'   4. Caesarstone 'Raw Concrete'
5. Edge polishing machine   6. Dimitar in front of 3 large panels of Neolith.  
7. Seacliff Residence by building Lab   8. Piedmont Residence by building Lab and Ignition Architecture

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