FAQs About Stone Countertop Design & Remodeling

Get your natural and engineered stone education.

Have questions about stone countertops before you buy, or about a recent purchase? Read our frequently asked questions below. If your question isn’t answered, contact us today!

  • What is Granite?

    Granite is a natural stone formed many millions of years ago when molten rock from the center of the earth’s core was pushed toward the earth’s surface. Granite’s extreme hardness approaches that of diamonds and makes it an uncommonly durable surface. Granite’s natural beauty will endure for decades making it ideal for use as countertops and other surfaces within the home.

  • I hear that granite has small cracks and pits in it, what are these?

    Fissures occur naturally in many stone types. The term fissure is used commercially in the stone industry to describe a visible separation along inter-crystalline boundaries. This separation may start and stop within the face of the stone or extend through and edge. A fissure differs from a crack in that it is a naturally occurring feature of the stone. All granites contain some degree of fissures, some contain more than others and some are more pronounced than others. Countertops are not be replaced due to the presence of fissures.

    Pitting of the countertop surface, particularly in granite, is a commonly seen characteristic of natural stone. Granites are made up of several different minerals, each mineral having different hardness. Granites contain quartz, feldspar, biotite, amphibole, ferrous titanium oxides and other mineral combinations. On the Mohs scale of hardness diamonds are the hardest mineral with a rating of 10. Quartz and feldspar have a hardness of 6.5 to 7 and are very durable. Biotites on the other hand are very soft (2.5) and can flake off easily. All true granites have biotite in their composition. Because biotite is relatively soft and flakey the first few layers can be removed while the slab is being processed and polished. The resulting pits do not make granite less durable or otherwise inferior, and do not in themselves qualify for a slab replacement. Pits are common in all granites and should be expected when dealing with natural stone.

  • My neighbor has granite and there are very small chips along the seam. Is this normal?

    Chipping will occur, particularly in the igneous stone varieties as a result of the sawing operations. The exiting portion of the diamond blade used to cut granite will create many small chips. A small champher, called an “arris”, of approximately 1/16” x 1/16” can be used to eliminate many of these small chips. The use of an arris will make the seam wider than the actual dimension when filled. DSU does not use an arris as a standard practice however we will, upon request by the customer, use this method. DSU may use epoxy or polyester resin that match the surrounding color or pattern to repair chips during the fabrication or installation process.

  • I have seen some seams that are not perfectly smooth, why is that?

    The term “lippage” as used in the stone industry, is the planar offset of the finished surfaces of two adjacent pieces. Due to the relatively tight seams used in our counter-top installations, even a small amount of lippage is noticeable. Lippage may be unavoidable due to permanent warp in the slab. There should be no noticeable lippage at the front or rear edges of the countertop. Edges indicate finished edges like the ones found on islands or peninsulas and does not indicate the front and back sides of a standard countertop with a wall at the back edge. Maximum lippage at the center of the countertop is 1/32” or .08 mm. Natural stone slabs are not flat nor is the thickness throughout the slab consistent. These variations can show up at the seam and should be expected to some degree. The variations in the slab cannot be detected prior to cutting and repeated cutting for more accurate matches is not viable in most cases.

  • Will my granite match the sample I purchased the countertops from?

    If you purchase directly from DSU you have the ability to view the slab or slab that will be used on your project. If you choose to order without viewing slabs there is a high probability that some variations will exist. This may be in the movement, color variations or random deposits of colors and veining. Some variations are severe and are out of our control since decisions on color are sometimes based on pictures and samples provided by competitors and stone importers. Remember slabs viewings are by appointment so please call in advance if possible.

  • Some of the walls in my kitchen are bowed and inconsistent, Will the granite bend to follow this bow and conform to the wall?

    Granite is extremely rigid and backsplashes cannot bend to follow the irregularities of walls. No wall is perfectly straight and there will be areas where small gaps are visible. The size of the gaps are determined by the severity of the bows in the wall.

  • I would like to increase the overhang of my new granite countertops at the island to allow for bar stools and an eating area. Can I do this?

    Unsupported overhangs cannot exceed 1/3 of the supported top to a maximum of 9” on 2cm and 12” on 3cm material. Supports, such as corbels or brackets can be installed by the homeowner or contractor to carry loads beyond the description above. Adding brackets to the back of islands without the proper structure does not allow for extended overhangs. Most cabinet backs are comprised of ¼” panels and are not suitable for supporting excessive weight. Brackets must support 250 lbs of weight with less than 1/8” of flex to be considered adequate according to the Marble Institute of America.

  • How far in advance can I pick my slabs or view my material?

    Due to storage space, possible damage and the high cost of slabs you should plan to view/select your materials 1 to 2 weeks prior to the installation date. If you find a stone you like prior to these time frames arrangements can be made to secure and hold slabs.

  • I am planning a large party, how quickly can I get my granite installed?

    Customers planning events in their homes should be cautioned to provide several week Cushion before hosting an event as delays in construction projects are normal and can occur for many reasons. Tops can break during transportation and installation, weather can delay progress, shipping can be delayed on project components etc…

  • Do I need to be there during the measurement/templating of the countertop?

    Yes, the customer must be present during this process to review items such as seam location, overhangs, radius corners and other issues that commonly arise. You will be asked to sign a checklist and drawing of your countertop. The drawing will include approximate seam locations and other specific information concerning your project.

  • Do I need to have the existing countertops removed prior to the template?

    No, DSU recognizes that being without a working kitchen for several weeks would be very difficult. Although it is more accurate to measure without existing tops removal is not mandatory unless you are doing cove splashes on a Corian top. DSU will not be responsible for issues uncovered after the tops are removed. Examples of this could be missing drywall, deteriorating cabinets, excessively unlevel cabinets and more.

  • What is templating?

    Templating is the making of a pattern either physically with cardboard or cardboard like materials or by the use of a laser templating system.

  • What do I need to know prior to templating?
    • Final pricing is based on actual field measurements and conditions
    • Under mount sinks, faucets, and cook tops must be on site during measure
    • DSU will assist the customer in determining if the sink, cook top, and downdraft fit into their respective cabinets. DSU will not be responsible for engineering appliances into areas that are not suitable applications for the customer’s selections.
    • Existing countertops should be cleared of items which may interfere with the measurement process.
    • Cabinets must be fully installed including finished panels prior to template. Completely installed means screwed into and joined together in the final resting place. Not to be removed for a floor install or painting, not sitting on the floor unattached.
    • Farm or apron sinks must be mounted in their final location prior to tempating.
    • Overhangs at the cabinets are designed to cover the inconsistencies of the cabinets. Overhangs will vary slightly +/- 3/16” over the length of the tops and between tops.
    • Gaps behind the tops and splashes caused by irregularities in the walls will not be caulked by DSU. Caulk is done where splashes of the same material meet the countertop
    • DSU will not be responsible if the backsplash does not cover the paint or wall-paper lines. DSU will not be responsible for wall damage due to removing existing countertops.







    • Under mount sinks may be reconnected 24 hours after installation of new countertops. Attempts to reconnect the sink within 24 hours could cause the sink to fail. Under mount sinks are attached using mechanical devices and adhesive.
    • Cutting in the house may be necessary for drop in sinks or cook tops. Check with DSU to know if cutting inside will be necessary on your project. If needed this will create significant dust. Owners should remove or protect any items left under the cabinets. You should turn off your ac/heat. You may also want to drape off or cover the construction area to reduce the amount of dust and debris that reaches the other areas.
    • Mirrors in bathrooms that are permanently affixed to the wall and rest within 1” of the existing backsplash or countertop must have the mirror removed prior to the tear out of existing tops.
    • Installers are not expected to remove, install, or adjust appliances.
    • Upper cabinets must be installed if a job requires full height splashes.
  • Can I have DSU remove my existing countertops?

    Yes, DSU offers this service for an additional cost. Our tear out service includes leveling the cabinets to ensure a strong foundation for you investment.

  • When does the tear out happen?

    The tear out is normally done the same day of the installation. On rare occasions it may be done the day before. If this is required DSU will notify you in advance.

  • Are my cabinets strong enough to handle the weight of granite countertops?

    Most cabinets can easily handle the weight of granite tops. It is often not possible to access cabinet problems prior to the removal of existing tops. If significant problems are detected the installation of the counters may be delayed.

  • What should I know about installation day?

    The homeowner or designated representative must be present during the entire installation. Owner representatives must be able to make decisions on issues that may arise. They will also be required to sign the completion forms at the conclusion of the install. DSU will not enter a residence where a minor is home without adult supervision. DSU will arrange template and installation times in four hour windows. These are done as a best estimate and are subject to change since traffic and job conditions may delay our personnel. We will do our best to keep you informed of any delays throughout the day that may affect the arrival time.

  • How do I clean my granite countertops?

    There are many cleaners available online from your local home center or fabricator. Some are easier to use than others so it may take trying a few to find the one that delivers the desired results. All cleaners should be PH neutral and labeled safe for use on granite. Test a small inconspicuous place on your counter prior to application to the entire surface. A mild dish soap and water solution will also work. You should avoid harsh cleaners and chemicals as they can shorten the effective life of the sealer or leave a dull film on the surface. Products you’re used to seeing in the kitchen like glass cleaners and multiple surface cleaners will not harm the stone but may leave a residual film

  • Do I need to seal my countertops? How often should I seal my tops? How do I apply a sealer? What type of sealer should I use?

    The picture that most people have in their mind about a sealer and it’s expected performance is of some sort of “cocoon” that envelops the Stone and turns it into a Bulletproof material. For starters, impregnating sealers are two-part products: one is the carrier, which could be mineral solvent or just plain water while the other part is the solid that will be left behind when the carrier evaporates. The most popular sealer particals are silicone, silane, ester epoxy, fluorocarbon aliphatic (a.k.a. fluoro-chemicals).

    Second and very important, is the fact that sealers for stone are not topical products like any other sealer people are familiar with. In fact, they are below-the-surface sealers. The first implication of this is the fact that a sealer for stone will not offer any protection to the surface of the stone itself from wear and tear or chemical attacks. The second implication is the fact that a sealer for stone will not alter the original finish on the stone surface produced by the factory or somehow structurally reinforce the surfaces.

    The most important phase of the application of a sealer for stone is to make sure that all residue of the product is thoroughly removed from the surface of the stone before it has a chance to dry. This means that at the end of the application of the sealer, the surface of the stone will be as bare as it was before the sealer was applied to it that being said, let’s now elaborate the principle of a below-the-surface sealer. The product goes inside the stone; the carrier (water or mineral solvent) evaporates, while the solid part (the resin) will remain inside to clog the pores of the stone to an average depth of approximately 1mm. (The more porous the stone is, the deeper the impregnator will go.)

    Now how does an impregnating sealer go inside the stone? Quite simply, by being absorbed into it: the product is applied on the surface of the stone, which in turn will absorb it. Now that we know what sealers do it’s important to know that not all stone is created equal. Some stones are so dense that sealant simply cannot break the surfaces tension and will not absorb into the stone. (Blue Pearl, Uba Tuba ECT…) others are so porous that multiple applications of sealer are required to properly seal the surfaces. (Ambrosia White, St Cecilia, Giallo Ornimental ECT…) For the best possible results sealer needs to dry between coats restricting applications to once a day in an environmentally controlled environment.

  • How hard is it to seal granite countertops?

    With a resin based sealer the entire process will only take about 10 minutes. Simply wipe the product onto the granite countertops. Let it dry to a haze, this is very important to ensure a good bond and to allow the sealer to penetrate or impregnate the stone. Wait 5 minutes or so and use clean cloth or paper towel to wipe off the haze. Congratulations! You have now sealed your granite countertops.

  • My granite has a gritty feel to it, what causes this and what can I do?

    There are a few reasons that can cause this to occur. The first is too much sealer was applied or the sealer was left on the surfaces and allowed to dry to long prior to being buffed off. The second is that very fine pieces of the soft minerals within the stone are being released from the surface. During the processing of the slabs from blocks softer minerals are exposed to the surface of the stone. These particles don’t have a strong enough mechanical bond to the surface and will break off at varied intervals causing a gritty fell to the stone surface. Another possibility is that some minerals are carried to the surface of the stone with the copious amounts of water that are washed over and into the stone during the cutting process. These minerals will stop coming to the surface after the stone is allowed to dry out. This can take several days to subside, does not affect the sealing process, and may occur in a variety of stones.

    The gritty feel to granite does not indicate defective or inferior stone, it is the composition of that particular piece or variety and does not warrant replacement. Adding sealer will not stop the process since sealer is not a binding agent it will not adhere these extremely small pieces in place. If the issue is too much sealer the surface can be cleaned with a solvent to remove the excess product, then a fresh coat of sealer can applied properly. If the issue is softer particles are being released it will eventually subside when all the softer particles have been released. The time period for this can vary and is not a timeline that can be predicted and would not be cause to replace a countertop.

  • How long does it take to get my tops installed once I sign my contract?

    Once the selections are complete the process to complete a project is usually two weeks from start to finish. The completion time from template to installation us usually around a week.