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When you think of engineered stone, you may wonder what you’re actually getting, and we’re here to help. Engineered stone is often times referred to as quartz.  If you install a stone quartz countertop, you may think that they are all natural, which is true if you are using granite or marble. With engineered stone, you are getting quartz, but the counters are held together by quartz crystals with a resin binder. This gives it a similar look to natural stone. However, because there are some manmade materials in the stone, it has benefits that are not available for natural materials.

Attractive

Quartz materials are generally compressed into the slabs that you see at the store. You will notice they have a color and texture that is close to granite or slate. However, there is a major difference between quartz and granite. The color of quartz is uniform compared to the natural materials.

Countertops

Many countertops that are made from natural materials differ in color slightly when you use them throughout your whole kitchen area. However, when using engineered stone, you will notice that the color and hue remain the same for a more unified look throughout.

You have a few color choices with engineered stone as well. These colors are more earth tone colors which include rose, grays, and many more earthy tones. These colors you will find are mostly the natural colors found in the mineral but if you desire you can add colorants for a different tone.

Wear Well

When the engineered stone is finished, it is a very hard, durable material. In fact, it is almost as hard as granite. The advantage that this stone has over granite is that it will not crack as easily. Engineered stone is also very heat resistant. This means your hot pans will not leave a ring on the countertop if you set them down. Engineered stone is also known for being scratch and cut resistant.

Easy Clean-up

If you have a natural stone countertop, you will notice that the countertop is porous. This will cause bacteria to form and is tough to clean. However, with quartz, the countertops are known for not absorbing liquids. This makes it easy to disinfect and keep clean. Not only does it help with cleanliness it keeps food safety at a maximum because your raw meats aren’t soaking into your counters.

What Stains?

When you are working with engineered stone, you will notice that they stand up to a lot of abuse very well. Whereas natural stone is very prone to staining especially from oils and wines.

Options Galore

Engineered stone countertops have a variety of different natural colors to choose from, not to mention you can add additional colors to achieve the perfect look for your kitchen. So, when remodeling your kitchen, you are sure to find the perfect color of sandstone for your home.

Conclusion

Natural stone has a beautiful look, but the upkeep can be a lot. Natural stone is prone to cracking, scratching, and staining. So, if you are not looking for high-maintenance, then you may want to go with the equally beautiful and more durable engineered stone.

When it comes to stone masonry, you are going to realize no matter how strong the materials are that it will likely eventually crack. However, can you repair this and is it going to cost an arm and a leg to do so?

It is possible to repair cracked stone masonry. It is best left to an expert like Castles Home Service to replace and repair and repair stone masonry.

What is Stone Masonry?

Stone masonry has been around for hundreds of years. In fact, stone masonry itself is an ancient form of masonry. It was thought that because the stone is so strong that it would last a lifetime. Which, in all reality, it really can, but many people opt out of using old-fashioned techniques and use modern ones. Modern techniques of installing masonry have been proven to make the stone less durable and more prone to cracking or falling.

Brick is one of the most common materials used in masonry, and it is made of fired clay. It is popular because it comes in many different colors. It is one of the more high-priced finishes, but it is great because it repels water and is easy to maintain. Plus, in the long run, it is actually less expensive. Brick masonry will last around 100 years.

Another form of masonry is concrete block masonry. This type of work is more common among industrial building applications. This form of masonry can last anywhere from 50 to 80 years. However, these are not waterproof and will need to be resealed every 10 years.

What Causes Stone Masonry Damage?

Erosion

The most obvious factor for damage to stone masonry is erosion. While erosion may not cause issues to the structure itself, it may cause outer damage. This could mean the surface stones wear away and the mortar joints have issues. This leads to cracks and taking in water.

Water

Water is honestly, the worst enemy of stone masonry because of how it freezes and thaws. These different freeze cycles are known to cause cracks. You will notice the water is causing issues if you see discoloration on your stone. You can also expect to see dark patches. This is where the water has soaked into the surface. This is not a big deal immediately but will be in the future if not fixed.

How to Fix a Cracked Stone Masonry

One of the most common fixes is called repointing. This would mean replacing the damaged mortar between your stones or choice of material. It is important that you are replacing the old mortar with an equal strength mortar. You also want to make sure the appearance is the same as well. This will help prevent future cracking. If you add a stronger mortar mixture, your wall won’t be able to handle the freeze cycles as well.

Conclusion

Can you Repair Cracked Stone Masonry?  When it comes to cracked stone masonry, your best bet is to replace the problem. This can be hard an unforgiving work, but you can hire a professional like Castles Home Service to handle it for you professionally. Take a look at some of our before and after photos and you’ll see what is possible.

It makes sense – you have a beautiful, inviting fireplace that serves as a focal point in your living area. It only makes sense to orient the furniture around this welcoming feature in your home. But what about the TV? If the furniture placement indicates anything, it’s likely you’re thinking the perfect spot is right above the mantle.

Unfortunately, experts disagree with this placement for many reasons; from an ergonomically correct position to potential heat damage. We’re going to take a look at the reasons you shouldn’t mount your TV over your fireplace.

Heat and Electronics Don’t Mix

Electronics don’t do well with heat. They warp and degrade in the presence of high temperatures, while conductive materials actually fray and cause shorts within the circuitry of the television.

Smoke is a separate, but equally important concern. Smoke and particulate from fires can rise and leave a hazy film on your television, which requires quite a bit of upkeep if you wish to make the most of that 1080p resolution.

It’s Not Ergonomic

TV placement above a fireplace typically results in stiff necks. Ideally, the most comfortable position to view any kind of entertainment is at eye-level. When we hold our necks in an uncomfortable position for long periods, we experience temporary discomfort that can lead to long-term issues like chronic headaches.

Physical therapists who specialize in musculoskeletal issues confirm – much like the concerns we have of sitting for too long at our desks, hunched over at our computers – the effects of watching television in an unnatural position have lasting consequences.

Anything above 35 degrees from the horizontal plane of eye level prevents the neck stabilizer muscles from functioning. When those muscles become compromised, they cause a shearing force in the cervical spine, causing lots of pain.

Screen Quality Gets Compromised

With LCD/LED TVs, the viewing angle is everything. Because their composition consists of tiny, shuttered windows that control the flow of backlight to produce the images, they have limited viewing angles. If you prefer to mount your television, consider buying a tilted wall mount that has enough of a downward angle to allow for a more direct view of the screen. Sometimes, you may even find wall mounts that drop the TV closer to eye level to improve both contrast and color saturation.

If tilted mounts aren’t your thing, try an OLED TV, which is known for having a myriad of viewing angles, no matter the placement.

Alas, if the layout of your living space limits your options, leaving you feeling defeated, there are some things you can do to try and mitigate the negative aspects of having a TV mounted above the fireplace:

  • You can try to place your seating further back to lower the angle of your neck as you view your shows.
  • You might opt for a reclined position while you watch TV.
  • You can refrain from having a fire going while you watch TV, so the lighting from the screen and the fireplace don’t compete.
  • You can have your TV professionally installed for proper cable management and expert suggestions for how to get the most out of your TV’s new position.

Natural stone floors are a beautiful addition to any home. The use of stone floors throughout a home can easily brighten and modernize a home. They are also sturdy and durable, lasting many years without cracks or wear and tear.

Although a stone floor is amazing to have in a home, it does need to be cleaned in a specific way. Over time stone floor tiles can lose their shine and luster requiring an intense cleaning by professionals. It is recommended that you sweep at least twice a week in order to grab any dust or dirt to make periodic cleaning and mopping easier.

Prepare the Floor

In order to be able to properly clean a stone floor, you need the right products for the job. Before rushing into cleaning, make sure you have a clean mop, a mop bucket, a broom, towels, and a ph neutral stone cleaner like the ones available from MORE™ Surface Care. Change into some comfortable cleaning clothes as there is a possibility of staining and dirtying the clothes worn. After gathering the materials, sweep and dust the floor using the broom. This allows for easier cleaning as the broom can collect dust and debris before the addition of water and cleaning product.

Mop the Floor

The easiest way to clean a stone floor is by mopping. Fill up a mop bucket with warm, but not hot water, and add a ph neutral stone cleaner. The addition of this ph neutral stone cleaner makes a difference in the long run as it is not acidic and won’t wear down your stone floors. Regular floor cleaner can harm tile as the product is not designed for stone tiles.

After mopping dump the mop water and thoroughly rinse out the mop bucket for the next step.

Rinse the Floors with Warm Water

The next step can be relatively easy or more difficult. If you use a typical stone cleaner, rather than just drying the floors right away, you need to rinse them. Although you might use a generic ph neutral stone cleaner in your mop water to mop, there is always the possibility of leaving behind residue. This residue has the potential to erode and damage the stone tile floor. The residue can also leave streaky marks on your beautiful tile floor that may not be noticeable till the floor dries.

To get rid of the residue, fill up the clean and rinsed out mop bucket with only lukewarm water. Mop like you normally would if you were using the floor cleaner. As the mop bucket water changes color, dump the water and fill the bucket with clean fresh water. After about three different rinses, you should be good to go.

However, if you use a cleaning product from MORE™ Surface Care, there’s no need to rinse and you can skip this step completely!

All Done!

After rinsing, you have two options to dry; air drying and manually drying with a towel. If you choose to air dry, you may have to wait a while before you can walk on your floors. It is recommended to dry with a towel as it speeds up the process and the towel may be able to pick up leftover dirt and debris left behind.

Choose a towel that is sturdy and won’t leave any lint or fabric behind. While the fabric or lint won’t harm the stone floors, it is better to use a towel that won’t leave any mess behind. Taking the towel, begin wiping and dragging the towel in one direction to limit any streak marks. When the floor is dry, admire your work! You are done!

Renovating your kitchen can come with a lot of decisions to make. There are so many things to do to make your kitchen the perfect kitchen for your home. To make it easier, start with one specific area to focus on like, cabinets.

Choosing the right color cabinets for your home may sound like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! There are a couple of key ideas to keep in mind when choosing the right color cabinets for your beautiful home.

These key ideas include; inspiration, tone, and compatibility.

Step One – Research and Find Inspiration

Although it is so easy to want to just jump into everything, drawing on inspiration is key to finding the right color cabinets for your home. Every kitchen has a unique design and look that stems from somewhere. This ‘somewhere’ can be anything from a magazine, an old childhood home or a movie.

Looking for inspiration is an easy step to ensure you choose the right color cabinets. Next time you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, pick up a magazine! There are plenty of lifestyle and home magazines that can give you a great idea of what you want to do with your kitchen. Inspiration can be drawn from modern-looking and traditional kitchens and cabinets photographed in the pictures.

If you aren’t much of a reader, there is always the internet! A quick search and scan through the internet can satisfy your inspirational needs for your home. Once you find inspiration for your home and cabinets, you can then begin to find the mood or tone you would like to set!

With Inspiration Comes Tone

After choosing a photo or coming up with an inspiration for the cabinets in your home, the next step is to choose a tone. Color has a lot to do with mood. For example, you can choose a specific color cabinet for your home based off of the tone. Some moods include; happy, calm, modern, cool, and energetic.

Some colors that would be great options to have for a happy tone are yellow, red, and orange. These fiery colors are known to boost the mood of people and would work beautifully in your home.

If you are searching for more of a modern or cool tone, light colors are recommended. Choosing a color for cabinets that fit a cool or modern tone is fun and easy.

Make Sure They Match The Rest of Your Home

Something that may slip your mind is keeping the kitchen and the rest of your home compatible. If your walls are painted a lovely cool blue, and you want to keep a modern tone choose a color accordingly. There are many appliances and furniture throughout your home that may alter the tone or style based on the color contrasts.

Before choosing a cabinet color for your home, look at your surroundings and ensure that the color of the cabinets will match with the rest of your gorgeous house.

Every home has pockets, if not roomfuls, of space that homeowners either overlook, take for granted, or simply don’t know what to do with. Remodeling unused spaces can do wonders to improve the functionality and quality of your entire home. Plus, enhancing an unused area gives your home an immediate makeover and provides you additional living space. As a bonus, remodeling unused spaces can often add financial value to your home, especially when done well. Read on for five tips for making the most of the space of you have.

Set a Budget

First things first: financials. Whether you’re turning an attic into an office or carving a study nook out of an extra closet, expenses can add up fast. You’ll want to factor in obvious costs such as supplies, labor, and basic aesthetics like paint and caulk. Because your space will be completely remodeled, you’ll need a design budget, too. Prioritize the necessities and set aside a small fund for extras that pop up as you go.  

Think Outside the Box

Your renovation is an opportunity to express your creativity through structure and design. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box! Consult social media and other platforms for renovation and decor ideas. There are entire communities dedicated to crafty, quirky takes on otherwise traditional homes. There are no “rules” – but extra points for creativity!

Don’t Forget the Small Spaces

If you don’t have a dedicated area ready for a renovation like an attic or basement, it doesn’t mean there aren’t some great ways to add more value to your living space. Take inventory of any and all unused or under-used space in your home. A deep closet under the stairs can become a kids toy room. An extra five feet of corner space in the muck room can become a dog washing station. Build a faux mantle using bookshelves to line a bare wall under a mounted television. No space is out of the question.

Focus on What Your Family Needs

A good way to make sure you’re making the most of your renovation is to focus first on the needs of your family. If there’s been a pain point for say, more homework or study space, then making the most of your den or office space is key. Every home will have its own unique needs; you’ll want to figure out what yours are before you go hunting for space to make it happen.

Treat Yourself

Once you’ve established the space you’re renovating, the need your space will fulfill, and what your budget is, the rest is all about imagination and implementation. It’s important to remember that this newly-created space will be a permanent part of your home. You’ll want to take care that it reflects the overall vision you had in mind. Above all, treat yourself when you can. Take allowances to make sure your living space matches your best vision so that you’re happy with it long-term. There’s nothing worse than taking shortcuts and ending up dissatisfied with the final product. Keep some wiggle room in your budget for last minute finishing touches that really make your new space pop!

Are you considering remodeling your kitchen? Great decision. You are probably sifting through a lot of options to ensure that you give your kitchen a worthy remake. While at it, have you considered what material to use for your countertop? Considering that your kitchen countertop takes a lot of abuse, it is only fair that you invest prudently when it comes to what material to use.

Ideally, the best kitchen countertop material has to be highly durable, aesthetically appealing and bring the best value. No other material will fit this description as well as natural stone.

Four Reasons Why Stone Material is the Best Fit for Your Kitchen Countertop

Highly Durable

There is no about it; a stone countertop will last as long as your house lasts. No other material can hold up against the daily abuse countertops receive as well as stone. If you have been operating in a kitchen long enough, you understand that durability is priceless. Frequent remodels are not only costly but also frustrating.

That is why a durable material like a stone is not something you want to pass up. The key is to find a professional that can properly install it. You will save a lot both in terms of cost and the frustration of having to redo the kitchen now and then.

Easy to Maintain

Now if there is something that can get you worked up it is kitchen maintenance. Considering all the activities that take place on your countertop, getting it neat and appealing can be an enormous pain if you use the wrong material.

Although they can quickly accumulate dust and debris, cleaning a stone countertop is quite painless. Additionally, if it’s properly installed and sealed, you won’t need to refinish or sand it. Once it is installed, all you have to do is ensure that it is always kept clean. We can help you in this respect with our full range of cleaning and sealing services, specifically using MORE™ Surface Care products.

Has the Best Value

For homebuyers who are on a budget, great value is a top priority. If you look at the benefits we have already covered, there is no doubt that a stone countertop will bring the best home value. Think along the lines of durability, easy maintenance, and aesthetics.

All these are qualities that are guaranteed to boost the overall value of your home. To be honest, no other material can give you as much return on investment while adding a flair of sophistication to your kitchen.

Aesthetically Appealing

The benefits we have covered above are important. But if you choose a material that does not add to the general aesthetics of your kitchen, you may not be satisfied with it in the future. A great looking kitchen countertop is something many homeowners derive satisfaction from. Other materials may not give you everything you desire. If they are durable, they may not be aesthetically appealing and vice versa. The good news is, natural stone gives you everything you could want. The beauty of stone is undeniable, and there is no doubt it is going to give your countertop a touch of uniqueness and aesthetic appeal.

Conclusion

The material you choose for your kitchen countertop matters a lot. A stone countertop will serve you well and ensure that you enjoy a fabulous kitchen for a long time for the best value.

Natural stone surfaces provide beauty, elegance, and durability when properly installed in your home or office. These surfaces can last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance, but even a material such as natural stone can be subject to etching from common household tasks:

  • A slight orange juice spill while your child prepares breakfast that goes unnoticed…are your children perfect cleaners when you’re not around?
  • Spilled wine on the counter or floor during a cocktail party…can you trust that every guest has perfect cleaning manners while you play host/hostess?
  • Hard water stains from an aggressive sink hose or bathroom faucet…will everyone using your facilities dry your surface ASAP?

Sealing is Not Enough to Prevent Etching

While stone sealers will work hard to protect your stone, they are still susceptible to acidic substances in everyday household items. An unattended spill of coffee, wine, soda, or orange juice can eat away at the surface and cause etching. It is important to note that etching is not a stain that can be easily wiped away. Etching refers to the dull spots left behind on natural stone that will mar your beautiful finish.

In addition to acidic substances, items such as toothpaste, lotion, or even household cleaning products can cause etching. Having to constantly remember the potential dangers these seemingly harmless items pose to etching your surface can be a frustrating endeavor.  You want to protect your investment for years to come, so enlisting the best defense from etching should be high on your list of safeguards.

The MORE™ AntiEtch™ Difference

MORE™ AntiEtch™ will stop etching on natural stone and provide you with peace of mind for your beautifully installed surface. This innovative product provides a durable, ultra-low visibility, and super thin coating to prevent etching and stains. Eliminate costly repairs down the road and enjoy the numerous benefits of MORE™ AntiEtch™ :

  • Stops etching and staining on your natural stone surfaces
  • Provides a crystal clear finish
  • Can be applied to marble, limestone, onyx, travertine, and concrete
  • Can be applied on horizontal or vertical surfaces, as well as honed, polished, and leathered surfaces
  • Low odor installation and environmentally friendly
  • Safe for food-contact surfaces
  • A zero porous product with no worries about germs or bacteria growing anywhere
  • Will not crack or peel after installation
  • Easy to maintain and repair
  • An extremely durable product with a 10 year expected wear timeframe

Protect your Costly Investment

Your investment in natural stone is a significant one for you and your family. Ensuring the surface finish remains pristine and visually stunning will keep your investment safeguarded for years to come. Even the most diligent care can still result in a few mistakes down the road, so why chance it on an item that will serve as a proud focal point for you and your family?

We at Castles Home Service are proud to offer MORE™ anti-etch coating to assist in keeping your natural stone looking stunning for years to come.

One of the best parts about a granite countertop is its beautiful shine. Regular maintenance can help keep up the countertop’s finish. However, over many years, this shine will start to diminish. This can be due to physical or chemical damage, along with regular wear. When it comes to replacing your countertop, granite costs anywhere between $45 to $200 per square foot to replace. Luckily, if you are looking for more affordable options, there are many ways to restore your granite instead of replacing it. Most of these repairs can be done at home, but some of them will require hiring a professional.

Maintenance

Regular maintenance will help extend the life of your granite countertops. Many dull countertops are caused by chemical etching. Granite countertops should only be cleaned with products that are neither abrasive nor acidic, which eliminates most household cleaners. Granite specific cleaners are available and will help to remove previous soap scum. You can also use a soap film remover to remove the buildup if regular cleaning is not sufficient. Another important step in countertop maintenance is regular resealing. Applying a stone sealer from time to time is recommended to create a more repellant, antibacterial surface. You should also have your granite professionally resealed about every 4 years to ensure a long-lasting shine.

Repair

There are a few ways to repair your granite if it gets damaged in some way. Small scratches and chips can be repaired using an epoxy filler. These fillers are widely available at hardware stores and can be used to seal small cracks and chips in your countertop. The countertop will have to be sanded and resealed after the use of one of these epoxies.

Chemical etching and food stains are other mild forms of damage that can be repaired at home. Use polishing powder on damaged areas to remove imperfections and improve the look of your granite. Steel wool can also be used for more minor repairs. Be sure to use caution with these products, as they are very abrasive to your countertops, even though they work very well.

Refinish

Unless you are willing to paint or apply laminate to your granite countertops, they will eventually need to be refinished if the finish is damaged. A professional granite restoration expert is necessary if your countertops are past home repair. We use large, precise machines to bring back the shiny, original finish. Ask your installation expert if he knows of a local reputable restoration expert, as often they are not the same exact areas of expertise.  Castles Home Service is a highly reputable restoration expert to check out in the California area.

Replacement

Granite countertops last at least 15 years when properly taken care of, and usually longer. If you must replace your countertops, be sure to compare the prices online to the ones locally. The local options allow you to avoid shipping, but still may not be the best deal. You may be able to save money if you are less specific you are about the pattern of stone that you want. However, replacing granite countertops should be a last resort after pursuing all other restoration options.

Ten years ago, in the height of the real estate boom, flipping houses turned a hefty profit. Many flippers knew about the basics of construction and design. What they didn’t know was how important some of the details would be. Kitchen and bathrooms sell homes! That means, your biggest investment should be in the details found in your kitchen and bathrooms and tile typically claims a lot of real estate in these rooms. Let me share some tips on getting the most out of your tile:

1. Seal it.

You already know that tile needs grout. Grout is easy to find and comes in multiple colors to blend or contrast with your tile. Grout fills in the gaps between the tile to produce your pattern. It’s important to note that the grout is exposed to water, moisture and anything else that the tile is exposed to in your bathroom and kitchen (shampoo, dish soap, splashes, you get the idea). Most grout is not waterproof or stain, mold or mildew proof and therefore, it needs to be sealed. The one exception to this is epoxy grout. If you used epoxy grout, skip this tutorial! Home run! It’s more expensive than other types of grout but may save you time in the long run.

2. Sealing is relatively simple.

It may take some time, but you should be able to do it. There are several ways to apply the seal, but most are basic processes that you are probably already familiar with. You can brush or roll on the sealer, choose the one you are more comfortable with. The brush applicator may require a little more finesse and a second coat but is generally easy to apply and even easier to stay within the grout lines. Rollers tend to apply a more even coat and may be more precise in their application without going past the grout line. You can also spray on the sealer. I do not recommend this application for non-professionals because it is too easy to get overspray on your tiles. It takes a lot of time to clean up overspray, even if the spraying takes less time than brushing or rolling.

3. Know when to seal.

If you have finished your tiling and grouting, make sure you wait a minimum of two days, three is even better, to make sure the grout is dry, dry, dry. You cannot seal wet or damp grout. Be sure the grout is completely dry and smooth. Before you seal the grout, make sure you picked the right kind. Penetrating group sealers are water based and penetrate the grout. These types of sealers absorb into the porous grout and are great for bathrooms. Membrane-forming grout sealers do what they say – they create a membrane over the grout. These sealers are great for kitchens. Grout sealers keep the grout stain free and provide a great moisture barrier that can last several years.  

Castles Home Service, family owned and operated, protecting stone and tile since 1982.  Call 831-444-0991 or visit us online at https://www.castleshomeservice.com