When it comes time for a kitchen or bathroom remodel the home owner needs to pay close attention to the type of materials being selected and installed. Minimum building codes are in place, but keep in mind that “minimum” is the key word. Building codes were created to create a safe environment for the occupants. The level of quality craftsmanship and all materials is not necessarily specified. There are many situations and materials throughout the home which the building codes do not take into account.
An example of the minimum building code specifies that “green” board or other moisture resistant wallboard is to be used in areas with high humidity, such as bathrooms. In many jurisdictions however, it is permissible, although not recommended, for wallboard to be used as a ceiling on an exterior covered patio. Clearly the outside is subject to higher humidity and moisture, but it is a little cheaper for the contractor to use regular wall board. While the contractor may save a few pennies, it will likely cost the home owner more at a later date.
With regards to natural stone, such as granite, marble and soapstone, these stone materials are a very popular choice for dressing up the kitchen or bathrooms. Unfortunately building codes do not take into account the limitations or recommended locations for of a specific type of stone and as a result the home owner can end up with an unsightly stained and chipped countertop. Many stone countertops will not be as durable and resilient as granite and therefore may not be a desirable choice for use as a kitchen countertop.
Every natural stone will seem to be rock quartz countertops hard to the touch, but there are different levels of hardness. The scale used to measure the hardness is called the Mohs scale. While granite is generally categorized as the hardest naturally occurring stone, second to diamonds, it can be suitably used throughout the home or exterior without too much concern for damage or cosmetic blemishing. It is recommended however, by many stone fabricators to seal granite and other porous stone surfaces.
Other naturally occurring stones previously mentioned, which can be frequently used in the home as countertops, hearths and mantels, are marble and soapstone. These natural stone, along with many others, are considerably “softer” than granite. As a result these may not be desirable or as durable in a high traffic area, subject to much wear and tear, as one would find in a kitchen environment. The softer stones will be able to receive scratches and nicks with greater more ease than granite. Many times, these nicks can be corrected.
Many would argue that softer stones, such as soapstone, can be used as a kitchen countertop in order to achieve an “old world” look. Certainly soapstone would be a beautiful choice for bathroom vanities or shower enclosures. The beauty and charm of soapstone can increase as oxidation takes place over time. In order to achieve an even oxidation, mineral oil should be applied by the home owner periodically even though soapstone is non-porous. Again, other stones may need to be sealed with different solutions in order to protect the finish.