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Countertop’s Tower of Babble

by Kevin Fritz

Posted on February 19, 2018 07:00:00 AM

Every industry has its own jargon. Natural stone fabricators and countertop installers are no exception. When you are renovating your kitchen or bathroom—and you know you will—you can rest assured a number of terms will come your way that you may not understand, from templating and honed-finish to tumbled and shim.

To better prepare you for this vocabularic onslaught, we have created this little cheat sheet as a reference. That way, when the option of an Ogee Edge Profile for your granite countertops or a tumbled or not tumbled Marble butler's pantry
are presented, you can smile and make an educated decision.


So go ahead, print this article after reading it over, make some notes and put it in your pocket. Your cheat sheet is ready to travel.

Templating –This is like adult tracing. When you have finally selected your stone, fabricators come to your home and create a template based on the dimensions set aside by your contractor for your kitchen countertops or bathroom vanity tops. Back at the shop, they work with strips of plywood glued together to form your countertop, which is then used to cut the slab.

Honed-finish – When thinking of honed, think of dull. Not that the honed finish of an Alaska White Granite kitchen countertop or bathroom vanity top is not spectacular in its own right—it’s just not shiny or reflective, because the slab of stone has been ground down to form a smooth finish. Homeowners like honed finishes because they will not show scratches like a polished Marble butler's pantry countertop would for example. Honing is also the process used to repair natural stone, but that’s for another time. Oh, but don’t use the word dull, use satin or matte; it’s much more sophisticated.

Integral sink - Trendy, sheik and seamless, that’s an integral sink. While not for everyone, these sinks are part of the countertop—all one big happy family. With no gaps or seams to worry about, bacteria freaks love this clean look. Imagine the mystical, dark look of Silver Pearl Granite gracing the kitchen countertops and then like an infinity pool, sliding effortlessly into the sink. Integrated sinks do have one drawback: you can’t replace the sink without replacing the countertop.

Porous vs. non-porous – The difference is easy enough—one will absorb, the other will not absorb. The trick is getting to know which kitchen countertops are porous and which are non-porous. Non-porous is a smart way to go, which is why concrete, slate and manufactured slabs like Venastone quartz have become so popular. Porosity equates to bacteria and usually discoloration of a kitchen countertop. But if your heart is set on UbaTuba Granite or Silver Pearl Granite, don’t fret. Granite countertops are some of the most durable on the market and if spills are tended to right away and the counters are sealed regularly, you are good to go.  Note that any limestone, such as marble and travertine are quite porous and need even more TLC.

Tumbled This is both a process and finished product. The end appearance following tumbling is soft and muted. The most common method to create a tumbled look is to tumble the stone with rocks, water, and sand. But that’s usually for tile. For slabs, the look is usually achieved by hand chiseling or a special machine that creates the look without actually “tumbling” the slab.

Profiling – This is just a fancy word for edges. There is a gamut of choices when it comes to putting the finishing touches on your kitchen countertop or bathroom vanity top. There are straight edge profiles, waterfall edges and beveled edges. Your fabricator can help choose from the myriad choices. Your budget comes in to play as well. The concave arch of the Ogee Edge Profile for your Alaska White Granite countertop may be pricier than the standard, but still classic bullnose profile.

Quarry – Just like where Fred Flintstone worked, quarries are the source for all natural stone. Quarries throughout the world excavate slabs of granite, limestone, and slate for use in our homes, buildings and on our roads. The most famous quarries producing some of the finest natural stones are found in Italy, Brazil and India, but the United States is no slouch either from Vermont to Colorado, offering marble to travertine. Perineal favorites Ubatuba Granite and Alaska White Granite derive from Brazil, while Silver Pearl Granite is a product of India. If you are a fabricator with a slab yard, you should consider joining SlabMarket so you can add containers of these three popular, yet exotic natural stones to your inventory.

Shim – Think small slices of wood, although some manufacturers offer vinyl due to the possibility of wood rot.  Shimming, as it is called, is the process of leveling the cabinet or vanity on which your kitchen countertop or bathroom vanity top rests. Although some installers place the shims at the top of the cabinet, then rest a granite countertop on top, the shims may be visible. Best practices encourage cabinets to be shimmed from the bottom, so the slab lights on a level surface.


Now, there are many more terms that weren’t covered here but these were a few basics to get you ahead while you enter the world of remodeling. There are many things you must consider when remodeling your home. It can become overwhelming and the jargon can start sounding like a completely another language. But, we are dedicated to helping you make your remodeling process a piece of cake.