FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1What makes a kitchen more or less expensive?
Cabinets account for about half the total cost of the project and will have the greatest impact on your budget. They range in price considerably based on quality, the type of material they are made of, and whether they are stock (ready made in specific sizes) or custom (produced specifically for your kitchen in whatever sizes are needed). The material you choose for surfaces including counters, backsplashes and floors can also account for variations in price. Other key elements that factor in to the equation are talent and workmanship. In the remodeling business, you tend to get what you pay for. An accomplished designer, skilled sub-tradesmen and expert installation crew may cost more. But you'll appreciate their ability every time you use your kitchen.
2How can I possibly pay for a new kitchen?
Like any major purchase, you should only spend what you can afford to spend. That means setting a budget and sticking to it. If you work with a professional kitchen designer, he'll help you make the most of it - and he'll respect the budget you've set. As for payment, there are a number of options. Some homeowners tap into personal savings to get the kitchen of their dreams. Others take out home equity loans. And many times, professional kitchen/bath firms will work with lending institutions to offer financing options much like car dealers do. If you're buying a house and know you'll need to remodel the kitchen, you may be able to incorporate the costs in your mortgage.
3What about contracts and orders?
Before any work begins on your kitchen, get detailed, written estimates, project specifications and signed contracts from the professionals you hire. Make sure they're bonded and insured. Check references carefully. Your designer should prepare project drawings including floor plans and renderings that clearly represent your project. If anything changes mid-project, you should be asked to sign a change order.
4What is the kitchen "work triangle" and why is it important?
The "work triangle" is the kitchen area from the refrigerator to the main cooking area to the main sink. Connect the three and it should form a triangle (unless you have a 'one-wall' kitchen). It's important because at or immediately adjacent to the triangle's points all the key kitchen activities -- food preparation, cooking and clean up -- take place. The work triangle helps to ensure that your kitchen will be functional. It keeps cooking activities centered in one area, with all the necessities close at hand.
5Where's the best place to put a microwave?
Like most things about your new kitchen, it will depend on how you and your family use the appliance. From a safety and accessibility standpoint, the microwave should be positioned so that the bottom of the appliance is 24" to 48" above the floor. Consult with your designer for the best place to locate it.
6What is granite?
Granite is a crystalline igneous rock composed primarily of quartz, mica and feldspar. It forms from slowly cooling magma that is subjected to extreme pressures deep beneath the earth's surface.
7How strong is granite?
Granite has greater strength than sandstone, limestone and marble. It is an important building stone, and is extremely resistant to weathering. Diamonds, the hardest natural material, are used to cut, shape and polish granite. Granite measures a seven to eight on a scale of ten for hardness, so that even stainless steel cannot scratch its surface.
8What are granite's main advantages?
Beauty leaps to mind. Another advantage of granite is it's durability. Granite can withstand temperatures of about 1300 degrees Fahrenheit. That means you can place hot pots & pans on your counters or even cut right on it. Synthetic alternatives can make no such claims with a straight face.
9Are there differences in hardness between stones?
Yes. Generally, Limestones, Sandstones and Soapstones are the softest. Next come marbles and finally granites. There are also hardness variances within each individual stone category. Among granites, generally, the lighter colors tend to be 'softer', and the hardest tend to be blacks and reds. However, even the 'softer' granites are extremely hard.
10Can marble be used in a kitchen?
It can, but it is not advisable. The shine on marble is achieved with a final acid step. Thus, if you spill anything acidic [soft drinks, orange juice, tomato juice, etc.] and it sets for a few moments your shine will be gone. We can bring the shine back up, but it is tedious and time consuming, as well as expensive. It will stain. There is no doubt about it, it is just a matter of when and how much some accept these inherent limitations because they love the beauty of the stone, and that is just fine. However, we will make you aware of the pitfalls.
11What about synthetic stones?
Most synthetics are 92% quartz and 8% polyester resins. They are strong, but they are monochromatic. They burn, scratch and fade. Colors are achieved by tinting the soft polyester adhesives. The real name should be Engineered Gravel because that is exactly why it was invented, [read the blog for details] as you might imagine, we monitor that market quite closely. We find that consumers prefer natural products to synthetics and most stone buyers tend to prefer stones with at least a little movement. Synthetic materials simply do not offer the pattern and color variations of natural stone or performance or proven investment returns
12Does granite require a lot of care?
Caring for granite is simple. There are many products on the market that can be used for caring for your countertops, but mild soap and water is usually sufficient for daily cleaning, and given its ongoing popularity, there are a slew of new products on the market for daily care.
13What about maintenance?
I keep hearing granite needs to be sealed frequently. At KBR, we seal all our tops with a new imported sealer that claims a 10 year life span. Most fabricators use a sealer that lasts three to four years. It is considerably less expensive. The problem with conventional sealers is that they break down with repeated use of cleaning products, especially those containing ammonia. Every time you use it, you are breaking down your sealer's effectiveness. With our new product, the molecular structure is completely different and much smaller, so, you may safely use almost any cleaning product. If the Sealer-Squealers have gotten to you, ask us about the long list of natural stones that require no sealers whatsoever.
14Is natural stone a good investment?
Having been a General Contractor in both the new and remodel market, natural stone is a tremendous investment. Two things sell homes: Kitchens and Master Baths. Nationally, the payback for remodels on Kitchens and Master Baths is over 90% return on your investment. In DC area, where Granite prices are less expensive than the national average, your investment will be even better.
15Will my kitchen have seams?
A typical slab size is about 65 inches tall by 108 inches long. If you have countertops runs that exceed these dimensions, you will have seams. Smart builders and designers will consider this in the design phase of a kitchen. When we layout the kitchen, we consider several factors in determining the very best placement of seems. Our preference is to avoid a seam, if possible.
16What type of sink applications are used for granite counters?
The most common are the top mount, which uses self-rimming sinks, and under counter, using under mount sinks. A unique application is a flush mount. A solid surface sink is mounted to the underside of the Granite countertop. We then polish the inside rim of the Granite so there is no gap between the stone and the sink and the sink appears integrated with the counter.
17Why are some stones more expensive than others?
There are a number of answers to this one. Acquisition cost of the material, determines the stone price. Final install prices are affected by material, thickness (2cm or 3cm) and edge detail. We try to maintain a good selection of affordable, attractive stones for our clients. We also stock some unique stones that are only available through our distributors. Since we import most of our inventory directly from the foreign factories, we are able to offer some attractive materials at very reasonable rates due to our enhanced buying power.
18Is it safe to buy stone by looking at a 4" by 4" sample?
No. The pattern and color variations of granite cannot be represented in a small square. It's like buying a car by looking at only the hubcap. We are a stocking fabricator. You see the entire slab in our yard, so that you can better determine what the finished product will look like. We write your name on the batch from which your slabs will be taken. That way, you know that what you've selected is what you'll see installed.
19Is there a difference in stone processing equipment?
There are many different methods for polishing stone, from manual to sophisticated automation. We offer a variety of edges and are working on some new ones that will be unique to KBR Kithcen & Bath. We are constantly working to improve our quality and to distance ourselves from the competition.
20Why else is granite a superior choice for countertops?
Besides its strength and durability, granite is available in thousands of colors. New quarries are being discovered and every quarry produces a unique palette. Unlike synthetic material, the colors and textures of granite can change every few feet and vary from slab to slab. Every countertop is unique and nothing compares to the beauty of nature.
21What makes KBR Kitchen & Bath different?
KBR Kithcen & Bath offers many advantages, including: • Wide inventory of both 2 and 3cm stones • Superior service and quality • Competitive pricing • Sophisticated fabrication technology • Outstanding customer satisfaction • Prompt production turnaround • Dependable installation schedule