Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Granite Test

You may have noticed that things have been pretty quiet around here.  While we still have a nice long list of projects to tackle around the house, we’ve been struggling to motivate ourselves to get back to work after the holidays.  So, instead of painting/caulking/unpacking, we spent some time in the kitchen.

To make sure we knew how to care for our kitchen countertops properly, we did a lot of reading.  We kept seeing information about the importance of sealing granite to ensure that it doesn’t get stained.  When our granite countertops were first installed, the installers applied a coat of sealer.

Of course, even though we knew our granite was protected, we couldn’t help but worry about spilling things on it.  Who wants to wreck their brand new countertops?

Will the sealer really protect the granite?  Do we really need sealer at all?  What sort of things stain granite?

To ease our minds, we decided to do some tests on our sample piece of Giallo Ornamentale granite.  We divided the piece in half and applied sealer to one side.



Once the sealer was dry (we let it dry overnight) we used Dave’s favourite Christmas present to label the sides.


Our (highly scientific) method for testing our granite was as follows:

  • Select a substance and pour a bit on each side of the piece of granite.  Take a picture.
  • Wait 30 minutes.  (We figured that we were pretty unlikely to leave a spill on our counters for longer than that.)
  • Remove the substance with paper towel and take another picture.

Test #1 – Water
We decided to start with water because we had noticed some dark splotches on our counters when we spilled water.  We knew that the marks disappeared once the water evaporated, but we thought we try and see if there was any difference between sealed and unsealed granite. 


Water 30 Mins

Water Test Results: When the water was first poured on the unsealed side, it looked a bit darker.  But, in the end, there was no difference.

Test #2 – Olive Oil
After the water, we were ready to move on to the more fun stuff.  We decided to try something greasy, so we brought out the olive oil.

OilOil 30 Mins 

Olive Oil Test Results: There was not much difference between the sealed and unsealed sides.  If anything, the stain may have been a bit darker after 30 minutes on the sealed side, but that could have just been the colour variation in the granite.

Test #3 – Coffee
Next, we thought that maybe something dark and hot would do some sort of damage to the granite.  Bring on the coffee.

CoffeeCoffee 30 Mins  

Coffee Test Results: Still no difference.  The coffee left wet marks on both the sealed and unsealed sides, which eventually evaporated and left no visible stain behind.

Test #4: Orange Juice
With coffee and oil appearing not to have any affect on our counters, it was time to try something  really dangerous!  We’ve read that acidic substances can damage natural stone, so let’s see what orange juice does to our sample.

 OJ OJ 30 Mins 
Orange Juice Test Results: Just like the coffee and the water, the orange juice left dark patches until it evaporated.  But, after it dried, we noticed that the texture of the granite was a bit different.  The spots where the orange juice had been were rougher.  This roughness was more noticeable on the unsealed side.  We were worried that the acid in the juice had damaged the surface of the granite, however, after wiping it with a damp cloth, we were able to get both sides nice and smooth again.

Test #5 – Red Wine
So far, our granite seemed to be holding up pretty well to our spills.  For our final test, we brought out the red wine.  We’ve already experienced a couple of instances where we were afraid to set an open bottle of wine on the counter because we worried that the wine would drip down the bottle and stain the counter.  Time to see if we really need to be worried!

Wine Wine 30 Mins Cleaned

Red Wine Test Results:  Not as bad as we expected, but the red wine did leave a faint pink tinge on both the sealed and unsealed sides. Given that our granite has some reddish-brown flecks in it, a small drip would probably go unnoticed if wiped up after 30 minutes.

Since the granite held up so well through all our tests, we thought we’d try the red wine one more time.  This time, we left it overnight.

Wine OvernightWine Overnight Cleaned

After approximately 12 hours we saw some real staining.  After rinsing off the sticky residue left behind by the wine, we were still left with some pretty dark stains on both sides of the granite. 

Granite Test Conclusions
So, what we’ve learned from our little test is that we seem to have chosen a pretty good type of granite for kitchen use.  The colour variation hides any darkening that comes from little spills.  Obviously we don’t plan to leave any spills on the countertops that could potentially damage them, but spills happen.  If we wipe them up fairly quickly, we shouldn’t have any problems. 

Whether it makes a difference to use sealer was pretty inconclusive, but we figure it can’t hurt to keep our granite protected. 

Have any of you found that something stained or damaged your granite countertops?  Or is there something that you’d like us to test?  Let us know!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Final Inspection

In May 2009, with lots of excitement, we hung our fresh building permits in the windows of our new house.  We had all our plans and were ready to get started on our renovation adventure.

Today, almost 7 1/2 months later, we passed our final building inspection!

It is with just as much excitement (but with a little less energy!) that we removed the permits from our front window.  No longer does our house look like a construction site! 

While we still have lots of projects to tackle this year, it certainly feels good to know that we’ve achieved another major milestone in our renovation.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Media Hub

Before the drywall was installed back in September, we decided to wire every room for phone, cable and internet.  Since all the walls were open, it was a fairly easy thing to do.  What we were left with, however, was a big mess of wires in our utility room.




To try and organize things, we decided to create a media hub below our electrical panel.  We purchased a small structured media box that we could feed (and hide) the phone and cable wires into.


With the new label maker that Dave got for Christmas, we labeled the ends of all the wires before connecting them. 

IMG_2658 IMG_2661 IMG_2663

We built a little shelf above the box to hold the modem and mounted a power bar on the wall.  Now we have a nice, neat area where all our phone, cable and internet wires are connected.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Looking Forward

2010 shouldn’t be quite as stressful as 2009, but that doesn’t mean that all our work is done.  We still have a long list of projects that we plan to work our way through this year:

  1. Finish installing trim on the main floor.
  2. Finish caulking and painting all trim.
  3. Stack the washer and dryer.
  4. Hook up the phone connections.
  5. Finish all the data wiring (internet, cable, etc.)
  6. Apply for a permit for a front parking pad.
  7. Paint interior doors.
  8. Order glass for basement shower.
  9. Install kitchen backsplash.
  10. Deal with the garage.
  11. Build a fence in the backyard.
  12. Landscape the front garden.
  13. Build a deck.
  14. Refinish the front door.
  15. Install closet systems in the bedrooms.
  16. Purchase a dining room table and chairs.
  17. Figure out storage/display solution for living room.
  18. Hang artwork.
  19. Purchase a dining room chandelier.
  20. Finish cold storage room.

As you can see, there is still a lot of work to complete.  We may not get to everything, but we’ll do our best.

Not wanting to waste any time, we got straight to work on New Year’s Day, stacking our new washer and dryer.  They’re pretty large and a bit overwhelming in the space, but at least we gain some more floor space in our utility room by stacking them.


So far 2010 is off to a pretty good start.  We’ll post a little later this week about the other project we’ve tackled since the start of the new year – dealing with the phone, cable and internet wires.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin