Help me choose new slab

nobeesJune 6, 2013

My original was princess white, but it doesn't seem I will be finding any more slabs any time soon except for one that looks entirely different. I went today to look at 3 slabs in person, and I liked two. I think I have my mind up, but figured I'd get some input because I do like both, just one looks more interesting up close. They had a sample of one, and I have lemon juice sitting on it--not sure what else to do to it! It's a name I never heard of in my search for white quartzite--white pearl silver. I forgot to ask for cross-names. I took pictures of the sample in my kitchen, but my floors are coming across so orange! I am just worried about the counters blending with the floors. I had only a few chipped pieces of tile to bring to the warehouse, and one of the shades (the tile has many) looked a little off with the slab. My cabinets will probably be repainted a charcoal or some sort of gray, and my walls will not stay anywhere near this red! So, anyway, I'll get to the pictures...

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Or, Moon White/White Macubas

(With first slab, I think I can avoid the darker area to the right. I don't really like it all that much. One positive of having no counter space!)

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 9:42PM
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Middle photo prob. shows tile colors the best, and that sample piece is the whitest part of the white pearl silver.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 9:49PM
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Holly- Kay

I like the white pearl silver but love the dark part of it too! That is a gorgeous slab nobees!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 10:29PM
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I like the first one too.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 11:40PM
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Don't forget to try the scratch test to help distinguish real quartzite from marbles otherwise sold as quartzite. Especially on that first one - which could definitely be either quartzite or marble.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 11:54PM
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I like both slabs. The second seems more light and uniform and would be very pretty on counters.

Karin - Can you refresh our memory on the scratch test? I took home a sample of white princess and the sample edge scratched a bottle easily. Later I was trying to test a slab in the yard and only had a piece of glass tile with me and it seemed to slip more on the edge of the actual slab and only barely scratch. What is the best way to test an actual slab?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 12:05AM
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I like both slabs. The second seems more light and uniform and would be very pretty on counters.

Karin - Can you refresh our memory on the scratch test? I took home a sample of white princess and the sample edge scratched a bottle easily. Later I was trying to test a slab in the yard and only had a piece of glass tile with me and it seemed to slip more on the edge of the actual slab and only barely scratch. What is the best way to test an actual slab?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 12:06AM
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The scratch test instructions are in the first post of the countertop geology thread, linked below.

From the description of your results it sounds like those were two different rocks. You have to scratch with an unpolished section, so the edge is a good place to use. If you are using a whole, unbroken slab, get a close look at the edge of the slab because sometimes they put a layer of epoxy or mesh around the edges.

The slippery feel is a good indicator that the rock is softer than glass. The biting, grinding feel is what you get when the rock is harder than glass.

After you make a scratch on the glass, carefully inspect the glass to make sure the rock really did scratch it rather than vice-versa.

Here is a link that might be useful: countertop geology

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 9:18AM
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I actually was thinking of posting on your other stone analyzing thread! I really don't want to get stuck with a counter that's a pain, and I'm not one who cleans up immediately. Here's some things from the "test." I only had a glass bottle as well. I did find a section last night that was sharp and scratched (like an indentation scratch). After I wiped all the things off the sample, I tried to scratch the bottle, and it's really just hard to get it to grip a round surface (plus the sample is only like 1/2" thick). So, I get a hammer to go at a corner to get a sharp edge like you describe, it chips away, kind of flaking. It's so hard to describe this in words! I decide to take the hammer and hit the sample randomly. I don't know why, just did, and it broke at a fracture point. It looks kind of cool where it split. It's a perfect break, and is very white/crystal-y looking. When I try to scratch the bottle, some of the rock crumbles, but the bottle has definitely been scratched a few times (just not as deep as I thought I would see), and it is hard to get a sharp edge that bites, but the round bottle just keeps slipping since I'm holding both surfaces in my hands at the same time. I think I need to find some flat glass.

As far as etching, I'm so confused! Is etching really noticeable? I left lemon on one area for a few hours and only in a small section of this little area, it seems that the smoothness was taken away. It's more noticeable to the touch than with the eye. I mean I REALLY need to look for it. So then I put lemon juice (this is the bottled stuff btw, not sure if it matters) over a spot that's a dif. color (translucent actually) overnight and nothing there is different. Again, this super tiny spot next to there that feels a little rough. By super tiny, I mean about the size of a small ant. I also left another area (a whiter area) overnight with the same sort of result.

Now the photos--
1st one shows the fracture points. The strip that came off broke again when I was playing around with it.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 9:22AM
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The "etched" spot is where my thumbnail is. It almost seems more like it just took of the polish, but like I said the lemon juice was a larger circle than just that little section.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 9:27AM
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Last pic. of that same spot. I had to get the light to hit it to show just what I'm talking about. So, is it etching? It just doesn't seem like a big deal to me. Especially, when one spot was left about 12 hours with almost 0 signs of this. Opinions?
I feel so confused about etching period. I've never seen it in person, but have googled pictures.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 9:35AM
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I love the first slab you pictured. And please, don't discard the dark part! OMG, that's the best part. People hunt for slabs with chunky dark streaks like that, hoping to find one.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 10:08AM
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I guess I don't like the dark part because it's not the look I was headed for. I miss my first slab! The flow of this one is pretty different, but the look closer up is very similar.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 10:27AM
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Nice job on the diagnostics and photos. I am leaning toward this being marble or dolomitic marble. The difficulty scratching, the lemon etch and the way it broke all point to marble.

I attached a photo below that shows subtle lines within the rock, which is also diagnostic because it tells you something about the atomic structure of the minerals. Different minerals have different internal structures and they reveal this when the rock breaks or by subtle texture within the rock. In this case I traced those lines. Do you see a particular pattern?

Quartz does not have any planar internal structure. It is equally strong in all directions. Thus it usually does not show any kind of linear grain and when it breaks it breaks along an irregular surface and if you look really close you see little curving planes. Think of how the edge of broken glass looks - little tiny curved surfaces. It resembles the inside of a clamshell. Quartz, being made of the same thing as glass, breaks the same way. It's called conchoidal fracture if you want to throw that word around and scare the guys at the stone yard.

Calcite has an internal arrangement of planes that form a rhombus shape. In other words, a slanted rectangle. If you really want to get into it, the planes intersect at angles of 60 degrees and 120 degrees. You can see these angles in all the places I drew the lines. So using this diagnostic, I'd lean toward this rock being made of calcite and that's what marble is.

Feldspar, just fyi, breaks along 90 degree angles, making rectangle shapes.

So, perhaps the bigger question is does it matter to you? Only you can answer that. It depends on your style and your tolerance for imperfection. There are many marble counseling threads here for your perusal.

It's really sad that your original slab got sold out from under you. I would be irreparably pissed. I admire how diplomatic you are being!

This post was edited by karin_mt on Fri, Jun 7, 13 at 10:47

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 10:46AM
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Crap Karin! I feel like I'm going to throw up choosing these slabs! I don't want marble. I'm just confused about whether this is etching. I did the glass bottle again, and it scratched deeper. I never looked at marble up close. Is it translucent and crystal-like? Let me see if I can take another picture or 2.
Thank you!!!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 11:09AM
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scratches on bottle--would marble do that?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 11:11AM
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Here it is held up to the light.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 11:13AM
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Hmm, that photo above looks totally different. Either rock can be translucent. And I misunderstood about the scratching, sorry. But no, marble would not scratch glass at all.

Uh oh, I hate when all the signs don't point in a consistent direction. In these cases I only wish I had a sample in front of me (and in the worst case you are definitely welcome to send me a sample).

Here's another test to try. Put a large drop of white vinegar on the rock, then look inside the drop and see if you see faint bubbles. If not, repeat again but this time scratch up the surface of the rock with a thumbtack or the tip of a pocket knife blade. Leave the powdery stuff that you scratched in place, and then put the vinegar drop right on the scratched area. Again, look inside the droplet and look for faint bubbles.

Repeat this in a few different places if the rock looks different to you in different areas.

Let us know the results!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 11:31AM
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I'm on it Karin! You are awesome! I'm almost in tears again about this whole process. It's taking a lot not to blow up!
I talked to the fabricator today, and she said if I still keep my powder room counter on the tab, they'll take off another $300 (plus price match this stone, which is only $150, but still).

Here's a pic of another corner I beat with the hammer. It took quite a few hits before it would break.

I'm wondering what those darker pieces might react like. They only had this one white sample piece.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 11:41AM
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Good test--except for that it did bubble :( I didn't know what you meant at first, but then I saw these little tiny pops here and there. The translucent spot didn't bubble. The vinegar seeped into the little tiny cracks, and looked like a beating heart almost.

Of course when I talked to fabricator earlier, she told me all stones will etch at some point, blah, blah. Then went back and said something more about build up on granite. Also, she was telling me this isn't sealed, so it might hold up differently after it is. She did admit that etching doesn't have to do w/sealing though, so that was good.

I wish they had a sample of the white mac. to test, but it seems like that has been confirmed to be a true quartzite from all the posts I've read. I just don't know if it's white enough to go, and it doesn't have that translucent/crystal-looking quality of these other stones.

My sample stone is really only showing the etching spots in the fractures, so it doesn't look bad. It almost looks natural. I'm just not sure if I'm ready to bite the bullet on it! I need a stone that will hold up well, especially considering the price.

Would sealer help in terms of not allowing the product (vinegar/lemon juice/etc.) to seep through as quickly?

I wish I could explain better what it looks like. There's definitely no huge blotches of etching like I've seen on other marbles.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 12:04PM
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Nice results, thanks! So it only made bubbles in the fractures. Did you try scratching up the non-fractured areas and then doing the vinegar test?

Its sounds like either dolomitic marble or a quartzite that is fractured with calcite filling the fractures. If it's the latter that would be a bit unusual but it would also explain the contradictory results you're getting. Now that I look at your original photo at the top of the thread I see it really does seem to have two different aspects to it, the whiter part (which looks more like calcite) and the greyer part which looks a little more glassy and quartz-like. But it's hard to say that from a photo.

Either way, it doesn't sound like this rock is going to be really bad with etching. Based on your tests it will etch a little but not too terribly. Are you getting polished or honed? Do you really like the rock aside from not knowing what it is exactly?

White Macaubas does seem to be reliably quartzite, but of course it would still be wise to test it.

I don't think a sealer does much of anything about etching, I'm sorry to say.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:47PM
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It's a polished finish. It looks really cool when the vinegar goes on. It starts as the large drop and then it seeps (almost seems like underneath the puddle somewhere) to the tiny cracks and bubbles in them ever so slightly, like the heart beat I described. I wish I could take a video. The larger puddle bubbles slightly, but if you look at it from the side, you can see the line of bubbles along the fracture in the puddle.

I left a puddle of vinegar for a couple hours, and I still don't quite see the etching. I really need to look in certain lighting or touch it too see/feel the dull spots. I brought it back to the kitchen and opened the blinds to let light in. I don't have regular light fixtures in yet, only these hanging bulbs. Anyway, I had to take a torchiere lamp and hold it over the sample to find the etch marks.

I wish I had more samples to destroy!

I did not end up crushing any. I can still try that. I figured I saw the bubbles already, so what's the point.

I don't care for the darker areas of the stone, but I think it will look nice as a counter. It has a lot of interest to it. Of course, I didn't get the feeling I did w/my first slab though. Honestly, even if I saw a slab just like my 1st, I probably wouldn't get that feeling again anyway. I'm so bad with making decisions; it's one of my main sources of anxiety. I usually end up doing nothing/buying nothing rather than having to make a decision!

I'll try to scratch up that glassy area and see what happens.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 2:30PM
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I couldn't cut into that translucent area at all to get powder, but did get some other powers, which bubbled.
I tried to take a steak knife to the stone, and it doesn't scratch except in one part that was already chipping.

I tried to take some pictures in the light to show the etching. It looks so bad with the right lighting!!! You can see the slight etching on the larger sections if you look at it right.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 3:09PM
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Here you can kind of see the dark parts/cracks that etched. Those are the parts the vinegar traveled down.

I was all set to call and just go with it, but now I'm second guessing myself again! I was hoping to tell her today.

I so wish I had a section with the dark parts too!!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 3:13PM
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Hi Nobees,

Well, you have certainly done due diligence on the testing and you have confirmed that yes, it will etch. It sounds like it will be minor etching and it will only show up in certain lighting. The good thing is that you can go into the decision well-informed. But that does not necessarily make the decision any easier! Only you can decide.

One thing to keep in mind is that many people grow to love their choices once they live with them. I bet that will happen to you too. There can be no "perfect" choice so at some point you just need to decide and then go forward. And once you have everything all together the stone will be just one piece of the overall impression.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 4:26PM
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wow, you have my sympathies, I am going thruough almost exactly the same thing. anyhow - how about actually intentionally etching the whole slab as soon as it is installed? just put vinegar all over it. Whatever it will do, it will be even. and to karin_mt - what do you think if this idea?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 8:02PM
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Nobees, I just want you to know that I'm following and happy you are getting good counsel from Karin. ..."people grow to love their choices..."
I'm not a scientist, and I do not have a well informed sense of design. "I like what I like." And I really like all the pics you posted - they all look like pictures of a beautiful, natural material to me. Enough to make me rethink my mental shift from white quartzite to bullet proof brown/black. But that is a subject for my own tortured thread after tomorrow's stone yard visit...
I still think you could reasonably take a 3 to 8 week break and run off to a beach, or European city, to help you clarify your thoughts. It would also be reasonable to make a decision, and then make it the right decision (via your future choices). I wish you the best!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 8:28PM
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Long story short after quite a few issues---I went with this slab at the beginning of this post.

They cut a piece too short, and there was this section I was eying, but didn't include in my original template. Anyway, since they have to redo this small section of counter, now's my chance to use it. Can you tell me what's going on here? It looks so interesting and different from the rest of the stone. In original pic, it's the very bottom, right corner. This is the closeup.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 7:23PM
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Hi Nobees,

That's called a "vug" which is a gap in the rock, and these gaps usually fill in with calcite or quartz crystals. Groundwater carries dissolved minerals through any cracks or openings in the rock and over time open spaces are usually filled in and healed over. Usually vugs are lined with a layer of small crystals and sometimes they fill in with larger crystals like a geode. In your case it looks like maybe epoxy has also sealed it over? Is it smooth on the surface?

It's a neat feature and I'm glad you can incorporate it into your kitchen. I know I would want to.

Sorry to hear you've had problems but I hope it all gets resolved and you end up with a gorgeous countertop!


    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 8:08AM
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