August 17, 2016

Frequently Asked Questions

What We Do

What does Intrepid Marble and Granite do?
We are a wholesale supplier and importer of natural stone slabs and tile, quartz slabs, and extensive collections of ceramic and porcelain tile, glass tile, and mosaics. In addition to our slabs and tile, we also have a fully stocked sundries department, where you can select grout, metal trim pieces, sealers, polishing pads, and other finishing materials. 

Do you install slabs or tile?
No, but we work with several hundred fabricators and contractors, located across Oregon, Washington, and Montana, and can help connect you with reputable businesses in your area. 

Can I get samples?
For most things, yes, absolutely. We highly recommend taking home samples before choosing a tile or slab for your home. Just ask a member of our staff to get you a sample of whatever you’re interested in — if you’re looking at tile and we’ve run out, we can usually order one in for you. We always have quartz samples on hand. If you’re looking at a natural stone slab, there are unfortunately a few materials for which we don’t have samples. Once you’ve purchased a slab, your fabricator should be able to cut you a piece of your stone to use as a reference. 

How do I choose my kitchen countertops or bathroom vanity?
Visit our showroom, located at 4000 NW St. Helens Road in Portland, OR. Our slab warehouse is open to the public, and our staff is happy to assist you as you select material. You can also preview our slab inventory here

Do I need a contractor?
We are open to the public and encourage everyone to come to our showroom. However, as a wholesale supplier, we only sell to people in the trade (e.g. fabricators, contractors, tile installers, and other industry professionals). If you’re working with a contractor or tile installer already, we will help you in your selections, then pass the information onto them. Many homeowners choose to DIY, and our knowledgeable staff will help you get started. 

Do I need an appointment?
No!  

Fabrication, Stone Selection, and Remnants

How do I put a slab on hold?
Just ask! You can visit our slab warehouse to browse our selection, then ask a member of our staff to place your choice on hold. Please note: We only place slabs on hold under fabricators. If you don’t yet have a fabricator, that’s okay. We can place a temporary hold, good for 3 business days, while you find the right person to complete your job. Under a fabricator, your hold will be secure for 30 days. 

What is a fabricator?
A stone fabricator is the person who will cut and install the slab(s) that you pick out in our warehouse. 

How long will it take my fabricator to install my countertop?
The actual fabrication and installation might take a week to ten days to complete, but getting on a fabricator’s schedule is the more critical issue. Some fabricators are booked several months out. Much depends on the season and the size of the fabricator’s operation. 

Will my fabricator seal my countertop for me?
Check with your fabricator before they install your stone. Most do, once it’s installed. If that’s not part of their contract, make sure your stone is sealed before you use it.

What do your price categories mean?
We mark slabs in a price range from “A” to “D,” with A being the lowest and D the highest. Your fabricator will tell you exactly what your material will cost.

How much does a granite slab cost?
Most material cost only fluctuates a few dollars per square foot. A median budget allowance is $60-80 per square foot installed (material, fabrication, installation). Factors that affect the cost of your project are: slab size, an intricate edge detail, an under mount sink, radiuses, or other special requirements. It’s important to get more than one bid and references before hiring a fabricator.

Why can’t you tell me the price of just the slab?
Your project is determined by many factors other than the material cost: How many polished edges; how many cutouts; if you have a top mount or an under mount sink; if your material has movement, and the waste factor. Every job has a waste factor. Slabs come in all different sizes so square foot costs can be deceiving. The waste factor may be higher on a less expensive per-square-foot material than it is on a more expensive material. On an average, the material cost ranges from 15-25% of the overall cost of the project. A similar analogy is comparing the cost of cabinetry. You may know that one type of wood is more expensive than another, but what you really want to know is the cost of the finished cabinet that has the details you prefer.

Do I have to buy the whole slab? What if I only need a small piece?
Yes, from us, you have to buy the whole slab. Because we are not a fabricator, we don’t have remnants. Make sure you check with your fabricator about what their policies are concerning half-slabs and remnants. Many have “boneyards” where they will store your leftover materials.

What makes one material more expensive than another?
There are many factors that drive the cost of each material: Materials that come from countries with extreme temperatures like parts of Norway, Newfoundland or Africa are more expensive because the quarries are only open certain times of the year; material that contains Labradorite, Lapis, or other semi-precious stones can also be more expensive. There are many other factors, but the cost of natural stone is directly affected by how much effort it takes to get the material to its final destination; transportation cost; and the value of the US dollar.

Slab Information, Types of Natural Stone, Quartz

Can I use marble on my countertops?
Yes! Marble, limestone, and travertine are calcium-based materials, which means they are acid reactive and will etch when exposed to common household products like lemon juice, vinegar, and wine in the kitchen, or shampoo, hair dyes, and skin care products in the bathroom. They can absolutely still be used, and many homeowners love the fact that these materials will change over time, even with proper care. However, you should think carefully before choosing one of these materials about whether you want to live with both the maintenance and patina.

Do you carry quartz?
Yes. We are the regional distributor for LG Viatera Hausys. You can browse the available quartz colorways here.

What’s the difference between granite and quartz?
Granite is a naturally occurring stone. It’s dense, durable, and non-reactive to acids or heat, and is therefore a popular choice for homeowners who want a low-maintenance countertop. Granite still requires sealing, but far less frequently than marble or limestone. Quartz, on the other hand, is a manmade material, made of resin and crushed up stone. You can’t seal quartz, and must be careful not to place hot pans directly onto a quartz slab’s surface. 

Can I cut directly on my granite countertops?
Because granite is so hard and dense, cutting directly on your granite countertop won’t harm the stone, but it will eventually dull your kitchen knives. Take caution for your knives’ sake. The same is true for quartzite countertops. 

What is quartzite? Is it the same as quartz?
Quartzite is a natural stone. It’s denser than granite, and has a similar durability. Quartzite is not the same as quartz, which is a manmade material. 

Do you have porcelain slabs?
Yes. This is a new product to our region, and we are excited to start seeing porcelain slabs used more frequently. You can browse the available colorways here

Do you have coordinating tile to match your porcelain slabs?
Unfortunately, no. We carry Calacata porcelain and Statuary porcelain tile, but because they come from a different vendor than where we source our porcelain slabs, we can’t guarantee that they will match perfectly.

My fabricator told me I need book matched slabs. What does this mean?
A block of material is put on a large saw at the factory and cut into slabs (similar to a loaf of bread being cut into slices). Slabs are cut and numbered in a systematic order (1,2,3, 4…etc.). Book matched means that the first slab in a block is polished on one side, and the slab right next to that slab is polished on the back side. If these slabs are laid out end-to-end, the pattern continues from one slab to the next with no break in the pattern. It’s important if you’re choosing material that has movement to choose slabs that are next to each other in the block. This will enable your fabricator to match color tones, veins, and characteristics of your material.

Can I hand-select my slabs?
Yes, we highly recommend hand selection, particularly with movement materials. A fabricator can put material on hold on your behalf, but we strongly encourage you to come in to view the material and select the slab(s) personally. Please note: We only move slabs during the week. On Saturdays, you are more than welcome to browse the visible slabs, but we recommend visiting Monday – Friday to hand-select. 

In natural stone, what are the different finishes I’ll find?
The most popular finishes for slabs are polished (which creates a shiny, smooth surface), honed (matte and smooth), and antiqued (also known as “brushed” or “satin,” in some places, this just means the stone will have a “leather-like” texture). In tile, you’ll also find tumbled finishes (a very rustic look with rough edges and corners). Less frequently, you might also see sandblasted, flamed, and chiseled finishes. 

Is honed stone less durable than polished?
A stone’s finish is only topical, meaning that the durability of the stone itself isn’t impacted by the finish. However, honing opens up the pores of the material, so maintaining the stone with a penetrating sealer is critical. 

What are the differences between 3cm (1 ¼”) and 2cm (¾”) slabs?
There is no difference in the durability of one thickness over the other. The choice of thickness is personal/fabricator preference. The cost of the 2cm material is less, but the labor is more because the most preferred edge details require a laminated edge. The cost for 3cm material is more, but the cost for labor is less because a laminated edge isn’t necessary to achieve the typically desired look. Usually, the cost between the two thicknesses FINISHED, is comparable.

How big is a slab? How much can a slab weigh?
In natural stone, there is no “typical” slab size. However, generally speaking, hard stones like granite and quartzite will be larger than soft materials like marble or limestone. Weight depends on thickness. At 13 pounds per square foot, the average 2cm slab weighs 600-700 pounds. At 20 pounds per square foot, the average 3cm slab weighs 1000-1200 pounds.

How are slabs cut?
Huge blocks of stone are excavated from the earth and hauled to manufacturing locations, where they are cut by a series of large saws. They are then finished and shipped to us by boat.

Why is there a glue-like residue on the edges of marble and granite slabs?
A coat of epoxy resin is either rolled on by hand or applied by high tech machinery, then heated to harden. The slabs are then sent through a series of diamond and synthetic abrasive lines that remove 99% of the resin, leaving a highly polished product virtually free of defects. This enables consumers to have colors of stone not available in years past, as well as a product unmatched by man-made solid surface products. 

Where do you source your material?
Our natural stone slabs come from all over the world, but much of our stock originates in Italy, Brazil, and India. 

What if I see a slab on your website that I like, but it isn’t in stock? How long does it take for new material to come in?
It depends on what part of the ordering process we’re in, and where the material originates. We’re constantly sourcing material, so there’s a chance what you like is already incoming (check here to see which natural stone slabs are on the way). Typically, it can take anywhere from 45-120 days for us to import a new container.

Maintenance

How do I clean my countertops?
In most cases, mild soap and water are fine for day-to-day cleanings. If you have selected an acid-sensitive material like marble for your counter, make sure your cleaner of choice is PH neutral. In our sundries department, we carry cleaners specifically geared toward natural stone, as well as products like sealers for regular maintenance. 

How often should my stone be resealed?
Depending on the brand of sealer you use and whether your stone is on an interior or exterior surface, your stone should be re-sealed anywhere from every six months to every five years. If your stone isn’t beading water, or if you can see that water is absorbing and making the stone darker, you need to re-seal the stone. Intrepid carries StoneTech™ Professional sealers and cleaners. StoneTech™ suggests re-sealing stone every three to five years for interior use, and every one to three years for exterior use (or in a shower where there is constant exposure to water).

Tile

Do you stock any tile?
Yes! We have dozens of natural stone, porcelain, and ceramic tile lines in stock in our Portland, OR warehouse. You are welcome to take our concept boards into the warehouse to see how they coordinate with a slab you’ve chosen. 

How long does it take to special order tile?
It depends on the tile. The vast majority of our tiles can arrive in 7-10 business days, but several of our vendors offer made-to-order selections. In that case, ask a member of our staff to take you through the particulars of your order. 

Where can I use travertine?
Travertine, like marble, is susceptible to acid etching so it might not be the best choice for a kitchen countertop. It’s a durable flooring material that doesn’t show a wear pattern like polished stone, and it’s a popular choice for all surfaces in a bathroom. Exterior applications of travertine can be questionable depending on your climate. As with any other stone, it must be sealed periodically.

Where can I use slate?
Slate can be used anywhere because of its textured finish. However, countertops can present a challenge because of the material’s uneven surface. Slate is a popular flooring material because it offers slip resistance. Some slates are dense enough to be used for exterior applications, even in climates with extreme temperature variations.

What does “gauged” mean?
Gauged means the back of the tiles (usually slate) have been ground down so there is less variation in thickness (usually +/- 1/16 of an inch). All of our slate is gauged.

Can I use honed slate for a floor?
Honed slate can be used for a flooring material, but it’s not recommended for high-traffic areas, because it scratches easily. It’s more appropriate for vertical surfaces. 

Can I hand select my natural stone tiles?
No. Every piece is unique and adds to the overall beauty of each color selection.  If you are trying to control the color within a selection of stone, we recommend that you order more than what you need and don’t use the pieces you don’t like. It’s also helpful to have a few extra pieces left over at the end of your project so that you have material to pull from in the future, to meet potential repair needs.