Three Birds Renovations project

Q. Do you charge for bench tops by the square metre?
A. No, there are many factors to be considered when pricing a bench top. Our estimator requires a sketch/plan of your bench top, so that he can see how he can get the pieces required from the stone slabs (like a jigsaw puzzle), taking into account the sizes of the slabs of the stone you've chosen (they vary), to avoid unnecessarily using more slabs than needed and hence reducing the cost to you. He also has to consider which edges are exposed (to be polished), which style of edging you'd like, where the cut-outs are located (for sinks, taps, cook-tops etc), to ensure ideal placement of joins.

Q. Can I have your company do the supply and fabrication and I do the installation myself?
A. Yes, in fact we encourage this in order to save you some dollars.  Just be aware that we would be relying on your precise measurements to base our cutting and polishing on.

Q. Are cut-outs for sink and cook-top included in your price?
A. Yes, unless the sink is an "under-mount" style, which would require additional work of polishing the inner rim of the stone, and gluing the sink onto the bench here at the factory. All other cut-outs are already included.

Q. Is Caesarstone a type of stone?
A. No, Caesarstone is one of many brands of quartz-based engineered stone. We deal with many suppliers, only the established reputable suppliers, so you are free to choose from many brands and colours.

Q. Can I use natural marble on my kitchen bench top?
A. Yes, but we advise against it, unless you’re able to prevent any  spillages from occurring on your bench top. Natural marble is very  high-maintenance, requires regular sealing, and is very soft and porous.  This means it will absorb anything that you spill on it, and the surface is prone to being easily scratched. For these reasons, we recommend reserving natural marble for less stain-prone areas like bathroom vanity tops, table tops, or fireplace areas.

Q. What’s the next step if I like the quote you provided and I want to go ahead with the job?
A. The next step is a deposit and an on-site check-measure. We can  usually do the check-measure as soon as your cabinetry is in, and we can order your stone and commence cutting once a deposit has been paid. From that point, you can expect your bench top to be installed within 7 days (subject to time of year, workload, etc).

Q. Can you do a 40mm “Mitred” edge?
A. Yes, but we prefer a butt-join method over a mitre-join method,  where possible. Because the stone in a mitre-join is cut at an angle,  making it weak, and susceptible to chipping. What’s more critical is  that a mitre-join doesn’t allow for movement, which means when/if your cabinetry moves slightly, you risk the entire bench top cracking,  whereas a butt-join gives some flexibility for minor movement.

Q. What skills do you have that your competitors don’t?
A. Our Managing Director is the only Stonemason in Australia to hold a Degree in Geology (the study of stone and rock). Furthermore, he has over 30 years of industry experience. His knowledge in every stone’s composition and properties has made him an expert in his field, so much so that he has been invited to advise on projects and give insight as to how a particular stone will behave under certain conditions. Our MD is also highly committed to ensuring customer satisfaction, and has built the company’s reputation on this.

Q. For which projects would you recommend natural stone over engineered stone?
A. Scenarios where we would recommend natural stone (marble, granite, etc) over engineered stone would be where the bench top is exposed to the elements (e.g. sunlight) or direct heat. An example of this would be outdoor BBQ bench tops, or stone around fireplaces. Natural stone is more tolerant to high temperatures and sunlight than engineered stone. In almost all other scenarios, particularly for durability and low maintenance, we recommend engineered stone over natural stone.

Q. Can the vein in my stone continue from my bench top up through my splashback?
A. Yes, this is called “bookmatching”, and it separates the amateur stonemasons from the experienced ones. Whenever we have a veined stone, we ensure the stone is cut in a way that allows us to seamlessly connect the veins from the bench top to the splashback, or from the bench top  to the waterfalls going down the sides. Note that this is not always  possible, depending on the manufacturer, but possible with 99% of stone brands.

Q. A piece of my old stone bench top broke, can you replace the piece with the exact same stone?
A. Possibly, more likely with engineered stone rather than natural stone. It also depends on which brand/colour, how long ago it was installed (batch shades vary over time even from the same manufacturer), whether it is still available from the manufacturer, and whether the location of the crack allows for replacement. Our advantage is that we’ve been in the industry so long that we may have old stock that could come in handy for such situations.

Q. Can I see actual slabs of the stone I like?
A. Yes, we are one of few stonemasons that actually have a lot of stock on hand in our warehouse, from a variety of brands, for our customers to view. Sometimes it’s difficult to decide based on a small sample, so we try to keep whole slabs for customers to view.

Q. What precautions should I take when using my engineered stone bench top?
A. Although engineered stone is superior to natural stone in almost  every way, such as durability, strength, stain-resistance, hardness, care must be taken to avoid placing large extremely hot objects directly on the stone. A hot cup of tea, for example, is not a problem, but a large hot baking dish straight out of the oven may be a problem. So it’s best to place something underneath large hot pots or pans.

Q. Do you recommend one brand of engineered stone over the others?
A. No, all the brands we deal with are tried and trusted, highly  reputable in the market, and meet all Australian standards. Engineered  stone is comprised of the same basic ingredients, so the stone  properties don’t vary much from brand to brand. As long as you are  dealing with a reputable supplier and stonemason, you have nothing to worry about. Each brand comes with its own product warranty, in addition to the warranty we give on our workmanship.

Q. Do you service all of NSW?
A. Yes, we can supply and install throughout all of NSW. Our  installation prices apply to the Sydney Metro area, but we can adjust it for farther destinations.

Q. Do I need to worry about the Silica health risks discussed in the media?
A. No, these risks do not apply to the final installed product (e.g. your bench top), as the risk is from the powder form of the stone that flies around when the stone is dry-cut, which can then be inhaled. At our factory, we only use wet-cutting machines, which means the stone is  being flooded with water while it is being cut, eliminating the  dust/powder. Despite this, we still wear protective equipment when  cutting stone, as an added safety measure.

Q. What size do stone slabs come in?
A. This varies greatly. Natural stone doesn’t have a set size or range, it differs from slab to slab. Engineered stone varies depending on brand and product, some manufacturers have jumbo sized slabs for some of  their products, some don’t, but sizes are usually between  3000x1400mm-3300x1600mm. Almost all slabs are 20mm in thickness.

Q. What can cause my stone bench top to crack?
A. The biggest cause of stone bench tops cracking is movement in the cabinetry beneath the stone, or in the actual flooring beneath it.  Houses, particularly newly built ones, have a tendency to experience  some floor movement. Normally, minor movement is not a problem, as it can be absorbed by the join points, but stronger movements can affect your cabinetry and consequently your bench top. Having a mitred join on your bench top can increase the likelihood of cracking under these  circumstances. More often than not, the joins in the stone will shift  instead of the stone itself cracking, which is a much easier fix. Less common causes are blunt force with a heavy object, or placing very  large very hot items directly on your bench top can also cause it to  crack.

Q. Does engineered stone require sealing?
A. No, unless you plan on exposing the engineered stone to acidic or staining substances regularly, then no it does not require sealing. The surface of engineered stone is extremely strong and durable, and fairly stain-resistant. Care should still be taken not to leave acidic, highly pigmented, or oily liquids soaking on the stone for long periods of  time.