Archive | March, 2016

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Much Ado About the Kitchen Sink

Posted on 29 March 2016 by cradmin

A couple of weeks ago, we published an article about a universal design for kitchen sink workstations developed with Ken Kelly using a sink from BLANCO, and I realized we have yet to provide an overview of the latest and greatest options for kitchen sinks. Not so long ago, the choices for sinks were slim, and nearly everyone was satisfied with porcelain, enameled iron or stainless steel drop-ins/top-mounts. Although the above styles still remain both common and  popular, several new types and models of kitchen sinks have entered the market and are making decisions tough for consumers and commercial building owners.

As our industry survey revealed last year, countertop fabricators hold a great deal of sway over their clients, so by understanding all of the options, you can stock kitchen sinks that both meet the needs of your clients and provides a solid profit margin for your business.

Stainless Steel

Wave_coverflow_371_259_Image2Stainless steel is still considered the mainstay of the modern kitchen sink. These sinks are affordable, and although they can scratch and thinner ones are more prone to  being dented, they do so without damaging their functional integrity. Stainless is also very versatile and can complement a wide range of décor and interior styles.

Just last year, MR Direct debuted a new series of budget stainless-steel sinks that are fully insulated, and Kohler introduced the Undertone Preserve series of stainless-steel sinks that have a special, scratch-resistant barrier. Other brands and series of stainless-steel sinks to watch for include the following:

  • Lottare – Stainless Farmhouse
  • Moen – 1800 Series with SoundSHIELD
  • Franke – Grande Series
  • Artisan Manufacturing Corp. – Frigidaire Collaboration Collection
  • Elkay – Slim Rim Sinks
  • Oliveri – 1100 Series
  • Ukinox – Micro Series

Enameled Cast Iron

Enameled cast iron was once the standard for kitchen sinks, and they’ve got a lot to say for them, namely durability. A well-made sink of this type could well last more than 100 years. At worst, it will need to be re-enameled, which is also this type of sink’s primary flaw.

Once the enamel chips, it is never quite the same again. Repairs may last a few years but will need to be repeated. The porcelain enamel, however, provides an appealing finish and is easy to clean. Because of their weight, cast-iron sinks are usually self-rimming, and these are simple to install. Undermount cast iron will likely require reinforced support. A few of the top manufacturers of these sinks include Kohler, Clarion, Song and American Standard. For a less expensive alternative, you may also want to explore enameled stainless steel.

Quartz/Granite Composite

Schock_lg(2)Quartz composite, also called Granite composite, is a relatively new material that is taking the kitchen-sink market by storm. Although every manufacturer has its proprietary formula, most are about 80 percent quartz/granite and 20 percent acrylic resin. It is compact, versatile and durable, being resistant to heat, chipping, etching and scratching.

The finish of these composites are typically slightly textured, and it is said to have the look and feel of natural matte stone, which may also work out to be a disadvantage because it cannot be polished smooth. Another disadvantage is that like many other types of sinks, some may eventually stain from water with high mineral concentrations, and the finish may dull over time.

A few of the latest options to watch for are the Granitali Collection from LOTTARE, BLANCO SILGRANIT sinks and Schock CRISTADUR. More recently, Domain Industries has unveiled its Lexicon Platinum Series quartz sinks.

Farmhouse Sinks

Fireclay_Image3One popular style of kitchen sinks that has come back into the spotlight like a blast from the past is the farmhouse sink with apron front. These large, deep, tub-like sinks originated in England more than 400 years ago. They were designed to hold large amounts of water, which often had to be hauled from miles away.

Farmhouse sinks are often the focal point of a kitchen, so many clients like to make them special. Stainless steel and enameled cast iron are both materials that are common used for these sinks, but several new materials are now available, including fireclay, hammered metal, concrete composite and quartz/granite composite (as outlined above).

Fireclay – Fireclay is very similar to porcelain and it appears nearly identical to enameled cast iron. The material is made when clay is glazed and heated at about 1,600° F until the glaze fuses into the clay. This makes the material extremely hard and durable. Last year, BLANCO added new colors to its fireclay CERANA series, and the year before, Domain Industries introduced Crestwood Fireclay sinks. Rohl now offers two styles, one with a flat apron front and one with a rounded apron front.

Hammered Metal – Hammered copper and bronze are also popular materials for farmhouse CPS291-Paragon-Copper-Apron-Front-Kitchen-Sink-vsinks that are durable and eye-catching. These sinks are also beloved because each one is unique. Houzer Hammerwerks copper sinks are one example, and Native Trails also creates a fine line of copper farmhouse sinks.

Concrete Composite – Native Trails has also pioneered a new material that is garnering some attention called concrete composite and branded as NativeStone. This material combines natural jute fibers with concrete for strength and sustainability.

Integral Kitchen Sinks

The last category we are looking at is integral kitchen sinks typically made out of the same material as the countertop, but not always. By strict definition, integral sinks are fabricated from a single piece so that there are no seams between the sink and the countertop, but we are including those with seams because truly integral sinks are rare.

A true integral sink can be fabricated from solid surface, and most of the large solid-surface suppliers have at least a couple line of sinks separate from their countertops, including DuPont Corian, LG  HI-MACS and many others. These sinks are lauded by those who purchase them because they are attractive, require little maintenance and are easy to clean. Another option is downloadgraphite-fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC), which can be created onsite or offsite and cast to be part of the countertops.

Other integral sink options include natural stone and quartz. When it comes to natural stone, the top choices are marble and soapstone, but because these materials are both so soft, they are best suited for kitchens where appearance is more important than functionality.

However, a discussion of integral sinks would not be complete if it did not include Karran, who pioneered the process of seamless undermounting of sinks made of various materials to  countertops made of completely different materials. Karran’s Edge series of sinks can be undermounted to solid surface, laminate, engineered stone and granite tops in a virtually seamless manner (as shown in this video depicting a seamless integration of a Karran quartz sink to a laminate countertop). Karran even won a coveted ISFA Innovator Award for this line Edge of sinks in 2012. Originally in acrylic and stainless steel, there is also the Quartz Series from Karran, which has been on the market now for about two years. And of course, like any great idea, there are now other companies that are on the bandwagon trying to offer this same “edgeless” quality in combining sinks and countertops of different materials.

Upsell Jobs, Hike Profit Margins

The world of kitchen sinks has greatly expanded in recent years, and more end users have taken an interest in having specific types of sinks in their kitchens. As a fabricator, it is possible to use your knowledge of the latest trends in this niche to upsell clients and expand profit margins. After all, it is easier to sell a few bells and whistles to a client already in the bag, than sell a whole new client…

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Backlit Tile Kit Offers Glass Tile, Translucent Surface Backlighting System

Posted on 28 March 2016 by cradmin

Backlit tile kitBacklit Tile Kit provides a patented removable system to backlight glass tile or translucent surfaces. The kits can be used with virtually any tile and are designed for easy installation. They include multi-color LED lights that can form up to 16 million colors, and can be controlled via Bluetooth technology from a smartphone or tablet. Kits come in multiple sizes to fit different tiles. Available heights include 3, 4, 5, 6 and 12 in. Lengths are 5-, 10- or 15-ft., and can be easily cut to fit any installation, according to the company.

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OSHA Finalizes New Silica Rule Amid Concern

Posted on 25 March 2016 by cradmin

On March 24, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) finalized the revised federal rule for limiting the exposure of workers to crystalline silica, which is known to cause an array of medical conditions, including silicosis, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

OSHA believes the new rule will save more than 600 lives, prevent 900 cases of silicosis each year and provide a net annual savings of $7.7 billion. However, many individuals and organizations in the construction and building industries say putting more effort into enforcing the old rule would have gone further to protect the health of workers without increasing the cost of construction/renovation.

Provisions of the New Silica Standards

According to the OSHA Silica Web portal and the OSHA Fact Sheet Workers’ Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica: Final Rule Overview, the new rule is comprised of two separate standards: one for the construction industry and one for maritime and general industry. The four key provisions:

  1. The permissible exposure limit (PEL) for crystalline silica has been reduced from 250 micrograms per cubic meter to 50 micrograms per cubic meter in an eight-hour period.
  1. Employers are required to limit worker exposure to silica through engineering controls, personal protective equipment (PPE) and controlled access to areas with high concentrations. In addition, employers must develop a written exposure-control program, and train employees on the hazards of silica and how to limit exposure.
  1. Employers are required to monitor the health of workers with high exposure potential by providing regular medical examinations and information on lung health.
  1. The rule has some flexibility for OSHA to help employers, especially small businesses, comply with the rule and protect workers from silica exposure.

The new rule goes into effect on June 23 of this year (2016), but staggered schedules have been set with various industries to comply with the requirements.

  • Construction: One year – June 23, 2017
  • Maritime and General Industry: Two years – June 23, 2018
  • Hydraulic fracturing (fracking): Five years for engineering controls, two years for all other provisions

OSHA Defends New Rule

OSHA defends the new federal rule for silica exposure limits by stating that approximately 2.3 million workers in the United States are exposed to crystalline silica on the job and that the current PEL is more than 40 years old. According to OSHA, the old limit is based on research from the 1960s, and new evidence has emerged since that time to indicate the old limit does not adequately protect workers. In addition, the administration claims the technology to comply with the rule is readily available and affordable.

“We’ve known for over 40 years that it needed to be strengthened, and it has taken 40 years to strengthen it,” said Secretary of Labor Tom Perez. “Many people who are going to work right now and breathing unacceptable levels of silica dust are in for a brighter future. The science says we need to be at 50, so that’s what the final rule will say.”

“Silica is a killer, and employers need to take the necessary steps so that they can reduce exposure,” continued Perez. “And the good news is that those necessary steps are not going to break the bank. It’s real simple stuff. Get a vacuum. Get water. Those are the key elements of pretty simple compliance.”

Industries Respond

Several industry groups have opposed the new silica ruling since it was first proposed back in 2013, and the largest opponent is a partnership of 25 trade associations called the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC), which includes the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the Marble Institute of America (MIA) and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of the AGC, has expressed his dismay over the new rule speaking on behalf of his entire organization. “Instead of crafting new and innovative ways to get more firms to comply with the current silica standard, which we know would save even more workers each year, administration officials appear to have instead opted to set a new standard that is well beyond the capabilities of current air filtration and dust removal technologies,” stated Sandherr. “Wishing firms could meet this new but unattainable standard will undoubtedly deliver many positive headlines for the administration, but it will be all but impossible for most construction firms to comply with this new rule.”

“We will continue our exhaustive review of this new regulation, consult with our members and decide on a future course of action that will best serve the health and safety of millions of construction workers across the country,” Sandherr concluded.

The NAHB held back its resentment but echoed the sentiments of the AGC. “NAHB has long advocated the importance of the rule being both technologically and economically feasible,” said Ed Brady, chair of the NAHB. “While we’re still reviewing the final rule, we’re concerned that it may not adequately address these issues and take into consideration real-world application.”

Jeff Buczkiewicz, president of the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA), is also concerned about the feasibility of the new OSHA rule. “At first glance, we have observed that a number of provisions that concerned us in the proposed rule have been left in the final rule. This makes us continue to question the final rule’s technological and economic feasibility for the construction industry,” said Buczkiewicz. “In addition, OSHA has added several new provisions not in the proposed rule that we have not had a chance to thoroughly review and consider the impacts. Once we complete our review, we will be able to be more specific about what was released today.”

The exception to the negative response to the new rule among the industry comes from the trade unions. The North America Building Trades Union (NABTU) issued the following response: “North America’s Building Trades Union is pleased OSHA has issued the final silica standard. Put simply, the OSHA silica standard will protect construction workers from getting sick or dying due to silica dust exposure.”

The AFL-CIO is also onboard with the new rule. “We applaud the Obama administration for issuing these lifesaving measures and commend Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels for their tremendous leadership and dedication to bring the silica rules to completion,” read the official AFL-CIO statement. “The labor movement has fought for these standards for decades. We will continue to fight to defend these rules from the certain industry attacks that will come so that workers are finally protected from this deadly dust.”

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Avonite Studio Collection Sets the Bar in Aesthetics

Posted on 24 March 2016 by cradmin

Avonite Surfaces Studio CollectionMade from a proprietary resin blend, the Avonite Studio Collection has luminous 3-D characteristics with the properties of solid surface: it’s durable, can be thermoformed, is nonporous and is repairable. The five most recent colors added to the collection are Bluebell, Calcatta Stone, Celestial Pearl, Red Currant and Rosehip.

Inspired by precious metals, glass, and SCS-certified to contain up to 40 percent recycled material, the translucent polyester solid surface creates a depth of color and clarity. By integrating LED lighting with these products, their translucency produces an illuminating effect, and they are known for the beauty produced by backlighting. Custom color options are available and the material is NSF-certified. Sheets are 36 by 120 in. and 1/2-in.-thick.

You may also be interested in this article on the new colors of Meganite solid surface.

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MIA+BSI Announces Pinnacle Award Winners

Posted on 23 March 2016 by cradmin

MIA Pinnacle Award Winners

Jonathan Zanger (center) receives the Grande Pinnacle from GianPaola Pedretti (Veronafiere) and 2015 MIA President Dan Rea

The MIA+BSI recently announced its annual Pinnacle Awards. Taking the Grand Pinnacle Award was Walker Zanger of Perth Amboy, N.J., for its outstanding work on the Park Hyatt New York. Also honored at the event for their involvement in this project was the architectural firm Yabu Pushelberg.

The other Pinnacle Award winners are as follows.

Awards of Excellence

Residential Interior/Exterior
Walker Zanger
Perth Amboy, N.J.
Massachusetts Residence

Residential Interior/Exterior
United Marble Fabricators, Inc.
Watertown, Mass.
“Bar with a View”

Walker Zanger
Perth Amboy, N.J.
Fashion Tower New York
New York

Bath of the Year
Walker Zanger
Sun Valley, Calif.
2014 Pasadena Showcase House
Pasadena, Calif.

Kitchen of the Year
Tithof Tile & Marble
Northbrook, Ill.
Private Residence
Lake Forest, Ill.

Awards of Merit

Commercial Exterior
Dee Brown, Inc.
Garland, Texas
Houston Museum of Natural Science

Commercial Exterior
Dee Brown, Inc.
Garland, Texas
Tarrant County Civil Courthouse
Fort Worth, Texas

Commercial Exterior
Las Vegas Rock, Inc.
Jean, Nev.
Mitchell Park Library
Palo Alto, Calif.

Commercial Exterior
Eclad Limited
Dublin, Ireland
Eaton House

Commercial Exterior
PICCO Engineering
Concord, Ontario, Canada
United Nations Memorial, Ark of Return
New York

Commercial Interior
PICCO Engineering
Concord, Ontario, Canada
Canadian Museum of Human Rights
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Commercial Interior
Marmi Natural Stone
Norcross, Ga.
Alston & Bird Atlanta

Commercial Interior
Kenneth Castellucci & Associates, Inc.
Lincoln, R.I.
The New York Palace Hotel
New York

Commercial Interior
Grassi Pietre Srl
Nanto, VI, Italy
Zýmē Winery
Cariano, Italy

Rugo Stone, LLC
Lorton, Va.
Cosmos Club Historic Fireplace Renovation
Washington, D.C.

W.R. Weis Company, Inc.
John Hancock Lobby Renovation

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StoneTalk Episode 20: Terrance Jacobs

Posted on 22 March 2016 by cradmin

Listen to Episode 20 of Moraware’s StoneTalk podcast right here. In this episode, host Patrick Foley speaks with Terrance Jacobs of TCL Asset Group. The two discuss last year’s auction of Breton equipment and much more:

  • Reasons for having your equipment and machinery appraised
  • Differentiating between an asset audit and business valuation
  • How to spot red flags before buying machinery

A full transcript of this episode can be viewed at the Moraware website: Episode 20 – Terrance Jacobs.

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Domain Unveils the Lexicon Platinum Quartz Sink Series

Posted on 21 March 2016 by cradmin

sinkDomain Industries unveiled its new line of Lexicon Platinum Quartz Sinks. With deep non-porous sink bowls, the quartz sinks are durable, easy-to-clean, scratch- and stain-resistant and resistant to chipping. The series is available in five colors and 10 formats to compliment kitchen styles from contemporary to traditional. The sinks are available in both double-bowl configurations and small, medium and large single basin styles.

All Lexicon Platinum Series sinks come with a custom-designed stainless steel sink grid that fits the unique shape of each sink and can be used for drying plates, glassware and utensils. Also included are color matched strainer baskets and disposal flanges that compliment each  sink.

You may also be interested in this article on fabricating and the kitchen sink for universal design.

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Cosentino Launches New Dekton Compact Sintered Surface Products

Posted on 18 March 2016 by cradmin

Dekton Blaze XGLOSS kitchenCosentino launched 10 new colors in its Dekton Ultra Compact Sintered Surface line, including four in a new ‘XGLOSS’ Series. This new series uses a nano-coating process to create a high, mirror-like reflectivity, reports the company. The XGLOSS colors are Blaze (pictured here), which has a gray mirrored look; Halo, a crystalline shiny white; Lumina, a highly reflective taupe; and Splendor, a subtle glossy gray. The six other Dekton colors, not in the XGLOSS Series, are In other series were Aldem, which has a grey, weathered oak look; Bento, a neutral with graining variation; Blanc White, with a white concrete look; Gada, a cream-colored limestone-like pattern; Sarev, a more dramatic limestone-like color with veining and color variation; and Valterra, which has a hardwood maple look. All Dekton colors are very durable and resistant to stains and temperature shock. The are also UV-stable, making them suitable for both interior and exterior applications.

You may also be interested in this article on Neolith Compact Sintered Surfaces.

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M S International Releases Annual Product Brochure

Posted on 17 March 2016 by cradmin

2016-02-MSIStone and quartz surfacing distributor M S International, Inc. has released its annual product brochure. The 2016 General Brochure contains design tips and information on new products. The brochure also has high-quality photography designed to inspire customers regarding their upcoming projects.

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Fabricating and the Kitchen Sink for Universal Design

Posted on 16 March 2016 by CRadmin2

The BLANCO sink is recessed for easy roll-up use for a wheelchair bound client.

The BLANCO sink is recessed for easy roll-up use for a wheelchair bound client.

Recently, Kitchen Designs by Ken Kelly, Inc. of Williston Park, N.Y., created a kitchen featuring universal design (for wheelchair accessibility) for a New York client on Long Island. The space allowed the client freedom of movement in a wheelchair from the kitchen to the media room and wet bar.

According to Ken Kelly, CKD, CBD, CR, lead designer and owner of Kitchen Designs, fabricators who are working on an accessible kitchen design should pay close attention to the sink workstation area.

“If the person uses a mobility aid, such as a wheelchair, the sink workstation should be shallow enough in order to allow legroom and arm reach,” states Kelly. “The fabrication must conform to local building codes, and countertop supports should have a slim profile not to interfere with movement of the knees, hands or fingers. The countertop work area may have to be lowered, and it has to be easily accessible with ample turning room. Consider reach range and visual range dimensions so the kitchen is maximized for independence with all obstacles and hazards removed.”

When designing a kitchen for accessibility, a deep understanding of the client’s needs is imperative. The clean design of the newly remodeled space removes all obstacles by providing easy access to sinks, cabinets, counters and appliances, allowing enough turning room for a fluid transition to adjoining areas, which includes the media room, dining area and beverage bar.

Gropper-01-copyThe design created by Kitchen Designs is perfect for socializing and watching TV while preparing meals on expansive antique brown granite counters. The single oven is set at the most comfortable height to safely reach into, and the countertops were lowered, making it easier to reach the cooktop. The cooking area is fully open with ample knee space, allowing the client to wheel up to the island and under the unit.

The recessed BLANCO sink workstation offers easy access and is purposefully shallow in order to allow better legroom and arm reach. All pipes under the sink are covered, and an under-counter, single-drawer dishwasher and microwave are accessible.

Two high-tech, motorized wall cabinets can be lowered to countertop height, so the client can easily reach into the cabinets.

The custom cabinetry is Brookhaven by Wood-Mode in a textured laminate with brushed stainless handles. The snack-and-beverage bar is standard height and includes a full-sized dishwasher for extra cleanup space when entertaining. To accommodate the lower tops, Kelly used a single drawer dishwasher.

Options for accessible living are limitless, and everything about this kitchen is maximized for independence, convenience and functionality.

Article and images provided by Grace Kelly of Kitchen Designs by Ken Kelly, Inc., Williston Park, N.Y.

You may also be interested in this article on how to organize a kitchen.

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