The big day has finally arrived!
You’ve stressed and toiled and made your decision, then changed your mind, then changed it again regarding the color and type of granite you want for your kitchen countertops.
And now your contractor has pulled in the driveway and is ready to start cutting that slab!
Everything’s good to go, right?
Well, not so fast!
Though granite is a popular product in kitchen and bath remodels–sleek and beautiful, granite countertops add a special touch to any home–cutting granite is a complicated process that is far beyond the capability your average DIYer, so homeowners turn to qualified subcontractors even for the simplest of granite upgrades.
Still no problem, right?
Hold on, we’re getting there!
Your granite fabricator may promise you that he can save you money by dry cutting the stone at your home.
What he won’t tell you is that dry cutting is a dangerous practice with serious health risks, or worse, he won’t inform you at all that you and your neighbors are being exposed.
Dry Cutting and Grinding Granite is Messy Business
Contractors who dry cut granite on-site will typically set up their equipment in your yard, driveway, or garage. Using a variety of circular saws, the contractor makes cuts in the stone to accommodate sinks, faucets, and ensures that the final product is the right size for your countertop space.
But here’s the rub: as the fabricator cuts the granite stone slab, a cloud of stone dust results, spreading throughout your neighborhood and coating everything in its path.
So, what’s the problem?
Though the practice of cutting and finishing granite into countertops appears safe and harmless, the truth is, the process poses a dangerous hazard in the form of silica dust. Silica dust, formally known as crystalline silica dust, can be found everywhere in our environment. You’ll find it in soil, sand, dust, as well as in quartz and granite rock. You’ll even find it on unwashed root vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots.
Here’s how it happens: you breathe the silica dust, which becomes trapped and lodged in your lungs. This eventually damages the lung tissue. As a result, the lung tissue scars, forming rounded masses called nodules. Over a period of time, these nodules will grow, making breathing difficult. (Source: www.orosha.org).
And the truth is, the inhalation of crystalline silica dust is associated with health problems, including silicosis, ,lung cancer, and COPD.
Symptoms of silicosis include:
- shortness of breath
- severe cough
- general weakness
These symptoms may develop any time after exposure to silica. If you allow your contractor to fabricate an entire kitchen’s worth of granite by dry cutting the stone on site, you and your family will not be able to avoid the resulting silica dust. Even though you may see the fabricator wearing masks and safety glasses, the fine airborne dust will cover his clothing and skin.
Eventually the fabricator will remove his mask and will be exposed to the toxins. On top of that, a large quantity of the airborne silica dust will settle in your neighborhood, home, and garage, potentially exposing you and your neighbors to this hazard. This will be virtually impossible to completely remove for years to come and will cause prolonged exposure.
So, why do contractors take such risks with your health and theirs? In a nutshell: to save money. Contractors who cut the stone products on-site probably do not pay for a shop that is adequate for this labor intensive, highly skilled work. They may not even be paying for the state required insurance or worker’s comp.
So, what’s a remodeler to do?
Granite Fabrication Done Right
So, should you forget that new granite countertop?
No. But, there are some things you can do to ensure your safety.
The simplest precaution to take is to have the fabrication done off-site. Granite fabrication should be done off-site in a shop setting with adequate ventilation.That way you and your neighbors will not be exposed to the silica dust.
More importantly, you should choose a contractor that uses a wet saw in order to cut the stone. Using a specially designed wet blade greatly reduces the amount of silica that is released into the air, which protects the health of the fabricators. A contractor who uses this method not only is taking special precautions to protect the health of his workers, but also is protecting that of your family’s as well.
It also is a good idea for your fabricator to use a wet vacuum, or hose the slab down when the cutting is complete, rather than blowing it with compressed air or dry-sweeping it. (Source: www.orosha.org).
In short, don’t stress! There are really only two things to keep in mind:
- Require your fabricator to do all cutting off-site, and
- Make sure your fabricator uses a wet vacuum, or has hosed the slab down before delivery.
That’s it! These two precautions will guarantee a worry-free installation of your granite countertop.
At EZ Marble and Tile, we have a specially designed shop dedicated to granite fabrication. While a few minor on-site changes may be necessary, we do most of our fabrication in our own shop with a wet saw, ensuring that your countertops arrive at your home ready for installation.
If you are thinking of remodeling and upgrading to a beautiful granite product, contact us for a quote today!