Blog Posts from Northstar Granite Tops

5 Reasons to Choose Natural Stone Fireplace Surrounds

| | Granite

A fireplace is often the focal point of whichever room it is in. From decorations on the mantle to the calming effect of flames crackling below, there are plenty of reasons that people’s eyes will naturally drift there. However, a fireplace without the proper surround can be something that may not draw as much awe. If you are in need of fireplace surrounds in St. Paul, Northstar Granite Tops is here with five reasons to choose natural stone!

Visually Appealing

Natural stone is elegant and timeless. Marble and granite patterns and colors are unique to each slab, making natural stone the perfect attention grabber in your home. With different natural stones to choose from, you will be able to find a fireplace surround that perfectly fits your desired aesthetic for your space.

fireplace surrounds St Paul


Natural stone fireplace surrounds can comfortably absorb the heat released by your fireplace without risk of damage. Natural stone boasts a heat resistance that makes it perfect for fireplace surrounds. Additionally, natural stone is hard to scratch or chip, meaning that a natural stone fireplace surround will likely last you for decades to come.

Low Maintenance

Cleaning and maintaining natural stone fireplace surrounds are simple tasks. Simply dust and polish on occasion and your fireplace surround should remain in great condition. In the case of stains, minor ones can typically be treated by wiping them away with a damp cloth (however, it is always best to confirm with the fabricator how to best clean that type of natural stone). For larger stains, hiring a professional stone cleaning service is the best course of action.

Increase Home’s Value

Both real estate agents and architects agree on the increased value caused by the incorporation of natural stone into your home. Natural stone fireplace surrounds are a great return on investment if you ever decide to sell your home. Plus, due to the durability of natural stone, it is a one-time investment as it will last your lifetime.


As natural stone is natural and quarried from the Earth, it provides a lower carbon footprint than its manufactured counterparts. Plus, natural stone fireplace surrounds can be recycled and repurposed, meaning that less waste will be created overtime through its use.

Are you decided that natural stone is the best way to go for fireplace surrounds in St. Paul and the surrounding Twin Cities area? Northstar Granite Tops can help answer any additional questions or suggest design choices to match your aesthetic. Call us at 320-963-8677 or request a free quote!

Six Types of Natural Stone Countertops

| | Kitchen Countertops

When you start on your next home renovation project, choosing a counter can often be overlooked while planning out all the other intricate details of your new space. Many may avoid natural stone due to concerns of cost or functionality, when in reality natural stone countertops in Bloomington are a great addition to any project!

Learn more about the six types of natural stone countertops offered here at Northstar Granite Tops.

1. Granite

Granite is a very popular choice for kitchens due to its durability. It also boasts heat and shock resistance, making it ever more durable in such a highly trafficked area of your home. Each slab of granite is unique and elegant, and they only require simple maintenance and cleaning.

However, granite is a porous material, meaning that you have to watch out for materials that may stain. Clean up spills quickly to avoid leaving a permanent mark on your granite countertops. Luckily, this can also be managed by regularly applying a protective treatment to prevent stains from seeping in.

2. Marble

natural stone countertops Bloomington

Marble is one of the most common favorites in the world of natural stone countertops. With its slabs boasting warmth and timeless elegance, they are a fan favorite for many. Marble is also very durable, making it a great stone choice for counters.

However, marble is porous just as granite was. Marble is more susceptible to acidic liquids, like lemon juice or vinegar, so it is recommended to clean your counters quickly after using such ingredients to prevent long-term damage.

3. Soapstone

Soapstone counters boast a softness and smoothness unattainable by other natural stones due to the high percentage of talc in soapstone. Luckily, the percentage of talc in each slab can vary, leaving those with less talc and more hardness as perfect options for kitchen counters where durability is key!

However, it is still not recommended to cut things directly on a soapstone counter as they are the softest of those in this list. Additionally, the color palette is not as exciting as other natural stones, as the choices range from gray to black.

4. Limestone

Limestone counters are reasonably priced and easy to maintain. They range in color from beige to tan-brown, creating warmth in whatever room you choose.

However, when used for kitchen countertops, be wary of acidic solutions. If anything acidic is spilled on your limestone, it is important to clean it up with the proper cleaner quickly.

5. Travertine

Travertine counters boast rustic and rough aesthetics, but physically are like marble. Travertine, just like marble, is from the limestone family, but instead they form in thermal and limestone caves – leaving them with more earth tones in their coloration.

Compared to marble, travertine is more economical and requires less attention to maintain.

6. Onyx

Onyx is especially unique as it comes from stalactite deposits in limestone caves. As the water evaporates, it leaves calcium carbonate behind – creating streaks of colors, swirls and the unique patterns only seen in onyx.

While onyx is durable, it is also brittle, making it one of the least hardy natural stones. Onyx countertops need to be sealed every one to three years to maintain their durability. The exact time between treatments depends on factors such as the color of the stone and how often they are cleaned.

Have you decided which natural stone countertops you want for your next Bloomington home renovation project? Northstar Granite Tops can help answer any additional questions or suggest design choices to match your aesthetic. Call us at 320-963-8677 or request a free quote!

6 Design Ideas for Quartz Kitchen Countertops

| | Kitchen Countertops, Quartz

When choosing to update your kitchen, deciding that it needs to be done is typically the easiest part. After that you have to decide on new appliances, color schemes, who to hire, what types of cabinets, countertops and more! That’s why we’ve taken the time to put together a list of design ideas with one of our favorite materials for kitchen countertops: quartz.

Quartz kitchen countertops have plenty of benefits, most of which make it a great material for bathrooms or other rooms as well! Here at Northstar Granite Tops, we provide plenty of options for your new quartz kitchen countertops in Minneapolis!

quartz kitchen countertops Minneapolis

1. Large Island

If you have a lot of unused space in your kitchen, consider adding a large island! Whether it is used for food prep, mealtime or as a makeshift work desk – a large counter can make a large, industrial feeling kitchen feel intimate and more functional. You can choose to match the color of the island to the rest of your countertops or mix it up and bring in another texture or color!

2. Pop of Color

White quartz can look great up against a beautiful, deep blue – or any other rich color! If you think you may want to change the feel of your kitchen over the years, a white quartz countertop can allow you to repaint cupboards, install new flooring, or purchase new appliances – all while keeping your beautifully elegant quartz kitchen countertops.

tranquility HanStone quartz Minneapolis
quartz countertops Minneapolis

3. Dark Counters, Light Cupboards

Alternatively, you could opt for a darker neutral to give your counters more depth. Pairing darker counters with lighter neutrals in your cupboards and floors can really lighten up a space and make your kitchen feel bigger! Neutrals can also provide a timeless elegance, that can be updated with simple decorations no matter the season.

4. Mostly Monochromatic

You could even choose to have your countertops and your cupboards match – this mostly white kitchen has a welcoming feel that is sure to have family and friends ready to sit at the island for a cup of tea or coffee while they stop in for a chat! With a few other neutrals tossed in, your kitchen can utilize natural flowers or fruits for an ever-changing pop of color!

Minneapolis Montauk HanStone quartz
granite and quartz countertops Minneapolis

5. Mix of Stones

If you can’t decide between two stone options for your countertops – don’t! You can switch it up and add more dimension to your kitchen by including multiple stone choices for your counters. For example, you could use granite for your main counters and quartz for your island to pull the whole room together! Your options are endless when you choose to switch things up.

6. All Neutrals

Finally, you can create a cozy and welcoming kitchen with simply all neutrals. Blacks, whites, grays and browns can be mixed and matched together to create an intimate space for cooking and creating memories.

Calacatta Laza quartz island

Ready to move forward with a design using quartz kitchen countertops in Minneapolis? Contact Northstar Granite Tops today to learn more about our quartz selection. Call us at 320-963-8677 or request a free quote!

7 Benefits of Quartz Bathroom Counters

| | Quartz

Are you looking to update your bathroom? When it’s time for a bathroom renovation, you can be overwhelmed with choices. From lights to sinks to new hardware – what goes together and fits your imagery of your dream bathroom? While planning for your new bathroom, what counters you want is an important decision to make. If you make it first, you can use it to tie each of the remaining choices into. Or you can pick everything else first, and then decide on a counter as the perfect final touch. No matter which route you take, consider quartz bathroom counters for your Twin Cities home.

If you aren’t sold on using quartz for your bathroom counters, that’s ok! We’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of why a quartz countertop should be at the top of your list of considerations.

1. Strength

When it comes to determining the strength of minerals, the more reliable way is the Mohs Hardness Test. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the strongest, every mineral has a ranking. Quartz falls in at a 7, meaning that only the few things ranked 8 or higher would be able to scratch it (for example, we’d recommend not trying to scratch it with a diamond, as diamonds receive a score of 10).

quartz bathroom counters

2. Stain Resistance

Quartz also benefits from being a non-porous material, meaning that it does not absorb liquids. This is good news as it resists stains! Even if you spill toothpaste, mouthwash or makeup on your countertop, quartz should persevere.

3. Durability

As one of the more forgiving countertops, quartz is resistant to chipping and cracking. This means that you could drop a heavy object on it and your counter will be fine! Durability is important when considering counter materials, as you want to make sure your counters last and remain undamaged.

4. Heat Resistance

One of the biggest benefits specifically within a bathroom is the heat resistant quality of quartz. If your bathroom sees frequent use of curling irons or straighteners, your counters can take damage from the heat emitted by them. While it’s still a good idea to avoid exposing your counters to extreme heat, quartz counters can withstand normal bathroom wear and tear.

5. Cleanliness

As mentioned earlier, quartz is non-porous. Not only does that protect quartz from stains, but it also introduces an antimicrobial quality! Bacteria won’t cling to the surface of quartz, so no matter how many people brush their teeth in your sink and get droplets on your counter, your quartz remains sanitary with regular cleaning.

6. Environmental Friendliness

If you’re someone who is looking to be more environmentally conscious, quartz is a good choice for you! As a frequent byproduct of other mining industries, utilizing quartz counters actually cuts down on global waste.

7. Appearance

Last but definitely not least, quartz is known for its beauty. With so many color options from white to dark gray, and designs from solid to intricate, natural patterns – quartz has an option to fit any aesthetic in any bathroom.

Have we sold you on quartz bathroom counters yet? Contact Northstar Granite Tops today to learn more about our quartz selection. Call us at 320-963-8677 or request a free quote!

The Many Reasons to Love Your Soapstone Countertops

| | Kitchen Countertops

Considering soapstone countertops? While historically, they may not be as popular as granite, soapstone countertops are quickly becoming a must-have in today’s modern kitchen. For several reasons, soapstone has something of a cult following in the interior design community. Here at Northstar Granite Tops, we are a trusted supplier of soapstone countertops for St Paul and we look forward to telling you about the many reasons we love soapstone.

soapstone countertops st Paul

Benefits of soapstone countertops.

For one, soapstone has a beautiful, natural and even rustic charm that perfectly complements the enduring Shaker style kitchen trend. They are also a great way to add contrast to lighter color cabinets and especially white cabinetry. The natural coloring of a slab of soapstone is unmatched. It has an almost rustic appearance but an elegance and richness that cannot be denied. 

Soapstone countertops are also durable. Soapstone is heat resistant, doesn’t react to acids, and is bacteria resistant, and is a great countertop for families. While soapstone is soft and can scratch, because of the natural texture and movement of the stone, these minor signs of wear don’t draw much attention.

This heat resistant quality also makes soapstone ideal for kitchens and hot pans as well as on places outside of countertops, like fireplaces. And, you can spill lemon juice, or other acidic liquids on it without a problem.

Soapstone countertops are also very versatile. With the number of shades that are available, it is possible to find soapstone that will work with a wide variety of kitchen and home styles. 

Overall, soapstone countertops are generally very low maintenance, are beautiful, durable and very hardworking. 

What is soapstone?

Soapstone is a beautiful, naturally quarried material that comes in a variety of shades between light gray and darker black, with some having green and blue undertones. The stone is metamorphic, like marble, and comes from magnesium rich mineral talc. The high talc content in the stone is what provides the “soapy” feeling, which is where the name comes from.

There are so many things to love about soapstone countertops! Are you ready to learn more about soapstone countertops? To get more information about soapstone countertops for your St Paul area home, call Northstar Granite Tops at 320-963-8677. Or you can contact us to get a Free Estimate.