Ask The Expert


Hi Robert,
All my friends have, either, tile, laminate or granite countertops. I am looking for something truly unique. Is there an alternative to these countertop surfaces?

Thank you very much,
Countertop Curious

Hi Curious,
If you”re looking for that custom made, one-of-a-kind countertop, there is a product called Shirestone. It is a natural stone product that has been pulverized and powdered so it is actually poured in place. Since everything is custom designed and created at your home, there is no off-site fabrication so installation, in most cases, is completed in four to five days.
Once on-site, the stone powder is mixed with hardening agents and is then custom colored and textured to suit your preference. A company representative said the color choices were “virtually endless.”
Once it sets, it becomes a heat and stain resistant surface that is both strong and seamless.
Also, there is no demolition necessary. It can be poured over brand new cabinets, or if the existing countertops are in good structural condition, poured directly over them for the remodel. And since it is a stone product, other applications could include outdoor kitchens and BBQs, outdoor tables and fire pits.
For more information, see or contact a local dealer at Grandeur Countertop Creations at (661) 259-0051.

Good Morning Robert,
And thank you for your informative column, which is faithfully read for the most useful information.
Our gate valve was replaced with a ball valve which we always turn off when going away for a couple of days. When we return and turn the valve on, there is a hissing sound which lasts for about a minute. Does this means there is another leak (we have a 40-year-old house which has had its share of them) somewhere in the house or is this just an evaporation issue with the water heater or a toilet?
Also, do you know if it is possible to leave the ball valve partially on by not turning the lever all the way? Thank you for all the help you have given us.

Thank you,
Teri A.

Hi Teri,
Thank you for the kind words.
That hissing sound you are hearing is just the water passing through the valve. That is exactly how it is supposed to sound. Remember to crack it—turn it back on, very slowly. Especially if you”ve got compression fittings or old hoses and you turn the valve on like you”re in a hurry, it could be trouble. That sudden surge of water pressure at 60 to 80 pounds can blow out angle stops or fittings and could do some damage until you were able to valve down again. Once you stop hearing the hiss, then the lines have pressurized and it”s safe to open the valve all of the way.
Yes, it is possible to leave the ball valve partially on by not turning the lever all of the way. If you want to know for sure, put it in the position you normally consider closed. You will either hear hissing of restricted water flowing through the valve, or just turn on a kitchen faucet. The amount of water running, if any, will be the same volume of water flowing should you spring a leak while away.

Submit your questions to Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction (Valencia, CA) has 30 years experience as a commercial general, electrical and plumbing contractor. The opinions expressed in “Ask the Expert” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made.

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