HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >

Discussion

Countertop material: granite vs. solid surface (corian) vs. engineered stone (silestone)

I am trying to decide between three different materials for countertops. I currently have corian and it has a lot of scratches in it and I am deathly afraid to set hot things on it because a friend had some heat damage to hers. Have never had granite or engineered stone but my research has indicated that either one of them would be better than the corian. Cost will end up being a factor, but until I price them out based on my kitchen measurements I'd love to know if I should eliminate any of these right off the bat or if there is a clearly superior choice among the three.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. A granite top is for life. I don't have a clue about silestone. We, however, are putting in an all stainless kitchen in a house we are building (keeping granite in the apartment).

    2 Replies
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      I recently restored/renovated & added on to my kitchen. I went round & round on this topic & finally allowed my architect to talk me into marble counter/work tops & marble floors. Initially I wanted all stainless, but at the very end switched to the marble alternative - I'm most grateful that I did.

      1. re: JayVaBeach

        architects often have only half the info they need. talk to an NKBA certified kitchen designer!!!!! FYI: marble is soft and porous and not really appropriate for kitchen use even though you see it in shelter publications everywhere. It stains! Think red wine..... It's fine for vanity tops. A suggestion? Get yourself a price range. Just measure linear feet, number of cut-outs like sinks, drop-in cooktops. Fancy edges cost more! Do you want standard 4" backsplash? Get the price first! Ceasarstone has a beautiful honed white that looks a lot like limestone and won't stain! AND.... you can use solid surface, light color, no aggregate on the perimeter counter and do something stunning on the island. DO NOT RELY ON YOUR ARCHITECT FOR KITCHEN DESIGN!!! BTW, go to the stone yard yourself and choose your slab. Make sure they mark that slab as yours!! It's stone....... an interesting under-used alternative to granite, which does have cracks.... is slate. approximate absorptive capacity of glass. it is not highly polished. you can oil it or not. again, though, choose your slab!

    2. Granite is a very nice surface for pastry work, but I don't like the over polished sheen that is so popular. If cost were no object I would choose soapstone. It needs a occasional wipe-down with mineral oil to seal it, but I like the period look, and the durability of it.

      P.S. Sam, I would suggest that you have some kind of sound dampening applied to the underside of the stainless counter top, as they can be very noisy in a residential installation.

      26 Replies
      1. re: Kelli2006

        Kelli2006, thanks. Spot on. We're having a local restaurant supply factory (very small & inexpensive by US standards) put it in. Thick enough that there is not that much noise. Plus, the house is where one of the great things is that there are no (other) noises.

        1. re: Kelli2006

          FYI, the oil isn't to seal soapstone. Soapstone in non-porous. The oil helps it oxidize, which creates the deep gray/black look that most of us like (when you first get it, it is dull medium gray). You actually don't even have to do this, since it will oxidize on it's own, but more slowly. I love the way soapstone looks-we have it in our kitchen-but it's not for everyone as it scratches and chips VERY easily, and the scratches and chips are a chalky white, not the color of the stone's exterior, so they are very visible. In our old house, though, it was the only thing we thought really "fit in."

          If I had to do it all again I would learn more about honed granite-they hone it so it doesn't have that obnoxious shine. It is more expensive than regular granite, though.

          1. re: christy319

            honed shouldn't cost more than polished -- honed, polished, flamed, are all finishes that can be applied to many different kinds of stone. you don't need to 'reseal' granite unless you want to maintain the polish; granite is generally hard enough and non-porous enough to not need a sealer. marble, on the other hand needs more regular maintenance to prevent etching and staining.

            1. re: bothrops_asper

              Sorry, but that's not entirely correct. Unsealed granite is porous, the entire point of sealing it is to close the pores and avoid food contamination. Heat destroys the seal, making resealing a necessity.

              1. re: andreas

                You can't generalize about the porosity of "granite". Some granite is highly non-porous and does not require sealing. Many stones sold as "granite" are not true granites, and may be subject to oil staining and etching with acids such as lemon juice. Deal with a reputable supplier and educate yourself.

                1. re: andreas

                  I have a friend with a true granite counter top and it is porous and has oil spots.

                2. re: bothrops_asper

                  i disagree. don't know where you get your information but..... granite comes into the country already polished. Honing it back to that state require machines, time, labor.... Granite should be resealed every time you change your clocks and the batteries in your smoke detectors. Granite slabs very often have fiberglass mesh glued to the backs precisely because it does crack..... and you can etch it. FYI, if you use your knives on granite you'll be sharpening them more often.

                  1. re: lil magill

                    Not all granite is created equal. In fact, you might say no two pieces of granite are the same. But as a general rule of thumb, granite has to be cut pretty thin to require fiberglass mesh on the back to stabilize against cracking. Well, unless it's cracked to start with, and then it should be greatly discounted.

                    Not all granite needs to be sealed. It depends on your particular piece of granite's density. As a general rule of thumb, lighter colored granites and mottled granites require sealing more often than darker granites. There is a very simple way to tell whether your granite is in need of resealing. Fold up a paper towel into quarter size, soak it, sit it on your most used granite surface and leave it alone for half an hour. When you remove the wet towel, if the granite under it is darker than the surrounding granite, it's time to reseal. I have black granite that was sealed when it was installed two years ago and shows no sign of needing another sealing. Fact is some granite is so dense and nonporous it doesn't need sealing at all, though most installers will slap a coat of sealer on it simply because it's company policy. But you're absolutely right. The worst thing you can do for any knife is use it on a rock surface. Granite is rock. Very hard rock!

                    1. re: Caroline1

                      when you visit the stone yard to select your slab(s) you will notice that 3 cm slabs -- standard for kitchens (2cm for vanities only; 1cm for yachts and airplanes!) will more often than you'd expect to see with glue and fiberglass mesh on the back..... stone is hard and doesn't flex. when it gets moved, sometimes it requires a little stabilization and repair.

                      1. re: lil magill

                        I have worked for a granite company for 2 years. We sell pre-fabricated 2CM for kitchens all the time. Deciding between 2CM & 3CM is totally a preference. People like the "look" of either one. Both are fine. Custom orders are usually 3 CM (full slab) again, both are suitable for kitchens.

                  2. re: bothrops_asper

                    sorry,
                    i've seen plenty of granite coutertops with WATER stains.
                    granted after a while the water will evaporate out of the stone, but far better to SEAL it to prevent this.

                    i've also seen water stains after a rainstorm on granite that has been used on the exterior of buildings.. . .

                  3. re: christy319

                    We are thinking of soapstone and also have an old house. When you chip or scratch the soaps stone does it look natural? Can the mineral oil help bring it back to the orginal color?

                    1. re: Barnalla

                      A chip or scratch in soapstone will be disguised with a application of mineral oil. My counters are 12 years old and still look brand new.

                      I never cut on my counters, but they will get very light scratches from pans, though they disappear when oiled.

                    2. re: christy319

                      If it's non porous, why did the oil I got on my sister's new countertop stain it, which stain hasn't come out yet? (3 months later)

                      1. re: chazzerking

                        If she wants the stain out, then cover the entire counter with whatever kind of oil you spilled. The reason it "stained" is that the oil you spilled sealed the spot under it. But it will be MUCH darker than in the natural unseaaled state. But it will also be more sanitary.

                        1. re: Caroline1

                          If granite is not sealed properly then citrus, oil or even water can stain it. There is a lot of "granite" being sold that is actually quartz or other stone. Try asking for a sample of the product you are looking at to take home to color test in your kitchen. Every stone shop has left over pieces from cutting. If they won't give you one choose another shop. When you have the sample at home put oil and lemon juice on it. If it stains do not buy that product.

                          1. re: Docsknotinn

                            Citrus and oil will not etch or stain high-quality true granites. The problem is that many different varieties of stone are sold under the name "granite" and they have varying performance characteristics. I would NEVER install a stone subject to oil or citrus damage in a kitchen. Deal with a reputable, honest supplier, and do your homework.

                            1. re: Docsknotinn

                              Dear Docsknotinn - To say that if oil or lemon juice is to be used to test granite is rediculious. Granite is naturally porus & needs to be sealed. I work for a granite company and we give away samples all the time. If they used that test no one would ever buy granite anywhere. We recommend and demonstrate in our showroom an Impregnating sealer. One time application by a professional does it. Granite needs to be sealed to prevent stains, esp. from oil.

                          2. re: chazzerking

                            If you do not wish to oil your entire counter and wish to keep it the depth of color it currently is, ask your stone dealer to recommend or provide a poultice for your stone. I had a client who installed honey onyx as their bathroom vanity top in there second home. They left a red bees wax candle directly on the stone. Returning three months later to find the oil had permeated the about 1/2" into the stone. We used three applications of the poultice provided by our stone fabricator and was able to remove the oil without any residue.

                            Our course of action was to heat the stone and 'melt' the oil through the stone. Glad we never had to try it.

                          3. re: christy319

                            My soapstone has a few scratches but they eventually turned back to the exterior color and if you apply oil it happens faster. I've had mine three years. There are varying types of soapstones, softer and harder. They will have the patina of life though.

                          4. re: Kelli2006

                            Kelli is right about the high polish. AVOID using puck lights under your wall cabinets, especially halogen!! Too hot and too much blow-back reflection in your eyes. Use shaded xenon. I would never want a highly polished floor in a kitchen either. Too slippery, too hard, too hard to keep clean and nice while you entertain. I like Natural Cork.

                            1. re: lil magill

                              Xenons are almost as hot as halogens. I went with LEDs, but the light is bluish. I almost wish I'd gone for fluorescent now, but they're installed already.

                              1. re: dmd_kc

                                Fluorescents can modify colors over time so be careful where you use them.

                                1. re: dmd_kc

                                  i always specced kichler shaded xenons. clean light. shaded. and god forgive me if i ever gave anyone black countertops! i have a display kitchen in which i cook for paying guests and i make sure to add extra prep time to keep it looking neat and tidy. lots of time! every bit of stray flour, bread crumbs, water, dried up water. wiped up water. water, i swear, that never even was on it, leaves the whole place looking ugly-awful. add to that two s/s backsplashes, s/s sub-zero, viking, hood and warming shelf, asko d/w and two FLAT BOTTOMED sinks! at least it's pretty. just before i leave to go home! the rest of the time i'm doing beauty maintenance on it...................

                                  1. re: lil magill

                                    The form versus function dilemma. Now me, I can't cook without spraying the ingredients over the counters, further overspill landing on the floor. Knowing this I picked a floor tile that shows nothing - something like this...

                                    http://www.griva.lv/data/gallery_imag...

                                    You can tell when it needs cleaning by the little crunchy noises under your feet. Many moons ago, when enthusiasm swamped experience, I installed a plain brown carpet. You could see a salt grain at 5 paces. At that point I learned that looking clean is more important than being clean.

                                    At least in terms of floors.

                              2. re: Kelli2006

                                I recommend you research mineral oil as a "sealer" for Soapstone??

                              3. Silestone. It's non-porous.

                                If you must go with natural, than granite. Keep in mind though that granite must be sealed at least once a year; more if you like to do things like put hot pots on it.

                                I hate Corian. I have never seen a Corian countertop withstand any sort of use.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: Shazam

                                  When we redid our kitchen we looked at Corian Silestone and Grabit - and decided on the silestone - prime reason no maintenance you do not need to treat it - with silestone clean up is a breeze and has been impercious to anything we have done to it -

                                  1. re: weinstein5

                                    I chose Silestone over Granite and I am glad that I did. Like you said....no maintenance and if I ever have a problem with it, it can be replaced a section of it and will match what I have now. Once, all the piece of granite you chose has been taken out of the ground...you will never be able to match it if you need to replace a section of your countertop if you need to!

                                    1. re: ruffhouse

                                      We also debated and chose Silestone over granite. We love the absolute zero maintenance and the look was more appealing than all of the granite I'd looked at.

                                      1. re: ruffhouse

                                        Siltstone is purchased in color lots, like wall paper or paint....a replacement will never match. Possibly close enough if across the room from existing but no match.

                                      1. re: Shazam

                                        Unethical companies that sell granite sealers will tell you that ALL granite countertops must be sealed once a year. It is a myth intended to sell more granite sealer. Some high-performing granites never need a sealer, and lower-quality, porous stones subject to oil staining and acid damage should be resealed frequently.

                                        1. re: TopRepair

                                          TopRepair,
                                          Don't know if you are aware but there is a sealer on the market that is an impregnating one that only needs to be applied once. It comes with a 15 year warranty against staining. I work in the granite industry and as far as I know ALL granite is porus and requires sealing. Black is the hardest stone that I know of, and it still stains. "High-performance"? what stones are you referring to? As far as I know even the most expensive stones require sealing. Wondering where you got your info?

                                          1. re: Portland Oregon

                                            Some stones sold as granite are far more porous than others. The best sealer in the world won't protect a poor quality stone, and on the other hand, I have seen excellent stones that look great even after being unsealed for 25 years. My information comes from operating my business, TopRepair.com, that has specialized in repairing, maintaining and modifying countertops for the past 18 years. I've inspected thousands of countertops of every type and quality.

                                            1. re: TopRepair

                                              Is there any downside to high quality engineered stone such as Silestone? We've had it for several years, do not pamper it in any way (although we don't abuse it), we clean it simply with a wet sponge or Dobie, even occasionally if something is stuck on will put some Barkeeper's Friend on a sponge, and it looks as good as new. Assuming one likes the look of it (we do), and is ok with the cost, is there any downside at all to this product...we haven't discovered any?

                                              1. re: josephnl

                                                No maintenance product, only downside it's typically higher cost than granite and most colors prior to 2009 look like laminate.

                                      2. Silestone is the way to go if you want stone look combined with ease of use. Granite is lovely but the seal will be destroyed by hot pots and the stone will become porous again. Like Kelli I don't like the currently popular high shine. That's for show kitchens that will never see any real cooking.

                                        Like Sam we opted for stainless steel for most work tops. No temperature issues, extremely easy to keep clean. With off white tiled splash-backs and old wooden boards it doesn't look cold either. The island will be treated to a marble top next year and be the dedicated baking, pasta and pastry station.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: andreas

                                          I think you're over-generalizing about granite counters. Depending on the variety of granite/quartzite you get, some are pretty much impervious, some will be much more porous and/or resined to hold them together. The key is to figure out which you're investing in beforehand.

                                          Stainless scratches, and concrete is highly porous without being sealed/waxed. It's all a question of what you want and what you're willing to live with in terms of wear/patina.

                                          1. re: ted

                                            Ted is correct - you can't generalize about what is sold as "granite". Some of it is outstanding, and lots of it is beautiful but really unsuitable as a kitchen countertop material. Do your homework.

                                          2. re: andreas

                                            Granite is the hardest of the stones you will look at and even within granite there are different hardnesses.

                                            Shine - Purchaser's choice of high gloss or matte finish, called honed. You can go either way and a good installer will guide you through the choices. Like any surface, you need to take care of it. 1-2 per year you seal the granite or any other stone. Pretty simple to do.

                                            I would be more afraid of scratching the stainless over scratching the granite. Likewise, if a kid comes over and cuts on the granite, no harm to the surface, the knife takes the brunt. On stainless, I am not sure you can make that same comment.

                                            With respect to the look, go to the stone place and choose your own slab. I think you can find different stones that could be either warmer or colder than stainless, your choice.

                                            I would be very careful about any generalities about granite, marble, sandstone, or any composite unil you do more research, but no matter what you buy, care is the key word going forward.

                                            1. re: jfood

                                              Oh, agree with you - it all comes down to personal preference in the end. I don't mind that stainless scratches, these scratches are not deep enough to cause a problem hygiene wise and I don't mind the looks issue. As far as I am concerned a kitchen is there to be used, not to look spotless and new year after year. I know it is important for many people that both their kitchens and their cooking utensils don't show much in the way of wear, I am not one of them. I like the signs of use, it tells a story.

                                              I suspect that many people are less well informed that you are and simply assume that granite will simply take anything you throw at it. We both know that that's a false assumption.

                                            2. re: andreas

                                              "Granite is lovely but the seal will be destroyed by hot pots and the stone will become porous again."

                                              Wait, what? I have large tan-ish colored granite in my kitchen after a remodel 6 years ago, and my island is right in front of the ovens. When I roast in my cast iron pans, I take them out when finished (oven temp around 400F) and put them right on the sealed granite to rest. I've had both 18" CI skillets come from both ovens resting at the same time many times, and never have had a problem.

                                              Though as with all things, I'm sure there are better engineered sealants than others, in terms of durometer and heat degredation.

                                              I have the "medium" glossed granite. Wasn't my first choice but I got a great deal on it. And my kitchen gets some damned serious use :)

                                              1. re: andreas

                                                Lol, stainless scratches fairly easily and most marbles are soft and porous. Be sure to "baby" both. Good luck.

                                              2. I just redid my kitchen. Corian was never an option. I looked at silestone, but I just don't like the look of it. It never looks as natural as granite to me. I saw a lot of different types, samples, etc., and never found one that looked as good as granite.

                                                We ended up with granite and I couldn't be happier. The fact that I have to seal it slightly more often because I do put hot pots on it isn't a problem. That just means 5 minutes of work every 3-4 months to be safe... probably don't even need to do it that often. That is completely worth it in my opinion.

                                                Plus, for me, the silestone and granite came out to be nearly identically priced.

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: adamclyde

                                                  When we were countertop shopping this was my experience, too-they were almost the same price.

                                                  1. re: adamclyde

                                                    We had Silestone countertops installed in Dec '06. We love the look of it. We were very plased with the install and remarked that the seam was barely noticeable...if we didn't know where it was we wouldn't even know there was a seam in it. However, the seam has separated and is now very noticeable. Has anyone else had this problem? The installer is going to come and look at it; if anyone has experienced this, I'd like some feedback please.

                                                    1. re: adamclyde

                                                      I agree with this. There is something fake looking about silestone to me. It lacks the depth and natural sparkle of granite. The Silestone reps at the stores were sooo obnoxious, too, trying to convince us of all these awful things about granite. I think that is where some of the misinformation about granite comes from.

                                                      1. re: Jitterbug

                                                        We have Silestone in our kitchen and love it. Certainly manufactured quartz has a different look than natural granite. Some people prefer the somewhat abstract irregular natural appearance of granite and don't care if the patterns don't necessarily match at seams, and some (like us) prefer the uniform appearance of the manufactured product, granite. Both are excellent surfaces, it's simply a matter of personal preference.

                                                        With regard to a seam separating....this has nothing to do with the product, and everything to do with the installation. Any countertop material which is improperly installed can separate.

                                                        1. re: Jitterbug

                                                          you're absolutely right about this being where the misinformation comes from.... reps at stores trying to sell you something!!! Use an NKBA certified kitchen designer ALWAYS..... always use a pro!

                                                          1. re: Jitterbug

                                                            Did they tout the dangers of natural granite being radioactive? I know granite can contain uranium, thorium, potassium, etc, the former decaying into Rn-222 which can cause lunch cancer in sufficient quantities. Though the Rn-222 is gaseous, (and the sealant probably mitigates the release somewhat) I would think that you inhale more carcinogenic particles driving to work every day. I had some 18 year old kid try to scare me into Silestone using that tactic. He obviously didn't know that there are actually people out there that know what they're talking about, and don't buy into most BS that stores spout out to sell their product.

                                                          2. re: adamclyde

                                                            AdamClyde, There is a sealer on the market now that works with only one application. It's a 15 year seal - no need to reseal every few months. Makes for a much easier sell for granite now.. vs. Quartz or other non-porus surfaces.

                                                            1. re: adamclyde

                                                              Sealing is no harder than cleaning your counter. Most Natural Stones are resin coated, look for drips on raw edge when view/selecting slabs.

                                                            2. I'd stay away from Corian if I were you. In fact, if you have some gasoline and a match I'd get great pleasure out of destroying it ;-) There's always concrete too. It can be quite attractive and it's pretty cheap... cheap compared to granite, at least.

                                                              7 Replies
                                                              1. re: HaagenDazs

                                                                I love polished concrete. What a great, and underrated, material.

                                                                1. re: HaagenDazs

                                                                  >>> There's always concrete too.

                                                                  Last year, my first reaction to hearing about concrete tops, was along the lines of so "Flintstone" like. (Cartoon)

                                                                  Yabba-daba-daba-do! :-D

                                                                  (Impressed!)

                                                                  An open kitchen island done in concrete with matching columns is the centerpiece.

                                                                  1. re: HaagenDazs

                                                                    You attack Corian but state no reasons why. I have talked to thousands of homeowners who have had Corian countertops for many years, and the vast majority like them very much. Some people (like you) hate them. If so, don't buy them. But if you want to criticize them so vehemently, why not put forward a few facts to bak up your opinions?

                                                                    1. re: TopRepair

                                                                      I've actually had Corian countertops in my kitchen for about 9 years now.
                                                                      They still look great and have always cleaned up well. I've always used hot pads for hot pots/pans, even on the old countertop.

                                                                      Of course, I don't cut directly on the countertops, I have a butcher block, and plastic cutting boards to work on, along with an island cart with a stainless steel top.

                                                                      So for the areas where I use mixers, make sandwiches, wash dishes, etc... I've had no issues with the corian.

                                                                      Granted, if I could afford to re-do all my cabinets and everything in the kitchen.. I might consider another route and restructure so I'd have a LOT more workable counter space, but at the time, it suited the budget, the look I wanted and I've had no issues. I even had renters in my house during a period when my job took me away for a couple years. Granted she was a clean freak, so that probably helped!

                                                                      1. re: grnidkjun

                                                                        This could be me. We also did our kitchen about 10 years ago. It was kind of forced on us way ahead of schedule. I wasn't quite as into cooking as I am now and if I could do things over again, I would definitely change some things, including the layout so that I would have more workspace. And I guess I'm just older and wiser and my tastes have changed somewhat as well. But all in all, I love my kitchen, there's a lot of me in it - and I've been very happy with the Corian counters. I have arctic white and it still looks great. I also don't put hot things directly on the counter, nor do I cut on them (although my husband has been known to...)

                                                                    2. re: HaagenDazs

                                                                      Concrete for countertops is not generally cheap. That's a myth promulgated by Terrence Conran..... Try getting a quick quote. There are some amazingly beautiful things being done with concrete, but it's a known quality of concrete that it cracks. You can put all the reinforcement and grade beams under it you want, but go check out your garage.... It cracks! So countere MUST be kept sealed with beeswax, but that's your trade-off. Sealing is a matter of food safety......

                                                                      1. re: HaagenDazs

                                                                        Concrete like your driveway, is porous and should be waxed to avoid staining. Of course you could always use your kitty litter to remove oil/grease stains.

                                                                      2. I completely agree about the polished concrete. very reasonable in price.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: lyn

                                                                          Given the choice, we would have gone for polished concrete in our home, but it was not a builder option. We opted for Caesarstone (composite) over granite for both price and looks. We chose a near-solid gray color with squared-off corners to simulate the industrial-chic of polished concrete and we couldn't be happier with it!

                                                                        2. We went with granite and are thrilled with it. I've been very lazy about resealing it. It's been 4 years and we've only done it once. Sure, it doesn't have the high sheen it once had but frankly, that doesn't bother me too much; we have a very mottled pattern with many colors so it doesn't seem to show up the fact that it's kind of dulled as much as a solid color might. It's been on my mind to do it - I bought the polish but so far, haven't gotten around to it. Anyway, sorry for digressing - it wears beautifully nonetheless - no stains inspite of not resealing as much as I should and I put hot pots on it pretty frequently to no harm too. Best choice we could have made.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: sivyaleah

                                                                            Reseal if you place a wet towel on surface for 10 min or so and wet area darkens. Won't hurt granite, will dry to original color. Just test for absorbency

                                                                          2. When we remodeled we went with granite all the way. We had Corian in a previous house and knew that wasn't the way to go. If you talk with your granite supplier, you don't have to get the ultra shiny finish, they can so a satin finish which is what we have. It is for life, that's for sure. Oh, and we love it, been in for 8 years.

                                                                            1. I have had granite counters for the last 10 years and love it. I am however tired of the high polish shiny surface. I've been thinking about Silestone for my next kitchen. The variety of colors have really improved.

                                                                              1. We have granite in our house and love it. Must be 5 or 6 years now, and not a problem. I can't remember if we've ever resealed it, but it's used for the dish washing and sandwich prep area, no heat. We just helped our son redo his kitchen and we went with large pieces of slate. If you have a quarry anywhere near, it's a good alternative to think about. 1 inch thick slabs were very reasonable in price, and they've held up well so far.

                                                                                1. Slate is very beautiful, has a satin finish that you seal with mineral oil, and is nonporous. I put it in my bathroom, but it would work nicely in a kitchen.
                                                                                  http://www.rmgstone.com/slate/
                                                                                  http://www.rmgstone.com/slate/mountai...

                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Gin and It

                                                                                    While we don't have slate kitchen counter tops, we do have a slate floor at the entrance to our house. It is gorgeous, but we would never use it again. Be aware that it scratches very easily and, if you aren't careful, pieces can peel off the surface. It will likely break anything fragile dropped on it while the falling item, if heavy, also cracks the slate. You must seal it well and keep it sealed, preferably with a product made for the purpose.

                                                                                    1. re: embee

                                                                                      Embee, while I can't speak to what slate you've used, or how well it was installed, I can assure you that we've used in several applications, and it's holding up beautifully, as well as the granite we've used as well. There are various finishes that can be used, from natural, that does have that tendency to flake off, to polished like black boards. We tend to like a medium finish, that isn't ugly black board like, but flat. I've dropped many things on it with no problem. In our home, we've had a slate table top, and a slate counter (not in a kitchen) for over 20 years and not a chip or crack in either.

                                                                                      1. re: UnConundrum

                                                                                        The kind I see in the coffeehouse I mentioned doesn't look anything like the kind I see used for flooring. I imagine there might be different kinds, different ways to cut it, or different finishes that affect its durability greatly.

                                                                                        1. re: christy319

                                                                                          Countertop slate is usually honed.

                                                                                          Slate also comes in many grades; countertops should ideally be made from one of the higher grades.

                                                                                        2. re: UnConundrum

                                                                                          It is "honed". It has a satin finish and is somewhat flattened by that process. However, it is not completely flat, which adds to its beauty. The area it covers is not substantially different from a countertop in a typical kitchen. The quality of the slate is high and the installation is superb.

                                                                                          We are dealing with the properties of the material. It is extremely hard and could conceivably last a lifetime. However, the layering and colour striations that make it so beautiful also open it up to horizontal flaking. And scratch avoidance requires thorough sealing. We got this material because we loved its appearance and we haven't been disappointed in that realm. But we were not aware we were getting a high maintenance material, which it definitely is. It is very different from a blackboard.

                                                                                          1. re: embee

                                                                                            I have slate tile countertops and island countertops...I love them, but they are uneven and I worry about scrubbing them completely clean. (out, out damned spot!)

                                                                                            Our floors are acid dyed concrete, and If you have to do a polished concrete countertop, I'd say go for it. You can get a variety of dyes, or just go natural.

                                                                                    2. We recently had granite from Quebec installed in our kitchen (we live in Vermont). We are very pleased with the look and durability. I would advise seeking at least three quotes and references as craftmanship and price can vary drastically.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: TonyO

                                                                                        Quarries in Quebec have been maing outstanding granite countertops for a very long time. On the other hand, vast quantities of cheap, low quality stone countertops are being imported from third world countries in recent years. Comparing the two is like comparing a Ferrari to a Yugo.

                                                                                      2. We selected Silestone for our kitchen countertops on the basis that it was less maintenance than granite or soapstone but more robust than Corian. My first priority is functionality, and its appearance is conditional on its functionality.

                                                                                        If I had a do-over, I would use stainless steel or some other metal. I set down a 350 F. roasting pan on the Silestone counter and heard a loud crack and then discovered that that was 50 degrees F. too high. We now have a hairline crack, I can't see it but I can feel it. Given the cost of the Silestone, even without it being as robust as its reputation, we would have saved significantly with stainless steel.

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Ericruo

                                                                                          That's the main reason why we went stainless steel. No worries about anything and it cleans up beautifully with a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar.

                                                                                          1. re: andreas

                                                                                            Andreas, you have completely sanitized your countertops for a cost of pennies per application. Or you can get a commercial product with a fancy label and spend hundreds of times more. I think you made a good choice.

                                                                                          2. re: Ericruo

                                                                                            We had a Silestone counter top installed in Dec '06 and love the look of it. I have not put any hot pans, etc. directly on it and wondered about that. I am sorry your countertop cracked. You have, however amsered my question and I will continue to use protection.

                                                                                            1. re: Ericruo

                                                                                              Excessive heat could crack any Natural Stone, Quartz Surface (i.e Silestone) or Solid Surface (Corian). It's called Thermoshock, whenever causing extreme temperature change quickly

                                                                                            2. Honed granite has a lovely look but get your stone source to sand a sample for you- the changes may or may not please you. It has a wonderful satin-like feel to it, and eliminates the hot spots on polished grante caused by undercabinet lighting.
                                                                                              No one has mentioned slate- it's a wonderful, natural alternative to granite. It does scratch, but you can literally rub out the line with your finger. It does not stain with wine or oil, and can handle any pot. Because it is a sedimentary stone as opposed to igneous (granite) it cannot be polished, so you have to like the soft, matte look. Some slates are harder than others, so be careful. Vermont Structural Slate is a great source-try non-fading green and red- lots of life and variety to it

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: kcorbinma

                                                                                                My local coffee shop has slate counters and they are gorgeous. They have chips but they are solid color, so they aren't that noticable.

                                                                                                1. re: kcorbinma

                                                                                                  I used honed granite in my kitchen two years ago. It not only requires no maintenance at all, but the counters are the first thing everyone comments upon when they walk into the kitchen..I hate the shiny granite that you see all over the place but this is really spectacular. I agree about having the stoneyard give you samples or better yet, visit the yard yourself and pick out your slab if at all possible.

                                                                                                2. How about something environmental, like recycled glass. I think it's beautiful, too. I think it's similar in price to granite.

                                                                                                  http://vetrazzo.com/

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                    Here is a link to another recent posting on the countertop debate. I posted a few alternatives for the sake of the environment. They are made of sealed pressed paper, and they are very beautiful, but i dont know how high performance they are.

                                                                                                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/387362

                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                      Using a "green" product almost always cost more green$$

                                                                                                    2. You might want to expand your search a little. I was looking at those until I looked at some recently redone kitchens of some friends who are designers and builders who had done their own. Not one had used granite.
                                                                                                      There's a lot more interesting stuff out there, like the recycled glass that Chowser mentioned. I also realized I didn't have to have all the surfaces of the same material.
                                                                                                      Honed limestone is beautiful, softer in appearance and more elegant than granite. Marble has an Old World elegance and can be used for a lot of the surfaces as can butcherblock. Concrete is fabulous and gives almost unlimited design options for shape and color. Soapstone and slate are more appropriate in historic homes and are easy to maintain - they're used in chemistry labs. Copper is artsy and can be left to tarnish. Using large ceramic tiles cuts down on the amount of grout and can be anything from inexpensive Mexican to expensive hand-painted. I'm looking at zinc, like that used as bar tops, which is intentionally stained in random patterns to mimic antique tabletops, for my 1890s house. There's even good old Formica, which has come a long way, and still offers a lot of advantages. My 20 year-old Formica countertops look as good as the day they were installed.
                                                                                                      There were a lot more options once I started to look. Many cost less than granite or are competitive.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                        There you go again "making sense" - I am in total agreement with straying from the "trend" of granite. I'm so very thrilled with my marble work tops & counter space. Initially I thought NO, but my architect was correct (as usual) - I wouldn't change it for all the tea in China !

                                                                                                        1. re: JayVaBeach

                                                                                                          The problem with marble in the kitchen is that many varieties are prone to staining and etching when exposed to acids such as citrus juices.

                                                                                                      2. A couple of years ago, Consumer Reports chose manufactured quartz (like Silestone) as it's top choice for countertops because of its durability and low maintenance. However, I personally don't like its appearance, and this subject will always come down to personal taste. So this one wee voice will speak up for Corian! I just don't care for the high-tech look or the super-hard surface of granite or manufactured quartz. I hate the "clink" sound when something hard like a plate or pan is placed on the surface, and I'd be afraid I'd smash something if I put it down too hard. Corian is a far softer, more forgiving surface. Mine is a solid creamy off-white (which happens to work with my kitchen, though I realize it wouldn't work for many). While it does have numerous tiny scratches, they're pretty much invisible unless you're an inch away. It really ends up being much like a patina on silver. Corian is also easy to keep clean (a little Sof Scrub takes care of a wine or curry stain, for example). I never found it a problem that I can't place a pot right from the stove or oven right onto the counter. Growing up with Formica, I never considered doing that anyway.

                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: MommaJ

                                                                                                          MommaJ, I was thinking the same thing: I wouldn't put a hot pot on a counter top even if I could, it's just so ingrained in me not to do it.

                                                                                                          1. re: MommaJ

                                                                                                            I want to add my voice to yours for corian. we have a corian countertop in a shade called flint. its dark almost black with specks of very tiny aqua and orange and looks gorgeous. i love the softer look and i think the marks add to the appearance almost like a weathered patina. gets lots of use and like you i would never put a hot pot on it. i have silicone trivets which come in handy.

                                                                                                            1. re: MommaJ

                                                                                                              I, too, am a fan of Corian. As a countertop professional, I find that most Corian customers are very pleased with their countertops even after many years of use.

                                                                                                              1. re: TopRepair

                                                                                                                Like you, I am a shop owner. We offer Corian, Granite and Quartz, by far I prefer Corian(actually LG) over granite or Quartz. All of my customers have been please with the corian purchase because of it renewability. However I have had complaints about the granite because of staining and complaints on the quartz because it sratches so easy. Corian does as well, but can be remove by the homeowner if so choosing. Quartz has to be removed by the fabricator, and it is not alwas easy or cheap. Granite, if you can get fro the shop to the house without breaking you are home free, other than keeping it sealed.

                                                                                                                1. re: ctconnect

                                                                                                                  I don't know what brand quartz you are selling, but I've had my Cambria quartz countertops for a year, and with heavy use, there's nary a scratch to be seen.

                                                                                                            2. Completely rebuilt the kitchen as we move dinto the condo two years ago. Our architect recommended a composite for ease of maintenance. We got a sample of a black composite - Zodiac - and carried it around shopping.

                                                                                                              We walkled into a counter-top shop and saw big panels displayed on the wall; one was black with sparkly bits imbedded in it. My wife pulled out her small Zodiac sample and said "Wow, it sure looks better in a big piece!" The saleslady said "That's not Zodiac - that's granite." My wife looked back and forth three or four times and then said "S***w the Zodiac" and dropped her sample into a wastebasket.

                                                                                                              We had the counters done in a Brazilian granite called Black Zodiac and we've loved it ever since. The embedded shiny flecks make it seem like you're looking deep into the stone, and they sparkle and change as you move along the counter.

                                                                                                              The counter guy sealed it when he put it in and swears we don't need to do anything to it again. After almost three years, it looks fine. It's the most striking feature of the kitchen, though our cabinets are the $1100-a-foot variety: the counter dominates.

                                                                                                              Mike

                                                                                                              1. Is laminate completely out of the running? Especially if cost is a consideration. Last counter I did we used Nevamar, a little more than Formica or Wilsonart but they have some great patterns. I put a wood edge on it and it looked great.

                                                                                                                http://www.nevamar.com/

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Jack_

                                                                                                                  I intalled Nevamar and wood edge a few years ago also. Just didn't want to put that kind of money (as much as the land for my first house) into a granite countertop. I like the Nevamar and wood edge combo and if and when I get sick of it, I'll be able to change itwithout feeling like I have to live with it(granite) for the rest of my life. I really don't much like the look of shiny granite either.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Jack_

                                                                                                                    Plastic laminate is an excellent choice for those on a tight budget. It is not the most durable choice, but if you can take good care of it, you can have beautiful countertops at a small fraction of the cost of the other options discussed here. Don't cut or chop on the laminate, and never put a hot pot on it. You will be home free.

                                                                                                                  2. Oops...sorry.
                                                                                                                    The Brazilian granite is "Black Galaxy", not Black Zodiac.

                                                                                                                    I tried twice for a correction on edit, but they didn't go through.

                                                                                                                    Mike

                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: MikeLM

                                                                                                                      Is that the one with the bluish iridescent flecks? very beautiful!

                                                                                                                      1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                                                                                                        The reflective flecks in Black Galaxy are almost all gold. They change and flicker as your viewpoint changes; there are less-reflective, silvery patterns, too. It absolutely seems that you are looking about 1/2 inch INTO the surface of the granite. It's completely striking.

                                                                                                                        Our maintenance has been minimal, and our installer continues to insist that we only need to wipe it with water, with a little detergent if it's greasy. Cleaned, it's a 12-foot long pastry board or a defrosting place- it pumps heat into anything frozen placed on it. There was a big fashion a few years ago in selling small blocks of granite for defrosting frozen food packages. Conversely, it will suck heat rapidly out of anything hot placed on it. Dunno the physics involved, but that's what happens.

                                                                                                                        Plus, you can set any utensil, no matter how hot, anywhere on it you want. The real drawback is price - the last time I looked, Home Depot wanted about $95 per square foot, installed, for it.

                                                                                                                        Mike

                                                                                                                        1. re: MikeLM

                                                                                                                          Most suppliers now quote "Black Galaxy" granite as a grade 3--one step up from Carrara marble, which is usually a grade 2. What color are your cabinets MikeLM? Wondering if black countertops would close things in my kitchen??? I strongly considered it at one point, but was concerned it would make my kitchen too dark--I have cherry cabinets and Brazilian Cherry floors, both have aged a little darker now than it was when installed. "Black Galaxy" is actually not granite but is actually basalt or lava rock--maybe that's why it sucks up the heat. Very beautiful--I agree! I was going to do Corian, but changed my mind when the quotes came in--only $200 more for Carrara marble--I know marble is a "no, no" for many, but I saw polished Carrara in a kitchen after it had been lived in (3 small children ate on island bar every day, pizza once a week on it, lime juice, etc.) for a year and there was no staining and 1/4" to 1/2" small etch marks that didn't even bother me, cause all I saw was the beautiful marble!

                                                                                                                        2. re: ChowFun_derek

                                                                                                                          I have just installed black galaxy in my kitchen 3 weeks ago and it hasn't been sealed. Did u seal yours? it looks great when im standing right infront of it but when i move away depending on the light i can see smudge like appearances that dont go away when i clean it with water. Are these water stains?- they r a lighter color than the black.

                                                                                                                          may

                                                                                                                          1. re: mayooya

                                                                                                                            You should seal it.

                                                                                                                            Are you sure it wasn't sealed? It is possible that those smudges you see are sealant 'stains'. The sealant generally comes in the form of a volatile organic chemical (VOC) and the excess has to be wiped away. If you allow it to dry then it forms smears. However, a reapplication of the sealant will fix this.

                                                                                                                            I am assuming you mean your countertop. Streaks in granite tiles are frequently caused by not ensuring the tile is in intimate contact with the tile cement. (Usually called thinset in NA). The thinset is applied with a square notched trowel and it is quite possible for these lines to bleed through.

                                                                                                                            Other than that the only reasons I can thing are:

                                                                                                                            1) The smudges are part of the natural stone
                                                                                                                            2) It is not totally polished
                                                                                                                            3) They have used an odd filler.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                                              Re-reading my own message I realise I forgot to mention that you can get bleeding from the grout into a porous tile. IMO you should seal before grouting as well as after.

                                                                                                                              Grout lines definitely need to be very well sealed. Check out the grout lines in people's showers and round the bath.

                                                                                                                      2. I have used virtually all of the surfaces at one point or another and for both looks and performance grainte has been superior.

                                                                                                                        Looks:

                                                                                                                        Stilestone just does not look like stone.. period. I find the metals to be cold; soapstone is best limited to "vintage" applications, and nothing says "80's" like Corian. Slate is interesting but also does not have any "light tone" options. Laminate is the up and coming surface for designers.. there are some products soon to come out that will surprize you.

                                                                                                                        Performance:

                                                                                                                        All around, granite wins... the singular fault- cracks, as many are now finding out 5-10 years down the road. And there is no fix.. it has to be taken out and replaced in most instances.

                                                                                                                        If you do not like shiny go with the honed but be prepared for the visible grasy fingerprints. I like the shiny because I can see where it is dirty and wipe it with a rag back to a sheen, but that my taste.

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: affineur

                                                                                                                          Cracks in granite CAN be repaired by a skilled craftsman. My company, TopRepair, does this type of work all the time. We use a super-penetrating acrylic resin tinted to match the background color of the stone. The final result is excellent.

                                                                                                                        2. I have honed white venetino marble tops in my kitchen. I like the Old World look - so this fits. It is definitely not for eveyone. It needs to be well sealed, and that prevents staining. It is not bulletproof like some surfaces, you can etch it if you py cpmes in contact with lemon juice, tomatoes, liquor, etc on it - anything acidic. You have to put a towel under your cutting board, and coasters under your liquor glasses. I would do it again, even with the extra pre-cautions, since we love the look.
                                                                                                                          The Italians and French have used it for centuries and do not expect to have a prisitine countertop.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: percheron

                                                                                                                            Percheron is right. If you demand pristine perfection, marble is not a good choice. If a rustic, weathered look with a few stains makes you feel at home, then consider marble. Much the same can be said about concrete countertops. Do your homework.

                                                                                                                          2. Okay -- I'll jump in on the other side.

                                                                                                                            When I redid my kitchen a few years ago, I put in a small area of tile right by the stove (so I have someplace to put stuff straight out of the oven) and did most of the remaining counters in Corian.

                                                                                                                            I love it. I have found that it cleans up nicely and I don't think I've gotten any scratches on it. I also really like the fact that it has a little bit of give to it (but I don't cut on it). If I accidentally put something down on it a little too hard, it probably won't break (unlike granite or tile).

                                                                                                                            I think part of the trick is that you don't need to have all the counters using the same material -- I don't have a large kitchen, but still have 3 different surfaces (Corian for the bulk, including a computer desk), tile by the stove, and a couple of Pyrolave accents. Looks great, works well.

                                                                                                                            On the other hand, I would never get a Corian sink. It'll look real pretty until the day you're cleaning up and pour hot coffee over the ice your partner just threw in....

                                                                                                                            Miriam

                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: mlezak

                                                                                                                              I am looking at Corian now and like the functionality of it. I am concerned however about your post re: hot coffee and ice. What happens, and what other combinations of materials should be avoided? Does this mean I cannot put a hot pan in the sink also? Does the sink get cleaned with the same cleansers used on the countertop or is something else called for?

                                                                                                                              1. re: kitchen troll

                                                                                                                                My corian sink cracked and had to be replaced. I think this was due to pouring boiling water down it (pasta draining).

                                                                                                                                I also hate the look of it. It never looks clean. It is being ripped out this week and I'm putting in granite.

                                                                                                                                1. re: RBCal

                                                                                                                                  The house we just moved into last summer has laminate countertops which folks frequently mistake for granite, show virtually no stains marks or smuges and so they are styaing until i can afford to replace them with something lighter and less gray (but that's a personal choice) and a corian sink. ARGH! I hate, loath and despise the corian sink. It's perpetually stained, dirty looking all the time and even soft scrub soesn't help. I'm taking bleach to it on a regular basis just so it don't look like I'm a complete slob in the kitchen. I'm cleaning that d*** sink every time I stand at it and I don't mean running the dishtowl around and hitting it with the sprayer, I'm talking full on scrubbing each and every stinking time. And I am not a neat freak by any strech of the imagination. I mean, the floor shows very little so I use the previously mentioned "crunch" test...if it get's noisy or splippy it gets mopped. (this is why there is no 5 second rule at our house ;o) But i can't take the way the corian gets soo grimy so fast. I can't even imaging how crazy a whole counter of corian would make me. I'd go back to the fake butcher block laminate at my old house before I went there.

                                                                                                                                  Ok I know htis is ancient but I'm wondering if the general concensus is still the same. Those laminate gray granite looking countertops will go away eventually and i need to know how long it will take me to save up my pennies.

                                                                                                                                2. re: kitchen troll

                                                                                                                                  I have not found this post yet re: coffee and ice, but I am not sure what the issue is with coffee or ice. It will not hurt Corian or any other solid surface.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: kitchen troll

                                                                                                                                    usually stains happen if you pour coffe, tomato sauce and the like and it stays overnight.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: mlezak

                                                                                                                                    Whenever you pour large quantities of hot water into a solid surface sink, simply run the cold water into the sink at the same time. This will prevent the sink from cracking.

                                                                                                                                  3. I saw one other vote for Corian. We redid our kitchen seven years ago, and Corian was the big thing. I chose it over granite because our kitchen is modest in size and feel and I thought granite would look imposing. I'd choose granite now, not because I don't like Corian, but because we did granite in a new master bath and it doesn't look as overbearing as I imagined. It does, however, waterstain and needs to be mopped up frequently. Our kitchen Corian has held up nicely. It's pretty and easy to clean. We did, however, tile down from the backsplash onto the countertop on either side of the stove-top to solve the problem of putting hot things down in a hurry. So far, works fine.

                                                                                                                                    1. I also like Corian/composite...for many of the reasons listed above. Here are some more...NO seams, you can have cool things milled into the surface , e.g an integral drain board and openings for through-the-counter trash and recycling receptacles.

                                                                                                                                      The sink is not a problem. Our white sink cleans up with clorox spray instantly and again...no seams, gentle on porcelain and glass.

                                                                                                                                      1. where do you get granite sealer?

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: lyn

                                                                                                                                          you can get it at any granite fabricator or google, its everywhere

                                                                                                                                        2. I have corian now on my countertops for probably 8 years. I picked a pretty, high priced design and am very happy with it. It shows no scratches at all, and cleans well with windex. I am a chef, and cook constantly.
                                                                                                                                          Maybe the corian that is a solid color would show scratch marks, so don't get that.

                                                                                                                                          1. Good discussion. I expect Farmers daughter has chosen her countertop by now, but for others the search goes on...Since we are building a Green house, I have considered papaerstone which is a very dense recycled product. I think it takes heat well, scratches can be sanded away and will revert to original color. But choice of color is limited, tends toward the black & khaki range. Prolly end up with granite. At least its "natural" and not very toxic in manufacture. Except for the kids working in Rajasthan extracting Indian granite.

                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: grinbau

                                                                                                                                              A tremendous amount of the "granite" being sold today is "resin impregnated". This basically means that the stone slab has been soaked in a kind of epoxy/ acrylic. While I am not too concerned about this, for folks concerned about truly 100% natural/ purely 'green' products this might be a big deal.
                                                                                                                                              The issue I have is that are no standards at all for how the resin is made. Some might be perfectly safe stuff while the next slab may have been done with something that you'd expect to find in meth lab...
                                                                                                                                              I would therefore HIGHLY recommend that you only deal with a very trust worthy firm and INSIST that they provide you with reference of folks that have had their countertop for as long as you hope yours lasts.

                                                                                                                                              I would also suggest that soapstone is probably a lot "greener" than products solds as 'granite' because it is not an igneous rock.

                                                                                                                                              If you do decide to get a "granite" it may make sense to research the geology and insist on a "gneiss" with a large percentage of quartz, which is least likely to have been resined.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: grinbau

                                                                                                                                                Renov8r's points are good about making sure of exactly what you're getting with any product. Granite is THE thing to have now and a lot of inferior stone is being treated so it can be sold at lower prices.
                                                                                                                                                "Green" products are really hot but most of them are new and have no track records for durability, particularly color retention. Bamboo is beautiful but applied stains fade more quickly than they do on wood so furniture and rugs might have to be moved frequently. A dark kitchen counter of recycled paper might be a regretted choice when you rearrange the countertops and find that the spot where the food processor had lived for a year is a completely different color than the rest of the surface. It might be a deeper color change than can be rectified by sanding.
                                                                                                                                                These new recycled products are manufactured in such small quantities that they are often much more expensive than natural "green" materials.

                                                                                                                                              2. Interesting thread about choices of countertops. We sell all three types, granite, quartz and solid surface (corian type).

                                                                                                                                                Granite always wins the beauty contest, till one of the polyester colors gets noticed. About half of the visitors at a home and garden show will think it is granite. Good granite can be a good countertop, if you do your homework on the types available and are carefull who you get to fabricate it. Heat however will ocasionally crack a granite top, the local big box stores have placards warning of this, and it has been our experience as well, so we warn customers not to put hot pots on their top. Usually the crack occurs as the top cools. Some have posted on the heat sink abilities of stone, which causes it to expand locally while the rest of the top isn't moving. This sets up stresses that will cause a crack on occasion, especially in highly fissured materials.

                                                                                                                                                Some mentioned the resined products, which have acrylic resins, the same as in solid surface, spread on one or both sides. Usually this is done to bring an unsuitable stone to market, because of cheapness or beauty of that particular vein. One thing to watch out for is an unscruplous fabricator staining the edge of the resined tops in an attempt to get it to match the rest of the stone. It does wear off with time.

                                                                                                                                                Make sure your granite is rodded both front and back of all cutouts. This isn't to prevent cracking, it won't, it is to hold the peices together so the installer can patch it.
                                                                                                                                                One in five tops gets broken prior to installation, one of the reasons why no one will warranty granite tops.

                                                                                                                                                Make sure they use sink clips, not just epoxy for the sink mounting. The cross members are even better, but the clips are still installed by the best shops.

                                                                                                                                                Staining, so many stones, so many degrees of tolerance by customers and so many standards of neatness by homeowners and cooks. We recomend that customers save the beautiful granite top for when the kids leave home. Too many pizza boxes get left out with kids in the house, peanut butter, anything with an oil base will mark the tops if it is not quickly wiped up. Most reputable stone sites will tell you this on their care and maintance pages.

                                                                                                                                                Two of the most notorious warnings about granite are radon and bacteria. Some say the radon is over rated, and it is just about what you would get from watching tv for eight hours, or sitting at a computer screen for the same, but the Chinese govt has classified granite into three grades, A, B, and C. The A grade have a small enough amount to put inside homes, the B's have more radioactivity and can be used in public buildings in moderation. The C grades are bad enough that they must be used only on exteriors of buildings. The Chines govt bans the export of A grade, if I remember correctly, so check the source of your granite carefully. There is a study online on Springer link if anyone is interested.

                                                                                                                                                The bacteria, well that depends on who you ask. The stone industry latched onto a study done a couple of years ago by a stainless steel group that had stone ranked second in cleanability. Once you read the fine print, it actually a study of kill rates of bacteria on surfaces. Stainless and stone had higher kill rates, or worded another way, they had higher numbers of bacteria on them after being inoculated with bacteria, and when sanitized they rinsed off more dead bacteria than other surfaces.

                                                                                                                                                The MIA, a stone group, redid the study in such a way that granite "won" the test, and have been publishing this everywhere. The first studiy, however left out not only solid surface (corian) but quartz surfaces, the market leaders in tops, and chose other materials that have less than eight percent market share combined. The second study also left out the market leaders of countertops. One should ask why they were left out. Also, do the math after you read the study, it would take 176 gallons of water to rinse off your countertops if you used their method, also they recomend you NOT use their sanitizing method on stone countertops.

                                                                                                                                                Quartz is also not intended for hot pots, our warranty and template sheets all state this clearly, as does the manufacture manuals and warranty sheets. It will also scratch, which are near impossible to remove with out spending a half a day of extremly high priced labor . That said it performs better with kids in the home than granite. It can be damaged by UV, which is not considered a warranty defect, it is expected to change color somewhat as it ages, but watch for putting things like toasters or cannister sets long term, it will leave light or dark spots depending on color. Also listed on the manufacuter sheets is oil, inks, permant markers and high pH cleaners or things like scotchbite or Comet. It is composed of about 35% solid surface with stone chips imbeded.

                                                                                                                                                solid surface is what I put in my kitchen. we work six days a week in the high end kitchen business with little free time for maintence. Sinks five or six years ago could crack if exposed to ice and boiling water at the same time, but they fixed that about four years ago and now warranty it not to occur. They can be repaired in place or replaced easily. Same with scratches. In six years of selling tops, we have polished out six scratches in solid surface tops, all but one were prior to the homeowner moving into the home. Granite and quartz, well we do not offer scratch removal as it is impractical at best, solid surface scratch removal is free since it takes so little time.

                                                                                                                                                One of the best things about solid surface is it's ability to stay sanitary. It and quartz are approved by the National Sanitation Foundation for food prep, one reason why you won't see too many granite tops in a fast food store. All materials in solid surface are FDA approved, don't believe that quartz or engineered stone can claim that since quartz chips are not FDA approved.

                                                                                                                                                I belong to a group of countertop fabricators that fab and sell all types of materials. We are in the middle of a study on bacteria and materials that focuses on what is left after cleaning, since in our minds that is the important thing. True bacteria and stainless will allow more bacteria to grow, but that is a negative not a positive. So far, the tests have shown that granite ranks poorly if the sealer is worn, but even with new sealer it retains and allows far more growth of bacteria than solid surface. Even after sanitizing, the results show that solid surface was NSF approved for a reason.

                                                                                                                                                Here is a link that supports this, done by microbiology experts. Note the difference between granite and polypropolyne when measured with different strains of bacteria, but the important one was raw chicken juice which the granite soaked up three times more than any other surface. The MUSC variety was cultured from chicken breast meat, and is far less dangerous than the EMB cultured from juice.

                                                                                                                                                https://repositorium.sdum.uminho.pt/b...

                                                                                                                                                Good luck on your choice of tops, if cared for and mantained, you will enjoy any of them. Be sure and seal granite often and sanitize even more often.

                                                                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Carpentershop

                                                                                                                                                  What type of sealer is the best for granite?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jean larosa

                                                                                                                                                    Jean, sorry for the late reply, but get your sealer from the place that you bought your granite from. You don't want to mix the water based sealers and the solvent based sealers. If in doubt, use acetone to strip the old sealer before you reseal.

                                                                                                                                                    The big box stores are all about margin on what they sell, not what is best. Your stone fabricator will have a vested interest in selling you a good sealer.

                                                                                                                                                    That said, there is one that has been a favorite with many shops. It is called Miracle 511 sealer / enhancer. Another called STT SB is showing quite a following, but it is new. I like the 511 personally, but the new one might do just as well.

                                                                                                                                                    Do your research on your type of granite, go to a good stone site first and ask if they recomend sealer on it. Thing you have to watch for is the double talk that many are good at. Some stone guys think that telling people that granite needs sealing is bad for business, others are more interested in making sure they get no callbacks on stains, so they will recomend the sealant.

                                                                                                                                                    You can also overseal which is the cause of many customer complaints on granite, people will write that every time they use their stone tops, they leave a new mark. What the real problem turns out is that they have put a coating on a harder surface, the softerof the two will get marked up easily.

                                                                                                                                                    Darned if you do and darned if you don't, which is why we recomend solid surface for many families. As long as you understand that granite will stain and look at it as a character mark, distressing so to speak (the rest of the world looks at it this way), can live with less than perfection on the surface, you will enjoy your granite top.

                                                                                                                                                    One interesting thing happened on our latest round of testing. The sealed products bred bacteria by a huge factor over unsealed granite. So much so that we are repeating the test to look for errors. Another result that was not going to be appreciated was a microban infused quartz product that performed poorly, very poorly although it grew mostly general coliform bacteria, it grew a lot of them. It will be re tested as well. So much can go wrong when you are dealing with microbiology testing, it pays to retest and be conservative.

                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Carpentershop

                                                                                                                                                      Carpentershop,

                                                                                                                                                      How did you remove the scratches from your solid surface countertop? I am not having any success. I just got my countertop 2 weeks ago and I am already seeing fine scratches that are noticeable.

                                                                                                                                                      Thanks

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jtsome

                                                                                                                                                        Jean Larosa,
                                                                                                                                                        Sorry for the late reply. I don't keep up like I should on these sites.

                                                                                                                                                        Scratches in solid surface can be taken out with a scotchbrite in most cases. Try adding some comet or bon ami if it goes slowly. This is what many of us use as the finial grinding step. Or use sandpaper, say 220 then go up the different grits till you get to 600 or so. It depends on how your top was finished, matte, satin or high gloss.

                                                                                                                                                        First thing to do is call your fabricator back that did the job. We offer free scratch removal on our solid surface tops. Couldn't afford to if it took to much time or had to do it often. Your fabricator should look at this as a way to earn some brownie points, especially if they can do it after hours or on a weekend.

                                                                                                                                                        One thing that stone sites warn about that is valid with all countertop materials, is to take some 400 grit sandpaper to all of your ceramic coffee mugs, plates and dishes. Ceramic is harder than most granites, quartz, stainless steel or solid suface. Tape the sheet of sandpaper down, then give a couple of twists to each item.

                                                                                                                                                        As long as there are no sharp points on the ceramic items, it will take seconds to do each one.

                                                                                                                                                        There is little else that will scratch a solid suface top in most kitchens.

                                                                                                                                                        Let me know how things work out for you. Call that fabricator, if you are nice about it, most would jump at the chance to take care of these scratches regardless of how they got there.

                                                                                                                                                        Home depot or Lowes are usually a bit harder to get response from, but you ought to be using an independant shop that will probally do the work anyway.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jtsome

                                                                                                                                                          Can anyone offer me any concrete counter top advice? I want to know about practability in kitchen use?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jtsome

                                                                                                                                                            Scratches will be much more visible on a darker color of solid surface than a lighter color. Patterned materials will conceal minor scratches more than solid colors. Certain lighting conditions will also result in greater visibility of scratches. The worst scenario is a peninsula or island in the middle of a room, with large windows or doors beyond the viewing point. The strong reflections on the countertop will accentuate the visibility of scratches. The biggest factor is personal preference - some homeowners insist on a pristine surface, while many others are perfectly happy with a patina of wear.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Carpentershop

                                                                                                                                                        I did get the grade A Silestone and LOVE IT !! I also got it for 75% off because I bought someone's mistake order and it fit my kitchen perfect. It is 2" thick and VERY heavy. Now.. last summer I left town for 2 wks, forgot to tell my aunt to take some tomato's in a paper bag on the counter. When I got home I found them rotted on the counter top. I threw them away and immediately washed the counter top...It was stained so I used some Bar Keepers Friend on it and I am pretty sure I scratched it. Not deep but just swirls. So now I have the outline of a stain (No color) and swirl scratches. If I call the installers can they buff this off ? It is the "leather" color and "Leather" finish. So it is a dark gray color and dull finish. I too hate shiny granite counter tops I think they look like dead fish scales. I also have never been given a true answer on the heat issue. Does Silestone do well with heat ? Or do I need to baby it ??

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: USAFAMom

                                                                                                                                                          I am virtually certain that Silestone is a solid material with the pattern going through and through rather than on the surface alone. Therefore, I'm pretty sure that the installers should be able to buff out the scratches. We've had Silestone for 4 years, absolutely love it, and it has never stained, and we certainly do not baby it. Nevertheless, I think it makes sense to not abuse it by cutting directly on it, putting a hot pot directly on it, etc. I'm not sure if these things will damage it, but common sense dictates that some simple precautions are appropriate. Let us know if they scratches come out.

                                                                                                                                                      3. I've had Corian in my house for 18 years and it looks perfect! Scratches sand right off. I think granite is a fad that'll pass same as any other. A friend of mine didn't have hers re-sealed properly and had to have a piece replaced, and they couldn't match it perfectly so she has a very expensive countertop that doesn't look very nice. She is getting Corian at her beach house now.

                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: littlericky10

                                                                                                                                                          In some sense everything is a fad -- I just got a bid package that specifies metal edged high pressure laminate (aka Formica). Gonna be a 50's retro theme. Hope they really like that yucky brown goo that is build up too! If you think unsealed granite is hard to patch/fix, you should see the nightmare that I saw earlier this month for an unsealed concrete top.

                                                                                                                                                          Everything has trade offs. I like the fact that there are so many options, and I generally respect whatever choice a customer wants. There are certain products that have performed poorly for me or other customers, and I request that clients sign off on these limitations.

                                                                                                                                                          Corian is a fairly nice product. Some people really love it, while others prefer the characteristics of other products.

                                                                                                                                                          I think that is StarTrek science came to life and we could build countertops out of photons/force fields some people would think that was a fad too...

                                                                                                                                                        2. Have you ever heard of Mystera? It's a synthetic, solid surface like Corian, but much prettier...it looks like hand-poured marble. I used it in my coffee shop, and it looks great, and it's NSF approved. It's long-lasting, scratches can be rubbed out with a green scouring pad, and very heat-resistant. As far as price, it's cheaper than granite and marble, and you never have to recondition it.

                                                                                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ap616

                                                                                                                                                            Uh, ap616, thanks for the plug for Mystera. We sell that one as well, but it will have to be touched up from time to time, especially the darker colors. I don't know about that heat resistant either. We are a certified Mystera shop, but overselling a material doesn't help anyone, least of all Mystera. It is pretty, scratches can be indeed buffed out.

                                                                                                                                                            It is a good product, some colors that are really great, will even convince the granite die hards to look twice. Waste factor is a bit more on some of the veined products, but a good fabricator can deal with it.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Carpentershop

                                                                                                                                                              Sorry, I didn't mean to mislead anyone, but I think people need to see other options besides granite and quartz, and realize there are a lot of solid surfaces out there which are very functional and still aesthetically pleasing.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ap616

                                                                                                                                                                Has anyone heard of a product called Avonite? I'm told it's like Corain but after reading all this I'm very confused.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: loli

                                                                                                                                                                  Aftyer reading the description Avonsite sounds more in line with Silestone since it a mineraly in the acrylic resin - prior to this I have not heard of it-

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: weinstein5

                                                                                                                                                                    Avonite is one of the oldest competitors of Corian. Corian is based on a acrylic resin. Avonite has several product lines. Some use acrylic resins, some use polyester resins and some are a blend of resins. Each has slightly diffrerent performance characteristics.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: loli

                                                                                                                                                                    Hi I have avonite on my kitchen counters, backsplashes and also had a huge kitchen table made of avonite. It still looks brand new! I put hot pots directly on it with no damage. My Kitchen is over 20yrs old and looks new, I was ahead of my time with the avonite I chose it looks like granite and is bullnosed. I love it and would recommend it to anyone who wants a high end look without the trouble of sealing it or doing anything but regular cleaning.

                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: ap616

                                                                                                                                                                    Are there any (functional) drawbacks to quartz, aside from the subjective ones concerning colours and patterns? So far have not had any problems or complaints over my Hanstone counter. As a choice that was made that will be around longer than me, I think it was money well spent.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Carpentershop

                                                                                                                                                                      Carpentershop: thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

                                                                                                                                                                      Do you have an opinion on soapstone?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sdnativa

                                                                                                                                                                        Have you heard any feedback on soapstone?

                                                                                                                                                                  4. Speaking of Corian: Is there any process that would remove the white rings in my speckled mauve corian, caused by my husband repeatedly placing hot pans on the countertop? 8-/ Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Mimi Away

                                                                                                                                                                      I realize that most of these post are a few years old, but someone new like myself will come along. If you have a fabricator in your area, the rings can be buffed and polished and made to look like new.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. I'm redoing my counters as well. I've decided on quartz - probably silestone. I love the look of granite, but I do a lot of cooking and it is not recommended at all for food prep. I could tell you some stories.......you will never find granite in a commerical kitchen. Anyway my question regards the backsplash especially behind the stove. I know tile is common, but I'm concerned about the grout being stained by splashing - say spaghetti sauce etc. I like the look of the stainless backspash, but again, how easy will it be to keep clean. Does anyone have any ideas?

                                                                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chris86

                                                                                                                                                                        Many of the quartz composites can be formed right into the countertop. While this is most common with the 3-4 inch integrated backsplash you could also cover the entire the space under between the cabinets and counters this way.

                                                                                                                                                                        Tile is a bit more to keep looking clean, but most installers recommend treating the grout with a sealer, and that prevents most splashes from staining on a vertical surface

                                                                                                                                                                        While stainless is immune from food based splashes, it is not a prefect surface either - it will exhibit a greasy film from cooking, it shows finger prints, carelessness in cleaning can scratch it, and some folks go crazy trying to match the grain of stainless from different sources. It is no harder to clean than windows, but what is the classic line that housekeepers tell their clients...

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: renov8r

                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for the input. In talking with the various dealers, they pointed out that since the Silestone has a fair amount of thickness, it will stick out somewhat where he wall meets the backsplash (where the refrig. meets the counter and where the end of the cabinet and counter meets the entry wall into the kitchen). They seemed to feel it was a more expensive way to accomplish the effect I need. Also, being so heavy, would that be a problem with attaching it to the wall?

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chris86

                                                                                                                                                                            I forgot to ask, has anyone heard of a product called Syn Mar. It is supposed to be a mixture of quartz and polymer resin. They have products resembling granite, quartz and marble. I came across their website, but I haven't come across anyone who has actually had this installed.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chris86

                                                                                                                                                                              This is a brand of cultured marble. It is common for bath vanities but not really durable enough for kitchen countertops, in my opinion.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: chris86

                                                                                                                                                                              I have seen entire shower stalls covered in the quartz composites, weight is not an issue - the cost might be and the corner details are a factor that might be. The cheapest way do a back splash is probably to use a cheap tile, but there are tiles that cost far more than the quartz composites, and almost every tile backsplash involves some fairly lengthy installation due to cutting and the awkward position (which means costy labor charges unless you are DIYer...). And SS ain't cheap either. If you are like 98% of folks who remodel their kitchen you'll go for what you are hapiest with in terms of looks, functionality and cost (or you'll be part of that 2% that is never happy).

                                                                                                                                                                        2. I have both corian and granite. I love the granite and in 10 years have had nothing done to it but to clean it with a sponge. It looks brand new. The corian has many scratches and looks old. I didn't like the glare of the granite under the lights and had corian put there. I wasn't told I had a choice of finishes. Go with the granite.

                                                                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: lmstanley

                                                                                                                                                                            Ten years ago Corian was still pretty new to most consumers, and granite was far less widely available -- and certainly the honed finish was very much less popular than polished. Fashion was and is a big part of that, but part of it is due to funtional issues with the sealers that were available.

                                                                                                                                                                            As technology changes there are impacts on what finishes are popular/available/common.

                                                                                                                                                                            Similarly anything that you choose has some probabity of looking dated vs timeless. As a general rule of thumb I tell clients that stuff that is VERY VERY far away from the mainstream with regard to fashion and technology is more at risk of looked out of date, but things that are part of a "Huge trend" (even if it is solidly mainstream) is almost guaranteed to be a quickly forgetten fad -- to avoid either fate I sometimes have to remind folks to tone down extreme ideas whie still trying to put in some personal touches.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: renov8r

                                                                                                                                                                              I'm in the planning stage for kitchen remodel. I love the shiny look of the granite countertop. Is there another countertop that has that appearance?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: n43cro

                                                                                                                                                                                the shiny look comes from the finishing of the stone, and you can have granite in dull (very honed) to highly polished, depends on the look you want.

                                                                                                                                                                                Also look into marble. there are soft marbles and hard marbles. Jfood has a hard marble in the center island with a honed finish. Love it

                                                                                                                                                                                Best advice is to choose your slabs yourself at the stone yard.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                  Marble (even "hard" marble) is not recommended for kitchen countertops because it is very porous. Any reports you may read about unsealed granite and stains will be 10x worse with marble. It may be OK for bathrooms but not for cooking/prep surfaces.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: drmoze

                                                                                                                                                                                    well doc, jfood vehemently disagrees. he has marble in the kitchen and it has worn like iron. spills wipe up from grease to tomato to well everything since the cooktop in embedded in the marble.

                                                                                                                                                                                    jfood is not reading any report he is reporting.

                                                                                                                                                                                    It "may be OK" for bathroom. Come on give jfood a break. it is PERFECT for bathrooms. what doesn't the doctor like about marblein the bath?

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: lmstanley

                                                                                                                                                                              A skilled professional can refinish your Corian countertops to look as good as new within an hour or two. Better to refurbish perfectly good countertops instead of throwing them into a landfill. It's more environmentally responsible.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. We're trying to decide on a countertop, and our contractor is licensed in a solid-surface by Formica, similar to Corian, which looks nice from the samples. But what I'm most concerned about is the weight of engineered stone vs the Corian, since we currently have a laminate island that has a dropped panel about a half-foot down from the top, which is just screwed into the cabinets, where we eat our dinner using regular chairs and not bar stools. We really like that dropped panel look, and have been told that the granite and the engineered stone would be difficult to install in that same configuration. So we may have to go with the solid-surface.

                                                                                                                                                                                Has anyone used the solid surface countertops sold by Formica?

                                                                                                                                                                                15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: rgallag127

                                                                                                                                                                                  I am not sure I follow your concerns. The solid surface stuff from Formica is fine for vertical installation, as are the "engineered quartz", and even granite/other natural stone, so long as the correct thickness is available and the substrate is sound. You can create a cantilevered bar/eating surface, but you may need to build a sub-structure of wood with appropriate supports/brackets, as is it not normal screw into and countertop surface. While the weight of granite can be greater an equal thickness of solid surface, it is often possible to use an overlay thickness. This may limit your options for edge treatments.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Are you going to re-use the existing cabinets? If not I can think of several ways to incorporate fully supported bar/eating area into a new design.
                                                                                                                                                                                  There are professional kitchen designers that may be better suited to these challenges than just a contractor.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: renov8r

                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, we plan to use the existing cabinets. The challenge is that we want a multi-level island, where one side is standard counter height, and the other two sides are lower so that we can use regular sized chairs and not bar stools. We do not want to use bar stools. The current countertop is plain old white formica, and even that is wobbly if you put pressure on it (as kids tend to do!) I don't want legs or any other free-standing support, kids tend to bang into them and bruise their knees! So we need something that is light enough to be able to be supported just from the side of the cabinet, either using screws or brackets or steel rods or something. The overlay is an interesting option, I will have to look into it.

                                                                                                                                                                                    So I heard a lot of good and bad about Corian on this thread, and it seems to me that the Formica Solid-Surface is basically the same. I wanted to know if anyone has any experience specifically with this material?

                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: rgallag127

                                                                                                                                                                                      I have done projects that use the solid surface Formica brand. It is a good product, they have several price points/ design series, all of which look like solid surface to me (some are nice, with a good range of colors, but I don't think anyone would mistake them for natural stone...). If you have found a color that you like that may be your best option. I know that they DO make a 1/4" thickeness for verticals & a 1/2" for overlays, as well as 3/4 for overhangs up to one foot -- your table height eating bar is probably deeper than that and you'd need to decide if the wobble is bad enough to justify rebuilding -- without seeing how the old cabinets are built I can't speculate on whether internal reinforcement is possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                      If you are planning to resuse the existing cabinets it does get tricky to try and incorporate a "table height" eating bar, as you've noted this can get a lot of weight put on them. Building from scratch it would be possible to hide all the support -- heck I saw a setup where the homeowner wanted a concrete countertop /cantilevered eating bar and used a welded structural steel support behind it all (steel was not needed just for support, as the concrete is not all that much more dense than stone, but the project lent itself to the industrial overkill...).

                                                                                                                                                                                      It MAY be possible to build some compact yet hefty brackets to support the countertop, the load would need to be transfered into/down the cabinet structure. The problem is that while it an engineer COULD probably design something that would work AND be very compact (by using regular wood, laminated beams, or steel) the complexity/cost might exceed the whole rest of the project. Even if "money were no object" this would still take up SOME room and I can understand your concerns about legs ad knees.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Reminds me of a story -- I did a project a while ago for a homeowner who was a professional structural engineer. It was as garage remodel/ conversion to family room and he wanted cathederal ceilings. He sketched out several very interesting solutions for eliminating the existing ceiling framing and utilizing super strength alloys and/or suspension cables. It would have been unbelievably expensive (like over $700 a sq foot, given the small size of the garage), and we eventually just reframed with lumber. He was very happy that he had not spent so much on the structure that he could actually furnish the room with A/V equipment instead of only having a very pretty very empty 'box". Sometimes solutions that are "possible" are just too expensive to achieve ...

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: renov8r

                                                                                                                                                                                        So we're back to square one. We went to Home Depot just to look and feel for ourselves, and of course we fell in love with the granite over the Corian big time. So we asked the Home Depot rep about the table-height multi-level countertop, and she said that as long as there were enough brackets to support it, they could definitely do a 15-inch eating area. I could live with brackets (not legs thought), and we're even reconsidering and thinking of going one-level, we liked the stone so much more over the Corian.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The question now is, has anyone heard of the new brand of granite Home Depot is selling "Stonemark"? Apparently it's already been sealed with "PermaShield" and therefore has a 15-year warranty against staining and doesn't need to be sealed.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Thoughts?

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rgallag127

                                                                                                                                                                                          We built a home and splurged and put granite countertops in our kitchen(undermount extra deep double sinks). We LOVE it. I roll our pastries and pizza dough on it. I use a cutting boards for cutting. Clean up is uber easy and it is always a cool temp. We put hot pans directly on our breakfast counter and eat from there sometimes. Baking sheets go on there right from the oven. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I can't believe about the stains since we entertain constantly and people spill wine, tomato sauce, puddings, etc. Sometimes I have cleaned it the next day and no problem at all. Also, I have spilled olive oil on it and it stains, but after a week if becomes fully absorbed and it doesn't show any longer. I love the granite - can you tell?

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: itryalot

                                                                                                                                                                                            Overhangs are easily done in solid surface, there is a one inch space underneath, small steel square tubing is added, siliconed in place, and it will hold fine. Fabrication manuals cover this, it is common.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Stone mark is a scam, read the fine print on what they actual do when things go south.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Formica is fine material, but chech with your local fabricator for any warranty issues that were not taken care of. The distributor has a big say in how well these things are handled. I don't recomend Formica here due to some issues like this, nationally the brand is a good one.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Quartz comes in sheets and can not be formed into a intergrated splash, that can be done with solid surface or laminate.

                                                                                                                                                                                            White rings on Corian is caused by a water molecule in ATH that is released when too much heat is applied. The rings should sand away, sand a large area to blend. Use 120 grit, then 150, 220, 320 and a scotch brite pad to match the surrounding finish. Might have to scotchbrite the entire top to match.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Do not put hot pots on any hard surface, soap stone being an exception.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I love the feel of soap stone, but it is quite soft and when you work it, you have to assume it has asbestos fibers in it. I wonder about that being a future issue. We sell it along with granite, quartz, laminate and solid surface.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Drawbacks on quartz.... UV damage, can scratch, not heat resistent, not stain resistent (check the warranty or care and cleaning instructions to see what to watch out for), a technical bulletin was sent out saying to watch out for Glade Scented Candles, the little AA AAA battery chargers can damage quartz backsplashes, I have had consumers call about oven cleaner damge.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Very difficult to repair, can be done, but expensive.....

                                                                                                                                                                                            Avonite, three lines, acrylic, filled polyester and 100% polyester if you want some very cool counters.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Mystera has gone down the tubes, One company, Newal Coach, has ten million dollar custom buses coming back to replace all the Mystera. Color fade, yellowing, texture change, evidence of curing issues. We no longer recomend it, but if someone just loves it, it isn't any more risky than granite.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Carpentershop

                                                                                                                                                                                              I researched countertops thoroughly a few years back when designing our new kitchen from scratch. (With a PhD in materials engineering and many in-person examinations of various products, I tend to look beyond marketing hype.) In a nutshell, I would recommend granite, followed by silestone or other stone- or quartz-based synthetic, and would recommend against Corian or any other 'solid surface.' Corian will scratch, dull, discolor, and it is impossible to get the whole thing looking good.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Some granites (like ubatuba) are less porous than others and don't require sealing at all. A 'busy' granite won't show any minor discolorations that may eventually occur. WRT weight, if there's enough surface area, granite can be installed solidly with a decent overhang. For example, we have a 10' bartop (2 pcs) with about 12" overhang and only about 10" over the countertops to anchor it.A wooden frame with many cross-members was installed (large surface area) and the countertop glued onto it No brackets, and it is as solid as a rock. Of course, you need 3cnm granite (which I would recommend for all countertops--the thin 2cm stuff may not support undermount sinks, can't be used for large overhangs, and requires a fake thick edge glued onto it.)

                                                                                                                                                                                              We also have a cabinet-depth island (table height, about 5' by 3.5' overall, 24" cabs) with a 15" overhang on one side. No brackets. No problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: drmoze

                                                                                                                                                                                                Ok, I've read everything on the post and just have one question or perhaps it's a recap. Are there any functional problems or concerns with Silestone? I'm looking at Granite, Zodiac Quartz and Silestone. Silestone is MUCH better priced and I'm leaning toward it. Suggestions?

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KimG

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I also looked at Silestone (and the others, and real granite). The only thing I will tell you was when I mentioned Silestone at the granite places (which also carried Caesarstone, Zodiaq, etc.) they said that THEY cut those, but Silestone insists it be cut at their factory wherever it is and shipped. So if there is a mistake in the cutting/dimensions of all your cutouts (sink, cooktop, just general sizing) then it's a pain to get it redone, whereas if they cut it right on the local premises they have more control/responsibility/easier to fix. Silestone around here is more or less relegated to the Orange place. Maybe they simply couldn't compete on price so the local granite places preferred to take a pass on it for that reason.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Eujeanie

                                                                                                                                                                                                    We're remodelling our kitchen. I'm picking out my Granite, and have decided on either Black Galaxi (tiny gold pieces in it), or Black Ice (larger bluish Mica pieces in it). I know it's a matter of taste, but I would really like someone's opinion who has seen one or both of these in a kitchen. Which one did you like best and why? Also should I go with shiny finish?
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Your opinion is appreciated!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Carpentershop

                                                                                                                                                                                                carpentershop - can you elaborate more on Mystera going down the tubes? I am trying to find substitute for (real) white carrara marble and Mystera's "Glacier" seemed to look pretty close when I saw it yesterday. Since it is a newish product, I am wary and want to know all I can. My second choice is Caesarstone Misty Carerra but that has a much more light gray background than the Mystera did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Any help/comments from you or others is most appreciated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hoya saxa

                                                                                                                                                                                                  does anybody have any input on HanStone? We're considering it for our island around our cooktop but have never heard of it before.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kod84

                                                                                                                                                                                                    HanStone is a brand of engineered stone (quartz) countertop made in Korea. The same company makes Hanex, a solid surface mateial.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Carpentershop

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Carpentershop: Your 9/18/2007 comments on granite, quartz, test, etc were wonderful. Any updates? Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Carpentershop

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Carpentershop- what makes the granite risky?

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Dear Farmersdaughter...Its time to straighten out all you people who have Corian, but have changed to Granite, Engineered Stone or whatever because you are afraid of heat, scratches etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                        First ...Day to day cleaning use warm soapy water and Towel dry to eliminate water spots.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Second.. If you have scratches, you Must use an Abrasive cleaner like Comet or Ajax with a Green Scotch Brite pad. This will remove lite scratches and any stains that might be on your top. This process will renew the surface, and it should look good as new with a nice matte finish. Do not be bashful, use elbow grease and apply pressure. If you want a SemiGloss finish go over the top with Soft Scrub after you have done the previous step.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Third.. If you have gouges, then you need a more agressive process, but it will still be ok..Get an orbital palm sander, (rent or borrow if you do not have one ). Using 120 grit sandpaper first, sand out the gouge and an area around it so it blends. Then go to 220 grit paper to give it a more fine finish, and then do the Comet / Ajax process and again it will be good as new. Corian never needs to be sealed! Bacteria and stains do not penetrate, they stay on the surface.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Regarding Heat... Do not be so afraid...Corian will easily withstand heat to 350 degrees. I have Corian and have removed a turkey pan and left it on my top and it has not been an issue. I do still recommend a trivet plate when doing this, because "What if ", but when I have forgotten so far I have not had a problem. At higher heat you might get a burn in your Corian , which is a discoloration in the product. The only way this can be repaired is by having a fabricator cut out the area, and inserting in another piece, and usually this will blend in very nicely. It might cost something, but certainly cheaper then buying a new top.
                                                                                                                                                                                        For those people who have been sold on the idea of the granites, & engineered stone products and their high resistence to heat, please Read On.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Granite Vs heat...Most cases it will accept it with no problem..Very rare will it crack the stone, but the possibility is there if there is a fissure within the stone, and if it does, your up that perverbiale creek.( No fix to it ). This product is very porus and must be sealed, and are you sealing it with food compatible chemicals?
                                                                                                                                                                                        Engineered stone ..Very heat resistant, but if you read the literature those manufactures all recommend using a trivet.
                                                                                                                                                                                        NOW FOR THE TRUTH THAT ALL GRANITE AND STONE PEOPLE FORGET TO TELL CONSUMERS. If you set something hot on these surfaces, it might not break or crack, but 100% of the time, the heat goes somewhere. That somewhere goes into the stone. For those of you with young children, imagine the surprise they will get when they put their tender hands on the spot where you just removed the very hot pan. Yes, they will get badly burned.. Think about how you would explain to the emergency room doctor that your child burned themselves on your countertop. Be prepared for an inquisition..Does it happen alot, no. Does it happen yes. Whats the solution? Use a heat trivet to place your pans on, and if you do this , then whats the difference if its stone or Corian.
                                                                                                                                                                                        About me..I sell corian for a living, and I very much appreciate people having different preferences for products...I personally love the look of stone, both man made and natural , but I do get frustrated when people are sold something, be it Corian, Stone, laminate or now even concrete and they are not educated about each.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Thank you for reading and good luck in whatever you do.

                                                                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: VtHawk7

                                                                                                                                                                                          VT

                                                                                                                                                                                          Very comprehensive and jfood has had Corian, Limestone and Marble and loved all of them so he is not trying to sell any of them. But he has a question to your TRUTH paragraph. Jfood has never experienced the temperature of any counter achieving burn the skin temperature, but if that is true of granite is it not also true of Corian, stainless, and other surfaces?

                                                                                                                                                                                          TIA

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                            Hey JFood , Thanks for replying..That was alot of typing for me, and I was wondering if anyone would read it. To answer your concern. You are absolutely correct in questioning if the heat issue would happen in corian. Indeed it would! If people were told you could put those very hot pans on it and leave them there, the heat would go into Corian and the exact same thing would happen if you touched it. The other thing that would happen is, it would "Burn" the corian. When corian is burnt, it is a permanent discoloration that cannot come out unless the affected piece is cut out and another one put in. This is a repair ( could be costly ) and it would have to be done by a fabricator. A little side note, if one leaves a lit cigarette on corian and it makes the brown mark we are all familiar with, that is a stain and is removed by using a scotch brite pad with a little comet or ajax.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Back to your concern, I put this whole burn part in because of Farmers daughters friend had her scared over the heat damage issue with corian. This can happen, so any good Corian Salesperson will stress the use of a hot plate of some sort.
                                                                                                                                                                                            As far as the burning oneself it did happen to an Architect in Maine ( I forgot his name) but his wife was making spaghetti sauce and it was simimering and very hot. She took the pot she was using, and placed in on their granite center kitchen island, and left it there as she did other things on the stove. After a bit , she resumed cooking it on the stove. Her husband who had an office in the same house to came out to see what she was up to, placed his hand flat on the island in the exact spot the pot had been, ( heat on stone is not visible) and he got 3rd degree burns...Granted this is an extreme case, but every once in a while things in life are extreme.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Any countertop, not protected by a hot plate, will absorb heat. It cannot be seen. But a hot plate is something that most people recognise is used for placing hot things on.
                                                                                                                                                                                            I do not think the heat issue on laminate would be quite as bad as it has a particle board substrate, but it would most likely bubble the surface, and delaminate it in that spot.. I hope I have answered your questions. Thanks for asking. VtHawk7

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: VtHawk7

                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks VT, accidents happen.

                                                                                                                                                                                              jfood's biggest fear inthe kitchen is the pan handle when he sears on the stove and finishes in the oven. The handle is now >350 degrees and is very hot. To help jfood ALWAYS places the potholder glove over the handle until it cools off, and this can take 20-30 minutes. So jfood is always looking for other people who have had problems so he can learn.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Thank you for the info.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: VtHawk7

                                                                                                                                                                                            Dear VtWawk7,
                                                                                                                                                                                            I read with interest your post on how to remove scratches from Corian. I had been following the directions given in the kit I received with my Corian 13 years ago which called for 220 and 180 sandpaper followed by a Scotch Brite pad, and all I got for my effort was more scratches. I am off to buy some Comet now in the hopes that your suggestion will do the trick.

                                                                                                                                                                                          3. As soon as my new totally flat cook top arrives, I'll be getting highly polished black granite countertops with the black cooktop mounted flush in the island. I can hardly wait. But it's been nearly two years of research and hemming and hawing. You gotta live with the results a very long time, so if you don't want to end up hating yourself, think, think, think!.

                                                                                                                                                                                            If you shop very carefully and take bids from lots of granite people, it's highly possible you will find a great price on granite. At least I did. It's costing $4,000 for 13 running feet of "side" countertops, a very large island, and a wet bar done in the black, and cream tumbled marble back splashes. That's only a tad more than the cheapest cultured granite estimate I got. And they're throwing in a free stainless steel double sink. I will have to pay an electrician and a plumber to reconnect the cooktop and the plumbing. That's "code."

                                                                                                                                                                                            A great advantage of granite is that only diamonds are harder, so it's incredibly scratch resistant. It's great for candy making or baking. Toss a zip-lock bag of crushed ice on it before you roll out your pie dough (or puff pastry) and you get baker-pro results! You don't have to worry about sliding a scorching-hot heavy cast iron skillet from the cook top to the granite counter top. Well, don't slide it onto an iced spot or you might crack the cast iron!

                                                                                                                                                                                            Both marble and soapstone are porous and have to be resealed regularly, plus they scratch. Marble is pitted by beer, but it's okay to spill champagne on it. Both take a great deal of extra work and care.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't care what brand of cultured granite you look at, it LOOKS "cultured." And it doesn't feel the same to the touch as real granite.

                                                                                                                                                                                            If I had money to burn, I *might* consider alabaster or some exotic stone for the kitchen, at least as an accent, but just think of me as a designer who can't afford her own designs. I did consider plate glass mirrors for the backsplashes (affordable), but then realized that every time I put two dirty plates on the counter, I'd see FOUR! Don't need that! But the mirrors would be striking... Maybe paper plates? '-)

                                                                                                                                                                                            Do NOT consider Home Depot or Lowes for your countertops unless you want to pay through the nose for what you can get from other places for half the price and often less. My experience and best advice is when it comes to any sort of home improvement, the more time you invest in research and pricing, the more money you save in the end. And whenever possible, act as your own general contractor.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Now, if you're really concerned about cost and want a counterop that is almost as great as granite, go with ceramic tile. The new silicone grouts last much longer than the old traditional ones, and if you want a fairly seamless look, you can even have the grout tinted to match the tile.

                                                                                                                                                                                            My best advice is to stay away from stainless steel countertops. In another ten years they'll be as dated as a turqoise refrigerator, along with all of the currently in-demand stainless steel appliances. Planned obsolescence!

                                                                                                                                                                                            And cement countertops are ridiculously expensive, plus I'm not all that convinced they're food safe. Well, like soapstone and marble, they require special sealing, and did I mention they're expensive? That, plus some people are allergic to concrete/cement. I'm one of them. Walk barefoot on a sidewalk and I'm in big trouble. So cement countertops can limit your resale market, though admittedly not by much. But I think they are just another turqoise refrigerator of the future.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Whatever you choose, enjoy your new kitchen! I'm just praying mine is done by Thanksgiving. All depends on the arrival of the new cooktop. "Backorder" will earn somebody a pie in the face!

                                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                              Good luck Caroline, Sounds like you did proper research and found the right product for yourself. I think you will have a beautiful kitchen. Happy thanksgiving.
                                                                                                                                                                                              VtHawk

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: VtHawk7

                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks! I'll at least have half a kitchen for Thanksgiving, even if the cook top doesn't get here until Easter. They're doing the sink and side counters plus wetbar tomorrow morning, then coming back to do the island when the cook top gets here. This company is really great about working around the confusion... It's beginning to look like it will arrive on or about Thanksgiving day! LOL! Best laid plans of mice. Pass the Thanksgiving cheese! '-)

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                I beg to differ. Stainless steel appliances have been classics for decades, and look great long after they are installed. Porcelain finished appliances often look beat-up a few years after they are installed. Porcelain finishes often chip at the edges, and are subject to heat damage near the burners. You can scrub the heck out of stainless steel without worry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Five years later and this has popped up on my radar again, soooooo... UPDATE!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The black granite countertops were successffully installed and now, five years down the line, I still love them! The installers "sealed" them at installation. I have never re-sealed them. For the first six months or so, I bought expensive "stone cleaner" for them. Since then, it's been Windex all the way. They are still pitch black and mirror shiny, and one of the many reasons I love them is that I can tell at a glance if my counters are clean What I have learned is that they cannot be cleaned with a kitchen sponge and soapy water, unless you want streaks. When I fry and my cooktop and the granite are covered with spatters (lipid rain!), Windex and one or two paper towels is the most efficient way to cut through grease and end up with streak free granite. I'm a very happy camper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I am ordering a Corian countertop (for the 3rd time, in my 3rd kitchen in 14 years) since I find it to be indestructible. As a Cordon Bleu cook, I spend a huge amount of time in the kitchen and have NEVER had problems with heat stains, scratches, cracks. It is so easy to keep clean, and at the time of installation you will be given a maintenance kit for any mishaps. I have had none in all these years. As an experiment, my husband, being a perfectionist, decided to call back one of the installers to get him to sand the surface to see how it compared to when it was originally installed (3 years previously) and when the job was completed we were satisfied that it was indeed a waste of money and quite unnecessary. Corian has never let me down. Purists tell me to go for a natural product (especially to help in the resale of our property) but that it such a negative attitude: the kitchen is there for me, not for a future buyer. A number of people tell me that their fine china and crystal gets chipped on stone surfaces - and that the only way around this problem is to lay a kitchen towel on the countertop when emptying the dishwasher or removing the items from the sink. What a nuisance!! If the majority of cooking takes place in a microwave then the countertop surface will be less of an issue. If, like me, you use all of your pots, pans, utensils on a frequent basis then Corian will not disappoint. Also, good hygiene practice is of paramount importance in a kitchen and, again, Corian comes out tops. In closing, my opinion is that a countertop is there not so much to be admired like a fine piece of art but for the sole purpose of preparing food in an environment which is practical and hygienic. The fact that Corian comes in such a huge array of colors now only makes my eventual choice of color that much more difficult!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LouiseB

                                                                                                                                                                                                    They finally finished installing my black granite counterops today, and may I say the black is magnificent? Does Corian come in black? My ceramic cooktop blends right in for a totally smooth look.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now my only remaining quandry is what color to paint all of the cabinets, the island, the hood, and the wainscotting. Currently, they are all what I call "1920s arsenic green" that I inherited from the former owner. The walls are a linen white and the black countertops really make the black trimmed stainless steel appliances (soon to go out of style, I'm sure!) pop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't know if I'm teetering on the brink of insanity, but bless my soul, I'm seriously considering painting the cabinets etc.a nice not-too-flashy pumpkin chiffon. The big question is whether I'll end up hating myself about two weeks after I fork over a chunk of cash to the painters? Will eating in a pumpkin chiffon kitchen make the food taste funny? Will it make the room feel hot and clammy in the summer? Is this a sign that Charlie Brown has cast an evil spell on me? <sigh> Decisions, decisions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Go with your gut. Pumpkin chiffon sounds lovely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Caroline - I think that food/veggie colors are fine - I went with Ben Moore's Dill Pickle for my walls, with highgloss white woodwork - it turned out fine !

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JayVaBeach

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks, Jay. And now, if I end up not liking it, you've given me someone to blame it on! '-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Actually, I've got the color swatch picked out and plan on picking up an itsy bitsy can of it tomorrow to paint the island. Then, if it's too strong or too weak or I end up thinking I can't live with orange, it's not like I'd have to repaint the entire kitchen. The color swatch looks delicious with the black granite!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                              It sounds very handsome Caroline. I have friends with a villa in the South of France & they did solid black granite with tangerine accents & I must say it's boldly beautiful in their authentic "french cuisine." Their designer calls it salmon; however, it's truly tangerine & it looks terrific. I'll be there for the holidays & can't wait to visit again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Did you go with the pumpkin? That sounds really nice. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Docsknotinn

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Alas, the cabinets are still arsenic green. But there is comedy involved!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hired a painter who told me he was highly experienced, had personally painted 6 kitchen with brush and no-voc paint. He quoted me a price to do it if I bought the materials. Sent him off to Home Depot for saw horses (to rest the cabinet doors on while he painted), paint, brushes, drop cloths and all that jazz. When I went out into the garage to see how he was progressing on the first four doors, he had two of them up on the saw horses, one per saw horse, carefully balanced so he could not stroke the brush down the sides of the doors without knocking them to the floor. He was dipping the paint brush beyond the ferrel, and the paint was heavily pooled in all of the panel recesses. It was water base paint (thankfully), so I told him to take that door quickly into the back door and wash the paint off and rehang the doors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              He did, then came and told me he would have to redrill holes in the doors for the pulls; the ones on the top doors were too high to reach and the ones on the bottom were almost to the floor. HE WAS SERIOUS! When I told him to simply remount the top doors on the bottom and vice versa, he thought I was a genius! Hey, I could NOT make this stuff up!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I got an estimate from a well advertised professional company. Explained I have a lot of allergies and require no-voc paint and that the work be done with brushes to curtail air contamination. They gave me a written estimate for $4,000.00 using high voc sprayed paint! They explained it was a "little high" because they would have to paint the walls and ceiling to cover up the overblow from painting the cabinets! So how come they think they're smart enough not to let the wall spray get on the cabinets, but they're not smart enough to figure out how to keep the cabinet paint from getting on the walls? Or do they just think I'm stupid?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Someday I hope to find a real PAINTER! And then I think I'll go with cream to match the travertine back splashes. Meanwhile, how do I get so lucky?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LouiseB

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Corian is not indestructible, but is a great choice for many people. For those who hate Corian - feel free to buy something else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I recently restored/renovated & added on to my kitchen. I went round & round on this topic & finally allowed my architect to talk me into marble counter/work tops & marble floors. Initially I wanted all stainless, but at the very end switched to the marble alternative - I'm most grateful that I did. It does make for a louder volume; however, it looks clean & cool all of the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I am a concrete fan, you can have any color, high polished sheen or matte finish depending on your preference, cost effective, any shape you can make levels in the surface you can put optics or embeds in the surface making it very personalized and unique. Concrete as a material is porous, but they have admixtures in the mix and sealers that don't have these problems at all. I would compare the qualities of concrete as a surface to granite. You can do whatever you want, but no top should ever get hot pans or cutting on. If you cut on a surface (any of them) you ruin your knifes, and putting a hot pan on it compromises the integrity of your sealer, you can embed trivets in your concrete countertop if you feel the need to have hot pans on your top...
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also there are lightweight concrete options that could go on any cabinets, the reason why there isn't more information about it is because it isn't a commodity type product like the rest of these, it is all handmade and custom, you have to find a local artisan to make it. Granite even if mined here they ship overseas for cheap labor to do all the finish work and then ship back, nothing green about granite...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: myradel

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Most countertops are "handmade and custom" to a greater or lesser extent. The raw materials may be a "commodity type product", but what could be more of a commodity than concrete? The craftsperson transforms the commodity material into something customized to YOUR kitchen. There are few products bought by most people that have the degree of customization as kitchen countertops.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. plus you can't do most of this with any other material...

                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. We have had Corian for over a year now and just love it. Have never had a problem with scratches - it is much improved from what was installed years ago.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              It never stains, does not require sealing and cleans so easily

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Donna52479

                                                                                                                                                                                                                We are building a kitchen island. The rest of our kitchen is granite but the island will have to be movable in case we need to get an appliance out. I want something that is beautiful but not as heavy as granite. How do the other stones, corian, formica, etc. compare in weight and looks? Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ceejay104

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Call all of the suppliers in your area and arrange a FREE in-home estimate. They will bring samples with them, and you can get a first-hand demo of how well they work with your granite countertops.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If your island is to be on locking wheels, and assuming you have good strong floors, I cant see how matching your present granite (or using another color of actual granite to contrast) would be a problem. Well, unless you'll need to lift the island to move it for some reason.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. We've had Corian in our house for 35+ years. It has a couple very tiny gouges (but it is not a porous material, so food safety isn't an issue, and the color goes straight through, so the gouges are invisible), but otherwise still looks like new. We were told at the time of installation that we could put hot pots directly on the surface, but never have - we try to take care of our stuff and see no reason not to use a trivet. We also don't cut directly on the corian surface - as others here have said, any countertop will ruin your knife - even if it the knife won't damage your countertop!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                We have really nice corian - good color, good installation, not sure why other people hate it so much. We've been happy. I'm now looking at a new kitchen, and corian is definitely an option.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Stainless steel dents. If you drop a glass or plate on the counter, it can make a nice dent that you cannot get out (happened in our friend's kitchen). So even if you don't mind a few little scratches, think about how you feel about dents.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                True, concrete and stone are beautiful and offer lots of design flexibility, but not all stones are non-porous, and they are all very hard. If you drop a glass on corian, it will probably not break. With concrete and stone, it most likely will break.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                No, we are not that clumsy, but accidents DO happen even in the most careful cook's kitchen, and we prefer to limit the amount of glass-shard cleanup we do! Especially since we have a lot of heirloom dishes that cannot be replaced, so we'd rather our dishes bounced or even chipped a little, rather than shattered.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                This also relates to kitchen floors - concrete and tile are very popular, but not only will they break anything that drops on them, but they are very hard surfaces for standing - no give, so will tire your legs and feet more than wood (wood also doesn't break most glasswear dropped - depending on the height of the fall, material of cup, etc.) does if you are standing and cooking for long periods of time (like preparing for a dinner party or any large meal).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tile grout also tends to stain and get dirty - even if it is sealed - the sealers wear off after a while.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Think about how YOU use your kitchen, how often things get dropped or fall, are you using glasses/plates that are heirlooms and very precious, or new pieces you aren't attached to and won't be overwrought about if they do break. How much do you stand and cook? What is your workflow movement? Do you really NEED to be able to put hot pots directly on your countertop? If you plan to live in the house for many years, think about how things will change when you have small children, teenagers, pets, and what about when you yourself are older, stiffer - can't reach as high, can't stand as long - can your kitchen deal with all of these life changes?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: oldhouse

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There is nothing wrong with Corian. Our Corian countertops are 13 years old and all they require is a little polish once in a while. The white under-mount sink scrubs clean with a little Ajax and a sponge. The Corian countertops are a light color (grey with back and grey flecks) and they still look great. We recenty installed new stainless steel appliances and they look great. The cabinets were custom-made for our kitchen with triple-crown molding around the tops, but they are white. We simply changed our old door/drawer pulls to brushed chrome and intstalled a brushed chrome faucet (pulls and faucet purchased on eBay -- save $$). It looks like a new kitchen and friends and neighbors think we spent a fortune!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Corian cannot be beat for durability!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: antiqueluvr

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Corian can be modified to accept new sinks, cooktops and other appliances. The sort of "face lift" remodel described above can be very cost effective for those with a fundamentally sound but dated kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. When we replaced our about-to-delaminate Formica three years ago (an urgent project since we were schedule to be on the local holiday house tour), we opted for Granite Transformations. It's an engineered stone, but it is a thin cap that is custom-constructed and fits over existing the countertop. It is about the same price as other quality engineered stone, but the installation requires no demolition and is therefore not messy. Ours was installed in less than a day. It does not need oiling or any other kind of treatment, can take a hot pot and is virtually bullet-proof.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ClaireWalter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thank you for all the replies. Does Corian look "dull"? I've heard its not for some people. We will be going with black and really don't care if it has the shine of granite. We just want it to go with the rest of the kitchen and be durable. I was raised with the old fashioned formica counter tops and would never put a hot pot on an unprotected countertop or cut on one. Its just ingrained. In response to the granite transformations, is it as heavy as regular granite?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ceejay104

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      How long have you had your Granite Formations? Do you know anyone else that has them? Its sounds like we're getting close to finding what we want. So far, the corian and granite formations sound very good. Does anyone have any opinion on the high end laminate countertops?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ceejay104

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If you are determined to have black shiny countertops, then granite is a better choice than Corian. Just be sure to deal with a reputable supplier - lots of black "granite" on the market today is doctored stone of low quality.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I'd just like to reiterate what someone else said: that granite, quartz, marble are not sustainable resources, i.e. once it comes out of the ground it does not come back. There are many other choices. Recycled glass, paper; concrete, etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://vetrazzo.com/
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://www.richlite.com/countertop/
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://www.brookscustom.com/
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://www.shetkastone.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: eatzealot

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ???

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          All those materials use epoxy type binders. Those binders come from petrochemicals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have serious doubts that the world will ever "run out" of granite, or marble -- if I remember my geology isn't new mantle formed at the bottom of the ocean? Maybe we sound be promoting counters made of volcanic magma. -- http://www.kitchen-counter-tops.net/g...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (I am pretty sure most granite is technically "metamorphic" rock that spent eons under pressure and was heaved into a minable site over long periods of time, but still don't think we can "use it up" the same way an oil well goes dry...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          BTW I do think that sustainable FOODS are a legitimate issue, and I fully appreciate the trend toward everything from heirloom vegetables to organic meats, but I think that there is no evidence that plastics binders, no matter how small a percentage they constitute make a building material "more sustainable" than a 100% natural product. It is marketing puffery.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Buckethead

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I rebuilt our farmhouse kitchen (in England) about five years ago, and looked at various solutions to the worktop problem. What I settled on was fully vitrified biscuit porcelain tiles. These are for all practical purposes solid glass, they can be had in lots of colours, and they are both completely impervious and extremely hard. In five years of pretty heavy use, not one scratch, chip or discolouration.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You'll find these tiles at any good tile shop, they're most commonly used in high-end car showrooms for flooring, for the same reasons of durability, hardness and impermeability to car fluids.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Buckethead

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                More marketing hype -- they use the term "phenolic resin"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.paperstoneproducts.net/ps_...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I know what phenols are, because that is exactly what MOST epoxy is:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphenol-A

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenolic...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epoxy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Modern construction sites are surrounded by a soup or organic compounds, I don't fault the manufacturers for trying to limit the use of volatile compounds, and appreciate that many companies are actively trying to use water-based formulations, but facts are facts and STONE is STONE and "paperstone" incorporates a synthetic chemical compound.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Fact.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: renov8r

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                if granitic materials are indeed formed the bottom of the ocean then we'd also need economic means of recovering this material.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                granites are igneous sourced and formed in intrusive plutons so they are/were subject to heat and pressure, but actual formation of granites are results of slowww cooling (allowing time for growth of large visible crystals)...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                however, marbles--formerly (sedimentary) limestone deposits--are classified as metamorphic, as are "slates" (noun as well as adjective describing its main attribute)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                practically speaking, you are right -- we'd never really "run out" of this stuff. of course with any natural resource there are questions of quality and accessibility

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: renov8r

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Many "granites" are actually lower quality stones that are impregnated with petrochemical resins in a vacuum chamber at the factory.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. My recommendations are either laminate or stainless steel or something like rock maple (wood).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Cost, functionality, looks, value, ease or difficulty of maintenance are primary factors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Nothing out there is "lifetime", I assure you. It all wears, stains, chips, or *something* over time. Not the least consideration is that most Americans don't live in their houses for anything like a lifetime, and American consumerism requires changes in "fashion" on a periodic basis. You could have the kitchen of kitchens, sell your house, and the next couple who move in are gonna go "ewww, what were they thinking" and remodel it all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You can't cut on any of it with your fancy Shun knives, and you really shouldn't put hot pans on any of it (just use a trivet, ok), and you shouldn't butcher a hog on it, regardless of what it is (ok, so stainless is the exception).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm in and out of custom homes on a weekly basis. The reality is that there is no perfect surface, there is only what you can afford, and your personal sense of "style". Everything else is a trade off.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I bet you $5 though, that you can't show me a professional commercial kitchen with granite or marble countertops that isn't meant for a TV show.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: fussycouple

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Professional commercial kitchens must use food prepartion surfaces that are certified safe by the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation). Because of the variability among the thousands of natural stones on the market, they haven't been certified by the NSF. Stainless steel is the overwhelming leader in commercial kitchens, but seems too "institutional" for most residential kitchens.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fussycouple

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    it's actually ok to put hot pans on stone and engineered stone. no worries. but don't ever put hot pans on your cutting boards.....! i see this done on tv cooking shows! it's a food safety issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. To all on this thread: thanks for great information. I've been following your comments for months and I think this is one of the best threads on the board. I ruled out granite because I think down the line it will look dated, and it was simply too expensive. Butcher block might have been nice but I didn't want to use it around the sink, and similar issues with expense. Tile was not appealing due to uneven-ness and grout issues. Laminate just seemed too cheap-looking, after years of renting we wanted to upgrade now that we are finally owners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We settled on HiMacs (solid surface by LG) to replace a horrible chipped plum-colored laminate installed by prior owners probably two decades ago. It's a neutral beige color but the pattern has some decent dimension and depth, and was less expensive than the Corian or Silestone patterns we looked at. We use trivets as a matter of course, and I have purchased a large Boos block for my dedicated chopping area. And we got a new, deeper undermount sink, but *not* in the solid surface as I was concerned about staining and chipping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As I do heavy-duty cooking, I'm hoping this holds up, as even this investment was significant, in my opinion. And just coming off a kitchen remodel, I am certainly not eager to repeat the time and expense any time soon! I am looking forward to having a functional, updated, (but not designer) kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hollerhither

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Should be okay. We have HiMacs in our office kitchen. (The owner is funny like that. I guess he couldn't bring himself down to the laminate level even in the office. We do own the space.) Over the last 3 1/2 years, well, we don't do heavy cooking on it, but it's held up okay. I wouldn't get it in the green color we got, and I do find it a funny surface to clean. It can scratch, too, but only if you cut right on it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So you didn't go for the integrated sink? It's really cool how it comes out. Totally seamless. It is a light beige, though, so you are right to be concerned about staining. It doesn't stay pristine. Chipping, though, not sure where that would come from. This is the same plastic as the rest of the stuff. It's not going to chip that I can see.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: CrazyOne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hmmm, yeah, I just figured the sink is a sink...why not stainless, you know? The stains would bug me over time, although I guess we risk that with the countertop, too. It will be interesting to see how it wears. At this point I'm just so happy to have something new (and better-engineered) in the space! The old "plum" laminate we inherited might have been just the thing at one moment in time...many moons ago...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hollerhither

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've never been here before and it looks quite interesting. I might suggest something I haven't notice, but then again I haven't read the entire site, but what about concrete countertops. They are very versatile, easy to seal, wonderfully easy to design around things and settings and also able to be dyed just about any color you can think of.I have several in my kitchen and have been using them for 3 years now and they are great. They never look dirty, and hot pans don't affect them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hollerhither

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yeah, come to think of it, the integrated sink would have been expensive-ish ($500?), but the promo they were running at the time threw it in for free. I just happened to be with the boss when he ordered it; I don't remember why. I think it'll hold up fine; even with your light color I don't think you'll have a staining problem. No worse than laminate in that regard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You should see the laminate in my house: butcher block pattern. I don't know who ever thought that was a good idea, and it seems original to the 25-year-old house. Odd because it clashes with the cabinets, which are really cheap and ugly. And to top it off, there's the oak parquet floor (which I think is not original). Talk about clashing wood-grain patterns!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: CrazyOne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We've just started a renovation (husband will be doing most of the work) and we're going with corian counter and the integrated sink. Our previous sink was some sort of composite material, and we had a beautiful copper faucet with it. We're keeping the faucet, and I just can't see it looking good with a stainless steel sink. Besides, I like the idea of 'seamless'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: CrazyOne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Funny -- I had butcher block laminate countertops in the last place we rented. And cheap faux oak cabinets, and old wood floors! I didn't think about it beforehand, but it can't be a coincidence that there's just about no wood in the reno plan for our kitchen. ;) Except for repainting old wood trim and cabinets, of course!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: CrazyOne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Solid surface sinks can chip when knives are dropped into them. Sometimes a broken off knife tip can be left embedded in the surface. This damage can be repaired - my company, TopRepair, does it all the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: hollerhither

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hi, I Googled "Silestone" comparisons and got this web site. I must say it has been interesting reading.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Here is my dilemma. Someone ordered Sliestone countertops for their kitchen. Then there was a memo sent and they changed their mind on the color. Well Home Depot got stuck with the first set of counter tops. They have been there since October of last year with no takers. This is due in part to the measurements not working for anyone. I measured my kitchen and there are several sections that I can use. It is the top grade of Silestone, texture is Leather and the color is Amazon Leather. The store is giving me a 75% discount on the counter tops. Now my problem is finding a cutter to finish making the sink opening, install the under mount sink and get the perfect fit. IF I can find someone and they don't charge me an arm and a leg then I am saving a huge amt of $$$. I love the color, it looks like concrete and has a dull finish. I really don't like granite at all, I am a baker, and roll out pie dough all the time. I also bake wedding cakes so lots of counter top is a must. Those of you with Silestone, can you roll out pie crust ect.. on the counter or does it stick? As for the hot pot issue I have never and probably wound never put a hot pot right from the oven onto any counter so that isn't an issue.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This past summer I accidentally ran the kitchen sink over and really made a mess of the floor and kitchen cabinets. The insurance paid for repair but honestly it is enough to redo the whole kitchen. Before my husband passed away we planned on doing the kitchen. Now I am re-doing the kitchen in order to get a better sale price, since all my sons are now grown and moved out, I don't think I want to stay in a big house much longer. I am truly designing on a dime here and am trying to get the most bang for my buck. I am planning on using IKEA cabinets also. So if anyone has used those I would be interested in hearing about them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: USAFAMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I only just got the HiMacs installed (solid surface) but looks like a much better surface for rolling out dough than laminate. Unfortunately, that's my only basis for comparison.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There is a thread on IKEA cabinets, try a "search this board" for IKEA, perhaps. I know I've read good feedback. Good luck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: USAFAMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Not sure if you purchased your IKEA cabinets yet, but I have and installed them by myself (my wife helped organize the boxes and helped with a little bit of the trickier parts of installing cabinets which require 2 people)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  No major experience yet, but I can tell you that you should invest in some cordless power tools and be relatively handy. I also recommend a automatic brad nailer (corded) that will help when installing the backs of the cabinets. The cabinets look decent and I really recommend the 'soft close' drawers and doors. This feature alone is what sets this apart from a lot of the cabinets you can buy and it's comparable to high end cabinets which feature this. Cost was the reason why we went with IKEA and I'm not regretting it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I am two days away (May 1st) from having Granite countertops installed in my house. I can tell you the countertops alone cost me exactly 50% of the total cost of my kitchen. I know this thread is a discussion about which countertop is best, etc. but we went with what looked best and to us Granite came out on top. To be honest, I don't think 90% of our friends and family have a clue as to what the difference is between all the manmade materials, but they surely will notice when we show them the Granite.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I personally say that it's kind of ridiculous to talk about someone placing a hot pan or pot on top of a countertop and not expect to have 'something' happen. In our family I was raised where formica was the main countertop and only now with all these new countertop materials you have the luxury of doing something like this, but STILL I will not take a chance with this and use something to lay on top of the counter to resist heat and or scratches.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The material I'm using is through Home Depot and it's from a company called Plamar. I expect to enjoy it for many years to come.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: junkmailng

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We're also installing ours, right now. Or at least my husband is. He's retired while I still work, so he's got the time - but more importantly, he's done lots of work like that before, so he's 'handy'. He's also got all the necessary tools. Our little house is a mess right now - almost impossible to walk through the living room and dining room - filled with Ikea boxes ......

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But it's going to be great when it's finished!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: USAFAMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    yessiree, you can roll out all the pastry you like on Silestone. Look in the yellowpages or whatever under 'granite' or 'counters' to find a stone yard that can handle the work. i don't know why depot cant just say who they use.............. that's weird! ikea cabinets are cheap. but anything bolted to the wall isn't likely to rack and fall apart. best advice: hire an NKBA professional to do the layout design work. REALLY! don't trust your contractor nor a big box nor yourself to think this through. a kitchen is a working space. it should be designed by someone who knows what to do and what not to do. and isn't just making it up as they go along. you could find someone on-line, but pay attention to the questions they're asking. they should be asking good questions and willing to say why they recommend something. you might actually find you've put in a kitchen that won't work for the next buyer!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Just want to add here that I had Corian installed last week in one of the new 2008 colors called Lava Rock. It looks just like concrete or slate and it looks great! It has a matte finish and weighs so much less than granite. I originally wanted granite but since EVERYONE is getting granite I decided to be a little different and loved the look of this. I got the recessed Corian sink too which is also nice. I saw alot of people here were against Corian and only a few who loved it. We shall see how it holds up but for now I love it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LowerGwyneddGirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thank you for the input. I have decided that no matter how "good" a deal it is the "Leather" finish from Silestone probably won't work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I ran an knife blade over it and it marked it up. It didn't scratch it just left silver marks, also the cake cooling racks I use did the same thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am not sure why and I may go into the local Silestone reps store and mess with a few other finishes. I just keep going back to that 75% off!! I never pay retail for anything! LOL
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am a baker, I am always pulling hot cake pans out of the oven, then flipping cakes over onto cooling racks, also I use food coloring, and lots of oil. I am so worried that the granite is going to get discolored from all this However I do love the black granite (like) sinks and I will get one of those. No more Pepsi and Tea stains! <G>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I never thought it would be this difficult to choose. Thank you to everyone who has replied to my questions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LowerGwyneddGirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I love Corian too, and congratulations for going against the trend, and choosing what YOU like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I am redoing my kitchen (22 years old) yeah!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We decided after looking at the Silestone Quartz and Granite
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      to go with Silestone.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It was chosen by Consumer Reports as the best, so we decided
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      that would be our choice. We are down to two colors - Amazon leather and something Brown (looks more like granite).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: scotlandyard

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We are using silestone in a renovation in another part of the house. We looked at a lot of different materials and decided that silestone just had the best combination of low maintenance/looks for the money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Granite is expensive. Accidentally drop a heavy dish on it and watch it smash to pieces. Accidents are not covered under any type of warranty. A neighbor of mine accidentally dropped a vintage piece of Fiesta onto the granite and broke a corner off her granite countertops (brand new) and couldn't believe the mess it made.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Corian is by far the best material I've had for a countertop. Silestone is good, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: antiqueluvr

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Accidentally drop a heavy dish on it and watch it smash to pieces.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've dropped an 8 quart Le Creuset Dutch oven on mine with no ill effects. If you smash a corner by dropping some thing super heavy on one you could chip one but they can be repaired. When you choose granite it's important to consider the type of edge you will have milled. Granite is not fragile but there is a lot of other types of stone getting passed off as granite. If you are looking for strong granite for a kitchen you want a very tight pattern with very little movement as they are typically much stronger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. This is the third most interesting thread I've ever read on Chowhound, but now my head hurts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Let me add my 2-cents to the confustion. Eleven years ago, I had corian installed in my kitchen. I wanted to avoid grout lines (I make a lot of pastry, so being able to roll out dough on a smooth surface is critical). What I didn't like about corian is that it looked dated after not too long, and had "plastic" appearance. However, I have an aunt and uncle who are chefs, and they have white corian with an integrated sink that looks wonderful in their kitchen against dark cherrywood cabinets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I just remodeled my kitchen two months ago, and replaced the corian with Caesarstone (which is an engineered quartz product). I love the Caesarstone far more than the corian. The color selection for Caesarstone is very good. I went with a gold-beige color called "creme limestone," very neutral, no strong pattern. My main reason for staying away from granite was that I didn't want the dark color or the strong pattern. Caesarstone looks like stone, and it doesn't stain easily. I can scrub out stains with a little scouring powder. I can put hot pans on it. I have received a lot of compliments on the way it all turned out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Good luck with your decision.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: La Dolce Vita

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Guess I'm old fashioned, but still have ceramic tile after 13 years and love it, and plan to put it into a small old house I'm renovating with my son. Just so many patterns and colors to choose from: the combo's are endless, and OK, I don't roll out much pizza dough to worry about the grout--I did have butcher block cutting boards inset into the counter by the cooktop on the island. Almost no grout stains in all this time except around the coffee pot area. Anyone else still using tile? I too wonder about granite, etc., going out of "vogue" over time. Thanks, Cathey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Catheyjo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm still using tile because I can't afford to change it out. I found a tile guy who can clean the grout and reseal it for about $500, and it looks like new. Unfortunately, the new trend in tile is subway style and mine is the old 4" square, but I bet fifty years from now...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Catheyjo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is my first post , . . thanks everyone for all the great info . . . the best I've found on the question of which countertop material is best. I've been thinking of replacing my 13-year old white tile counter with granite. After reading ALL the posts, I think I will keep the tile. I like to put my baking sheets on the counter, along with hot pots. There are a few small chips on the edges, along with a few hardly noticeable hairline cracks, but no stains or bacteria buildup, like I'm reading about for granite. I've never sealed the grout (maybe there's bacteria there?), but that's not a bad idea. I will hire someone to clean the grout, seal and call it a day. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: La Dolce Vita

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Be careful - if you put a VERY hot pot on your new Caesarstone, you may end up with a crack or a blemish. That being said, Caesarstone is a great product. I wouldn't put a hot pot on ANY countertop. I am in the countertop repair business, and I have seen thousands of cases of damage to all kinds of countertops caused by extremely hot pots.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. We had Silestone countertop installed in our kitchen about a year ago. I LOVE it. I considered Corian, but didn't like the "plastic" look.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Now I see that Corian and the other brands of solid surface are coming out with colors/patterns that look more like natural stone. I'm really leaning toward this option for our bathrooms. The thing that I REALLY like about solid surface in the bathrooms is the integrated sink, for ease of cleaning. Plus, bathroom counters aren't subject to quite the "abuse" that kitchen counters are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have never like tile countertops. Even when they were all the rage in the 80s and 90s, I looked at all those grout lines and thought "ewwwwww."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jazzcat22

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We just had a Corian counter with the integrated sink installed last week in our kitchen. It looks amazing and I'm thrilled with it! The pattern is called Tumbleweed and it looks really similar to some marble accessories we have in the bathroom. So I guess it does look like stone! I love it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Our new granite counters are a couple of weeks old, and so far, it's love. We had the granite (verde vecchio) treated with a process called flaming and wire brushing, which is different than honed. This process brings up the texture of the stone so that when you run your hands over it, you can feel the different inclusions in the stone. It is a matte finish, and it shows nothing -- no spots, no water marks, nothing. Of course it is sealed, which they suggest we do whenever it seems like the water no longer beads on the surface, and this sealing worked really well since my husband put down an oily bowl that left a ring when he removed it. It washed off fine, and is undetectable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. It seems all the talk here is how really wonderful Silestone is. But I differ greatly. It has been FIVE MONTHS and I am still having problems having them install it. I have called repeatedly
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      at Home Depot and at Silestone. I am told the Truck broke down. I have lost several days of work and am afraid I will be fired. I am so furious. Meanwhile they have charged my credit card. Which I AM NOT PAYING. They did the template but obviously it was all wrong. I had all my appliances laid out - for them to measure- the sink the cooktop the faucet. The backsplash was wrong it is to short and doesnt fit. My Sink and cooktop are wrong also they they hole they made is too small. I call, make appts and they do not show up. I feel like taking a sledgehammer to it as a durability test and mailing the pieces back to them in New Jersey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: susan murphy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Poor you, Susan - I hear your pain. I paid a Diamond Certified Kitchen Granite supplier/installer to install granite in my smallish kitchen. I got sloppy service, sloppy workmanship, and sloppy materials, and the one-day job is still not finished to my satisfaction, 3 weeks later, and they won't return my phone calls. I sent a complaint to the Diamond Certified Ombudsman last week, but don't think I'll hear back. You have to be careful that they don't put a lien on your property for unpaid contracting work, so I'm not sure how much of my payment I'll ever get back. Consumers don't seem to have any advocates here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Claudette

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is an update: the Ombudsman did call me back, and she also called the granite installer (who still has never called me back) and got him to send out a guy and a piece of new granite. So now I'm happy with my counters, but I'd never call that vendor again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: susan murphy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Susan,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If you are not able to get any action, you can sue in small claims court -- in my state (Maryland) small claims court is for cases that are less than $5000. You don't need a lawyer. Take pictures and be sure that you have documentation of your contacts, etc. It might seem drastic, but that may be the only way to get the attention of Home Depot. Sometimes writing a letter (try the CEO) can get action whether or not you threaten to go to court. You really just want them to fix the problem, right? I am not a lawyer and I've never sued anybody. But I had a terrible experience with Expo (owned by Home Depot); a designer insisted on doubling my available budget for a bathroom renovation. She fired me (honest) and said she couldn't possibly lower the estimate. (I wanted to replace the bathtub; she said that I needed a stall shower with multiple sprays and a built in seat, etc.) I finally wrote a letter and threatened a small claims suit. I was being charged (with high interest) for the design services which were to be applied to the purchase that I had expected to make, but didn't under the circumstances. The designer didn't even give me the plans. Anyway, Expo dropped the charges. Good luck; sometimes you have to take justice into your own hands.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Andrea

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Hi, this thread has been most interesting. Could people let me know what they like/don't like about their Corian sink? We are definitely getting the corian countertop, but not sure yet about the sink. We have more concerns about staining the sink than anything else. thanks!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bjsilber

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We've had our sink for only 2 weeks, but so far I love it! It looks great. It's huge (probably the largest they make). Our counter is a pattern called Tumbleweed and it looks marble-like to me. With the huge white sink, it looks great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Our last sink was a composite material, so I guess we're sort of used to taking care of it. I did buy a plastic type 'tub mat', that I will use only when I wash big pots and pans, so that I'm not banging around in the sink. (I'll take it out when we're not using it.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bjsilber

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              bjsilber,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This month I have had Corian installed in my 3rd kitchen in 14 years, and the one piece of advice I would give you is to go for a stainless steel sink if you are avid cook who uses loads of utensils. Stainless is so easy to clean; you don't have to worry when draining copious quantities of boiling water into the sink; it will never stain (I'm not saying that Corian stains, because it doesn't, either). If you plan to stay in your home and keep your Corian countertop for many years, it's possible that after tremendous wear and tear by putting so many pots, pans, sharp utensils into the sink over the years it will look less new than a stainless steel sink. Finally, I highly recommend at least a double, if not triple, sink. I simply don't understand people who have the space for two sinks but install only one. How can you possibly leave dirty pans soaking when you need to wash up or do prep work? There are so many impractical sink shapes on the market now, but roasting pans and baking trays are still traditionally rectangular and so you should bear in mind the size of your largest pan and try to get a sink that will accommodate it lying flat. I'm not sure if Corian do that. My new sinks are by Elkay and the large one is huge! Good luck with whatever you choose.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LouiseB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That's a relief to hear, because I just did the same thinig (double bowl stainless steel sink, Corian (well, HiMacs, same difference) countertop. Also a double sink is good if you have a garbage disposal, or work with poultry or other raw meats -- it's nice to be able to segregate your prep work so not everything is super-contaminated (and not worry about dropping silverware down the disposal).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Although I understand why people might want a streamlined look, I guess aesthetically, also, I just felt a sink should look like...a sink.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hollerhither

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The other reason we didn't go with stainless steel is that our faucet is copper. We had had in our old kitchen and I wanted to re-use it. I didn't think it would look good with a stainless steel sink.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have to say I don't like double sinks. My old sink was a big one with a small one on the side. That was ok, I suppose, but we didn't really use the small side much. And the big side wasn't big enough! But each to his/her own.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: SusanB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't like double sinks either. I like one BIG one. I have a pretty big one - as big as I could do and still have a reasonable amount of counter space but I wish it was a little bigger. My mom has double sinks in her kitchen and the I've noticed the side one almost never gets used. I think it's just too small to be practical.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mine are actually the same size, and they're both pretty large, I can fill up my biggest pot -- which is a larrggge stockpot. One is deeper than the other by a couple of inches.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: bjsilber

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Take care of your sink - don't toss things into it. Scrub it out with a product like SoftScrub with Bleach. Every once in a while, fill it partway with water and add a cup of plain laundry bleach. Let it soak and swab the sides. It will look like new.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. Hi i'm new here. trying to decide between Caesarstone counter top and Silestone. I know they are basically the same thing made by different companies. But I heard Silestone chips much more easily than Caesar. Does anyone have experience with either? We must order this week so any advice is greatly appreciated!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: lixuan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have had Silestone in my prior home as well as my current one. I wouldn't trade it for anything. It doesn't stain, comes in a bunch of different color combinations and is cheaper than granite.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have not ever had an issues concerning chips or cracks.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I would vote Silestone just about any day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Why don't I hear much about the Dupont Quartz product Zodiac?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jeffreyem

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The correct spelling is Zodiaq. It is very similar to Silestone, Cambria, Caesarstone and other engineered stones, sometimes called quartz. All these products are made on the same Italian production machinery, and are quite similar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I have found this discussion very helpful. Looking for some more info. Like some others, we like the natural look of granite but feel that the flashiness of the highly-polished surface is inappropriate for our home. This thread made me aware of honed granite, which sounds like it could be a good choice for us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The question: Does a honed granite surface present more issues/problems than a highly polished one, in terms of keeping it good looking over the short and long-term? (Stains, fingerprints, grease marks, etc. And does it need more sealing?) (There have been some hints in the thread but not much.) If so, does this make it impractical? We would be going with a light color -- does that matter?. We have small children and really use our kitchen. Any input is welcome, whether from personal or professional experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If honed granite is in fact not a practical choice, does anyone have any good ideas for an understated, classic-feeling yet practical kitchen in a 1910's cottagey home? (We will probably get white cabinets to go with the home's extensive white woodwork.) (Light surfaces only.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I was just in a kitchen that had unsealed limestone counter tops. They had a wonderful patina that I crave. This is where I'm heading next year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Is this the type of limestone that has tiny fossils embedded into the surface--(one name I have heard is Lagos Azul). I agree that this is handsome..why so scant mention of limestone on this thread? Does it stain or scratch easily?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.louismian.com/limestone/La...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: erica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Limestone is quite porous and will stain easily. I have read some online tips on how to remove the stains, but thats why people avoid it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Limestone is a very poor performer when it comes to acidic foods and beverages. Educate yourself first.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i don't think you want to go that way. limestone is very soft and very porous. look at an old building...... think Caesarstone. they have a honed soft white that is very safe, suitable, indestructible......

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Dear farmer's daughter...Have you purchased a countertop at this point? If so, what did you choose and would you recommend it to someone like me determined to replace an "aqua granite" laminate? I'm leaning towards Corian but the sink comments concern me. Granite has sanitary issues; engineered stone, however, is also appealing. What can you tell me after almost two years since your original posting?!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Was thinking of using marble countertops next year when we remodel the kitchen. However we just bought a new marble console and someone spilled a glass of white wine. Wiped the marble down immediately, but the finish was immediately stained (etched).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Is marble able to be sealed? Are there different types of marble that are best in a kitchen?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My daughter used Black Galaxy with a polished surface in her kitchen and island. Needs to be constantly cleaned because every smudge shows. Would this be true if a lighter color were used with a matte or honed finish?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: eweneek1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have a granite counter which is light in color; cream with speckles of gray and brown and black. It does not show smudges even though it is polished; unlike my black ceramic stove top which does show every smudge and has to be carefully washed to look its best.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I haven't used Silestone myself yet. However, from my research this seems like a sensible choice in many ways. I like the fact that it doesn't require sealing. And it sounds really tough. I think granite needs more TLC than Silestone and Silestone colors are beautiful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Finds, fixtures and fittings
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.home-finds.com

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Not sure if anyone has mentioned it yet (I tried to scan the whole thread, but I may have missed it - this is long!), but has anyone tried PaperStone countertops yet? They are made with recycled materials, which is a huge plus in my book, and said to resemble the look of soapstone - here is a link to a review:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://3luxe.com/best_ofs/Countertops...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Opinions greatly appreciated!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jazspin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I posted something about paperstone here about 2 years ago. i have never actually used it for a countertop. a friend of mine actually made a really cool stool out of it. From everything i hear, its pretty good, but i think there are problems with the finish if you ever try to sand out a stain or something. because its paper, my guess is that it will lose its sheen with sanding/ buffing. but its definitely good for heat resistance, and good for the environment. plus it looks really cool.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. If you are looking at Solid surface, Granite, and Quartz you are looking to the upper-end of the market. I would recommend if you are going this route to greatly consider quartz tops. The two best companies are probably Cambria, made in the US (about $85 per sq ft.) or Silestone made in Spain (btwn $75-$90..depending on color). Reasoning: Quartz ranks a 7 out of 10 on the Moh's scale of hardness. In the old days (and still today..but changing) people look to granite for a strong stone..it was known for its hardness over marble and so on because of the quartz in the granite (about 40-65%)..but has felspar, mica, and other soft minerals...so you have to seal it. (and still have pits) Being in the 21st century we make everything better, someone found that you can actually mine just the quartz...tests have shown quarts tops to have twice the flectural strength as granite. You won't have to seal it ever and the fabrication and seaming are better...not anyone with a saw and water can cut a quartz slab like a granite slab. When it comes to the "naturalness" of granite take into consideration of the sealers and products you have to pour into the granite...not to natural if you were to ask me. Quartz products are typically 93-94% clear quartz. Pigments and bonding agents comprise the rest...the process can be found on different news stations (Frank Vasilaro did something on Cambria). With any stone a person has to worry about putting hot pots on them...not only with granite, but also quartz. (and that goes with Corian melting) Corian is a plastic polymer..sratches easily and is dull. If you've got the money go with quartz..if you go with quartz you might as well get the best, Cambria...I did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: GoWithQuartz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've had the HiMacs (LG solid surface similar to Corian) for about a year now, it's had heavy use, it's a light color, and no scratches so far. I wouldn't call it "dull." I use a wood cutting board and trivets for hot pots, of course, but I'd expect to use those for any surface. I remain happy with it, particularly given that I saved quite a bit of $ over something like granite or quartz.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: GoWithQuartz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Corian does not "melt". If heated in an oven to a consistent temperature of about 300 degrees F, it will soften and can be thermoformed into curved shapes. Installed in a kitchen, very hot pots can cause white rings or cracks. Granite and engineered stone can also crack when exposed to excessive heat, and sealers and resins in both products can also be damaged. The bottom line is that you shouldn't put hot pots on ANY countertop, except maybe stainless steel. Juest because a 3125 degree pan didn't damage your countertop doesn't mean that a 400 degree cast iron pot won't. Be careful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: GoWithQuartz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          whaaaaatt? ain't nobody making caesarstone no more? i agree that cambria is beautiful. but i also like to design with the rest too. and i use granite. just never again black in a kitchen!!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Just the other day I was watching an HGTV show called "My House is Worth What?" where real estate agents do home appraisals and make suggestions to home owners as to what they can do to increase the value of their homes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I almost fell off the sofa when the agent suggested that the homeowners take out the granite counter tops. He said home buyers are now looking for quartz and solid surface counter tops.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          BTW, the home in LA appraised at 1.1 million.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Axalady

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My advice is don't get too worried about what one real estate agent said on TV.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I went through this debate last year. I am not someone who will ever remember to seal any thing, drops red wine and spaghetti sauce all over the place. So, after a friend had a problem with her granite staining..my mind was set on silestone. Yes, it is more expensive than granite but it is wonderful! The seams are almost invisible. It is always shiny and it looks just as great now as the day it was installed. Another advantage is that there is an antibacterial component to silestone...as a RN...again a plus. I love it and would buy it again in a heart beat!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: krusingkatie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              KrusingKatie, That antibacterial component is a chemical (most likely Microban aka Triclosan). It is not a RN. It won't prevent you from getting sick. It just keeps anything from growing in your silestone. Pretty sure I don't like the idea of chemicals in food surfaces. I read about it here:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              http://safemama.com/2010/07/14/parent...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              From the link...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "Considering the things we know about Triclosan (Lab studies link triclosan to cancer, developmental defects, and liver and inhalation toxicity), there may be cause for concern. Triclosan is a possible hormone disruptor and is basically a pesticide which should be avoided when possible as well."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sounds like this is one of the reasons you don't have to seal it! Think about it...it's crushed quartz (natural stone) .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Just a plug for my countertop material of choice. When we re-did our kitchen a year ago I went through this same debate. As very lazy and indifferent housekeepers I needed something that was basically bulletproof. If I accidentally set a hot pot on it, if we spilled liquid and didn't notice, if--gasp--we even resorted to cutting directly on the surface the surface had to be able to withstand it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We ended up with granite--Cambrian black in an antique finish. This Canadian granite is highly dense, so it doesn't need sealing, and the somewhat mottled appearance means that stray crumbs, cat fur, etc. are masked pretty well. The antique finish is also perfect. Honed surfaces are notorious for being easy to stain while a polished surface would mean streaks and fingerprints would show more easily. The sorta matte, waxy-surface of the antique finish was the perfect compromise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                For a somewhat more soapstone-like look, Nordic black antique is also a good choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: PegS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  First post.... Has anyone ever heard of Granicrete? It is cement over existing counter top, air brush like painted then sealed with a non porous polymer. It is very pretty but wondered about pros and cons???
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I was wonderin if you would mind if my son uses your question about the countertop in his science fair project . His project was testing which counter top was the most heat resistant between Formica lamiate , Corian ,Sile Stone , and Granite . So your blog ties in under the research section of his project. I didn't want to print it off without asking you permisson to use it . It would be greatly appreciated if we were able to. By the way the results were Granite was the most heat resistant .With Corian catching fire @465 degrees and Granite just being scorched at 660 degrees.To give you an idea how hot an electric burner gets is 836 degrees on high. Granite is also repairable if it gets scorched although its expensive. Thanks, Kathy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Henryvu

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Soapstone does have different hardness's. We were fortunate enough to get a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    very hard slab. We're on our 4th. yr. and it's one of the best decisions we made in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    the remodel. Even the bottom of the sink has held up beautifully.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kathy Smithee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      How do you "scorch" an igneous rock? The melting point of granite is over 2000C.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'd venture a guess that the granite that was "tested" and scorched had some sort of man made "finish" on it to repel stains.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ChinoWayne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It could have been a sealer that was damaged, or a resin impregnator. There are innumerable products on the market intended to make low quality stones more "presentable" to consumers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. We have silestone (in a rental unit!) and we love it. We've had it for 4 years now. It's in great shape and handles a LOT of use without wear and tear. I use it for pastry, pasta, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Everyone I know with solid stone countertops has issues with chipping, staining, etc. I would NOT go with soapstone- Mr. Sfumato's mom has it in her new kitchen, and while it's gorgeous, it stains, the edges chip, it scratches anything you put on it, and oiling it is a royal pain. They're not worried about looks- the kitchen is there to be used, of course, but it's still not fun. It was super expensive and it's lovely, but it's a serious PITA in a real working kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sfumato

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm in the same boat. My new apartment has Zodiaq (engineered stone) counters, and I absolutely love it. Always cool, easy to clean, and seems indestructible so far. It didn't need to be sealed to prevent staining or keep it shiny. I actually like kneading bread on it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Granite and quartz are expensive, but perfect options for kitchen countertops. They possess highly desirable qualities, and can be used anywhere in your kitchen; round the sink, round the range, for a food preparation area... They are durable, visually appealing, scratch-resistant and heat-resistant. Quartz is also stain-resistant and waterproof.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        One disadvantage of granite is that it absorbs liquids and you will need to maintain it regularly. However, I do not consider this as a problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Here are links that might be useful:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - http://www.helpful-kitchen-tips.com/k...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - http://www.helpful-kitchen-tips.com/k...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ganka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Granite is highly porous and will readily absorb stains. The high quality sealants (typically $120-150/gallon) are the way to go. The are absorbed by the stone and bond to it at the molecular level forming an impervious layer. They are also heat resistant. These sealants tend to have 25 year guarantees. You should not need to reseal it for another 10 years - and it is simplicity to do it. If possible use the same sealant as before (or at least has the same VOCs) These sealant are not on the surface and do not burn or wear out. You can take things out of the oven at 500 degrees and pop them straight down on the granite.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also most Granite is harder than steel. At 6 to 7 on the mohs scale you can use granite to scratch steel but not vice versa. An ordinary knife (ie non-ceramic) will not mark it. You can use it as a cutting board but It will blunt your knives very quickly. I do not know how hard ceramic knives are or some of newer very hard steels.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Granite's major problem is that is is not very tough and will fracture easily. This means it needs to be bonded to a substrate, typically 3/4 inch plywood. This limits the length of overhangs and can cause weak spot - especially round sinks or counter top ranges. Ensure your fabricator will add stiffening to the Granite in narrow areas. This is done in the form of embedded metal strips that epoxied in place. Also beware of undermount sinks. It is very easy to chip granite, and a cast iron pan can easily take a chunk out of the edge. This is not a catastrophe as the edge can be re-ground.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And finally seriously consider separating the jobs of supplier and fabricator. Here in Toronto I can go to an area called Concord where there are numerous slab suppliers. The last one I was in had maybe 5000 slabs and you can wander round looking for the one that suits you. The fabricator can tell you how many slabs of what sizes will be needed to meet your requirements.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If you go for a dramatic pattern ensure that the fabricater cuts the counter bullnose from the stone next to counter so when it is glued at the edge you have a reasonable pattern match.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If you have seriously wonky walls or want an unusual shape use a fabricator that has a water jet cutter and a digital templater. Here is a link as example.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.tempotech.ca/granite/digit...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Note: I am not affiliated with that company but have used them to fabricate counters for both me and my customers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            (I hope thisi reply goes in the right place, under Paulustrious' comment).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Can you tell me more about the "regrounding" that you mention? I have black honed granite (or at least I think it is granite; that is what it was sold to me as) that has chipped when something fell on it. The chip is small, just near the faucet. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Ganka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You can't generalize about the performance of "granite" because what is sold as granite is really an assortment of many different stones, each with unique performance characteristics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. Corian is best. It is repairable and has the best choice of colors and textures. Really good looking granite is very very expensive. And, granite is anything but forever - once chipped - it's an eyesore forever. Same with stains. Most granite countertops I've seen have two big drawbacks. One, the color and pattern are often corny looking, distracting, or hard to match stuff to. People get what they can and what they can afford - just as long as its granite. It's become the 21st century status symbol, like the old 1959 cars with big fins. Secondly, joints. I've seen too many granite tops with joints that stick out like a sore thumb. No matter what you look at, your eye just wanders over to the ugly joint. Granite is way overrated. None of the tops discussed except stainless steel can tolerate a hot pan on it. Just get a good sized wooden chopping board and keep it handy. Then you can spend the rest of the deliberation concentrating on appearance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hot pans don't bother granite with a decent sealant. And once it is properly sealed it will not stain. Granite does have one advantage if you wish to go with a dramatic slab. Corian (and most Granites) have small 'patterns'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have to agree about the joints. If done badly they draw the eye. They are also a point of weakness. Corian is stronger than Granite, but normally more expensive - especially if you hunt around.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have never heard that Corian (or similar material like Hi-Macs) is more expensive than granite, and the estimates we got for our work certainly didn't support that, either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hollerhither

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In Toronto we can get pre-finished bull-nosed 8 x 2 foot slabs with 4 inch back splashes in granite from $300 CAN. (ie $20 per square foot = $17 US) For example:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.tempotech.ca/granite/mater...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Note: I have used this company's granite in Kitchens I have built but am not otherwise affiliated with them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The compressed quartz is a more expensive option unless you go for certain dramatic forms of granite. Pure quartz counters are even more expensive but they are so easy to break when installing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Interesting. Pricing might vary by location re the granite. In our instance, the HiMacs was the cheaper quote, and we're happy with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: hollerhither

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If the comparison is made with mass produced granite countertop "blanks", often made with poor quality stone and imported in bulk from third world countries, then the granite will be cheaper. Top quality granite installed by a reputable firm will be more expensive than Corian.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: TopRepair

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the additional info -- that is an important distinction you're making and I bet it will be useful to others searching the thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Well, it's May 2009 and I'm just returning to this thread . . . I ended up getting Caesarstone for my kitchen because I decided that it had the best combination of factors -- easy to care for, hard to stain, heat resistant, not too "trendy", good quality. The Caesarstone was the same price as Corian and a little less expensive than granite. I decided not to do Corian not because of anything on this thread, but just because I wanted to give the Caesarstone a try and I knew this kitchen was only going to be a short term situation for us. And, in fact, that's true - we'll be moving out later this year as we are renovating another space and will be moving into that place and renting out our current house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I would definitely recommend Caesarstone to anyone considering it. The range of colors is very nice, and we chose one that looks very natural looking. The seams are invisible and we've had zero problems with stains; however, although we are heavy duty cooks, we are constantly wiping the counters as we go so nothing stays on there very long.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't have anything against granite - it's just not my style and I don't want to have to worry about caring for it, and since my current kitchen will end up being a rental unit for us, I don't want to have to worry about tenants not caring for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Regarding Corian - I will definitely consider it in the new kitchen we're renovating this year, to see what new patterns are out there. I am not afraid of the heat issue, since I'm good about using trivets. My main concern about heat with our current kitchen was the fact that we will be moving out and renting to a tenant, and I don't want to have to worry about damage. The same thing will be true with the kitchen we'll be renovating this year - we'll live in it for a year or two, then move on and rent it out. So durability is a big factor for us for that reason, plus performance for ourselves during the 1 - 2 year period that we will live there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks to all of you who took (are taking) part in this thread. It's been incredibly valuable to read all the replies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: farmersdaughter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I put in a beautiful black granite over a quite huge area 15 years ago. Never had a problem. Don't do any maintenance whatsoever. Looks like new.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sam, you bought top quality granite. Either you did your homework, or you were lucky. Congratulations on a good choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: TopRepair

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Top, I've been enjoying your posts. I was lucky. I'm in Cali, Colombia. Do you know anything about the granites down here? The counters really have remained like new - and they get well used day in and day out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. well i got to say the new 3cm or 1-1-4 thick solid surface is the best it will withstand heat because of the thickness it is stronger than quartz or granite.you have to do something realy crazy to crack or break it. i love it would not take anything alse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I've been in the countertop business for 25 years, and have specialized in repairing and modifying countertiops for 15 years through my business, TopRepair. Therefore, I see lots of countertops long after they have been installed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My answer to the original question is that there is no clearly superior choice. Every type of countertop material has advantages and disadvantages, and informed personal preference is the basis for making a good choice. Because engineered stone and solid surface (Corian) are man made products, you can generalize about their performance, but no such generalizations are possible about granite.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What's sold as granite are actually thousands of different types of stone that fall into dozens of geologic categories. Some "granite", especially true geologic granite, makes a superb kitchen countertop, while others may be gorgeous visually when new but perform poorly in the long run. You can't generalize about the need to apply sealers, or the resistance of the stones to oil staining or acid damage (lemon juice or wine). Some tout granite as 'natural" but many granite slabs are impregnated with chemical sealers, are reinforced on the underside by synthetic meshes, and in some cases are treated with dyes and color enhancers. Enormous quantities of poor quality "granite" is flooding the U.S, market - educate yourself, deal with reputable, established suppliers and remember that you get what you pay for. Stone quarries in third world countries are ugly and dangerous places - be a socially responsible buyer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Every type of countertop has environmental consequences - even the "green" ones. If you care about the environment, educate yourself. Yes, many countertops use petrochemicals, but they constitute a durable product that can last for decades, instead of being burned up as gasoline.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There is lots of good information on this thread, but lots of incorrect information also. For example, Corian does NOT melt or burn, but excessive heat can cause discoloration or cracking. All three types of countertops can crack, and these cracks can be repaired. My company repairs cracks in solid surface, granite and engineered stone countertops all the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Take good care of your countertops. It is foolish to put very hot pots on ANY type of countertop. Use cutting boards and trivets, and follow the care and maintenance instructions provided by the dealers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have Corian in my own home, and want to point out that solid surface countertops offer the possibility of coved sanitary backsplashes and integral sinks. It may be trendy to attack Corian, but I don't know why. It is a very good product. But then again, engineered stone and top quality granite from a reputable supplier are great choices as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: TopRepair

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I want to thank you for the series of posts here. It made me reconsider some things and mentally move them from certainty to assumption.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: TopRepair

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        TopRepair - you have posted a lot of useful information and seem very knowledgeable on most of the issues. I am remodeling my kitchen; have ordered the cabinets and have selected my countertops (maybe). I am going with Silestone, color Mountain Mist, It comes in 2cm with 4cm backsplash. I don't have to commit until the cabinets are installed so I am looking at other suppliers/fabricators. I am putting in a topmount granite composite sink (color espresso) with oil rubbed bronze faucet and do not have any large overhangs. Your thoughts on 2cm vs 3cm countertop? Do I need a 3/4" plywood deck between the top of the casework and the countertop?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hodgemrm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My personal preference with granite or quartz is to install a single slab rather than having the edges laminated for increased thickness. However, well done laminated edges can look fine. The support structure depends on lots of variables - trust a quality installer to make the proper choices. If you can't trust them, you shouldn't be doing business with them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: TopRepair

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The only trouble with that is the weight of the slab. An 8' x 3' x 1.5" slab clocks in at over 500 lbs and would take some serious manouevering.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Decent laminated edges need the lamination strips cut parallel with and close to the edges if the granite has a distinct design. (as opposed to a 'repetitive pattern'). Not all fabricators do this as a matter of course.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            (I'm just saying this so others will know)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: hodgemrm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thank you for the compliments. I have a website that has lots of information about countertop problems. It is www.TopRepair.com. I will be happy to answer questions from anyone - just use the online form. The more detailed your question, the more detailed my response will be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: TopRepair

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            TopRepair, I'm having a dickens of a time locating a Corian dealer/installer in Baytown, TX. We have both Lowe's and Home Depot, but would like an estimate from an independent. DuPont site isn't helpful. Any suggestions as to where I can find one? I'm going with Corian as the risk of radon/radiation is an issue with my family. Thanks. L.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: lclark

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think that the most important thing is to do business with a reputable, established fabricator/installer. I'm not familiar with Baytown, but call the upscale kitchen dealers in the closest metro area, and ask for referrals to good countertop companies. ANother posibility is a trade group called International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA). Google them - they have a member directory.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: TopRepair

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This thread, especially with your comments, has been tremendous help with deciding on new counter tops. I've decided to go with Corian, with the stainless steel sink. I've called around for quotes, and being something of a penny pincher, I'm tempted to go with a company offering a similar product called 'Solid Ace', at a lower square foot. Have you ever heard of it? Is it the same basic product, with fewer colors, or should I go with a reputable and tested product?