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Best countertop surfaces

Thinking about upgrading my kitchen this year and am leaning towards granite, but am willing to consider other alternatives - am intrigued by the soapstone discussion and am also wondering what your experiences have been with synthetic materials (Corian and the like)? Pros, cons, etc. all greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. I did 4/5ths concrete -knowing I might later regret its trendiness- and 1/5th butcher's block. The concrete has been great - indestructible and good-looking, shows no wear at all. The butcher's block I can't bear to chop on, so it gets used infrequently when I need a "warmer"/softer work surface..

    - Soapstone looks beautiful. I don't know anything about it though.
    - Stainless steel IMO is ridiculous - constant watermarks and dents.
    - Don't use limestone in kitchens - acid (lemon etc.) etches it.

    That's all I've got :-)

    5 Replies
    1. re: spigot

      Spigot, I have been interested in the concrete for years, we're thinking about redoing our kitchen and I am wanting it for the countertops.

      While I'm not asking for what you paid for it, did you find it to be terribly expensive?

      1. re: TarheelYankee

        Sorry TarheelYankee to be so late with this response; I've been away from the boards.

        We actually did it ourselves. Because we are insane. Did it based on an article in one of the Taunton magazines; it worked out really really well but was not easy. My husband's a project guy and, derangedly, enjoyed the process :-)

      2. re: spigot

        Concrete sounds great - in your typical community who would you contact to install a concrete countertop? Doesn't sound like something you would get from the Home Depot or Lowes.

        Is your husband available??

        1. re: spigot

          hi, wondering if you still feel positive about your concrete counters. we have them in our house and having trouble with the finish....looking to hear about others experience. thanks :)

          1. re: corriesue

            we had concrete countertops installed by a local guy. he messed up the seal and could never fix. we have spot and scratch marks and nobody seems to know what we can do other than sand down and start over which would create horrible mess in my house. I would like to know if i could cover the concrete with galvanized metal. we only paid the guy half of the money.

        2. Doesn't anybody consider Formica anymore? So many colors, patterns, and finishes--is it just out of fashion now, considered to be tacky or cheap?

          8 Replies
          1. re: blue room

            That's what we have now (and have had for 20+ years). We're just looking for a change!

            1. re: phoebek

              I worked in a cabinet shop at one point and sat every day in front of sample boards for three or four different brands of plastic laminate. There was an amazing variety of colors and patterns. I think that's probably what I would go with if I were remodeling, simply because it's inexpensive and easy to come by and easy to coordinate with a color scheme.

              But given that my house is 96 years old and I have sort of a picture in my mind of what I want in my kitchen, something retro-ish but usable, I don't know what would work here.

              1. re: revsharkie

                What about linoleum? It's environmental and gets better with time.


                1. re: chowser

                  Can you use linoleum for a countertop?

                  I'd actually like to do this, because I found some linoleum that I like better than any of the plastic laminates I've looked at. But I don't think linoleum would hold up to the scratches, knife marks, hot pans, stains, and other daily stresses to which I subject my kitchen counters. Or would it?


                  1. re: AnneInMpls

                    No personal experience but I've been reading a lot about it as an environmental choice, plus it's improved considerably since the 50's. You would have problems with cutting on it but I never cut on my granite either. I don't lay hot pots/pans on granite and I clean up messes before they stain, too. I guess it depends on how hard you are on the countertop--if you're cutting on it, putting hot pots on it, etc. it wouldn't be a good choice. But, I think it's better than linoleum.


                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                      AnneInMpls, go for it! That article that chowser linked to has some amazing sources for alternative countertop materials.
                      If you are reasonably careful about using cutting boards and trivets for hot pots, there is no reason on earth why you can't have something creative and interesting. I've had matte white Formica for 20 years and it's in perfect condition. I raised 2 kids worth of arts and crafts and science projects on the island, one husband's Mr. Fix it projects, and daily serious meal preparation and entertaining - some pretty large scale.

                      The linoleum, according to that article, is inexpensive enough that if it doesn't hold up, you can afford to replace it without too much pain. Do it!!!

                      1. re: MakingSense

                        Alas, I have really bad countertop habits from living with old Formica counters that were already yukky when I moved in. I put hot pots on my counter, I scratch it, I drop cast-iron pots on it, and I let pomegranate juice stains sit for days. Actually, it's amazing what my Formica counters will put up with, and how much I can fix with a Magic Sponge.

                        So I either need to retrain myself (a hopeless task) or look for something really sturdy.

                        But thanks for the link - this is helpful stuff! I'm definitely going for real linoleum when I redo the floors.


                        1. re: MakingSense

                          my mother had battleship linoluem on her counters back in the 40's and she loved it. It is waterproof with the correct finish on it.

              2. The best and cheapest as of late is manufactured quartz, IMO. Do the research on it and see. Compare this to Formica and you'll think Formica was made by sweatshop, 3rd world children.

                1 Reply
                1. re: HaagenDazs

                  Formica is selling a quartz product. I don't get what you mean about the 3rd world children and the sweatshop-- ?

                2. I have half marble, half butcher block. I love them both but they are high maintenance. I use cutting boards on the butcher block because I can't stomach scraping it up-- it is dark walnut with a fancy edge. The white marble is great but you have to clean up spills pretty quickly. If I was going to do it again and wanted easy maintenance, I would probably do granite.

                  1. good ole granite works for me. it resists heat and nicks from a knife. i wanted limestone; however, i found out that the maintenance was huge. you have to "oil" it every month because it is so porous.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: strephking

                      The tile place we went to today said that limestone and marble are both too porous for kitchen use. . . isn't it awful when you have to give up something you love for the sake of practicality!

                      1. re: phoebek

                        The tile company probably didn't sell either of those. Bars, bakeries have used marble forever. It was common in fine homes. It's used for floors in public buildings for goodness sake! Limestone is not a problem with reasonable care. Several of my neighbors have had it for years and love it. It gets a lovely patina.
                        You don't give up fine antiques because they have wear marks from loving use. Get what you adore and don't abuse it.

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          Actually, they sold both, just didn't recommend them for kitchen counter use. But I wasn't considering either, anyway. . .

                          1. re: phoebek

                            I believe the tile place. As a former geologist, I know that marble is metamorphosed limestone, both made of cacareous materials (shells and corals, e.g., from eons ago). They are alkaline (basic), the opposite of, and dissolve in acids. I am sure the finish they but on marble is good, and it would wear up to fire, etc., but I wouldn't want to get too many scratches and drop vinegar or lemon jc on it too much.

                        2. re: phoebek

                          When we redid the kitchen a few years back I really wanted limestone and the tile place we visited gave us a sample. We tested the usual kitchen culprits - red wine, mustard, ketchup, vinegar, lemon juice - on it and knew it would be ruined in a month. We went for Formica. If we redo in the near future, I think we might do concrete.

                        3. re: strephking

                          What finish do you have on the granite and how do you take care of it? Does it get water spots?

                          1. re: SLO

                            I have granite, and it came straight from the granite yard pre-finished. I've had it a little less than a year, so not really long enough to be really tested, but long enough to know that mine doesn't get water spots. Thus far I haven't re-treated it. I also chose a fairly dark grained granite, not sure if a lighter grain would have made a difference.

                        4. My wife and her sister are in the industry, so I have some knowledge about this.

                          I know that if you go with stone, go granite. Marble is too porous and soapstone can be fragile, you can scratch it with your fingernails. If you like the look of soapstone, try Atlantic Black granite with a matte finish enhanced with color enhancer.

                          Granite properly sealed works well, but it can stain. We had a white granite countertop that stained like the dickens. If you get it and look to seal it, I would recommend something from a company called Stone Medic. It's not available at the Home Depot, but it is what the professionals use and it is super easy to use.

                          Composites like silestone and corian work OK, but in many cases it not much less expesive than granite. I never fully understood the concrete counter thing, something that pourous, even sealed, will stain like mad. Plus concrete counters are crazy expensive.

                          IF you go butcher's block, think of the nicks and cuts as distressing that you always see people try to do on the interior makeover shows.

                          Consider color schemes. For example, if you want a blue, know that blue granite can be reaaallly expensive. Also understand that natural stone has range and variations that don't always look exactly the way you need it.

                          One thing I will say to avoid, ceramic/porcealin tile, the grout is so hard to clean. Although pocealin slabs are a possibility.

                          Hope this helps

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: czaplin

                            Funny that you mention blue. I really wanted blue stone, but dang --- everything was so expensive. I ended up going with Silestone's Blue Safita which I love, love, love! It's unique enough, but it's not in your face blue.

                            It's also important to consider the material and your home value if you're interested in resale value. You don't probably don't want to put $15,000 in countertops in a $200K condo, you'll probably never get the value out of it in resale.

                            1. re: geg5150

                              Unfortunatelly the blue palate is probably the most beautiful and expensive of the stones.

                              If you love this palette think about it for a sink in the powder room. Many stone seller will have a leftover piece from a larger job you might ne able to pick up.

                              1. re: geg5150

                                Do you mind me asking what color your cabinets are and what color/type backsplash you chose to go with your blue safita. I love it but am having trouble with backsplash choices and I have white cabinets.Thank you.

                                1. re: melindabutler

                                  I'm new to this board but saw the Blue Safita reference. I put it in my bathroom sink area, I have an adobe house so wanted it kinda Spanish looking. My walls are indigo blue in the room, natural light cabinets, cream mirror and accent tile, adobe tiles as the backsplash, copper sink and oil rubbed bronze faucet. It looks pretty good to me anyway. I'm a graphic artist so wanted something different but not totally Spanish with Spanish tile, etc.

                              2. re: czaplin

                                Yup, the first stone I picked out was a lovely blue and it was the most expensive item in the store (over $200 per foot). Blue Safita (Silestone) was our next choice but price was prohibitive ($80 per foot). So, we went with a beautiful blue tile from Italy. Yes, tile! So many people are down on tile because of grout lines, but we got grout to match the tiles and we used 18 inch tiles, so there are way fewer grout lines than you might expect. Cost per square foot was something like $5 installed! (So many stoneyards and kitchen designers tried to convince us that tile and stone were "essentially" the same price. Huh?) We love our kitchen and we use it constantly. So don't give up on tile if you need a cheaper, but very functional alternative.

                                1. re: kiwijen

                                  Yeah, I think tile looks so much better than granite -- there are so many options and patterns and you can mix and match. It's also much better for a retro or "country" (including Tuscan, Provencal, etc.) look, and the tile itself is durable. You can have it regrouted once a year pretty much forever for what you save on the price. IMHO, these "luxury" kitchens with granite counter tops are already starting to look dated -- not to mention it looks like every new kitchen in the last 15 years. Tile can be personalized with accents, patterns, etc. so you kitchen doesn't look like some cookie-cutter McMansion kitchen. I hate Corian -- it looks so fake and plasticy. I don't see the point of concrete, unless you live in an industrial-style loft and are going for an industrial look.

                                  In a previous discussion about countertops here, someone recommended paperstone -- it's gorgeous! Similar to linoleum, it's so much warmer than granite and eco-friendly. http://www.paperstoneproducts.com/

                                  I think if I were going to redo my kitchen I'd seriously consider that, as well as a suggestion by someone else of using wood planks (not butcher block). But then, I have a retro (1930s) era kitchen ....

                              3. My husband and I renovated our kitchen about a year ago, and got granite counter top (absolute black). It's beautiful, but requires rather high maintenance. We need to wipe any spill overs right away, especially when it is acidic. We also need to clean and seal it every year.

                                Although I LOVE it, sometimes I wonder whether we should've gotten Silo Stone/quartz counter top which requires almost no maintenance.

                                1. Looking at options now for a re-do. Ruled out granite because I just dislike the look.
                                  A neighbor has honed limestone that looks fabulous and has had no maintenance problem at all. Weighing that, soapstone, and marble.
                                  I've had marble and butcher block before and they weren't any problems at all.
                                  The other option is zinc which would make a lot of people crazy because its virtue is that it intentionally stains and contantly changes colors. I found an antique French zinc-topped table that unfortunately wouldn't fit in my kitchen but the patina was incredible. The zinc manufacturer told me how to make new zinc look antique immediately.
                                  Then, another neighbor, who works at the Design Center for an uber-high-end custom cabinet company, said that a lot of the really trendy local designers are starting to use laminate again because of new products, edges, techniques that are available to the trade. That's probably too contemporary for my 110+ year old home, but I'll look. I ruled out the fabulous recycled glass tiles that I loved for the same reason.
                                  So now I'm confused. But there's much more than I thought when I started.

                                  1. We put iin Silestone (an engineered material combining quartz and a polymer resin) it is excellent - just about indestructible and a sinch to clean

                                    1. We have stainless steel in our kitchen but I knew not to put it in an area where there was water. It is on either side of my cooktop and in my baking area. The rest of the kitchen is granite. My kitchen is "well used" and in 5 years we have had no problems. Possibly the people who are having problems with their granite didn't have it sealed properly. We understand that sealing it yourself is easy and we would be buying the sealant from the people who installed our counters.

                                      1. I've had tile, corian and granite. Of the three the granite was the easiest to take care of but for my new kitchen I chose Caesarstone, which is a different brand of engineered quartz like Silestone. Supposedly it's even easier to take care of than granite and doesn't scratch easily and is heat resistant, unlike the corian which I would never get again. It's all scratched up and ugly and we are not that hard on it.

                                        1. Thanks to everyone who has responded so far. I was really trying to decide between granite and a synthetic, and I've pretty much ruled out Corian based on your comments. Will look into Silestone and maybe even the laminates. . .

                                          12 Replies
                                          1. re: phoebek

                                            Lived with Corian for 28+ years and wouldn't again. It was pretty battered by the end. Did a complete remodel of our condo- Architect recommended a synthetic - Zoodiac, for easier care. My wife had a small sample of a black, flecked Zodiac. We went into another counter store which had big samples on the wall. My wife looked at a black material with dazzling, dancing flecks of gold in it and said "wow- it sure looks better in a big piece!" The saleslady said "That isn't Zodiac- that's GRANITE."

                                            My wife looked at her sample, back to the granite a couple of times and dropped the Zodiac sample into a wastebasket. We had a Brazilian black granite called Black Galaxy fabricated, and the contractor sealed it and told us to wipe it with a damp cloth (maybe a little dish detergent if needed) and just leave it alone.

                                            I was nervous after a year and called him- he repeated- don't put a lot of stuff on it, just keep it wiped clean. Three years along, there's no problem. We lone it. It's pretty much indestructable and the glittering, shifting flecks absolutely give you the impression that you're looking a half inch INTO the body of the countertop. It's a knockout.


                                            1. re: phoebek

                                              We have corian counters that are about 7 years old now and they still look great. We have not had ANY of the problems others here have written about. The kitchen is high use. One of the reasons we wanted it was because we put in an undermount sink, which I love. Also, the counters are kind of a swirly white, which is very easy to clean with clorox cleanup. Stains come right out. There are some light scratches in the service, but I have not bothered to buff them out because they don't bother me. I just consider it patina.

                                              That said, I think I would consider granite if we're ever in the position of picking out countertops again mostly because of the nature/beauty of a natural surface like granite.

                                              1. re: phoebek

                                                Couldn't resist adding my 2.5 cents. I too have Corian in the kitchen which I chose because I wanted aqua. It indeed scratches so easily, even with my efforts to put pot holders everywhere - very disappointing. In a bath redo I chose the Caesarstone Blizzard which, so far, is without a problem. If I were choosing the color again I'd go with one that had more flecks to disguise any little smears or lint. I didn't choose any special edge and it does look a little plain; in the next bath I'll go with an ogee for more style.
                                                The installer left me a large Caesarstone sample so I've been using it in the kitchen as a trivet to see if a hot pot will burn the surface - after a half-dozen times still no damage! Surprising - I wouldn't do it on a regular basis but it's nice to know that if someone did by accident put a hot pot on the countertop, it wouldn't ruin the surface.

                                                1. re: FO Foodie

                                                  I just don't understand all the problems people say they have with corian scratching easily. Yes, we have some very MINOR surface scratching, but it's nothing that can't be buffed out very easily, which I do occasionally as the mood strikes me. I mean, how pristine does anybody expect a kitchen to stay if you are actually using said kitchen to cook in?

                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                    My mother (the design expert) went with Corian in her kitchen. She is NOT a cook, nor DOES she cook much, and her counters looked like crap within about two years of putting it in. They're scratched and those scratches at least don't buff out.

                                                    1. re: Andiereid

                                                      Which is apparently the same experience that others have had who have posted here, but I still can't help thinking that a certain amount of the prejudice against Corian is simply because it's not "in" at the moment, and therefore not high status.

                                                      Also, I am not seeing any one particular type of counter top material engendering universal love here, so I guess we just have to go with "to each his own."

                                                      1. re: Andiereid

                                                        Oh, and I forgot to add: MY mother has had the same corian counters in her kitchen for over 20 years and they still look great. And she DOES cook a lot.

                                                        They are a matte white so I guess they just don't show the scratches. But they do not look dirty, they do not look dull, and they do not look over 20 years old.

                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                          In my lifetime my countertops have included formica, corian, marble and sandstone. Carve out the formica because it was my parents' rental while growing up. I still have nightmares about little rubber bands, but that's another story.

                                                          The Jfoods did a major kitchen in '85, Mrs Jfood designed her baking center and i designed my cooking space. We used corian. I was very pleased with it and can not say much bad about it except it just sat there. Granted at the time there were no colors other than some really gross early stage colrs and Mrs Jfood has a perfect eye for color so we went white. We loved the kitchen and the design we put together in 1987 is still in style 20 years later, although we do not live there any longer.

                                                          Fast forward to 2002, new house, major strcutral constraints and we needed to use every trick in the book to make this space work. We saw hundreds of slabs in every slab place in SW CT and northern Westchester County. Mrs Jfood knew exactly what she was looking for and true to form found it. A beautiful Rosa Marble for the Center Island and Jerusalem Beige for the side. Every time I work on them and look at them I smile.

                                                          So the difference for me is I liked the Corian and have nothing bad to say about it, but the feeling you get when you look at the beaurty that nature can give you puts another smile on your face while your cooking.

                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                            I agree about the beauty of natural materials. For us, it was also a matter of economy. Corian is not inexpensive, but was much cheaper than granite or marble would have been (at least in the quality I wanted - I know, we looked.) Our house is a fairly modest one in central NJ and it needed a ton of work at the time the kitchen remodel was thrust upon us. We need to be careful as we renovate this house that we are not overspending on materials. So, that said, I believe the Corian was our best choice. In addition, we have a really beautiful tiled floor (i know this isn't for everyone either, but our whole house has wood floors - we needed something different in the kitchen...) that makes a major statement. I didn't want the counters or backsplash to compete too much with that. So the swirly white (I forget the "correct" name) corian counters look terrific.

                                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                                              The most important point is to love what you put in. Enjoy.

                                                          2. re: flourgirl

                                                            Mom picked black with speckles and it shows more, I think.

                                                            1. re: Andiereid

                                                              Yeah, I think somebody else here pointed out that the darker colors of corian show scratches much easier - that the scratches show up as white against a dark surface making the surface look very worn very quickly. If you look closely at my counters there are a lot of fine scratches, but they don't show up against the white matte background to the casual observer. Every once in a while I buff out the scratches, but generally they don't bother me.

                                                  2. For some reason, likely because I felt uncomfortable about suggesting what might be "best countertop" for someone else, I've stayed out of this discussion but now feel compelled to add my two cents in favor of natural materials. I have had granite countertops in my heavily-used kitchen for four and a half years, sealed once in the beginning and nothing since. It is a whiz to clean, no stains and lovely to look at. The movement and flow of natural stone cannot be duplicated with a manufactured product no matter how appealing the advertising. The manufactured tops just sit there, there is nothing to discover some sunny morning when the sunshine hits at the perfect angle and deep burgundy emerges from what looked simply dark just moments before.

                                                    Marble may be porous but as Making Sense pointed out, it has been successfully used for centuries in many different applications. If it was as dodge-y as some would have you believe, why has it withstood so many years of use and abuse? I venture to point out that taking advice from anyone who stands to profit from that advice is never a good idea -- I'm thinking of the tile supplier who disapproved of granite. Who knows what incentives were in that advice.

                                                    One caveat: when selecting natural stone, make certain that you get exactly what you want, not what happens to be easily available. EX: at any of the large do-it-yourself home stores (Home Depot and Loews come immediately to mind) there are sample boards of stone colors. Do not assume that because you choose that pretty green sample with flow and movement that you will receive the same green granite with flow and movement. You will receive what comes from their distributor on any given day and it may or may not be what you want. Going to the stone wholesaler yourself and buying the necessary pieces (after meeting with the fabricator) guarantees that you will have precisely what you want.

                                                    I cooked in a kitchen with Corian and found it to be extremely fragile. Sliding a heavy pot produced scratches. Yes, I know they can be buffed out but lordy, the buffer would have been on permanent salary at our home. Mexican tile was fun and lovely to look at but it is fired at a low temperature and pretty fragile for heavy daily use. Of course the grout is a pain to clean so I ended up using the tile for walls and loved it (in a different house). NB: it is impossible to write a grocery list, cheque or letter on a tile counter! I had butcherblock back in the day. It was both wonderful and horrible; wonderful for the ability to chop anywhere, nicks were to be cherished reminders of great meals, and horrible because both water and fire, mandatory in a busy kitchen, are its enemies.

                                                    Summation: there is no one "best countertop" that is a one size fits all answer. Decide what is most important to you and go with that. Lovers of beauty with not appreciate a material that is selected solely for performance, nor will those seeking efficiency be happy with a product requiring care. Know thyself.
                                                    Good luck on your remodel.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Sherri

                                                      Sherri- that's a useful and enjoyable commentary. Are you by chance a professional Countertop Philosopher? ;)


                                                    2. Sherri knows what she is talking about. I like COrian because of the color choices and NO SEAMS! It does scratch a little but choice of pattern mitigates this. Get what you like.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: gargantua

                                                        One advantage of some of the man-mades like Corian is an integral sink which is great if you are sensitive to germs. No crevices for crud to catch and build up in. A real problem with under-mounts.
                                                        They can be done with some materials but not all.
                                                        There's always trade-offs in life.

                                                        1. re: gargantua

                                                          You can almost always sand out scratches in Corian, using Silicon Carbide sandpaper. I had Corian for 28+ years, but wouldn't again after going to granite.


                                                        2. In my last kitchen we did corian with an integral undermount sink and I was so looking forward to using it -- but the counter was blue and sink was white, so the sink constantly got marks. I used one of the special corian cleaners to get the marks out and that worked -- but it was more work than a regular sink. Also, if you are cooking pasta or vegetables, you are not supposed to just dump the hot water into the sink. So I would wait for it to cool and then mix it with cold running water.

                                                          Now I have a stainless stell undermount sink and no problems -- love it -- D shape Blanco undermount extra deep. I just spray it with cleanser and then rinse with hot water -- no scrubbing or special cleansers.

                                                          I also now have a limestone counter which we did seal as directed but already has some lighter white marks. Unfortunately they are not just stray marks, but are circular like the ring of a glass. It has not stained per se, just these marks (I think they are from oil or butter). You also have to use a special spray cleaner for it.

                                                          We are now planning a 3rd kitchen and I think I'm going with granite.

                                                            1. Have you looked at the recycled glass countertops that are just appearing on the market? I saw samples recently, and I really like the look of the multicolored glass bits in a natural or colorful background. Kind of like a combination of granite, quartz, and concrete.

                                                              There are recycled paper countertops, too, but only a few colors are available (beiges, wood tones, and very dark green, red or black). This stuff looks more like a molded Corian countertop.

                                                              I'd love to hear from someone who has experience on how these materials hold up over time.



                                                              7 Replies
                                                              1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                The problem with all these new materials is that no one "has experience on how these materials hold up over time." We're the guinea pigs.
                                                                Recently, the real estate section of the Washington Post had an article that mentioned how bamboo floors fade, unlike wood. Brokers were talking about resales of houses only a few years old with bamboo flooring that had clear marks where furniture and rugs had been when the sellers moved out. Wood would never do that in only a few years. I had been really hot to use bamboo in a sunroom I'm redoing. Forget that one!!!
                                                                This could be a problem with dyes in recycled paper countertops. You could never rearrange your stuff if it left big unfaded spots.

                                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                                  I really liked the glass countertops, but share your concern about being a guinea pig!

                                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                                    Another long term issue with heavy stone counter tops, depending on the size, and how the floors are constructed, the weight of these counter tops are warping floors.

                                                                    1. re: Infomaniac

                                                                      I'm not so sure about that. My center island is 4X10 and the stone counter top weighed in at about 800 pounds. That's 20#/ft2. I trust the load factors in most building codes are higher than that.

                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                        I just bought two 10 year old homes (at auction) in the same developement, and the guys doing work for me ripped out of each home, two center islands with granite tops and called to tell me the floors were not level anymore.
                                                                        I couldn't beleive it myself.
                                                                        I do know who originally built these homes, and he's not a quality builder, but every other floor in these homes are level except both kitchens.
                                                                        Thats what I'm basing my opinion on, and I could be wrong (probably am), but I have nothing else to blame it on.

                                                                        1. re: Infomaniac

                                                                          Sounds fair, but more importantly he was not a quality builder. Hope this is all you found. Most of the mess that low-end builders cut are behind the walls.

                                                                          I could not figure out why my old Family room was always cold in the winter (in CT). I finally decided to rip out the walls and re-insulate. To my surprise the contracto who did this for the previous owner did not put up a vapor barrier and the wind was seeping through. New vapor barrier, new sheet rock and its warm and toasty. Who-da thunk it?

                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                            The only other problem I've come across so far is, one of the homes has a leaky basement because the builder didn't put a perimeter drain around the house. The other house is on a sandy lot so that basement stays dry with a heavy rain.

                                                                2. Stainless is best, being impervious and easy to clean. Caustic and acid cleaners leave a like-new surface, but might be a bit much for a home kitchen. Excellent for sanitation; chef's choice but not long on looks.

                                                                  Next up's engineered quartz like Zodiac or Silestone.

                                                                  Granite's the high resale choice, but 3rd in utility. Install this is you're remodeling for sale or if appearances are top priority.

                                                                  Others run a distant 4th or more.

                                                                  1. Well the only thing we said when we were going to remodel our kitchen was "no granite." Of course, we ended up using granite. We found a green color that wasn't over the top and we love it (Smerelda or Light Green). We looked at limestone and I stained the sample in a day or too. Concrete seemed too expensive. We were looking at the synthetics (Ceasarstone) and didn't get them because I didn't like the seam and other friends kept saying why would you get something synthetic when you could get a natural stone. We don't have a seam with our granite because we don't have an edge--just the width of the slab--I like that look. In our old house, we added a dark Corian and it lasted fine.

                                                                    1. We have three countertops in the kitchen. The center island is a "hard" marble and the two sides are limestone. Five years old and get lots of use.

                                                                      The limestone is very soft compared to granite and it will "pit" a little over time and ours has pitted in a spot or two. That has only added to the look of the natural stone versus the homogenity of the synthetics. As far as staining (the color is Jerusalem crema), the limestone soes have a stain that is only noticeable by me since I live with it everyday. We sealed it once over the five years. We have an undermount sink with a recessed edge with very little issues.

                                                                      The marble in the center island is on the hard side for marble and you should speak with your stone purveyor on different hardness. This has not stained at all (and the color is light in the rosa palate) and the cooktop resides in the middle of the island so it gets a lot of wear and tear. We have an Ogee edge on this one and there are one or two <1/8" chips on the edge. Sealed once in five years as well.

                                                                      The one bit of advice I give to anyone using stone countertops is to choose your own slabs. Go to the yard and have them turn the slabs in the yard in a similar manner to buying Persian rugs. Then ask them to hammer a small piece(should be about a 4" "sqaure") of the one you like off the edge and bring it home. Have the stone place also place your name on the slab(s) you want.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                        Just curious about your limestone counters. I do not know anyone who has them and I have been told by all the stone fabricators to stay away from limestone(marble and travertine as well)in the kitchen.I have a sample of sunny gold(the same as Jerusalem Gold)that I keep looking at and I love it. There isn't anything else that can duplicate the look of the limestone.I realize it isn't for everyone-people that are looking for a shiny,perfect,uniform look are not going to like the naturally worn-weathered look.The reason it's not recommened for kitchens is not because it can't be sealed but because nothing can prevent the stone from etching when it comes in contact with any type of acid(lemon juice,vinegar etc).People think the white discoloration is from it not being sealed poperly but it's actually a chemical reaction from acid.That being said......it's definately a higher maintanence stone...but I think when it comes to marble and limestone-people are going for more of a look rather than low maintanence.Is your limestone in a high traffic area where it comes in contact with a lot of food and etc?

                                                                        1. re: jtb3


                                                                          jfood's limestone surrounds the main sink in the kitchen and all the prep work occurs in this area. yes it has leached and etched a little and this adds to the live in feel versus the high polish look. jfood uses boards on top for all the prep so nothing is prepared directly on them. if you are looking for the high gloss look, then these are not for you. if you are looking for a lived in feel, you might want to consider. even the marble inthe center island is honed, not g;ossy.

                                                                      2. We are thinking of buying a condo with a kitchen with white quartz countertops. I am not sure whether it is fabricated or "natural" stone and I can't get an answer from the broker. It certainly looks more fabricated as it has a very even pattern and the underside looks man-made. My question is: does anyone have experience with this type of countertop? Is it durable? Will the white color be a problem in termms of staining and what kind of maintenance will be needed?

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: renanit

                                                                          I'm betting it's fabricated because I've been looking for light colored countertops and there aren't any white natural stone materials. The closest is marble which doesn't have an even pattern. Don't be too hard on the broker who probably just doesn't know. The seller may not know either. Lots of people don't pay much attention to this kind of thing.
                                                                          As for staining, maintenance and durability? Everything can be ruined. And people who take care of things, keep things in good condition out of habit. As jfood points out, he has light colored limestone and marble right next to his cooktop and sink. He cooks hard but is not abusive. All is well. I currently have 20-year old white Formica that is in perfect condition. I just take good care of my things. I know people who have chipped and cracked granite.
                                                                          If you like the condo otherwise and it makes sense financially, the kitchen counter shouldn't stop you from a wise investment. The worst that can happen is that you'll have to spend some money replacing it in a few years. You probably won't.

                                                                          1. re: renanit

                                                                            If it is a man-made material the bottom should look like the top - that is the beauty of these materials in that it has a consistent look all the way through - at least that is what I have seen of the materials like silestone and corian -

                                                                          2. I have Corian and hate it. It always looks dirty. I'm ripping it out and putting granite in.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: RBCal

                                                                              Agree on Corian. Mine was very light colored - almost white - and seemed to stain quite easily. I moved from that to black granite and absolutely love it. It seems to be indestructible which is good since I cook a lot and have two teenagers.

                                                                              1. re: cycloneillini

                                                                                It's that it's white. In another condo I put in the gray sandy-looking Corian and it never showed a thing but my present place had white Corian when I got here and it shows everything and gouged badly when I accidentally dropped a knife. I also spend my life bleaching out the white Corian sink which otherwise looks like a swamp. I'm going with granite this time and st st for the sink or else porcelain on cast iron.

                                                                            2. No one has mentioned the obvious about granite: it only comes in dark colors.
                                                                              If you limit your choices to granite, you severely limit the color options in your decorating palette for the next 20 or more years. It lasts longer, costs more and is harder to replace than avocado and harvest gold appliances.
                                                                              Other choices might require a little more care but brighten a dark kitchen. Trade-offs.

                                                                              19 Replies
                                                                              1. re: MakingSense


                                                                                Granite comes in almost every palette from white through black. In between there are greens, blues, tans and almost every imaginable natural color.

                                                                                If your stone purveyor has told you otherwise I would switch to someone who knows what they are talking about.

                                                                                If you would like to see the various colors, i linked a site that i received after I googled "granite color"


                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                  Thanks, jf. Saw those at a couple of the good stoneyards here and at the Design Center. Even the whites were darker than what I needed. Old house. Looking for instant patina to go with antiques. Probably will go with marble and/or limestone as you did. More European look. Still lusting after an antique French zinc-topped kitchen table. Granite looks too hard-edged, contemporary for Smallbone-style cabinets which I can't afford, probably using knock-offs by cabinetmaker. All is still work in progress.

                                                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                    We used white marble in the master bath. You will find that seeing the slab is absolutely imperative with whites as the variation of soft and hard whites is very slab specific.

                                                                                    Speaking from experience, i was shlepped by Mrs Jfood all over the place until she found the right patina and color (she's an artist with a perfect eye for color). Make VERY good friends with the slab-meister. Several times some NY designer scarfed a slab we had our name on. It is a very cut-throat business in the white marble line.

                                                                                    We also continue our search for a zinc-topped kitchen tabel. i feel your pain.

                                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                                      I may resort to having a zinc top made for an antique base. The sheet zinc manufacturer tells me it can be aged quickly using things like tomato sauce and lemon juice and distressing it - restaurant designers apparently do it all the time. Maybe you can put Mrs JFood to work. Kicker is it only comes in widths less than 30" wide so it has to have seams. But it handles just like Formica.

                                                                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                        We went with galvanized countertops as a temporary (and very inexpensive!) option...house is over 100 years old, and the kitchen was "done" in the 1970's. Hunks of harvest gold tile and black grout fell out every time the oven door slammed shut. I like the zinc/galvanized so much that I'm going to use it when we build a new kitchen. It quickly gets a lovely patina, and I don't have to be careful about hot pans, dropped stuff, spills, science projects, etc.

                                                                                        1. re: kmr

                                                                                          This sounds interesting. (And your description of dealing with the 70s kitchen is VERY good. I can just picture it.)

                                                                                        2. re: MakingSense

                                                                                          when you say 'zinc' are you meaning galvanized steel?

                                                                                      2. re: MakingSense

                                                                                        Really, granite comes in every color, light to dark. Just have to know where to look. There is a pure white granite from China, for example.

                                                                                      3. re: jfood

                                                                                        I had also been under the impression that granite=dark colors, but have been shopping and am seeing some lovely goldish shades that will look nice with wood floors. Am looking forward to a trip to the warehouse to pick out the slab!

                                                                                        1. re: phoebek

                                                                                          Bring a pencil drawing of your layout to the stone place so you can get guidance on the number of slabs. Likewise be prepared for additional charges on the edging if you want something other than 90 degrees and polished.

                                                                                          Good luck and happy hunting

                                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                                            I did a drawing yesterday, and we've already been forewarned about additional charges for edging. Other than personal taste, is there any reason to go with a fancier (than the standard) edge?

                                                                                            1. re: phoebek

                                                                                              It looks more finished with an edge. I like Ogee edges. Our center island has ogee and the two sides have a pencil easing. The least you should consider is "easing" the edge so you do not have a full 90 degree angle. A sharper edge will have a higher tendency to chip versus an eased edge.

                                                                                              This may sound crazy but measure the height of you belt buckle. See if there will be a constant hitting of your belt buckle and the counter edge. I will guarantee that if your belt buckle hits the edge on a daily basis you will have a little chip here and there after a few year. Inevitable.

                                                                                              Your kitchen designer will never tell you these things, but you gotta be prepared.

                                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                                Wow, that doesn't sound crazy at all -- I rarely wear belts, but my DH certainly does! Actually, until just last weekend, I didn't realize that granite would chip, but a friend showed us a spot at the rim of her sink that she'd chipped with a heavy vase. Thanks so much!

                                                                                                1. re: phoebek

                                                                                                  My pleasure. keep us posted, or as my avatar says, wag and woof.

                                                                                                2. re: jfood

                                                                                                  In addition, I like the sharp corners either rounded or cut at a 45 degree angle. This saves on a lot of hip bumps.

                                                                                                  Some of the very fancy edges increase the amount of cleaning you'll do, which is not a "plus" in my book.

                                                                                                  1. re: Sherri

                                                                                                    one of those scroungee pads work wonder but do it very lightly and only if necessary to avoid "removing" some of the sealer.

                                                                                                3. re: phoebek

                                                                                                  I don't know if you can even get this with stone, but with stainless steel countertops you can get a 'marine edge', a very slight upward bend in the edge of the countertop designed to keep liquids contained on the counter in case of a spill

                                                                                                  1. re: Buckethead

                                                                                                    You can get a "marine type" edge into the sink but it is not recommended. Some people ask to have a slight decline in the plane of the counter into the sink so water will "slide" into the bowl. This may weken the stone and I would not recommend, remember you would have the thinnest piece right at the bowl and then if you have an undermount sink you will cause additional stress by attaching the bowl to the stone.

                                                                                                    As to the front having this edge so the front of the lower cabinets do not get the drips, stainless, or any other metal is the only way to go for that up and down edge.

                                                                                                    But look at the downside, you will not be able to laugh at Fido whne some red sauce falls on her snoot.

                                                                                          2. re: MakingSense

                                                                                            Not so, with respect. I have been tramping around acres of stone places' basements where huge slabs of granite come in light tones as well as dark. Also, even in the same "pattern" different slab of granite can be very different in appearance. Go. Wear a jacket---these places are freezing.

                                                                                          3. We remodeled our kitchen 6 years ago with Silestone countertops. Can not say enough good things about them. I have absolutely nothing to say that is negative (other than price, but none of the stuff in a kitchen remodel is cheap).

                                                                                            We liked the Silestone so much that when we redid our bathroom this year, we put it in the bathroom. No stains, low maintenance and most people think it is granite any way.

                                                                                            1. I'm glad you asked this question b/c I'm btwn granite and soapstone. I really like the idea that my backsplash, sink and countertops can be made with a single material (soapstone). I have friends in Vermont that have the soapstone and love the look & feel. But over here (California), granite seems to be the way to go.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                Think hard about using the same material for the counter and the backsplash. That's a lot of the same material. You may want to soften the intensity of the granite/soapstone (depending on the color) with a tile backsplash.

                                                                                                One word of advice on the backsplash, make sure your installer seals the grout. Its amazing what a little red sauce can do to a look with an accidental splat.

                                                                                                1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                  We live in New York and are considering soapstone. EVERYONE has granite countertops and we like our own look. We also have an old home that soapstone would fit in well. Are your friends happy with soapstone? We know it can scratch and can be easliy buffed out. We would just love some feedback from someone who has it in their kitchen. We also like the idea of a matching sink. What did you choose? We can get soapstone delivered from Vermont. Can you find it near California? thank you for helping us with your friends and your experiences.

                                                                                                  1. re: Barnalla

                                                                                                    Sorry! I just saw this.

                                                                                                    My friends love the soapstone. As for me, I haven't replaced my countertops yet (we replaced the flooring upstairs instead). A recent trip to Design Expo (the Home Depot design store), revealed that they now carry soapstone.

                                                                                                    But now, I'm leaning toward getting stainless steel countertops & sink. I grew up with a SS kitchen sink that had a built-in drain board. A bit sterile compared to soapstone...but I still have time to think it over.

                                                                                                2. Here's an interesting site with links describing the characteristics of some of the newer, recycled counter top materials. See the pdf file on the bottom right.


                                                                                                  1. We went with granite for our kitchen and have never regretted our choice. The color is Santa Cecilia, which is a melange of browns, tans and gold with a smattering of burgandy and cream. It was in the mid-range of prices for granite. We have not resealed it yet, in the 4 years that it has been installed and it still looks relatively good (we've been lazy). Nothing beats natural stone for appearance although we did consider Silestone and Zodiacstone. Corian was absolutely not a consideration when we saw how easily it scratched. I work for an architect and get samples of all of these materials sent to me so I did a lot of "in-house" testing too. We did an undermount sink, of a black composite stone material which never looks dirty - I swear the sink looks like we just bought it and it compliments the countertop beautifully.

                                                                                                    1. So glad to hear you liked the Santa Cecilia. I am getting it for my kitchen as well. I was very nervous about it, as this is my first home and we are building from scratch- so many choices! Pairing it with cherry cabinets and travertine backsplash. Tile? Yet to be determined- probably a tumbled marble. Also doing a undermounted sink, but in SS. Yes, I know it will show spots, but I love the look.

                                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: JABDDD

                                                                                                        Suggestion on theundermount SS sink. Get a 16-18 gauge. The thinner ones will go POP!!! everytime you drain pasta water into the collander.

                                                                                                        WRT the tumbled marble. If it's for the floor it is beautiful but hard on the knees. We bought a persian runner on the work side. It helps with my knees tremendously and can withstand any sloppiness i can deal out. So far, it has received chocolate sauce and red gravy and with a dab and a sponge it does not stain at all. Tighter nap is a must.

                                                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                                                          In the JFood chorus on tile or any non-resilient floors. Had 'em, hate 'em, never again. Have wood now. If you must, plan on rugs for the sake of your feet, legs and back.
                                                                                                          Persian rugs are the best! They don't show dirt or spots. The wool resists spills. Cleanup is a snap. I've even taken old Hamadans outside and hosed them. You can find slightly worn old ones at auction for a song. Runners are inexpensive. Buy real ones, not machine made reproductions, because they are more durable. Send them out a couple of times a year for professional cleaning.

                                                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                                                            Thanks for the reminder on the gauge. I believe it is 18, so we are okay.

                                                                                                            As for tile, I can't imagine it being too much of a problem on my knees, after all I am only 28! Knees aren't too much of a concern, but already planned on a rug for the morning room and a runner between the island and the sink.

                                                                                                            Thanks for all your help! The more can get the better- especially when it isn't from my hourly charging interior decorator!

                                                                                                            1. re: JABDDD

                                                                                                              I installed the beautiful Mexican tile floor in my kitchen when I was 29.
                                                                                                              I said Adios! when I was 40. Never again!
                                                                                                              I even have the Oriental rugs with pads on the wood floors.
                                                                                                              I don't have any problems with feet, legs, back, etc., but after a long day in the kitchen, you feel it nonetheless.

                                                                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                We're going from tile to wood also, so I was wondering about rugs/other floor protection. Great suggestions. One other thing to consider about tile - we've had ceramic for 20+ years, and I've managed to nick it up quite a bit when I've dropped things (once I dropped a heavy chef's knife and avoided hitting my foot, but made quite a gouge in the tile. . .). Hopefully JABDDD is less of a klutz!

                                                                                                                1. re: phoebek

                                                                                                                  If only, phoebek! I managed to break my arm in the ocean if that is any indication of my klutziness!

                                                                                                            2. re: jfood

                                                                                                              The first time you drop glass on tile, you'll realize why wood is better. I've found shards of glass months later, far from where we dropped the glass. I'd also love to change it but the cost of removing tile is more than the cost of the wood floors.

                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                That's why we kept it for so long!

                                                                                                            3. re: JABDDD

                                                                                                              I bet it will look fantastic with cherry. We did it with maple, that has a slight chocolate wash in it. Thought about cherry but we have a small kitchen and the scheme was just a bit too dark for it. The Santa Cecilia is really striking and the best thing about it is that you can't see any crumbs on it LOL. So, if you aren't exactly an immaculate cleaner (which I'm not), if anyone walks into the kitchen, minor "misses" go unnoticed. A plus for me :-)

                                                                                                              1. re: JABDDD

                                                                                                                One other thing w the Travertine. It's fairly pourous so make sure it is sealed or those red gravy splats will do some serious damage.

                                                                                                              2. I have a honed slate countertop that I love. It has very subtle gradations in color and pattern, and works well with many kitchen styles. I particulary dislike shiny granite counter tops - they seem to scream McMansion. Slate can have bluish tones - it can scratch but I got over that after the first month. My house is 200 yrs old - people ask me if its original! It's great to be able to put a hot pot right on it. I have a very large hunk of butcher block for chopping.

                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: realslowfood

                                                                                                                  That countertop sounds lovely. I hear ya about the shiny granite counter tops -McMansion thing. I live in McMansion-land, and everyone, and I mean everyone, has granite countertops and everyone's kitchen looks exactly the same as their neighbor's. Too boring.

                                                                                                                  1. re: realslowfood

                                                                                                                    Wow are you lucky on the non-scratched slate. It's a fairly unforgiving stone and scratch very easily. Nice job.

                                                                                                                    With the homogenity of of many kitchens. Living also in McMansionville, i am fortunate having Mrs Jfood on site. She has the best eye, is always ahead of the curve on style on decorating and is relentless in her pursuit of perfection in these items. Most builders want nothing to do with choice and try to sell the same green and black granite that most people use. We have had more architects and builders look at our kitchen and ask who designed it. A big smile hits Mrs Jfood when she hands them her card.

                                                                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                      You are very fortunate!

                                                                                                                      In my necks of the woods, almost every kitchen I see has some shade of beige for the walls, and granite countertops that look like oatmeal.

                                                                                                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                        Are you in Main Line Philly too, Flourgirl? Sounds like what I am doing. McMasionville rears its ugly head! At least I can fess up to it ;)

                                                                                                                        1. re: JABDDD

                                                                                                                          Pretty close - I'm about 10 minutes in, across the river in Jersey.

                                                                                                                    2. re: realslowfood

                                                                                                                      We also live in an old home and feel that granite does not fit. We are considering soapstone which I feel is similiar to slate. We are concerned about the scratching but I also feel it add character. We are working hard on restoring this house and don't want to make it look to modern. Did you considerr soapstone and are you happy with the slate?

                                                                                                                    3. I've already responded to this post but thought of something else that I want to add:

                                                                                                                      Nothing dates a kitchen more than the countertop.

                                                                                                                      Conversely, nothing can update it more quickly than a new countertop.

                                                                                                                      And there's a corollary: nothing updates a kitchen less expensively than a new countertop.

                                                                                                                      So you might consider the less-expensive alternatives, particularly if this is not your permanent residence.

                                                                                                                      1. I have had both granite and corian. The upside to granite is high status. And you can put very hot pans right on it. It can be pretty but too often isn't. It DOES chip and even break (try hitting it with a 12 quart LeCreuset!. Also, because of its rigidity I have broken many wine glasses by setting them down just a little too hard.

                                                                                                                        Well chosen Corian (or its equivalent) has some disadvantages, it can scratch and look dull but with a little care these can be remedied. Many Corian patterns are really ugly. It also has some important advantages. It is easy to do fancy shapes. It is also easy to do cool stuff like built in routed out drainboards. We have two holes cut in the surface with pull out trash and recycling containers in a big drawer cabinet below.VERY handy. And no seams!

                                                                                                                        From a pure functionalit standpoint I think the solid surface stuff is the way to go. If you want your ktichen to look like a magazine then you need to do the grantie.

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: gargantua

                                                                                                                          Yes, I guess that's what I was trying to say earlier in this thread. I prefer Corian for it's functionality. I have put hot pots on my counter with no problem. (Maybe, not scorching hot, but things like heavy pots of boiling water.) It cleans up very easy, and I can remove ANY stain with chlorox cleanup. No chips, no seams. I agree that it can get a little dull looking when it accumulates a lot of small scratches, but these are easily buffed out.

                                                                                                                          And I couldn't care less about high status. I think that's a fool's game, one I have no intention of ever getting caught up in.

                                                                                                                        2. My wife and I got soapstone. It is a pain in the ass for the first 6 months or so because you have to oil it, and as others have mentioned, it is soft, so it can scratch. On the other hand, we routinely put scorching hot pans down on it, spill all manner of crap on it, and generally treat it like hell. It continues to look very nice, although my wife says she would have liked honed granite. Personally I hate the 'busy' look of most granite and the honed stuff looked dull and lifeless to me.

                                                                                                                          We spent a not-insignificant amount of money retaining an architect to spec our remodel, draw blueprints, and model the workflow of the kitchen. That was the best money we spent in the whole remodel. Economize on the appliances, countertop, tile, fixtures, and anything else you need to in order to get proper blueprints and an experienced eye in the construction process. My wife was a genius when she figured this out, I would not have known to do this.

                                                                                                                          It's so nice to have an inviting place to actually cook things together, instead of gawking at a useless show kitchen. Keep that in mind please. You will be so much happier if you do.

                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: ttriche

                                                                                                                            Any regrets on getting soapstone after the inital 6 months? Or are you glad that you got it? Is your sink, countertop & backsplash all soapstone?

                                                                                                                            1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                                              I'm very happy with it. It's been a little over a year now and we cook a LOT more than we ever did before, so it must not be too offensive to my wife's eyes either. I haven't ever had any other stone to compare it to, aside from the slabs we looked at and the displays in the stores. You do have to oil it at least weekly for the first few months, otherwise it starts to look dry. So count on having to do more work at first than for, say, granite.

                                                                                                                              We went with a tile backsplash (my wife's design) and the biggest, heaviest-gauge stainless steel under-counter sink we could fit into the cabinet. Have not regretted either of those for an instant. I think an all-soapstone kitchen could be overpowering.

                                                                                                                              Get the biggest and sturdiest sink that you can possibly fit into your space, by the way. (Within reason -- but ignore any suggestions from the cabinet maker and take your own measurements. We would have been hosed if we had listened to their suggestions.)

                                                                                                                              1. re: ttriche

                                                                                                                                So happy to hear you like soapstone. We are also considering it and we are sick of granite everywhere. Do you still like it? IS your wife happy?

                                                                                                                                1. re: Barnalla

                                                                                                                                  Geez, it's been a while since I looked around here. Yes, we're still happy with it, although that might be partly due to the fact that we oil it when it starts to look spotty. It's held up well so far, and no staining or damage, despite all sorts of ill-advised efforts.

                                                                                                                                  If you don't like to maintain things you won't like soapstone, simple as that. If you don't mind maintenance (oiling) I think it's great. My wife could go either way between granite or soapstone; you have to choose the slab you want either way. Her parents got a bit shafted when they remodeled with someone who chose the slab ''for'' them.

                                                                                                                                  Stone fabrication and resale is a Wild West kind of business. Know your source and don't be afraid to walk away from any deal that smells funny. In return you will know what you are getting. A scrupulous dealer will give you a sample of the material to play with for a few weeks -- do it. Get familiar with the physical properties of the stone -- dump hot oil on it, pour vinegar on it, etc. Don't hesitate to ask for alternatives.

                                                                                                                                  We like our kitchen and our counters, they serve their purpose well.

                                                                                                                            2. re: ttriche

                                                                                                                              I so agree with you about workflow. Fortunately, we did that the first time we remodeled the kitchen and aren't changing the flow this time. Re granite vs. other stuff: Now that I've looked at just about everything, I still prefer the granite, but in one of the lighter shades that you don't see so frequently (so no ubatuba for us!) It's been fun visitin stone places and seeing the whole slabs - when we're ready to cut the counter top we'll go and make sure we like the way the template is laid out on the slab. BTW, I also agree with you about the sink.

                                                                                                                            3. A close friend has soapstone and regrets purchasing it. It stains and scratches easily. To me it looks like a dirty blackboard and never looks clean.

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: RBCal

                                                                                                                                Soapstone does not stain at all. It is completely non-porous. It does scratch, but most scratches disappear with oiling. The oil oxidizes the surface to make the stone much darker, changing it from a very light or medium grey to a dark charcoal grey or black. Any scratches that don't disappear with oiling can be easily sanded out.

                                                                                                                              2. I am also trying to decide on a countertop, and I am considering soapstone because I love the charcoal grey color. For those of you with soapstone, do you mind having to treat it with mineral oil? Does applying the mineral oil make the counters feel "dirty" afterwards? If so, for how long?

                                                                                                                                What would be an equivalent to soapstone? I don't really like the shiny look of granite, I would prefer something more rustic. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: L.A.Hound

                                                                                                                                  I'll take a picture and post it somewhere. Actually here's one:


                                                                                                                                  I bought a cherry butcher block cutting board from a guy in North Carolina who still makes them by hand, and we liked it enough that I sent him a picture of it (whut fer cause it matches our cabinets). It's not the greatest picture in the world but this is what our counters look like after a year and change.

                                                                                                                                  If you want zero-maintenance, soapstone ain't it, but we like it pretty good. I don't remember the last time we oiled it the way we used to when it was first installed, seems like we were oiling it all the time at first, and now we do it once a month or so.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: ttriche

                                                                                                                                    Tried to post a thumbnail with a link but it did not work. Sorry. Let me know if the above does.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: L.A.Hound

                                                                                                                                    I don't mind oiling my soapstone at all. In fact, it's almost therapeutic. We keep a rag just for this purpose stored in a ziplock bag. Our soapstone is one of the softer varieties (Black Venata), which means it required more oiling than others to maintain the dark look. We oiled weekly for the first several months and then monthly for the rest of the first year or so. Since then, we just oil every three to six months to even things out. It mostly stays dark now.

                                                                                                                                    Oiling doesn't make it feel dirty, it makes it feel oily. We usually oil ours at night before bed--wiping with the oily rag and then cleaning up excess with a paper towel. By morning, most of the oil has evaporated and what hasn't is splotchy. I go over the splotches with a paper towel, and it looks and feels great.

                                                                                                                                  3. Im a commercial kitchen designer - hospitals restaurants etc. - and a relatively new product that is being used is quartz. Its a manufactured product using quartz crystals and is as durable as granite and has the same look. Worth considering anyway. There are a few manufacturers - here is one http://www.cambriausa.com/

                                                                                                                                    1. I love my granite. It is durable and easy to maintain. My kitchen gets a good workout and it still looks gorgeous. It looks both warm and alive. My granite has movement and flow.I would stay away from darker colors because they show every crumb, dust speck or water spot.Mine is gold, copper and grey. The granite goes with many different colors so I don't feel as though I am limited to one color palette. I continued the granite up the back splash to the top of the cabinets. Very dramatic. Whatever you do, make sure you choose your ACTUAL slabs. I couldn't believe the variation in color and pattern. Also, go to a reputable installer/fabricater as this will make or break the job. Good luck and have fun with the project.

                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: pesto

                                                                                                                                        I agree about picking your slab. We went out and got ours, it was a lot of fun doing it and very educational. I also agree about staying away from very dark colors. Someone I know picked that "Absolute Black" and hates her choice now because she can see all the dust that settles on in all the time. I have a gold/brown/cream/black/burgandy mixture and you can't see a crumb on it - very helpful when people show up unannounced LOL.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: sivyaleah

                                                                                                                                          Isn't it true...I sometimes have to bring my eyes to counter level to detect crumbs. It is wonderful to appear to be spotless.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: sivyaleah

                                                                                                                                            Sometimes I think I see crumbs that aren't there! I chose a granite that has purples and blues and blacks but there are little pockets of creamy pink, sometimes I can't tell if I missed a spot of tomato sauce or if the light is hitting the counter a different way.

                                                                                                                                        2. I really like the look of marble but keep reading that it's not the most practical countertop for a kitchen. So, I'm thinking about going with Caesarstone's Misty Carrera. Has anyone seen this on a countertop and if so, does it look a lot like marble? Any advice you might have about this is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: brklynfoodie

                                                                                                                                            I haven't seen it on a full countertop, only on a sample, but I did consider Caesarstone when I first started shopping for a countertop. I know it's made from natural quartz, but somehow, the engineering process seems to make it look a lot more "regular" than marble or granite. Since there was little price difference (at one place the Caesarstone was actually a bit more expensive), we decided to go with granite.

                                                                                                                                          2. Granite is the way to go. Just make sure you get a few estimates and references. We had prices ranging from $6,500 to $11,000 !

                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: TonyO

                                                                                                                                              My, o my! We've had a complete countertop put in for under $2000 CAD (that's about $1700 US). Beautiful, top-of-the-line, Nero Assoluto (absolute black) Italian granite. Decent size, 40 sq ft countertop...

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Vikont

                                                                                                                                                Our extras are what cost more (a 5' x 7' island and a 10' counter in addition to the normal countertop area under the cabinets). We are very happy with the granite (went with Atlantic Green from Quebec).

                                                                                                                                            2. I have been searching the web looking for an answer to this one. I had Silestone (stellar night) installed 18 months ago. About 6 months ago, I noticed around the sink area, there are light spots and especially one that is the size of a flower pot. I only use Windex to clean and NEVER put anything hot right onto the counter without a hot pad. Could it be water spots? I dry it immediately after cleaning, but sometimes when I have company and they wash dishes, they aren't as obsessive as me. I choose Silestone over Granite because I thought it was indestructible. Could the spots be buffed out? Is there a polish out there that would bring them back? Makes me sick to spend $10,000 on something and only 18 months later is not perfect. The spots almost look like they have been bleached so I guess something like comet or barkeeper's friend wouldn't get rid of them. The web site for Silestone says you can use acetone (nail polish remover, vinegar, etc.) That sounds really harsh even for Silestone. Help. I get sick everytime I look at these spots. I can't see them at night, but in the light of day they are very obvious.

                                                                                                                                              1. This is such a confusing topic - too many options! We're in the planning stages of housebuilding. Knowing that the kitchen is going to be the most expensive room, I'm trying to balance my wants (demands?) against materials costs. I'm not having a lot of luck!

                                                                                                                                                What little luck I have is that I have an aversion to fads, suspecting that when the next wave hits, my expensive kitchen won't hold the "wow" value of whatever is popular then. So. I've about made up my mind to just go back to my old comfortable roots. This entails laminates and linoleum.

                                                                                                                                                I also grew up with terrazzo, which I always loved, but is now out of favor. Considering the beating it took on the floors, I kept wondering why no one has ever tried it on countertops, but the male half of this design team insisted it's a nightmare and expensive to install. One of the websites listed in this thread actually contained a link to a company that appears to be doing exactly that - and I love the look! Now I'm torn. :) I had intended to do laminate countertops with a tiled island and oven "landing" pad ... with linoleum flooring. But now I've seen the terrazzo, and I'm smitten.

                                                                                                                                                My design plans include a cooktop island; I'm a lazy chef, and tend to drag cookware off onto the surrounding countertop (thus the tile).
                                                                                                                                                I'm used to using cutting boards, so I'm less worried about slices on the material (which is why I was leaning toward a laminate).
                                                                                                                                                And we're always barefoot in the house, so I think I'll stick to the linoleum. I'd toyed around with terrazzo on the floor, but I think the guy is right: the installation would eat us alive. And then, to look right, you'd just about have to do the whole house, or at least a big part of it, and I'm not about all of that.
                                                                                                                                                I expect to spend a LOT of time in this kitchen. I want comfort and functionality. We don't do that much entertaining, so "glitz" is not on the wish list!.

                                                                                                                                                Opinions/suggestions/warnings solicited!

                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: exotec

                                                                                                                                                  Terrazzo would look great as a counter but cost - yikes!

                                                                                                                                                  LOVE linoleum floors. However, be careful on one point. They do tend to wear in places that get a lot of foot traffic across them with time. We used it in the greeting area of our office and under my chair it's a nightmare. The color is all but gone now and it's only been down a few years. Granted, you're not going to be rolling a secretary's chair around the floor in the same spot every day, but it's something to think about as people keep crossing the same path with their feet day after day. It also shows scuff marks from shoes too so there is a bit of maintenance that has to be done on it. But again, it's such a beautiful product and such fabulous colors, it might still be worth considering. When we took up our old kitchen floor during a recent renovation, underneath it was a bright blue linoleum from the 50's! Who knew? If we had, we might have totally rethunk our scheme and saved that old floor - it was stunning and in good condition but alas, didn't have anything to do with our new scheme :-(

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sivyaleah

                                                                                                                                                    I know I'm replying to a very old thread. What I read about manufacturer's website about natural linoleum, the color goes all the way through the product which is why scratches and gouges can be buffed out. if the color faded, then it was probably vinyl. At least, that's my understanding.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: exotec

                                                                                                                                                    What linoleum are you considering? I am looking at flooring and am having a difficult time. Don't want stone or laminate. We'd probably ruin wood. Looked at Amtico vinyl today. Marmoleum is interesting but I'd love to know what you have learned.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: xena

                                                                                                                                                      Marmoleum uses a very expensive sealer and cleaner....check it out first.

                                                                                                                                                  3. It's been interesting reading everyone's feedback! I too am planning on updating my townhome's kitchen countertops. We have awful white laminate that is just really ugly and hard to keep clean. It sound sounds like granite is not much more expensive than silestone, so I'm leaning towards granite. Anybody have any good recommendations for a granite guy in the New Jersey area. Also, kind of interested in slate too, so any feedback on either granite or slate would be much appreciated!

                                                                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kmclean

                                                                                                                                                          I'll ask my husband if he remembers who we bought our granite from - we're in Union.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kmclean

                                                                                                                                                        When I compared prices at Home Depot/Expo (not where we bought it--we went with a supplier recommended by our contractor), Silestone was actually more expensive than granite, so I went with granite. It's not installed yet, but I'll be setting up an appointment at the stone supplier within the next week or so so I can see how the template will be laid down and have a very good idea of what the counter will look like. One thing to be aware of: I know that this sounds very obvious, but be sure to bring samples home and see how the stone looks in your house under the lighting conditions in your kitchen. Chances are it'll look totally different from the way it looks at the stone supplier's. But picking out our countertop has been an interesting learning process and so much fun!

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kmclean

                                                                                                                                                          I got my granite counters from All Granite & Marble Corp in Ridgefield Park, NJ...very close to Lodi in Bergen County. They were phenomenal and reasonably priced. The choices were virtually unlimited in colors and price ranges, you go to their outdoor lot with a sales guy and look at literally hundreds of slabs...I told my sales guy what colors I was looking for and he knew exactly where in the yard colors in those ranges were. I picked three options, they gave me pieces of each, I mulled over it in the light of my kitchen to my heart's content, when I made my choice and called to place the order they came and installed my counters 3 days after.


                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ballulah

                                                                                                                                                            Actually, I think that is where we got ours too, it sounds very familiar.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ballulah

                                                                                                                                                              Thanks for the reccommendation ballulah! I'll look into it.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: kmclean

                                                                                                                                                              OH! kmclean, All Granite & Marble had slate and other stone as well. Basically if it was a stone slab that could be used as a counter, they had it available. And as generic as www.marble.com sounds, that is actually their website.

                                                                                                                                                            3. Another thing about granite is that it's important to pick the exact pieces of stone you want. Some suppliers will allow you to pick from specific lots but don't allow you to go through the lot to pick the specific stones.I ended up going to a supplier who would pull out each stone and pick them individually. Some stones from the same lot had imperfections which I did not want to show up in my countertops. Another thing that surprised me was the very large difference in cost between different grades of granite. Blue granites are very expensive. For a kitchen I didn't want blue anyway, but I think it would look good for a bathroom countertop. My granite is actually being installed today. I hope all goes well.

                                                                                                                                                              1. Stainless hands down if you do not mind a somewhat industrial look (I chose white cabinets and bamboo flooring (the natural color not the burnt look) to soften the look): Extremely affordable, integrated sink with drainboard, impervious to heat, acids etc. Number of edging options (bullnose ect.) Someone commented that stainless is ridiculous because of the water marks and denting: who cares if you have water marks, this is a kitchen made to be used. Denting only occurs if you the stainless is not properly installed onto the 7/8 marine grade plywood backer board.

                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: atanger

                                                                                                                                                                  We don't have stainless steel counters, but we do have a big square stainless steel bar height table that we use for a breakfast bar and I use for additional workspace. I love that table!!!! It does develop a patina over time but we haven't had any problems with water marks or denting. (The tabletop is mounted onto a hardwood frame - we bought it from Williams Sonoma over 7 years ago.)

                                                                                                                                                                2. Mr. B built our countertops and finished them with 12x12 marble tile. The grout lines are very small and don't cause a problem. If one chips, we only have to replace one tile, not the entire countertop.

                                                                                                                                                                  I have not had a single issue with them yet. We had to make sure we sealed them well. I have cut directly on them without a problem (although I prefer to use a cutting board, sometimes I shortcut). I've spilled liquids (red wine) without staining. The only thing I won't chance is putting a hot pot directly on top of them.

                                                                                                                                                                  Now I'm not recommending everyone go out and build their own countertop out of marble tile, but it has worked very well for us and ended up saving us about a thousand dollars.

                                                                                                                                                                  Here some photos. Most of them are during the construction:

                                                                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: QueenB

                                                                                                                                                                    This is beautiful! I don't like tile or marble/granite slabs, but I really like this! Thanks for posting your pictures - I'm now rethinking my formica plans...


                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you! Mr. B is one talented fellow. The whole kitchen project was...interesting, as I was trying to pick out stuff from 1300 miles away as he built it. I believe the marble is called "rainforest green" from what I remember. I would have never imagined using tiles to create a countertop as opposed to a slab. We grouted it with a deep maroon grout and it really came out perfect. It's nice to actually love your kitchen!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: QueenB

                                                                                                                                                                        One warning about granite: If the contractor does not have the actual slabs, beware that the color (and especially the tightness of the pattern) may vary significantly from the actual product you get. It is a natural product and it can vary depending on where the slab is from. We changed our choice after seeing the actual slab that was being used for another job. Some colors have less variation, but the difference can be huge (especially if their showroom samples are more than a year or two old).

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: TonyO

                                                                                                                                                                          TonyO, are you directing this at me or the OP? Just wondering because of where your post was placed. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: TonyO

                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, for granite you have to pick the exact slabs you want, not just the lot (as some granite sellers do). If they won't pull out the slabs so you can examine them go somewhere else. My granite was put in last week and it looks great. Even so, there were imperfections that the installer figured out how to cut around.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: RBCal

                                                                                                                                                                                Agree 100000% that you have to see the exact slab, take a piece and bring it home.

                                                                                                                                                                                One other small nuance. If the slab is wet when you see it, it will change color when it dries out. So after a rainy day, you are not seeing the "true" color of the stome. It needs to dry out first. Reason number 2 to take a small piece of your actual stone home.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. After reading the previous 146 replies and not finding my preferred kitchen countertop surfaces, I thought that I would just mention them. Some folks have had experience with them because they were originally used as laboratory countertops, those dark countertops in chem/bio classes - remember? Very durable stuff!


                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sel

                                                                                                                                                                      Interesting. Can you, or anyone, tell us more about this product in a home kitchen application?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: xena

                                                                                                                                                                        Hi xena. I read about using Slatescape or Colorlith HP as a unique and very durable kitchen countertop surface quite some time ago. I'm not sure which is best as I thought wrongly that they were the same thing. The manufactures site does not have any good photos but the lab countertops were black with light specs. Kind of felt like a hard rubber that was impervious to strong chemical spills and it was somewhat resilient when glass or ceramic items were dropped on it, unlike stone or other hard surfaces. I have always thought that it would look good with my stainless steel Wolf range. Now there is a choice of colors.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. This topic has been very helpful to me. I am in the process of picking out the kitchen countertops for my soon-to-be finished house. I have narrowed it down to granite or Silestone. I am leaning toward silestone. Is there anyone who has had experience with both? Jane

                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jane917

                                                                                                                                                                        we just replaced our laminate counter tops with Quartz. We could not be more happy. It cleans up so well, is cool to the touch and requires no special maintenance. We love the look http://i123.photobucket.com/albums/o2... that pic is right after installation. It is probably still a little dusty, and our faucet hadn't been installed yet

                                                                                                                                                                        it is comparable to the price of grantie, but we went with Quartz because you dont have to do maintenece/sealing & it's less likey to stain or chip :)

                                                                                                                                                                      2. At 71 years old and veteran of many,many kitchens/kitchen redos, I say ceramic tile all the way. For cost, classic beauty, durability, ease of installation, ease of maintenance.

                                                                                                                                                                        I've tiled three countertops all by myself. 4" black & white checkerboard the first two, my current one is that glorious soft med. turquoise--Caribbean ocean color--only Mexican tilemakers seem to be able to come up with. Many subtle color variations in the handmade tiles; so beautiful.

                                                                                                                                                                        I bought the tiles (2X2" for the top, 4X4" topped with 4"X1 1/2" "rope" edging for the splash; enough for a 16 ft. counter 32" deep, with two boxes left over!) ) at one of the many tile outlets in St. Pete, FL, for well under $300.

                                                                                                                                                                        ( I always have my countertops 30-34" deep so I have room for canisters/coffeemaker/ Cuisinart convection oven/utensil crocks/etc. at the back with plenty of workspace in front of them.)

                                                                                                                                                                        I grouted it with a soft dusty umber/earth colored grout that never looks dingy, and it makes me happy every time I look at it. After 8 years of mucho hard use I see there are 4 tiles with a chipped corner. One of these mornings after breakfast I will take a little chisel and hammer, tap and break those 4 tiles, clean out the debris & vacuum up the dust, squeeze some tile adhesive into the spaces, smooth/ridge it with the chisel, pop in new tiles and press them down firmly. The next day I'll mix up a cup or so of the powdered grout and grout them in. Maybe an hour's work all told.

                                                                                                                                                                        The only trick is to have your good waterproof 3/4" plywood cut EXACTLY to the width/length to accommodate the tiles and the spaces between them so you don't have to cut tiles. This is easy to get a precise meas. on. I always have them cut it 1/8-3/16" larger, because a tiny bit of overage can be compensated by making the grout line a bit wider at the back of the counter.

                                                                                                                                                                        I've never had anything broken on it, even with 9 klutzy teenage grandsons constantly here cadging food from me. I of course use cutting boards.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. What abpit lavastone? Gorgeous colors. Haven't read any mention of it in these posts.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. ok, I'm getting a new house with corian countertops (no choice). I'm a little scared after reading these posts. My big delimna is color. I love the black with small flecks, but am fearful everything will show, (skratches, streaks, water spots, crumbs ) I'm a bit nurotic and think I will go crazy keeping it spotless. Am I worrying about nothing or should I stay with the lighter brown colors. Can someone who has lived with black corian give me their input? Thanks

                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sharon J

                                                                                                                                                                              In this market any builder that is only going to give you choice to color is just stupid. There are at least four or five different kinds of synthetic solid surface from DuPont and some looks really plastic-iky no matter what color while other look a lot less like something that got made by robots. Of course the non-robotic stuff costs more.

                                                                                                                                                                              Personally I think even the least "robotic" of the blacks is still not the best color choice, precisely because of the keeping it clean issue. If you see a BIG showroom you should be able to determine if this will be issue for you, some tiny little space is not the place to decide.

                                                                                                                                                                              Almost every town has access to several showrooms, even if that is not the one that will be working your builder just note the color/pattern # and seek it out.

                                                                                                                                                                              Good Luck!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sharon J

                                                                                                                                                                                Okay, we bought corian for our kitchen counter six years ago, black with tiny multi-coloured flecks (we thought that would pick up any colours we went for afterwards, and it's true, they do). We got the one-and-a-half sink, with the stainless steel insert bottom, and that has worked very well. I do like not having the hygiene problems of a cut-in sink. We extended the splashback a little too, so there are no places for bugs to hide. We have a stainless steel grid in the bottom of the full sink and a basket hangs in the other. Neither sink has cracked or stained in any way. My big concern is the scratching, and yes, I would say they show up more in dark colours. We removed some by sanding and that worked fine, but new scratches appear daily and it's impossible to keep up with them all. So I've learned to live and let live. My daughter in law has granite, and whilst it looks gorgeous, silver flecked and shiny, it also shows fingerprints something rotten.

                                                                                                                                                                                I would be very interested to hear what people in the UK use to clean their corian. I used Countertop Magic but need to replace it and wondered if their is an improved cleaner/polisher?

                                                                                                                                                                              2. Another vote for Silestone (or similar) here. I ruled out Corian because it can be melted and cut; I like to knead dough on my countertops & couldn't imagine having to clean it out of grout lines, so tile was out; thought about granite, but the engineered quartz is actually more durable. Silestone came in nice colors, some with recycled mirror bits, and was less expensive than Zodiac.

                                                                                                                                                                                5 years on, NO problems at all. I would recommend it to anyone.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. I'll ad another vote for laminate. I really like the Nevamar brand. Lots of choices in colors and dresses up well with wood trim around the edges

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I previously had a home with white corian and being a guy, I never really thought about the surface. I'm pretty sloppy in that I don't like to scrub the kitchen after every meal. I never had any problems with the corian, and it always looked good. If I got an occasional stain it would come off with one of those magic eraser things. In the extreme case, the white was great because a bit of bleach left on for a minute or two took out anything you could throw at it.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I currently have black granite. It looks fantastic when its clean and dry. But keeping it that way is a pain. The black shows every litttle crumb, and it only gets that natural stone shiny look after cleaning and drying with paper napkins. Frankly, its a pain in the butt.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Its also NOT forever. Granite can stain, and it has to be professionally refinished if it gets stained. I really miss the corian, truth be told.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LasOlasDude

                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you, that's exactly what I've been saying about lighter colors of corian. We have an arctic white corian kitchen counter (it has sort of a swirl pattern going through it which I really like) and it is pretty easy to keep it looking great.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Okay, so everybody is all over the place on this issue. After nagging my husband for 10 living in a shag carpet and harvest gold nightmare, we are re-doing the kitchen. My sister has a granite/stone fabrication company, so naturally I'm leaning towards that, however this may be my only shot at kitchen excellence so I want to get it right. Things I've learned: all granites and marbles are not created equally! Absolute black always looks like crap, and some are more prone to stains. While some are impossible to damage! Same with marble. There are some marbles you can use on a countertop and it be durable (White Carrera for example). Also keep in mind that they can repair chips and most damage done to natural stones with fillers and they still look great. I've also learned that the manufactured quarts countertops aren't indestructible, and (other than Cesarstone) their customer service and warranties seem to mean nothing. After only a year my girlfriends countertop cracked in half, they said it was the finish that the installer had used and that wasn't covered! It sounds like people have similar hot and cold feelings towards Corion. I think you need to go farther than just choosing a surface and do research into the exact product or stone type you want because that's where the varying opinions seem to come from. That being said, I'm putting in glazed white cabinets, walnut flooring, black and white tile back splash and stainless appliances. Does anyone have a specific countertop (color or stone name) that would look great and be easyish?

                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lsmits

                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm also looking at countertops along with a wood floor. For color I'm considering small mosaic glass tiles for a backsplash. My concern is keeping the grouting clean. The dealers say the grouting is sealed and not a problem to clean but I'm having some trouble totally believing that. Anybody have any experience with this?

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jmpg

                                                                                                                                                                                          jmpg, there is grout, and there is grout. Cementious and epoxy.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Conventional cementious grouts, whether sanded or unsanded, need to be resealed periodically. This is especially true of horizontal surfaces where liquids may be spilled; you probably can go with longer intervals between sealings if the tile is exclusively in a backsplash.

                                                                                                                                                                                          How confident are you as a DIYer? Epoxy grout, such as Mapei Kerapoxy, is stronger and more sanitary than cementious grouts, and never needs to be sealed. However, if your experience is anything like ours was, you will have a hard time getting a professional tiler to use epoxy grout. We had planned to employ a professional for our job, but we could not find a single one in our metropolitan area who would do the job with epoxy grout. (Most tried to talk us out of epoxy grout so that they could get the gig to use cementious grout.) The reason: epoxy grout must be applied and completely cleaned up (all excess wiped off the tiles) within about 45 minutes of mixing. The application therefore requires careful planning and is best done with several assistants standing by to fill buckets, rinse sponges, pass towels, etc. Most grout professionals tend to work solo, and assistants cut into profit margin; also, the speed of the job makes it hard to charge by the hour without quoting very high hourly rates, which makes customers balk.

                                                                                                                                                                                          We gave up on finding a professional to do our epoxy grouting. We enlisted four friends, gave them a full sit-down briefing beforehand, and went through a dry run "dress rehearsal." Having completed the didactic portion of the exercise, we then did the actual job within half an hour, then treated our friends to dinner. Even including the price of the dinners, it was less expensive than hiring a professional, and it ended up as a social occasion. The resulting epoxy grouting was very much worth the extra effort.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Politeness

                                                                                                                                                                                            Has anyone heard of Meganite? It's a less expensive version of Corian that my contractor is recommending.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Politeness

                                                                                                                                                                                              Pound a hole in your counter top with a nail and fix it so it can never be seen...cut a deep knive grove in your counter top.....chip out a chunk....accidently drop something on it and scratch it or mar it in some other way....let a chicken rot on your counter top....Can you still use it? Pour a glass of red wine on it and let it dry for a week.
                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm an old guy and not in any kind of business, but I recently did a total rehab on my kitchen...I spent months making choices. I bought counter top samples, sometimes costing as much as a hundred bucks and took them home to put through their paces...I found only one counter top that stood up to all of the above and came out smiling...looking as good as the day I brought it home...and that is a corian style counter top...(same as corian but corian is a DuPont brand name) This is not made by DuPont. In fact, it was poured and shaped from scratch to fit my kitchen...
                                                                                                                                                                                              Only negitive is that it does not take heat very well. So here is what my contractor did for me. He not only had manufactured the material to our specs, but when he installed it....he brought along with him 5 "slabes" of the counter top,(see below pictures) trimmed to cutting board thinkness and made from the same material, to set on the counter top where ever we wanted them...like hot plates. My backsplash, covers from counter top to cabinets is also made of the same matching material...even the window sill over the sink.

                                                                                                                                                                                              A little pricy...but really, fantastic stuff...and better looking than anything I've seen because you are not limited on how it looks. you make the choice out of hundreds of variations. In my case I also put in pickled oak cabinets, and my counter tops are a fantastic match...bringing the beauty of the cabinets to the fore.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. When comparing granite and quartz (Silestone) I got a sample of each in the same shade of beige and then bought a bunch of lilies for their nasty hairy pollen that is the worst stain I know of. I wet the surface of each stone then rubbed the pollen in as hard as I could and let it dry overnight. The next day the yellow stain came off the Silestone with water and then a second go with Fantastic and elbow grease. The stain did not come off the granite no matter what I tried. That nearly convinced me, but I ended up going with granite anyway as my object is to upgrade my property and every single person I told I was thinking about quartz assumed it was because of lower cost---it seems to have the reputation of being cheap, and this attitude could certainly extend to potential buyers. In fact, I was quoted $1500 for granite, $2350 for Silestone, and $3825 for Cambria, another quartz. Granite just seems to be what people want. I will just keep lilies out of my kitchen.