Depending on whether you work in your kitchen, it is a showplace or both (gourmet), you will discover immense value within your counter tops. Choose the wrong kind of counter, and you could literally end up wasting thousands into your kitchen remodeling investment.

Cutting and chopping on various counter materials from all different brands, staining them with commonly used foods and products, and setting hot pots and pans of oil on them, tests found each of the material’s different strengths and weaknesses, but very few differences between brands within the same group of materials. This is why counters are rated by the materials in which they are made up.

Formica Laminate

Laminates shine:  Laminate counters excelled and withheld abrasive pads. Unique designs, eye catching colors, and detailed counter edging are a few reasons to make laminate worth a second glance. Laminate is also inexpensive to purchase and extremely easy to clean.

Finishes are important: Granite, marble, limestone, concrete, stainless steel, and laminate are available to buy with a variety of different sealers or finishes, which affect the performance of each material. Varnished butcher block is very stain- resistant, but horrible at anything else. Butcher block that has an oil finish had an increase in heat resistance, but the stains on it spread around more, which then makes them almost impossible to remove from the surface.

 On a similar note, concrete that had a topical sealer, (which forms a film on the surface), was much better at resisting surface stains and bad at handling heat. The interesting thing was when a penetrating sealer was used on the concrete instead, the results were the opposite. We find laminate that has a textured finish hides defects much better than ones with a flat finish. Granite with propriety sealers had a performance that wasn’t noticeably any better than that of standard sealant finishes. DuPont’s Kashmir White stained terribly, even after it was sealed.

Green has a way to go. Richlite says its resin and paper counter top material is green in part because its paper is coming from certified, managed tree forests. But their resin has a petroleum base. Although Richlite was for the most part stain- resistant, it was also susceptible to being easily cut and scratched. We’ll wait for future improvements before considering their product.

Corian’s “Terra”solid surfacing is said to be “easier on the planet” compared to other brands because its materials are made up of scraps reused from the factory. But the truth is these scraps only make up 6- 13% of the counter’s actual final content! So again, we abide by the old saying, “BUYER BEWARE!”.  However, Corian performed very closely to other compared solid surfaces.

HOW TO MAKE A CHOICE              

The average kitchen in The United States has approximately fifty to sixty square feet of counters (which is about 20 to 25 linear feet), a fairly large amount of surface area to think about changing. So before you make a final decision, consider these buying tips:

Stainless steel and concrete counter tops

Think Sink. Waterproof surfaces like stone, quartz, solid surfacing, stainless steel, and concrete, are a must if the sink you are going to have installed is under- mounted. Other than quartz and stone, each of the other materials named above can be used for the sink and the counter to have a seamless or almost seamless look.

Think Big. Small samples of counter material can sometimes make it more difficult to envision how the finished counter top may actually look. Ask our counter top experts/ designers  to help you match the cabinet colors to the counters. Some designers, such as our Interior Concepts team, use design programs like 20-20 Technologies to show materials and colors in virtual settings so you can get a better idea of how the end result will look. If you are set on getting some type of stone surface, we will take you to a local stone yard and take a look around, or you can get many ideas from the Internet. Colors, veining, and patterns can often times vary tremendously from slab to slab, sometimes within the same slab! If you come across one you like, we make sure to tag that slab for you, then you put a deposit down on it so no one else can take the slab you have chosen.

Think Precision. The final measurements and templates for the sink(s), cook top(s), and faucet(s) should almost always be completed once the base cabinets are installed and leveled, and the base cabinet tops are free of any gaps. We do the measurements then have our counter fabricator also do the measurements for you so any mistakes that occur do not become your personal responsibility. Lastly, we make sure the estimates given to you include fees for all the cutouts, faucet holes, under- mounting of the sink, plus any additional special treatments like an integral drain- board or decorative edging you may have requested to have installed as well.  So you are assured of the true cost of your installation!