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If you were replacing a countertop, what would you choose?

Mantua, UT(Zone 4b)

I have heard good and bad about everything from Formica to granite. I want something durable. Where I live granite is about the same price as the poured solid surface ones.

I liked the solid surface countertops that had the sink built in, but I was told that they stain terribly and are hard to clean.

I've heard that unless you "seal" granite occasionally it can stain and it will never come out. Is this true?

Columbus, OH(Zone 5b)

We had dark green granite in our last kitchen.
Although I never found serious stains it would water mark.
We never knew it was suppose to be sealed until we were putting it up for sale. I cleaned it with windex (another no-no)
Considering how well it held up without being sealed properly or being cleaned properly, I'd say granite is very durable and you would have to really mistreat it to leave a stain.


Frederick, MD(Zone 6a)

We are going with soapstone in our new home. It's pricey on the internet and in stores, but we have found a quarry down in Virginia where we can pick up some slabs and cut it here.

We will seal it most definately ;)


Boone, IA

I have the solid surface and I'm very happy with it. I especially like the sink. All I do to clean it is spray with a cleaner with some bleach in it. Nothing fancy just the stuff you get at Aldi for 89 cents. I let it sit for a minute and just wipe with my dishcloth. I've never had a sink so easy to clean. I since it's all once piece there are no crevices to clean. I also went with faucets that have what they call an oil rubbed bronze finish. If they go with your decor I would recommend them. They don't show any water spots and always look nice.


Mantua, UT(Zone 4b)

Thanks for the info. Being deficient in the gene that allows decision making, I still don't know what to do.

One thing a salesperson told me about granite is that if you put a mayonnaise lid on it you would have a grease stain that would never come out.

It helps to know that you can clean that sink easily.

I'm not sure I know what soapstone is. I'll have to look that up.

I also need to decide whether to replace, refinish or reface cabinets. To do away with the bar and have an island--hmmmmm? Do I have enough money? EEK! What do I do about the cracks in our ceramic tile floor that happened because I didn't do it right? The base under the floor isn't heavy enough so just replacing the cracked tile might not prevent it from happening again.

It's easier and cheaper to look forward to starting tomatoes!

Columbus, OH(Zone 5b)

It sounds to me like your salesman isn't too keen on granite.
Right now I have ceramic tile counters and I find them and the bloody grout very difficult to keep nice looking.

We are going to replace the counter-tops this year and are considering a mixture of surfaces. We are going to incorporate butcher-block, stainless steel and concrete.

The photo is in the dinning room, my husband made the counter-tops out of ebonized oak.

Thumbnail by dovey
Boone, IA

We lived in a house while we had our new house built. It was a small 50's ranch. Because it was small I decided I wanted an over the stove microwave. Well, they had to cut the cabinets to have the microwave higher and remove the cabinet beside it. Anyway to make a long story short I ended up having the cabinets refaced and the guy who did it put in a new cabinet next to my stove to make everything work. What a difference it made in the room. We went with an oak refacing and they looked so nice. The inside of the cabinets needed to be painted but since we were going to sell the house I was lazy and just left them. The guy who did it was able to finish the job in two days with a minimum of mess. It was summer so he did all his carpentry work in the garage. I was pleased with the results and think it resulted in our house selling faster. Every woman likes a nice looking kitchen and our really did turn out looking very new and nice. If I were remodeling I would recommend it. Hope this helps.


Mantua, UT(Zone 4b)

dovey - the counter looks great. I have never heard of ebonized oak. I wish I could see your combination of butcher block, stainless steel and concrete. I can understand what the butcher block is for, but how and why are you using stainless steel and concrete? I don't want it to sound like I disagree with you, I just want to understand sooooooooo---maybe I can copy you!

nannybee - I feel a lot better about refacing the cabinets than I do about replacing them. I'm glad you liked yours. I think I could even rearrange and add to the kitchen and still have cabinets that looked alike.

I'm not sure we are going to stay in this house so I hate to spend a fortune, but I agree with you that a kitchen can sell a house.

Boone, IA


I'm sure any good cabinet refacer would be able to add cabinets that match. The guy that did ours added a cabinet. He wasn't even a full-time cabinet refacer but a firefighter who did refacing as a side job. I checked his recommendations and they seemed good and he sure did a good job for you. Someone who does it full-time could probably do even more if you needed it. Just look around and call references and I'm sure you'll find someone who can do a great job. I think the biggest advantage besides the price is that is that it doesn't make your kitchen unusable as long as a full cabinet replacement would.

Columbus, OH(Zone 5b)

Oak has a lot of tannin that will react to certain chemicals which turns it black.
It's the poor man's way to get the look of ebony.

My husband is a woodworker and likes doing things the old fashioned way. He takes white vinegar and tosses in anything that will rust, steel wool, nails and in this case my old rusty spade. He let it brew in the sun for a few days and just brushed it on the oak - it turns it a rich ebony. Afterwards he seals the wood, usually with tung oil, but since it was a counter top he used a polyurethane.

The lesson here - Never throw out your old rust garden spade *L*

Thumbnail by dovey
Columbus, OH(Zone 5b)

Concrete counter-tops can be beautiful and hubby is dying to try it in our kitchen.

We have stainless steel appliances and so we would like to combine the two rather than having everything the same

I wasn't too hot on the idea because I thought the stainless steel would be noisy, but after seeing in at a home show I was sold. It's attached to a plywood sub-base and it's not clangie sounding at all.

Mansfield, TX(Zone 8a)

I have a granite top on a half-wall. When I had it installed, I asked about sealing it and was told all I had to do was rub in down with good olive oil about twice a year. After being given that advice, I asked about doing this with some marble top tables and was told the olive oil worked equally well on marble. I have had no problems at all. I love the granite and plan on having my kitchen counter tops replaced with granite.

Columbia, SC(Zone 8a)

Since we're in the process of buying a new house which needs new countertops, I'm reading your comments closely. We looked at several houses with "granite" countertops. My husband is a big rockhound (i.e. collector) and he'd walk in, take one look, and snort. They were never granite. They were rock (mostly labradorite if I'm spelling it correctly) but not granite. I didn't care what they were--they were pretty! But I worry about breaking glasses etc. too easily. We have two boys who are none too careful at best, and I envision them setting things down too hard and spending most of my time sweeping up shards of broken glass! Has this been a problem for those of you with stone countertops? I'm leaning toward something along the lines of Corian. I need durability and ease of cleaning.

This message was edited Apr 4, 2006 10:41 AM

Citra, FL(Zone 9a)

Hi-I thought I'd add two cents, as I went through the same thing last year. I wanted tile at the beginning, then went full circle with everything else to finally come back to the tile that I did myself, but still have some trim work to do. That will happen when the weather is nice outside again, so I can paint the trim first.

We're really glad we stuck with the tile. It looks fabulous (we think) and it's wonderful to not worry about setting hot pans right on the counter. A professional would have done a better job, but for a first try, it was great. I also made an island with a tile top using one of the stainless steel shelf units on wheels available from costco.

Here's a pic of the kitchen. Still some trim and finish work to do, but you can see the tile on the countertop (I did the floor, as well, in a different tile). The hardness - something breaking on it, could be a concern, but so far, it's all been good. No little kids here all the time, however.

Good luck!

Thumbnail by 4paws
Columbus, OH(Zone 5b)

WoW 4Paws,
Excellent job.. the whole kitchen looks fabulous.
Did you install the pot-filler?
I like the mix of industrial-commercial with traditional.


Citra, FL(Zone 9a)

Thank you, dovey- you have good eyes to see the pot filler. I had a plumber install it - the first one he'd seen in a home and I just love it. I had him put a shut off valve on it as well as on the line to the ice maker in the fridge, which is just a little further to the left. There is still much to do - like set four last tiles in the floor where I've got an outlet installed. I have to figure out how I'm going to cut the tiles around the brass floor plate. Still have to adjust cupboard doors (they were ready to assemble, all wood, no particle board, purchased online) and put on the very fun spoon shaped handles that I found on ebay. So many details, but everything in good time - like when it's not raining outside! It's a huge change from what it was. It's amazing what such a project takes, especially when one doesn't have a clue what she's doing with limited funds.

Columbus, OH(Zone 5b)

I just watched "Kitchen Trends" today and a pot filler was on their top 3 must haves for todays kitchen.
M needs to move the water-line for our fridge so now I have to ask him to install a pot filler while he's at it.

I think what you've done is amazing. I love the canisters up off the counter top too.
The more I look at it the more I see things I really like.


Citra, FL(Zone 9a)

:-) (I'm grinnin' from ear to ear.)
Thank you kindly.
The cannisters were also from eBay. They're made by Vollrath and are for some kind of medical use, but they are perfect for this, I think. The SS shelf they're on I bought at a yard sale for $2 (back when the kitchen was but a twinkle in my know a deal when I see one.) and it fit that space perfectly.

I messed up with outlet placement - I'll know better next time. I've got plenty, but with the way I work, the cords for appliances cross my work area.

I just looked at the other pics I have when the kitchen was "clean" and realize - there's just a lot of dust in this place! (9 dogs!) So if I post it, everyone will know about

Poquoson, VA(Zone 7b)

4paws: Your store where you got the tile should have the tools you need to cut the tile. If you need a hole in the center of a tile, you need a masonry drill bit and a carbide tile saw (looks a bit like one of those silver 4th of July sparklers). DO NOT press down on the drill when you're making the initial hole, start on the unglazed side & just let it very gently sand its way through. Otherwise you break the tile (buy a few extras). Then insert the carbide saw in the whole & cut out the size hole you need.

If you can come in from the side of a tile a rented wet saw can make life a WHOLE lot better. I went ahead & bought one when we built our house. I did all the tile for our house (3 tub-surrounds & a wlk-in shower) and it saved me huge amounts of time.

Citra, FL(Zone 9a)

Good advice - thank you, BZ. I do have a wet saw, but truly am not fond of using it....I tend to be sensitive to loud things. I adid some of my curved cuts with nippers, but the edges were hidden under the faucet fixtures. I'll get remotivated soon and take your advice.

I did set the floor outlet up so that it is in the corner of four tiles, so that should be easier. The thought of doing the bathroom doesn't really float my boat, particularly, but I know I'll be doing it. I hope to do the same thing, then tile the floor and the walls about halfway up.

I have lots of extra tiles.

Poquoson, VA(Zone 7b)

I agree that the saw is VERY loud - a cheap set of ear plugs (or a wad of cotton or tissue in you ears) makes it at least a little better. I like it though because you do not have to simply cut straight lines with it using the table. If you hold the piece in your hands - well away from where you need the cut, then use the blade much as you might see a woodworker using a spindle sander, you can sand away tile in a nice curved area. The steadier your hands, the cleaner the line of the curve. Since your cuts are at the corners, then you can probably have a nice cut tile in less time than it will take you to get the saw all set up in the first place :-)

Holding it in your hands like that is also a nice way to get rid of that little snippet of tile left when you have to make an inside corner without having to go so far past the corner with your straight cuts.

I also like taking the broken tiles and making a matching counter top or table in mosaic style - I hate waste :-)

Citra, FL(Zone 9a)

I hate waste, too, BackyardZoo. I've saved so many little pieces. I used them for drainage in half barrell planters. I'd like to do some mosaics eventually, and I did do one moving counter on top of a stainless steel shelf unit. I'm looking forward to the endless rain here ceasing so I can do some other projects. No inside work space.

Sugar Land, TX(Zone 9a)

Another option I didn't see anybody mention is Engineered Quartz (i.e., Silestone, Caesar Stone, Cambra, Zodiaq, etc.). It has the look of "granite" but is supposedly a little bit less expensive, and I believe it does not require sealing. I've also heard that it is somewhat naturally anti-bacterial in nature. That is what's been catching my attention. Lots of beautiful colors available.

Mantua, UT(Zone 4b)

digigirl - I looked at Silestone, but not the others you mentioned. I'll be sure to do that before I make a decision. You're right. It doesn't have to be sealed. I just wish it had more variation in pattern. That's the thing that has me hung up on granite.

Alexandria, MN(Zone 4a)

Linda, digigirl made some good suggestions. It sounds to me that you might want to check into Cambria. It looks like granite,but you never need to seal it, and it's approved by the FDA for restraunts because of the fact that it has no gaps in the finish. But, if you still want granite, check out some companies in Minnesota, granite is plentiful, and relatively inexpensive up here, and I'm sure there are finishes they have that would suit your needs.

Las Vegas, NV(Zone 8a)

I know a good granite guy in Vegas, any kind of stone for that matter. He'd answer any questions:)

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Cambria does have a much more granite-like look than Silestone (in my opinion at least). I love the look of granite but not the sealing and maintenance so when I replace my countertops that's what I'm getting. Some colors are more natural looking than others, and if you look at it real close you can still tell it's solid surface, but a couple of their colors do look very close to the real thing.

Mantua, UT(Zone 4b)

Thanks, everybody. Hopefully I can find a company that sells Cambria in this area.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I would go to Cambria's website, most companies like that will have a page where you can put in your zipcode and they'll tell you the authorized dealers near you. I have no idea where Mantua is, but if you're close to a major city I'm sure there'll be at least a couple there.

Mantua, UT(Zone 4b)

Very few people have any idea where Mantua is. We have a whopping 800 people in this small mountain valley. Even if you did know where it was you wouldn't pronounce it right. It is Mantooway. We are about 65 miles north of Salt Lake.

Thanks for the reminder about the internet. I am so computer illiterate!

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I'm sure there'll be some authorized dealers in SLC if you don't mind that drive. Maybe even in your town, you never know!

Here's their website...didn't have time to dig around for the link when I was posting yesterday

Bexley, OH(Zone 5b)

Noone has yet suggested other wooden countertops, so I had to chime in. We recently decided to add an "L" to our kitchen w/ bar stools, to double as eating place on one side, workspace on the cook's side. Existing counters are Wilsonart - sort of a knock-off Corian , I think, which I do NOT recommend because they are now cracking in odd places, such as the middle of one counter,etc... I got the idea in my head to use hardwood, for aesthetic reasons mostly, but also practicality. To make a long story short, the end result is spectacular...totally transformed the kitchen. I'm not sure how the cost compares to other surfaces since we only added one length, but I think it's in the ballpark. Wood can be sanded if a chip or stain occurs. It is very, very warm and comfortable and everyone goes ga-ga when they see it. I chose a wood called Whitebeam that has great light and dark color contrasts within the grain. We dealt w/ a wonderful co. in Canada who does great quality slabs of all kinds.

Good luck w/ your process - I know it can be arduous! But I think you are really smart to choose carefully, because the wrong product could dog you for years to come!

Far Northwest 'burbs, IL(Zone 4b)

I love my granite. I have Ubatuba and while it was one of the more "popular" a couple of years ago, I find it to be dateless and just so pretty. It is also one of the more durable granites and doesn't need to be sealed.

I keep it clean with Method's "Daily Granite", and it sparkles beautifully.

Windham, NY(Zone 4b)

a friend of mine put in wood countertops. they bought them from a trucking company. apparently, tractor trailer beds are made out of butcher block. it was a lot cheaper but of course they are very handyand cut ,installed.,and finished them . i am going to get concrete counters when i redo my kitchen. i use cast iron a lot and cook alot. i remember the concrete counters in my chem lab in high school were over 50 years old and looked great.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Are you sure the counters in your chem lab were concrete? All the ones I ever saw in high school and college were made of a black material, it was some sort of plastic or composite but definitely wasn't concrete. If you like that material I remember running across some company that made countertops of it that you could have installed in your house.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

Just stumbled on to this thread. I have many contractor brothers. They are all pushing Cambria countertops. It is being used all over in resturuants. These are made of Quartz, which is solid & not porus like granite.
A kitchen one brother did a few years ago was featured in some of their advertizing. I did not see it on their website, though.
The only drawback for most people is the cost.

By the way, the name Cambria came from a small town on Minnesota River between New Ulm & Mankato. It has a famous hamburger bar. They serve a hamburger, that if you can eat it all there is no charge, or something along that line. The bar-cafe is the only store & only a very small number of people.

Houston, United States(Zone 9b)

Silestone seems to be the best. It doesn't require the maintenance of granite, won't crack like granite/marble can. And it still cheaper.

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

I also prefer Silestone and Cambria. I like that they are low maintence and don't break easily.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Quartz surfacing is my personal favorite too. As far as durability and ease of care, I don't think there's a major difference between Silestone, Zodiaq, Cambria, or Caesarstone so it's more which one has the color you like the best. I believe Silestone is the cheapest of the bunch, but in my opinion looks less like real granite than the others.

Tellico Plains, TN(Zone 7b)

Hmmmmmmmmmmm , I've been wantin one of dem new fangled ceeeement countertops .

Thinkin of havng it colored the same as da ol ceeement pond out back a ways ;-PPPPP

If my old shoulders would take the punishment I would love to try making a cement countertop with a built in sink.

They are too la-te-da right now which translates to mucho $$$$ around here to have someone come in and do it.

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