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Counter Tops
Old 06-23-2014, 12:15 PM   #1
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Counter Tops

I accidentally clicked on to this blog about Marble Counter Tops. It so amazed me, that I thought I'd check with you, to see what kind of counter tops etc. you have... Are you happy with them? and Why?

Great blog about marble countertops. Must read. - Kitchens Forum - GardenWeb

My current home has no-brand GEtype laminate kitchen counter tops... white, and 15 years old. Perfectly smooth, has no scratches or dings, cleans easily and looks good. No care except for a wet cloth wipe down. Our bathroom counter tops are fake marble, super slick and very easy to clean. Bathroom tub and shower are "AquaGlass"... also easy to clean. One of the things we like, is that because the surfaces are not "rock" hard, we never break glass or ceramics.

I know that our builder (78) homes was a low bidder kind of guy, and made whatever shortcuts he could to keep the prices low, but we're very happy with what we have.... That said, there must be good reason to have Corion, or Marble, or "Old" marble, Slate, etc.

Are we just jealous?
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Old 06-23-2014, 12:18 PM   #2
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I just recently had granite countertops put into the kitchen and one bathroom. The old kitchen countertops were cheap formica and very dark. New granite is very light and is a real nice improvement, except for my wallet which did not improve My wife had wanted to changer the countertops since we moved in nearly 5 years ago, it just worked out now was a good time to do it.
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Old 06-23-2014, 12:47 PM   #3
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We had Silestone put in seven years ago. We have put hot pots one it, cut on it, cold pots, and just about anything else you can think of. Looks like granite kinda, but is more uniform. Has not needed polishing. I can't think of any disadvantage we have noted. One might be that it is an engineered product so slab size may be a problem if you have a large/wide counter-top. For the standard width no problem. I think our kitchen island is almost five feet long and three feet wide.
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Old 06-23-2014, 12:56 PM   #4
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We have granite and love it. Would do it again.

Can cut on it and can take something right off the stove and slide onto the counter top.
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Old 06-23-2014, 01:11 PM   #5
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My counter tops are original(1986). They are probably very inexpensive laminate. Almost 30 years after installation they look almost like new. I could probably live here 30 more years and never replace them. Have never been able to understand why people replace counter tops, cabinets,etc. when they are perfectly functional.
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Old 06-23-2014, 01:16 PM   #6
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We went with laminate when we built the house in 98. Ten years of water leaking into the seam behind the sink where the counter met the backsplash caused the laminate to deteriorate. We replaced the counters with granite and have been really happy with how it worked out.
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Old 06-23-2014, 01:19 PM   #7
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I have granite in my 2nd and newer home, but the main home is 28 years old and had cheap inexpensive Formica or laminate countertops. I think granite is getting so much less expensive than even 10 years ago, so more newer homes now have that.

It never really bothered us all these years, but recently our SS sink leaked due to corrosion. Then, I observed all these cuts on the countertop, and the delamination in some spots. Time for it to go.

A small contractor was referred by my sister-in-law. SIL is very knowledgeable about home remodeling, as their house is so much nicer and newer than ours to start out with, then they spent perhaps $100K+ to update. So, we just went with her recommendation and did not bother with a 2nd estimate.

Our kitchen took 2 slabs of granite, which we went and chose for ourselves at a local warehouse. The work was done in less than 1 day, and was only the 4th day from the day they got paid and picked up the slabs from the warehouse.
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Old 06-23-2014, 01:22 PM   #8
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We are making plans to build a new house. Lots of debate about what to put in for countertop. We will probably go with either an engineered material (a generic version of Corian) or laminate (Formica). Basically, in the cost department, Formica is free. If you want to replace it in a few years with a different material, you don't have to feel like you are throwing out what was an expensive investment. Corian seems to hold up well and is moderately priced. There were some problems when it first came out, but it is improved now and a decent material.

I like the look of granite, but my wife has concerns about the sealing of it. And there is starting to be some push back because it became so popular, very quickly. To the point that in 10 years it may be the Harvest Gold or Avocado Green of the 2000 era. My wife's high end material choice is the quartz composite? But it is very pricey.

Our plans were to use Formica, and have the option to redo them in a few years once we had all of the color schemes worked out. But the generic Corian was not an expensive upgrade, and we may go that way.
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Old 06-23-2014, 01:24 PM   #9
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We have granite and I'm fine with it although I could also go for Silestone.

When I was growing up, my parents house had tile counters. When I moved away from home I had an apartment with laminate -- first time I had ever used laminate. I was utterly shocked when I put a skillet on the counter and it burned it. From that point on, I felt that I never wanted to have laminate again. I still feel that way.

When DH and I built our first some this was about 20 years ago and granite wasn't as common and was really expensive. So we had tile counters. I considered Corian, but it can stain and was also quite expensive. Tile was fine, but the grout lines were an issue.

Our next house (already existing) had tile. It was OK but I didn't love it. Next house had granite.

What I like about granite is that basically it is easy to clean, looks good, and I can put hot stuff on the counter. I don't have to worry about grout lines.

I would be happy also with Silestone (or other quartz product). Soapstone is not common in this area but I think it is nice as well.

Cost is really not much of a factor now. The difference in cost between a lower cost granite and laminate is really minimal in my opinion. I can't imagine any circumstance where I would have laminate.

When we bought our current house, we even put in a granite counter in our utility room. Again, it was very minimal in cost to do that over laminate.

Edit: On sealing of granite. I've had it sealed whenever I've put it in and never had it sealed afterwards. No problems.
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Old 06-23-2014, 01:27 PM   #10
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We had the 1960's builders original kitchen until recently - including faux marble laminate tops. Pros - they were easy to clean - much easier than my sister's 1979 builder's original ceramic tile counters (grout lines are evil when wiping down counters.)

We were going to do an engineered quartz (silestone or cesarstone) but instead went with stainless steel. We LOVE LOVE LOVE them. Maintenance is super easy. They are indestructible. No sealing of the counter (like granite), no worries about them cracking (like granite), no worries about etching with citrus or tomatos (like marble.). There's a reason commercial kitchens have stainless - it's practical.

Might not be to everyone's taste - but since we went with the standard commercial kitchen finishes (subway backsplash, stainless tops, etc.) it shouldn't go out of style. (Or at least will be consistently out of style all along.) We also have a section, near the stove, that is food grade butcher block. Again, easy maintenance. We reapply food grade wax 2x year.

My gut is that granite is already on the way out, in favor of manmade quartz. (Based on decorating magazines and hgtv.) I didn't want my kitchen to be easily dated to a decade by the finishes. I had that (with my pre-remodel 1960's kitchen) and my sister has that (with her 1979 kitchen.)
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Old 06-23-2014, 01:36 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by ER Fireball View Post
I like the look of granite, but my wife has concerns about the sealing of it. And there is starting to be some push back because it became so popular, very quickly. To the point that in 10 years it may be the Harvest Gold or Avocado Green of the 2000 era. My wife's high end material choice is the quartz composite? But it is very pricey.

Our plans were to use Formica, and have the option to redo them in a few years once we had all of the color schemes worked out. But the generic Corian was not an expensive upgrade, and we may go that way.
We did look at quartz composite at Ikea, but it was not cheap either. We liked the lighter color of quartz and Corian, so in the end chose a lighter color of granite. It looks like a bit darker color of marble, but with dark specs in it. It is quite light in color, and not like most granites.
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Old 06-23-2014, 01:36 PM   #12
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Replaced the original laminate counter tops with silestone and have been very happy, durable and pretty much maintenance free. The only problem I had when the new counter top was installed was that the new SS double sink that was included as a promotion was so much deeper than the original sink that the garbage disposal would not fit without major changes to the plumbing. Since we have a septic system and rarely use the garbage disposal just decided to not go with one.
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Old 06-23-2014, 01:37 PM   #13
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We have granite now, absolutely love it, it looks so much nicer than the old laminate with wood edging, practically invisible seams (only two, in a large, complicated shaped kitchen). The earlier laminate was done by myself and my FIL, so cost was very low. But to hire someone to fit all these odd shapes (a wide peninsula that comes out at an angle with gentle curves front, back and side), multiple exposed edges that would need finishing to look good, etc - I suspect might even cost more in laminate than granite. The granite is cut by computer, complexity hardly matters. I would say the granite installers were 'well-trained', not 'highly skilled'. They apply glue, set in place, fill a few feet of seams, drill faucet holes. In and out in no time. So labor costs are pretty low.

I think that people may be overestimating the cost of granite versus laminate, I don't think it is as great as it once was.


In the right setting, I think laminates (Formica being one brand name) are fine.

In my opinion, the 'right setting' is - no exposed sides. While I think the laminate can look fine, and can be very durable with reasonable care, I just don't like the look of those ends with the edging glued on. But if the ends terminate at a wall, or a refrigerator, I think it can look fine. Others may not agree.

In that setting, I would want the kind with the one-piece, rolled edges and back-splash. If you don't need to turn a corner, and everything terminates in a wall, you won't have a single seam (so no leak issues discussed below).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack_Pine View Post
We have granite and love it. Would do it again.

Can cut on it and can take something right off the stove and slide onto the counter top.
While you can do that, I wouldn't recommend it. It's not indestructible, and it sure ain't good for your knives!

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We went with laminate when we built the house in 98. Ten years of water leaking into the seam behind the sink where the counter met the backsplash caused the laminate to deteriorate. We replaced the counters with granite and have been really happy with how it worked out.
Yes, with the MDF under the laminate, even a very small seepage becomes a big problem over time - the MDF deteriorates and swells. Solid granite simply does not care about water, there is no underlayment.

-ERD50
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Old 06-23-2014, 01:40 PM   #14
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I have laminate (formica) countertops in my home, and all of my rentals. They are a granite color. If they get ruined, or just out of style, they are easily replaced.
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Old 06-23-2014, 01:44 PM   #15
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I'll add - the other solid surfaces might be good choices too. We ended up preferring a 'figured' granite with long veins running through it. You don't get that (AFAIK) in any of the manufactured surfaces, but that was just a personal preference. The colors are similar, so the veining is still fairly subtle, but we like it.

Regarding granite looking 'dated' - of course I could be wrong, but I really don't think so. It's a natural material with natural beauty. I think that's like saying 'wood' looks 'dated'. JMO.

The only thing I don't like about the granite is a dropped glass usually means a broken glass. We've lost a few glasses and dishes that would have survived hitting laminate.

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Old 06-23-2014, 01:47 PM   #16
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... I just don't like the look of those ends with the edging glued on...
The edging is usually glued on to give the slab a thicker look. Depending on the type of granite, and the skill of the cutter to match the grain, you cannot tell the seam if standing back 3 ft.
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Old 06-23-2014, 02:30 PM   #17
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The edging is usually glued on to give the slab a thicker look. Depending on the type of granite, and the skill of the cutter to match the grain, you cannot tell the seam if standing back 3 ft.
Sorry, I meant the edging on Formica/laminate. A 'built up' edge on a granite slab can work out fine, I think - though our are the thicker, solid type and the edge is just the full thickness of the slab ~ 1 1/4" it looks like.

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Old 06-23-2014, 02:36 PM   #18
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We don't have it but have seen some really nice things done with polished concrete......................
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Old 06-23-2014, 02:37 PM   #19
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Sorry, I meant the edging on Formica/laminate. A 'built up' edge on a granite slab can work out fine, I think - though our are the thicker, solid type and the edge is just the full thickness of the slab ~ 1 1/4" it looks like.

-ERD50
We have a granite looking (sort of) laminate in our granny flat. Fortunately, it's a linear counter - terminating at the wall on one side, and the stove on the other side - so no exposed sides. We went with the rolled front, integrated backsplash for exactly the reasons you describe.
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Old 06-23-2014, 02:37 PM   #20
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Sorry, I meant the edging on Formica/laminate. A 'built up' edge on a granite slab can work out fine, I think - though our are the thicker, solid type and the edge is just the full thickness of the slab ~ 1 1/4" it looks like.

-ERD50
You made me curious, so I just went to the kitchen and measured with a caliper.

The slab is 0.85" thick, and the built-up edge is 1.6" thick. I thought that was standard, but perhaps not.
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