Counter tops what material?

Page 1 of 3  
My wife is doing research of what is a better choice for a countertop in our soon to be remodeled kitchen. She can't seem to come up with unbiased facts on the internet. There is the Corian camp, the granite camp, and a quartz camp. All seem to think what they bought, sell, or install is the best. Here are some facts that should affect our decision.
#1. and probably foremost important. We are not yuppies and will not buy something just because everyone else is #2. We ACTUALLY use our kitchen and sometimes in a very haphazard way. These activities include canning, cookie cutters, vegatable chopping, cast iron cookware, and an absent minded wife occasionally setting hot pans on the counter. (she told me to say that) #3. We have 6 grandchildren that are in our house often. #4. Just suffice to say the kitchen gets hard use in our family and we are not afraid to USE it and get it dirty.
Any unbiased thoughts out there?
thanks
steve barker
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

there's also CONCRETE coutertops now.
--
Jim Yanik
jyanik
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Add butcher block you your list. If you use a penetrating oil finish, it will be easy to redo when you have an incident.
I usually recommend against butcher block for my clients, but they are mostly people who cook just a little.
--
Steve B.
New Life Home Improvement
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
With the danger of hot pots accidentally put on the countertop, that would rule out any of the plastic based materials such as Corian, quartz (plastic binder), laminate, etc. This only leaves marble (stains easily, acid foods can etch), granite or concrete, however, these materials can be brittle and have edges chipped if banged hard enough with something solid. You have to decide which fits your needs better without damage from your use, or modify your use to avoid damage.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Marble, granite and concrete will all stain, because they're porous. Good (and reapplied when necessary) sealers can help a lot. But of course, the sealer can be damaged/discolored by hot pots. Eg: epoxy sealers...
My understanding is that quartz (eg: Silestone) is much less subject to burning (than, say, Corian or laminate) because they use phenolic resins, which resist higher temperatures than other epoxy-like binders (epoxy or polyester). I believe quartz can be repaired, and it can be sanded like any other solid surface material.
I've seen corian stain. It's ugly (a result of unrepaired scratches), and requires quite a bit of work to fix. I have a hunk of 1/2" corian used as a cutting board for hobby (not food) work. From that experience, it's too damn soft for a kitchen counter - but it's nice for cutting - doesn't destroy the blade edge, easier to clean than wood and flatter than a polyethlyene cutting board. I'd rather have laminate than Corian in a kitchen - it's less subject to scratches, and I wouldn't die from sticker shock if I burnt it.
[My priorities are stain-proof, cleanability and good scratch resistance. Burn immunity is well down the list.]
There's also stainless steel, and other, er, "rocks", eg:
- soapstone - hard tile Soapstone is fairly soft and will dent or chip and is porous. You can carve polar bears in it if you get bored waiting for dinner to cook ;-)
Hard tile often has problems with staining of grout, can sometimes be hard to clean and is very very hard. It's been known to shatter.
Stainless dents or scratches (mind you, 14ga is pretty tough, and scratches can often be buffed out).
If cost wasn't a factor, I'd go with quartz. We don't have a problem with hot pots, we have a problem with staining (we're lazy on the cleanup). I'd be tempted to use a trivet or movable temporary slab (perhaps a single granite tile with a couple of felts under it) for burn risk. If you wreck the tile, just replace it.
--
Chris Lewis,

Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Chris Lewis wrote:

Soapstone (talc) is certainly soft but it is NOT porous.
--

dadiOH
____________________________
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Well the granite clearly has problems with hot pots and losing it seal, and bacteria. Etc. I can only assume (i know, i know) that concrete has similar problems with the hot pots breaking the seal.
thanks for the reply
steve

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

that is not correct. heat won't affect the sealer whether it's on concrete or granite.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload


Depends on the sealer used, how hot the pot is, and how long it's left. Yes, the stone conducts a lot of heat away, but if you apply enough of it for long enough, bad things can still happen.
For example, epoxy (it's mentioned as an option in a number of DIY concrete counter books) used as a sealer will discolor and/or cloud up at 150F, and start to do nastier things above 300F. Heck, I got epoxy to cloud up with 140F water.
Some professional counter people claim to be using sealers that are impervious to high heat. Others don't.
It looks like some of the web sites talking about granite and hot pots are talking about the material _without_ sealer.
--
Chris Lewis,

Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
S. Barker wrote: ...

...
That one is probably the most telling altho I agree fully w/ EXT's assessment.
All surfaces have advantages/disadvantages and all need some level of care or will be damaged in some manner.
From your description, I'd probably suggest one of the man-made solids but one that is "through and through" pattern/color. Most of these when installed the sink cutout will be made into a board that can be used as a set-down surface w/o destroying the actual counter top as a freebie.
Alternatively, consider a side counter on at least one side of the stove for specifically for the hot stuff.
I've no actual experience w/ the concrete solutions -- I suspect they're good for the temperature problem, may have some of the same brittleness problems as the natural stone, though, but as noted, that's a guess--if I were to be thinking along that line I'd really want to find somebody who's had one for a spell to see how it's working out.
We used a Corian-like product that's less expensive and have been pleased but it needs similar care as Corian. Danae is the trade name--there was a thread a couple months ago where I posted a link and more details on it as one to consider.
--
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

From what I've been able to garner, concrete (when done properly, including reinforcing mesh and/or fiber and properly supported) is _very_ hard and tough, and probably less subject to crack/chip than most (all?) other natural stone. Other than that, it's subject to much the same things that marble is (porousity, acid staining etc), requiring good sealers.
At least acid damage on unsealed concrete will be less than on unsealed marble.
It's also _heavy_ (because the slabs are usually cast much thicker than stone is sliced), so you may need quite a bit of hired muscle to get it installed.
Concrete has the potential to be much cheaper than virtually anything else - especially if you DIY. With the books and supplies that are now available, it's less of a risk to DIY than it once was.
Making "faux slate" drop-in tub surround tiles out of concrete is on my todo list as an experiment.
--
Chris Lewis,

Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

i've made concrete countertops. they are very hard, and have to be sealed because they are pretty porous. a sharp edge can chip off, but if you make it with rounded edges, it would be very difficult to chip.
at 4" thick, it was a chore to move around and install by myself. i made them in smaller pieces, and used glued in glass strips as slab dividers.
it was very cheap, compared to other materials, to diy.
regards, charlie http://glassartists.org/ChaniArts
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
charlie wrote: ...

That would take a tremendous amount of drawer space out of a kitchen if the counter top were that thick -- essentially, no top drawer at all where that counter is it would seem???
At 4", I'd agree they'd be hard to chip, but better have a serious counter to support 'em... :)
I see the advantage of cheaper materials and some of the pictures in things like FHB look pretty good at least in the pitchurs...
--
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

huh? why? so my counters are thicker than normal. a normal substrate for tile is a couple inches anyway, so it's only about 1"-1.5" thicker.

normal particle board cabinets can hold them (at least until they get wet :). i have a 120g fish tank with 1/2" plywood vertical members for the stand. it weighs upwards of 1200lbs on a much smaller footprint than a kitchen countertop.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I had thought concrete countertops were only around 2" thick.
--
Jim Yanik
jyanik
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Jim Yanik wrote: ...

I've not much (actually none) other than looking at the articles in FHB, etc., ... They surely don't look like much more than that there...
--


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
charlie wrote: ...

...
Ah, I was going to ask how you joined pieces but I gather from this they're not actually joined but have a deliberate joint w/ a decorative feature -- kewl! I'd probably have tried to figure out how I was going to polish and edge well enough to mate a la Corian, etc.
--
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

4 inches thick!!!!!!!!! Most basement floors are only 3" thick, garage floors hold a car with 4 inches of concrete --- what were you building, load supporting structural concrete.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

i used 1/2" tied rebar, so i didn't want that to get too close to the surface. besides, i was insetting large chunks of polished rock in the edges and surface.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/chaniarts/2359619331 /
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
We would not consider anything but ceramic tile. Our counters are 25 years old, made of 4" rustic tiles with 1/4" grout. Looks superb, speaks of quality, impervious to acids or heat, looks like new. No routine maintenance or sealing. If a tile should ever break (due to high impact), it can be replaced easily (unlike a granite slab). Just save a few tiles from your installation. DIY job. If grout should ever get dirty, brush with brass brush and reseal. Can even replace the surface of the grout. Would not even dream of having granite or plastic counter tops.
--
Walter
www.rationality.net
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.