Countertop choices

Looking at materials for a new kitchen countertop, and I have come to the conclusion that each material has some share of pros and cons, some of which I am a bit hesitant to deal with.
I have tile counters right now, and except for being a bitch to keep clean, they are OK. Won't ever do it again though. I also have ruled out laminate because I want to be able to set a hot pot or pan right on the counter.
So what I've narrowed down to is either granite, soapstone, slate or Corian (or a variant thereof). I've heard that:
- granite stains, and is difficult to repair if dinged or scratched. Expensive. - soapstone is soft and damages easily, not as expensive as granite. - slate? not a thing, but expensive and not common - corian variants are easily damaged, not very heat resistant, but are easily repaired. Cheapest of the four.
If you had to choose between one of the four, price being an issue (i.e. best bang for the buck), which would you pick? Are the horror stories really that bad? For example I was told not to use tile because it breaks easily. Well, I saved a few replacement tiles just in case, and we haven't had a problem yet, and we aren't particularly careful. I have also tried finding information on the resin counters that you can find in school chemistry labs, but I guess they're mighty expensive.
The most important things to me are: heat resistance, easy to clean, and appearance.
--
Jon Endres, PE
Reply To: wmengineer (at) adelphia (dot) net
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Jon, you are correct in your analysis of the pros and cons with the various surfaces.
We have Corian and love it, its very stain resistant. For us the pros outweighed the cons. Well, only one "con" really. We can't set anything directly on the counter from the stove or oven, but we couldn't before with our Formica. We have a few granite 12" squares with felt feet to set the hot items on.
With the Corian we got the molded-in sink which is great. Smooth transition from counter into the sink bowl and no grout lines. Very sexy.
Another plus with the Corian is that we have one counter running 26 feet along three walls and there are no visible seam. Couldn't do that with granite.
Corian is very easy to clean and looks great.
- Dewolla Stepon
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Hello Jon, After reading your choices, it looks like you may not be familiar with Silestone or Avanza...They are made of a quartz substance and have the look and feel of granite..It's very hard, does not stain and laughs at hot pots and pans...We had Silestone put in our kitchen and LOVE it..It runs similarly to granite in price, maybe a tad less but you don't have to worry about sealing it or it staining, and I imagine you would have to hit it pretty hard to damage it..Most Home Depots have a Silestone display but you might do better from a local supplier..Also I might suggest to have them do a "double bullnose" which means they laminate two layers of it at the edge and then bevel it..Makes the countertops look really thick... Here is their website which might help: http://www.silestoneusa.com/1_info/info.htm (and no I don't work for them) Hope this helps!!! John
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Jon Endres, PE wrote:

just like any material but it hasn't (it would take a pretty hard object to scratch it like carbide, diamond or the like.) Marble stains easily and I have found some folks that get it confused with granite.
When we were looking granite was priced a little less than Corian.

can easily separate.

was actually higher than granite.

Granite.
Are the horror stories

with any highly polished specular surface dust is very evident. Perhaps a lighter color would not require daily dusting.
Fine Homebuilding has had several articles over the past couple of years that addressed various counter top materials. It would be useful to read through them.
RB

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http://www.monticellogranite.com/granite-colors.html
Click on Azul Aran. I have it. I love it. And, you don't see a thing on it.
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Memory was given to mortals so that they might
have roses in December.
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I had a corian variant installed in my kitchen under slung sink and the rest. Looks great. Holds up well but is a pain in the ass to keep clean. The sink stains easily. It will come out, still stains. I cleaned my Sharper Image Ionic Breeze into the sink ONCE, the carbon seated it self on the sinks walls and sides Came out with Simple green after the panic had died down. I was considering glass beading the sink. ( I have one ) The counter tops are a bitch when you spill something and you do not clean it immediately. I have something sticky on the counter top that has been there for 2 weeks,,,, it will come out eventually they always do. My new home which will be ready in a month has stainless steel sinks and Formica. Not for me again. Your results may vary as well as your mileage.
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I used to have corian. It was so soft it scratched very easy the built in sink was nice. When I moved and redid my kitchen I chose Granite.
The Avanza and Silestone are OK but since they are Man made they look synthetic on a large surface as they tend to be uniform.. I have had granite for 2 years no scratches and no stains at all.
You can see pictures of my kitchen at
Old Kitchen http://groups.msn.com/AlaskaCruiseCrystalHarmony/kitchen.msnw?action=ShowPhoto&PhotoID@2
With Granite
http://groups.msn.com/AlaskaCruiseCrystalHarmony/kitchen.msnw?action=ShowPhoto&PhotoID@8
Wayne
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