Countertop help - suggestions needed

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We are planning on getting new countertops and are having a hard time deciding between all the available materials - Formica, Corian, marble, etc. Just wondering what you have and what you like or dislike about it? I don't even know where to start in deciding. I like a Formica pattern a lot, but it seems it is not as thick as it used to be and I was wondering about how well it will wear. Open to any other suggestions.
Thank you,
Autumn
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Formica now offers solid surface tops like corain (synthetic) and silestone (composite quartz) while still offering the traditional plastic laminate tops they are more well known for as well as wood and metal. What are you talking about?
I have to assume the Formica brand of solid surface tops is very similar to the other brands (excepting color choices). If you are talking about the laminates, they have several thicknesses and grades as well as surface finishes.
Its a tough personal descision I am also working on. though in my case, laminates and tiles smaller than 16" are a no-go. I thinkl I prefer stone but if the others can offer a significant price break then I might go with the quartz composite as it is the hardest to scratch or stain

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I did not know of silestone. I will have to look into this. I just started looking and wanted to hear others opinions of the things available. Thank you, I have learned about a few things I did not know about.
Autumn
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My house is about 21 years old and I had white formica from that vintage. If you go with formica, get the kind that has the color through and through. The older kind and probably cheaper kind has a black edge and with even a small scratch the black shows.
When I replaced the counters about 3 years ago, I put in granite. I still love it and would do it again. I priced all kinds of materials. The formica was the cheapest and there are some that look like stone and a very nice. I was recommended to two stone yards who are actually doing the work for builders and home centers. One of them beat every price I'd gotten anywhere else on silestone, corian, and granite. It's not cheap at all but it was cheaper than everything except the formica.
Don't let anyone scare you with the business of having to seal the granite. The place that makes the counters does the sealing. They say you can do it once more and then it never has to be done again. The sealer costs about $20 for a small bottle and goes a long way. You just pour a little on and wipe it all over.
To clean it I use windex! That's what the installer told me.
Well, I hope this helps. If you want stone, find a place that will deal with you directly and you'll save money.
Myrna
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I went with granite, but, when I was considering what direction to go with my kitchen, I considered a whole range, and all, except maybe for marble (porous, isn't it?) have their advantages.
Formica - don't turn your nose up and don't let others make you turn your nose up - it's good for the budget, lasts a lot longer than replacing it more often would make uneconomic (I'd say 15 years), and does have a lot of cool patterns that you won't find elsewhere and are actually coming back in style. Even high-end designers still turn to good ol' Formica for certain looks and applications. Maybe pick that pattern you love, and fly to Europe this summer instead of buying granite and staying home. Specially if you won't be in your house very many years.
Granite - very durable (so you have to smear a little sealant over it once a year bigeffindeal...) and beautiful, many patterns. Do shop around and get references. Going to a supplier and looking at slabs is way fun. Why *I* did it - I have some mineralology knowledge and am fascinated by stone, period. (How can I not have granite, my friends said...) It's way fashionable now; that shoudln't be your primary concern, though.
Solid surface - similar to granite in cost (unfortunately) and durability, has a different, smoother finer grained look. When it tries to look like granite, it doesn't - BUT, in my opinion a lot of the solid surfaces (like Silestone) have a wonderful 'clean' look that I did seriously consider although I love the natural stones. All in the eye of the beholder. No sealing, durable.
Banty
--


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I agree. The other counter tops have more to do with fashion than function. If you have a walk through kitchen, no kids and you don't cook much they make a beautiful statement but Corian/clones can be stained, burned and cut. Marble/granite stains too and it is instant death to anything you drop on it. Glasses shatter and plates chip. Anything much harder will chip the stone. When I started looking at the pros and cons of Corian I ended up with maple butcherblock and several coats of polyurethane. I know I can cut or burn it but I don't need a licensed Corian mechanic to sand it out and refinish itt.
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Autumn wrote:

I'd recommend looking at Silestone if it's within your budget:
http://tinyurl.com/oklps
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Zodiaq is the other brand of composite quatrz (like Silestone) and I think it is affiliated with Corian. All of them are licencees of the same patent, only difference is color choice and maybe some on price.
Also rising in popularity is polished concrete but I don't think it will be popular with me.
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http://www.hanstone.com /
MoM
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the sink area. Real butcher block for the counter beside the stove and quartz for my baking peninsula. I love it!
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One of the nice things about Corian is that you can get the counter and sink as effectively one unit. They're glued together, but you can't feel a seam.
Someone just posted that Corian stains. I can't imagine what you would use to stain it. I think it's impervious to stains.
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I have heard that Corain stains but have no experience with it. The salespeople say if it stains you can scour it out because it's a solid surface. But over time in areas where food is prepared, I imagine you can scour so much until it has valleys in the surface.
Myrna
Dan Espen wrote:

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Myrna wrote:

All surfaces, EXCEPT Formica (i.e. the laminate surfaces) and Ceramics will stain to some degree. Doesn't matter whether we talk about natural stone products, quartz embedded products (Silestone, Zodiaq...) or artificial surfaces (Corian)
All these surfaces will discolor if a hot pot is allowed to rest on them for more than a very few seconds. The natural stone products may CRACK due to thermal stress.
The MOST worry free surface is the laminates like Formica, however, they can peel, they will discolor if subjected to high heat. New patterns can make this REALLY attractive when combined with a wooden trim piece to form the edge. Heavy use will wear the pattern over time, but it is a LONG time, or a VERY heavy use pattern of sliding things across it before the protective top layer wears away.
Solid surfaces like Corian can have very attractive edges applied, and are for the most part, worry free, if you mop up spills PROMPTLY. Blemishes can be sanded out
Solid natural stone surfaces like granite, marble, slate, or any of the other countless Limestone products need care
1. Mop up spills instantly, 2. Do not let sharp objects fall on them, 3. Do not let heavy objects bump them, 4. Do not set hot pots or pans on them ... ...
Finally, what is your plan for selling the home, and what price range is it in?
In some prices ranges, buyers will openly discount the value of a home that has Corian or Formica in it, even when the counters are only a very few years old, saying that they want a natural stone product (usually Granite)
So if you are going to stay in this house for a LONG time, get the most worry free surface that you and your significant other agree is attractive and you can afford.
If you plan on selling in the next few years, and you can afford a natural stone product, get granite, it will make the house more salable, if the home will sell for $150,000 or more
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Robert Gammon wrote:

other types that do better. I tested Silestone and was unable to stain it.

although there may be certain granite sealers that may scorch. I was able to leave a smoking hot cast iron skillet on a Silestone sample with zero damage. I was also able to build a small fire with wood matches on Silestone with zero damage as a result. Thermal shock is a legimitate reason not to use non-metallic, heat resistant countertops as if they are trivets.
I encourage people to get free samples from stores and test them for themselves.

I strongly disagree, but you're entitled to your opinion. I will give Formica credit for being more scratch resistant than Corian.
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Someone mentioned nail polish. I suppose that might dissolve the Corian, but to my mind, that's not a stain.
I can tell you that red wine and coffee left on overnight do not stain Corian.
You clean the counter with those plastic scrub pads. I don't think I could rub long enough to make any visible change to the counter with one of those.
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I prefer Glacier White Corian. I like the resiliancy of a plastic over a stone. I like the white, as it shows where the debris and dirt are, plus when you shine lights on it, it brightens up the area all around. The front edges don't chip like stone. You never have to seal it. To keep it clean just periodically use some Ajax.
Don <www.donwiss.com> (e-mail link at home page bottom).
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set on corian for our kitchen then I looked at granite. The patterns and colors are endless Go check it out, the prices vary quite bite for the granite the installation is the real cost. Try and find a supplier that sells the granite and installs it. Just beware there is a lot of backyard installers with circular saws with diamond blades.
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I care more about practicality than what it looks like, and whether it impresses my neighbors or not. Sorry.
Don <www.donwiss.com> (e-mail link at home page bottom).
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Don Wiss wrote:

Practicality wins almost EVERY time. Corian looks great, wears wonderfully, and is almost as impervious as Formica.
Zodiac is a step towards stone as it is over 90% quartz and from the same manufacturer (Dupont). Silestone is a similar product.
Natural stone products look great, BUT, edge chipping, staining, cracking (from less than perfect installations), uneven color across long counters, and moderate maintenance requirements are all downsides to this surface. However, one way to remove the edge concern is to use a wooden edge. I have seen this with some of the artificial surfaces, I think with Zodiac.
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We put Corian in our previous house and will be replacing formica in current house with Corian soon. The seamless sinks made from Corian are great. Just don't get nail polish remover on it or you will need a pro to fix the damage. But quartz and granite can be ruined by line a way and similar cleaners.

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