What are the best kitchen counter materials

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Note the plural. For someon who is into wooddorking and cooking, I am somewhat ashame to say that I have a 30-year old completely inefficient kitchen that is now falling apart. I am designing a new one (thanks Swing for the sketch-up library) and am trying to figure out what to use for counter tops.
Note the plural. Maybe there is one best overall material, but I am not necessarily averse to using more than one.
So what would you use in an ideal kithcen:
Arborite/Formical/High pressure laminate? Solid surface a la Corian or others? Paperstone? Wood - vertical "real" butcher block or horizontal laminations? What wood if not maple? Stone (granite, marble)? Others I missed?
Right now I'm inclined towards high pressure laminate with maybe a wood section, or a separate bread/pastaboard that could slip under the counter like my father did many years ago. The Arborite has lasted 30 years in my kitchen with only a couple of ugly spots. I realize the solid surface stuff can be repaired, but how much of a real advantage is that?
Note that these are just my initial thoughts and am quite open to being convinced otherwise.
Thanks in advance for your collective wisdom.
Luigi
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On 5/05/11 10:56 AM, Luigi Zanasi wrote:

I can vouch for granite, put it in over ten years ago and still love it. Drop a hot pot or pan, no burned spots. Baking is easy, and wipes up real quick, even kneading a dough on it. Typically don't put anything down for chopping either, it still looks great.
Just a happy customer, although it may be extra expensive where you are.
--
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Luigi.
FN is right. Granite can be satisfying. But there are many kinds of granite. Some of the most beautiful have a lot of feldspar or mica. Avoid those.
Ask about how often you have to re-seal any stone you are thinking about against water or other fluid penetration. Ask what that entails in effort, time and cost. Also, many stones have areas and cracks sealed or filled with colored resin. Ask about that. Don't be surprised if salesmen don't or can't respond. Examine the polished surface by moving along a low, raking angle, looking for changes in light reflectivity. Areas of duller shine call for closer examination.
A very fine-grained sandstone would be one lapidary material to consider.
Porcelain tile with epoxy grout gives you many choices, durability and repairability. Heavy drops and burning metal objects can be problems.
Corian is great. No re-sealing necessary. Don't try to cut it. Don't put red-hot things on it.
I have a hardwood insert with a perpendicular, split fence at the border facing toward the center of the kitchen. The fence works to keep drawn cuts from escaping on to the countertop and it is a handle too.
Regards,
Edward Hennessey
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On 5/05/11 12:41 PM, Edward Hennessey wrote:

Exactly, I went to a local place that had hundreds of slabs, they were rough cut, but finished and polished on two sides. I picked the piece I wanted after having a pro come out and measure my kitchen. Couple days later got the call it was ready, with the edge profile I wanted etc. It was a good experience for me, YMMV.
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wrote:

The slabs were polished on both sides? That's really odd. It would bump up the price of the slab appreciably and one side is hidden. I've only seen slabs polished on one side. Why would they go to all of that extra work when one side is never going to be seen?
R
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On 5/05/11 5:03 PM, RicodJour wrote:

Not sure, now you mention it, but I got to pick the show side. :-) There was a minor difference.
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Maybe the piece was originally destined for a setting where both sides would be visible when in use? Or perhaps, they polished one side and then decided the pattern on the other side was more interesting. Who knows?
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On 5/05/11 5:22 PM, Upscale wrote:

It was a while back, so I can't say for sure they all were polished both sides, this particular piece was.
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That reminds me of a home improvement show I viewed some months ago. The home owner picked out of piece of granite for his kitchen and sent it off to be cut and polished. When it was delivered, he realized he'd told the granite company to polish the wrong side. Since the piece of granite he had picked out was cut with a shortened 45 degree bend in it, the polished side up had the bend going 180 degrees in the wrong direction. The home owner lucked out though. Someone else like the faulty piece enough that they bought it for just a little less then retail cost.
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I used to work in the kitchen trade. a business aquaintance told me how they had supplied a very expensive upmarket kitchen which had a big oldfashioned white china double sink under granite worktops. The customer had chosen a pair of taps she liked so they had the granite drilled before installation, the granite installers came and fixed it all down, the plumber came to fix and connect the taps and the sink, the tilers, the electrician, the snagging, the cleaning etc then handover day, client arrives, designer salesman is showing off how everything works and realises that the hot tap runs into the left hand bowl and the cold tap runs into the right hand bowl. Nobody had thought to say no to the client's choice of taps on the grounds that they needed a mixer. Red faces and a lot of rectifying.
Tim W
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wrote:
m.ail.com> wrote in message

Fair enough. The only application that comes to mind for a two-sided polished slab in a typical countertop thickness stone would be something like a toilet partition. I remember reading about a Georgian quarry that supplied the institutional-standard toilet partitions for a large part of the country back in the 30's and 40's. I have no idea what makes a particular quarry's stone better for partitions, but I could understand a place like that might be in the habit of polishing both sides as standard.
R
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"RicodJour" wrote:

polished slab in a typical countertop thickness stone would be something like a toilet partition. --------------------------------------- Back in the late 1960's, one of my distributors rehabbed their building, a multistoried industrial brick building that was probably built about 1900.
Part of the building upgrade was a complete renovation of the restrooms.
At least one of the stone toilet partitions was salvaged by one of my associates and turned into a table in his living room.
Cleaning up at least 60 years of crud build up included at least one muriatic acid bath.
The finished product was quite attractive.
Lew
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RDJ:
As covered later in the thread, vertical placement of the slab.
Two, what may arguably be called "snob appeal" when a salesman may be trying to stress the superiority of his offering thusly if there is any chance it could be seen on either face: "The competition actually leaves the underside of their tables cut raw. We finish polish ours."
Three--and this is material--some materials show significant design variation across the slab thickness, particularly those with included elements which expose differently over their length or at angles. See an image search for +orthoceras (slab* OR table*) and you should get a visual on the idea.
Four--another material point: If it gets damaged on one side, if the customer tires of it on one side, they can flip it in some applications.
Regards,
Edward Hennessey
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wrote:

I brought up the toilet partition, and I don't think anyone else mentioned a two-sided vertical application. Sure, there are some extremely limited applications for two-sides polished stone, but it makes no sense for slabs to be generally polished that way. It's a waste of time and money. If a special application needs the obverse side polished, it's no big deal to do so.

I suppose that might make it a little harder to stick gum to the underside, but beyond that I'm not sure who would consider that an advantage. Polishing stone takes a lot of time and passes. It makes no sense.
Look at it this way. Your dining room table is wood, right? Does it have a french polished underside? Is there any finish on it at all. Has anyone ever noticed, mentioned or complained that there isn't a finish under there? Usually people that are under the table are too busy trying to get the room to stop spinning to bother with noticing levels of sheen. ;)

I didn't know orthoceras was available in anything larger than a relatively small piece, and those pieces are fairly expensive. I still can't imagine a kitchen done in the stuff - what's the biggest slab you've seen? With all stone there is a better side, a choice is made and that side is polished, then the stone is sent out to local distributors. If something needs both sides polished, the supplier will do it during fabrication.
I would like to see a freestanding curving stone shower enclosure done in the orthoceras, though. That would be spiffy.

Is it already April 1st again? What application can you name where flipping a slab would work? Edge treatment alone would eliminate almost all applications, and sinks, ends, etc. would effectively eliminate all of the rest. A coffee table _might_ qualify_ but a coffee table doesn't take much abuse, and how many people have stone coffee tables custom made where they'd be buying slabs from a distributor?
How does flipping a piece of stone relieve the owner's ennui-de- stone? Thin slabs are pretty much the same on both sides, no?
R
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RDJ:
I brought up the toilet partition, and I don't think anyone else mentioned a two-sided vertical application. Sure, there are some extremely limited applications for two-sides polished stone, but it makes no sense for slabs to be generally polished that way. It's a waste of time and money. If a special application needs the obverse side polished, it's no big deal to do so.

I suppose that might make it a little harder to stick gum to the underside, but beyond that I'm not sure who would consider that an advantage. Polishing stone takes a lot of time and passes. It makes no sense.
The sense would be it makes money. If it can be sold that way, for whatever reason, even reasons we may not credit or don't know, it will be made that way.
That's a dull line of reasoning but I wouldn't want to bet on smart against it if, if I see a number of slabs of something done that way around. That's the real benchmark.
Look at it this way. Your dining room table is wood, right? Does it have a french polished underside? Is there any finish on it at all. Has anyone ever noticed, mentioned or complained that there isn't a finish under there? Usually people that are under the table are too busy trying to get the room to stop spinning to bother with noticing levels of sheen. ;)
That's a good position. I'm down with it. People have other positions we may regard as dopey. That doesn't stop them. Mr. X thinks piercings, scarifications and a full funny-papers' body wrap are bug-nuts loony. Then he sees the madhouse walking the streets. I feel paying triple rate for a signature scarf shows insecurity and bad financial management. They sell like hot cakes.
If a salesman can push this stuff on any appeal that makes the slab even SEEM to make the owner more distinguished....people like to be elite and make invidious comparisons.
Then there is an issue that we appreciate: choice. With a doubly-polished stone slab, you do get to pick the side you like, even if it is only one.
Dealer A has 100 slabs of Imperial Roca polished on one side. Dealer B has 100 slabs polished on both sides. Dealer B doubles options to his customers with the same number of slabs. If there is an indisputable difference between the sides, B wins. If he can make any appreciable amount of his customers see any difference, he wins.

I didn't know orthoceras was available in anything larger than a relatively small piece, and those pieces are fairly expensive. I still can't imagine a kitchen done in the stuff - what's the biggest slab you've seen? With all stone there is a better side, a choice is made and that side is polished, then the stone is sent out to local distributors. If something needs both sides polished, the supplier will do it during fabrication.
This is a material I know. Kitchens are done in the marble; sculpture and conference tables too. I have a 3'x3' slab looking at me. I've seen 12'x10'. If you wanted a container of it or other kinds of ammonoid or different Orthoceras slabs, it's doable.
I would like to see a freestanding curving stone shower enclosure done in the orthoceras, though. That would be spiffy.

Is it already April 1st again? What application can you name where flipping a slab would work? Edge treatment alone would eliminate almost all applications, and sinks, ends, etc. would effectively eliminate all of the rest. A coffee table _might_ qualify_ but a coffee table doesn't take much abuse, and how many people have stone coffee tables custom made where they'd be buying slabs from a distributor?
How does flipping a piece of stone relieve the owner's ennui-de- stone? Thin slabs are pretty much the same on both sides, no?
No. In an 1.5" thick fossil slab with included specimens that track discrete layers they can be very different. The same with any rock which changes its composition/ coloration in a stratified way. And there are plenty.
Look at some of the images of the bigger Kanab slabs at the hyperlink mentioned elsewhere in the thread. You ought to see the other face.
So you could have a doubly-polished slab, flip it as a wall hanging or table or architectural divider and really see it turn over a new leaf.
As we tacitly agree, many of these conceptions may not appeal to us. But there are people that they work with.
Regards,
Edward Hennessey
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Google, I don't see your posts unless others quote them.
Regards,
EH
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"Edward Hennessey" wrote in message
Google, I don't see your posts unless others quote them.
Regards,
EH
That is something unique to you. We see the posts, originals and all. You need to look into your end for the solution to this problem. Have you got him in the block sender list?
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On 5/6/2011 8:53 AM, Leon wrote:

Hardly. Anyone using NewsProxy now that used it when newsgroups were actually popular probably has Google blocked. That was due to the volume of crap that came from Google initiated by every wanna be troll in knee pants. Fortunately, that activity seems to have all but disappeared.
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"Mike" wrote in message

Hardly. Anyone using NewsProxy now that used it when newsgroups were actually popular probably has Google blocked. That was due to the volume of crap that came from Google initiated by every wanna be troll in knee pants. Fortunately, that activity seems to have all but disappeared.
Unique in that "he" will have to make the changes to be able to correct the problem. I did not mean to say that only he has the problem, just that the problem had to be corrected on his end.
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L:
It's a property of my blocking posts through that interface which should have been mentioned. My apologies.
As Mike says, Google has historically been permissive with spam to the degree where a few groups were deluged. Maybe things have shifted. I'll look at the things with the filter off for a few days.
Regards,
Edward Hennessey
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