Wish to re-do the counter tops in a residence kitchen with something more
Before I go looking seriously, thought I'd ask here first.
Could anyone comment, please, on the pros and cons of the
various materials being offered these days.
Corian - Dupont
Zodiaq - also Dupont, I think
There are also several others on the market, I believe.
Factors I'm concerned about include:
a. scratch resistance,
b. resistance to chipping,
c. stain resistance,
Any thoughts, opinions, and comments would be most welcome.
BTW: - how important is thickness ?
- things to request relative to the installation ?
- any other things I should be thinking about, but probably am
Corian is plastic, easily scratched, but can be re-sanded from what I
understand. Also, heard on the street, may yellow due to heat or
Zodiaq is held together by plastic, but the epoxy like binder holds crushed
rock/minerals together. As expensive as granite, may not require annual
Natural Quartz? No such thing for counter tops. Do you mean granite?
Limestone/marble. Attractive, soft, scratchable, etched by vinegar and acid
foods. Not good, unless you don't cook from scratch.
We're installing granite, the usual 3/4 inch thick. Some sealing may be
required. Nearly scratchproof, and heat resistant.
I also suggest you check out Consumers Reports at the library - good summary
article by cooks and engineers, that summarizes all the qualities you wish
to know about.
We just did a remodel and went with granite. It looks beautiful, and we are
Shop around. Prices vary greatly for the same granite. Have a reputable
installer do it. Ours was a ghost. He came and left like a puff of smoke.
OUTSTANDING installation. We called him back for more work, and he showed
up for the small stuff, too.
Pick something you know you can look at for twenty years unless you are just
loaded with dough. If you are you can change the color regularly. If you
are filthy rich, please contact me, as I have a lot of sure win business
propositions. I win.
Match the material to the use. We are also converting a garage to maid
quarters. We will be putting Wilson Art, Formica, laminate, whatever in
there. For the use, that is the best thing for the $$$.
Consider if you might be selling soon, and if so, don't put a lot in there
that you won't be able to recoup.
No, he meant quartz. http://www.cambriausa.com /
Quartz countertops in particular are a hot trend, and as they offer great
durability, resistance to wear and tear, stains, scratches and very high
temperatures for a relatively low price they are proving to be a very
practical choice. They come in a wide range of colors, are lightweight, and
are more sanitary than most other types of counters, retaining less moisture
and therefore less bacteria. Composite, a 65% quartz and 35% acrylic mixture
offers durability with a shiny
In reality it is plastic (35 per cent). There is nothing natural about that!
They just throw in some crushed quartz pebbles and call it "natural". I
don't get it. At least Zodiaq says at the get-go we are dealing with a
Consumer Reports ran a story on this a while back. Hit your local library
for the back copies. Or, go to www.consumerreports.com, pay whatever the
small price is for a month's worth of access to the site, and download the
article. I think it's $7.00 or $4.00.
I installed a product called SileStone which we like very much. I
bought the whole package at Home Depot and they did a very good job
installing it. It doesn't scratch and doesn't require sealing or any
We just put counters in our kitchen and I did a TON of research. Here
we go: Silestone, Zodiaq, Technistone & Caeserstone are all the same
product made under patent license from an Italian company. They are 93%
quartz with 7% colorant and resins to hold it together.
These synthetic stones are not quite as glossy as granite (due to the
manufacturing process and the stones natural properties), but they are
available in a wide range of colors. They also have "shimmery" spots
where a facet of the quartz crystal shows through and reflects glints
of room licht just like a mirror. It is an interesting effect.
Pricing. Oh boy, here we go. We had a pretty normal kitchen with
about 60 square feet of counter and about 20 of backsplash (we wanted
to go to the bottom of the cabinets). Since the only way to obtain
these quartz/synthetic counters is through a manufacturer apoproved
installer. They offer a list on their website. So, we got bids from 4
area (i.e. within 40 miles) installers. We also got one from Home Depot
(although we figured they would just sub-out the work to one of the
The local guys bids were $8,000-$9,000 or about $110/square foot. Home
depot was about $7,600. Go figure. They's hire tyhe local and botht he
local guy & HD would make money.
Then I found e-counters.com. ALthough they are located in Minnesota (I
think), they came in at $5,200! They subbed it to a company aboiut 100
miles from me as well.
So here's the process (for any of these guys): You fax in your measured
drawing and they give you a rough estimate. If you like it, they come
out and measure (typically they'ss charge $150 or so if you don't buy -
that's OK). They make the final measurements and then go adjust the
quote. For HD or e-counters.com, you have your credit card charged for
the 1st bid amount and then either A0 get a refund if you measured too
big, b) pay more if you measured too small, or c) cancel and get all of
your money except the measurement fee back. Pretty fair.
Therse are the things that make it expensive in a hurry:
Bullnosed edges - figure about $28-$30 per lineal foot
cutouts for switches, outlets etc - $20-$60 each depending
sink cutout - $300
Holes for fauctes etc - $20-$30 each
Usually the standard edge profile is an eased edge (no sharp edge) and
a 3" radius corner. With about a 1-1/2 ro 2" overhang of the cabinet
it looks good to my eye.
We ultimately went with e-counters.com, have mostly standard edging,
undermount sink, 8 or so cutouts and a raised dining bar with
bullnosing. E-counters was $65 per sf for their top tier color
(naturally what we wanted...) plus any fancy edging or cutouts. We are
pleased with both the materials and the installation. The service was
fast, courteous and all in all a pleasant experience. Plus I liked the
added advantage of using a credit card to buy, as it gave me a bit of
leverage if tings went south.
Why I paid a Minnesota company to hire a California contractor about
100 miles from my house and got the lowest price, I don't know. I do
know that it was about $1,500 less than HD and $2-3,000 less than the
local authorized fabricators. I really did try to use the local trades,
but, for a 40% difference, i think not.
Othe rquestions you asked: Thickness - it is (I think) 3cm thick, or
about 1-1/8". That's the size the solid pieces are made, the tiles are
bout half that.
Things relative to the installation: Most quotes are for "a ready to
install" kitchen --i.e. old counters out, just plain cabinets. I think
e-counters wanted $16/sf plus dump fees to remove, and HD was $1,900.
So I saved about $1,000 or so by doing it myself. Not hard. Just messy.
If you have tile, use an air hammer and a compressor to break out the
old stuff. It's a must.
Overaal, I had 4 bids for Silestone & 3 fro granite, and other than
e-counters, they were all pretty much indistinguishable in price.
Disclaimer: I don't work for e-counters, Silestone or anyone else in
the building industry. I'm just a homeowner who didn't want to pay more
than was fair for a project.
I just hope this helps, because I pretty much had to invent the wheel.
Countertops: High design at lower prices
Falling prices for granite and other tony materials mean that you can now
get a custom-look countertop for about what you'd pay for solid surfacing
like Corian. You'll also see new products as high-end options hit the
Retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe's now offer granite and resin-based
engineered stone for as little as $50 per square foot. Indeed, in 2003 as
prices dropped, granite sales climbed 12 percent and engineered stone, 25
percent. But even these luxury materials may not be distinctive enough for
some design-conscious homeowners. Concrete, which is made to order, is one
way to get a custom look. Another trend, stainless steel, appeals to
homeowners who want to integrate their counters with pro-style appliances.
How do these latest two countertop options compare with more familiar
materials? We subjected them, along with six traditional leading materials,
to heat, spills, impacts, and further kitchen abuse. Here are the details.
Stainless steel: tough to a point. Common spills like mustard and ketchup
were easily removed with plain water. Our stainless-steel surface also
resisted the burns and marks that a hot pot inflicted on some other
materials. But scratches stood out after a few knife strokes, as did dents
from dropped objects. Drain cleaners and hard-water-deposit removers can
discolor it. And like stainless-steel appliances, stainless counters show
Concrete counters: fancy but fragile. Concrete cuts and chips easily. Other
performance varies depending on the sealer. Topical sealers, which form a
film on the surface, made our counter nearly stainproof. But a hot pot can
damage it. The reverse held for penetrating sealers; one sample was etched
by mustard and ketchup.
HOW TO CHOOSE
See Types to match the look you want with how you'll use the counter. Then
follow these tips:
Start with the sink. Most counters work with most sinks. But if you want an
undermount sink, you'll need a waterproof material like solid surfacing,
engineered stone, granite, or concrete. If you want a seamless sink made
from the same material as the counter, you're limited to solid surfacing,
stainless steel, and concrete.
Think about seams. The counter you choose could depend on whether you can
live with visible joins. With solid surfacing, pieces are fused to get rid
of seams. Stainless seams can be welded, ground, and buffed away. But think
twice about other materials if seams are an issue.
Laminates typically require seams on the front edge and between the
backsplash and counter. Post forming melds the backsplash, counter, and
front edge into one laminate-wrapped unit, avoiding seams. But this option
offers fewer color choices.
Use edges with discretion. Custom edges like bullnoses, ogees, and bevels
can give low-priced counters added flair. But edges can cost up to $50 per
linear foot--a concern if your budget is tight.
Consider the finish. Granite and engineered stone are sold polished or
honed. Stainless offers brushed and random-grain finishes. Matte or textured
finishes are better at hiding scratches, but if fingerprints are an issue,
choose faux-stainless laminate over the real stuff.
Combine more than one type. Using two or more materials can trim costs while
adding functionality and variety.
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A lot depends on your plans, family size, etc. Corian is top-dollar, so
you wouldn't likely use it if you plan on moving in a couple of years or
if you have five pre-teens who make sandwiches on the counter. Old
cabinets? New? Going to keep cabinets forever? You can get a ballpark
estimate per running foot on installing Corian, granite, formica, etc.,
at the local box store. Then, when you know what you would end up
spending, you'll be able to narrow it down. I wouldn't put Corian in a
house with kids unless they are well trained, or in a rental. I don't
especially like it, as far as that goes. We just redid our kitchen (two
retirees) and it isn't Formica, but it will last forever, for us. :o)
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