March 05, 2015

What kind of countertops do you have? More importantly, what kind of countertops do you want?

Here are the choices: granite, marble, soapstone, concrete, glass, corian, engineered stone (all considered “solid surface”) wood or laminate. In New England, we do not consider tile an option but in other areas of the country, this is fairly common. Price-wise, the differences are crazy. For the same amount of square footage, a solid surface would be $4,000, wood could range from $3,000-$2,500 and laminate would be $400. Even within granite there are definitive ranges which would go from $7,000-$4,000 depending on the stone.

Once you determine your budget, here is the process for a solid surface stone:

1) Granite, Marble & Soapstone – you will want to go to a stone yard to actually select your slab. Now, this is a very fun adventure but tiring and be warned, some people need to go back a few times. It is a learning process so be patient. Typically,  the stone yards work direct with the stone fabricators and will not give pricing but will give price range. Once you choose your slab it is purchased and delivered to your fabricator. Typically, you will be able to go to the fabricator once they template and select exactly where they cut the slab.

2) Engineered Stone – This is real stone it is just fabricated so that it is extremely predictable. What you see is what you get and there are few variations. The finish has very few downsides – it reacts well to heat, cleaning products and staining. Some of  the patterns are trying to replicate real stone so shop that smartly and make sure that you look at large slabs of the stone. There is no replacement for real stone but when the unpredictable is not the desired, I would direct you to an engineered stone.

3) Wood – For a warm and welcoming feel wood is a great product. Typically, a cabinet shop or countertop company will carry a line of  wood countertops or you we can help you find a supplier. Prices vary according to the wood type – walnut being the most expensive today but that is a changing number. There is also care for wood and it needs to be oiled and it cannot take heat or water. That said, it is great for an island and brings a softness to the kitchen.

4) Formica – Oh, I have had my fair share of formica. Wow, that stuff does not die! It is durable, inexpensive, replicates colors well and is warm to the touch. We all know that the plastic feel is not great, but there are certain times that it completely appropriate. That said, I have found that the custom ordered formica from Lowes is quite expensive but very cool.

THE UNVEILING… Okay, after weighing all the options, I am going with an engineered stone. Specifically, Ceasarstone, Sleek Concrete. Reasons why: A) I am not one that deals well with the unpredictable.  B) I really, really wanted a cork floor – it is warm, soft, organic and different but it has a definite movement and I worried that granite would compete or busy the eye too much. So I really wanted a solid surface that was understated. I want the countertop to function well and clean but I don’t want it to stand out, I want it to blend into the background. This is a conscious choice that I’ve made with the other materials in the kitchen.

Lesson of the Day: Choose ALL of your materials in the room instead of isolating one material from another and decide which one is the most important to you  in order to dance well with each other.

Enjoy the process, it’s suppose to be fun!