We are considering new countertops. Cooks--what do you like and why? Any issues with certain materials?

rldougherty
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  • 41 Comments

41 Comments

Jennifer May 25, 2014
Have you considered linoleum? I bought a 1913 house with a linoleum counter in the kitchen that I meant to replace immediately. No matter what I do to it, it looks great, and it is forgiving of all my sins (hot pans do not scorch it, knives do not cut it, and it has some bounce so it does not break my crystal). I know it is a very old-fashioned counter-top, but I have come to really appreciate it.
 
smslaw May 20, 2014
Soapstone. Doesn't ever stain, doesn't need to be sealed, doesn't get damaged by hot pots.
 
ChefJune May 20, 2014
My preference would be poured concrete. Second choice, quartz. I'm not a fan of granite. I know it's trendy, but it is not as durable as many folks think, and it does stain.
 
rldougherty May 19, 2014
Just an update--we went and saw our neighbor's kitchen (recently remodeled and our houses are twins) and to do anything to our counters that is worth doing, will require probably a full kitchen remodel, which isn't happening for quite some time. Our cabinets are very low with very little clearance between them and the counter. They will need to be replaced or retrofitted. My main working surface is above the dishwasher, and that area was retrofitted for the dishwasher. That icky piece of wood will be replaced with IKEA butcher block counter cut to size so I have a more sanitary spot to work. It is a temporary band-aid. The input is interesting though. We did look at some laminate and didn't think it looked that great in person. Our favorite was a light colored quartz at IKEA which I didn't expect! I have a few years to dream and browse Houzz i suppose.
 
lisina May 19, 2014
i also recently worked in a kitchen with copper tops. talk about GORGEOUS. the owner had just had them polished, but she showed me a before picture and the patina was to die for. expensive though.
 
lisina May 19, 2014
i am all about stainless steel. yes, it looks very industrial which may not be your taste, but i find granite (though very functional) very difficult to keep clean. the patterns in the stone are VERY effective at hiding mess.
 
redcaboose May 17, 2014
When I was growing up in SoCal, we had counter tops covered in beautiful Mexican style tiles. They were in deep reds, brilliant blues, etc. This was in the 50's, so I assume that they were cheaper to make and to install. I don't know how well they held up, or how easy they were to care for; but they sure were gorgeous.
 
kimhw May 17, 2014
We did concrete in our 1910 farm house. We did support our cabinets with a few studs inside. I seal every few months. And no wine, acid or hot pans has damaged my counters.
 
mainecook61 May 16, 2014
I have Caesarstone (engineered quartz). It requires no sealing, doesn't stain, and cleans up easily. I don't care for dark colored granite and such. The Caesarstone I chose is a very soft shade of green called Rosemary, and it looks lovely with cream colored cabinets. I've had it for three years now.
 
spiffypaws May 16, 2014
I remodeled the kitchen in my last home and installed granite. First party I had to celeb the rehab of my home, someone dribbled red wine on the granite and I had to have it redone to remove the stain before I sold the home. Next time, I'd get soapstone or quartz. I'm a pastry chef, so in my current home kitchen, I purchased a large square granite slab for rolling dough and tempering chocolate.
 
irina May 16, 2014
I don't like laminate. I once did my counters in a large porcelain tile with very tight "seams". Great to work on, especially good for kneading.
I know have Caesarstone and it too is very friendly and stays clean easily.

Cheers
 
Ebabb May 16, 2014
I used white macaubus quartzite in a recent remodel and am absolutely thrilled with it. It has a similar look to the white marble countertops, but is as sturdy as granite. It is a natural stone, not manufactured granite, and can be a little hard to find, but is absolutely amazing. We cook every day and so far, we haven't found a way to hurt it- lots of spills, hot pots, etc.
 
Kristen W. May 16, 2014
I'd love to see a pic when you have a chance, thanks. Coincidentally, I live in a 1920s bungalow as well, and we also are contemplating a kitchen remodel, so all of these responses are really helpful for me, too.
 
Kristen W. May 16, 2014
Srbruns, I think I want your kitchen! :)
 
sonny B. May 16, 2014
Rdougherty & Kristen,
I can add a picture but I'm traveling and not home until next week. No pictures with me. Happy to send you some.
 
sonny B. May 16, 2014
I put mahogany counters in my remodeled 100 yr old kitchen along with
Existing Terra cotta tile floors, wainscoting cabinets, farm sink, stainless appliances, clear/green/blue/silver tile backsplash and murano green cabinet pulls. The look is clean, modern and perfectly fitting in an old house. We simply apply USP grade mineral oil which we buy at the local hardware store every 5-6 weeks. They are beautiful and get loads of oohs & ahhhs !!! Wouldn't change a thing.
 
rldougherty May 16, 2014
I would love to see a picture. Like our kitchen needs some help. We think we want to leave the cabinets alone, but the sink and backsplash need replacing for sure.
 
OnionThief May 16, 2014
I really dislike stone counter tops. They murder my crystal and my canning jars, they are slick and shiny and impossible to decorate around, and most of them have patterns that look like various growths/infections. My preference is very lightly textured tile with medium-dark grout. Gentler on all my breakable things, no super obnoxious reflection, and no staining issues with darker grout.
 
rldougherty May 16, 2014
Any issues with the seams? I would worry about an uneven surface. What kind of tile? I have seen some tile I like.
 
SMSF May 16, 2014
I had tile counters for many years in a rental. Over time, the tile texture (and it wasn't highly textured) abraded and made keeping it clean very difficult. These were white tiles that looked okay in the low-use areas but not so elsewhere. The white grout was pretty easy to keep clean. However, personally I don't like the look - that's just me. It looked kind of cheap.
 
OnionThief May 16, 2014
There are no seams to speak of. Grout seals up everything, and you can install a matching or contrasting edge. Silicone around sinks, just as for any other counter top. I have been happiest with large tiles, 8-12 inches. It makes my brain happy to have a grid on my counters to line things up with. I like the variety in ceramic tile. No problems with heat, and if you do crack a tile it is a simple and inexpensive thing to replace.
Tile is also a great way to get quartz or other stone, but is more affordable and weighs much less. Stone tile seems less hulking and overwhelming to me when it is in smaller pieces.
Finally, a counter top is a relatively small space, and at a friendly working height, and is much easier to get level than a tile floor.
 
rldougherty May 16, 2014
I have been looking and I like the look of the bigger tiles. We have the one horrible piece of wood over our dishwasher and am considering just playing with the idea with that one spot to see if we like it.
 
rldougherty May 16, 2014
Any experience with engineered quartz or solid surface countertops? We are interested but reading reviews online people had some complaints about defects in the products, poor installation and bad customer service.
 
amysarah May 16, 2014
If the cabs are old, but sturdy, I wouldn't necessarily assume overall support issues. Your best bet is to have a contractor (or kitchen fabricator) take a look - but use someone independent, i.e., not one who's tied to selling you a specific product. Good service and install is about having a good contractor, regardless of material - unfortunately, best ones are not usually cheapest.
 
rldougherty May 16, 2014
Luckily our realtor is a general contractor so I am guessing she could give us a pretty good idea. Our home is a starter one, but right now there is one countertop that absolutely needs some sort of fix and soon. We aren't sure if we dump a whole bunch of money into nice countertops that we will get it back. We are also considering laminate as some of the newer designs with different edgings look like stone. If we can make our attic into livable space, we may be looking at something nicer.
 
amysarah May 16, 2014
generally speaking, money spent on kitchens/baths is a good investment - but your realtor will know far more about that (in your particular area too.) Last piece of arch advice: be careful re laminates that 'look' like stone, regardless of color core edging detail. I've never seen one that really does - beyond maybe in small sample chip. I'd tend towards one that looks good 'as itself' - its color, texture - rather than one trying to mimic stone. Just my 2 cents!
 
rldougherty May 16, 2014
That makes sense and is really helpful. We live in a modest neighborhood and our house is 1920s bungalow that has its features still intact. It has a ton of curb appeal and the kitchen is very big compared to similar homes in the area, which is why I am not sure new countertops will make a huge difference, yet we need to do something.
 
stephaniesd May 16, 2014
We have engineered quartz and I love it! It can handle anything, including hot pots, never stains, and looks "softer" than granite does.
 
stephaniesd May 16, 2014
We have engineered quartz and I love it! It can handle anything, including hot pots, never stains, and looks "softer" than granite does.
 
ChefJune May 20, 2014
I'd advise hiring an independent contractor who comes well recommended to do all your installation unless the place where you purchase your countertops and other items guarantees their work when they install. An independent will inspect the piece for defects before installing, and has no vested interest in saying "it's fine" if it isn't.
Also want to mention that "laminate" needn't be a dirty word. The laminate countertops being installed today are a far cry from your grandma's Formica countertops. Check them out. You might be quite surprised. I was.
 
Kristen W. May 16, 2014
I should add that I can't comment on the functionality of poured concrete, but I do know that it's been gaining popularity recently as an option for kitchen countertops.
 
rldougherty May 16, 2014
We like concrete, but I would be interested in hearing what people have to stay about sealing and cracking as I have heard those are issues. They are also really heavy and we have 1920s cabinets we don't want to mess with and not sure they are sturdy enough.
 
amysarah May 16, 2014
Not necessarily recommending concrete, but the weight question has been asked on several of our projects - so just fyi, assuming you're talking about the same thickness (e.g., 1 1/2",) its weight is comparable to granite. So, if your cabs can support stone, concrete shouldn't be a problem.
 
rldougherty May 16, 2014
We truly aren't sure what they can support as right now there is laminate, and a nasty piece of wood that should not be a countertop. I think weight will be a consideration no matter what. I wonder if we will be limited to laminate? They are very sturdily built cabinets, I think made of oak, but not positive.
 
lisina May 19, 2014
oops, there's my answer--thx
 

Voted the Best Reply!

Kristen W. May 16, 2014
I've seen some really cool countertops done with poured concrete recently. It's less expensive than granite, and you can stain it and shape it any way you like. You can look on www.houzz.com for examples (but if you haven't perused houzz before and you like design, be prepared to lose a month of your life).
 
lisina May 19, 2014
have you ever worked in a kitchen with concrete tops? there may be a kitchen remodel in our future as well and i LOVE the look but worry about it staining and the upkeep. just wondering about functionality.
 
Heather S. May 16, 2014
Wood counters are the absolute worst idea ever! I had them once in an apartment they were hard to keep clean, required a lot of work to keep them in adequate shape and were just awful around the sink.

I would say go with granite, it really is great. Another option could be marble but if you are going to have a lot of really heavy use, it will crack/fracture and is prone to stain.
 
rldougherty May 16, 2014
I should post the horrifying piece of wood that the previous owners slapped over the dishwasher. So horrible. It is like particle board that they maybe intended to put something else over and never got to? The other surface is a butcher block which looks nicer--but still stains and shows everything.

And for as expensive as granite is, we just do not like the look of it all that much. I think if we found money in our budget, we would go for engineered quartz, but would be interested in hearing people's experiences with it before going down that road.
 
mickle May 16, 2014
Still prefer granite; pricey-but worth it
 
rldougherty May 16, 2014
I should probably add that we are not looking to do granite. It seems that we tend to prefer darker more dramatic granite and that won't work in our kitchen, which needs some lightening up. We're just not huge fans of the lighter stuff.
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