Kitchen Remodel: What kind of countertops should we get?

July 23, 2008 at 12:22 am 72 comments

Before we move into the second floor of our duplex, we are planning to remodel the kitchen. This is happening for a number of reasons:

1. My husband is very nice and wants me to have a nice kitchen.
2. The current kitchen is quite small and not laid out very well.
3. We are hoping for this house to be the one we stay in for many years, so figure the investment is worth it.

Our remodel will begin with taking everything out of there, and finding out what’s beneath the current linoleum. We’re praying it’s hardwood, since that’s what’s in the rest of the place. That will make our flooring choice very easy!

Then we will knock out the wall between the current kitchen and the back bedroom of the apartment, making it one large room. This will give us a larger eating area in the kitchen and a place for people to mill around and talk to me while I’m in the kitchen. Or it might just end up being where the kids play while I cook.

Right now I’m really torn about what counter tops to get. Here are the contenders and my feelings on each:

Granite PROS:

  • It’s very pretty.
  • It will last a long time.

Granite CONS:

  • It seems kind of fancy. I’m not very fancy. So it just doesn’t feel like me.
  • It can chip.
  • It’s not repairable.
  • It’s porous, which can gather bacteria.
  • Very expensive.

Quartz PROS:

  • It’s very pretty.
  • It’s durable.
  • It doesn’t seem as fancy as granite.
  • Not porous, so good for keeping out bacteria.

Quartz CONS:

  • Not repairable.
  • Can chip.
  • Expensive.

Corian PROS:

  • A little more affordable than granite and quartz.
  • Repairable. You just melt a new piece in there and it’s fixed.
  • Can have the sink integrated right into the counter top! (This is my favorite feature!)
  • Lots of colors, and the look is not too fancy.

Corian CONS:

  • Still pretty expensive.
  • Seems like it stains like crazy (from what I’ve read on the internet).
  • It scratches (though I’m told you can buff out any scratches very easily).
  • Don’t know if I’d like a Corian sink, and you have to have one if you want to do the integrated sink.

Laminate PROS:

  • Very affordable.
  • If I hate it in 10 years, or if it gets badly damaged, I can replace it (because I didn’t spend as much the first time around).
  • Lots of color choices.

Laminate CONS:

  • Not easily repairable.
  • Not as cool as the other options. (Just being honest.)

So those are my thoughts. Any feedback?


Entry filed under: Life, Spoutings.

We’re landlords…kind of. Chacos or flip-flops? We have feet in both camps.

72 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Josephine  |  July 23, 2008 at 4:46 am

    Thought I’d throw in another option you may or may not have heard of. What about concrete countertops? Here’s a link to a concrete countertop site.

    Just thought it might be an interesting option (though I’m not sure what the cost is like) πŸ™‚

  • 2. aaron  |  July 23, 2008 at 5:35 am

    How often do you like to change your kitchen with the times. If you change your tastes every 10-12 years, go with something like laminate. If you are satisfied with a most quality product that will last you forever, go with granite. I say laminate. We got nice laminate and some people don’t even think it is laminate. I suppose the other factor is that it depends on the size of the area you need to do. Good Luck.

  • 3. Shara  |  July 23, 2008 at 5:54 am

    We built a house 1 1/2 years ago and put in granite countertops. I absolutely love them! I think they turned out very pretty, and they’re extremely sturdy. I love that I can put hot things directly on them and it won’t hurt them! We talked about doing Quartz, but the company we bought our countertops from had gotten a bunch of granite in bulk and it was cheaper. I can’t wait to hear what you’ve chosen. =)

  • 4. Jenny  |  July 23, 2008 at 5:59 am

    My husband works residential construction and occasionally will fabricate Swanstone solid surface countertops, which are similar in look to Corian, but a much better quality. They are more heat resistant, easier to repair, not as easily stained, appear to be seamless, etc. Might be worth looking into.

  • 5. Jan  |  July 23, 2008 at 6:02 am

    Hey Guys,

    Go see Eva at IKEA Kitchens. I think she only works on Friday nights. She’s a paralegal the rest of the week. Just give her your dimensions, tell her I sent you and ask her to dream with you.

    Thanks my advice.

  • 6. Pam  |  July 23, 2008 at 6:04 am

    My parents got granite and while it’s pretty, I always feel like you have to be so careful. My mom already chipped it while unloading the dishwasher (ironically the glass didn’t break but the granite did!)

    If Corian stains then stay away because kids can plunk a strawberry down on the counter in a split second and then you’re stuck. I’m also not a fan of Corian sinks!

    Have you considered a ceramic tile countertop or perhaps stainless steel for a more modern professional-chef look?

  • 7. Krysta  |  July 23, 2008 at 6:14 am

    Hi…I am a new reader and thought I’d let you know that the July issue of Real Simple has a bunch of information on countertops. I love the look of concrete but I favor a modern esthetic so that may not be for everyone. We have laminate in the house we moved in to last year and I have been happy with it so far. I did not pick it out but I would go for a darker color if I had. My parent’s have granite and it looks very nice. I have heard of granite tiles which can be less expensive.

    I believe that Counsumer Reports July issue is also on Kitchen Remodels on a budget. That may be something you want to pick up.

  • 8. rayzerbacks6  |  July 23, 2008 at 6:26 am

    I picked out black laminate with a white swirl. It sort of mimics the look of granite. I love it. And I think I could change the wall color and the laminate would still be just fine.

    I have five kids so I just couldn’t have something that chipped easily or worse yet, stained. Life is too short to stress over all of that.

  • 9. Ruth Ann  |  July 23, 2008 at 6:37 am

    I’m with rayzerbacks6 – “I have five kids so I just couldn’t have something that chipped easily or worse yet, stained. Life is too short to stress over all of that.”

    I love the look of granite and corian – but I would have to choose something that can readily withstand the wears and tears of life with kids. And I don’t want to spend my days nagging “wipe that up before it stains!” or “don’t drop that on the countertop!”

  • 10. Kimberly  |  July 23, 2008 at 6:38 am

    We just did our kitchen last year. We thought about granite, but our house doesn’t really support it….little bungalow. Also, I wanted other things with my money. But we found some really pretty laminate that is darker than many and really hides messes(Mesa from Wilson art I think) and several people think it is laminate at first and second glance. It has a slightly shiny surface and is really smooth like granite. I am totally happy.

  • 11. Pam  |  July 23, 2008 at 6:43 am

    One more thing…
    You can check out other engineered stone products by Dupont (they make more than Corian)

  • 12. Rachel  |  July 23, 2008 at 6:51 am

    laminate or corian sound like the best choice. i think granite is too fancy shamncy.

  • 13. amy sanders  |  July 23, 2008 at 6:59 am

    we just redid our kitchen last year and got laminate. my parents redid their countertops and got granite. i love that you can put hot stuff down on the granite, but because it is so shiny, every crumb shows up and you can’t just wipe it down with a wet cloth…it’s like glass in that streaks. so you have to use a fancy spray. that’s too much effort for me. i got a dark patterned laminate and can’t tell if i haven’t cleaned it. πŸ™‚ a definite pro with munchkins! and at the house we rented before, we had corian. i hated it. it scratched and stained super easily. nightmare! have fun choosing!

  • 14. danielle  |  July 23, 2008 at 7:12 am

    I absolutely loved the counter in the white kitchen at IKEA. I am intrigued by the concrete option, but I don’t think it would work for you. Maybe, IDK.

    I would go with the corian, because if a small part stains really bad, you can melt it out and put in a new piece. And I think the cool factor is important. It doesn’t seem like your crazy about laminate. This isn’t a time to settle!

    I don’t know about the sink thing…if it stains easily, you might not want it to be corian.

    You’ve inspired me to research.

  • 15. Elaine  |  July 23, 2008 at 7:13 am

    We are in the middle of a home remodel (pictures on my blog!) and I chose laminate. WilsonArt makes some high-definite laminate that is very, very nice. I am with Kimberly and the other ladies who said they don’t have time to worry about granite. It’s very pretty but requires too much work.

    Here’s a link to WilsonArt:

  • 16. Elaine  |  July 23, 2008 at 7:14 am

    That should be “high-definition” not “definite”. πŸ˜‰

  • 17. Chelsea Bass  |  July 23, 2008 at 7:15 am

    I would recommend going with a laminate in a pattern that looks like granite.

  • 18. Michael Paine  |  July 23, 2008 at 7:16 am

    Molly whatever you choose to go with my advice is, not to get a dark color. They show every speck of salt, pepper, dust …everything. It can be very aggrivating when you have to wipe down the counters after salting your popcorn. I think you have peopel looking out for you so you will make the correct decision. Have a great day!

  • 19. Ellie  |  July 23, 2008 at 7:28 am

    I had granite counters once with small kids. I hated it. The counters were nice and beautiful, but every glass they knocked over on the counters broke! It was just so hard that I lost more dishes than it was worth. So I went to laminate in my new kitchen when we moved. It just works better for a life with lots of kids… and I found a color/design that I really liked.

  • 20. Amy Scott  |  July 23, 2008 at 7:29 am


    I have granite now, but I’m putting in “High Definition Laminate” (HD Laminate) in our new kitchen. Wilson Art makes it, I believe.

  • 21. Sarah  |  July 23, 2008 at 7:48 am

    We are in the middle of the same conversation. We keep going back to the laminate option–we can change our minds in the future if we want and nowadays there is a huge selection of high quality laminate that looks like granite. I’m sure whatever you choose, it will be perfect for you!

  • 22. robyn  |  July 23, 2008 at 7:49 am

    have you thought of solid surface? I know home depot has that and it’s beautiful.


  • 23. stacey  |  July 23, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Granite tiles may chip easily…………but actual solid surface granite does not chip easily. I have had it in the last 2 houses. There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between granite tiles that look like solid surface granite and actual granite. I have dropped Le Creuset on my granite and no chips. My granite is very thick though……I had a thinner one in the house in NE and the house in AR is much thicker. I love it!!!! I bring a pizza in from the BGE and just dop it on the counter. I have never heard of granite having a bacterial issue……I believe you seal them. I haven’t had any problems in the last 2 houses and I love it.

  • 24. Greta  |  July 23, 2008 at 8:45 am

    I was gonna suggest concrete too but Josephine beat me to it. I’ve really only seen it on design shows on TV but it looks so cool and seems to have lots of other “pros” ;).

    Can’t wait to hear what you pick and see pictures!

  • 25. Adrienne  |  July 23, 2008 at 8:57 am

    My parents have had granite for over 10 years (probably more like 15?) and they absolutely love it. I know I want granite if ever given the choice!

  • 26. Karen Firstbrook  |  July 23, 2008 at 8:58 am

    What about tile . . . I have 13 inch tiles in my kitchen and I love them. Yes, there are tiny grout lines to deal with, but compared to the convenience of tile, it really is a minor detail.
    I love tile because:
    *it’s durable
    *it hasn’t chipped, cracked, or faded in 8 years
    *it doesn’t stain
    *I can place hot pots and pans directly on the tile without any worry or hot pad
    *the sink is integrated right into the tile, one smooth countertop leading right into the sink . . . nothing like sweeping crumbs right into the sink without the worry of a seam!
    *tile is much more affordable than most of your other options
    Just my little two cents . . .

  • 27. Cathy  |  July 23, 2008 at 9:05 am

    I have two separate and distinct counter areas in my kitchen – one surrounding the stovetop and the other by the sink. I put stone on the counter by the stove (so I can enjoy the convienence of being able to set hot things directly onto it) and laminate on the sink counter. I love the non-matchy-ness of it and the practicality of it. I saved oodles of $$$ this way, since my sink counter is 11 feet long…

    The money I saved on my laminate counter allowed me to put in a FABULOUS stone backsplash – which I believe totally catches people’s eyes when they enter the kitchen – so they don’t even notice we went with the less expensive option…

    If you’re going to have more than one counter area, consider using different surfaces – you could even have a section of butcher block if you wanted…

  • 28. Courtney  |  July 23, 2008 at 9:25 am

    My parents recently redid their kitchen counters. The house was only ten years old but they had originally used laminate, and it was seriously dating the home. They chose to go with Silestone this time. It is absolutely beautiful. I’m thinking that they bought it at Home Depot, but it’s some guy from the Twin Cities who actually installs it. Home Depot is just a dealer. It’s super durable though. It doesn’t scratch, it’s not porous so it doesn’t stain, it cleans very well with a damp cloth, no streaks and there are lots of beautiful colors to choose from. I also like that their stainless steel sink is set under the counter so you can wipe crumbs right from the counter into the sink. My sink is on top of my laminate so you have that edge there. Have fun with your remodel!! My dad is a residential contractor and I always love helping them pick and choose cabinets and all that.

  • 29. Tami@ourhouse  |  July 23, 2008 at 9:26 am

    what a great question! I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I would do with this choice- our countertops are crazy laminate from the 70’s- complete with gold flecks. Nice. πŸ™‚

    I would go with laminate. The stone is beautiful, but very trendy. Laminate serves the purpose very well, can now be finished to look so much better than before, and there will be no guilt when you want to change it out in 10-15 years. But if you spend $10,000 on stone, you will probably die with those counters. πŸ™‚

    The money you would save would go so far in getting great cabinets and appliances, which are such practical uses of money. Well made cabinets that can be repainted or refinished when the need to make a change comes in 10 or 15 years is a great use of those dollars.

    So stone is undeniable beautiful and durable. But do you really want super-durable, lifetime countertops?

    It is so fun to think about planning a great kitchen- it truly is the heart of the home. Enjoy the process and thanks for including us! πŸ™‚

  • 30. Tonyia  |  July 23, 2008 at 9:59 am

    When we remodeled the kitchen in our old house, we used birch wood for the counter tops. We bought a few sheets from home depot, stained them, polyurethaned the heck out of ’em and they were beautiful. Everyone loved them and it was (very) cost efficient and easy.

  • 31. JenR  |  July 23, 2008 at 10:26 am

    I have been thinking about this a lot in the past 2 weeks (nothing like watching several hours of HGTV in the middle of the night with a nursing 2 week old!). They definitely push granite, and I have begun to wonder if part of the popularity of granite is due to shows like HGTV. I wonder if back in the 70s people were talking about the timelssness of avacado appliances. I wonder if that will be true with granite.

    If I were designing a kitchen, I would go with laminate counters (rounded edges and a look of granite or stone), a floor that did not show dirt easily (as in not a whitish one!), and non-stainless steel appliances only b/c stainless shows every single fingerprint.

  • 32. Christen  |  July 23, 2008 at 11:43 am

    I’m with JenR and all the dark laminate people. We had dark laminate that looked like granite in a duplex we rented and I loved it. You could never see anything on it. Now we have white-ish laminate and it’s a real pain to keep clean. I wouldn’t go with granite if it’s not you, like you said. If it were me, I’d feel uncomfortable having such nice stuff if I didn’t feel like it was me!

    Not to be too crazy about it, but not having the nicest things (like granite countertops) might help you and your family and guests see and treasure Christ more than your nice things (haha, now who do you think has influenced me there?) Just a thought.

    I’ve always wondered about wood countertops, basically just unfinished. I like old/different things like that, though, that’re sometimes weird I think. My husband pointed out they’d probably always be wet, though. But wood cutting boards fight bacteria so maybe they would, too? They’d definitely look “lived in” after a while, so don’t know if that would be preferential, but I’ve wondered.

    Have fun!

  • 33. Lindsay  |  July 23, 2008 at 11:50 am

    I also saw an awesome counter top made out of onynx. I’m sure it is expensive, but it looked great and I hear it is very sturdy. And it doesn’t look as fancy as granite.

  • 34. kate  |  July 23, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Let’s throw one more option out there- butcher block! We put it in our kitchen 3 years ago when we remodeled and I LOVE IT! We got a kind that has a special seal on it so there is no oiling or anything. Yes it’s gotten a bit banged up, but it just makes the kitchen look used and loved. The company that makes it is called Bally Block.

    Have fun planning out your new kitchen!

  • 35. Shannon  |  July 23, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    We redid our kitchen last year and put in the hard surface counter tops (Corian). I LOVE it! We didn’t do a very light color, so there will be no staining. As for the sink…it is the integrated kind and if you happen to get a stain on the sink, just use the Magic Eraser, and it comes right out.

    We had also thought about granite or quartz, but decided against them because of the cost and if we were to ever resell, it wouldn’t do much for the resale of the house….we might make back what we paid for them.

    The counters we chose are just perfect!

  • 36. shawnda  |  July 23, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    yikes….these decisions stress me out! I look forward to hearing what you choose….then maybe one day…if we ever get new counters….I’ll do what you did (if you like it!) : ) Then I won’t have to make this decision! : )

  • 37. Erin James  |  July 23, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    My husband and I did a kitchen remodel 2 years ago and I struggled with the same thing… actually with all of the decisions. We went with a neutral color corian. The main reason I chose the corian is because of the integrated sink. Love, love, love it! You can just sweep stuff right in and I don’t have to get a toothpick to clean out the grossness between the counter and old sink any more. Plus I clean my sink with soap and water every day and after every time I do the dishes, so it looks good as new. I have three kids – two old enough to reach the counters and I haven’t had any stains at all. With Corian you can also have seamless counters and backsplash. They just put it in as one piece which gives it a nice finish. I do so love my countertops, but I also think I would have been very happy with a high quality laminate. I do think I would miss the integrated sink though!

  • 38. Nikki Starr  |  July 23, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    In case you need any more advice… πŸ™‚

    I consider our granite countertops to be utilitarian rather than “fancy”. They work great, the granite spray you wipe it down with at night is cheap and just as easy as cleaners you would use on other types of countertops, and they’ll last forever… which means you’ll be contributing much less to the garbage pile over time and they’ll hold up even under a brood of coloring, marking, ramming, gluing, messy children (can you tell I have boys?). Plus they’re a quality investment that ups your home appraisal value.

    That being said, don’t pay anything except warehouse prices for it (I would say no more than $35-45/sq ft), especially if you’re not into being “fancy”. We got a basic slab countertop, in the general color we wanted, and it works — and looks — great.

    That’s just my two cents!

  • 39. bean  |  July 23, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    wow, you got a lot of advice. πŸ™‚

    i love concrete too – it’s so cool looking, and not fancy…looks good with anything.

    we have *free* granite (that’s what happens when you have wonderful friends in the granite business), and we love it. we haven’t done our kitchen yet, but in the bathroom, i’ve never worried about chipping or anything. we got ours honed instead of polished, so it’s not super shiny, and they sealed it, so we haven’t had trouble with stains, even when little hands wipe toothpaste all over it. πŸ™‚

  • 40. Andrea Bindewald  |  July 23, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    My parents just bought countertops for their new house and after many hours of research and going to show rooms and what not the decided to go with Quartz. In all the research they did they found out that it will hold up the best, compared to granite or laminate. Plus they look awesome! Thats my opinion. If you have more questions give my mom a call!!!! Good luck!

  • 41. Heather  |  July 23, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    The Aug 08 addition of Consumer Reports is all about kitchen remodels.

    Just an FYI!

    Our kitchen was remodeled about two years before we bought our house, so no changes around here.

    I guess my only piece of advice would be if you’re planning on one day renting that side of the duplex, then do something nice, but not top of the line.


  • 42. Nana  |  July 23, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    I vote for Corian. We have a HUGE kitchen with counters and bars in white speckled Corian, and there aren’t any stains. (We’re a fam of 7=lots opportunity to stain!) Some scratches where previous owner forgot to use a cutting board. Sink is not integrated. Just a white ceramic sink. But there’s an integrated dish drain area that I enjoy a lot. Grooves drain into the sink.

    Hope you find what you like best.

  • 43. Khirsten  |  July 23, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    i would go with granite. i have had it in two houses and love it. i have had corian in one. it was ok. yes on the staining part.

    as far as granite. yes it is porous but that is why you have it sealed well. and it is unbelievably easy to seal. i haven’t had any problems with chipping. you would have to really be hard on your counters. i mean really hard on them. yes, it is expensive but so worth it and all the beautiful granite out there is amazing. if you go with it, make sure you go somewhere and pick out the exact slabs you want. you will have much more say in the colors etc that you want. good luck!

  • 44. Way More Homemade (Donna)  |  July 23, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    This is my first time here… linked to you from Rocks In my Dryer. What a beautiful post about your grief process. I could go on and on and we could share thoughts back and forth all evening long, I’m sure, but your post was about counter-tops.

    I had granite put in our last house and it was already in our current house. I LOVE IT! You may think it can chip, but I’ve NEVER seen that happen. I love that it’s a natural stone and keeps an earthy feel to a room that can look cold and sterile, especially when there is a lot of stainless steel about. You can also pick out a specific piece of granite with specific patterns. One friend of mine picked out a piece with a vein of color running down the middle of it rather than the uniform pattern that we usually see. It was very unique and beautiful. I also love that I can take my hot stuff out of the oven and place it right on the counter. It’s stone, so it’s not going to be damaged by a little heat.

    I love my granite and wouldn’t go back to anything else.

    My 2 cents.

  • 45. Ellie  |  July 23, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    My granite never chipped, but it was my dishes that sure did! But I have three boys… they could probably have broken at least half of them without the granite counters! I just found it awkward to knock a glass over, and then have it in pieces..

    but none of you granite lovers had that problem???

    maybe there is just something wrong with me. or I need to buy stronger glasses!

  • 46. Louise  |  July 23, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    I just put Corian in my bathroom last wk as I love having it my kitchen the past 9 years. All stains have come out with bleach and this farm house kitchen sees lots of work! I have the integrated sinks and absolutely love the lack of seams. It gives this nurse some peace of mind knowing that bacteria isn’t lurking on the counters or sink seams.

  • 47. Chris  |  July 24, 2008 at 4:21 am

    I haven’t read everyone else’s feedback, but based on your info and on what I know, I’d vote for Corian. Regarding stains, often I put something under my work–paper towels, a plate, just something to catch the drips and scraps to make clean-up easier. Others in the family sometimes set things down that leave stains, but I have found that the Magic Eraser gets rid of those (not sure if it’s safe on Corian–I don’t have it). If it doesn’t sound too controlling, perhaps you could have one section of your counter where the kids (and others) are directed to set things down, and keep a place mat or something there to take the stains in case they happen.

    I wouldn’t worry about any of the choices being too fancy. Even if you are not a fancy person, there will be lots of people in and out of your kitchen who will be enjoying it, too, and it’s nice to have some parts of the house be a little more elegant and fancy, and then others a little more humble and cozy. If you come across a place that you can get it at a good price, you may enjoy it.

  • 48. Jenny  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:03 am

    I know I already commented, but I talked to my husband about the solid surface countertops he puts together (Swanstone) and he said they are guaranteed NOT to stain, you can cut right on the countertop without scratching it, and it is not porous like granite would be so they are more sanitary than granite or another stone product. He also said that with any countertop, obviously the most important decision is the person doing the work – making sure they know what they are doing and checking references. Best wishes on the decisions!!!

  • 49. eclexia  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:22 am

    I love the tile countertop in the kitchen of the house I’m renting now. I agree with the benefits listed by the commenter above, and I cannot imagine it being all that expensive. I’ve never had a problem with a tile cracking, but I suppose if it did, it would be a rather inexpensive fix. It wipes clean so easily, the tile is black and doesn’t show every spot, I can set hot things on it without worrying and (though I’m not sure if this is scientifically accurate) it feels like bacteria wouldn’t build up on it.

    Happy decorating and remodeling πŸ™‚

  • 50. Angie  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:27 am

    We just moved from a house with laminate coutertops, to a house with WHITE corian countertops. I have 2 boys and they don’t understand the concept of cleaning up after spills and it seems as if everything they drink has red in it. I found a fabulous cleaner at the dollar store called AWESOME (it’s a $1.00) and it gets every stain, even if they are on there a few days. My corian is WHITE. The only thing I don’t like is that I can’t set hot pans on the counters and I could with my laminate. The counter does have scratches on it, too.

    I have friends that have granite and you have to use the special cleaners on it (might want to figure in the cost of that). You can’t just use any cleaner. I think you have to treat granite pretty regularly.

    Have fun with the remodel!

  • 51. Julie B.  |  July 24, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    I don’t know anything about these options except what you’ve noted. Based on that I’d say:

    Go with the Corian and get a darker color that may not show the stains…if you can make that work without making your kitchen seem too dark.

  • 52. Guinever  |  July 24, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    We re-modeled our kitchen 2 years ago and went with laminate and it is gorgeous! So maybe it isn’t as cool as real marble or corian…There are different “grades” of laminate. Don’t get the cheapest or lowest grade: yes, that’s not “cool” at all and looks cheap. But go for the premium or midgrade and you’ll have a very fancy kitchen. Some people ask if its marble until they’re next to it and realized that it is laminate. They guy who installed ours said that a lot of people who originally went with corian and marble are getting laminate now and he’s re-doing countertops in all the high end homes just because corian is such a pain to take care of….We went with a very dark brown/black marble pattern with lighter colored cabinets and the contrast looks great. I have 4 kids so there’s lots of banging and potential for the laminate to get “hurt” and we haven’t had any problems yet. No chips or nothing is peeling away. But we had an excellent installer too do and that makes a difference.

  • 53. saramason  |  July 24, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    If you do Corian, you don’t have to get a Corian sink. You can get whatever sink you want, make it an undermount sink, and you get the same feel as integrated.

  • 54. Katie  |  July 25, 2008 at 6:19 am

    I friend just showed me this link yesterday.

    (It’s from the New York Times, and it talks about how granite counter tops emit radon and other gases. Not always at high levels, but sometimes the the numbers can be disturbingly high. Another bit of information to worry about in the middle of the night!)

    I am an interior designer -on hiatus while my kids are young-, and used to work in kitchen design. So it’s hard to think of granite in any sort of negative light. (It’s just so lovely.)

    But, you cannot set hot pans directly on the stone. If you should accidentally place something hot on a fissure, you can crack it. It needs to be sealed regularly (annually, or biannually) to keep it bacteria resistant.

    Manufactured stone (which is crumbled rock mixed with resin–Silestone, Zodiaq, etc) would be a nice option in place of the granite…Solid surface, (Corian, Avonite, etc) has it’s issues, but it so easily reparable, and carries a good warranty…laminate has come a LONG way in terms of apperance and durability…

    I would suggest going to a kitchen designer that is certified by the NKBA and talk out your options. It’s definately a big enough purchase to bring someone armed with knowledge on board.

    Good luck! Exciting times!! (Sorry to get long winded, but I don’t get to put that cap on very often, and it’s early, and the kids are still sleeping, and I couldn’t help myself!)

  • 55. Tony  |  July 25, 2008 at 6:57 am

    As others have suggested, I’d suggest checking out concrete as an option to add to the list. Durable, and, almost unlimited choices in colors/finishes.

  • 56. M. Taylor  |  July 25, 2008 at 7:49 am

    We LOVE our countertops. They are a Corian equivalent made by LG called Hi-Macs. It is essentially the same stuff, but has a 15 year warranty instead of a 10 year. And if you get the white (like we did) it is $10 less per square foot than Corian.

    You’d be welcome to check it out in person if that’s helpful. And we could also recommend a place to install it for you. And if you have more kitchen questions, we’d be happy to offer any insight we might have.

  • 57. Christy  |  July 27, 2008 at 10:19 am

    Here’s an article about the health effects of granite.

  • 58. Jill  |  July 28, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    I design for a living and love granite. But, the big thing with it now is supposedly it gives off radon. Personally I have silestone in my house. Like granite, only synthetic…. not porous and wears great. Good luck!

  • 59. Kate  |  July 28, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    We did our kitchen 4 years ago and put in a combination of granite and laminate. We did our kitchen island in granite and I use it for everything. Then the rest of the counters are a coordinating laminate and they still look brand new because we do all our food prep, cutting, etc. on the granite. It saved a bunch of money but we still get to enjoy the benefits of a durable work surface in the part of the kitchen we use most.

  • 60. Lori Schneider  |  July 29, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    My husband and I have been married for twenty years and so we have experience in several houses with every kind of kitchen counter there is – almost!

    Tile is beautiful, but the grout is horrible to keep clean. Laminate is fine, but you have to set your sink above it and you have to deal with the lip of the sink – cannot wipe crumbs and liquid right into the sink and you also have that lip to hit with pans, etc.

    We have had Silestone and loved it. I believe it can be repaired with a resin if it chips. I was told by the installer that the only thing you really have to be careful with is heat. Don’t put a hot pan right on it or a piece might pop out.

    Granite is very durable. That is what we have in our new home. There are so many choices of colors. You can have an undermount sink and it isn’t a problem to seal it twice a year with a spray on/wipe off product. Granite can take the heat and it would be very hard to chip – get the thicker slabs.

    May I suggest a sink? We have the Blanco diamond silgranite sink in Anthracite (black) and we absolutely love it. (The 1 3/4 sink is perfect – you get a large side and a 3/4 side and the “smaller” side is just right for rinsing off dishes and the large side is great for washing dishes.) It will not stain and will not scratch. You just have to be careful of certain chemicals – read information that comes with it.

    Think about how much you use your kitchen and how your counter can make things easier for you, not just beautiful. Granite and quartz do all of it for you. We were going to go with quartz in our new home, but granite ended up being cheaper. Get a quote for both. Good luck and have fun.

  • 61. 7citychickens  |  July 30, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    We had to replace our countertopand I went with a mid-quality laminate. We could afford a more expensive option but I think of the poor people in say Kenya and I am quite satisfied to just have a countertop. The difference was given to Compassion International.

  • 62. Bruce Sabin  |  July 31, 2008 at 9:35 am

    One advantage of quartz you missed is the ability to take hot things (pots off the stove or pans from the oven) and put them right on the counter. It won’t burn.

    I had Silestone in my last house and really liked it for a while. Eventually, I got a small chip in it, and I still have no idea how it happened. But that soured me a little to quartz because it costs so much. But, it is still the best overall because it won’t stain, won’t burn, won’t scratch and looks good. Consumer Reports rated it far above all the other choices.

  • 63. Irina  |  July 31, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    We just redid our kitchen and got granite. I absolutely love it and it’s beautiful. We went to a custom granite place (rather than Lowes or Home Depot, where they just have generic patterns) and picked out our own stone.

    We were also seriosly considering natural wood countertops. Have you looked into those? Those are beautiful, durable and easy to refinish if necessary (just some sanding).

  • 64. Kate  |  July 31, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    What about tile? That can look pretty and yet humble at the same time. And I’m sure its more afordable that your top three choices.
    – Just a friend in Christ from California

  • 65. kristin  |  July 31, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Brian and I redid our countertops a couple of years ago using granite tile. Brian installed it with a friend…the tile is kind of hard to clean and since the matrix between the tiles has dried and cracked in some areas, the cracks between tiles are dirty now…not sure I would choose tile again, but I really like the granite. And it doesn’t look fancy at all in our kitchen…I think granite only looks fancy in custom kitchens, which our kitchen definitely is not.

  • 66. Phyllis Nelson  |  August 1, 2008 at 8:07 am

    ~Laminate Tip~

    My husband and I chose high quality laminate for our kitchen and love it! Most people think it’s granite. If you choose laminate the key to making it look the very best is to have the edge of the counters beveled. Much nicer look than having them rounded or squared off.

  • 67. Amy  |  August 1, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    whoa 66 comments!??!!?

    um, yeah, i really wanted to comment on this but i have no idea. we use a lot of laminates at work and they are inexpensive and they have lots of really cool options. i know that as far as kitchen counters go i’ve always raelly liked stone or i think i’ve seen concrete. you could always go with laminaet and see how you like it, and then maybe down the road if you want to replace it go with something a little more unique!! did you make a decision yet? [as this post is a few weeks old…]

  • 68. Rooney's little musiings  |  August 5, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    We have silestone and love it! Easy to clean, I can set hot pots on it, and it hasn’t scratched in the 4 years we’ve had it. I love that I don’t have to seal it, and I clean it with anything I want. Ours has the look of granite, we picked a color that has reflective flecks in it and the light looks so beautiful bouncing off.

  • 69. SuSu  |  August 14, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    I have been without a kitchen since January 1 of this year when my son-in-law & son tore it out because the floor had some moisture problems and had to be replaced. They got new Advantech subfloor back down and had to leave! I am cooking on a hotplate, toaster oven, crockpots and microwave in the foyer, guest bedroom and utility room. Oh, and the downstairs bath is not used for a bathroom during this time. It’s where I wash dishes!!

    Anyway, about the countertop material. I had the same burnt orange laminate for 27 years!! What I get now is probably what I will have when I die, so we have about decided to go with Silestone. We looked at the better quality laminates, but if you look at the printed pattern closely it looks like a cheap giftwrap print. I am just too much of a perfectionist, I guess, to be able to tolerate that, and that is the main thing I wanted to add to all the advice you already have. God bless!

  • 70. Emily O.  |  August 16, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    Hi Molly, I randomly came across your blog and wanted to offer my two cents. My husband and I just recently remodeled our kitchen, and we chose butcher block counter top from IKEA. We have the NUMERAR Beech and we both love it (so far)!

    I can’t really speak to how durable and convenient it is (personally), because we have not officially moved into the house yet, but most everything that I have read about it has been positive. It is supposed to be very durable and practical, and it is so thick that you can sand out any problems – stains, scratches, etc. We have pictures on our blog, if you would like to look. I hope your renovation goes well!

    P.S. Random fact: my husband was a very good friend of Barnabas’s (Abraham’s brother) growing up in the youth group at Bethlehem. πŸ™‚

  • 71. What’s up with our kitchen? « The Pipers  |  October 22, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    […] 22, 2008 Awhile back I solicited your opinions about countertops. For those of you newer to the scene, we are in the throes of a kitchen remodel at our duplex […]

  • 72. Sandy C  |  November 4, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Read with much interest. Have original white laminate in our 14-year-old house in Sun City West Arizona (55+ community). Probably will be selling in a few years (maybe 3 to 5). Countertop looks okay except for seam where coffee pot sits and where water got underneath and now one side is higher than other. Don’t use kitchen much and can’t see granite or other expensive choices for someone else. Friend who is a stager in Portland, OR says so many people don’t cook much anymore and those who really do want a cook’s kitchen most likely won’t like what you choose. She recommended not doing anything but think we will have to do something to sell and probably will go with laminate that has a granite-like look. Any further thoughts from the aspect of redoing a kitchen on the cheap to sell?


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