Category Archives: Granite countertops

Would you want a concrete countertop?

You might not have heard of the relatively new countertop choice; of all things, concrete! The first image that comes to mind is a sidewalk or a driveway. Not very appealing, as something to put in the kitchen. But as they say, “Wait, that’s not all!”

Concrete is giving granite a “run for the money”. Granite has been the epitome of luxury, uniqueness and long-lasting kitchen countertop materials. But concrete has been increasing in popularity, as it compares favorably to most of the qualities that make granite popular.

How is that? When it comes to appearance, there is no way to match concrete in terms of variability. Blue pigment and broken glass can be mixed into the concrete to create a luminescent, sea-like look. Neutral pigments and river stones can turn a kitchen counter into a sleek dry riverbed. Irregular pigment mixes can mimic granite, marble or any other type of stone. The possibilities are endless.

A concrete countertop can have all sorts of curves and all sorts of built-ins and embedded objects, such as drain boards, sinks, trivets, knife slots, and more. Colored concrete can be created by one of three processes:

  • Integral pigment is a colored powder that’s mixed into the wet concrete, resulting in a color that penetrates the full depth of the slab. Color choices are unlimited.
  • Acid staining is done on hardened slabs and results in a permanent color change, but offers a reduced number of color options. Metallic salts react with the concrete, creating the color.
  • Dye is a liquid available in a wide range of colors, is applied to cured slabs and penetrates only the top layer of the concrete. Some dyes are not UV stable.

Acidic products like lemon juice might eat through a concrete sealer over time, but it can also damage a granite finish. Both granite and concrete countertops are strong enough and hard enough to handle whatever culinary activities you can throw at them. The main issue distinguishing the two materials has to do with maintenance. Concrete is a porous material, so it will require re-sealing more often than granite to prevent staining.

There are two types of sealers for concrete countertops; penetrating and topical. Penetrating sealer soaks into the concrete and is barely detectable once dry. This sealer keeps stains from penetrating, but stains can occur on the surface. Topical sealers are made of wax, urethane, acrylic or epoxy. They coat the surface and vary in appearance and performance. Epoxy and urethane are thick and glossy; wax performs poorly as a sealer. Acrylic coating look and perform fairly well but scratch easily. So the conclusion is that while concrete countertops are nearly indestructible, the sealers should be selected with care – they can be scratched and damaged, requiring re-application.

Granite and concrete countertops weigh about the same, for equivalent thicknesses. They both weigh about 20 lbs per square foot for a 1.5 inch thickness (BobVila.com)

Both materials are not “green:; some granite has been found to emit possibly unhealthy levels of radon, and concrete could contain heavy metals that are present in some pigments and finishing materials.

Granite and concrete are both high-quality options. Cost estimates per square foot vary, due to the variety of options available in concrete, as well as the variety of granite finishes – edges, source, etc, but a rough estimate runs $100 to $150 per square foot installed.

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The latest trends in kitchen remodeling and what they mean to you!

New Stainless gas stove, shaker style custom cherry cabinets, granite counters.

Remodeling trends in both style, efficiency and sustainability are heading center stage to bring looks and practicality to every room in the house. There is not better place to start than in the kitchen.  Here are some new and exciting remodeling trends that will completely change the appearance of your busiest room in the house!

Cabinets: There are unlimited cabinet choices; open shelves, roll out racks, display space and wine racks can combine with more conservative contained cabinetry to offer a hybrid of space, style and practicality.

Juparano Rio Granite countertops.

Countertops: Granite is the most popular new countertop on the market, but there are exciting and gorgeous choices that involve recycled materials as well as the newer quartz and quartz composite tops.

Custom cherry cabinets, Shaker style; stainless gas stove.

Updated flooring: Solid hardwood, stone and ceramic are exciting statements that blend looks with practicality. Based on overall design and floor plan, finding the most comfortable and dynamic flooring for your kitchen will appeal to every homeowner.

Lighting: The kitchen is a busy place that needs to be bright and cheerful no matter what time of day. Lighting installation at the top of the cabinets and under the counter can showcase any new remodeling project. Energy efficient LED lighting continues to come down in price with more eye pleasing lighting bandwiths. LED lights also now avoid the brightness delay of the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) while also having the advantage of dimming.

Paint: You can choose the color to suit your mood for the newly remodeled kitchen. Coordinate with flooring and cabinets for a pleasing color scheme.

Latest appliances: Stainless is the classic look for refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers and microwaves. New generations of EPA energy Star Qualified and WaterSense qualified offerings are now entering the remodeling marketplace. You can incorporate conveniences such as multiple ovens, configured together, to handle a wide variety of cooking tasks.

Plumbing fixtures: With the growing awareness of worldwide water shortages, EPA WaterSense qualified plumbing fixtures are becoming more readily available and practical. High efficiency water fixtures will both save money on your water bill and reassure you that you are using this  precious resource wisely.

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Granite and stone countertops

Beautiful Peregrine Granite by http://www.marble.com

 

You should check out the website that is the home of this photo – www.marble.com. They have a collection of the most gorgeous marble and granite countertops you can imagine. The veining in this stone gives a sense of movement and the rich color creates a warm feeling for the kitchen.

 

 

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Be creative when re-designing your kitchen

Step outside the box and be creative with your kitchen remodel. Kohler has an interesting sink, with matching backsplash tiles.

Clay_Tones undercounter kitchen sink

Clay_Tones undercounter kitchen sink

 

The faucet is “Revival” shown on the Kohler website. I like the comments I will copy below, from Kohlers article’s “Finding your unique vision” advice on how to design your kitchen (or your new home!).

You can’t ignore the volumes of inspiration that are published in shelter magazines, catalogs and on the Internet. Earmark your favorites and save them for help with style decisions.

“Fragola says that during her kitchen remodel she relied heavily on a “foot-and-a-half stack of dog-eared magazines.” These inspirations helped her and her husband Joe convey their vision to their architect.

“We took in as much design info as we could and then figured out what resonated for us,” Fragola explains.

“Starting on your dream kitchen is guaranteed to be both exciting and challenging. Enjoy finding your muse, that personal starting point that will let your unique style shine through.”

Striking solid surface countertop
Striking solid surface countertop
 

This is a beautiful countertop we installed for a client recently. The colors and textures are a great centerpiece for the kitchen.

 

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A beautiful kitchen remodel

This is a beautiful kitchen we completed recently, with cherry cabinets in shaker style and Shivikasi yellow granite countertops.

Corner cabinet with rotating shelves

Corner cabinet with rotating shelves

The corner cabinets have nifty rotating shelves to access as much of the corner space as possible.

Full height cabinets with pull out drawers.

Full height cabinets with pull out drawers.

There is wonderful storage capacity in the full height cabinets with very convenient pull out drawers behind the cabinet doors.

Think about your kitchen and what you would like to see there!

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What is better for countertops, granite or engineered stone?

Corian countertops

Corian countertops

We get asked this question a lot, since many of our jobs are kitchen remodels. We,ve compiled some information to help you decide which would be the best selection for you.

Definitions:

 Granite:  Granite, otherwise known as natural stone. It is mined from stone quarries and cut in slabs.

Engineered stone: Also called Quartz, Is a manufactured product composed mostly of finely ground quartz, epoxy or polyester resins and color.

A third option that resembles engineered stone is Solid surface: Consists entirely of man-made materials, i.e., acrylic or plastic materials colored by resins. These countertops go under the names of Corian, Avonite, LG Hi-Macs, Wilsonart.

Pros & cons:

Pros – Granite: Chips and cracks can be repaired and hidden by surface polishing the material. It is resistant to heat and stains.

Cons – Granite: Is porous, must be sealed; is brittle and harder to shape. Liquids can stain and damage the surface. Even if the slab has been pre- sealed, it should be sealed again after installation, and repeated at least once a year.

Pros – Engineered stone: It is non-porous, bacteria and viruses cannot penetrate into the countertop. Engineered stone is much stronger than granite and is easier to shape. It requires no maintenance.

Cons – Engineered stone: If damaged it is very difficult to repair because of a surfacing substance. It is damaged by direct application of heat.

Pros – Solid surface: Non porous – resists stains and mildew.  Scratches and chips can be polished or be repaired if damaged, as the color goes all thru the material.

Cons – Solid surface: Sharp knives will damage the surface; hot pans will discolor the countertop. 

 

Granite

Quartz*

Solid
Surface

Stone Hardness Measurement

6

7

N/A

Uniform Pattern Repeat

N

Y

Y

Requires Sealing

Y

N

N

Scratch Resistant

Y

Y

N

Mold & Mildew Resistant

N

Y

Y

Heat & Burn Resistant

Y

Y

Y/N

Resistant to Chemicals,
Acids, Solvents, Oils

N

Y

N

Immune to Freezing

Y

Y

Y

Manufacturer’s Warranty

N

Y

Y

       
 

 

   

 So what will it cost?

Research and our experience have proven that there are too many variables to come up with a usable, generic cost per square foot. Price variables include: number of sinks, complexity and size of the countertop, color and pattern selected, manufacturer and thickness of material.

 

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Filed under Corian, Countertops, engineered stone countertops, Granite countertops, kitchen remodels, remodeling