Wednesday, July 18, 2012

countertop selection + tips

If you've followed along the process of the kitchen you'll know that one of the biggest decisions for me was what to pick for the counter. I liked the look of Carrara marble but didn't want the hastle of the upkeep, or the possibility of "patina" so it came down to the three options.

So I can tell you what I didn't pick. I ruled out almost immediately Corian Rain Cloud as although I loved the look I didn't like the way it felt to the touch. I felt as though it was too soft for a kitchen countertop. Next on the list - although I liked the feeling of the Cambria Torquay (it's a quartz), I felt had too much veining for our small kitchen. The pattern felt too bold for me. I always kept going back to Caesarstone in Misty Carrara (Style # 4141) and after seeing it used in a larger project (vs. just the small sample) I was sold. And I'm SO in love with it. It's perfect.

There are a lot of things to consider when doing a countertop. Instead of breaking it into a lot of different posts I wanted to keep it all as one so this is a REALLY lenghy post with more pictures and details on the whole process of the countertop ordering. If you're in the market for a counter you may find this post helpful. For everyone else, I just thought you'd enjoy this photo above showing the counter! Yay! Love it.

So stepping back to the countertop material - I am so glad we went with quartz - it's low maintenance, and requires no sealing like a marble does. I didn't want to be worried about staining a new counter and the number of times I've come down to the new kitchen to see drops of coffee that Aubrey didn't notice while running out to work - make me so thankful that I didn't go with something that stained easily. The Misty Carrara has subtle grey veining that gives it a nice softness.

As I mentioned here that I liked the zero overhang look - With our small galley kitchen I was concerned about too much overhang eating into our precious walking space. I was really appreciative of all of the helpful comments that readers left as it made me realize that 0 overhang was REALLY impractical. So we opted for a small overhang. We relied on our countertop fabricator (more on them below) to offer guidance, which I was most appreciative of too.

This was a no brainer for us - we went with the classic straight edge look which is classic and maintains a clean line in our small galley kitchen. (It's pretty much the standard option.) You can choose your width of the edge. There is 1" which I felt was too thin for our kitchen so bumped up our edge to 1.5" edge which requires a seam.

Because we went with a 1.5" edge, it means that the fabricator has to seam two pieces of the counter together to make it that thick.  You can either do this the standard way by them gluing two pieces together. This is the standard option when you order a countertop but as you can see in this picture below, you can see that faint seam where that fabricator connected two pieces to make it look thick. It drives me bananas. It looks like a sandwhich.

Source unknown, I had saved this image to remind myself what I *didn't* like.

I discovered for an extra cost you can eliminate that seam all together and they can do what is called a "Mitre edge". It makes more work for the fabricator and therefore results in a 15% increase in cost vs. the standard seam cost that they offer. Aub felt like it was worth the bump up in cost to make it disappear and to eliminate any possibility that it would drive me bananas. As you can see in the photo below - you can't see any seam as we went with the miter style. Best decision for us. Do I think you need to do it? Not necessarily. But when I start to focus on something and it bothers me, I have a hard time forgetting about it. So knowing that there may be that visible seam was worrysome to me. So we just sucked up the extra cost.

Our countertop, with a mitre edge (you don't see a seam)

Because we are working as our own contractors and never having done a kitchen before, I found the countertop process a wee bit stressful . You have a lot of players involved from start to finish.  You have companies that supply the counter material (like here) but they don't tell you the cost of a slab when you're in the shop. What they tell you is a price range like $ or $$$$. (But no actual dollar figure) To find out a cost you have to get your fabricator to price out the job, based on the slab you picked. It was really confusing as someone who isn't a designer, or contractor - just a normal folk like us trying to figure out who does what and where to go. (PS., Fabricators are the installers. They measure and install your chosen countertop material.)

Then I discovered that some fabricators offer a one stop service - they offer slabs AND installation. This was my preference as it eliminated communication with different shops, and made it so much easier. Caesarstone doesn't vary like a natural stone does, so I didn't go see a slab in person prior to ordering. I had seen enough samples to know I liked it.

We got a lot of rquotes from fabricators and ended up hiring MG Stonecraft. They were recommended to me by Debra, who was referred to them by a friend of hers. They not only were fabricators but they also supplied Caesarstone.

[Steps for ordering:]

1. Quote: I sent the company our the kitchen drawings so that they could give us a quote for the counter. A quote was e-mailed back to me a few days later and in comparison their quote was the best out of 3 others I received. (I highly recommend price comparisons when you can).

2. Measuring: When our cabinets were installed we called them up to have them in to come measure. Since counters take up to 2 weeks to create, I wanted to get them in really quickly. They came and measured and offered great input.

3. Surprise! Updated Quote: The day after they came we received a updated quote, which came back a few hundred dollars more. (I'm still not sure why) but because they were still the best priced overall, and I was really happy with the person who came to measure I didn't even argue it and we went ahead.

4. Installation: I wasn't around for installation but Aubrey was here and really liked the guys. They installed our sink (not all fabricators install undermount sinks, so be sure to ask)

I was REALLY happy with the guys that came to do the work so I'd 100% recommend this company if you're looking for someone to do your counters.

There you have it. We love, love our counters. Hopefully this information helps!

xo Lindsay


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