Blinded by the Sunshine

aloha2009March 31, 2011

We will be creating a new 6' west window in our kitchen. My DH loves shiny countertops but I'm concerned with the amount of reflective sun coming in and bouncing off shiny countertops. It's hard to create 70 sq' of reflective countertops to get a feeling of what it would be like. Does anyone have large windows and shiny countertops? Do you like it? Is it too reflective?

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alex54

I think it will be too reflective. Maybe if you can get a couple of samples of polished granite and see how it looks. My vote: you will need sunglasses if you use shiny counters. Especially since you have so much counter. I am redoing my kitchen now and have about 80SQ ft of counter and will do honed.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 3:14PM
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plllog

As an alternative, you could treat the windows. :)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 3:57PM
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marti8a

I have west windows in my kitchen too, and have to close or tilt the blinds in the late afternoon just to be able to stand at the sink.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 4:28PM
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marcolo

Ditto. My west window is blinding in the afternoon--and i have only one. Whatever you are planning now, you will be putting lots of window treatments on those windows. So you might as well plan for it. Your opthamologist and dermatologist will thank you.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 5:18PM
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westsider40

I have 3 west windows. Another idea is to plant evergreens, which I did. Now they're big.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 12:40AM
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doggonegardener

We have a west facing window. It's brutal in the summer afternoons. MUST....CLOSE....CURTAINS.... (like Captain Kirk).

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 1:12AM
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florantha

We've got a lot of west-facing windows. I got a semi-shiny Formica product (180FX) knowing that it might be a problem but the product has faceted sparkle, not high sheen. High sheen would definitely be a greater problem in my space and an object of DH scorn if it rankled. On the GW posters talk about how they love their stone countertops--don't choose something you won't like later.

Yes, if you have workers or sitters facing the windows you need to plan for light control during intense light certain times of day. If there is a large thermal difference between inside and outside temps, you should also use window treatments over the glass--it's patriotic and good citizenship.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 8:34AM
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aloha2009

It does definately seem to be the concensus that I'll be "blinded by the sun". When I mentioned to my husband that all the responses were that it would be blinding, his response was he thought it would be dazzling...I'm beginning to think he's not going to budge on this.

Part of my reasoning for the 6' window size was I know I can get a large array of window treatments easily for that size. Since it will be a new window, we will get the low-E coating which I know from previous experience helped IMMENSELY with the heat/cold exchange. I wish now I could remember how much glare it produced. Does anyone have low-E coating on their west windows? My DD has almost all West new low-E windows in her house but nothing shiny to check it out, unless I want to barge in with my samples around dinner time - rats, I'm not that obnoxious (though it would replicate it some).

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 9:17AM
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holligator

Who does most of the cooking in your house? If it's your husband, then his opinions about such things should hold some weight. If it's you, prioritize his choices accordingly.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 9:24AM
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florantha

Low-e does not shade the window. It cuts down on the heat loss or gain and it cuts some of the ultraviolet penetration.

Here's our wall of windows--more than 6 feet. Faces west, although there is a hill that cuts sun in late afternoon. This is taken, according to my notes, on a "grim October day" in St. Paul, Minn. but I don't know what time of day. Curtains are linen or cotton and about half again the width of each window, so figure the bulk of gather accordingly--temporary for privacy and etc.

Note that the shine is not just from the pendants. Photographer had to move to this spot in order to cut the glare for photo. These are low-e windows. Remember--this is sparkly Formica, not high-sheen.

Shadow in right-hand window is building permit, our persistent window friend for 2 years so far.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 12:18PM
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aloha2009

DH has been doing almost all the cooking for the past 5-10 years. Since moving to our "new" house though, I've started picking it up again some. Now that the kids are grown and mostly moved out, I'm finding it fun to experiment in the kitchen with new recipes.

DH usually lets me just about have final say on any decorating, but he's really into countertops (last house same thing). I at least got him away from granite since he too agrees it would be too much movement for the look we are seeking - modern/contemporary.

Since we are having AGAIN such a difficult time with picking countertops, we thought of maybe putting on something temporary for now (arrangement of kitchen counters changing dramatically so we need something). We found an inexpensive 16" rectified tile (only have 1/16" grout lines) we both like. It of course is shiny which prompted this thread too. It's a light charcoal black. Do you think the dark color would help any with the glare? If so should we go even darker? We have white cabinets so it would definately go well.

Florantha, thanks for the scoop on the low-e glare (I'm love your kitchen window wall!).

My DH thinks matte/dull countertops look dirty and shiny is clean. I even gave him the "graveyard" connotation of granite (all right I know I'm desperate). I'm beginning to think most men like shiny countertops (from my husband and others from GW). He gave me a begrunging "if you really want something else" get it. He's so agreeable on everything else, I feel I have to give in on this...I guess I can always wear sunglasses too right?!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 1:15PM
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finestra

I had absolute black granite that was beautiful. The afternoon sun highlighted EVERY SINGLE waterspot, fingerprint, smudge, or piece of dust. Definitely get good window treatments. The glare off the granite and coming in through the windows gave me a headache on many a winter day when sunset seemed to coincide with cooking dinner.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 8:44PM
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jgs7691

We don't have the sunlight problem in our kitchen (we used to, but a covered porch cut the natural light and glare immensely) however, we did have sun glare problems through skylights in our family room.

We solved those with a professional window film application (I think it may have bee a 3M product) which DRAMATICALLY reduced glare!! I would encourage you to look for an installer in your area (you might even be able to do the application yourself if you're handy.)

Here is a link that might be useful: 3M window films (example of available products)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 9:11AM
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cfmuehling

I also have west windows and that sun, even with low-E, is BRUTAL.

Have you considered soapstone? It gives you the dark colors but doesn't reflect as much, nor show every single smudge.

I have light colored cabinets on top and when that sun shines along them, even with their matte finish (my paint mistake), every single fingerprint, blurb in the paint, you name it is huge Like a pimple on your nose at prom time. Just can't get past it.

I do have a countertop on 1/2 of my kitchen. A friend built it for me. I love it. I'm not into granite & can't afford soapstone, so this was a lovely alternative. It's Wilsonart something-Olivene. It's almost faceted I don't shine like a prism or mirror. Most people are way into granite, but my west window doesn't blind me there.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 9:48AM
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craftlady07

My parents have windows that face southwest in their kitchen and they have high-shine quartz counters and even though it's not exactly blinding it is annoying and it DEFINITELY shows ever dust, crumb, fingerprint, smudge like finestra said.

We have antiqued granite and we have an east facing window over the sink, a wall of south facing windows and a west facing glass door in the kitchen and I have absolutely zero problem with glare.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 12:01PM
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jkom51

I have an east-facing kitchen window and the glare even off just the polished chrome faucet was a killer. I can't even imagine what a west-facing exposure would have been like, LOL!

We specifically chose the matte Swanstone counters and brushed stainless faucet, in addition to a window film to cut the UV by 50%. If it had been a west-facing window, I would have used those 90-100% window films instead.

Glare is extraordinarily annoying. It's as if someone is shining one of those laser lights in your eyes at odd moments.

We have a lot of sunlight - 24' long, 16' cathedral ceiling back wall of picture windows. But I would be much more careful siting this if I ever move and remodel a home again. That direct sunlight thing is not only heat-producing and glare-annoying, it requires expensive windows to eliminate the high UV problem of fading, which destroys just about anything. In 20 yrs high UV exposure even faded the laminate side of a pantry - and laminate is very high UV resistant. The flooring cracked, the wood trim bleached - if I had to deal with seeing every crumb and smear and dust particle, I think I would have gone insane....!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 12:38PM
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alku05

We have a 5' wide window that points due east so we can enjoy the view of the sun setting into the ocean. It's a low E window which cuts the amount of heat coming in, but it still gets pretty toasty right in front of that window in the afternoon. Our contertops are shiny, and I have never noticed or been bothered by the glare of light reflecting off of them. However, our granite is a white one, which is generally less obviously reflective than the darker ones.

IMHO, it's the direct light that comes in that can be overwhelming, but the light that bounces off the counters isn't anything that's ever bothered me.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 3:28PM
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melissastar

OK, this isn't EXACTLY relevant, but I can't resist. When I was a teenager my parents built a new family house facing east with a clear view out to the nearby marsh and river. It was meant to be their "retirement" house where they could enjoy the view they loved. So they designed that side of the A frame house to be glass...two and a half stories of it.

Somewhere in an old album I have the greatest pictures of one occasion when older siblings and their spouses and kids were visiting for a holiday. We were all sitting at the long farm table in the large dining/living room that opened to the kitchen, enjoying Easter breakfast. And every single one of us was wearing dark sunglasses.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 8:46PM
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aloha2009

Melissastar, relavent? I'd still say yes. Hysterical? - ABSOLUTELY.

Between a possible window treatment that we can pull out of the way, and putting a coating on if the glare is just too annoying, I think I can accomodate my DH's wish for shiny countertops. He agreed (and did keep his commitment on our old granite) to making sure the counters are free of a bunch of fingerprints etc.

We compromised on a shiny porcelium 16" rectified tile which will be relatively cheap to install, while we decide on something in the years to come for countertops we can both love (and shell out $$$ on countertops). If it ends up being too shiny even for him, we won't have spent a fortune and know to replace the counters with more of a matte finish.

Thanks for all the input from everyone!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 12:41AM
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gardenpixie

I have one small north facing window in the kitchen, under an overhang to boot, and am really envious of your light filled kitchens! I really don't like having to switch on lights when the sun is shining outside, but also hate the gloom otherwise.

That said, a friend has a bank of double height east facing windows and it makes the house very hot. Glare hasn't been a problem, though.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 10:23AM
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