Countertop conundrum

djmarbMarch 31, 2013

Hi! I've been lurking forever and you guys have been so incredibly influential on my kitchen design and finishes. So thanks for that!

My conundrum is that I've fallen in love with expensive and sensitive counters. So in love that everything else pales horribly in comparison. It's called Brazilian Arebescato quartzite (looks a lot like Super White). Unfortunately, it does not cut glass, so I suspect that it is more of a marble. I've tested it to death. It doesn't stain, but the polished version etched pretty badly. I read that the resin that it's topped with could be what etches. Sure enough, when I test the side of the sample, it doesn't etch. I have decided to go with honed, but can't get samples to test, so I would do so with fingers crossed.

I am redoing our entire kitchen on a very tight budget and the counters are nearly a third of the budget. We are using Ikea cabinets for our lower cabs and pantries, but need Scherr's 36" uppers, due to low ceiling.

I am not spending enough at Ikea to qualify for the sale price right now, but I would if I purchased my counters through them. Problem is I can't do quartzite through them.

We are not the tidiest family of all time and I know that my DH will not even attempt to baby our counters (I just finished cleaning his pancake batter off from breakfast). So my concern is, do I just go with a quartz counter that I feel is so so and save the money (and qualify for the Ikea sale price), or do I just spend the money and get the counters I love and get more fastidious about cleaning the kitchen up quickly?

I would appreciate all feedback. I'm planning a trip to Ikea over the weekend to order and I'm stressing about this big decision.


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Molly Phillips

I'm on my phone and it's a pain to type, but I had to respond to tell you that I totally get the budget thing (did ikea and scherrs as well). We're 90% done and the thing I notice the most is our counter. I have quartz and I'm a fan, but if you found a counter you LOVE, let that be your focal point. You won't be sorry. (Just make sure you have the other small things worked out first to make sure you can truly afford it)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 10:10PM
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Hi DJ,

That sure sounds like marble to me.
As for the edge of the sample not etching, was the edge polished? If not, it's hard to tell if there is etching or not since the etching is most noticeable on a polished surface.

So since this is likely marble, you have to go in with eyes wide open about all the implications for caring for it. Will you love it just as much if it is etched or scratched? Will you be able to resist following everyone around with a dishtowel? If so, go for it. But if your answer is not an unequivocal yes, then you'd do well to consider the usability of marble in your kitchen.

Good luck planning and deciding!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 11:41PM
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Some new behaviours will follow any kitchen remodel but expecting you'll adapt to a new habit of cleaning on a regular basis because the counters demand it would be a place I wouldn't go. And then the frustration/anger/concern about what happens in reality. Nope.Take a 2nd and 3rd look at the combinations from Ikea counters with your cabinet 1st and 2nd choices....I don't find the Ikea counters to be So So. maybe the stores vary.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 12:22AM
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Thank you so much for the feedback! KarinMT, I learned about the glass etching from all of your very informative posts.

The sides of the sample are not polished at all. I don't know if they are sealed or not, but they didn't stain with hot sauce, bbq sauce, oil, lemon juice, etc. I also didn't notice etching on the unpolished sides. The polished surface has very pronounced etching and I suspect it's due to the resin used on the surface.

My kitchen is mostly gray and white. Volcanic Ash Marmoleum floors, white painted upper cabinets, white subway tile... a very cool color pallet. I was going to go with grey painted lower cabinets, but my budget has pushed me towards the Ikea Gnosjo (black slab door), so that will be the lower cabinet for at least a few years.

My husband prefers a darker counter and I prefer whiter. We both the the swirly grey of the Arebescato quartzite. I also think it might be a bit more timeless, but not sure if timeless ever happens in kitchens. I really love the movement in it, rather than the flatness of a solid white counter. I also like how pure white/grey the quartzite is. Not a hint of cream or beige in it.

Currently we have a temporary kitchen makeover that was supposed to last us 3 years (that was 9 years ago). We painted our early 80's oak cabinets and, believe it or not, we mended and painted our laminate counters. They are a glossy black color. Our peel and stick vinyl floors have developed holes (long story) and I painted our brass hinges silver, so truly, anything we do will be a huge improvement. I think I might take a couple more days to deliberate. It feels like such a permanent decision.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 12:41AM
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Do you, or will you someday have, children in this kitchen? If so, then you MUST consider durability. Your kids will not always follow the rules. If you are sure you will not be upset if they get etched or scratched or stained, then go for what you love. I have a darker granite, and while I don't Love it anymore (as in its not a dramatic eye catching piece) it sure is durable as heck and for that I DO still love it.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 1:15AM
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@ lovetodream... Did you shop around before going with Scherr's or just decide to go with them based on all the recommendations? We're hoping to replace the doors and drawers on our Ikea cabinets in a few years.

@cindywhitall... Yes, we have two young girls.

The funny thing is that I put wine on a piece of white granite and it stained immediately (maybe wasn't sealed??). I've also heard some interesting things about white quartz not being as impervious and indestructible as it's marketed to be. So, I'm not sure if our choice will be less durable, except for the fact that it doesn't scratch glass and the glossy surface etches. I just wonder if my "true love" counter will be that big of deal to me in 5 years or should I just save the money now and go with a safer/cheaper choice. While it may be more likely a marble than a true quartzite, it's definitely not as sensative as white marbles are.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 1:57AM
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To be honest it sounds like you are trying to justify getting this counter any way you can. Some might say that is reason enough to get this stone. I take the opposite position. If you are insecure enough that you have to keep justifying it out loud to yourself then you should not be making this purchase.

Although you haven't said anything about it, I am guessing that you aren't the type of person who can just ignore etching and not be bothered by it. For that reason alone I would not get this product. You mention that you think its the resin that is etching, but what difference does that make. Can you get the stone without resin?? If so then get a sample without resin and test that.

You're justifications regarding white granite and quartz are not really valid. White granite will not stain immediately unless it was not sealed. Try getting another sample and specifically ask for it to be sealed. As for whether white quartz is indestructible, I can tell you in my experience there is almost no chance of etching and staining is a rarity.

Also, spending 1/3 of the kitchen budget on counters is a bit ludicrous in a low budget situation. You mentioned that you are working on a very tight budget. How much wiggle room have you built into the budget? What if something unexpected comes up? Are there other items you can cut to free up money for the counters? You are already using Ikea cabs for the majority of your kitchen so you probably can't save money there, but what about the uppers or another part of the kitchen? Its hard to remember this when reading gardenweb, but the vast majority of people in this world cannot afford to buy their every whim. We don't all have husbands with high paying jobs who can just give us everything we want.

Like I said, if you need to keep justifying this purchase to yourself and rebut advice to not get this product then thats a sign its not for you. You can go ahead and get it, but I think you'll end up disappointed and likely too broke to replace it on account of breaking the budget.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 6:40AM
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I totally agree with realism. I am going one step further and advise you to keep looking.
When you begin such a big and extensive reno as a kitchen, this becomes your whole focal point. When done, you get back to ordinary life and your kitchen becomes....well just the kitchen. Although it has been four years since my reno, I still do appreciated coming in to this room. That said, I treat it like my old kitchen. I don't baby it.
You will find a compromise. With two small daughters, do you really want to worry about your counters?
This might be a good counter for your kitchen after this one. Girls all grown, just you and DH on a daily basis.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 8:03AM
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Maybe you should do a new laminate now, and when you've saved up for something different, replace it. You stick to your budget now, you have something that will survive kids, and you won't feel bad about ripping it out in a few years.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 9:45AM
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I also agree with Realism. Your conclusion that the etching is due to the sealer sounds incorrect. Sorry to say that, but I guess that's why we're here. If your stone didn't scratch glass, that indicates that it's marble. If it etches, that's another sign it's marble. Done and done. It's marble. Unpolished surfaces do not show etching so you have to let that one go, it is not telling you anything useful. Don't talk yourself into something that isn't true just because you like the look of the stone in the showroom.

Light colored quartz and granite are going to be much more durable than marble. No question. Are they indestructible? No, but they are still a lot better for a house with kids. Laminate is also a great idea. And marble is great too, so long as you are cool with the inevitable etches and scratches.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 9:55AM
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Sometimes one gets so involved that one looses sight of the big picture in the long run (e.g. the exact shade of of one's wedding invitation that has to match the bridesmaids ribbons --- which most people won't even notice and you may not remember later), so you need to weigh:
If you go with the counters you are in love and spend a lot of money now, how will you feel once they show etching? I don't really think people change their behavior, or if you do, you may hate your beautiful but impractical counters.
If you go with IKEA quartz, will you be happy and not even remember what your current love looked like, or will you for ever regret not having picked the more expensive/less durable material?
Also, how "durable" will your love be? Maybe in a few years, it won't really matter what you picked.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 10:56AM
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Thank you for all of your input. These are all words I need to hear. Our black painted old laminate counters get "fixed" with a black sharpie when a scratch appears, so I'm very used to having imperfect counters. I live in a very nice area of Seattle where home values are pretty high, but I told my husband I could do the kitchen for $15K. That is with us doing most of the labor ourselves and being creative about purchases. I'm might be wrong about that number :-).

We did a gut job remodel on this house when we purchased it, and I've personally painted the entire interior and the exterior (twice), which is two stories up. We've also bulldosed our backyard and, even though it took us two years, we managed a pretty spectacular yard all on our own. That, I suppose, is why I think I can get away with doing the kitchen on such a low budget (we don't need to replace appliances).

I guess, what so many of you have been saying to me, is what I'm wondering... Will I walk into this kitchen in 5 years and be so pleased that I purchased these counters and squeezed them into the budget, or will they just be counters full of crumbs and dishes waiting to go into the dishwasher and I won't care. I've been waiting 9 years to do this room, so I'm inclined to want to indulge myself, but the practical part of my mind is telling me to save the money. It appears that the savings will be between $1500-$2000. I usually take the practical side in home purchases, so I'm feeling a bit guilty about going for these particular counters. I guess that's the problem with love sometimes! :-)

If the honed counters etch like the sides of the polished sample (I can't get a sample of the honed, just the polished) I will be absolutely fine with that. I have noticed no staining or etching on the side of the sample (where it was cut). The sides don't have resin on them, but I have confirmed that the surface of the polished stone does have a resin on it. What I can't seem to find out is will the honed behave like the "raw" stone on the side of the sample, or will it still behave like the polished surface. Red wine left over night still didn't stain the side of the sample.

I can make these counters fit into the budget, I'm just not sure if it's the smartest thing to do and I hear a lot of you saying I shouldn't. Back to the drawing board...


    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 2:52PM
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KarinMT, I just tried scratching a dressing jar again. I can get some little tiny scratches using very sharp parts of the stone, but some corners of the sample I can't get to scratch. The granite scratches very easily and I can feel the bite, so not sure what getting some little scratches mean. Maybe that I'm trying too hard to justify? :-)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 3:06PM
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Can't you get the answer to your questions from whomever sells the counters, i.e. honed vs. non-honed, etching, resin, etc.? Also, when I googled Brazilian Arebescato quartzite, only one place in NE popped up. Another was in Canada (see link below). Somewhere else it said that it's an artificial marble, a marble, a synthetic stone, quartzite, etc.
Could you call others and describe what happens with your sample? An expert should know the asnwer, even if dealing with a different stone/material.

Here is a link that might be useful: Arebescato

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 3:31PM
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If the rock were actually quartzite, it would blast through glass like nobody's business. But it's not. Really.

So it's going to etch. It's going to get scratches in it. This will happen regardless of the surface treatment and the type of sealer. It is a physical reality of the stone and it cannot be avoided. A honed surface is somewhat more forgiving with the visibility of etching, but it's still marble.

I think you will have an easier time deciding if you change the question from "is this quartzite? (no) and "is the edge of the stone somehow different from the top?" (no, not really), to "do I want marble countertops?" That is the actual question at hand, and the only question really.

So, do you want marble countertops?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 3:51PM
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I've tried inquiring at Pental, where it is at. Oddly, the sales people don't seem to know much about it. That link is exactly what the stone looks like.

I'm thinking, however, that the stone fabricator might know more. I might run down there today.

I apologize for carrying on so much. I'm supposed to order all my cabinets this week and, due to the Ikea sale, I need to know what I'm doing about my counters. I'm struggling with pulling the trigger. Permanent decisions tend to freeze me up a bit.

I went to all of the stone yards with an open mind, but gasped when I saw two stones: Arebescato Quartzite and Super White (labeled as a dolomite, which is marble). I really thought I would do a regular quartz, but now all of those just look like huge compromises to me.

I cracked a pint glass yesterday, so I just used the butt end of it to bang against the edge of the Quartzite. It left a tiny chip. However, I got the sames chips, if not worse, against the Glacier granite (white with grey and red dots) and a thick quartz sample, so it appears that chipping will be the same no matter what.

I also just tested vinegar. That granite obviously isn't sealed, because it left a bad dark mark on that (within minutes). Nothing happended to the quartz. The BA Quartzite has a bit of etching to the polished surface (which I have to tip just right in certain light to see), but I can't tell if it did anything to the side of it. The nice thing about all that grey, is that dark marks just tend to blend in.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 3:57PM
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Hi KarinMT! You're right. So I guess I will switch my question. After multiple years with your counter are you still happy with the choice you made? If you compromised, are you glad or do you wish you would have went with your favorite?

I don't have any experience having a nice kitchen, so I can't be sure what will matter to me 5 years down the road.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 4:08PM
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FWIW... (and maybe not much!) I would want to spend the budget on the things that are the hardest to the cabinets. If you are settling on the lower cabinets due to cost, I'd definitely nix the quartzite for now and go with a laminate.

That's exactly what we did in our remodel last year...I got the cabinets and windows I wanted and put on laminate countertops, figuring we can always change them out later (we really love the look of marble).

I have to say, though, I unexpectedly ended up loving our laminate (it's a limestone color) and am in no hurry to change it out to anything else. I am so very glad I didn't compromise on the big, unchangeable things just to fit the marble in. Just some food for thought.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 4:26PM
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I actually really like Ikea cabinets (can't wait to have frameless cabs with do-hickies inside!) and have always planned to go with them. I just can't use them on my uppers because 92" ceiling height won't allow me to use 39" cabinets and I want bigger cabinets than 30". The cost of all the Ikea door/drawer fronts is about $500. I will be happy with those for at least 3 years. After that I may have Scherr's make shaker fronts to replace those. In my mind, replacing the cabinet doors is cheaper than replacing counters.

Laminate is absolutely out of the question. I have that now and they are constantly failing around my sink. That sink is the bane of my existence and I cannot wait to have an undermount sink. So the counter choice is between quartzite (marble) that I love or white quartz (will probably go with Eco stone, so not technically quartz) that I can live with.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 4:40PM
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We just did our remodel in January, so I can't answer the question about 5 yrs down the road. But we used laminate for our countertop and stone for the bar top and windowsill. Of course we compromised - every step of the way was a decision that involved some type of compromise, whether it was cost, feasibility, or what DH preferred. But I am happy with all of our choices and I love the kitchen so much it makes my heart sing!

Oh hey, and call your rock marble, please. It will make me feel better. :)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 5:45PM
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Do you have another focal point other than the countertop?

How would you feel during the in-between period, between when it's brand sparkling new and the end beautiful patina stage?
In due time, all the scratchings and etchings will all patina together.
But until then, I love my new layout, my fabulous windows/loads of light pouring in (perfect for Spring weather), and toasty toes from the radiant heating, so that I barely notice the countertop so much.

We also had a pretty tight budget (a lot had to be done), so we used Ikea boxes, doors, molding, appliances, etc. It was: use Ikea and have leftover $ for radiant floor heating.
We did get gorgeous Vermont marble countertop and full backsplash behind the hood.

But my gorgeous countertop was the #4 on my most loved list.
1. New better layout.
2. fabulous 5 down-to-countertop wall of windows
3. radiant floor heating
4. honed marble countertop

I thought I wouldn't mind the etching much, but the 3 spots/areas are so very noticeable in my eyes.
My DH and kids are very untidy, never cleaning up after themselves. So while I am telling myself to just live w/ the slow patina process, it bothers me that I spent so much money on something that annoys me so much.

If I didn't have the other 3 top plus other stuff (my new mudroom) to distract me, it would bother me to see a new etch every other week, etc.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 7:38PM
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Hola, Amanda!

We aren't changing the layout. Half of the kitchen is a bump out from the rest of the structure, so we have a small u-shaped kitchen. The sink will move about two feet, but most other things will stay the same.

I will be pleased to have more functional cabinets and no longer have holes in my floors. Hopefully I'll have better lighting in the end. The sink will probably be my favorite thing or tied with the counters.

I'm thinking I can live with the patina, as long as I think I will still appreciate the counters in a few years. I really like the movement in the counters. Otherwise we would probably get a white with quartz bits.

My backsplash will be white subway, my upper cabs will be white shaker and my lower cabs will be solid black/brown color. My floors will be a nearly solid charcoal/black color of marmoleum. It would be nice to break up all those solids with something swirly.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 10:55PM
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I have a question about other expenses for the kitchen. Have you accounted for the appliances, the labor, any electrical and plumbing. Do not do a paper estimate. Actually research and decide what you want to get and what is the best deal you can get. If the rest of it falls in place in the 1/3 that you seem to have scoed, by all means get your counters, seal it, and enjoy!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 12:33AM
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Molly Phillips

Hey, zippy....regarding Scherrs - we went with them solely based on the recommendations here. It worked out well, though - their quality is outstanding and I'm very pleased. I see that you're going with Ikea fronts for the time being but I do want to tell you up front that a custom color painted door is a pretty big upcharge (Scherrs standard color is SW Extra White, which was too cool for our counter and house in general). Also, to have large end panels (like each side of the fridge and back of the peninsula) was super expensive to ship, so we're doing those in-house.

FWIW, we've had our Ikea cabinets in for a few weeks now and I love their functionality. One thing you'll find about this forum is that each person has a strong opinion about where to splurge in a kitchen reno - one person will say cabinets, another will say counter, another will say the smaller accessories ("it's only __% of the overall budget") - so you'll have to decide for yourself or your budget will explode. I didn't think it would happen to me but as I obsessed over everything and posted about (most) items, I found it easy to justify each thing I wanted.

I posted early on about your original question and have sort of changed my mind as I've read other responses. We added a nice peninsula and that is where I notice my counter the most - that wide expanse of counter space with no uppers to "block" the view. If I just kept the perimeter from the original layout, I'm not sure I would notice the counters as much because yeah, you eventually cover it up with stuff as you cook.

Still, I totally wanted quartzite but in my area it was uber-expensive so it was easier for me to walk away from it. If I was only saving $1500 I might go for it but only for quartzite. Marble is so lovely, but I can't imagine it in a kitchen for my messy family and young kids.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 9:28AM
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Hi GWlolo, I don't need new appliances (just a hood, which I've priced at $350). Plumbing and electrical are my only unknowns, but I have a very good friend who is a contractor and he's going to help me out with that. I have factored in labor to replace/move one window and close up the other, but all other labor will be done by my husband and myself.

Hi Lovetodream, We are having our upper cabinets made by Scherr's with paint grade soft maple. I will paint them. I wanted to use them for our door/drawer fronts for Ikea cabs (again, I would paint), but that was a $1900 bill. I can use Ikea ones for less than $500, so for now, that's what we'll do.

Our counters will probably be the most noticeable part of our kitchen. I can fit the cost into my budget for the quartzite, but I'm not sure I should. I picked up some more samples today and I'm testing the heck out of everything before I make my final decsion.

Basically, Quartzite counters are the boyfriend that people tell me isn't good for me. But I LOVE him and I'm passionate for him. I just have to decide if I want that rocky road, or if I should find more stable, albeit a tad boring, boyfriend. (Don't tell DH I'm dating! :-) ) It's something I must agonize about quickly. Just like the boyfriend, I can get loads of opinions, but I have to weigh the pros and cons and make the decision.

The picture is a Before of our kitchen taken from the family room. You can see our kitchen from the front door and from the family room. You can see dishes on the counter waiting for the current dishwasher load to finish.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 8:45PM
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Picture looking in from diningroom. Not sure this makes a difference, but here you go.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 8:53PM
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"I would appreciate all feedback."

Since you asked for it, A. your husband should clean up his own pancake batter spills, and B. stop calling it quartzite if you've already determined that it's marble. It is, by the way, it hails from Italy as well, and it's a variant of Carrara.

Use the Arabescato Carrara as a backsplash not a counter surface. If it is mounted vertically you will see more of it, and it will be subjected to less wear and tear than it will as a counter. Choose soapstone or plain white solid surface (that you can buy from Ikea) for your work surface instead.

I don't think you really want feedback - it sounds like you've made up your mind. We'll still be here for you when your Brazilian lover cheats on you. There are several threads on marble restoration...

Just so you know, it's not about whether marble is a good counter surface - it's phenomenal for the right family. It really is all about getting the right fit for you.

For those of you who haven't seen it, there's an image is below. It's nice, but I wouldn't blow my budget on it. Now, Volokas White, or Semi-White, or beagles' Calacatta Cielo, (thread below) sure. There's a lid for every pot.

Arabescato Carrara Marble

Here is a link that might be useful: Exotic Marble thread

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 1:17AM
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Actually, Arabescato/Arebescato or whatever spelling just means that it (whatever IT is) has an Arabesque pattern, not whether it's marble, quartz, quartzite, naturally occurring, or man-made from natural materials, or entirely synthetic.

However, I still don't understand why whoever sells the material can't answer your questions. Call the Canadian supplier from the Houzz link I posted earlier.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 10:35AM
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This particular stone is from Brazil, not Italy, but you're right, it is a marble, even though they are selling it as a quartzite. I just tested a honed version of Carrara last night and this stone holds up much better than Carrara, but the fact of the matter is that it does etch. The etch doesn't feel rough, like it does on the carrara. It just looks like a water mark that you can only see in certain light, if you tilt it just so.

Quartz doesn't etch or scratch, but interestingly enough, a sample of Silestone Lagoon did get a stain from red wine sitting on it for an hour. It's slight, but the pink circle is there. I suspect some soft scrub might take it out.

I have gone back and forth on my decision multiple times just this week. So mind isn't entirely made up. I have been pushing for what my heart wants, but I'm still using my brain in this process.

Thanks for all your help! I will stop carrying on about it and just buckle down and make my decision.

Happy Kitchen!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 2:22PM
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Hi zippydj! I know what it feels like to have this countertop decision, or should I say indecision on your mind. You have certainly gotten lots of great advice. I hate to tell someone not to go with what they love. I thought getting laminate was a good idea, but you ruled that out.

EAM44, gave some great advice about the cheating Brazilian lover, and he will cheat! You could absolutely use it as a backsplash.
I would say follow your heart and get what you love, just realize what you are dealing with. I will have to make this decision soon. For me, I would rather look at something that I love that's not perfect, than something I hate that is. Good luck with your decision!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 2:34PM
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Hi no - yes, it's called Arabescato Carrara marble because of the pattern of the veining. The naming of marble is anathema to me. As karin_mt has taught us, the commercial names do not always even indicate the correct type of stone, as in this case in which marble was labeled as quartzite.

Marble is especially prone to having synonyms because it has been used for millenia. People named a stone for the region from which it was quarried (like Carrara), then used the name Carrara to indicate that their local stone in Turkey or Brazil had the same coloring as true Carrara. After all a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Nowadays science allows us to evaluate and properly label stones and help us understand their characteristics better so we can make better choices.

In a bygone era people would invite neighbors over to crush tomatoes on their stone to etch it up and make it beautiful. Marble is definitely a stone for romantics who don't see etching on stone or wrinkles on a face as defects. You just have to know your stone - and you do now - and know yourself. If you love your smile lines and your frown lines, go for it. If you're saving up for botox, pass...

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 3:18AM
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I can't add much to what everyone else has said so far. It does sound like you've made up your mind and now are trying to justify it to yourself. What I can tell you is that I, too, was in love with Arabescato and really wanted to make it work. But at the end of the day, I realized that I wasn't prepared for the scratching and etching. My next choice was a true quartzite, but I couldn't afford it. And then at the last second I saw a granite that worked for me. It didn't make my heart sing like the Arabescato, like some here say it must, but it was half the price and I knew it would be durable. Not perfection, but still really, really nice. My DH, being much more practical than I, wanted it immediately. So we ended up getting the granite, and I'm not at all sorry we did. It looks terrific, we love it, people compliment it all the time and often think it's marble at first. My advice would be, do yourself a favor and be practical. You will find something you really like if you look long enough, and you won't have to worry about babying it for the rest of your life.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 9:02AM
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Just curious what you decided. :)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 6:08PM
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Well, it's still kind of ongoing. I did decide to go with the stone that I shouldn't, instead of the the quartz. Then I found a Super White that seemed tougher and was more affordable and had decided to go with that, but just found out today that it is all taken. So, it looks like I'm back to the expensive Arabescato.

Interestingly, I finally got ahold of a honed piece and I did not see any improvement in hiding the etching. The key with these stones seems to be finding one with enough movement to hide the etching better.

Just to clarify, the etching seems more like a water spot. It isn't rough in texture like I experienced with etching marble. Also, the "crystal like" veins that go through the stone do cut glass and don't etch at all, so this stone seems like an amalgam of 2 types of stone, most of it being more like marble.

Also interesting is that the Glacier White granite sample that I got soaks ups stains quickly (no sealer). Red wine immediately soaked in. But the Arabescato did not soak in the red wine (also not sealed). Seems any kind of whitish stone is an issue, just pick your issue.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 4:57PM
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It sounded like you were moving fast on your kitchen, so I was hoping to see a final reveal. I couldn't find it but that doesn't mean it's not there. Your kitchen before didn't look too bad so I would really like to see the after.

Also, if you did go with the marble, how is it working for you?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 11:44AM
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Old thread but still good advice to keep in mind:

"Decorate for the life you have, not the one you wish you had. "

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 12:30PM
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The kitchen is mostly done and at the end of the day we ended up with Glacier White Granite!

When I went to reserved my stone, all of the pieces of the honed arabescato that I liked where gone. I wasn't inclined to spend all that extra money and settle for one that had large dark spots all over it. I also wasn't thrilled with the selection of polished, for the same price. Then I found a slab of polished Super White at another stone yard that I loved and was so proud of myself for picking a stone that was a $1500 savings over the arabescato.

Then the fabricator called me to let me know that the slab wasn't big enough for the whole kitchen, so I would have to pay another $1000 to finish the last 15" piece of counter. That was my final sign. I gave up on the marble and started all over.

I found a slab of Glacier White that I loved, and it turns out that it was snatched up 3 days earlier. Feeling burned out, I finally found a slab of Glacier White that I didn't hate and that became our counters. At the end of the day I went from wanting my first love to settling for something I didn't hate. Sigh. The final sting was that the fabricator didn't tell me when he was templeting (I thought he was going to let me know, because he said that I could come down and help decide), so the parts that I didn't like ended up being the most prominent.

Unfortunately, that has been how our entire remodel has been. Even our contractor has been shocked at how many issues we've had. I have definitely been schooled by my kitchen. :-) (The worst was having to rent a concrete grinder and personally grind down a hump in my floor that the self leveler didn't fix. Worst mess to clean up EVER!!! I actually cried that night.)

Now, having said all of that, and having reached a temporary stopping point (still need to tile and deal with some minor issues), I've finally had some time to stop being mad at my kitchen and really enjoy it. And guess what - I really like my counters! I love that I don't have to worry about my husband leaving wet raspberries and other gooey things on my counters (because, yes, he still does). And, yes, they do end up having things stacked all over them all the time, so they are not a glowing and pristine focal point. They are my work horse counters. I love my deep undermount sink that these counters allow me to have.

We stayed pretty close to budget. I would say that, after tiling, we'll have spent about $16K, but with that low budget came A LOT of extra work and frustration.

All of our cabinets came from Ikea. We used 18" fan cabinets and stacked them to achieve our 36" uppers and then ordered Scherr's custom doors to go over them (Scherr's was fantastic to deal with). I do not, however, recommend the stacking method. It made it so hard to plumb and level with our fantastically out of square ( and sloping walls) u shaped kitchen.

One thing I can't recommend enough is edgebanding our Ikea cabinets with Fast Edge wood. We painted the edges of the Gnosjo cabinets dark, so you don't see the white through the doors. Even where the white doors go. Once we trimmed out the cabinets, I used wood putty, then primed and painted the trim and cabinet edges and everything looks so cohesive.

Also love our new LED pot lights! I have so much extra light in the kitchen and I love it. We did lose some natural light taking out an east facing window (that faced the neighbors window about 8 feet away,so we never pulled up the blinds), but we also gained a lot more cabinet space. Living in the gray NW, I don't get much natural light most of the year anyway, so I find that having the extra electrical light is a lot more helpful.

Some things that I'm mixed on... The Ikea Gnosjo cabinets are crazy finger printy!! Someday I will find the time to clean them properly again, but they are very streaky in the meantime. My dark gray Marmoleum floors feel fantastic on my feet, but they show ever single crumb known to man. They were also very tricky for us to install. I won't go into details, but let's just say that every demonstration on the web showed them being installed in an empty square room. It was also really hard to get info online about the click together tiles (what kind of underlayment?) and the instructions were obviously translated from another language and didn't always make sense.

The prior kitchen looked decent from a distance, but it was falling apart and quite dysfunctional. I love the functionality of my new kitchen and the ikea cabinets (with lots of drawers!) are fantastic. I love my sink and I love that my floors don't have missing chunks and holes all over. I do miss the over the stove microwave (now we have one in the pantry), but our gas stove was just too hot for one and our third microwave was failing. Now we have a hood that is actually vented outside.

All in all the kitchen is a huge improvement. It could use a little color, so I've been tracking down some aqua accessories. We are planning to do white subway tile with light gray grout for all wall surfaces within the next few months.

Sorry for writing a book to your small question! :-)


    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 4:55PM
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Don't want to take the time to learn how to post multiple pictures in one post, so making multiple posts...


    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 4:58PM
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Yellow spots and polka dots on counters. Not my favorite part.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 5:02PM
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Painted edge banding and trim (upper and light valance).

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 5:10PM
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Just some of our fabulous storage.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 5:26PM
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Zippydj, it looks wonderful!

I thought you might steer me to another thread that you had your final reveal. Though you still want to do a few things, it looks really nice!

Thanks for letting me know about the fingerprints on the gnosjo cabinet fronts. Since it's so new, I've seen very few pics....hint hint, I could (and perhaps others) use seeing a few more pics.

Our kids are raised so I would think w/o the daily use of little hands, it wouldn't be too bad. What do you think? How do all the dark cabinets look together IRL. In IKEA they seemed fingerprinty too, but that's a LOT of people touching them (though the others didn't have that problem....hmmmm)

I"m going to have to check out the super white IRL too. I LOVE the look of marble, but not the etching. We're trying to make this house as maintenance free as possible hence why I want to know about the fingerprinting that just you and your DH make.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 5:34PM
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We did not have handles on our old cabinets, so my family is not in the habit of using handles.

Very few of the fingerprints would be caused by my children. The majority would be me and my husband. Not to drag my husband through the coals, but he doesn't care a whole lot about washing his hands frequently and the appearances of the cabinets. If the counters and floors were covered in crumbs, he would declare the kitchen clean as long as the dishes are in the dishwasher. He's just that kind of guy. Big picture. Not into details (like fingerprints and crumbs). We actually have fingerprints on our ceilings because he would touch them when working out (yes, he's very tall) to help him balance.

When we came back from camping, at night, he left a bunch of sticky and gooey things from the cooler on the counters with nary a thought. Cleaning that up later makes me so glad I didn't end up with marble counters. My children are so much easier to train. :-)

So the picture here is of a cabinet that is up near the top of our fridge. Not within the reach of children. Water does not clean up these marks. I've found that Method counter cleaner will, but I worry about using it too much, since these are not wood doors. They are due for a good cleaning, however.

One more thing I really like in my kitchen is my soap pump. I've found that Method dishwashing soap is gentle enough for handwashing, good for soaking dishes (we mostly use the dishwasher), and doesn't smell too strong. We have Dawn under the sink for really greasy jobs.

I do think, if you can be in the habit of using the handles, you can avoid the majority of these. You will just both have to care about whether or not there are prints. We obviously open the cupboards with the handles, put they tend to get pushed closed on the door, not the handles.

My best suggestion would be to get a Gnosjo door from Ikea's scratch and dent section and put your fingerprints all over it, then see what cleans it and if you would be happy enough with that. I found I also need to dry after cleaning to keep the streaking down. I do, however, think that we will replace these with Scherr's doors down the line.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 6:56PM
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Zippydj, this is all so VERY helpful!

We actually have a sample door we got for $1. We have handled it quite a bit and I haven't noticed the fingerprints, but clearly these do show fingerprints (your pics and the IKEA in store kitchens).

I just walked into our current kitchen and tried to do what I would normally do. I noticed the top drawer I tend to just close with my hip. The lower drawers though, I tend to close with my hand or my hip. I could easily start training myself to close the lowers only with my hip. It would be a good idea no matter what cabinet we choose. Just because I can't see fingerprints, doesn't mean they aren't there.

I took windex and it cleaned up the few prints I could find. I wouldn't normally do that but it cleans nicely. I had some endust sitting around. It makes the door look really nice but left a film that attracts more fingerprints afterward.

We will only have uppers above the frig and wall ovens to keep clean. I think it would be too hard to train to keep my fingers off of those doors --- I want to be realistic.

We just went to Home Depot & Lowe's this afternoon and found some really nice Silestone that gave me the soft look that I like from the soft veining marbles. I'd like to see a counter a few feet long instead of the tiny 3"x3" tiles they had. I'm at least optimistic that I may be able to find a stone that I can at least like and will be durable. We were at a granite yard a few months ago and I found several light colored granites (what I think were granites) that were acceptable. I of course had to go check the marbles out and drool.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 9:33PM
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That's a mighty pretty kitchen, Zippy. And, the counters work great with the 2-toned cabinets (which I am still a sucker for). It also seems they work great for your lifestyle.

There's so much to love about IKEA. If we had one locally, we'd probably have bit the bullet on our new kitchen by now.

You really should do a full reveal thread. People are always wanting to see IKEA kitchens and budget-friendly great kitchens.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 3:16AM
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Zippydj-I am late to this thread but have to admit I was pulling for the arabescato. Congratulations on sticking to your budget and your lovely new kitchen! Good to hear you've made peace with the countertops, they look super.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 6:31AM
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