banging a can lid on the countertop and other bad habits

scrappy25April 18, 2014

I think I have been planning a kitchen remodel for 4 years now. I have read everything about countertops and first wanted soapstone, then marble, then quartz, right along with everyone else at gardenweb. I've read all the recent postings on Neolith but it is just too new to find an experienced fabricator in my area.

I've been realizing that having laminate has given me some bad habits ? Are old habits breakable and how long does it take?

As I was making a quick pasta dinner last night, I realized that I routinely tap/bang the lids of the tomato sauce jars on the existing laminate countertop to loosen the lids so that I can turn them. After I empty them out, I replace the lids and put the cans upside down on the counter to later get out the last bit of sauce. Of course there are then tomato sauce rings on the counter where the sauce that dripped over the edge initially came back down over the upsidedown lid.

I later cut some fruit for a smoothie right on the countertop- I always use the cutting board for veggies and meat but the knife barely touches the countertop when I cut fruit. Of course the fruit juices then need to be cleaned.

I don't put hot pans directly on the countertop but I will put things warmed in the microwave directly on the countertop as long as I can hold it in my bare hands for the two seconds that it takes to transport it to the counter.

None of these things seem to affect my 30 year plus wood-look laminate countertop.

I've already purchased the Stages sink around which my new kitchendesign is based- this sink is undermounted so laminate is not an option. It will have to be solid surface but definitely not marble.

So how long did it take you to break your old habits from laminate countertops?

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We're supposed to break those habits?

I bang on a cutting board, or have been known to bang on my still-plywood kitchen floor.
I also tip things upside down, but directly into another container, usually.

Cutting? oops...

No help here!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 11:26AM
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Get one of these jar poppers and save yourself some trouble!

Here is a link that might be useful: Get One of These Jar Poppers

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 11:27AM
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Fori is not pleased

I do these things too. And when I selected a chunk of marble for part of my last kitchen, the bang test was part of the torture trials. (It failed that part, but wasn't the main counter so it wasn't disqualified.)

I dunno. I was raised with tile. I've had laminate that I didn't damage because I tried to be careful. I've had Corian that didn't mind anything I did to it (nothing SUPER hot of course). Stainless steel is pretty durable. And right now I am looking to replace a kitchen that has tile. Wow. Tile is really good stuff! You can bang it. You can put hot stuff on it. You can tomato sauce the heck out of it.

I'm trying to figure out why everyone hates tile. It's the grout, right? And yet modern grout is so much better. My current kitchen has 20 year old neglected tile and the grout can still be cleaned without much effort.

It's funny that we use tile out of the way on the backsplash when it's usually the most durable material in a kitchen.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 11:34AM
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Very happy with the Corian countertop in our condo -- installed 2001. I especially like the integral double sink -- no edges. Clean it with Bon Ami.

Have to be careful about acids, but nothing else on the never-sealed granite in our home kitchen, also new in 2001.

If you're happy with laminates -- and there are some great-looking ones out there now -- just find another way to support the undermount sink. Bracing through the cabinet under the sink?

Some of these threads are overly 'appearance' and too little 'funtion'. These are *kitchens*, right? Place where you *cook*?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 11:47AM
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I grew up with laminate counters and we banged hard-to-open jars on them. Every time I'm in that situation now (quartz counters) I have to say to myself, "don't do it." So I run the jar lid under hot water and that usually does the trick. I really need one of those gizmos for opening jars.

I didn't really hate my tile counter. It was white, which I loved, but the grout was wide and charcoal gray and sanded. Even with 6" tiles, there was so much contrasty cross-cross and uneven texture. I had no problem keeping the grout clean. It was a non-issue.

I wouldn't want to go back to that kind of tile counter. However, I love vintage look tile counters like the one below. I would have that kitchen with its counter in a heartbeat.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 12:13PM
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chisue, what granite do you have that has held up so well without sealing? Will it withstand 30 minutes of tomato sauce? I thought that granite only had problems with stains not etching so curious about your statement on avoiding acids.

sjhockeyfan and linelle- jar popper, who knew there was such a thing? I am going to try the hot water thing first though, it's almost as easy as banging the tops on the counter.

Not sure I want grout on my countertop even if it is epoxy grout. Still have to clean the epoxy grout in the bathroom.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 12:51PM
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scrappy, hot water works really well, esp. since often the problem is dried food (glue) in the jar threads.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 1:17PM
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Neitehr hot water (which dissolves glue but doesn't break the vacuum seal) nor banging works nearly as well as the jar popper. Seriously, it's one of my two favorite kitchen gadgets (the other is the "Prep Taxi").

Scrappy, I had Crema Bordeaux and Nordic Black Antique in my previous home, each of which was sealed once in 7 years, and we never had a stain.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 1:25PM
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A whack on the edge of a jar lid with a the handle of a table knife works just as well as banging on the counter, FWIW.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 1:38PM
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The jar popper may work with vacuum seal, but what about screw tops?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 1:48PM
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It doesn't work with the kind of screw tops that are "tall", like a Ball jar.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 1:50PM
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For years I've used a regular can opener - you know, the one with the pointy triangle thingie (sorry to be so technical) on one end and a bottle opener on the other end - to release the vacuum seal in any jar I can't open easily (which now is most of them).

To answer the OP's question, I think the moment you get to work in your brand new kitchen you already have a new mind set, because everything is, well, new.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 2:19PM
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leela, I do the same as you with a vacuum seal. Never had a problem with those. It's screw tops that are hard to open.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 2:27PM
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I wish tile would become the latest "trend" because there just isn't anything like it. I would love to get that new slab porcelain but it's just so new and the material is so thin that I am hesitant to try it.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 3:05PM
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The point of hot water isn't necessarily dissolving dried foods. Since the jar lid is often metal, the heating expands the jar lid a bit while not changing the jar glass size so the lid can be turned more easily.

Our granite (actually quartzite) is low porosity so it probably didn't need sealing but the fabricator sealed it. We haven't resealed and it's around 7 years. Drips on the counter are no issue. They wipe up easily with a damp cloth. Leaving a jar on the counter upside down make it easier to get the last bit of stuff out is no problem.

Fruit juice is also no problem on the counter with most granite. Occasionally there are stones sold as granite that have some calcium content so they can etch. That's why it is good to obtain a sample and test for etching by leaving an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar on the sample for an hour or overnight.

The problem with cutting isn't damage to the stone. Granite is very hard so it can dull the knife if you cut on it.

I don't worry about damaging the granite by putting something that is hot but not to hot to hold in my bare hands on it. I try to be more careful about something that is hotter than boiling and make sure to put a pot holder or towel under it. I often bring water to a boil in a mug in the microwave to make tea and move it to the counter to pop the tea infuser in.

If something in glass is very hot, I worry a bit that rapid cooling of part coming in contact with the cool countertop might cause thermal stress in the glass and crack it. For example, when I use a hot water bath for canning, I put a towel between the jars and the granite to avoid thermal shock cracking the glass.

I've never been a jar tapper - it wouldn't be likely to harm the granite (unless you have a stone particularly prone to chipping) but if you hit wrong or two hard you might have a broken jar to deal with.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 3:46PM
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I quit tapping jars when I got a round flat rubber thingie to open them. It's like the waffly shelf liner. It gives you enough grip on the lid that you can open it. Example in the link, although I'm sure you can cut out your own. I also have a piece of the shelf liner material that I use underneath my large wood cutting board that I use for baking so it doesn't slide around on the counter.

I had tile counters for over 25 years. They were basically bullet proof, but the grout just never looked clean except for the day after I scrubbed the hell out of it (white tile, white grout).

No problems with stains or etching on our granite (a medium color). As for hot items, I don't worry about putting something hot on the counter briefly (a few seconds). I'm defining hot as something too hot to hold. I would worry more about a large pan of something dense like lasagna or a large pot of boiling water left a long time. It would have more mass and stay hot a long time, transferring to the stone and possibly causing a problem.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jar gripper

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 4:50PM
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I love the round rubber thingies, Anna! Somehow mine has gone missing, and it's just not something I can ever remember to replace. I've started using a table spoon to pop the edge of a jar, which works most of the time, but still not as great as the rubber do-dad.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 5:06PM
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Wow, lots of great alternatives to can top loosening! thank you! I guess the key is to start forming good habits now since it seems that banging on the countertop is just a bad idea for solid surface.

I didn't realize that granite needed to be tested for etching as well but now I am forewarned. I think that my messy chopping habits are probably a little harder to change than the jar tapping. We do a lot of stir fry, and the veggies are always flying off the chopping board. I would not want a counter where I had to worry about that.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 5:18PM
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One trick to opening lids is I bang the bottom of the jar with the palm of my hand a few times and it takes less effort to open it. Doesn't always work but usually it will make it easier to open.
I have a lot of bad habits I will have to break with my new quartz counter and new hardwood floor. No banging on either surface, wipe floor clean sooner than later, stop dropping dishes on the counter to name a few. I hope I become a more careful cook.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 5:33PM
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I'm in the same boat you're in, re: needing to break bad habits. I've had tile counters for over 20 years, but will be replacing them this summer with quartz. The tile is pretty indestructible for the most part, and I bang jars on it, set hot pots and pans directly from the stove and oven onto it too. Spills from anything don't cause a problem. I've been trying to be aware of what I shouldn't do any more, but 20 years of habit is hard to break quickly.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 7:56PM
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