Please help with Countertop - 2 choices!

thepeppermintleafJune 30, 2014

OK...We have it narrowed down to 2 countertop/sink options, they are...

Option 1: Wilsonart High Definition Laminate in "Carrara Santorini", a whitish/gray laminate with texture- with a crescent edge. Sinks: Elkay stainless steel thin rim sinks. (Pros: cheaper option, I would be happy w/ the sinks even though they are overmount, should hold up for a very long time, if I do end up hating the white it would be easier to replace in 15 years since we would have spent less $ upfront, was really planning for white/gray countertops through the entire planning stage. Cons: The corners would be sharper since I don't like the look of angled corners, overmount sinks would break up counters, I really wanted silgranit sinks)

Option 2: Uba Tuba Gold Granite- with undermount Blanco Silgranit sinks in anthracite. The slabs are a dark black/green with lots of gold flecks. (Pros-looks lovely w/ our cabinets and flooring (took samples w/ us to granite yard), corners will be less pointy, should hide dirt pretty well, can do undermount sinks- silgranit!, can set hot pots/pans on Cons: 3 grand more than the laminate, not sure if I am sold on the dark color, not sure if it would match w/ our stainless steel appliances b/c of the gold flecks)

I have been going over the different pros/cons to each option, but really I think it comes down to color since I believe both would function well. Do I want the whitish countertop or the dark countertop? I feel like the white would give it a more open/fresh look while the dark would make it more rustic...What would you guys choose? Or what did you choose?

Here are some pics of the kitchen, pics of the 2 options, and some inspiration photos....

The kitchen right now:

Sketchup w/ white laminate option:

Picture of the laminate in a kitchen:

Sketchup of the dark granite option:

Uba Tuba Gold Slab that we liked.

Up close (of course it's hard to really tell in this picture)

2 of my original inspiration photos for white countertops w/ hickory cabinets...

An inspiration photo for uba tuba granite shared in a different thread (thank you!)

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Do you get a good amount of natural light from that window? I really like the lighter color in that inspiration photo you posted. But like you said, the rustic look is also pretty great. I would imagine it comes down to what you're going for...

That said, I have always liked real stone over laminate, though I've heard the new stuff is pretty great. Uba-Tuba probably the most popular (if not close to most popular). Sounds to me like you're already leaning toward granite as it is, at least the way the post is written.

Good luck with the decision. My vote goes to real stone...

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 11:19PM
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You've got some high end pieces in your kitchen - love the range. I would go with the stone. You could find a low cost lighter granite if you like the brighter look.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 11:33PM
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Thanks! The kitchen window is a north window, but it lets a lot of indirect light in. Across the room from the kitchen, is a large south facing window which also lets a lot of light into the room...

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 12:09AM
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I have verde peacock granite with natural cherry cabinets,a Silgranite anthracite sink and stainless steel appliances. As you probably know Verde peacock is very simliar to Uba Tuba. My granite has gold flecks in it too. In fact I looked at several stone yards to find one that had a nice amount of gold flecks in it. The gold flecks really compliment lighter wood tone cabinets. IMO the gold flecks are not a problem at all with stainless appliances.

I previously had a drop in sink and couldn't wait to get an undermount. And like many on this forum, I love my silgranite sink. I do think that the dark counters add richness and warmth to my space and would do so too in your space. I do have to be honest though and say you will probably see water spots on the Uba Tuba like I see on my verde peacock.The counters clean up easily with glass cleaner. I think the trade off of having the counters be bullet proof to stains and hot pans is worth having to wipe off some water spots.
You kitchen is going to be beautiful with either of your choices. I am jealous of all the space you have. My kitchen is only 11x12.
I have posted my kitchen picture way to many times but here it is once more in case seeing it can help you make a decision.

Even though it is a nighttime shot, this picture might help you see how the counter looks with stainless appliances.

Can't wait to see what you decide.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 12:32AM
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What do you have planned for your backsplash?

Think both of your choices are good. The Wilsonart crescent edge looks pretty rounded. Have you considered a lighter color granite?

BTW - love your design for microwave! Wish I thought of that.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 1:11AM
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Another vote for the granite. Either will look lovely in your space so you can't go wrong.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 1:22AM
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examples of price level 1 granites

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 1:35AM
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to really tempt you.... Danby honed - price level 1

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 1:53AM
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I like the lighter counters with your cabinets.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 6:13AM
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As having a recent experience with a kitchen redo and starting out with Wilsonart laminate and my contractor doing a very poor job with the edges making them not usable and then going with granite I can only say there is no comparison and go with granite. I am not saying this would happen to you, just sharing how happy I am with granite, and I never planned on using it.

The new laminate patterns are beautiful, I had it for years but there are so many nice granites patterns and colors if you have the time and patience to shop for them. If it is in your budget you can get exactly what you want and you won't be sorry. Laminate can be nice but the labor brings the cost almost to what granite could be.

I would say to pay more attention to the material choice first and then take your time looking at the many beautiful granite choices out there and going with something light. Try the trash bag method of laying out black trash bags neatly on the counter tops and live with it overnight and see how the dark affects the space.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 6:32AM
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Badgergal- thank you! Your kitchen is gorgeous!! And it is nice to heart that the gold flecks don’t clash with the stainless steel. Thank you for sharing the pics! I would be super happy if our kitchen turned out like yours :-)

Mdln- I was hoping to do a light colored 2x4 tile w/ either blue or green tint. We saw some ming green marble tiles at the tile store, but I was going to wait until we finished the countertop until I brought home samples. I was actually hoping to find a light colored granite that was an A, B, or C (the granite supplier we went to rates prices A-Z), but the lighter colors had a lot going on and had lots of red in them. The uba tuba gold was the only one we both liked that was reasonably priced (B). The company does have a larger selection at another warehouse, I could call and see what they have. We also need a slab that’s at least 126” long (part of the selection process too). Unfortunately they don’t have all the options that I’ve seen on other granite websites. I don’t remember seeing Danby there…but the marbles seemed to be only in shorter slabs and more $$$.

Poohpup- thank you!! It’s nice to be reassured that either will look nice- why still the agonizing decision making then? Haha I’m sure others can relate :-)

Sas95- Thankyou! I would have to agree, I still would really prefer the light color…

Tinker1121- I can imagine how frustrating that was having the edges get messed up! I would be so disappointed if that happened! Your advice is so good- if I had to choose material first I would choose granite, ideally in the light color like you suggested- maybe we should try checking out the other granite warehouse. We live in Western PA and I haven’t been able to find much selection for the lighter granites in the more affordable price range… What a great idea with the black trash bags!! I think I will go pick some up and do as you suggested- I had never heard that idea before! That would be a great way to see how the dark looks in the actual space…

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 7:18AM
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Here is a pic of our recent countertop install to show another example of light counters instead of dark. We have natural cherry cabinets and went with Corian. I am really happy we went with bright/light vs dark/rich. In my kitchen at least, the cabinets provide the warmth and the light counters just brought so much light to the room...we love it!!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 7:59AM
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another vote for granite

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 8:24AM
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I really prefer your kitchen design with the light countertop. It is bright, it is cheerful, it is fresh, it makes the tile shine.

I think the non-business of the laminate you selected makes it very versatile and it will be fun to pick a backsplash tile without having to contend with countertop that creates challenges.

I am not the kind of person who think that you 'must' have stone. I like laminate, it is very functional. I also like Corian. You could do a Corian countertop and an undermount sink. If you really want an undermount sink have you looked at solid surface or manmade quartz composites, eg Silestone, Cambria?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 8:46AM
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Here is another vote for the lighter countertop but I would go for the stone. That honed Danby is gorgeous!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 8:57AM
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I like the lighter option. I think it would give your kitchen a really fresh and bright look. Your inspiration pic with the 3 pendants is gorgeous!

There is nothing wrong with laminate. I would rather get the look I am going for with laminate than to settle for a stone I don't love just to have granite.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 9:15AM
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I prefer a lighter option. I have a dark counter and, while the overall look is very nice, I would prefer working on and cleaning a light counter. I have no opinion on good laminates these days. I just haven't seen any, but many knowledgeable and design-savvy people on GW recommend them.

It does look like you've invested wisely in your kitchen thus far. It's quite lovely. I think it deserves stone, but something lighter than Uba Tuba. I had no idea that Danby was among the lower priced stones. I don't think there's any more beautiful marble than Danby. That's what I would be looking at, honed Danby. Heart be still.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 10:07AM
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Your floor is equally as dominant as the hickory, and with tiled floors in general, it's important that floor and counter work together. I don't think the white laminate or any white and gray marble/marble wannabe countertop will work with your flooring. Too stark and cool against the warm gold in the floor. You need to go a little creamier. Or pick a gray from the flooring.

Black looks good with the floor. The gold flecks don't matter with SS. However, my sister has a black granite and she can't wipe it with a wet sponge because it leaves water streaks. Drives her crazy not to be able to wipe up water around the sink. I know there are some black granites that don't streak.

I do like lighter countertops with wood because it's a little more contemporary. I have cream colored quartz on natural cherry and porcelain floor tile with gold and light gray tones. The white quartz and granite samples we brought home were very harsh against the warmer tones in our home.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 10:34AM
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I like the light color, and I'm a fan of laminate. I have Travertine laminate with a beveled edge, and some of it goes around a curve. People assume it's granite, but that doesn't matter to me. I love the look.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 10:37AM
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Not sure what your budget is but for what it's worth I got three estimates from a Kitchen store as no clue what pricing would be. For my 35 sf of counters:

Laminate $1650 (installed and removal of old counters $250)
Granite - paid $2650 for my Absolute Cream granite (not the lowest category but a step up)
Cambria Quartz- $3200 (loved the Preston but could not substantiate the cost in our modest home).

Granite stretched the budget but so glad we did it and tile bs looks much nicer with stone.

No offense to laminate but again, stone with an undermount sink makes me smile all the while I am in my redone kitchen!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 10:57AM
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Dcward89- beautiful kitchen!! I really do love how the lighter countertop makes your space so bright and cheery. Thank you for sharing :-)

Localeater- Thanks for your input! I really like the light countertop too :-) I do like the laminate option too, especially since they are so affordable. We got a quote for solid surface and it was a lot more than the granite quote! Kind of crazy…

Greenhaven- I’m not sure if I can get the danby in my area, I’ll look for it!

Lmccarly- I think I would be happy w/ the laminate too. Another option could be Kashmir white- the granite place we went last week didn’t have it…

Linelle- thanks for the help! Some others mentioned that the darker coutners are harder to keep clean- I never would have thought about that!

May_flowers- I should have brought home a sample of the uba tuba to check for streaking! (Although I don’t even know if they have samples). I think you’re right about the lighter color feeling more contemporary…maybe if I could find a white w/ cream/gray that would be the best of both worlds..

Alisande- Thank you! I don’t care if people think we have granite or not either. I think most of my decision will be based on light vs. dark…

Tinker1121- Yes!! I would love to be able to get my silgranit undermount sink- which is why we started looking into the granite :-) I think the granite in my area is a little more expensive (or the laminate guy is really reasonable!) Our quotes were (for 90sf) 1700 laminate, 4700 granite uba tuba, 8,000(!!) solid surface formica.

Thanks EVERYONE so much for all the help so far! I would have to say I am leaning towards the light countertop still. There is one supplier who has some Kashmir White Granite slabs (and I’ll check to see if they have Danby) that I will go look at- and see how much they cost! I will also get some black garbage bags to put on the counters to see if the dark color would make me happy. I’m sure the uba tuba would be beautiful, I’m just not quite sure it’s what I’m going for…decisions, decisions!! Keep the suggestions coming :-)

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 11:08AM
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We're just finalising our kitchen and the colour options we're going with are : Beige floor tiles, Light coloured cabinets (yet to be decided exactly what colour), brown-with-dark gray flecks granite countertops , beige backsplash.

As your floor is light-ish, and the cabinets wooden coloured, I'd lean towards the light countertops. Maybe a lighter shade granite rather than white/ off white would work. Whatever you choose, your kitchen will look lovely :-)

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 1:37PM
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I LOVE the look of many of the kitchens with striking dark countertops. But having just replaced a black granite with a lighter Typhoon Bordeaux, I know that I personally will never willingly have a dark counter surface again. The black showed every crumb, waterspot and streak. The lighter color is positively liberating.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 1:51PM
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Pepper, I don't know that dark counters are harder to keep clean, but you can't see anything on them to know they need cleaning. That might sound like heaven to people who don't like cleaning, but most people want a very clean counter top. I can spill all kinds of things and it doesn't show. Then it dries and when I rub my hands over them, I'm all ewwww, how did I miss that? Plus, it's a background you will be working on. Think about reading text on dark paper. It might be a great look, but it gets very tiring.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 1:57PM
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I vote for Option 1.

I don't particularly care for granite any longer, and really not a fan of Uba Tuba. Where I live, granite is more common in basic homes than laminate anymore so your Wilsonart would actually be distinctive.

I think the lighter countertop looks great in those sample pics you provided--and it's of course the shade of counter that we are going with in our reno, ha.

Nothing will beat the price of Laminate; you could switch it out later without burning too much money. We are going with Corian which we are in love with, though I know the price is not comparable to what you are considering.

Check out the Karran Edge series sinks--you don't have to do an overmount in Laminate with these...very slick.

This post was edited by ChrisInSD on Tue, Jul 1, 14 at 18:45

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 6:36PM
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I just ran across this picture on houzz. It is a good snapshot of the darker counter (these look to be soapstone-like laminate, however, not uba tuba, but the general darkness is similar) with hickory and floor very similar to yours color-tone-wise. To help you visualize. : )

I think this room reads darker than yours would because it has the wood ceilings and less direct light from windows, and the walls are painted medium grey.

Here is a link that might be useful: link to more pictures of this kitchen on Houzz

This post was edited by beautybutdebtfree on Tue, Jul 1, 14 at 21:21

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 9:13PM
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Another picture of this kitchen, a better one.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 9:20PM
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My old kitchen had a black speckled laminate and I really liked it (until DD set a hot pot on it and it bubbled), but this time I chose a light Wilsonart solid surface and I love it. I prefer the light counter in your kitchen to the dark, fwiw.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 9:30PM
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Thanks beautybutdebtfree! That kitchen is pretty, and I noticed the stainless steel appliances also reflect a lot of light helping to make it brighter...

I just put a combination of plastic table clothes/garbage bags on the counters to compare dark vs. light (of course the real granite is a dark black/green w/ gold flecks and the laminate is whitish/gray and has texture)- but just to get the general idea. Honestly, I do like them both...

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 10:21PM
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Both are good options. The lighter laminate will pull your look toward contemporary and lend a crispness, whereas the darker stone will add richness, a pull toward rustic, and a punch of drama. So it depends partly on which of these you prefer, and also which sort of surface you like to work on - light or dark.

I recently went from lighter laminate to uba tuba and LOVE it. There is a richness and lustrous quality to stone that is just flat in laminate. I don't mind a dark surface at all and it's very easy care. The only difference is I run a dry towel after I wipe wet, but that is no big deal. The uba tuba reads textured but not really movement, so it has visual interest but blends in as an element and does not compete with other things. It is also bomb proof and worry free.

We haven't seen the other rooms to know what overall sort of look and feel your other spaces have, so that might influence which direction to take your counter choice, as well.

You will have a beautiful result with either choice, a good position to be in!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 11:16PM
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I'm still stuck on the Crescent edge. The problem with that shape is purely functional - drips tend to follow the curve all the way around and drip down the face of the cabinets. When there is an "end" to the curve like the Cascade, the drips fall on the floor. Now I know that none of us ever let the drippy stuff get away (hah!), but just in case....

P.S. I *love* having an undermount sink. Our countertop choice was very much influenced by wanting one and I'm so glad we did. I vaguely recall that there is a way to have a laminate top and an undermount sink. You might try doing a search on that.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 6:34AM
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Your inspiration picture with the light countertops is gorgeous! That said, I think the dark countertops would work very well in your space with the flooring, height of the room, overall openness and lighting. Depending on what you do with the backsplash, the dark countertops could come off as more rustic or not as much.

What is your style throughout the rest of the house? Do you think one look goes better with the rest of your house than another?

FWIW - the countertop decision has been the hardest part of our remodel so far for us! Good luck - it will be gorgeous whichever you choose!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 8:08AM
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I think the black is better with the hickory and the floor. Agree with spartans' points about the space-- the room is large enough that the black countertop won't have any bearing on the light in the room. If I wanted white countertops, I would have stuck to the inspiration pic and used a cream colored floor.

Someone posted about combining laminate with your pro range and hood, and I think that's an important point. Mixing very high end materials with low end isn't usually a successful strategy. It may look like you blew your budget on the range. I think using a natural material for the backsplash and butting it up to laminate will be another problem.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 9:38AM
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Thank you everyone for all the help!! We have 90% decided to go w/ the darker option #2- the uba tuba granite w/ anthracite silgranit sinks. Everyone's opinions and advice/photos really helped out a lot! It was especially helpful to lay out the plastic and see what the colors looked like- the black does seem to tie together all the appliances really well, and doesn't seem to be too dark in the space at all. And I get undermount sinks! :-) With the light, the white window pops out and becomes more noticeable, which I didn't think of before. Laying it out really helped DH too- he definitely likes the dark best!

Here's the room layout for those wondering (the fireplace is huge, but was the only design that really worked w/ the 2 very large beam support pillars there)

Thanks again! I will share the backsplash choices when we get that far :-)

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 11:49PM
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Ooooo! With your giant fireplace, the rustic pull of the Uba Tuba will be terrific! See if there is a place on the fireplace to put a slab of Uba Tuba, too, to tie it in! A mantle, mantle shelf, opening surround, etc. That would really make your open space coordinate well, and Uba Tuba is so neutral you can do any decor around it, too. You are going to have a very lovely home.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 7:23AM
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I like laminate, and I chose your #1 option for my master bath. However, when you did the trash bag test, I thought the dark counters looked amazing with your cabinets and floors, so I vote dark. Formica 180x has Jet Sequoia and Black Fossilstone, which is honed and pretty cool looking.

You can have a silgranite sink with laminate that is topmount. Blanco has some that can go either way.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 9:31AM
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It will look great! I was also thinking that the large slab of laminate might not look good on the island. You usually see laminate on modest-sized kitchens.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 9:39AM
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Have you decided if you are going with a polished finish or a honed finish? I like the dark garbage bags better than the white garbage bags in your kitchen. I am not sure if I'd like shinny though. Maybe you posted about finishes above. I'd maybe want a honed finish.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 12:05PM
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I usually like white kitchens, white counters. However, I feel that with your cabinets, which have variegated grain and colors, a dark, ideally not shiny surface would look better. It's a rustic/sophisticated/organic look, and I think an organic, i.e. natural countertop, should go with it. You have plenty of light, upper glass cabs, reflective SS.

I actually think that the two inspiration kitchens would look better with dark counters, too.

Here is a link that might be useful: previous discussion of hickory and dark/light counters

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 12:46PM
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Such beautiful cabinets, I love the richness of the wood. I think either would look lovely, I would have a hard time choosing myself. We have light maple cabinets, I went with a darker countertop simply because my old kitchen had dark wood cabinets and light counters, I was tired of it and wanted a change. I am happy with my choice. The darker counters do show wipe marks though. And, although my kitchen has a decent amount of light, we installed under cabinet lighting to brighten it up a bit more, but that is probably only because it was such a big change from my old, almond color counters. Regarding laminate and hot pots, yes it will ruin the surface, but I don't think you are supposed to put hot pots on granite, quartz or corian either.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 2:12PM
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Hello, All, and Help! I'm newly registered, though I've been reading this glorious thread for ages. I have 3 slabs from 3 blocks picked out (2 suppliers)--the whitest and most beautiful has repairs of what I think are called fissures since they go through the block to all the slabs, and I've chosen the slab with the best repairs--the next whitest slab, from a different block, also has repairs of (fissures?--all slabs in block), but fewer than the one from the first block, and the grayest one has no fissures or cracks that I can see.

All slabs have been treated with resin, which the salespeople at the stone yards tell me is standard. They also say the danger of fissures is to the fabricator, who has to take special care, and that once the counters are installed, there's no difference between those with repairs and those with no defects to begin with.
The prettiest has the most repairs, and I can live with them if they won't affect the health of the counter, because the stone is so nice and white. But beauty isn't necessarily everything. Any advice, please?? All three slabs are on hold till July 9.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 10:44PM
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Serendipitydoo-I think you should start a new post, something like, "Stone Experts, I need your advice" & include what type of stone slabs you are looking at. Also, if you have any pictures that would be helpful.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 11:56PM
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I agree with Romy.

But...fissures are the weak points in the stone where it can easily crack or chip with a little heat or impact. I would be very wary of this.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 3:01AM
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Sorry for the late response! We have a lot of family visiting for the holiday and I couldn’t get to a computer…

Beautybutdebtfree- Good idea!! We will probably use the uba tuba for the fireplace hearth and surround, and possibly mantel too. Hopefully it will coordinate well w/ the kitchen. Thank you!

Skyangel23- Thanks :-) I have been looking at the black trash bags a lot, just walking through the kitchen and really like the look :-) I did order a bunch of light and dark samples from wilsonart and formica but don’t remember if I got any of the 180x series. I thought of doing the silgranit overmounts, but they didn’t a large single bowl for our island sink. :-) Just the diamond series which had the curved back side and offset faucet hole…

May_flowers - Thanks! I hope so :-) We have until Tuesday to decide for sure :-)

Enduring- The slabs we tagged were polished- not sure if they can change that in the fabricating process/or if there’s an upcharge (probably)? I haven’t looked into the benefits/downsides of those- will look it up on here. :-) Whenever I think there couldn’t possibly be any more choices, there are haha.

Nosoccermom- I love the adjectives you used- a combination of rustic, sophisticated, and organic is definitely what I’m going for :-) Hope to find a good balance! Thanks for the link too- I’ll check it out :-)

Hyny2- It is good to know about the wipe marks and have that expectation going in! Thanks! I usually use hot pads (we have laminate now), but I had heard hot pots don’t damage granite too much- but it will be better to be safe than sorry! Will definitely use hot pads- thanks!

Serindipitypoo- Sorry I can’t help too much w/ this!! I too don’t know what I am doing! If you start a new thread more people might see and be able to offer advice- if you go to the main gardenweb kitchen page, scroll to the bottom and you will see the new post form.

Thank you again everyone for such thoughtful help and suggestions! If anyone has an example of a honed vs. polished uba tuba countertop I would love to see it!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 12:07AM
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I think I would have to do both! Do one on the perimeter and the other on the island. Can you mock that up? I can never make up my mind and often have to compromise and do a combination so I feel satisfied that no counter was left behind!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 8:05AM
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