I want laminate countertops, am I crazy?

lam702October 8, 2013

Maybe I am crazy, but I am leaning toward laminate countertops. I've seen a lot of beautiful granites, quartz, marble, solid surface but - I keep leaning toward the high end laminates, for several reasons. I don't want to seal the granite, worry about scratches with solid surface, marble isn't tough enough for my very lived in kitchen. I like the low maintenance of laminate, it seems to hold up really well and the premium Formica and Wilsonart laminates are beautiful. I went to a building supply store and saw a sample kitchen done in Formica fx 180 antique mascarello and that sold me on it. However, it is not cheap to have the sheet laminate installed (I don't want the preformed, seams are too visible). My husband feels for the price of the laminate, we could spend a bit more and get granite or solid surface. Yet, I still prefer the formica. I know the shortcomings of laminate, (that dark edge, can't put hot pots on it), I know as far as resale goes, the laminate is probably not the smart choice, but I still like it and think its best for our lifestyle. Am I crazy or what?

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lori_inthenw_gw

We replaced laminate with laminate. I like the warmth of it and I don't find it hard to take care of, but I guess we are not hard on things. I don't put hot pots down on counters at home or anywhere else. We're switching to quartz in our new house, and I think I will miss the matte finish and the warmth, plus the softer feel and no "clanking" when you set a glass or dish down. I wanted an undermount Silgranit sink this time, which is one of the big motivators. (I admit I'm not crazy about the laminates that try to look like stone-- if I were going that way, I would just get the real thing.) But I don't think it's crazy!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 11:48PM
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EAM44

Well, yes and no. I really think that laminate shines at the low end: white, grey, black. When people are looking for a dark black granite with no movement and no maintenance, I always suggest laminate. None of the high-end faux finishes looks good to me, not even your beloved formica, although it is prettier than most. Contact saskgal and ask her how she likes hers. You can find images and info on the thread below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Formica FX

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 11:52PM
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westsider40

Cj47 has lovely Formica in her large cherry kitchen. Her room has all the bells and whistles in space, design, excellent appliances, etc.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 12:54AM
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snookums2

Design is about what works for you, not about what other people are doing. If it doesn't function as you need it to, then it's not good design.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 1:33AM
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susanlynn2012

They have some new Formica FX patterns that are so pretty. I was going to go with this until I saw the price was not that much less than granite.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 1:41AM
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Texasgal47

Do what feels right for you and your lifestyle. I had matt solid white formica countertops with dark walnut cabinets in my kitchen for 30 years. The house was contemporary, and it looked great. It sold in two days. The achitect, Sarah Susanka, did a kitchen with plain solid black and burnt orange laminate counters in one of her books. The effect was stunning. You should go to houzz and search for kitchens with laminate countertops to check them out.
After having said all of that, because the laminate you are considering is so expensive, I would ask you to consider one of the easier to care for granites. Dakota Mahogany is one of those. I used it for my kitchen remodel. It has tiny speckles throughout with no movement. I have found it as easy to care for as the laminate, no resealing, no polishing. When washing dishes, I also wipe and rinse the counter area used, then dry with a soft cotton towel, that's it. After two years, the counters still look as good as the day they were installed.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 2:34AM
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annkh_nd

We remodeled our kitchen over the summer, and replaced 24-yr-old laminate with quartz. I was all set to get laminate again, but we couldn't find a pattern we liked, and while searching, we fell head over heels in love with a Cambria pattern.

The old laminate was in perfect condition when we tore it out - it wore like iron. But it was butt-ugly. We've lived with the quartz for a month now, and while I LOVE how it looks and feels, I do worry about setting down a stoneware plate too hard and breaking the plate; because it's so smooth, I have to wipe AND dry to counter to prevent streaks, where the laminate was just wipe and go.

I'm with Texasgal - get what you want. Apparently there are even ways to do an undermount sink with laminate, if you so choose. I would certainly not get a granite that I didn't love, just because I felt obligated to do so. If a future owner wants a different counter, they can get it. You are just as likely to choose a granite color that a future buyer doesn't love.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 2:55AM
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a2gemini

I agree - go with what you want - the newer laminates are so much better than the older laminates.

Like Annkh - I learned stone is hard. We have quartz also and I have not cracked anything - but i do have to remember not to "plop".

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 7:30AM
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debrak2008

Personally I don't really like the FX type of laminate. I like the more traditional matte finish. I do like the wild colors and patterns it comes in. The matte finish laminate is not as expensive as the FX type of laminate. If you keep the cost lower then you can change it out if you get tired of it.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 8:04AM
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orcasgramma

You may enjoy a relevant 'design around this' discussion:
http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg1110530014438.html

The focus is on use of laminate counter tops.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 10:54AM
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rosie

I think you're smart, the way only independent minds can be. Good laminate is a quality material. We've all seen laminates that have been in place for literally generations and still look good.

Fortunately for price, the most highly jacked-up prices only apply to the newest patterns. Anyone who doesn't want to pay that can just look at all the others. Sure, most are tacky faux-stone/faux-woods, but there are some prizes, especially including ones that provide a handsome and functional light-to-white counter that can't be done with stone.

Hpny2, I'd shop installers. With 4x8 sheet costs running about $40-300 and nicely sophisticated new looks available @$150, an installation charge that makes stone competitive with laminate is silly.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 11:21AM
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cawaps

I've been a laminate booster ever since that Design Around This thread. The theme of the thread was specifically non-stone patterns--the abstracts and textile patterns, not the faux granite. So you won't find your antique mascarello there.

I don't think anyone should have to apologize for wanting laminate, whether the issue is budget or the patterns or the softer and warmer feel of the material.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 11:30AM
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Holly- Kay

I don't think it is crazy at all. No more crazy than a person liking green more than blue, or apples more than oranges.

I absolutely love the granite we used in our kitchen reno and I am so glad that we used it but I love granite, you like laminate so you should use it. .

As far as resale goes even if you choose granite who's to say that the potential buyers will like the granite you choose. Buy what works for you and let a potential buyer do what they want after they buy. My youngest DD just totally remodeled a house and listed it for sale. It sold in four days and she used a beautiful laminate in the remodel, it didn't effect the sale of the house at all!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 11:41AM
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gabbythecat

I've *always* had laminate and not liked it; the top mount sinks seem really gross - all of the food gunk that must wind up under the edges. ;-( On the other hand, if you're fine with top mount or the undermount solutions (do they really work?), that doesn't have to be an issue. Sealing granite - is it really that big of a task? I guess I'll find out in a few months after we've moved into our house...and aren't there some granites that rarely if ever need sealing?

I have seen some really terrific laminates though; they've really improved in appearance since my mother got her countertops 60 years ago. If that's what you want and like, why not go for it?

I've heard that one of the positives about laminate for resale is that it isn't considered to be permanent the way stone is. So it's easier for the new buyers to replace it if they want...my inlaws had 1950s era laminate in their house, complete with metal counter edges, a top mount sink. Horrible counters (no offense to laminate, either), horrible kitchen. But there was a bidding war on their house. Maybe it's b/c the housing market is so hot though...but laminate doesn't seem to kill resale prospects.

This post was edited by gladys1924 on Wed, Oct 9, 13 at 12:25

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 12:09PM
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KelinMD

I don't know if I'd say "crazy" since it is all personal preference, but it is unusual! I had formica in several houses, and hated it, not only did it look dated but it scratched like crazy and absorbed stains. I have had granite in two kitchen and never sealed it beyond the initial install. I used bleach spray if I felt like it, but mostly a solution of rubbing alcohol to disinfect it after cooking with raw meat. I currently have white formica and I have to spray it with bleach cleaner daily to get out coffee stains, the purple ink from grocery stickers, etc. HATE IT!! Am redoing kitchen and replacing it with some type of natural stone. I just don't like the look of manmade products as much as I do granite or marble. I found granite to be the most easy care of all the counters I've had. I wouldn't shy away from granite due to any concerns about upkeep.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 1:54PM
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mrspete

I replaced butt-ugly laminate with pretty laminate 5-6 years ago, and I regret it. We used the WilsonArt good quality stuff in a nice variegated dark green -- specifically it's something like Mesa Verde (I know, that's a national park, but it's something like that). Now it's chock-full of small scratches, and the most-heavily used portion is considerably worn looking.

In retrospect, I wish we'd gone with something like Corian. Not that that was an option at the time we did it. The difference in price was fairly significant. I won't do laminate again though.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 2:02PM
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killinsnakes

I am going to be going from laminate to new laminate, soon. In this house I bought, the laminate countertop is fine, just a light gray and old that I don't like. I want the wilsonart oiled soapstone. I have always had laminate. I like the ease of it. My parents also have laminate at least 15 years old and it still looks good. Neither of us has stains or visible scratches and both kitchens get heavy use. What the heck are people doing to their countertops that they are getting so scratched and stained? I am not neat or very careful by any means and I've never had any problems with mine. My bids so far have ranged from $1000-1600 for new countertops. I know that is not a lot to some people, but at that price, I won't be switching it out if I get tired of it in a few years. That amount will allow me to take a nice cruise or two a year to someplace fun, along with a pretty, functional kitchen!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 2:24PM
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gabbythecat

Having lived with laminate for so long (I've always had it, my inlaws had it, and my parents did), I'm guessing that I'll have a hard time learning that I won't have to baby my new countertops - remembering that I *can* put a hot pan on granite. It sounds incredibly amazing. But there again, if laminate is what you like, the kitchen police won't come after you.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 3:04PM
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greendesigns_gw

There's nothing wrong with laminate. However, there are a few misconceptions in your post. Not every granite needs sealing, and with the newer sealers, you may not need to seal granite for a long long long time. And when you do, it's maybe a 15 minute chore. It's not even as time consuming or difficult as making risotto!

As for the post form vs. non post form, post form is the only way to get the fancier edges in 180 FX. Wilsonart has come out with an after market applied rounded edge for some of their selections, but no ogee, and WIlsonart isn't Formica.

If you want anything other than a plain flat edge with the black line, then you're in post form territory. Post form is cheaper than custom flat edge as well. Anything that involves custom labor is THE most expensive category. The only counters that are more expensive than the custom flat edge is the ones with the wood trim.

As far as the seams go, any counter that has a lot of movement in it will be awkward to have corners done in it. However, for a 90 corner in post form, if you're willing to buy the large slabs, you can "bookmatch" that seam because of the 5' repeat pattern. That's better than any other seam choice there is in any type of laminate, as it looks the most natural.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 3:27PM
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lori_inthenw_gw

Either there are different kinds of laminate with varying durabilities, or people use their countertops really differently! We had a solid colored matte laminate for maybe 20 years and it still looked pretty darn good when we replaced it! No scratches, no burns, nothing. We use cutting boards and trivets, but I've always done that and probably always will, so I don't consider that special treatment. (On the other hand, I had a friend who built a new house, installed laminate and had her stepdaughter cut a sandwich directly on it in the first week, leaving a big scratch.)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 3:30PM
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Trebruchet

I put 40sf or so of HD laminate in my father-in-law's kitchen for $168.00 material. It looks pretty dang good.

You could change your tops every year and still not catch up to the cost of solid surface, estone, or granite for a decade or so at least.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 3:47PM
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writersblock

>You could change your tops every year and still not catch up to the cost of solid surface, estone, or granite for a decade or so at least.

Maybe that depends on where you are. Yeah, I could do that with HD grab and go, for sure, but in my area Formica 180Fx is about the same as bottom tier granite.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 4:29PM
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lam702

Thanks for all the replies! My current laminate is an ivory/cream shade, and I haven't found a problem with staining. Yes, those bags of bread will leave a big blue stain, but I just spray a bit of Windex on it, let it sit for a moment and its gone. It has only one small nick in it after all these years, and very few scratches. Not bad for 28 yrs of use, and that includes 3 kids abusing it, and a couple of pesky cats who will jump up on it whenever my back is turned! I haven't ruled out other countertops yet, I went to HD today and got a lot of information about the pros and cons of each. By the way, the salesperson did say you should not put hot pots on granite either, because the cold stone coming into contact with the hot pot can cause it to expand rapidly and possibly crack. I would think any rapid temperature changes would not be good for any type of countertop though. I have to give this a lot more thought, there are so many choices its hard to narrow it down. Thanks for all your input!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 5:42PM
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magsnj

Not crazy at all. You'd be crazy if it was your preference and you went with something else b/c it's the "accepted" thing. I don't mind laminate at all when I see it and I've really never seen any that's beaten up either.

Full disclosure: I am irked by laminate that is made to look like something else. It shouldn't look like marble (I don't really like quartz or granite that's supposed to look like marble either.) If you like laminate, embrace it and get a color you like. Don't try to fake something else.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 11:34PM
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zackin

Throwing out one laminate idea that's a little different from the usual --- I have this in my new laundry room and absolutely love it. It looks like brushed aluminum with an edge that looks like shiny stainless steel. I'm actually happier working on this softer surface than I am in my kitchen with it's new granite. As a bonus, it's from Ikea and very inexpensive.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ikea laminate countertop

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 4:47AM
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live_wire_oak

If you're doing DIY laminate, where you do the fabrication and install, then it's a budget material. But, even then, I just quoted someone $1065 for just the post formed blanks, caps, and splashes, needed for the home in the 180 FX with the ogee edge. Fabricated and installed, that was $2496. A basic group A granite with an undermount sink was $3065. That's the apples to apples, installed. Basically $500 more, and you get the undermount sink, which is a huge functional upgrade to the old topmount sinks in laminate. The lowest tier Hanstone was $4100, for the lowest quartz pricing, and that's because you've got to buy whole slabs.

If you prefer laminate over other materials, the fact that it's only $500 cheaper than stone won't make any difference to you. But, if you're about function, then you'll think twice about the functional difference in that $500. An undermount sink is a HUGE gain in a kitchen. And while there are methods to get an undermount in laminate, the ONLY one that I (barely) trust is the one where you use a ring of Corian to mount the sink in and then mount that in the laminate. And if you do that, you've spent more than stone. For something less durable. And something that if you ever want to move, people will view with less value and appeal than even the cheapest stone.

Sure, get what appeals to you, but don't be blind in your research as to the all of the implications of your choice. Pick it with your eyes wide open, and with actual quotes for similar services in hand to be able to compare properly.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 7:44AM
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lam702

Yes, I admit I had no idea laminate would be this expensive. I don't want the preformed counters, although we could install them ourselves and save $ there. But I don't like the seams. I wanted sheet laminate installed and although the sheets are relatively inexpensive, the labor is not. I know its tricky to install and avoid bubbles, so we wanted to hire someone and I understand that anything custom is going to cost. But, if the cost is almost as high as solid surface or stone, it doesn't really make sense I guess. I would not do an undermount sink with laminate, I am skeptical about them getting water into the particle board. Just went to Lowes and they have some great sale prices on solid surface, granite and quartz, some of which were really beautiful. So now I'm not sure about the laminate. We're going to get some estimates on all three types and give it more thought..

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 1:53PM
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debrak2008

Get prices other than at Lowes or HD.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 2:23PM
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mrspete

Killinsnakes -- We're not doing anything outrageous to our laminate -- we use cutting boards and trivets. The worst thing we ever do is slide pans, etc. across the countertop.

I see three specific possibilities on why some laminate holds up better than others:

- Time of installation. I wonder if 15-20 years ago they were installing "the good stuff" and newer stuff is lesser quality. My 5-6 year old stuff is NOT good quality, even though it cost over $2500 (this is why you should not build an oversized kitchen, but that's another topic).

- Color. I have a dark green/black mottled color, and I suspect darker colors are more likely to show small scratches.

- Humidity. I didn't mention this earlier, but my laminate is "separating" at the seam above the dishwasher. I don't know a thing in the world I could do to avoid this issue.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 2:31PM
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writersblock

>Humidity. I didn't mention this earlier, but my laminate is "separating" at the seam above the dishwasher. I don't know a thing in the world I could do to avoid this issue.

Did they put a diffusion barrier in when they installed the counters? That's just a piece of plastic stuck to the underside of the counter over the DW to protect the counters above from steam.

BTW, excellent post live_wire_oak. In my case the 180fx was even closer to the cost of granite. Someone said here once that that depends a lot on whether or not they have a fabrication plant in your state. Evidently there isn't one in FL. I don't know if that's true or not, but it makes sense.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 6:40PM
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mrtulin

I got granite, and it is physically cold to the touch. I don't find resting my bare arm on the counter comfortable. The glossy surface is hard and distracting. I don't want my 30 year old pock marked, stained laminate back. But I don't think a granite counter is the end all, be all. If I had known more, trusted myself more, I might have considered a laminate. Take more time and trust yourself and what you like.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 12:08AM
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Elraes Miller

Fred, I looked at the stainless shelves which were so inexpensive. Is the countertop the same? What material is the actual "stainless" Can you see any seems on the edge? Tried enlarging photos, but still couldn't see the specific details. Thanks

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 9:13AM
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zackin

Technicolor, If you're talking about the Ikea countertop in my laundry room, I don't think it's the same as Ikea stainless steel shelves. However, I'm not sure I know what the shelves look like, because I never really looked for them.

Anyway, the countertop flat surface is a matte gray laminate with very slight, slight texture to look similar to brushed aluminum. It comes with a self-adhesive trim for the edge, which is actually plastic of some kind, but looks exactly like highly polished stainless steel. There's no seam on the edge, just the edge of the stainless-look trim.

The laminate by itself might be a little dull, but the shiny trim on the edge looks very elegant to my eye. It's not for everyone, but for the price, utility and uncommon look, I think it's very good. Very easy to care for and sleek looking.

Freda

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 9:20AM
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happy_grrl

Just wondering....Did you go with laminate? DH & I are in this process now too....I don't like the coldness of granite, and the fact that if I drop a plate it will shatter.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 5:04PM
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dodge1959

Sheeeshh, we've had our granite since 2006.

I'm 71, the wife 69.

Never have we dropped a plate on it, That's a silly reason to go for laminate!!

We love our granite and there are soooo many choices, and in the 7 years we have had it, it never has been sealed.

You are more likely to have somebody put a hot pot on that laminate and ruin it.

Compare the cost of damaged laminate to a broken plate,
NOT EVEN CLOSE!!!!!

Gary

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 8:20PM
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mrspete

In all honesty, I still have all of the 12 plates from the everyday china that I received as wedding gifts 23 years ago. Quality plates are pretty tough creatures. Regardless, they're also still available for sale, so I could buy more.

Nor has anyone in my experience ever set a hot pot on a laminate countertop.

I think this thread is a bit of a "worst case scenario" thought process. Small nicks and scratches -- on your plates or on your countertops -- are much more likely than major damage.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 10:10PM
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cj47_gw

Hi, I'm late to the party but I did laminate in my kitchen. For a little more, I could have gotten bottom of the line granite, but the BOL granite didn't have the look I wanted, and I couldn't afford a granite that did. It was as simple as that, so I chose a laminate that had the look I wanted. Should I ever win the lottery, I'll install soapstone or a dark granite with lots of movement. Until then, this will do nicely. I use my kitchen hard--lots of cooking, lots of baking, and teenagers that like to cook and bake as well. I can see some microscratches in the "command center", where we work the most. We always use cutting boards, trivets, or hot pads. It's only visible if you look at it from the side under good light, so I'm not stressing about it.

Thanks, Westsider for the nice words about my kitchen! :-)

So, no, you're not crazy. If this is what you want, then by all means, this is what you should get. This is your kitchen and it needs to function the way you want it to.

Enjoy the process,

Cj

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 9:48AM
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susanlynn2012

I have almond laminate in my kitchen that is 23 year old with ugly brown seams that not only looks dated but I can't get some seams out and it has a few tiny chips on it. A few years ago when I was going to keep the cabinets and paint the oak laminate kitchen cabinets white, I planned to install Formica FX until I found out the price was close to installing granite! Then I waited and now I want either granite or caesarstone counters with no seam showing on the edge.

I learned that we have to do what we like and feel is best as trying to please everyone and go with resale only if you plan to live there a long time will make you unhappy.

Please let us know what you decide.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 11:04AM
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