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Best Countertop for Messy People

Posted by barlowmom (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 11:32

What is the best countertop material for those of us who are not tidy?

Despite my best efforts, I'm a messy cook. I have small children who like to "help." It is not unusual for spaghetti sauce, drops of soapy water, or juice to sit on my countertop overnight.

Nor do I do monthly or quarterly maintenance. Even if I put handy e-reminders into my calendar and email myself, I won't be oiling countertops.

I currently have laminate and have managed to stain that this past week with Gatorade. Prior homes have had tile (grout, ugh) and wood (stained that too).

Any suggestions? I'm considering serpentine, slate, and walnut butcherblock because at least I could fix that if I stain it.

I don't particularly like granite.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Best Countertop for Messy People

You said you don't like granite but our granite works well for our messy family. It is white diamond aka bianco antico and is sealed. I find dried on spills everyday, coffee, juice, sauce, honey, some who know what this is stuff. It all just wipes off or will with a little scrapping (honey is like glue).


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On your Gatorade - I had inexpensive white laminate for 37 years and everything came out with common household sprays like 409, Simple Green, or Clorox. You might have to let it sit for 5 min., but my stains always came out.


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Thanks suzannesl - we're ripping it out in 2 months for our total renovation, so I'll try the 409 but fortunately it's not the end of the world if it doesn't work.

Learned a lesson, though!

debrak, do you ever seal your granite? I thought that you are supposed to seal it annually.


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Our granite is only 1. 5 years old. We were told to seal it about every 5 years. From what I have seen and heard it is very quick and easy to apply new sealer. I don't know the sealer they used (It was done at the shop) but when I do need to reseal I will call and use the same kind.

We have a dark granite (steel gray) in the bathroom and it is not sealed. It also is easy to clean.

This post was edited by debrak2008 on Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 11:55


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RE: Best Countertop for Messy People

A dark granite like Ubatuba will be your bet bet. Dark granites are the least porous of any of the stones, and Ubatuba is usually a group A choice in price. If your budget is more robust, then look at the engineered quartz materials like Cambria or Silestone.


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I have Cambria quartz. Nice design so that I can't even see the dirt until I rub my hands on it. Love it.


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Same question here: What about red wine, beet juice, Turmeric?
Also, what about a honed black granite? Or white Cambria or Silestone? Can you use bleach on the whites?


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Dried red wine and dried very dark red herbal tea has also cleaned right up for me.


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If you don't want a black counter, you can use a light or white quartz. I have a cream-colored quartz and haven't had any problem with staining. I wipe it with a sponge or a soapy sponge if there's been chicken or a cat on my counter. You're not supposed to use bleach on quartz because of the acrylics, but they do recommend Soft Scrub with Bleach.


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Quartz has worked perfectly for our messy family! No maintenance at all! I think this is the perfect option, even if you like granite it is what I would recommend.


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I consider stainless steel to be the most bullet-proof kitchen surface, if you can work the color/texture into your aesthetic plan. I'd pick it over granite for my messy kitchen, but I'm also not a stone person.


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I'd say soapstone. It's used in high school and college chemistry labs, it doesn't get much messier than that! I don't even think battery acid will touch it.
I've had mine for almost a year of hard use, lots of spills and nothing has affected yet. Zero maintenance other than a damp sponge wipe down.


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You described our family to a 'T' and that's why we went for soapstone.

Yes, there is (optional) oiling or waxing in the beginning, but that tapers off pretty fast.


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Chiming in here with 49 year old white laminate counters. Try a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, that gets anything off mine, restoring them to their previously unblemished white selves, and allowing them to live another day.

Unfortunately.

This post was edited by mudhouse on Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 15:13


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Dark granite works the best. I picked Blue Pearl because I liked the look and was pleasantly surprised to find that it needs no sealing - I've had it for over 10 years and it still looks great. Ubatuba is another good choice.


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We can be messy and that's why we went with Corian (Rain Cloud). We don't put hot pans on the counters - I have never cooked this way - but we like our red wine, olive oil and lemon juice.

Corian is not a popular choice on this board and ours was not inexpensive, but it had the look we were going for and we're still happy with it almost two years later. One criticism of Corian is that it can scratch. Our is a honed finish and we don't see scratches.


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For those of you that chose soapstone, are you using a polished or honed surface? I saw a slab at our kitchen designer's place and scratched it with a fingernail. I don't remember that happening with lab tables in high school, so maybe she just had a soft slab?

Thanks to all! Now I have a list of possibilities for our trip to the stone yard!

If there is anything else out there, please add it on...I'm sure I'm not the only messy one :)


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barlow-I know you are getting rid of it, but baking soda paste. I used that to get food coloring off of my white multi-fleck laminate every year at Easter after dying eggs. :)

We replaced the white multi-fleck with uba tuba and as stated above, bullet proof. Never sealed it. Nothing ever stained it (as far as I could tell). I used a alchohol/water mix spray every once in a while and it shined right up. I have recently seen it honed or brushed. Very different look. Not sure if that does anything to durability then.


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"For those of you that chose soapstone, are you using a polished or honed surface? I saw a slab at our kitchen designer's place and scratched it with a fingernail. I don't remember that happening with lab tables in high school, so maybe she just had a soft slab?"

Architectural soapstone should be harder than 2.5 on a Mohr's scale and shouldn't be scratched that easily. The slabs of Green Mountain's Majestic soapstone found in a fabricator's yard has a smooth 400 grit but should be sanded with 80 grit to get the intended finish. I imagine that is the case with other brands but I'm not certain.


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I was thinking about soapstone but our fabricator has it on display in the showroom, and it has scratches all over…


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I've never heard "honed" and "polished" used to describe soapstone, but it shouldn't be polished and shiny.

I have Church Hill Reserve from Alberene and while it does scratch (easily oiled away) it doesn't scratch with a fingernail. I know because I've used my fingernail to scratch stuff off of it! Some varieties are much harder than others.


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I second stainless steel.


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I'm going to disagree with the stainless steel. I, too, am fairly messy and also fairly lazy when it comes to maintenance chores and constant wiping. My granite counters - Volga Blue (black) in the old house and River White in the new are wonderful and we don't seal them.

I have stainless steel appliances in the new house and it's constant maintenance - wiping the fridge handle daily, wiping the stove down constantly - and you have be careful about what you use - spray only on the towel, not on the appliance. Only rub with the grain. Don't let water dry on it. It's a PITA. I miss the simplicity of my old white appliances.


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Counters and appliances aren't exactly the same thing, though.


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I am a messy cook but also a clean as I go cook. Therefore, my tornado style cooking mishaps don't sit long. That said, I've had both quartz and now soapstone. Both cleaned up very easily. My preference is overwhelmingly the soapstone. I love the function of it's other properties as much as I do the look.


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barlowmom:

Unlike granite, you will not be able to permanently stain a solid surface countertop.


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I need a countertop where I can see the dirt because I'm more likely to clean it. we're currently in an apartment with patterned counter and it is a pain to try to find where the food spills are on it. As for overnight spills take samples home and test it. I've got quartz light solid color but we're not done with the remodel so I haven't used it. Way back when I did research though it seemed like a good option for what you describe.


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I hope we can't stain a solid surface countertop! We do a lot of kid science experiments...mostly intentionally.

The soapstone the KD had was rough and bumpy - it's hard to describe the texture, but if you started sanding it, it would take months to get to the point where 80 grit would be roughening it (and I mean months of full-time work). There were variations of 1/4 inch throughout the surface and I couldn't imagine wiping it clean. You would have to brush it.

If the rest of you have cleaned your soapstone, I have to assume this was just a weird slab.

Although we are planning to stay for the long haul, kitchens in homes for sale here tend to be either totally unremodeled (house priced accordingly) or high end ($100k, granite/quartz/recycled something, Viking ranges, etc.).

We aren't spending half of that, and I'm afraid of making that even more obvious if the solid surface isn't high end. In an emergency sale I would replace the appliances we are keeping with stainless, but I think doing the counters would be harder.


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granite type stone is the most durable material, chose from the harder ones that do not require sealing - do some research. you can put a pot from the stove directly onto granite - as long as there is no seam nearby, but you cannot do this with solid surface 'quartz' coutertops which are made of mostly epoxy with embedded quartz stone chips and other fillers (they will quote you percentage of quartz, but that is by weight, not volume).

soapstone can also handle a hot pot, or an open flame directly on it, for that matter - I know this because I worked in labs in my younger years and we used to torch things on the bench. soapstone will show wear, though, while hard 'granite' will not.


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Could I break soapstone or granite by climbing on it?

No wild parties here, I'm just short and often hop on my laminate counters to reach the top shelf rather than finding a stepstool.

I've minimized the wall cabs in my new layout, but there will still be a few, and I've already caught my 5 year old counter-climbing. At 30 pounds she won't do much damage, but I weigh a bit more :)


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I have soapstone and absolutely love it. It will get a patina with use....little scratches and dings, but despite my "pickiness", it doesn't bother me a bit. It isn't noticeable and just shows that my home is being lived in.

I had a top notch fabricator, which is extremely important! As far as I'm concerned, Creative Soapstone is the best. My soapstone is as smooth as a baby's face. It is completely natural with no shine to it. Soapstone is not a shiny stone. I do oil it when the mood strikes but it is beautiful without it. It's fun to watch the shades change when the oil starts wearing off. It does not need to be sealed since nothing soaks into it. The oil is only to enhance some of the veining and make it look darker for a while.

My soapstone is from a mine in Brazil. I try to buy as much as I can from the U.S. but I needed large slabs and very little soapstone is being mined in the U.S. anymore. What is being mined here are usually smaller stones.

Yes, it hides messes. A little too well sometimes. My husband roasts coffee beans and grinds them fresh every morning. He is not good about wiping up coffee grounds when making coffee (the grinder is messy). I don't see them until I wipe the counters down and they end up on my dishrag. Haven't been able to get him to clean up so I gave up.

Soapstone will not absorb anything so it will never stain. Mustard, tomatoes, grape juice....no problem. I will never need another countertop. I've had laminate and I've had Corian. I briefly considered quartz. While granite can be a beautiful stone, I'm not enamored with it. Since I decided I wanted something "real', soapstone it is.

I don't know the answer to the question of how much weight soapstone can endure. That would be a good question for a soapstone fabricator. I doubt that a toddler would harm it at all unless he or she was beating on it with something, but I would not want an adult on my counter, no matter what material it was made from. I never allowed my children to climb on my counters. They tried but were firmly told it wasn't allowed. Not only is it a bad habit, they risk a nasty fall and severe injury.


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Unlike granite, you will not be able to permanently stain a solid surface countertop.

Barlowmom,

This is some mis-guidance here to you. A dark granite such as a black granite or the ones that have been mentioned above - ubatuba or blue pearl among many others (typically darker ones) - won't stain. Permanently or otherwise. They are far too dense to absorb a liquid, ergo they can't and won't stain. So much so that it is contra-indicated to even attempt to "seal" them as the sealant won't absorb into the stone to seal it and thus forms an (unattractive, imho) film.
Some people speak/write without due knowledge to do so. Oh well, not the first time, won't be the last.

Standing on granite/soapstone. Well, I wouldn't stand on any natural stone. Granite/soapstone/marble etc. are by definition formed under natural conditions where different materials comprise the layers under pressure and during their formation, they are subjected to non-uniform geological phenomena. So there are well likely to be areas of weakness or at least areas of non-uniform adhesion. So if you stand on the layers in your barefeet you might well stress one of these areas. If you really need to do so, suggest using a good plank of wood or plywood etc. and let it span a few cabinet ends over the counter and then stand and operate on that. That should be more than enough to spread the pain out over a good areal spread and thus avoid stressing any one point.


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"...you can put a pot from the stove directly onto granite…"

This is not recommended behavior by the Marble Institute of America, the trade association of the natural stone industry.

I have been called to repair stone tops damaged by heat from pots.


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Can granite break from standing on it? Check out this thread -- fortunately it had a very happy ending!

(happy ending: The neighbor who sat on my granite countertop last Friday.....)

Here is a link that might be useful: Sick to my stomach....corner of granite countertop broken

This post was edited by robotropolis on Mon, Jan 20, 14 at 9:01


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They make fireplaces out of soapstone so it is very heat resistant. Soapstone is a "living finish" which is one of the things that some people don't like about it.

The thing about stainless steel counters vs, appliances is that stainless steel counters are also "living finishes" they will scratch and get patina much like a stainless steel sink. They aren't a delicate vertical surface like the (sometimes thin) stainless on an appliance where every smudge has the potential to be annoying.


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Quartz! Virtually indestructible. Comes in every color imaginable. It costs more than granite, now, but it's worth it.

What I should've gotten instead of granite. The granite is pretty and a natural stone, but it has that pattern, which I find busy, instead of the clean look of Quartz, and has to be babied in ways that Quartz does not. Quartz can look like soapstone or granite or whatever else you want.


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"The soapstone the KD had was rough and bumpy - it's hard to describe the texture, but if you started sanding it, it would take months to get to the point where 80 grit would be roughening it (and I mean months of full-time work). There were variations of 1/4 inch throughout the surface and I couldn't imagine wiping it clean. You would have to brush it."

If you go with soapstone don't get it from there! That's crazy, mine is perfectly level.

I wouldn't let the kids climb on the counter (safety) but I feel perfectly confident climbing on it myself, carefully.


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Another vote for stainless steel! We are also very messy, and this has never been a problem with our stainless steel island counter. It is nothing like the stainless steel on an appliance. You can set hot pans on it, nothing stains it, and if something were stuck to it, you could just scrape it off, because it develops a patina of scratches over time. Standing on it would just be an issue of how thick the plywood underneath is.


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but you cannot do this with solid surface 'quartz' coutertops

I tested Ceasarstone Organic White (going in this week) and hot pots didn't do a bit if damage. I also put hot pots directly on the granite in my previous home (Crema Bordeaux) with no ill effects. I'm not recommending you do so, just that I'm not sure there's any difference between the two.

and has to be babied in ways that Quartz does not.

In what way? I didn't baby my granite at all cleaned it when it was dirty, and sealed it once in 7 years.


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I've got quartzite and I've been really happy with it so far. It's only been a couple of months though! I'd like to think that we're neater than we are but we tend to miss plenty of little drips and if cat hair completes outfits for some my variation of that tale would be coffee. Coffee seems to make its way onto everything own and tends to sit on my countertop unnoticed.

We're very pleased so far. I had wanted something that looked similar to marble but with the sort of characteristics you are looking for!


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10 years now with stainless steel counters. Would not ever do any other. After a weekend with DD2's family, which includes 6,5 and 2, I can tell you it never entered my mind to be the slightest bit concerned. The baby was squatting on the counter barefoot, with his Dad holding him of course. Guests have finger painted on the counter and made all types of messes.

Stainless can be wiped down with alcohol and completely disinfected in 2 minutes.

I've also had white marble which I loved and which was gorgeous. But much more maintenance. I have an absolute black (super hard) granite in our laundry room and it's ok but I must be more careful with greasy things in there whereas in the kitchen I'm never concerned.


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I have Venetan Gold granite, and swear if I couldn't *feel* something that's been spilled, I wouldn't even know it was there. I have to stand back from a distance to make sure I've wiped everything up since spots are hidden so well. As for sealing, I had mine sealed when I moved into my home almost 6 years ago. It doesn't absorb coffee stains, etc., so until I see that happening, don't plan to re-seal. Could be just hype.


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A big issue with quartz from what I've read on this forum is that because it's made with a lot of resin, you sometimes get large blobs of orange on the countertops and the manufacturers claim that this is normal and within tolerances. This may vary by brand and if you're allowed to pick your actual slab may not be an issue. I still think that one of the bullet-proof granites would be your best choice. And no, I would not recommend standing on the granite - you'd be safer getting yourself a step-stool or standing on a chair.


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The baking soda took the stain out - thanks Autumn4!


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Properly installed countertops should easily bear the weight of a person or two standing or sitting, with the exception of cut-out areas.


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I have quartz counters (Caesarstone). They're dark and don't show any spills. I would rather see my spills and clean them up immediately rather than have to discover them through touch or when the light shines just so. I understand that some folks have a higher tolerance of messes and gunk, but I want my kitchen work surface to be clean and fresh, at least when I'm not right in the middle of prep.

I'm about 112 lbs. and do occasionally stand on my counters to reach upper shelves or the space above my uppers. I don't have room to store a step stool and I don't get the right height or angle on one anyway. Sometimes I sit on them when I'm chatting with someone at the peninsula. Mine is an informal kitchen.


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Definitely granite. We have had our Ubta Tuba counters for 14+ years now. I am the first to admit I am a messy cook and baker. Sometimes I leave the clean up til the next morning. No stains, no chips, or cracks, and this is after 14 years of raising a family. Books , backbacks, hot pans and cookie sheets. Replanting flower pots. Anything you can think of and it has landed on these counters. They are indestructible and still look beautiful. They are great for rolling out doughs of any type when baking. I have had Corian and laminate counters in previous homes. Granite wins hands down. NancyLouise


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I have soapstone on the island and love it. My daughter and I have discussed that if we ever sell this house we will remove the soapstone and replace it with granite (or something) when we put the house on the market. That way we can take the soapstone with us. My husband (he calls himself tightwad) would never spring for the extra cost of soapstone again. :)

I have stainless on the perimeter counter and wouldn't hesitate to use it again. I couldn't wait for the "perfectness" to go away and have the patina of old stainless.


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  • Posted by ctycdm 10b/Sunset 24 (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 21, 14 at 10:35

I stood on my soapstone to install my island hood, and still stand on now and then to wipe the hood off, or change a light bulb.
It's 3cm thick, on a 5/8" plywood sub-top.

This post was edited by ctycdm on Tue, Jan 21, 14 at 11:08


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RE: Best Countertop for Messy People

Soapstone. I am a messy cook. I LOVE mine. Beautiful silky texture, so easy to maintain. Will never live without it again.


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