Marble countertop using 16 x 16 tiles.

 
Dear Jim and Roselind,

Paul and I would like to thank you for all your help during our house-finding and building process. You gave us such great advice, tips, and support, and we are very appreciative!

Doris & Paul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Kitchen Counertops for Austin.

 

Valued Clients,

Your kitchen counter makes a strong statement in your home. It is highly visible, tactile, and contributes to the design style of your home. The material you use should be both attractive and able to stand up to cooking greases and stains.

If you are thinking of re-doing your countertop, here is a list of countertops that are popular today.

Thanks ~ Roselind

Here is counertop article from one of my favorite sources - Remodelista.com

Roselind Hejl, Realtor
Coldwell Banker United Realtors
512-327-0385
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Granite

Polished granite is still the most popular surface for countertops.  It is not subject to scratching by pots or knives or etching by cooking acids.  Granite is a very dense stone formed by crystallized minerals extremely high temperatures. 

A housing trend toward modern styling with cleaner lines and simple patterns has led to less busy granite patterns.  Here are several choices in granite finishes:

High Gloss Polished – This is the most reflective and the least porous of the surfaces available.  Fine polishing brings out the depth, color, and pattern in granite.  Each piece has it own natural movement of pattern and color. 

Honed Finish – To create a honed surface, the polishing process is not taken to its full potential.  Rather than a 3,000 grit polished surface, it is taken to a soft sheen 600-grit surface.  The result is a less formal, satin finish.  The surface is more absorptive, so it will show stains easier than a closed-pore polished surface. 

Leather Finish – A leather finish begins with a honed surface; then it is swept with diamond tipped brushes.  The process brings back the color and closes pores on the surface. The result is between polished and honed.  It has more sheen and is less porous than a honed finish.

Flame Finish – To create this surface, blowtorch-strength heat is applied to the granite surface.  This causes some of the granite crystals to explode and shatter, leaving a highly textured surface.  This surface is more suited for exterior paving, rather than for countertops. 

River Washed – To create this surface, the granite is first flamed; then it is wire brushed to smooth out the sharpness of the surface.  The result is a rustic texture with an aged, irregular finish. 

 
Marble
The marble family starts out as sediment from shells and plant matter.  It forms into stone after millions of years under pressure.  These include limestone, travertine, marble, and onyx.  Because its main component is calcium, these stones will react to acids such as vinegar and citrus.  Marble can be used on kitchen counters as long as there is some tolerance for stains and scratches.  The honed finish is better for kitchen countertops, rather than polished.  This is because the softer, less formal appearance will accept wear and tear more naturally.
 
Slate & Soapstone

Some types of slate can be used as a granite alternative.  The Pietra de Cardosa is a grey stone from northern Italy.  This is a granite alternative that does not have a lot of pattern movement.

Soapstone is also a granite alternative.  Since soapstone is impenetrable, it will not stain.  It has been used for years as a work surface in chemistry labs.  The colors are mostly grays and blacks.   

 
Limestone

Limestone is an organic stone similar to marble, but not as hard.  It can be sealed and used for kitchen countertops.  However, there is likely to be some mottling and variations in color over time, as the calcium in the limestone is exposed to acids used in cooking.  

Jerusalem Stone is a dense limestone found in Europe and the Middle East that is used for countertops.  It offers a warm, soft look in creams and earth tone colors.  Since limestone is absorptive, it should be sealed regularly.  Some staining and variations in color is a part of its organic, rustic look. 

 
Engineered Stones

The trend toward cleaner, greener finishes has led to greater use of composite stones.  These are more homogenous in appearance than natural stone slabs.  Engineered stones are about 93% quartz, 7% epoxy, plus resin and color.  The use of crushed quartz results in less waste, so it is a greener choice.  However, cutting and shaping of the material is done by fabricators.  So the cost is about the same as many granites or stone slabs. 

Some familiar names are:

Caesarstone – evokes the look of limestone

Cambria – a mock granite look

Silestone – a very dense, polished surface

Okite – introduces a veined marbled look

 
Tile  

On kitchen counters, tile is scratch and heat resistant.  It offers a wide range of colors and a clean modern look.  Tiles can be cut from stone material or made from fired clay.  Stone and some clay tiles are rectified, meaning that they are cut in precise sizes.  This allows them to be set very close together, keeping the grout joints to a minimum.

Stone and clay tiles can be cut in large sizes, such as 14 x 28.  These are less expensive than slab material, and can be installed by tile setters.  The large sizes and precise sizing results in a countertop that has a smooth look with less grout. 

 
Icestone
IceStone is a slab product made from recycled glass in a cement base.  It offers a clean, modern look with the sparkle of glass.  Because it makes use of recycled glass, it is considered a green choice.  The cost is similar to natural stone slabs. 
 
Concrete
A good fabricator can build a beautiful, soft colored, sealed concrete countertop.  Although it is sealed, the homeowner should expect some mottling and staining over time.  That is a part of the organic look of concrete.  There is a lot of art and craft to making a concrete counter.  A professional fabricator must be able to pour and finish the counter in place.  Although concrete is inexpensive, the labor brings the cost up to that of some stone slabs. 
 
Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is a good fit with today’s chic, contemporary look.  It has been used for years in professional kitchens.  Steel is stain resistant and durable, but does scratch and can be loud.  There are brushed or textured finishes that help camouflage scratches.  And, when attached to a wood under-layer, it is more sound resistant. 
 

Kitchen countertop

 

   
 
     
 
Copyright © 2001 Roselind Hejl, et al. Roselind Hejl's Austin Real Estate Guide