Comparing A Bunch Of Counter Options (And Picking One!)

We’re inching right along in the kitchen (wish we could share kitchen updates every day but we’re doing this thing real-time). Which brings us to our latest decision: the new counters that we’ll be going with.

We’ve been debating possibilities for weeks (there are a junkload of options out there with pros and cons to each one). And ten people would probably make ten different decisions, so it can feel especially hard to hone in on the “right” thing since there are so many variables. So here’s how we landed on the choice that we like best for our kitchen/family/life. But first the thing we’re sad about: although we had high hopes of DIYing concrete counters (I pinned about a million tutorials) they’re not a good choice for our kitchen. After talking to a few concrete experts (who actually make ’em for a living) we learned that in order to accommodate the double 12″ overhang (on two of the four sides of the giant 3 x 5′ peninsula that we’ll be adding) we would need to pour the slab extra thick, which is an issue because:

  • our cabinets can’t support that amount of weight (they’d need to be reinforced = $$$)
  • our floors aren’t built to support that load anyway (more on that here)

Cue the sad trombone sound effect. We debated doing some sort of concrete “slipcover” (for lack of a better word- some folks just coat another countertop material with a thin layer of concrete) but it ended up having more cons than solid concrete, so we decided to explore a few other options in hopes of finding The One. But we’re diabolically determined (picture me stroking my chin like an evil genius) to mess around with concrete one way or another. Maybe we’ll make a long concrete dining table for an outdoor deck area that we have yet to tell you about/build (it’s on the to-do list, so we’ll hopefully get there eventually). But back to the kitchen…

Once concrete was off the table (or the counters, har-har) we decided that hitting up a bunch of local kitchen shops as well as the usual home improvement guys (like Lowe’s and Home Depot) would be a good way to see what other counter materials were out there… and what they were going to do to our budget. Back when we did our first home’s kitchen we really splurged when it came to the counters (to the tune of $3,700 after a $300-off promotion), but they kind of made our kitchen and we had saved up the money to pay them off right away, so we didn’t regret that choice.

But we definitely went into this kitchen makeover vowing to come in substantially under that number. Which is funny given that we have about twice as much square footage (since we’re adding a big peninsula and this kitchen is a lot larger than our last one). For example, to use the same “pashmina” granite from Home Depot that we used for our last kitchen would cost us over $7,000! Which is just not in the budget. At all.

At first we thought about butcher block (Ikea sells it so affordably and it can be stained to get a richer chocolate look). But with the dark wood counters in the adjoined office (just five steps from the stove and three from the fridge) we decided that would be too much wood. Plus we loved the slick and easy-to-wipe-down surface that granite offered us in our first kitchen. Call us spoiled. But this time we wanted to go with something different (and had heard good things about quartz, solid surface options like Corian, and even cool eco options like recycled glass). So after hitting up a bunch of places, here are all of the samples that we brought home to mull over:

  1. Top left: LG Viatera quartz in “Geneva” found at Lowe’s (note: any of these options are probably available at a number of places)
  2. Bottom left: Caesarstone quartz in “Pebble” found at a local spot called Kitchen & Bath Solutions
  3. Right: Silestone quartz in “River Blanco” found at Kitchen & Bath Solutions

  1. Top left: Cambria quartz in “Torquay” found at Kitchen & Bath Solutions
  2. Bottom left: Cambria quartz in “Sussex” found at Kitchen & Bath Solutions
  3. Top right: Allen & Roth quartz in “Alloy” found at Lowe’s
  4. Bottom right: Cambria quartz in “New Quay” found at Kitchen & Bath Solutions

Oh and here’s a pile of white solid surface options from Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Kitchen & Bath Solutions (the one on top is Glacier White by Corian, and there are other options by LG Hi-Macs and Allen & Roth under it).

We also admired a few awesome eco options like recycled glass but they sadly weren’t in the budget (at least we got cork floors and can reuse almost all of our cabinetry to keep things green).

The one we loved most? This Silestone guy (River Blanco):

But after we learned that it would be over 5K for those counters alone (!!!), we knew it wasn’t meant to be. But don’t cry for me Argentina. It all worked out in the end and we found something that’ll be a great choice for our kitchen/family. The winner? Glacier White Corian:

We’re in love and have all but forgotten the 5K option that we once called a favorite. That’s actually not a white Corian square pictured above, but that bigger white tile was the same color so it represents the new counter better than a tiny Chicklet-sized square sample. Oh and the stainless steel bottle represents our new stainless appliances and the paint swatch is the current wall color so you can see how those things layer in with other things like our backsplash tile and the mocha cork.

Why did it win? So many reasons:

  • It’s thousands cheaper than most other options we priced out ($38 a square foot at Lowe’s – compared to many other options shown above that were in the $80-100 per square foot range). We also have a 10% off “project coupon” that arrived in the mail from Lowe’s and will get 5% off on top of that when we use our Lowe’s credit card (you know we love a deal)
  • John’s sister has lived with Glacier White Corian in her kitchen for the past 5+ years and loves it and has had zero issues (seriously, she wants to marry it)
  • We are keeping our existing deep stainless sink and are not going with an integrated Corian sink (we have heard they can be harder to care for, and John’s sister has a stainless sink with the Corian tops and has loved that combo).
  • It’s easy care (Corian is nonporous, which means stains do not penetrate the surface). According to the company, it also resists the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria (John’s sister has a teen, a tween, a toddler, and a big dog – and she has no scratches or stains to date)
  • We already use trivets and wood cutting boards to set down hot things (we’re paranoid) so following those steps with Corian should be no sweat (John’s sister hasn’t had any issues with that in five years of use either)
  • It’s lighter than granite, quartz, concrete, etc (so our cabinets and floor joists can handle it, no problem)
  • When installed, there are no seams, if done correctly (which is definitely appealing since the seams in our current granite tops drive us bonkers)
  • It reflects lots of light, so it’s great for dark windowless rooms (like our kitchen!)

I know it might sound really bland to do white cabinets with white counters, but many of the rooms that we love in our inspiration files have the white on white look. And given our recent backsplash choice it’ll all hopefully make sense (the gray-green penny tiles will stand out along with colorful items on our open shelves while the counters and cabinets are classic & clean).

We’re also toying with the idea of some sort of subtle color on the cabinets (maybe a soft taupe-gray like this kitchen that we crashed a while back). Not sure where we’ll end up, but we’ll definitely keep ya posted! What about you guys? Has anyone else decided to go with Corian? Or concrete? Or quartz? Or granite? Or butcher block? We’d love to hear which counter you picked for your kitchen! There are so many delicious options out there…

Psst- We announced this week’s giveaway winner. Click here to see if it’s you.

Comments

  1. says

    We have Corian and so many people assume it’s granite! There are so many great options out these days that I don’t think I would do granite even if I could. I love the Eco by Cosentinto counters made from recycled materials, but they are about $80/sq ft. We were thinking of maybe doing that when we replace our cheapo builder grade master counter since it’s much smaller. Plus the recycled mirrors and glass in it are so pretty :)

    • Nina says

      Another thing to consider regarding hot pots and corian countertops (not just sinks). My parents have Corian countertops – my mom put a hot (not right off the flame, but still hot) pot on a trivet, on her countertops and it still cracked the counter. It was a very small crack at first, but over time it’s grown to over a foot long. It’s great that Corian is fixable in these instances, but it’s not cheap to fix. She decided to go with granite this time around…

      You might consider shopping around even more. We got our granite tops for $34/sq ft.

      Sorry to be Debbie Downer :( Just a warning…

    • says

      Thanks for the warning Nina! With John’s sister’s use of them for five years without any problems we’re completely married to our choice! And plan to use a big thick wood cutting board to set down hot things (just like she does). We’ll keep you posted if anything crazy happens though!

      xo,
      s

    • says

      From what I’ve read and seen, most countertops aren’t supposed to have hot pots put directly on to them.

      I do it very occasionally, because our lime green laminate bench tops are definitely not staying, but even then it’s only been for 30 seconds to make room elsewhere, and I’m willing to take the risk because we’ll be replacing them soon enough.

  2. Kate says

    Can you tell us around what the total cost will be? It would be interesting to know the total compared to the other numbers you mentioned. I would love Corian some day since it’s so easy to take care of (though I think we’ll be stuck with our laminate for a while to come).

    • says

      We haven’t had our kitchen measured or anything for it, but maybe around $1200-1500 total (for the L-shaped stove, sink area and the giant 3 x 5′ peninsula and the counter branching off of that by the fridge)? We love a budget breakdown so we’ll share exact figures as we go!

      xo,
      s

  3. says

    Be careful thinking you will get 5% on top of the 10%. Lowe’s has their registers set up to let you do one or the other… just FYI.

    • says

      Hmm, maybe that’s a store by store thing? Ours honored that for the appliances we got and other items we’ve purchased on sale! Every time you use your Lowe’s card it’s an automatic 5% off- and it can be stacked on top of sales (like a 10% coupon) at our store.

      xo,
      s

    • says

      You can’t stack two coupons. For example a 5% coupon and a 10% off coupon. But you can stack the credit card savings at my store. That always automatically comes off at the end, after they scan any coupons and hit the “total” button! Might vary from store to store though…

      xo,
      s

    • says

      i was coming to say the same thing….. they won’t stack a 10% coupon and the 5% lowe’s card… you do get the sale price off and then either the 10% or the 5%… but not both…. now if you have an “in” they can manually do it for you… but the cash registers won’t do it automatically!

    • says

      Hmm, I have to say that I believe this varies by store. We don’t have an in and no one manually does anything. We watch them scan a coupon and the price goes down. Then they hit total and I pay with the Lowe’s card. After it is scanned the total automatically drops down 5% more. It’s in their system so they don’t hit any keys or do anything. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  4. Tiffany says

    The hubby and I are right smack-dab in the middle of our kitchen renovation, and though we haven’t bought it yet, we’ve pretty much decided on laminate countertops from Lowe’s. Budget friendly, and the finishes available can look so much nicer than your traditional laminate.

    • Stephanie Phillips says

      We did the Wilson Art laminate in the Optix (or something similarly-named…) as our temp fix in my kitchen and I LOVE those counters. Love them.

    • says

      We just put Wilson Art laminate countertops in as well a few weeks ago. We LOVE them. They come in so many great colors. It looks like granite until you touch it and realize it’s not. We saved thousands by going with laminate and haven’t looked back.

  5. diana says

    Brilliant! I swear to you, ever since it started, this conversation about the countertops, I wanted to suggest corian, but you were so into concrete, I didn’t want to go against. Concrete is difficult to keep, and, after a while, one gets tired of it’s industrial feeling. A home is a home, not a factory. And corian is GREAT to keep up! Great, great, great! And I love the colour choice, it’s airy and gives a good mood in the morning when running the coffee maker, half asleep.

  6. Lori B. says

    My parents chose Corian when they re-did their kitchen about 10 years ago and it still looks great. So exciting to see everything coming together!

  7. Lisa says

    Congrats on making your decision.

    I have had white Corian for 11yrs. Only con is that newspaper print and any color juice leaves a light stain. I love Clorox 2 for quickly removing any stains.

    Love your progress and your blog!

    • says

      Wahoo! That’s so great to hear! Emily warned us about the colored juice thing (she has a toddler) but says her soft scrub gets it right out! So glad.

      xo,
      s

    • nicole says

      I also have Corian …they were here when we bought the house. Everyone comments on how great they look and I certain they are fairly old. I wanted to say that we LOVE the clorox 2 (spray with bleach) bc it is AMAZING how clean and crisp the counters become. We have the integrated sink and it is super easy to clean…no problems! I have also heard there is a way to buff the counters over time once there becomes little scratches and such…something to look into!

  8. Aly says

    Love love love where this is going! The color palette is so fun and fresh! Quick question – I love the breeziness of white cabinets but have a white(ish) tile floor but tan granite counter tops. Do you think white cabinets would wash out the room? (Surprise Amber by Sherwin Williams paint on the walls) Thanks! :)

    • says

      Hmm, that’s a toughie! Since the floors are white-ish but the counters are tan I think you’d still have enough contrast with the counters (some of our favorite inspiration rooms have two things in the same color, like cabinets and counters or floors and cabinets). I would just bring home swatches to see which whites look best! Good luck!

      xo,
      s

  9. says

    I was hoping to see the concrete (we have it in our kitchen) but I think the corian will be beautiful. Totally excited to be seeing the kitchen reno. For some reason I thought it wouldn’t be for a year or two.
    My old house in Church Hill (we now rent it out) has white counters, white cabinets and a white tile floor. Not what I probably would’ve picked but it looked really nice and allowed for brighter color on the walls.