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. Lindsay B. says

    As an architect we use Corian in almost all of our projects (especially medical spaces) because it is solid surface/impermeable and is easy to keep super clean and germ free. Good choice!

  2. Shannon Clarke says

    We went with butcher block in our kitchen….and LOVE it! Especially how cheap it was (we got it from Ikea) and how easy it was to install. I’ve pined (don’t mind the pun) over butcher block counters for years. We splurged on a farmhouse ceramic sink and I can’t tell you how much I love it.

    I know you said you’re keeping your stainless sink. Have you ever thought of a concrete sink? A neighbour of mine DIY’ed one and it’s fantastic!

  3. says

    Corian- classic choice and totally underestimated! You will lurve it! Its extremely durable and behaves just like stone and the Corian people are the nicest and most helpful around!

    Good call on concrete – the weight and headache that is concrete is just awful compared to the modern day miracles in finishes that look EXACTLY the same and perform much better.

  4. Tana says

    We have concrete countertops and while I like them a lot, I would not do them again. They etch and stain when anything acidic comes into contac with them, which is a lot more common than one might thing (think tomato, citrus, vinegar). They also need grinding, polishing, and sealing about once a year. They are beautiful when polished and clean, but I don’t like the maintenance or care that they take.

    Ours are a deep rich brown and beautiful, but again, not worth the hassle.

  5. Nikki says

    I vote for a subtle color on the bottom cabinets and white on the few top cabinets you install (not sure how you would handle the pantry on that one)…I recall seeing this with open shelving and loving it. I love the choices…it’s going to look great!

  6. Laura says

    Its going to look so pretty!

    We almost went with Blanco River for our kitchen counters but when I really studied it up close I noticed that the grey pattern almost looked a little pixelated in some areas. I figured if it was bothering me on the sample it would surely bother me in huge slabs. I’m sure normal people wouldnt even notice it but I’m a wierdo who notices tiny imperfections! :-)

    I need to send over some pics of our kitchen reno we completed in August – so glad that project is complete!!

  7. Lynnette says

    We had a light tan colored Corian (I think Linen maybe?) in our last house and we LOVED it. Super easy to clean and we didn’t have any issues with scratches or heat. It looked just as good the day we sold the house as it did the day we had it installed. The only thing to be careful with is colored liquids, as others have mentioned, because they do leave a light stain you have to scrub off. But otherwise they were great! I still miss that kitchen…

    Love how your kitchen is coming together. The white with the dark floors is going to be stunning!

  8. Christy says

    I would echo what some others have said about scratches. We have a light tan (called rice paper) in the kitchen and the scratches can only be seen from certain angles. However, we have dark grey (called moss) in the powder room and the scratch revealed a very light color underneath, so it is more obvious. I think Corian sells scratch repair kits…

    Can’t wait to see the finished kitchen!

  9. Louisa T. says

    You know what is so cool about you guys doing your kitchen reno right at this specific time? You’re doing all the work for me! Lol. We are in the planning stages and it has followed that each decision ya’ll make, we are having to make approximately a month later. So keep up the good work and thanks for making my life infinitely easier! Oh, and cannot wait to see how it turns out (your’s….and, well, mine too!).

  10. Alison says

    I grew up with Corian and it was problem free. My mom LOVED it. In fact, she was SO excited when she downsized that the new kitchen had Corian in it too. I think its definitely a great choice! Your kitchen is going to look fabulous!

  11. Christie says

    Pretty! The clean, crisp look is classic and you can change out the accessories anytime you want to change your look. Love it!

  12. Emily says

    I love what you went with!

    however, for future kitchen DIYers to keep in mind, you were a bit mislead about the concrete. by using different (ECO FRIENDLY!) materials you can make concrete that is light enough for older floors and cabinetry. the overhang would have required some reinforcement but not at all difficult.

    I’m not at all trying to sound snarky, I just don’t want any other readers to shy away from it because its such a great material!

    • says

      Thanks for the tips Emily! Perhaps there are other methods that the concrete experts that we chatted with don’t use/aren’t aware of? They were both huuuuge concrete enthusiasts but agreed that it just wasn’t right for our kitchen! Here’s hoping we can build a concrete tabletop someday for our future deck though!

      xo,
      s

  13. Anna says

    My kitchen has corian countertops since I redid it 7 years ago. It’s a soft sand colour and looks flawless. Love it!
    Apart from juice and newspapwers, I managed to stain it with a wet bag of frozen veggies (the colours bleed on the counter). Here in Spain we don’t have soft scrub, but I cleaned it with old mediterranean style olive oil soap.
    The white corian you like is so pretty!

    • says

      Glad to hear that good ol’ mediterranean style olive oil soap worked for ya! I wonder if Dr Bronners or Mrs Meyers will work too! Might have to experiment…

      xo,
      s

  14. elvira says

    We are in the midst of re-doing our kitchen and we got quotes for pashmina granite for around $40/sq foot… but that is working with specialized granite people versus home depot/lowe’s. I found that they are totally overpriced. Can you go on Angie’s list and get other quotes for granite fabricator’s?

  15. says

    We remodeled our 100 year old kitchen a few years back. It still has the original farm sink. We went with soap stone counters to keep an aged look. The fabricator made me sign a release that said that it wasn’t a good kitchen counter choice. I love it. It scratches easily, but I think it blends with the character of the house. It also changes color. If I don’t oil it for awhile it becomes a chalky gray color. When I want it more glossy black, I just have to rub it down with mineral oil. I love your choices so far!