Since moving into our reno, we’ve lived without countertops. We’re going on about three months now and it’s been interesting to say the least. We had no plans of going this long without countertops, but once we started shopping around (something we thought would take one single weekend), we quickly realized there were a few problems we were going to face.
Needless to say, I learned far more than I ever anticipated about countertops in a matter of a few short months. I’m pretty much an expert by now… ok maybe not really, but I feel like it! Here are seven things I learned while shopping around for our kitchen countertops.
1. Sadly, marble really is a bad idea.
For a kitchen at least. At first I thought marble in kitchens were just frowned upon due to their porous surface, but after months of talking to dozens of countertop suppliers, fabricators and industry experts, I came to the conclusion that marble in a kitchen truly is a BAD idea. Even the smallest things can stain (oil for example), not just red wine or Kool-aid. And with young kiddos, I didn’t want to spend their entire childhood worried about staining our countertops. We also have our range built into our island, so the last thing I wanted was to worry about staining our island every time I cooked. No thanks.
2. Even the man-made materials (such a quartz) come in pre-fabricated slabs, not custom sizes.
I never wanted granite (nothing against the stone, just not my style), so I thought I would simply install a man-made quartz that looked like marble. I assumed that since it was a man-made material, that it could be fabricated into whatever slab size you needed. Well, that’s not how it works. They come in 2 slab sizes. The standard is 120×56 and now some quartz brands carry a jumbo slab, which is about 129×65. Sadly neither of these sizes were deep enough for our island. More on this in my next point.
3. Don’t build your island too big if you don’t want a seam.
Unfortunately when I was designing my kitchen, I wasn’t thinking about slab sizes for our countertops. This mistake caused some HUGE headaches for us later down the road. Sure, granite and marble come in larger slabs, but we were (at first) only interested in a man-made product that looked like marble (since marble wasn’t a smart choice). And granite wasn’t something we were interested in either, so a man-made (marble look-a-like) quartz was our first choice.
Well… Our island was three inches too large… THREE inches! If we would have just made our island three inches smaller, we could have ordered one jumbo-sized quartz slab and have been done with it. What lesson did I learn? If you want a man-made countertop like a quartz, know the slab size FIRST and then design your island.
4. Quartz and Quartzite aren’t the same.
During my research, I started seeing “quartzite” listed on many websites. At first, I assumed it was the same as Quartz since their names sound so similar. Turns out they are very different. Quartz is a man-made product and Quartzite is a natural stone that is typically a very hard stone. Sometimes Quartzite is even categorized as a granite in some stone yards due to its hardness.
What’s the best part about Quartzite? It comes in colors and characteristics that are similar to marble! But keep reading if you’re looking to purchase one of these beautiful white Quartzites…
5. There’s a HUGE difference between the light-colored Quartzite and dark-colored Quartzite.
The dark-colored Quartzite is an extremely hard stone, but some of the lighter-colored Quartzites are actually just as soft as marble. Of course! It sounded too good to be true, right? Well don’t worry, there are a few white Quartzites that are hard, too. One of them is the stone I chose, which is called Aria. (seen below)
I also really loved White Macaubas, which is another light-colored hard Quartzite. As long as the Quartzite is labeled as a “hard” Quartzite, that means it just about as hard as granite.
Both of the above examples are “hard” Quartzites.
6. White-colored granite does exist.
(above photo is River White)
If you don’t care about the grey, wispy veining of marble, but do want a lighter-colored countertop, granite just might be the way to go. There are a handful of white/cream colored granites out there. Some of my favorites were River White and Snow White.
7. Sometimes slabs are mislabeled.
During our search, we sometimes got confused about what the materials actually were that we were looking at. For example, some quartzite stones are listed as marble, but are actually soft Quartzites. And what was even more confusing was many hard Quartzites are listed as granite! I think this is maybe just an easier way to categorize based on the softness or hardness of the stone – I’m not 100% sure. But either way, it was pretty annoying. I walked many stone yards and skipped the granite isle because I knew I didn’t want granite. Well, turns out there were probably some times where a beautiful light-colored “hard” Quartzite could have been waiting for me. Long story short, make sure to walk every isle, WITH an employee from the stone yard, and ask a LOT of questions.
So have you learned a few things today? I hope all of my “lessons learned” will in-turn help you guys out when you’re shopping around for countertops. To see more from our renovation, you can view my #RyanPlaceReno feed (here) or follow me on instagram to see more up-to-date sneak peeks.