The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Questions about counter tops??

Eli's picture
Eli

Questions about counter tops??

I am considering new countertops. Does anyone use maple or a hardwood? I am investigating finished cement and the granite and maybe a small work station of marble or wood. Any thoughts or experience would be appreciated.

Eli

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Eli,

You'll get lots of opinions on this topic!  We opted for soapstone this spring, as shown here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/7624/updated-kitchen-photos.  We really like the whole look and feel, and it is very serviceable.

Paul

LindyD's picture
LindyD

There's been a lot of publicity of late about granite emitting radon.   If you go that route, be sure to have the granite you chose tested first. 

Kuret's picture
Kuret

Yes granite is mildly radioactive but as a person coming from a country largely consisting of granite bedrock I can say for sure that it won´t kill you or your cat. In Bohuslan here in sweden the levels of radioactivity are reather high by international standards but that does not stop people there from reaching 90 or even 100 years of age, so dont fay away from granite! Its a great and good looking kind of stone!

ackPom's picture
ackPom

Hello, I am new to your forum (I've been lurking for a little while). Granite does not like too much heat, not that most kitchens are going to generate enough to actually harm it, but even so soapstone is a far better choice. It can be sanded if it gets scratched deeply and then oiled with mineral oil. The stuff is just plain beautiful as well. My personal preference would be maple (I'm a woodworker). With proper care it will last many lifetimes. Years ago the plastics industry quoted "a study" that found that wooden cutting boards and counter tops were unsanitary. This turned out to be complete rubbish, no such study ever found any such thing. In fact, the tannic acid in wood actually inhibits the growth of bacteria. I'll bet they sold a lot of Delrin sheet though. Cheers

Eli's picture
Eli

I am still researching so, yes, I am indecisive. However, at this time I am going to lean toward the wood (maple) counters. I have much more research to do.

Thanks again!

Eli

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

Just a couple comments. We bought a house with a kitchen already "mostly" done. It needed more counter space, so we added a kitchen island instead of making it an eat in kitchen. (I find eat in kitchens were the dining room is like TWO FEET away so silly).

Anyway, my kitchen already had granite countertops and I LOVE them. It's great for times I'm working with chilled cookie dough or something that needs to keep cool. It cleans easily and is just great. I have no experience with soapstone, but it would be probably as good or better.

Then, on the island, we made it a maple countertop. If I were to do it again, I probably wouldn't. Not that I don't LOVE wood, but it's too high maintenance for me. I have to CONSTANTLY oil it and since I keep my porcelain canisters on it (and there are 8 of them), it's a pain because I have to keep removing everything. I also bake cakes and like a month into getting it some orange food coloring spilled on it and though faded, 4 years later, it's still there. I have a crack where I didn't oil it enough. And, if I do oil it as often as needed, I can't put papers or books or other things on there without them getting slightly oil stained.

Maybe I'm doing it all wrong, but I would have preferred a different surface hindsight, or at least one SMALLER in area and not the entire 3x6 foot counter being wood.

Melissa

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I just went through the process of researching/deciding/getting new countertops.Here is a synopsis:

Laminate-great choice but not "in" right now.Many stone-like choices and edge treatments.You can even get an undermount sink built in now. Can really be designed to look like stone.Tough,doesn't stain easily but can have a texture and if it chips, color is not thru and thru. Not too expensive-doesn't break the bank. A good idea is to mix laminate with more expensive products-have a sink area with corian and a separate work surface with laminate.

Solid surface (like Corian)-seamless and smooth but a material that easily scratches.Moderately expensive. Choose a light color because every scratch appears as a fine white line. Also, there can be an inconsistency in the pattern of the product,unless you get a small pattern, so you will never know what your piece will look like until it arrives. I've seen the travertine or marble-like product look wonderful and also absolutely awful. Oh, and the "just buff out the scratches with a green scrubby" is a bunch of BS.When you do that you get a dull spot. You have to have the whole thing re-buffed for them to disappear.

Concrete-very expensive and a hard surface but it does chip. Hard to find experienced people-at least in SE Wisconsin. You can always tell when a do-it yourselfer did this by themselves.

Quartz-very expensive.Comes in consistent small grained product, if that is the look you want.Has a lot of stone characteristics though some of the bright colors have been known to fade.Less likely to stain-can take some heat but doesn't like solvents.Can be quite beautiful with no maintenace.Less likely to stain than granite.

Granite-expensive.Comes in many colors and patterns. Pick out the slab yourself with the fabricator and work with your fabricator closely. Don't pick the cheapest bid-get references. Ability to do fine seams and get a good polish is essential,as well as a good eye so they don't do the layout with a big defect in the middle of the countertop. You can get a presealed granite and like any stone it is better to do a periodic (annual or longer) sealing, which consists of wipe on-wipe off application. Can take a lot of heat,very hard and almost no maintenance. Radiation report generated by the Solid Surface Institute-hahaha.

Marble-beautiful but not great in an area with water or spills.Surface can etch when acidic (vinegar,citrus) liquids spill or sit on it.May be a nice work surface top but it does stain easily and cuts/chips relatively easily for a stone.

Soapstone-I never researched soapstone but it always reminded me of high school chemistry.Must be durable if they used it in labs.Very expensive here.

Wood-beautiful but it is high maintenace. Not good around the sink.It can be sanded out and is nice if you want the aged look over time (like an old butcher block).

I don't want to worry about use/abuse or maintenance every time I use the work surface. I wanted laminate but my husband talked me in to granite,as we are selling our house in the near future. Now that we have them, I do love them. They don't stain,scratch or need maintenance (except washing). I love kneading on them-even the stickiest dough doesn't really stick. I did make sure I picked a smooth surface granite-some have tiny pits that can trap flour. I've even considered putting in a warming element under my work area but didn't d/t cost. An idea for when the funds become limitless.

I hope this synopsis helps. It seemed there was a big learning curve figuring this all out. All the usual advice when hiring a contractor-get multiple bids, get references, check the BBB, have a contract with "done by" date and a lien waver. Be comfortable with the contractor.Choose a contrator that you can communicate with. Pay as little as possible up front.

Have fun