I still remember strutting into my grandmother’s kitchen, a skinny young man, just tall enough to see over the edge of her countertop.  With my eyes; I scan every inch of the horizon; scanning as if I were on some sort of covert operation.  Always in search of the prize every youngster longs for; a plate of freshly baked cookies.  Oh, how times have changed.  I’m much taller now and that definitely makes the job of spotting the cookies much easier.  Not to mention from my appearance one can tell; I spent a lot of time at grandma’s house.

Apart from growing older, I’m not the only thing that has changed over time.   The world of countertop coverings has not only changed; but revolutionized!

The old laminate countertops that most of us grew up eating off of are no more.  Well, only in the sense that recent technological advancements have taken grandma’s laminate countertops and made them three times more wear resistant.  According to Kim Rich from Wilsonart International they’ve been able to use technologies first developed in the laminate flooring industry and apply them to Wilsonart’s High Definition line of countertop offerings.  Not that you’ll be walking on your countertops anytime soon; the wear resitance of flooring built into a countertop covering is definitely a product feature worth mentioning.

Day in and day out customers come into our place of business and say “SHOW ME THE GRANITE!” Perhaps it’s a logical decision or just human nature.  One could debate we have been eating off stone since the caveman era for the last 200,000 years.  Granite is available in a wide assortment of colors.   If you have never owned granite before; you should consider a few things before you make your first purchase. Granite requires a little maintenance.  Periodic sealing is required to keep your tops looking good as new and free from stains.  Developing a few good habits while enjoying your new granite kitchen will go along way in protecting your tops: always use coasters under glasses; particularly those containing alcoholic beverages or citric juices.  Many common foods and drinks contain acids that could stain, dull, or etch the finish of your stone surface. Never place hot items directly on stone surface or any other countertop surface for that matter.  Every countertop surface mentioned here reacts to heat one way or another for one reason or another.  Most people are already in the habit of using a hot pad or a trivet so why take a chance now with your new countertops.

We are being carried out of the past and into the future with the revolutionary advancements in Quartz and Solid Surfacing products. You can now enjoy the luxury and beauty of stone countertops worry and maintenance free.  How you say?  That’s what makes Quartz Products so great.  In the fast paced world of today; who has the time to worry about sealing stone countertops.  Well no more! Quartz never needs sealing, won’t absorb stains, scratch resistant to boot.  Being ranked 4th in hardness behind diamonds, sapphire, and topaz. Quartz products are also twice as strong as natural stone and approved by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) for food preparation areas.  Silestone a leader in Quartz products have taken countertop hygiene to a new level with the introduction Microban technology.  Microban inhibits and reduces the growth of bacteria on your counters.  Unfortunately normal cleaning is still recommended.  Manufacturers like Cambria USA and DuPont’s Zodiac, just to name a couple, continue to contribute to the already astounding array of colors available on the market today.

I saved my favorite countertop covering for last; Solid Surface. Not quite a favorite, more like a passion. Why solid surface you ask?  It’s one of those materials that reach so far outside the box when it comes to design possibilities; I threw the box away. The highly customizable nature of the product is one of the reasons for its popularity.  Solid Surface’s unlimited design applications are bridging the gap from the unimaginable to real world.  Today’s highly trained fabricators have the ability to produce extensive collection of useful shapes. From sinks, bathtubs, showers, faucets, decorative wall panels, trims, furniture, musical instruments, glow in the dark, and the obvious answer; countertops.  That’s just to name a few!  In my opinion, apart from the possibilities; Solid Surface is the only truly renewable surface in the market.  Due to the color consistency and machine ability of Solid Surface; minor scratches can easily be addressed by the end consumer and deeper scratches may require the help of a professional.  The average resurface job for our shop was typically installed 10 years ago.  From 10 years old to looking like new again in a short time.  Easily cleanable, stain resistant, hygienic, seamed in sinks, the list goes on and on.   Manufacturers like Staron, Corian, LG Hi-MACS, Livingstone, and EOS have made great strides in giving consumers what they want with some the most advanced color pallets on the market.   If you’re thinking of going Green; then LG Hi-MACS, Richlite and Avonite are the manufacturers for you.  All three have launched stunning new products consisting of recycled materials.

Nothing can change the appearance of any kitchen faster than sprucing up those old countertops.  According to the National Realtors Association and the National Home Builders Association;   Homeowners can recoup anywhere from 80%-90% of your kitchen or bath home improvements.  So if you’ve been undecided about sprucing up your home; it’s a little hard to argue with numbers like that.

For more information on countertop coverings, be sure to check out the web at www.issfa.orgwww.wilsonart.com, and www.marbleinstitute.com.

Kurt Bonk CEO of Cabinets2Countertops.com, is a proud supporter of the International Surface Fabricators Association.

Kurt Bonk reserves the right to submit the article ”This is not My Grandmothers Countertop”; in it’s entirety; to other publications for print 30 days from 6/11/07.  Jackson Observe shall be granted first right to print “This is not My Grandmother’s countertop”.