Bath & Kitchen Counters

Parent Q&A

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  • I'm finally remodeling my outdated kitchen and was initially planning to use quartz on the countertops. But I've discovered that all of them use resins to bind the material together which doesn't seem very ecologically friendly, and I wonder what they are made of TBH.  So...I am looking now at Dekton or Neolith "sintered stone" porcelain slabs. Does anyone have experience with either of these? They sound like they're difficult to fabricate and even the places that sell it say I'd need a trained/certified installer. But beyond that, how durable (or delicate) are they in daily use, especially counter edges or joins. We're not hard on things, but life happens. I've also been looking at IceStone/PaperStone. Trying to go greener if I can but also don't want to regret that expensive investment with something that is too fragile. Thanks!

    FWIW, when we remodeled 4 years ago, we decided not to install Dekton. My understanding is that it chips and cracks easily. Also, our kitchen designer did not recommend them. He said the technology just wasn't there yet. Maybe it is now?

    Are you on Houzz? You can find lots of info (stories, discussions, photos) about it there. I love the site any time I am doing a remodel -- get lots of great ideas there.

    We replaced our tile counters with paperstone and I love it! The material feels warmer than granite or quartz and is easy to clean up. I don't put hot pots on it, just in case. It's been about two years and no damage. I don't find it fragile at all and love the way it looks. Good luck!

    We replaced old ceramic tile countertops with Dekton last fall and I LOVE it. My issue with quartz was the lack of heat resistance, and I didn't want granite or other natural stone due to the sealing maintenance required, plus the look wasn't right. Considered soapstone, but it doesn't come in a color that works for us. Considered porcelain slab, but there is the concern with chipping/cracking. Dekton and other ultra compact surfaces are more durable than plain porcelain.  And the fact that it's an eco friendly option is a big plus! Yes, it's important to have it fabricated and installed by a vendor who knows what they're doing, but given that, it's really pretty tough stuff. Of course we've only had it a relatively short time, but we don't baby it and so far so good.

    I can recommend Xing Construction for the job if you decide to go for it.

  • Hi there,

    We want to install a stainless steel countertop and integrated sink.  I have dreams of just "hosing" down the area around my sink.  Has anyone installed a stainless steel countertop?  Do you have recommendations or contractors? 


    Hello! Not direct experience but my grandma had a stainless steel topped kitchen.
    Pros: it will withstand anything you throw at it and look like new after years and decades of use.

    Cons: you need to maintain it every day and keep it clean, dry it thoroughly at the end of the day. 

  • We are planning a completely new kitchen and are looking for recommendations for countertops - East to clean, heat resistant, smooth for rolling out dough (my Husband loves to bake)

     and floor recommendations - beautiful, easy to clean and maintain,  not too cold under the feet, not so hard that everything shatters on contact, non-porous. 
    environmentally friendly is a plus, inexpensive also a plus. 
    Do’s and dont’s are welcome. thanks so much for any tips you may have

    We had similar requirements for a countertop and are happy with the soapstone counter we chose. We went to the M Teixeira showroom-warehouse in SF. We had them guide us to the varieties that are "hardest" because Soapstone is quite soft. We have a few small dings in spots where a pot slipped out of our hands at the sink and fell on the counter. Color choices are varying shades of grey, and be aware that the color changes quite a bit depending on if you oil the stone or let it dry out. 

    For flooring I was convinced into putting in a wood floor (it was tile before). Much easier to clean than tile with the grout. It did get a few dents from moving the fridge around. So far has not seemed damaged by all the water we drip on it (it has been around 2 years). Glasses do break if they drop to the floor, but I'm not sure that a different floor surface would have made any difference. 

    Hi!  We ended up going with quartz.  Meets all the criteria you're looking for (except probably the environmentally friendly aspect but not sure).  We looked at a TON of places and ended up having the best luck with a place in the San Leandro/Hayward area (there are a TON of value options out there).  We ended up using HB Kitchen and Bath.  We paid them extra to install as well since we were out of their "installation" area.  Overall we are very happy with the result

    As far as floors, we stuck with our hardwood and it's been fine but I know a lot of people like Vinyl or tile.  Best of luck!

    No flooring advice but for counters, Soapstone! I LOVE our soapstone counter - I use it for rolling and baking ALL THE TIME because it is so smooth and easy to clean - heat resistant and bacteria resistant because it is so dense. Sometimes I just like to rub the counter, it feels so beautiful! LOL I don't use mineral oil on mine, I like the non-shiny look - it is not as 'tough' as other countertops so you can't cut on it and need to take care not to drop heavy things on it, but it is perfect for bakers (and chemists! It's often used in labs!). Good luck!

    We're in the process of choosing a countertop replacement (our existing counter is ceramic tile, with lots and lots of grody grout lines), so I can't report on experience, but it's looking like we'll go with an "ultra compact" sintered stone surface.  Brands Dekton and Neolith have eco-friendly credentials and offer some recycled-materials options.  These products are similar to porcelain slabs, but are made from a mix of porcelain, glass, and stone, combined with very high heat and pressure.  Most of them are made to look like marble (in much the same way most quartz is made to look like granite) but you can also get some solid colors and other options.

    The decision process went like this: Granite (and other natural stone slabs, like quartzite) is heat resistant but requires regular sealing in order to keep it easy to clean.  Quartz and solid surfacing are no-maintenance but not heat-resistant (the resins will scorch or crack at typical oven temperatures).  Soapstone offers both low maintenance and heat resistance, but is invariably gray, which is not a color we want.  So then I discovered porcelain slabs.  Porcelain is easy to clean, no sealing required, and super heat resistant; porcelain slabs -- which are essentially a really giant tile -- have been common in Europe but are becoming more popular in the US.  The cons are that it chips more easily than other countertop materials, and there are fewer fabricators and installers who know how to work with it.  And there aren't as many choices for the edge profile as with granite or quartz, because the material is difficult to shape the same way, and the color/pattern on the surface does not go all the way through the body of the material.  The "ultracompact" products like Dekton have mostly the same pros and cons, but when installed well, are at least theoretically a little less prone to chips and cracks, and there are some options for the edge profile (some of them have "through body" color/pattern) and finish that you don't find with porcelain.

    We've decided to go with a plain solid white, so now we half a dozen different samples of veeeeery slightly different whites sitting out on the counter.  Picking one of those may be the hardest part, lol.

    For countertops, slate!! We purchased from a vendor in SF that offered large slabs to choose from and different edges.

    Pros: indestructible (it's the same material they use in chemistry labs), natural material (in keeping with the spirit of our 1920s Craftsman), easy to clean, only seal once. We roll out dough regularly, no problem. Cons: not as cheap as IKEA quartz (though less pricey than our next choice, soapstone), not as many colors to choose from it's essentially black to grey and veining will vary. 

    Marmoleum makes a great kitchen floor. Not really inexpensive, but environmentally friendly. Goes great with clear finish cabinets. If you are doing painted cabinets, a hardwood floor might be more to your liking. But to me, a wood floor with wood grain cabinets is too much wood. 

  • Kitchen countertops

    (3 replies)

    The countertops in our kitchen are 30+ year old Corian ones and are quite worn. We want to replace them with quartz material but the company which installed the original ones is no longer in business. As a result we would appreciate any advice and recommendations of fabricators/installers who would do a very fine and high quality job. Many thanks.

    We use Ecohome Improvement (Berkeley) for our quartz countertops installed in Feb 2020. They hire out to a third party to install (as most places do), who did a great job and were highly professional. Perfect cuts/barely noticeable seams/great cleanup.

    We choose this: We love the color and the only problem is some slight discoloration around the faucet handle after this period of intense use due to all of us being home all the time.

    Check out Sullivan’s Countertops in Oakland.  They are knowledgeable, exacting and friendly. We love our kitchen partly because of how nice the countertop looks. 

    Bay Countertops in Richmond is amazing! I knew exactly which brand, color, and size of quartz slab I wanted, so they were able to do a quote for me entirely via email. The installer was totally professional, accommodating, and took responsibility for the work performed. I was rushing to get my kitchen done while pregnant and he came out to measure while I was 39 weeks. Fabrication takes about 1 week, so he even came to do the final installation while I was giving birth in the hospital. Talk about service! They accidentally scratched my new sink on the install but took care of buying a new one super quickly thanks to the fact I got it thru Amazon Prime. He was super apologetic and it didn't cost me anything extra. Which is exactly the way it should be when there is a mistake. The installer even gave me tips for every day cleaning vs. deep cleaning. I have 2 cm (3/4") thick Caesarstone with a 1.5" mitered edge, fabricated from a jumbo slab so that I don't have any joints in my counters. The edge is perfect and you cannot see a seam at all. I love my countertops and would choose Bay Countertops again!

  • Quartz counter top installation

    (4 replies)

    My wife and I are about to undertake a remodel of the kitchen in our bungalow style house. We plan to use a quartz type of material (brand name Cambria) for the counter tops and would be grateful for recommendations of high quality and reliable fabricators and installers. Many thanks.

    We went through Costco to have Cambria counters installed and loved our experience. They contract through a local company, but you get a nice cash rebate from Costco. I highly recommend looking into this if you know you want Cambria. 

     SO HAPPY with my beautiful new  kitchen countertops !!! We used Bay Full Construction ( bayfullconstruction [at]  to install a quartz countertop in our kitchen. Michael and his team did great work ,very carefully, and keep everything super clean. Excellent company with a very reasonable price and professional workers. Michael (510) 265-9399.

    Highly recommend Sullivan Countertops in Oakland.  We remodeled our kitchen 2 years ago and had a great experience with their customer service, prompt responses and the detail and time they took with the measuring and installation.  Our Cambria came with some stains that were in the end permanent but Sullivan handled the situation with professionalism. 

    Costco! Couldn’t be happier with our new Cambria counters. 

  • Hello, I'm looking for a handyman or contractor to replace my kitchen counters and backsplash, possibly paint cupboards. I'm hoping this is fairly easy un-permitted work. Do you have any recommendations?

    Thank you!

    Very happy with Bay Full Construction.Gave us a great price and did excellent job from start to finish.The company helped me to finish new kitchen. Granite countertops, tiles plumbing ,electric and paint.You can contact them at :510 265-9399, email: bayfullconstruction [at] Happy customer...Justin !

  • Where to look for kitchen countertops?

    (2 replies)

    Where is a great place to look for kitchen countertops?  Our contractor recommended that I go to Sullivans but they have gotten a lot of bad reviews (several 1 of 5 stars) lately so I am hesitant to use them.  I'm wondering if they have new staff because a couple of years ago they got all great reviews. 

    Can anyone recommend another great place to go to in the East Bay?

    We checked out Sullivans but also looked at a lot of places in the Hayward/San Leadro area.  We were targeting Quartz and ended up buying TCE (could check out slabs but had to buy from a 3rd party)

    See some places below::  

    Stay away from Stone Etc in Hayward. They were terrible to work with, caused delays on our project, and did not communicate well. The final product was fine but not worth the aggravation of working with them.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions about choosing counter materials Advice about Specific Materials

'Green' Kitchen Counter material

Sept 2012

I want to replace the counters in my kitchen with a heat-resistant, stain-resistant, easy-care eco-friendly material. I don't want to have to seal them or do any special deep cleaning. The material has to be hard enough to withstand scratches and dents and not chip, so soapstone is out.

Don't want Vetrazzo or anything like it because it is 'too busy'. Has anyone used Richlite, Icestone, Paperstone, Squak Mountain, Silestone, Caeserstone, or bamboo? What do you like about your countertop material? What don't you like about it?

What source did you use to get your materials? Who installed them for you? Would you recommend that person? If so, I'll appreciate getting their contact info. Thank you, barbara

We just put Ceaserstone countertops in our kitchen and bathrooms. We absolutely love them! I really can't think of any downsides. They look great, clean off easily, and, so far, have not been damaged by my very careless husband, son or brother-in-law. We got the polished finish because it holds up better than the honed finish. We used Sullivan Countertops in Oakland and they were great. Super professional, on time, and they did exactly what they said they would. We got a square edge with a 2' overhang (rather than a typical 1 1/2') and it looks unbelievably amazing. We stuck with neutral colors go that the countertops won't look dated in a few years. Ceaserstone Lover
go to Sullivan's Countertops in Oakland. They have everything in terms of countertops. I know many people who have used them. Prices are good, service is great. just had new countertops
We started out looking for a green countertop and caesarstone was recommended by two stores. By the time we were ready our budget was Corian so we got one with post-consumer recycled content and we love it. Sullivan Countertops sold and installed it. We got a great price and the installation was almost perfect (one tinty scratch that was covered by the tile backsplash that Sullivan would have repaired if it hadn't been covered). Sullivan also sells quartz countertops, although we went there to check out Corian on the advice of an appliance installer who said they were the best Corian installers. There were customers there looking at quartz as well. They are on 65th at San Pablo in Oakland. Their salespeople can give you a quote from drawings and a rough measurement by e-mail. The man who came out to measure was extremely thorough and told us what type of faucet would work with the countertop. Good luck with your search! Anon
We installed Squak Mountain countertops in our kitchen a year ago. Although they look(ed) wonderful and we like the feel of them, I would highly recommend against using them. We were prepared for them to need some care, along the lines of wood countertops, but they stain incredibly easily; a drop of water left on the counter for a few minutes leaves a mark. They also are quite soft and chip/scratch easily too. We take good care of them but even after a year they're full of watermarks and scratches. If I had to do it again I'd use butcher block with some kind of stone around the sink. choose carefully!
Alexandra Sheets Saikley is a green architect. I have seen before and after photos of many of the homes she has worked on, including her own. She specializes in green living and understanding exactly what her clients would like. I would turn to her for advice and/or to contract. She has also designed restaurants - so i imagine she knows kitchen materials very well. 510-749-0675 Tara Williams

Recycled glass countertops

April 2008

I'm looking at recycled glass countertops, and want to hear from anyone who knows about this technology. I like the look, and the sustainability. Some seem to be mixed with concrete, while another said it was glass and porcelain. Can anyone comment on the differences? Do these need to be sealed? Do they scratch? Are they long-lasting? ANYTHING you can tell me here is appreciated. I've looked in the archives, and have not seen anything specifically about recycled glass counters.

This might be of some help. anon

Black honed granite vs. soapstone

Oct 2006

We live in a fairly high end house in Lamorinda. We are thinking about updating our kitchen and are trying to match new perimeter countertops to a pretty busy granite pattern that is currently on the center island that we don't want to replace. It's hard to find a granite color that matches without being too busy so we've narrowed it down to either a black honed granite or soapstone. Does anyone have any experience with either a dark honed granite or a soapstone countertop? I'm a little conerned about the upkeep of the soapstone (needs to be wiped with mineral oil regularly) and heard that it chips pretty easily. Also in terms of resale value will people think it's too weird? Haven't heard much about honed surfaces one way or the other. Any comments about either surface appreciated. Thanks

I also live in Lamorinda and just had granite countertops installed. I loved the look of honed granite, but was recommended away from it, because the honed finish shows fingerprints (and basically anything else with oil on it), and will almost always look mottled and/or dirty. I was not thrilled with the polished look, but eventually was swayed by the fingerprint issue. Go view some honed granite slabs and put your fingers on it - you will see right away. I don't know anything about soapstone, unfortunately. All the kitchen design magazines lately mention that having a few different countertop surfaces is all the rage, and doesn't look weird at all. If you like the ''honed'' look, you might want to consider concrete - I believe it is in the same price range, and you can have it stained in a color that compliments your existing granite well. Good luck! Sherry
We recently remodeled our kitchen (new cabinets, appliances, and countertops). We chose a honed dark green slate countertop and it looks great. We looked at the non-honed and it was too rough for our taste. Our neighbors re-did their kitchen recently as well and they chose a black honed slate countertop. Slate looks great, costs the same or less than granite, and holds up well. We are supposed to oil it occasionally but we haven't had to do it yet and it's been several months. Love the slate
Soapstone is not recommended for kitchen countertops since it is so soft, absorbs everything and scratches easily. It will not enhance your resale value. Honed granite is a little harder to maintain than polished granite and shows hand and grease marks that need to be cleaned up regularly for aesthetic reasons. Beware that some cheap black granite from China is not granite at all but is a stained, painted and polished base stone that you will regret purchasing. I recommend that for the best information you visit Point Richmond Granite on 250 South Garrard Blvd, Richmond CA, one block off 580 going toward the Richmond Bridge at the Canal Street exit. Telephone 510 307 7800. They have beautiful colors that will probably match well and can give competent advice. Good luck! Loves my granite countertops!
We are also working on remodeling our kitchen and I have done a lot of research into both soapstone and the black granites, including black honed granite. Re: soapstone, yes it does chip and scratch easily, but it also depends on the type of soapstone you choose. There are many different kinds out there and they can really range in look (dark green to fairly black, lots of veining or very little) and in how hard they are (easily scratched vs. fairly hard). There is a soapstone place in SF that you should check out before you decide. I really liked the look of soapstone, but my husband didn't. Soapstone is very popular right now, so I don't think that people will think it's weird. It has a very old fashioned, farmhouse feel to it. About the black honed granite, I would advise against it. I have heard horror stories about the upkeep of honed black granite (not all honed granite, just black). People complain about the maintenance, as it shows stains and fingerprints (oil on your hands) and you can't get rid of them. If you like the look of a matte black granite, look into the black granites that are ''antiqued'' or have a ''satin'' finish. They are treated differently (stained and resined?) and have a deeper, richer color than the honed black, which looks grey, and are easier to maintain. Most importantly, go out to slab yards (there are many in the San Leandro area) and look at them, touch them, and ask about how they wear. We ended up going with marble (talk about maintenance!), but I just love the look of it. Good luck! MK
We put in soapstone counters when we remodelled our kitchen 3 years ago. We live in a 1912 Craftsman so we were looking for something that fit with the style and time of the house and didn't look too slick or modern. I'm really happy with them. We used a Brazilian soapstone that is a deep slate color with grey/green veining. Most people think it's marble. It looks beautiful with the original fir floor and trim in the kitchen. It does not stain or absorb spills, etc. You can spill wine on it and just wipe it up with no staining. However, soapstone is soft, and as time goes by it become covered in a network of fine scratches, so if you are looking for a smooth unbroken surface, this is not the material for you. I like this effect because it makes the counter look like it's always been there. Soapstone can be sanded and smoothed out if desired. I do occasionally oil my counters, which deepens the color and makes them shiny for a couple of days. G
We have soapstone countertops and love them. They have a really lovely quality that is different from the honed granite I've seen--hard to put in words but I think it's a more organic, natural look. They do scratch, but those easily go away with a wipe of mineral oil. We have not applied mineral oil regularly, just as needed for spot applications, and they look great. (The fabricator did pre-oil them). No problem with chipping-we had a few very small ones around the sink edge, but again, a touch of mineral oil and you don't notice. I think the small amounts of wear are what gives it that natural look. And they don't stain at all, which I understand can be a problem with honed granite a soapstone fan

Pros and cons of various surfaces

Jan 2005

I will be remodeling my kitchen. I have looked at Corian, Silestone, and Zodiac stone. I would to hear pros/cons about any of these substances. I like corian because it is seamless, but I know it is a softer material than Zodiac stone. Also, who or where did you order your counters from. We live in Berkeley and would like to use local companies if they have reasonable prices. thanks dmr

For the person who was wondering about countertop materials, we remodeled our kitchen a year and a half ago and went with Corian for the majority of the countertops. Like you, I loved the seamlessness of the material. I love that our sink can be cleaned perfectly (no lines where sink joins countertop). HOWEVER, our Corian hasn't worn that well. I already see scratches and sometimes it's hard to clean the countertops perfectly. They just don't look *sparkly* clean even after wiping them down or even spraying them down. I know people say that you can get someone in to sand out the scratches, but come on, who's going to do this on a regular basis?

We also built an island and used Zodiac for that. I thought I wouldn't like the Zodiac as much as the Corian, but now I love it even more: cleans well, wears well (no scratches anywhere) and just looks great. Next time around I might forego the seamlessness and go all Zodiac.

As for where to get these made, we went to Sullivan Countertops in Berkeley off San Pablo and really thought they were fantastic. The owner, Tom, was a huge help. Good luck! Zodiac convert

July 2004

We recently underwent a major kitchen remodel; I offer the following in response to recent postings.
Zodiac: we chose it because it comes in bright colors (we have red). I got about 7 estimates, and Sullivan Countertops was the cheapest. I think they did a good job. The one surprise is that the counter is not really polished in the same way as granite ones are, and it really shows dirt, water marks, etc. To keep it looking nice, I have to clean it with some kind of cleaner or soap, and wipe it dry it with a towel. Just wiping with a dish sponge does not really do the job. If you just want a natural stone color, I would say go with granite. It you want bright red or blue, you have reason to go with Zodiac.


Can anyone provide input regarding the pros/cons of the various surfaces available for kitchen counters (tile/Corian/marble/granite)? We currently have tile, but need to replace it. I love the idea of a single surface (as opposed to tiles with the concommittant plague of dirty grout)--but I think I'd miss being able to put my hot dishes down. Is corian a good product? Does it wear well? Are marble or granite worth the significanlty extra cost? Thoughts/experiences would be greatly appreciated.

I don't know much about the various materials, but I can give you a GREAT source for really inexpensive granite: Best Tile in San Francisco. It has a limited selection of granite, but if you like one of them, it's an amazing deal. The pieces are pre-cut and shipped from China (so politically incorrect). You buy sizes that work for you and have a specialist cut them to fit and install them. We spent about $2,000 on granite for our fairly large kitchen--it would have been around $12,000 through other sources, we understand. -Rachel
With regards to the Kitchen Counter Surface. I have Granite and I love it. You can still place hot pans and such directly on the surface. It doesn't show any dirt, it always looks clean. It is the most durable surface I've ever had. Marble is a softer stone than granite. It stains and etches very easily. It is very good for bathroom countertops. Corian is a hard plastic and you can not place hot pan on the surface as it will burn. I also may be a bit biased since my husband is a granite/marble fabricator. If you decide on granite or marble and would like a bid from him, his work number is 510-215-1866 -Carole
I went with Granite on my counters and I love it. You will find that granite is not that much more expensive than Corian. It's tough nice to the touch and let's face it they first came out with Corian to imitate granite. My parents remodeled 4 kitchens with Corian and then went to granite and like it better as well. They claim you can sand out Corian. A friend of mine accidentally put down a hot pan on her Corian and had it professionally sanded out. It always bothered her that she could still see a ripple in her counter. As far as marble goes stay away from it for a kitchen counter it's far softer than granite and can stain easily. -Rebecca
My husband and I built a home last year and selected granite tiles for the counters. At first we were certain we would use ceramic tile, but then changed our plan when we found some very pretty granite tiles at about $5-6/sq. ft. (at Sacramento Tile in Pacheco). This was actually less expensive than a lot of tile we looked at, much nicer, and much, much less expensive than a slab of granite. The granite can be installed with very narrow seams and from a distance looks like a single piece. We chose a grout color to match the main color of the granite, which is a tan/peach(?) shade. We have spilled coffee and other dark liquids on it numerous times and nothing has stained the grout (we didn't seal it, but that would offer more protection). I prefer the tiled look over a large continuous surface (for most kitchens), and thought that Swan Stone (?) and Corian products look plastic-like (depending on the color). I was also surprised to see that many kitchens in remodeling brochures used granite tiles instead of a slab - so I guess it is an acceptable alternative. Marble is not something to consider for kitchen counters, better to use it on floors and bathrooms. One more thing about granite - the side that is on the front edge of the counter needs to be polished so it is rounded. It can cost between $5-10/tile for polishing (e.g. if you have 20 linear feet of counter to cover, 20 tiles need to be polished, so plan on $100-$200). The tiles behind the front row don't need polishing, and corners need to have two edges polished. Well worth it for the value it will add to your remodel! -Susan
I am a big fan of granite slab, even though it is one of the most expensive surface options. We put it in the kitchen we remodeled in Berkeley, and then in the bathroom in our second house. It is maintenance-free, and if you pick the color right, it always looks clean (even when it isn't). I am pretty sure you can put hot things down on it (though I didn't). It also is gorgeous, makes the kitchen look elegant, and probably won't go out of style. The only downside we found is that it is very hard and so unforgiving if you drop things (glasses, plates, pottery) on it or knock things into it. Good luck. Leslie
I love my new corian! Super easy to clean and always looks great. Don't cut directly on it, though, as it will scratch. If you use Sullivan Countertops to install, they give you a good size finished peice that you can use for cutting and putting hot stuff. I was told you can put hot plates down, but perhaps not something right out of the oven. I haven't experimented with that, finding it easy to use the additional piece, a cutting board, the stovetop or my kitchen table. Compared to tile, it's a dream.

Lowering kitchen counters

Sept 2005

My mother in law has just bought a house with tiled kitchen countertops which are a couple of inches thick. This isn't a problem for the taller people in the family, but there aren't many of them and she particularly has difficulty working comfortably in the kitchen. Apparently the previous owners built them this way to accomodate a small and quite deep feature tile in the design.(genius) The cabinets are in great condition and are attractive, so she'd rather not replace the entire kitchen. What are her options. Has anyone ever had counter tops lowered? Is it possible? if so what was your experience? Is it simply too much trouble - should she just replace the counter tops entirely? Any advice welcome.

for the person with the thick tile countertops that make the counter too high: are you sure that it's only the thickness of the countertop that's making it too high? A couple of inches doesn't sound like that much, and any countertop will be at least 1 inch, so replacing the tile might not make enough of a difference. Most kitchen cabinets are not sitting directly on the floor; they're on a little - what's the word - pedestal or riser, and when you install them you can choose the height of the counter by how high the pedestal is. You can see how high the cabinets were originally raised off the ground by how high the toe space at the bottom of the cupboard is. (My counters are low -- 35 inches -- and you can't even get your toes (or a broom) into the space at the bottom.) I don't know what would be involved in taking the cabinets out and reducing or removing the riser, but if it's not too complicated, that might be your solution. Jenny

Concrete Countertops

April 2005

I'm thinking of installing concrete countertops in my kitchen and am looking for recommendations for a contractor. Catherine

The best in the area is Concreteworks Studio in Oakland near International Ave. Their showroom is substantial and everyone very knowledgeable. You choose what you like, then they will come to your house to measure. Call for an appt. with Betsy or Mark. 534-7141/ 835-9031 Christina
Jan 2005

I am interested in having concrete countertops in my new kitchen. The archives don't list any recommendations for folks who do this work in the area -- I would be interested in folks who specialize in this work rather than general contractors. Thanks much. Rachel

I would try Karl Mulligan for bathroom/kitchen concrete counter tops. He is a general contractor by profession. I know that he has scaled back his jobs/hours to spend more time with his son, but I believe he's still working on smaller, craftsman/artistic type projects like this. He can be reached at 415-871-8398 and can provide excellent references. Leslie
March 2003

I would like to have concrete countertops installed in my kitchen. I have spoken with several concrete specialists in the area, but would like to get some other recommendations for concrete countertop artists/contractors. Also, if you have concrete countertops, please tell me how they've held up and what you like and dislike about them. Kira

we just did floors & countertops in kitchen & shower/tub in bathroom. The range of prices & tech is all over the board, some make molds at their shop & install large pieces, but we wanted concrete for the seamless look not a tiled look. We found one to pour in place for decent price. This is our 1st remodel & our contract didn't specify a finish date or discount. Contractor said would take 2 wks to finish, & took over 14. More unhappy with work ethic than actual job. Workmanship was OK. I love floors, counters are ok, not the color I picked, but job took so long I no longer cared, just wanted it done. Keep in mind, that the finished product is completely dependant on the workmanship, supposed to be a bit rough & the coloring process is COMPLETELY dependant on the contractors artistic ability, his interpretation of what you want & the how concrete takes stain. Look very closely at the contractors whole portfolio for style themes. I have pics if you want to see them, tough to see colors, but may give you an idea. What contractors are you talking with? Brandi

Corian Countertops

Nov 2004

I want to install Corian countertops in my new kitchen, but was told that Swanstone is virtually the same as Corian, as far as quality, ease of maintenance, and durability, but costs half as much as Corian does. I heard from someone else that Swanstone has a flimsy feel to it because it is half the thickness of Corian and does not hold up well over time. I would like to hear from people who have used either, or both! Thanks. Karen

Hi. I don't have either that you mentioned, but looked a lot at Corian and it has a great quality which is it can be refinished; you could find out if the same is true for the cheaper one (say 10 yrs. later and you want to sell the house or not pay for new countertops ever again) Our friend, a carpenter, has refinished older corian for clients and says it comes out looking great. (we were priced out of everything so holding out with old ugly formica) Sullivan Countertops (Emeryville) was extremely helpful with lots of info. on various materials and very low-pressure about buying. Chris

Formica countertop

May 2007

Need a recommendation for a formica fabricator and/or contractor (not Home Depo). If you have redone your kitchen with formica and have suggestions, please share! Anon.

We used a small family countertop fabricator, Richmond Plastics on Carlson, 234-7701, to replace our kitchen counters and backsplash with Formica about 15 years ago, and are using them again this year. We have to replace the leaky faucet and reseal the sink anyway, plus I now want a medium-dark color with a fake-granite pattern so the dings don't show. They also have quite a selection of manufactured stone countertops, and are great about allowing you to take samples home. Prices quite reasonable. peg

Granite Countertops

March 2007

We recently discovered that our new house's granite countertops have not been sealed. We were told that we need to find a professional granite ''sealer'' but some installers won't just do this.. Suggestions please - in the e-bay please. anon

Why would you need to seal a granite countertop? I've always wondered why people do this since I studied geology at college and to me granite is a very hard rock. Do you know what type of rock your ''granite'' countertop is? Not all so-called ''granite'' counter top material is actually made of the rock called granite which mostly contains feldspar minerals (usually white or pink - though can be rarely green) with some quartz (colourless) and dark minerals (black or brown). True granite probably has a melting point above 550 degrees C and is very hard so I doubt that any foodstuffs or anything else might cause damage to a granite surface. However, if your ''granite'' countertop is actually made of limestone or dolomite which is comprised of calcium and magnesium carbonates, it can actually dissolve when in contact with acidic food materials such as vinegar, tomatoes, lemons etc. I would recommend sealing that type of countertop material. As for granite - I really don't understand why people seal it! We have a honed basaltic (black ''granite'') countertop which we have never sealed - and it is still holding up well. Anon
March 2007

We are looking for a reliable and affordable person or company to restore our kitchen granite countertops. We need to have the seams regrouted and we would like the finish to be buffed up to its best shine. Thanks in advance for your referrals. We have had a hard time finding anyone to do this work. barb-lee

I highly recommend Armando Freitas 510.432.3070. I really liked him and he was recommended by a stone place. We used him to remove a HUGE rust stain in our stone counter. He was extremely knowledgeable - he told us that the rust remover chemical would burn/etch the stone and that it needed to be sanded out. We decided to do the work our selves and he told us exactly what to do. andrea
March 2007

We just had our granite counters cut & installed by Wen. Not only did he do a good job, he was also reasonably priced, picked up our granite for no extra cost and is a very pleasant and hardworking young man. He also does flooring. You can reach him at: wflooring[at] julie

Feb 2007

Re: Feedback on or
I'd recommend a company we used for granite countertops called Kitchen Experts. These people used to work for Kitchenworks and they are about half the price. They were still more expensive than going directly to the granite yard on your own, but they did do good work. Their number is (925) 362-8200. Judy

Oct 2006

We recently had our granite kitchen counters installed by Gillman Granite 510-763-8313 and they did a fantastic job. He and his stepson do the work themselves, and do meticulous work. He was very responsive and his price was reasonable. He is also a sculptor and loves stone, which comes across in his work. I highly recommend him! Monica

Jan 2006

We remodeled our kitchen, bathroom, and added fireplace surrounds. We used a great granite installation company called Geological Designs (owner is a soft-spoken, easy- going artist/craftsman). They returned calls promptly, showed up to the site and completed the work as promised. We had no problems. After being introduced, they worked directly with our designer/contractor to complete the job. Contact info: Rodney at Geological Designs 510.910.5537 cell or 510.763.6221 office. Email: Rodney[at] Web site
Julie Nov 2004

We are looking for a good place to get granite countertops and installation for our kitchen-I have looked at the old listings and there is very little. Any suggestions? Monica

I would like to recommend Sterner Marble and Granite for you kitchen countertops. They will fabricate and install. They are professional and do a great job! You can reach them at 510-215-1866. Carole
We just put in new granite kitchen tops and used Creative Stoneworks. Laura was the person who helped me and she was so wonderful. She was very patient with me (I changed my mind alot!)and the crew was very professional and did very quality work. I would highly reccomend using them. They have a small stock of granite at their wharehouse to chose from at excellent prices or you can pick your granite out elswhere and have them fabricate it. There number is 510- 428-2202. Good luck! anon
May 2004

Hello -- Can anyone recommend a granite fabricator that does good work at a decent price? I've looked in the archives and there isn't anything current. Thanks! Also, we like the matte or honed surfaces and are considering honed granite, slate, fireslate... any opinions out there on matte counters? Thanks again! confused by counters

I have recommended in the past Sterner Marble & Granite and I will recommend them again. Yes the owner is my husband but he's been Fabricating Granite for years and he does it well. With regards to Home Expo, we were in there a month or so ago and my husband said there displays were pretty good, but they were pretty expensive. Not a whole lot of Granite to choose from either. It doesn't cost anything to get a bid. I would encourage you to do so. SM does a lot of work through out the bay area. They can be reached at 510-215-1866. You won't be disapointed!! Carole
We used Expo's kitchen design services in Emeryville but decided to use other sources for the granite and tile because of price (fyi, granite prices at Home Depot are the same). For the granite, we decided to go with a source that did prefabricated granite counters, meaning they have pre-cut lengths of countertops that work with all standard sized cabinets. Price includes a bullnosed edge. The only thing is that you are limited to two styles of bullnoses (which in our case wasn't a big issue since we liked the styles they had). We found the exact style of granite we were looking for (they have a wide selecton). It took them a week to install it, compared to Expo's 6-8 week estimate. We saved about a thousand dollars on our counters. They go by two company names: Amazing Stone ( and Heng Seng (or something like that). They advertise extensively under the latter name in the Home and Garden section of the Chronicle. They are located in San Leandro. They were quick, friendly, and the prices were really good. For tile purchase and installation, we used the Floor Store in Richmond (on Jacuzzi St. off 80). They contract out the work to tile installers. We did our floors and the backsplash. We again saved a lot of money compared to Expo and were very satisfied with the results. mishmasch
I have a recommendation for an excellent contractor who specializes in granite countertops, tiles, etc. as well as honed stone. He does excellent work and is a great bargain. I have used him for granite countertops, slate bathroom installation, and other smaller projects. He is very reliable, shows up when agreed upon, and best of all - works extremely fast, which is always a plus when you are remodeling and want contractors in and out as fast as possible. His name is Dimitar and his number: 925-285-7643. Good luck! Milena
April 2004

Hi - Does anyone have recommendations (or places to avoid) for a) obtaining at a 'reasonable' price, and b) cutting and installing granite counter tops, for the kitchen and bath. We saw the earlier posts on the web site, but are looking for more recent recommendations. Where did you get yours, and who installed them? How did it compare price-wise to Corian or other solid-surface? For those who have installed granite counter tops in previous years, how are you finding them as far as look, wear, etc.? What alternates did you consider, and how did you decide on granite? (are you glad you did). Any advice or recommendations will be appreciated. Poised to remodel

We put granite coutertop on our last house because we knew we were going to sell it and that's what was recommended by our contractor for best resell value. We ended up loving it. We are now remodeling our current house and will have granite countertop again. We are using Glenda (925 454- 1497). She works from her home and beat all prices we got directly from manufacturers. She is fast, efficient, came to our home in Oakland on Friday evenings. Definitely worth a call. Also to convince yourself wether you like it or not, go to a granite/marble provider and look at slabs. You get a better feeling about the material that way. Good luck
Dec. 2002

I''m giving my kitchen a ''facelift'' rather than a complete remodel and need some advice on a couple of things. I will be getting a granite countertop and would like recommendations on places to get a ''good deal''. I checked the archives but there was only 1 place recommended in SF. Has anyone used Home Depot for this??

My husband is a granite fabricator, and although I my be bias, his work is exceptional. The name of his company is Sterner Marble & Granite. I suggest you get a least a few bids and ask for references. I have heard some not go great stories about Home Depot. You can reach SM at 510- 215-1866. Carole
July 2002

Where can one purchase uncut granite slabs to be used as kitchen countertops? I've heard that this is less expensive that buying pre-cut granite. sukell

We got our granite from a company called Integrated Resources in South San Francisco (near the airport). They were reasonable (as far as granite goes) and had a HUGE selection of slabs in a warehouse with a variety of prices. They won't quote you exact prices, as they only quote to the granite/marble installer (your contractor or subcontractor that is going to pick up and install the slab) but they can give you ballpark numbers. Note, the installation can be as much or more than the material as it's a highly specialized trade. If you don't have someone to install for you, they can give you recommendations of contractors. Walker-Zanger in Hayward is pretty big and (seem to do a high volume)has a similarly set up warehouse. Ndaetz
My husband is a granite fabricator (Sterner Marble and Granite) with his shop in Richmond. He has slabs at his shop that are left over from jobs that he would sell, depending on how much you need. You could call his office (510-215-1866) and they will give you names of places that just sell uncut slabs. I know of one, Alpha Marble and Granite. There in San Leandro. Hope this helps. Carole

Limestone Counters

Sept 2011

We are redoing a bathroom, and I'm really struggling with what materials to use. I have a crema marfil marble countertop in one of our bathrooms, and while I love the look, it started to get these little spots on it (look like water spots), and I don't want to go through that again. So I found a Silestone countertop that looks similar. Does anyone have experience with Silestone? Or is there another countertop material similar to marble that is more stain resistant? Also, I found a honed limestone tile that I would like to use for the bathroom floor (including shower floor), but I'm wondering if that will require a lot of maintenance and have the same kind of issues that I'm having with the marble. Anyone out there use limestone in their bathroom? Or is there another natural stone that would be a better choice? Design Challenged

about 4 years ago we installed the most beautiful limestone as the floor and the tub surround in our small bathroom

pros: the limestone is really beautiful

cons: It quickly becomes stained, spotted and is almost impossible to clean

It is VERY slippery when wet! I think it would be a bit of a death trap in the shower!

it cracks easily! one of the large tiles, which is right by the door, became badly cracked almost immediately

So I would have to say, don't do it! been there, done that

Silestone Counters

Sept 2011

We are redoing a bathroom, and I'm really struggling with what materials to use. I have a crema marfil marble countertop in one of our bathrooms, and while I love the look, it started to get these little spots on it (look like water spots), and I don't want to go through that again. So I found a Silestone countertop that looks similar. Does anyone have experience with Silestone? Or is there another countertop material similar to marble that is more stain resistant? Also, I found a honed limestone tile that I would like to use for the bathroom floor (including shower floor), but I'm wondering if that will require a lot of maintenance and have the same kind of issues that I'm having with the marble. Anyone out there use limestone in their bathroom? Or is there another natural stone that would be a better choice? Design Challenged

We remodeled our kitchen several years ago and used Silestone. It still looks new and hasn't gotten any stains, as far as I can tell. We have the dappled design so it actually hides dirt a little too well -- crumbs & stuff -- but that shouldn't be a problem in a bathroom. Easy to clean, too. happy with Silestone

Soapstone Counters

Nov 2006

I'm planning a kitchen remodel and I'm intrigued by what I've read about soapstone countertops. They sound like a really nice alternative to granite & like they would look good in a simple, traditionally styled kitchen. Does anyone out there have soapstone countertops, and if so, have you been happy with them? Sounds like there is a lot of maintenance at first as far as oiling them, but does the need to oil them decrease over time? Have your countertops aged nicely? Thanks for the help, appreciate it. Kathy

I posted a very similar question a year ago when we were getting ready to do our kitchen remodel, and did not get any replies. Guess soapstone has gained ground in the last year or so! We ended up going with honed verde butterfly granite; a dark green/black. I can tell you that most of the comments posted about honed granite and what people have ''heard'' are incorrect. I am very happy with the honed granite, but I loved the look of soapstone too. For an excellent source of information, check out the Garden Web forums at Do a search on ''soapstone'' and you will find an incredible amount of information. There are also links to the finished kitchen blog that someone put together to show off pictures of completed kitchens that have been posted, and are also very helpful when you are planning a remodel. Claire
Hi, We finished a complete kitchen remodel one year ago and installed soapstone countertops. They are gorgeous. Very earthy, no shine, matte finsh with beautiful veining. We adore them. Soapstone is really interesting too, it is the most dense material available, and is made into talcum powder too (!?!)

They need to be oiled intensively in the first few weeks, and then not at all after that, although if we are having a party we do oil them the day of because it deepens the color and shows the veining more in contrast. When you oil them, you wipe the oil off entirely and it is still working, but i mention this b/c you will not brush up against them and get oily.

We found ours through M. Texeira soapstone in SF, they are easy to find on line. They are extremely knowledgeable. We cut it and installed it ourselves which saves money, but they will do those things for you as well.

Good luck. Feel free to email if you have more questions. a & e

Stainless Steel Countertops

March 2003

We are remodeling our kitchen in North Berkeley and need someone who can make stainless steel countertops. We would appreciate any recommendations or leads. Tienne

I'm putting SS countertops in our kitchen. Here are the manufacturers I've found. Each works a little differently, so it's worth talking to more than one.
American Metal Products 1320 Underwood Ave San Francisco, CA 94124 (415) 822-4100 Walter Mork Co. 2418 6th Street Berkeley, CA. 94710 (510) 845-0992 TGW Metals Inc. 150 West Trident Ave. Alameda, CA 94501 (510) 523-4417