Category Archives: Countertops

The A-Z Glossary of Home Remodeling Terms

Abatement
The encapsulation or removal of building materials containing pollutants (such as lead or asbestos) to prevent the release of or exposure to fibers.

Acclimation
The adjustment to changes in the climate or environment. Some materials may need time to acclimate before they are positioned in a kitchen or bath.

Accessories
Additional cabinetry items such as overlays, moldings, etc to enhance the appearance and quality of a project. Also includes towel bars, soap dishes, hardware, etc.

Apron
Trim attached below a tabletop or window sill

Backsplash
1)The portion of the exposed area between the bottom of the wall cabinets and the top of the countertop. 2) Also, an elevated section of counter material approximately 4″ high typically part of the countertop. Backsplashes are necessary to prevent water from seeping into the seam between the counter and drywall.

Banquette
A built-in table with chairs in an alcove.

Barn door
Hardware that allows the door to slide along a wall. Useful when a pocket door is too costly or not possible.

Base cabinets
Cabinetry used on the floor to provide countertop support and typically is 34 ½ inches tall and 24 inches deep.

Bearing wall
A wall designed and placed in a position to hold more of a load above it. Usually around the perimeter of a house and in strategic locations to support floor, ceiling, and roof beams.

Casing
An enclosed frame around a door or window opening. Also called trim.

CFM
Cubic feet per minute; used as a measure of the amount of air a fan can move

Chair rail
A trim piece that runs horizontally on a wall at the height of a chair back and is used to make the transition between a wainscot and upper wall. Originally used to prevent damage to a wall from the backs of chairs.

Crown Molding
Crown molding encapsulates a large family of moldings which are designed to gracefully flare out to a finished top edge. Crown molding is generally used for capping walls, pilasters, and cabinets, and is used extensively in the creation of interior and exterior cornice assemblies and door and window hoods.

In recent times, crown moldings have generally made their appearance as mostly decorated plaster or wooden trim where walls meet ceilings.

Clearance space
The space required for a safe and clear use of an appliance, cabinet doors and safe passage.

Color temperature
The color of the lamp itself as compared to the color of a black reference substance when heated to various temperatures Kelvin, and the effect the lamp color has on the color of an object being illuminated by it. Or an index of how the light source itself looks to us, measured in degrees Kelvin (K).

Compact fluorescent (CFL)
A type of fluorescent lamp with the fluorescent tube coiled into a compact shape in a size similar to an incandescent bulb.

Compartmentalized bathroom
A bathroom where individual activities, like toileting or showering, are separated by walls into individual compartments.

Concealed hinge
A hinge that is attached to the door and the inside end panel or stile of a cabinet, making it not visible from the exterior of the cabinet

Construction plan
A drawing that shows both the existing conditions of the structure and the changes to be made to achieve the design

Dormer
A structure built atop a roof to increase the usable space below or to contain windows. A window set vertically in a structure projecting through a sloping roof

Energy efficiency
Ratio of energy output of a conversion process or of a system to its energy input.

Farmhouse Sink
A deep sink that has a finished front. Set onto a countertop, the finished front of the sink remains exposed. This style of sink requires very little “reach-over” to access the sink.

Gable Vent
Vent openings mounted in the top of a gable of a house to allow the exchange of air in the attic.

Grab bars
Safety bars installed in bathtubs and showers to prevent falls. A device, usually installed on a wall, that provide support while rising from, sitting in, entering, or exiting a bathtub or shower.

HVAC
Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning.

I.L.T. (Integral Light Technology) Grilles
Grilles are permanently bonded to the inside and outside of your window glass. Nonglare foam spacer in between the grilles casts a realistic shadow like individual windowpanes would. Creates the most authentic look of true-divided-light windows.

Island
An area of cabinets and countertops which can be accessed and walked around from all sides. Considered free standing.

Laminate
Any thin material such as wood or plastic glued to the exterior of a cabinet, countertop or other surface.

Lazy Susan
A corner cabinet on which the shelves are mounted on a vertical axle such that items may be retrieved by pushing on the shelves to turn them may also be called a lazy Susan. This type is usually found in kitchens. Closed, this type of lazy Susan appears to be two normal cabinets at right angles to each other. When pushed on, the cabinet “doors” reveal the shelves, which are circular except for the ninety degree cutout where the doors are mounted.

Lead time
The time between when a product or item is purchased to the actual delivery date.

Linoleum
An all natural flooring material made of linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, ground limestone, and pigments; regarded as environmentally friendly flooring.

Low-E (Low Emissive)
Glass that reflect heat, not light, and therefore keeps spaces warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Molding
An embellishment in strip form, made of wood or other structural material, that is used to decorate or finish a surface, such as the wall of a room or around a door or window

Muntin
A small vertical or horizontal strip that divides window panes from each other.

Oil-Rubbed Bronze
The Oil Rubbed Bronze finish is a chemically darkened surface designed to simulate aged bronze. This finish is very dark and varies from a deep chocolate brown to a dark gray and usually has copper undertones.

Particle Board
A panel product made from sawdust or wood particles, bonded with a resin under high heat and pressure.

Partition Wall
A wall that separates rooms, or divides a room. Partition walls are usually not load-bearing. Partition walls are constructed of many materials, including steel panels, bricks, blocks of clay, terra-cotta, concrete, or glass blocks.

Pedestal sink
A free-standing fixture with a wide top and narrow base that conceals the plumbing.

Pendant
A lighting fixture hung from the ceiling containing one or more lamps.

Peninsula
An area of cabinets or counter fastened on one side which can be accessed and walk up to on three sides.

Picture Rail
A horizontal trim piece installed high up on a wall as a means of hanging pictures without puncturing the wall with nails or brads.

Pocket door
A door that slides horizontally on a track and is typically moved inside a wall for storage.

Powder room
A small bathroom for guest near the public areas of the home. Consists of a sink and toilet.

R&R
Remove and Replace. A term describing simple remodeling project that involves removing and replacing cabinetry, fixtures and appliances without structural or mechanical changes.

Radiant Heating
An efficient heating system that warms cold objects, which then radiate heat into the surrounding space evenly.

R-Value
A measure of the thermal resistance of material, especially insulation.

Sconce
A light fixture that is fixed to a wall.

Scope
The sum of the products and services to be provided as a project.

Sheetrock™
A brand of drywall that is itself often used as a term for drywall.

Sight lines
The range or visual field in direct line with a person’s eyes, impacted by the position a person will be in when the space or product is being used. This is useful in planning heights of fixtures, fittings, lighting, windows, and more.

Sill
The portion of the door or window assembly at the bottom or floor, including the fixed and movable parts of the window or door and the fixed portion of the building into which the window or door mounts.

Site Plan (Mortgage Survey)
A drawing prepared to scale showing the placement of a proposed building(s), location of existing structures, and other lot development features — setback measurements, driveways, fencing, landscaping.

Soaking tub
Extra deep tub that allows the user to submerge to their neck.

Soffit
A lowered portion of a ceiling. The horizontal surface below the eave. A porch roof. The under surface of a lowered portion of the ceiling. A “bulkhead” in Canada. An enclosed area used to fill a space between the tops of the wall cabinets and the ceiling.

Solid Surfacing
A class of rigid surfacing materials made of acrylic and/or polyester resins mixed with alumina tryhydrate.

Studs
Framing members of the wall, usually 2x4s or 2x6s which the cabinets are fastened to.

Subcontractors
Contractors who will work specifically for another contractor or design firm

Sub-flooring
The flooring applied directly to the floor joist on top of which the finished floor rests.

Task lighting
Added lighting for specific tasks, like grooming, dressing, reading, etc. Lighting focused on an work area.

Toe kick
An indented space in cabinetry near the floor to accommodate the feet while standing next to a cabinetry.

Tongue and Groove
A method of fitting similar objects together, edge to edge, used mainly with wood, in flooring, parquetry, panelling, and similar constructions. Tongue and groove joints allow two flat pieces to be joined strongly together to make a single flat surface. Each piece has a slot (the groove) cut all along one edge, and a thin, deep ridge (the tongue) on the opposite edge. The tongue projects a little less than the depth of the groove. Two or more pieces thus fit together closely. The joint is not normally glued, as shrinkage would then pull the tongue off.

Traffic Patterns
The normal walkway or passage a person would go from one place to another.

Transom
A horizontal window set above a door or other windows.

Underlayment
A material placed over the subfloor plywood sheeting and under the finish covering to provide a smooth, even surface. A non-structural sheet material installed on a subfloor to provide a stable, level and smooth base for the floorcovering.

Updraft ventilation systems
A kitchen ventilation system that includes a hood over a cooking surface to capture the air borne by-products of cooking and a fan to pull air up; captured air is either exhausted to the outside or filtered and re-circulated into the room, depending on the system

Vanity
Bathroom cabinet with the sink on top.

Vapor Barrier
Any material used for damp proofing, typically a plastic or foil sheet, that resists diffusion of moisture through wall, ceiling and floor assemblies of buildings to prevent interstitial condensation.

Vessel sink
A sink bowl or basin that sits on top of the counter or ledge.

Wainscoting
An application of wood paneling up to the middle or lower half of a wall

Work Triangle
The distance between the three primary work centers (cooking surface, clean-up/prep primary sink, and refrigeration). Ideally between 12 and 26 feet in total length.

Source: Many of these definitions were obtained from the NKBA.

The Benefits of Visiting Our Showroom

The majority of our potential clients will initiate their contact with us by sending an email or calling us on the phone, and requesting a free in-home consultation. While we in no way discourage this, I would humbly suggest that the better route to take would be to first stop by our Showroom. We are open from 8:30 to 5:30 Monday through Friday, and from 10:00 to 3:00 on Saturday, which should accommodate almost any schedule.

The reason I see it most beneficial to visit our Showroom before making an in-home consultation appointment is, by visiting, you will have the opportunity to meet with multiple members of our staff, from design, to pricing, to production. Even potentially the installers who will be working on your job, the bookkeeper who can answer any questions related to financing, and the marketing team who will gift you with a promotional item or two! We might be having an employee’s birthday party and invite you in for a slice of ice cream cake. You will have an inside view into our company culture instead of one stranger appearing on your doorstep.

Sometimes a walk-in client will be greeted by one of our designers, begin a discussion about their project, and come to a technical question that that individual is not an expert on. We can easily grab the nearby expert, and answer your question for you right there. Have a question about how long your project will take to start? Ask our production department, who know their schedules better than anyone. You can even meet the owner and shake his hand. I think you are beginning to get my point.

Additionally, we have thousands of product samples here that will inspire you. You will have a much better direction of which samples you would like brought out to your home during the in-home consultation. You can even borrow some to take home with you!

I would sincerely suggest visiting us here, developing a rapport with a design consultant, and then making an appointment for him/her to meet with you at your home to proceed further. By visiting us you will have a much clearer picture of whether or not our company is a good fit for you. Call 596-777-6633 to make an appointment to come visit, or walk-ins are always welcome!

Countertop Selection Guide: Quartz vs. Granite vs. Corian vs. Laminate

QUARTZ  $$$$

An engineered stone combining natural quartz with synthetic material to create a surface that is nearly indestructible.

Pros

  • Non-porous, resisting nearly all stains
  • Antibacterial; can be used commercially
  • Does not require sealant
  • Scratch resistant
  • Consistent color

Cons

  • Though heat resistant, not heatproof; hot pads and trivets must be used
  • Integrated sinks are not available
  • Most expensive option

GRANITE  $$$

A fine grained natural stone product, granite provides a hard, durable surface in an endless variety of colors and patterns.

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Nearly impossible to scratch or chip, and very difficult to stain
  • Each slab of granite is unique, and adds style to any kitchen

Cons

  • Noisy and cold to the touch
  • Requires annual sealing
  • Color may not be consistent
  • Though heat resistant, not heat-proof; hot pads and trivets must be used
  • May require seams

 CORIAN / SOLID SURFACE  $$

Synthetic materials create a surface that is smooth, seamless and uniform throughout.

Pros

  • Can be sculpted into various designs
  • Chips, dents and scratches can be easily repaired
  • Can be fabricated with integrated sinks and backsplashes

Cons

  • Cannot be used as a cutting board
  • Darker colors will show nicks
  • Hot pots can inflict damage
  • More susceptible to stains, though they can be buffed out

 LAMINATE  $

Affordable and popular, laminate is a synthetic sheet material available in a wide variety of colors and patterns.

Pros

  • Resists moisture, impacts, and most stains
  • Easy to install and maintain
  • Huge selection of colors, patterns and finishes
  • New flush sinks now available

Cons

  • Can burn, fade, scratch and chip
  • Seams and joints are visible
  • Typically requires a top-mount sink

For a more in depth approach, read the article we posted last year:

All About Countertops: Which One is Right For Me?

What is the Least Invasive Countertop Material? Granite? Quartz?

In today’s Eco-conscious world, many may wonder where their beautiful countertop comes from, and how invasive the procedure is to extract it from the Earth.  Then the question arises: what is the least invasive product out there, is it granite or is it quartz?  My answer to that would be quartz.

When you mine granite, you can’t make that area of the Earth look like what it started out looking like. It is now a giant hole in the ground which eventually gets filled in with water and becomes a lake.  That’s about the most you can do because it’s very invasive. Granite mining changes the look of that environment forever.

Granite is mined by explosives; they blow off these giant blocks from the side of the mountain, take it back to the quarries, cut it into slabs, polish and seal it.  Once they are sealed they are shipped to granite yards such as Solid Surfaces Unlimited, and then they make countertops out of them.

A  Granite Quarry in Vermont

Quartz surfaces on the other hand are comprised of 93 % quartz, and 7% resin.  Natural quartz is a pure mineral that comes in chunks. I can’t go out and mine a slab of quartz because it doesn’t exist in nature that way.  There is really nothing holding it together. It’s going to be less invasive than a mining procedure, because it is found on the surface of the Earth. They can target quartz veins, extract the quartz, fill it back in, and leave it looking essentially the same as they found it.  Big crystals are then ground down into smaller crystals. The cool thing with quartz is that since its base is silica, it holds that prismatic shape.  So when you grind it down, it doesn’t get rounded off or smooth out, it retains its prismatic shape which reflects light.

Natural Quartz Crystal

Quartz is also the most abundant mineral on Earth.  If you are walking along the beach, chances are that’s quartz sand.

What  happens with the quartz? It is brought in from wherever, put into these supersacks, grated, washed, and separated according to size. Imagine a giant mixing bowl. We throw in the pigments, the quartz stone, the colorants, and it starts to mix up the mixture.  Then the material is poured onto a rubber mold.  The loose mix starts off as twice the thickness as the final product.  So if I am ending up with a 3cm thick countertop, they throw onto the rubber mold 6 cm worth of material.

Remember this is 93 % quartz and only 7% resin.  In the food industry, anything over 90% is considered pure.  The slab press converts it into slabs by shaking it, compressing it, and vaccuming the air out of it.  So all the voids are filled in.

Comparing porousness: when the plates of the Earth are moving together and moving this material around at very high temperatures, air is also being trapped within.  So by the time it reaches the surface and we are carving it out of the mountain, there is air in there.  That is why we talk about granite being porous.  In this manufactured world, we can pull that air out.  This makes quartz 3 times harder than granite.  So, here we have man duplicating nature.

Transcribed from a presentation by Ursula Schneider of Solid Surfaces Unlimited: Leader of Surfaces Materials in Sterling Heights, MI.

All About Countertops: Which One is Right for Me?

“How to Buy Remodeling” Blog Series – Part Three

There are many different types of countertops that can be used in Kitchens and Bathrooms.  Everybody is always asking: “What is the BEST Countertop?”

The best is Quartz, the second best is Granite, the third best is Solid Surface Acrylic, for example Corian.  The fourth best is Hi-Definition Laminate, and the fifth would be regular laminate.

Caesarstone Quartz Countertop

That is just a general opinion from me, but that is based on experiences that my clients have given me feedback on.  Quartz is not able to be stained or scratched or damaged in any way, which makes it the best.  It comes in a wide variety of colors and always has a smooth texture.  Granite is the second best because it can be stained and it has to be sealed; it does take maintenance.  But, if you’re looking for beauty, granite is better than quartz.  You cannot beat the look of a slab of granite.  If you went into the warehouses where they store the granite to pick yours out, you would be awed by the wide variety of colors and waves of color that go through the slabs, your jaw would drop and you would pick one out that is so beautiful and just for you.  Quartz is not like that, it does not produce that jaw-dropping effect.

Slab of Granite

How hard is it to maintain the granite?  I mean, is it do-able?

It has to be sealed.  And then if youre cooking and you have grease going on there and wine and grapes and things , you could stain your granite, especially your lighter colored granite.

Do you seal it just once, or every year?

As often as you need to.  Every 6 months is what I recommend, some do it every year, depends how much you use your countertops.  In the area where you do food prep, every 6 months would be appropriate.  You have to strip it, clean it and re-seal it.  You can buy cleaners that also seal, which is what we use at our house.

Again, Quartz is the least amount of maintenance and the most amount of durability against scratches, which are the two qualities that make it generally recognized as “the best”.

What about Wood Countertops?  Those seem to be rising in popularity.

Butcher block countertops are beautiful to look at, but they have to be sealed and are softer than stone, so they can dent and scratch (but many wood-lovers see this as adding character). There has been a myth spreading that wood countertops harbor bacteria, but wood is actually naturally anti-bacterial!

And then you have Corian type products.

Corian is very easy to scratch, all Acrylic countertops are easy to scratch.  Ebonite, Corian, Nevamar, and a whole bunch of them.  But the beauty of them is they can be worked like a piece of wood.  So you can router them, you can have inlays, you can add designs, and they are all seamless, every time they are installed there are never any seams.  The edge treatments are all formed right into the countertop, so it works like a raw piece of wood as far as using tools on it, drilling holes and things like that, it’s very easy to work with.  So if you have custom designs that you need done.  Corian is good for shower walls, it’s good for bathtub decks, it’s good for a lot of things where the weight of quartz or granite would be too cumbersome.  It has its application, and is very popular in some high-end areas just like quartz and granite; it’s about the same price.

And then your Hi-Definition Laminate is a very durable product as far as scratches, much more durable than Corian, but it has a limited life.  Moisture is the enemy of laminate.

Around the sink and in areas where there are seams, over time develops swelling of the substrate, and the counter has to be replaced probably every 7-10 years.   Now it’s about one quarter of the cost, so if you want to refresh your counters once in a while, then go with Hi-Def laminate and you can change them more often.

Is that what Formica is?

Formica is a brand of plastic laminate.  They’re all the same: Formica, Nevamar, Wilsonart, a few others.

So when would you recommend using laminate?  Isn’t that what we have in our basement around the bar area?

Yes we do.  We used a Hi-Definition plastic laminate, looks like granite, has a texture to it, it is very durable, looks beautiful.

Formica Laminate Countertop

Because I’ve seen some new ones that even look like stone.

Yeah that’s because they have rounded edges or beveled edges, they look like stone.

And you don’t have to worry so much about your every move, whether or not you will stain it.

They can’t be stained.  Very difficult to stain laminate, but they can be cracked with a hot pan.  But then again you shouldn’t put a hot pan on anything.

That’s what a lot of people ask me on the phone, which countertop they should get.  They think they want to put their hot pans on them.  Would you recommend doing that, even on quartz?

Well you can! You can put a hot pan on anything.  What youre risking is something called Rapid Thermal Expansion which will cause  a thermal crack.  So, when something is really hot it expands quickly.  If the countertop is part cold and part hot because you put something on it, it might crack.  No one is going to provide a warranty against the cracking of any countertop.

So it’s a crack we should be worried about, not a black circle burn mark or anything like that?

Right.  You can’t burn granite, you cant burn quartz.  Corian can be scotch-brighted and the burn comes right off- you can’t burn through the surface.  You can burn the surface, with a cigarette or something, but it will come right off.  Laminate, if you put a hot pan on that, it pops the glue, and makes a bubble in the surface or cracks.  The limit really is about 325º for anything going on the counter.  Anything more than that, youre in danger of cracking.  Or even boiling water.  If you pour boiling water into a corian sink you can crack it.  That’s only 212º.  So I guess it would probably be best to use hot pads all the time.  You wouldn’t want to take the chance.

So there are different applications for all of the different counters, it depends on the abuse it’s going to go through, and the amount of upkeep you are willing to do.  Laminate is a lot less expensive, and it’s come a long way.   Stop by our showroom any time to look at the hundreds of samples we have of all the different styles of countertops!  Kopke Remodeling & Design, located at 38200 Van Dyke Ave., Sterling Heights, MI 48312.

Read More: “Quartz, Granite, Solid Surfaces: Pros and Cons”