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wood countertops ad nauseum

lemonbalm's picture

Hi

A relative newcomer here, though I've been poring over everything in this folder over the past week....I am in what I hope is the end stage (well middle stage, okay) of planning my kitchen remodel (gutting and expanding a small kitchen into an unneeded bathroom). What I need is some advice about countertops. I really need to find a way to economize somewhere but I keep running up against, alas, the fact that quality materials are expensive. I have an island as well as an L-shape to populate with countertops. I love the look of wood and since it's relatively inexpensive I thought I'd use it as much as possible. What I'm wondering is whether it would be wise or unwise to use face-grain wood countertops (which I assume are cheaper if not made from exotic wood) for the island and the 18" clutter space next to the fridge, since they will not be cutting surfaces, and if so whether to polyurethan them (I'd prefer the oil, aesthetically and health-wise), but also use edge-grain maple that I would use for cutting for another large swath of them. I've picked out natural maple base cabinets (no wall cabinets) (though not ordered yet) too. The remainder of the counter would be stainless and/or granite (grey or white) partly depending on relative cost. I'm wondering if the maple is going to dominate the kitchen too much, if it all looks pretty uniform? or if 3 types of maple (the cabinets, the face grain, the end grain) are going to look good or bad if they're *not* similar enough. It has occurred to me to use a completely different face grain wood for one area, just to play around and bring some other color into the scheme. Secondly, I want to know what's up with all the undermount sinks in wood counters that I see in every single magazine and book illustration of kitchens! Everything I've read here suggests that's rather foolish given the mold, rot, splitting issues, and I do live in a seaside town with pretty high humidity. Or am I missing something? Thirdly, what to do about seams when you're using multiple kinds of countertop materials? Fourth, what kind of costs should I be looking at for undermount stainless sinks...best brands...brands to watch out for? distributors? I have a lot more questions, but I'll save it for another post.

jillsi's picture

(post #54356, reply #1 of 19)

Hi, Lemonbalm, and welcome (if you're new?).


I think you might get some good ideas from the folks at BreakTime -- they're associated with Fine Homebuilding. Collectively, they must have about a million years' experience in remodeling and restoration, including a lot of kitchens. (I'm just trying to save up some $$$ to rescue my kitchen before I venture over there for some advice.)


Certainly, the cooks here on CT can tell you what's worked well and not so well in their remodels, but you really ought to consider skipping over to BT for the nuts-and-bolts construction advice. (I don't THINK those guys over there bite . . . )


You might also think about breaking your long paragraph into separate items -- will make it easier on any reader(s) who can answer specific parts . . . sorry, just 25 years of editing for a living coming out there! But seriously, I do think it will help make your questions more accessible and therefore easier to answer.


Good luck and let us hear how your project goes.


That which does not kill us merely postpones the inevitable.


Edited 6/29/2004 8:43 pm ET by jillsi

 

 

lemonbalm's picture

(post #54356, reply #12 of 19)

Thanks for your advice, Geoffchef. I prefer the look of the oiled boards anyway, and I don't care a great deal whether the various maple components match exactly. It's to be a working kitchen, not a trophy. Now on to determine prices and vendors.

Yours humbly in one paragraph,

Lemonbalm

assibams's picture

(post #54356, reply #13 of 19)

We installed beech countertops in our kitchen. Ready-made countertops by IKEA, unfinished. IIRC they were around $50 per meter. DH sanded them well and finished them with  woodoil. I do not cut on the countertop, but it has survived the occasional bread slicing by my kids without damage.


About once a year (or every other year) we refinish it with some more oil. So far I have no water damage or other stains, not even around the sink or stovetop.


I would do it again for sure.

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
Herm Albright

MER02's picture

(post #54356, reply #14 of 19)

How long have you had these countertops?

I adore Ikea's design. I've enjoyed many of their products.

assibams's picture

(post #54356, reply #16 of 19)

The kitchen is in its 6th year. While the lower cabinets (white) have some dings the countertops still look brandnew. DH loved the fact that he could install it himself, and the wood is so much easier to cut than the regular laminated counters.

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
Herm Albright

MER02's picture

(post #54356, reply #17 of 19)

This sounds wonderful. Do you have any photos on this site? I'd love to see it. :)

assibams's picture

(post #54356, reply #18 of 19)

I don't think I have posted any pics of my kitchen. I couldn't find any on the kids' PC and DH took the camera with him to China, so you'll have to wait a couple of days.

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
Herm Albright

MER02's picture

(post #54356, reply #19 of 19)

no worries. post when you can. :)

Geoffchef's picture

(post #54356, reply #15 of 19)

Happy to help.

 


 


The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.


-Robert W. Service

 

ADAM'S APPLE, n.
A protuberance in the throat of man, thoughtfully provided by Nature to keep the rope in place.
Ambrose Bierce - The Devil's Dictionary

 

Geoffchef's picture

(post #54356, reply #2 of 19)

Hi Lemonbalm! Guess what? CT has its very own resident kitchen designer. That would be me.


OK, wood countertops. Evidently, you are already aware that they must be hard maple, both because of the physical characteristics and the antibacterial properties of the wood. Never use polyurethane, or any other film building finish, on any countertop. It will chip, and flakes of it will find their way into your food. The only finish which is safe for all applications is pure mineral oil. This is chemically inert, and cannot go rancid. The only reason for using end grain for chopping boards is that it is easier on your knife edges. This is really only significant if you are hacking stuff up for several hours every day. End grain blocks are much more expensive, and potentially more contaminable, juices can penetrate end grain much more easily. I wouldn't bother with them. Nor would I use wood for the sink or stove areas, too much potential for rot with the one and burning with the other. If you plan to use granite around the range, be aware that, while a hot pot will not hurt the stone, it will cause degradation of the oil sealer used to treat the stone. So, if you habitually place hot objects in the same area of the countertop, you will create a  spot where the finish becomes dull, and the stone is more susceptible to staining. Every countertop material available really needs a hot pad or trivet to catch hot pots. Stainless you say? Stainless is usually glued to a substrate of plywood or particle board. Heat degrades the glue, and, in combination with heating expansion of the steel, will cause delamination, giving you a hump and a noisy spot on the counter. Whenever possible, and whatever the material, avoid seams in your countertop - they will, eventually, fail. The maple countertops will have a different look from your cabinets, the finish will be dull, and they will, inevitably, develop some "character". If you want to set them apart further, consider an inlay in the edge, of a contrasting wood like purpleheart or walnut. You could commission a woodworker to make you handles of the same material.


Have fun!


 


 


The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.


-Robert W. Service

 

ADAM'S APPLE, n.
A protuberance in the throat of man, thoughtfully provided by Nature to keep the rope in place.
Ambrose Bierce - The Devil's Dictionary

 

Gretchen's picture

(post #54356, reply #3 of 19)

PARAGRAPHS   PARAGRAPHS  PLEASE


I would try to help a bit--and Geoff will be the good boy he is always, but I just can't wade through it all


 Poly, if your aren't going to cut on them


Nothing if it is  a true cutting board.


Gretchen
Gretchen
Geoffchef's picture

(post #54356, reply #5 of 19)

Mea culpa. It's just that Prospero double spaces when you paragraph, and the son of the parents who endured wartime rationing, and could not abide waste, feels guilty at wasting all that "paper". LOL.


Hereinafter, I will tabulate with abandon.


All that said, I find your last two paragraphs cryptic.


 


 


The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.


-Robert W. Service

 

ADAM'S APPLE, n.
A protuberance in the throat of man, thoughtfully provided by Nature to keep the rope in place.
Ambrose Bierce - The Devil's Dictionary

 

Gretchen's picture

(post #54356, reply #7 of 19)

If you hit "shift" at the same time as "enter" you will get a single space. I don't require indents--just a little separation.

Gretchen

Gretchen
ICDOCEAN1's picture

(post #54356, reply #4 of 19)

I hate the words...ad nauseum..


 


 


 

MadMom's picture

(post #54356, reply #6 of 19)

Ahh - time for a grammar tangent...how about the people who complain because they feel "nauseous?"

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
Lily Tomlin

jillsi's picture

(post #54356, reply #11 of 19)

<Gritted teeth>


Those are the same folks who'll tell you that this board "is comprised of" a bunch of cooks.


</Gritted teeth>


That which does not kill us merely postpones the inevitable.

 

 

schnitzel's picture

(post #54356, reply #8 of 19)

I hate the words...ad nauseum..


and so often misspelled, it should be ad nauseam  ;·)


~Amy W
ICDOCEAN1's picture

(post #54356, reply #9 of 19)

good thing I only copied and pasted...

schnitzel's picture

(post #54356, reply #10 of 19)

LOL, absolutely!


~Amy W