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Countertop Tips & DIY Advice
Tips and Advice for Installing and Maintaining your Kitchen Countertops E-mail

Kitchen renovations can be a daunting task. However, with a few basic power tools and some help from local DIY retail store, you can do the work yourself. Installing countertops is not as difficult as you might think. Here are some tips on installing the counters you love, and then keeping them looking new once the work is done.

What Tools do I Need to Install a New Kitchen Countertop? E-mail

Installing kitchen countertops can be a challenging task, and there are a variety of tools you will need to complete it.

The items you will need to install a countertop include; backsplashes, end splash, clamps, adhesive, shims, level, masking tape, screwdriver, wood screws, and a tape measure. The majority of these things can usually be found at Do It Yourself stores, though you may decide to purchase the actual countertop from a specialty retailer. Though the countertops you will order will probably be expensive, the items you need to install them will not be.

Is My Natural Stone Countertop Resistant to Anything? E-mail
Natural stone countertops come in a wide range of variations and each type of natural stone provides specific benefits to the homeowner. The main types of natural stone that are used for kitchen countertops are quartz, soapstone, marble and granite. When looking for a natural stone countertop, you should pay attention to the purpose you plan to have for your countertop and your budget in order to choose a multifunctional kitchen countertop. Also, you should keep in mind that retaining all the original benefits brought by a natural stone countertop is going to be entirely up to you as you have to polish and seal your natural stone countertop on a regular basis. For instance, a granite countertop is likely to require a higher degree of sealing when compared to other natural stones.

Quartz will require less sealing and polishing. Remember that sealing is a key factor when it comes to making your natural stone countertop stay stain free and water resistant. Natural stone countertops impress through their sleek look and finesse but every homeowner who is interested to have such countertops in his home should know that they are not naturally resistant to every type of damage. Even most of the natural stones listed above are likely to come with inherent qualities that make them able to protect themselves from possible damage, it’s virtually impossible for a homeowner to predict a possible gale wind that may bring his natural stone countertop down.

First, most of the kitchen counter tops made from natural stone are likely to be quite heavy and this precise heaviness will make them more prone to being resistant to stain and scratches. For instance, quartz countertops are resistant to some of the most common and permanent stains and you can go for such a countertop if you know that your kitchen space is going to be “filled" with sugar related items, wine or juice. Actually, quartz is a pretty hard mineral in nature but it’s also pretty expansive. Most natural stone countertops are likely to be naturally resistant to scratching and staining in varying degrees but you should remember that is paramount to regularly polish and seal your natural stone counter top in order to keep all the resistance properties.

The most important issues that are likely to challenge the natural resistance of a natural stone counter top are the degree of permanence when it comes to the scratch, stain or chip and its degree. For instance, if you have your quartz kitchen counter top subjected to some heavy scratches and chips on a regular basis, you may be disappointed when noticing that the natural resistance of your counter top is beginning to decrease. So, the main rule when it comes to ensuring the natural qualities of a natural stone countertop involves regular sealing and polishing in order to make sure that their resistance power against staining and scratching is retained.
How Can I Reseal My Granite Countertop? E-mail
Granite is among the most popular materials for kitchen countertops and its popularity is mainly due to its natural resilience and hardness. But even if this material seems to be quite impregnable, it also has a natural absorbent quality. This is the main reason why sealing is so important in the case of a granite kitchen counter top.

Granite counter tops need sealing in order to keep chemicals and other possibly damaging substances away from their inner structure. Once chemicals are inside a granite counter top, they can make this material more prone to discoloration and staining. The general rule concerning the sealing of a granite countertop is to have your counter top sealed twice a year in order to maintain all its initial qualities. However, the actual sealing frequency is going to depend on the location of your granite countertop and on how much you are using it.

For instance, a more frequently used granite countertop needs sealing as often as every 3 or 4 months. But if you do not use your granite countertop very often, you may seal it just once a year. You can do this task by yourself or you can hire a professional to do the job. Some homeowners are keen on using special granite sealants while others who are on a very tight budget prefer to use some car wax in order to take proper care of the problem.

Once you have your granite countertop sealed, you will have to practice a daily clearance in order to promote the achieved durability of this material.  Also, you should know that acidic solutions are likely to damage the granite sealant thus making the whole countertop more prone to possible discoloration and staining. Because of this, non-acidic cleaners are to be used in order to take proper acre of your sealed granite countertop.

Here are the main steps to be followed when you want to seal your granite countertop all by yourself – just make sure that you have a pretty reliable granite sealer, a brush, towel, sponge and cleaning products.

  • First, you will have to clear the granite counter-top and use the cleaning products in order to wipe away any possible stains. Dirt is o be removed by using the sponge and drying the whole granite surface with the towel.
  • Next, you will have to apply the granite sealer by using the brush or the towel. Make sure that you allow the first coat to dry for at least 4 or 5 minutes. Next, you will have to apply the second coat on the granite countertop.
  • Thirdly, you will have to allow the granite sealer to dry – you will have to do this according to the instructions provided by its manufacturer. You can return your kitchen items on the granite countertop only when you are sure that the granite sealer has dried completely.

Can I use Super Glue to Fix My Countertop? E-mail
Granite and soapstone are among the hardest counter top materials – they are heat, water, scratch and even stain resistant. But when cracks, chips or scratches occur on kitchen counter top made from these materials, they are easy to repair by paying attention to the following tips:

If the scratch, chip or crack is to be found on a horizontal face, you should go for a liquid Super Gel that has a thinner viscosity. But if the chip, scratch or crack is to be found on a vertical surface, you will have to go for a Super Gel that has a thicker texture. Keep in mind that the better application of such repairing solutions is going to depend upon the position of every area that needs to be repaired.
  • First, you will have to clean the area by using Acetone – remember to take all the necessary precautions when using this substance: wear gloves, drop clothe and eye wear in order to avoid any hazards. Then, you will have to thoroughly clean the affected area with acetone and allow this cleaning agent to fully evaporate before making your next move.
  • Next, you will have to fill the scratch or chip in some thin layers thus allowing the glue to cure in right between the layers of the material in order for the scratch or chip to be fully cured, from its bottom to its top. Keep in mind that you should overfill the scratch or crack in order to have too much glue in the cavity to be repaired. Once you notice that the scratch or crack is slightly overfilled, the excess glue must be shaved from the surface by using a razor blade.
  • But be aware that the way you are holding this razor blade when doing the job is critical to your finished repair. So, you will have to make sure that the excess isn’t cut off even if you are prone to believe that this is the simplest and easiest way to remove the excess glue. In fact, you will have to scrape all the excess glue instead and you will to do this slowly by holding the razor blade at an exact 80 degree angle. Make sure that you alternate your shaving motions from various approaches in order not to pull all the glue out of the scratch or crack.
  • Pay attention in order to get all the excess glue that has already hardened on the surface completely flat with your counter top surface. But if you do not manage to avoid pulling out all the glue from the cavity or if the finished repair doesn’t look as you have expected, you may add extra glue and try to re-scrape the top layer of glue later.
  • Also, you will have to pay attention to the color of the material from which your kitchen counter top is made – keep in mind that clear super glue will look quite good when used to repair a scratch, crack or chip mainly because it can take on the exact color of the surrounding stone. Clear super glue will blend it quite well.
  • However, there are some limitations and exceptions you should consider when using super glue. For instance, if you have a very dark tone of stone, you should go for a pigmented epoxy in order to blend the color in the right way. Deep scratches and big chips are likely to be better off with some pigmented and well-chosen as opposed to the common super glue.

Countertop Colors: Traditional vs. Modern Kitchen Spaces E-mail
Image The countertop is regarded as a very important detail when designing and building any kitchen. So, if you are planning to spend a small fortune on kitchen cabinet materials and design, you should also top everything up with a high quality kitchen countertop. Once you have decided the material for your kitchen countertop, you will have to choose the right color for it.

 Keep in mind that the countertop color can actually make or even break your successful kitchen cabinet design and this is the main reason why you should choose a countertop color that blends into your kitchen surroundings and provide you with the perfect effect on the whole ambience.

Kitchen Countertop
by Caesarstone US

Choosing the right color for your kitchen countertop isn’t an easy task as there is a wide range of colors and textures that can be used in order to complement your whole kitchen design. For instance, if you have a light themed kitchen design, you should go for a dark kitchen countertop in order to get the perfect contrast that will balance out the whole space and even pull everything together. On the other hand, if your current kitchen theme leans towards shades of white, you should include black in your countertop color scheme – for instance, you can go for a deep black marble countertop.

If your kitchen has a warmer color scheme, you should go for light colored cabinets topped off with some similar pastel colored kitchen countertops. For instance, you should go for pastel colors that are 1 shade or even 2 lighter than your kitchen walls. By doing this, you will add some extra sense of depth in your kitchen space and maintain a warm atmosphere in it. Remember that your kitchen countertop must not be overlooked when it comes to using its potential as a real opportunity to add presence and interest to the whole space. Neutral colors will allow you greater flexibility and they need not to be too boring. For instance, if your kitchen is contemporary or eclectic, you should go for white countertops as they are a truly versatile choice. Such white countertops can create a bright and seamless aesthetic when you have them paired with some top quality and clean white kitchen cabinets.

White natural stone kitchen countertops are a great choice in any modern kitchen space especially if they are paired with minimalist cabinets design and stainless steel appliances. If you go for a white kitchen countertop, you should make sure that you clean up any spills promptly as such countertops cannot disguise stains too well. If your kitchen space is a more traditional one, you should go for black countertops as they can complement a traditional space especially when paired up with similarly dark kitchen cabinetry. Also, you can get a more traditional look for your kitchen space by combining white cabinets with black countertops. Natural wood countertops are to be considered as well when dealing with a more traditional kitchen space as they can create a really welcoming and comfortable atmosphere and lend a genuine richness to the whole space.
Tips on Tiling Over Your Formica Countertop E-mail
ImageInstalling tile over your Formica countertop is not rocket science – actually, tiling a Formica countertop is a simpler job than tiling over other countertop surfaces. However, doing this is not a quick job as it requires careful planning, precision and patience. By tiling your Formica countertop, you can change the way your whole kitchen space looks.

Also, you can continue by adding brand new faucets and a vividly-colored wall paint in order to provide your kitchen space with a new look without having to spend a fortune. The main things you are going to need for this job are: a tape measure, pencil, butcher paper, trowel, thinset, grinder/sandpaper, mud pan, tile cutter, tiles, waterproof fabric membrane, water, sealer, soft rags and a tile cleaner.

Formica Countertop by Wilsonart Laminate

  • First, you will have to measure your Formica countertop and cut the necessary paper template out of your butcher paper. Keep in mind that you will need all these measurement when you purchase the necessary tiles. Next, you will have to check and see whether your Formica countertop laminate can bond tightly enough to the whole surface. Also, you will have to check whether this whole area is structurally sound. Keep in mind that you really need to have a very good base when planning to tile right over your Formica countertop.
  • Once you detect a problem – spots or loose laminate, you will have to re-glue it and have it clamped down instead of tearing off your entire Formica surface. Next, you will have to rough up your Formica countertop with the sandpaper in order for the thinset to stick to it. Once you see that the whole surface is scarred enough, you will have to continue by waterproofing the entire Formica countertop.
  • Cutting a piece from the waterproof fabric membrane is what comes next – make sure that this piece has the same size as your Formica counter. Also, you may need to overlap all the edges in order to prevent any water leak. By doing this, you will prevent water from penetrating all the wood underneath – in case this happens, your Formica counter may buckle. Make sure that you are using a high quality thinset that is designed for higher performance.
  • Next, you will have to spread the thinset in an even manner. Lay on the membrane and smooth out all the bubbles that may appear. Overlap this membrane at its edges. Next, you will have to allow your Formica counter to dry overnight and while you are waiting, you should lay out all the tiles on your template. By doing this, you will get the chance to arrange all the necessary tiles and even cut any of them that need extra trimming. You must not forget to leave all the necessary space between the tiles for grout. Apply the thinset to this membrane and lay out the wanted design.
  • Next, you will have to attach a temporary board in order to hold all the tiles right on the side of your Formica countertop. The backs must be buttered with the thinset in order to have them placed on the sides. Also, the ledge will hold all the tiles in the right places until he whole thinset dries. Next, you will have to wipe any excess thinset off but you must be careful not to disturb the tiles. They must be let to dry overnight.
  • Next, you will have to clean all the tops and apply the tile sealer. Allow this sealer to dry in order to apply the grout. Remember that this sealer will allow you to have your tiles cleaned easier. Next, you will have to clean all the faces of the tiles and wait 1 week until you can apply 2 coats of tile sealer to the entire surface of your Formica countertop.
Tips on Caring for Your Formica Countertop E-mail
Formica countertops are among the most popular and solid choices that combine both affordability and beauty. However, caring for such Formica countertops is what extends their life and even make sure that they can retain their original goods looks over time. In order to prolong the lifespan of your Formica countertop, you should pay attention to the following tips regarding all the things that must be kept away from its surface. With just a little common sense, your Formica countertop can be made to last for a longer period of time and even hold up to the regular wear and tear.

  • First, flames and heat are to be avoided – for instance, you must not place hot pots or electrical appliances directly on your Formica countertop. Instead, you should use trivets, hot plates or pads in order to keep the Formica surface protected.
  • Cutting is another matter that must be avoided when it comes to caring for you’re your Formica countertop. Even if this surface is likely to be pretty scratch resistant, you must avoid cutting things directly on it. Instead, you should use cutting boards in order to protect the original appearance of the Formica countertop.
  • Harsh abrasives must be avoided as well – for instance, scouring powder may damage the surface of your Formica countertop. Instead, you should stick to some milder agents in order to clean this surface.
  • Solvents and chemicals should be prevented from reaching the Formica surface as they can damage the Formica brand laminate even if this surface is highly durable. Here are some of the substances that can damage your Formica countertop when spilled right on it: sodium hyperchlorite, toilet bowl cleaners, chlorine bleach, tile and bathtub cleaners, scale and lime removers, oven and ceramic cleaners and coffee pot cleaners. Each of these substances has the ability to discolor, corrode and damage a Formica countertop.
  • Over watering is another issue that must be avoided in the case of the Formica countertop. For instance, too much water on your Formica countertop is likely to leak right in its seams and cause further swelling problems.

The basic instructions to be followed in the case of Formica countertop cleaning include the following: a standard cleaning that involves only a clean sponge/cloth and soapy water and the avoidance of abrasives whenever this is possible, streak removal – you will need juts a regular window cleaner in order to take proper care of this problem, spills removal – make sure that you clean each spill right away in order to prevent further staining and waxing – you should wax your Formica countertop in order to protect its original features. Go for a gel or wax that is highly recommended for use on the Formica countertops.

7 Suggestions and Tips for Choosing Your Kitchen Countertop E-mail

Natural stone, Ceramic tile, Laminate, Wood, Quart, Metal, Glass and Stainless steel

When you build a new home or renovate an old one, you spend a lot of time thinking what kind of furniture would fit best. Regarding the kitchen, a countertop well matching the rest of the kitchen furniture can contribute essentially to achieving a great look for your kitchen. That is why we will present seven types of materials for kitchen countertops, and try to keep you informed in order to facilitate your decision in choosing the right counter.

Natural stone (granite or marble) kitchen countertop
- extremely durable material, always in trend. It gives warmth, elegance and uniqueness to any kitchen. The durability of natural stone, its resistance to high temperatures and shocks are advantages that should not be neglected.  Natural stone kitchen countertops come in a variety of colours and shades, because nature can never be surpassed in beauty. The price of this material is quite high and you should know that a kitchen countertop made of natural stone requires periodic maintenance for waterproofing, waxing and polishing to retain its beauty, as it is a porous material. Also it’s not too resistant to staining, it faces  problems on contact with acidic substances and strong shocks. Installation can be done only by qualified personnel as it is quite difficult. In terms of cost, this choice is suitable for kitchens with an average budget.

Ceramic tile kitchen countertop - is one of the most common choices of the last period due to the multiple benefits and the financial facilities it offers. A work counter, decorated with tiles, can fit into any interior ambience. Because of the many models and designs, combined models with decorative patterns or made of distinct colours can be made. Installing a ceramic tile kitchen countertop is extremely simple and does not necessarily require the presence of a specialist. These countertops are easy to maintain and withstand high temperatures.

Glazed tiles are recommended because they better withstand heat, scratches and can not stain. As disadvantages, you should note that the leaf surface is not perfectly smooth, the joints between the tiles can stain easily and that they require waterproofing, because they can be a development environment for bacteria and should be treated with varnish special. Also, take into consideration that they’re not too resistant to chipping and a few extra plates must be purchased. Regarding its price, they’re included in the ‘average’ category.

Laminated kitchen countertop - This type of countertop is made from PAL, on which a special resin desired model are glued. Although it often seems like a cheap solution, some types of desks equipped with a safety foil will look very similar those made of hardwood and therefore come with a similar price tag. They are suitable for people with a tight budget, but also for those who are looking for a specific colour, since laminated worktops are available in a wide range of colours, designs, models and finishes. It is easy to clean and has good resistance to impact. This type of kitchen countertop has a reduced installing difficulty, and a low price. Unfortunately, it doesn’t face too well burns or scrapes, it breaks down quickly enough and scratches are impossible to be resolved.

Quart kitchen countertop - For those who love granite look but want to avoid some of its shortcomings, the alternative is a mixture of quart, resin and pigments. An uniform surface is thus obtained, which combines the hardness and durability of quart (only diamond, topaz and sapphire are harder) with the exceptional waterproofing qualities of the used resins. Such a kitchen countertop has the advantage of high-temperature resistance, shock resistance, easy maintenance, waterproof, resistance to stains, acids and oils, a special, beautiful coloring. It seems an ideal material for kitchen countertops, but has the disadvantage that sinks are not incorporate. The cost is one that measures the benefits.

Wooden kitchen countertop - Solid wood kitchen countertop emits a warm and intimate atmosphere. Made of oak, walnut or cherry, wooden kitchen countertops are preferred because they are made of a natural material, have a relatively low cost and the surface can be sanded and  re-lacquered. Some of its advantages are: natural, ecological material with a smooth leaf surface, low cost, doesn’t fret knives, the surface can be used for cutting vegetables, meat or for stretching dough, the surface becomes can be easily renewed by polishing and coating. A disadvantage is the fact that wood tends to work in time, it is predisposed to degradation or combustion under the action of water or fire, and has sensitivity to sharp objects. Other disadvantages: requires regular coating, absorbs odors and stains from food and drinks, traces of knife are visible, affected by excessive heat and can even burn, sensitive to degradation under the action of water.

Did you know that you have a much higher risk of dying in a domestic household fire if you do not have the correct safety equipment installed such as a smoke alarm. Fire equipment such as fire extinguishers and fire blankets should always be kept the around home, especially in the kitchen, as it is one of the main areas a fire starts.

Metal kitchen countertop - Metal is a very good option for a kitchen countertop. It is waterproof, warm and looks impeccably. It is a durable material with smooth, flexible, hygienic and easy to clean surface. It is hygienic and does not constitute a development environment for bacteria. But special care should be taken regarding stains caused by vinegar, mustard, lemon, as they can while white surface. Because it has a cold aspect, it is a good idea to have in the kitchen furniture made of wood or other some material which has a warm colour. We thus reduce the sober appearance of this material. A disadvantage is the high price and the fact that sharp objects leave traces of cuts, so do abrasive cleaners.

Glass and steel kitchen countertop - For an ultra-modern kitchen is the most suitable choice. With such a kitchen countertop you will certainly impress your friends and relatives. They are distinguished by their elegant style, creating an extreme visual impact. These worktops are quite expensive, can be easily scratched and damaged by objects hitting them accidentally, making them more suitable for kitchens with low traffic. The elegance and style recommend these kitchen countertops to those who don’t use the working space very much and who want their kitchen to impress guests from the first glance. Highest quality materials, with a matching price, offer maximum strength, stability and durability over the years but require constant care. Assembly can be done only by specialists.

Tips on Choosing Granite Countertop Finishes E-mail
Once you have decided to go for granite countertops for your kitchen space, you will have to choose the exact type and finish of the granite you want to be installed. Textures, patterns and colors are likely to compliment your kitchen theme and you will have to go for granite finishes that are perfectly incorporated into your kitchen design.

There are two main types of granite: consistent and variegated. The first one comes with a solid pattern that is repeated throughout its stone slab while the variegated granite comes with beautiful and unique customization through a sporadic design that will not be consistent throughout the whole stone surface. For instance, metallic veins or colors can be considered in order to create a really interesting granite countertop.

Also, there are 2 main kinds of finishes that can be applied on a granite countertop: a flat finish that comes with a smooth appearance but it is also more prone to staining and a polished finish that will provide the granite countertop both with a glossy look and a more durable structure. The variations in your granite countertop will also allow you to increase the current value of your home.

Additionally, you will be allowed to get a total customization for each of your kitchen remodeling plans. Granite colors, patterns and textures can be fully personalized in order to meet your specific accessories and taste. Once you have chosen the right color for your granite countertop, you will have to choose the right finish for this surface. Typically, granite countertops are polished to a honed or high gloss finish.

The honed granite finish looks quite classy. This type of finish is similar the polished granite but without its distinctive reflective shine. This type of finish is popular due to its increased durability and uniqueness. The satin finish is a durable material too and it can be used both for kitchen countertops and home floors. For instance, if you want a natural look for your kitchen, you should go for the honed black granite. Its matte finish is available in a wide range of designs and colors   

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