Best Low-Maintenance Countertop Materials

Best Low-Maintenance Countertop MaterialsWith your busy life, you don’t have time to deal with countertops that need tons of regular maintenance.  Sealing natural stone and worrying about scratches and stains is more work than many of us want to put into our kitchen!  Fortunately, there are a wide variety of countertop materials that are significantly lower maintenance, allowing you to have great countertops without the added work or stress.

Solid Surface

Naturally, we’re going to recommend solid surface above all others.  Solid surface is worry free, with scratches easily being buffed out; as the color and pattern go all the way through the material, you don’t have to worry about ruining your finish.  Solid surface is easily cleaned with soap and water, is resistant to staining and resist heat and impacts better than nearly any other surface available.  It’s hard to go wrong when you pick solid surface.

Stainless Steel

If you’re looking for a more industrial/modern-chic look, stainless steel is an interesting option – and you can’t get any lower maintenance than stainless steel.  As the name would imply, they don’t get stained by food or juice or anything else that they might encounter in the kitchen, and are heat resistant, to boot.   They don’t need to be sealed or refinished, and require no special products to clean.  They can be slightly more expensive than solid surface, however, and they are much noisier.  Still, they’re a solid alternative.

Laminate

Laminate is a very affordable alternative for a low-maintenance countertop.  Many of the same manufacturers make both laminate and solid surface options, including Wilsonart and Formica.  They are easier to install than solid surface, and offer many of the same benefits – a nonporous surface, no need for sealing or refinishing, hundreds of colors and patterns, etc.  The main issue they have, compared to solid surface, is that the pattern doesn’t go all the way through the material, so you risk having unsightly damage to your counter that is impossible (or, at least, very expensive!) to repair, as opposed to a quick-and-easy solid surface repair job.

How to Improve an “L”-Shaped Kitchen

How to Improve an L-Shaped KitchenAn “L”-shaped kitchen layout is one of the best out there.  It’s extremely functional, with everything in easy reach, and it works well with open floor plans, which is the “in” style at the moment.  It’s one of the best layouts to start working with, as its basic function and shape are ideal for an attractive, functional space.

That doesn’t mean you can’t improve it, however!  The experts at Solid Surface Canada have some great suggestions on how to take your “L”-shaped kitchen to the next level:

Customize Your Work Triangle

The “kitchen work triangle” concept states that the main kitchen appliances – your refrigerator, stovetop and sink – should be within a few steps of where you prep the food, forming an efficient and accessible triangle.  Well, that’s true for most people, but perhaps not for you.  Maybe you don’t use your oven very frequently – it might be the microwave you want close at hand.  If you find yourself not using your oven, or rarely using your stovetop, you can move them out of the center of your kitchen, putting regularly used pieces of equipment within arm’s reach.

Raise Your Cabinets

Running out of storage space?  Most kitchens have tons of extra room, just waiting to be exploited – there’s a gap between most cabinets and the ceiling.  For an “L”-shaped kitchen, where storage is often at a premium, extending those cabinets up to the ceiling is a great way to add that little bit of extra storage.

Open Shelving

An “L”-shaped kitchen involves a lot of wall space, as it bends around a corner.  Sometimes, two walls worth of solid cabinets can be difficult on the eye, or a problem for decorating.  Replacing some cabinets with open shelving can create better visibility and break up that wall of cabinetry.

Upgrade Your Countertops

Of course, the best upgrade for any kitchen is putting in brand new solid surface countertops.  Corian, Avonite, Formica – no matter what you have in mind, Solid Surface Canada can help.  Contact us today!

3 Ways to Add Detail to Your Kitchen

3 Ways to Add Detail to Your KitchenFor understandable reasons, the majority of time planning a kitchen renovation or remodel is spent on the major aspects of the remodel – the cabinetry, the countertops, the appliances and so forth.  That makes sense – they’re the big-ticket items and the most important to get right.

Once those are set, however, you want to add your own finishing touches – you want to add details that makes your kitchen unique, and help it to stand out from the rest.  There are plenty of ways to add this extra oomph factor with minor changes and adjustments, giving your kitchen more personality and adding to the value of your home.  Here are 3 quick and simple ways to add detail to your kitchen.

Crown Molding

The molding provides a transition from your cabinets to the ceiling – a little visual flourish with touches of elegance.  It draws the eye up to the ceiling, giving the impression that your home is well-crafted and solid.  If you’re installing new cabinets anyway, it’s a relatively simple addition to add crown molding – it doesn’t even need to touch the wall to create an elegant look.  Whether you use it to add space between the cabinet and ceiling by placing the molding at a different depth than your cabinets, or custom-design it so the cabinets appear flush with the ceiling, crown molding is a classic touch of detail.

Splash of Color

Most kitchens will be neutral in hue – your basic whites and earth tones.  Picking too garish of a color for your central theme can give you eyestrain when you have to spend time in your kitchen!  However, for the less-permanent, movable kitchen accents—think chairs, dishes on open shelving and lighting fixtures – a splash of bright color can really liven up the room.  Picking, say, lime green for your countertops may not be ideal, because you’re stuck with it until you remodel your kitchen again.  But a bright color for detail here and there can add a little bit of extra zest to your kitchen.

Glass Doors

One way to get that splash of color is with brightly-colored dishes and decorative pieces, and one way to display them is in cabinets with glass doors.  Replacing traditional solid-panel fronts with glass allows your choices in dishware to play a part in the overall look of your kitchen.  There’s a wide variety of types of glass to choose from, as well – fully transparent, frosted, stained, and so forth.  Glass also gives your kitchen the appearance of more space, which is great for smaller kitchens.

DYI Solid Surface Countertops

DIY Solid Surface CountertopsInstalling solid-surface countertops yourself can be a challenging task for even the most avid DYIer.  This is why so many professional services exist – to help navigate all the challenges and issues the layman is likely to encounter when trying to get a professional, long-lasting look in their countertops.

If you are an avid DYIer, however, and want to tackle the task yourself, we’re here to give you some basic advice and a guide to some of the procedures involved.  If you’re attempting this yourself, these are handy tips to getting started.  If you’re hiring a professional, like the experts at Solid Surface Canada, then this guide will tell you what to expect when the contractors begin work.

Level the Base Cabinets

Countertops rest directly atop the cabinets below, and solid surface countertops are no exception.  If the cabinets aren’t of a consistent height, then the countertops will not lie flat when finally installed.  That could lead to cracking and other structural damage, as well as simply not giving you a uniform work surface to deal with!

If sections of your counters are too high, a belt sander or coping saw can be used to trim them down to size.  If they are too low, simple shims can be used to raise the countertop, keeping the height consistent over the length of your counter.

Add the Necessary Supports

Sometimes there will be gaps in your cabinets where you’ll want your countertop to go.  Maybe you’re installing a new dishwasher or a small refrigerator – you’ll want your countertop to run over them, but you won’t have cabinets below to provide support.  You can use 2×2 lengths of wood, called “cleats”, for support.

Screw the cleats directly into the wall, or into the cabinet bases on either side of the appliance.  You’ll want to ensure that these cleats are out of sight, so they don’t interfere with the aesthetics of your kitchen.  You’ll also want to ensure that their location won’t interfere with the installation of the appliances later.

Countertop Installation

You’ll want to use painter’s tape along the top edge of your countertops, to prevent the glue from sticking to them.  Then, apply a bead of quality construction adhesive atop the cabinets, and gently set the solid surface countertop onto the cabinet tops.  This may require two people to ensure everything is laid down gently and smoothly; it can often be too bulky for a single person to complete this task.

When you have the countertop properly aligned, simply push down on the countertop, causing it to bond with the adhesive.

Sink Installation

Most sinks come with a template for cutting.  Using this template, carefully sketch out the pattern on the countertop that you’ll be cutting.  Make sure that the back of the sink will be a consistent distance from the wall, and that it’s set back far enough so that the sink avoids the base cabinet.

Then, use a hole saw to create a starting place, and a jigsaw to actually cut out the opening for the sink.  You’ll want to apply plumber’s putty around the lower edge of the sink to ensure a water-tight seal before setting the sink into the hole.

Push the sink down firmly, and remove any putty that squeezes out.  Your sink should come with clamps; use them to secure the sink to the countertops.  After that, it’s a matter of just installing the faucet and attaching it to the plumbing.

Conclusion

It’s a complex task, but with the proper tools and expertise, you can successfully install your own countertops.

If, however, you want the benefit of experienced contractors with years of experience, or simply need some more personalized advice on how to continue, please don’t hesitate to contact us.  We’re glad to help with the fabrication and installation of solid surface material, and we promise to bring the absolute best experience to each and every one of our clients.