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Corian vs. Silestone countertops


rgruby
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I find I'm in almost complete agreement with Arne here in terms of advantages, disadvantages, based on experiences with my own countertops--and the best choice or best combination of surfaces will vary for everyone based on how they work, their budget, where they're located and what they value. That's going to be fickle inherently--I love the dull, matte, buffable, "fake" or "plasticky" feel to the touch, pure white color of our Corian. I'm one year in and going strong. Two nicks, a few red wine, espresso, tomato stains and a few scratches rubbed or buffed out, it's handled my 230 pounds of downward force just fine kneading and rolling things out--though I've never whomped down onto it with a hammer. I don't have confidence I could really bang down on it indiscriminately--and I think if you go with a Corian expecting it to remain shiny or to progressively buff it back to hone its shine whenever necessary over time, you'll be disappointed.

We chose our Corian, though, precisely because it did not look at all like granite. I love what it's not: dark, seamed, natural stone, cold and hard as a rock--but then we chose a color--pure bright white--to help light our small space and which actually seems to hide wear and tear really well--and which would have been unavailable in stone. How did I know the white would wear well? I didn't, but for 2 or 3 years I looked at the same color countertop/sink/island in an IKEA display kitchen, which got pounded and leaned on day in and day out (admittedly not ever cooked in) and it just looked great. Whether I'll still feel this way 3-5 years in, I don't know.

That it's repairable, impeccably sanitary, doesn't need to be sealed and re-sealed, offered us the chance of a seamless sink in the same color and a seamless coved backsplash helped close the deal. But it also works for us because we have a large 1 and 1/4" thick granite countertop worksurface and a big stainless steel worksurface as well--and I think what Arne has done for pro cooks installing multiple solid surfaces at home should really be considered for all cooks in all homes. If Corian were all we had, if I were sloppy or hurried in the kitchen, if we had kids, I'd have more trouble recommending it with confidence.

In our area, basic colors of Corian were significantly less expensive than granite, and now Zodiaq is more expensive than either.

As a knowledgeable consumer you do have to check underneath Corian to assess just how it is supported, to see how well the guy who measured the template did and whether his information was accurately conveyed to the guys who made and supported your finished piece and point any dissatisfaction out to the installer. Send a few e-mails so there's a paper trail documented if anything happens down the road--and bingo, a guy will come back out and give you that support where you want it because they don't want to have to replace it a few years down the road when it cracks. We got our Corian through IKEA, because I had read reports of people successfully using IKEA to help leverage repairs or replacements down the road--the price ordering through IKEA was lower than the price direct from the very firm they passed the order on to anyway.

Steve--when you first started posting about your disappointment with Corian, I wondered if it had to do primarily with the color and finish you chose, that had you had more user reports or informed consent with that particular color/pattern over time, you might not have regretted another choice as much.

When I was in Costa Mesa I saw a Corian kitchen countertop fashioned to look thick--instead of the normal 1.5" it was 3+" and looked like a big squared off slab of mottled dark green poured concrete--I think it was what Corian calls Emerald or Malachite. Unique, very cool, a brilliant focal point within an otherwise white kitchen (doors, drawers, cabs.) I don't think I'll ever forget the impression that countertop made.

I'd be looking seriously at Zodiaq if I had to do it all over again, but not because it looked like granite, instead because it offered a little more security in terms of performance and came in a bright white and a vivid red.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Why expend all that effort to make artificial granite when real granite exists? What's next, artificial sand? It's not like we have a granite shortage. Practically the whole damn crust of the planet is made of the stuff. Just dig some up and make it into a countertop for crying out loud.

Because granite is pourous, dumbass. :laugh: You can stain it. Silestone is not pourous and much more damage resistant. While you CAN damage it with a very hot pan (like, say if you are stupid enough to put a red hot cast iron right onto the surface), you can put a fairly hot pan onto it when it is cold and not crack it, because it does't have any natural fissures in it like granite does.

Edit: Crossposted with Arne.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Well I can tell you that if you ever need to do a shower room/stall Corian is the way to go. We did

3 showers in our house floor to ceiling (walls and all) Corian and the ease of cleaning is beyond

compare, the looks are fabulous and the floor pans have a subtle etching to prevent slipping. We did 4 bath countertops with it as well with the integrated sinks making them easy to clean. When I

do my kitchen next year I want Silestone for many of the reasons others have advocated. Sorry

for the offshoot but just letting you know if you ever plan a bathroom remodel! A hui hou

"You can't miss with a ham 'n' egger......"

Ervin D. Williams 9/1/1921 - 6/8/2004

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That being said I do NOT reccomend using Home Depot Expo to do your kitchen redesign and contracting. They are very slow, hire inexperienced kitchen designers and unreliable contractors. If you want to buy the countertops thru them, fine and dandy, but dont have them be your kitchen designer.

Remodeling the Perlow Kitchen

Ouch Jason... that hurts! As an Interior Design GRADUATE from an accredited school, and a former Home Depot employee, I have to beg to differ! There are plenty of qualified people at these stores, especially since the interior design market is so awful right now, and GRADUATES have to work at these stores! That being said, I am not a proponent of Home Depot by any means, but I think you can find a bad designer anywhere you go and a good designer anywhere you go. Just because you had a bad experience with them does not mean other people will.

"Many people believe the names of In 'n Out and Steak 'n Shake perfectly describe the contrast in bedroom techniques between the coast and the heartland." ~Roger Ebert

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OK,

So far, there have been a couple of comments about a dulling or "haze" happening in Corian over time/use.

Can anyone comment more about that? Might it be colour specific, or perhaps more prone in certain colours rather than others?

The idea of using two (or more) surfaces in the kitchen is a good one. I'll have to give that a bit more thought.

Cheers,

Geoff Ruby

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OK,

So far, there have been a couple of comments about a dulling or "haze" happening in Corian over time/use.

Can anyone comment more about that? Might it be colour specific, or perhaps more prone in certain colours rather than others?

The idea of using two (or more) surfaces in the kitchen is a good one. I'll have to give that a bit more thought.

Cheers,

Geoff Ruby

I would agree that it does look hazy over time, especially with dark colors. You can usually combat this by polishing, but in my experience, it doesn't take long for it to look dull, so break out those biceps! :smile:

"Many people believe the names of In 'n Out and Steak 'n Shake perfectly describe the contrast in bedroom techniques between the coast and the heartland." ~Roger Ebert

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So far, there have been a couple of comments about a dulling or "haze" happening in Corian over time/use.

Can anyone comment more about that? Might it be colour specific, or perhaps more prone in certain colours rather than others?

I would agree that it does look hazy over time, especially with dark colors. You can usually combat this by polishing, but in my experience, it doesn't take long for it to look dull, so break out those biceps!

Corian used divided into colour groups for pricing with names like "Magna Series" and "Jewel Series". It was really helpful as I was able to tell my clients to stay away from certain groups as they would show scratches more quickly.

Now the price groups are "A" through "G" ... A = Awfully expensive, B=Bloody Expensive, C= CRAP! That's expensive!, and so on :cool:

Rule of thumb ... although it's available, never do a high-gloss finish on Corian. It isn't hard enough to maintain the shine. The darker the colour and the finer the particulate, the more scratches you will see. So a colour like Graphic Blue (which we have in the showroom) needs to be buffed out quite a bit. On the other hand Mideiterranean does a much better job of hiding marks.

A word about buffing out your Corian (as opposed to Pimping your Ride): make sure you do the entire surface, and not just the areas where the scratches are. If you focus on work areas, they will eventually look shinier than the rest of your countertop.

A.

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On the other hand Mideiterranean does a much better job of hiding marks.

That's the exact Corian we have.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm still hoping for some expert advice on poured concrete. There was a somewhat negative experience reported upthread (now trading concrete for granite) but it seemed that the problem could have been solved by a better concrete-poly formula. Try as I might, I can't warm to granite, I want something softer-looking (but that can perform) and even honed granite leaves me cold. I love the look of soapstone but don't want a dark colored countertop. Concrete looks great, but how does it really perform? What do I need to know when I shop around?


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Without reading all the countertop "sagas" (I am redoing my kitchen also and have heard them all). Depending on the salesperson they will push you to what ever makes them the most money (even if it means fabricating the truth); who knew? Take home samples of everything you are considering and test them. Cut on them, put a hot pot on them, spill wine, mustard, vinegar, oil, on them and see how they hold up. No countertop surface is pefect, test and see what you can live with. After all is said we loved soapstone, but it is a little expensive, granite and corian are the same price, and the properties of granite wins hands down (for us).

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Is that the same soapstone that I carved in sculpture class, the one that crumbles really easily? Not what I would have considered a durable surface...:unsure:

FWIW, I am very happy with my granite, although I am paranoid enough to use a trivet or potholder beneath a hot pot or bowl.

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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Are there any beet eaters out there?

I was reminded again tonight of what beet juice does to my hands and my clothes. What does it do to your countertops, particularly those of you with light-colored solid surfaces? It didn't do anything to my ugly laminate, although I wiped my dribbles pretty soon after they occurred.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Is that the same soapstone that I carved in sculpture class, the one that crumbles really easily? Not what I would have considered a durable surface...:unsure:

No clue what you've carved in your sculpture class. But I've used soapstone lab counters that have been abused by generations of students, and are none the worse for it.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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On the other hand Miditerranean does a much better job of hiding marks.

That's the exact Corian we have.

THIS is what we chose. Your experience is typical Steven ... the darker colours show scratches more. The colour we have is scratched. If I look at it on an angle, I can see them in the reflection. But if you asked a guest in my house, they wouldn't notice a thing.

A.

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I'm still hoping for some expert advice on poured concrete.  There was a somewhat negative experience reported upthread (now trading concrete for granite) but it seemed that the problem could have been solved by a better concrete-poly formula.

Nobody decided to use granite as a countertop because it performs well. It's all about looks. Concrete (if done properly) is a) expensive, b) can take a long time to fabricate, c) stains (or if you prefer, "develops a patina", and d) will crack, no matter what is mixed in with it. Designer Fu-Tung Cheng (Website HERE) uses a lot of concrete in his design. Stunning? Yes. Practical? Depends on you.

Is that the same soapstone that I carved in sculpture class, the one that crumbles really easily? Not what I would have considered a durable surface...:unsure:

Yep, same stuff. Consider all the Inuit carvings in the gift shops that could have become countertops! Soapstone is a good countertop surface because it is so dense. A little mineral oil and you have a work surface that is virtually inpenitrable. Soapstone is used in chemistry labs for its durability & stain resitence, so that gives you some idea as to its performance. Will it scratch? Yes, but a little steel wool takes care of that. Can you carve it? Yep. So use a cutting board! It's also only available in a couple colours. More info HERE.

A.

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I'm pretty much unconcerned with looks if there's a superior (from a utility standpoint) material available at a reasonable price. I imagine the best countertop material is stainless steel, and I'd have gotten it in my kitchen but it seems to be a totally unsupported material for home use -- I couldn't even get anybody to give me an estimate. But granite seems to be a great material not just because it looks good but also because it makes great countertops. Quite a few top restaurants seem to be using granite for utilitarian reasons, or at least that's what they say.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm pretty much unconcerned with looks if there's a superior (from a utility standpoint) material available at a reasonable price. I imagine the best countertop material is stainless steel, and I'd have gotten it in my kitchen but it seems to be a totally unsupported material for home use -- I couldn't even get anybody to give me an estimate.

I'm with you on the utilitarian aspect - the wife (who does almost no cooking) may have a different perspective!

Interesting comment re: stainless. I would have thought that the restaurant supply places that are installing stainless might see the upscale home market as a "growth area" - a lot of upscale kitchens in private residences rival, if not exceed, many resto kitchens in size. And given the popularity of "loft-style" condos it's a bit surprising that stainless isn't (more) easily available. Dunno why concrete has taken hold while it appears stainless has not.

And, despite what I said a paragraph or so up about utilitarian aspect taking precedence, stainless wouldn't really fit the design aesthetique in my new place - a 100 year old Victorian. (I just moved from this city's first factory to loft conversion a couple of months ago - stainless would have been stunning there rather than the laminate I had, but I digress).

One thing about stainless, and that you found with Corian as well - it has to be supported properly or it will go out of level, bend etc. The stainless I've worked on has been uneven, with high and low spots. And, I don't know how large a section is possible at one time without seams, welds, or whatever you would use to join sections together. If you need to join sections, I'm guessing, and I mean outright guessing, that it can't be done seemlessly? Any other drawbacks to stainless, if you could find a supplier? How does it rate cost-wise?

Cheers,

Geoff Ruby

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Just one more comment to my above response. I didn't mean to say that Steven found Corian to bend or go out of level. But, if I may paraphrase his comments more accurately, he found Corian not to have a solidity in feel that other surfaces he has used had. Again, Steven, if I may paraphrase, to you it feels flimsy.

I've worked on stainless that felt that way. And was not level, and had dips and bows.

OK, I have a 9 day old. Sleep calls. I hope some of this makes sense.

Thanks again,

Geoff Ruby

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Geoff, the one thing I would add is that every piece of Corian I've ever worked on has had the same plasticky, flimsy, bouncy feel to it. I have pretty high quality, solid, well-leveled and professionally installed KraftMaid base cabinets and bullnose "Mediterranean blue" (now just called Mediterranean, it seems) Corian countertops set on a heavy wood substrate, installed by three guys who all they do is install Corian countertops. Even if you installed Corian over diamond, there would only be so much you could do to make plastic feel as solid as granite. The most solid-feeling piece of Corian I've worked on was in the subterranean pastry kitchen at the St. Regis hotel. It was a big black piece of Corian installed on a refrigerated stainless base unit. It was a bit more substantial feeling than the Corian in my home kitchen, but it wasn't granite that's for sure. My neighbor Ken has granite countertops. If you have a chance to do a side-by-side with granite and Corian, try taking a heavy mallet and banging the heck out of a veal chop on each. It's such a pleasure to perform this exercise on a heavy piece of granite. On Corian, I just don't even bother. And I don't like surfaces that dictate or limit the way I cook -- I like surfaces that support it.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm pretty much unconcerned with looks if there's a superior (from a utility standpoint) material available at a reasonable price. I imagine the best countertop material is stainless steel, and I'd have gotten it in my kitchen but it seems to be a totally unsupported material for home use -- I couldn't even get anybody to give me an estimate.

Too bad you aren't in Vancouver. I have 2 companies that do stainless steel for me. But they're not cheap! About $100 per square foot! Granted, that includes welded seams and the plywood substrate and installation. But it's still freakin' expensive.

Your comment on looks is important with stainless, because after using it for a while, stainless looks pretty beat up. It scratches very easily. But restaurants don't use stainless for looks. It aboslutely will not hold onto bacteria so its a perfect surface for commercial food prep where such things are important.

But granite seems to be a great material not just because it looks good but also because it makes great countertops. Quite a few top restaurants seem to be using granite for utilitarian reasons, or at least that's what they say.

I've never worked in a restaurant so I can't comment on whether or not this happens up here. Wouldn't granite be a risky choice on the cleanliness front? I'm thinking of the restaurant in florida that had an outbreak of salminella that developed in the granite countertops.

Don't misunderstand me ... I LOVE granite. I probably would have used it in my kitchen if the Corian colour I found wasn't so perfect (and the deal I got was pretty good too). Quartz surfaces like Silestone seem to address the shortcomings of granite quite nicely, while still retaining some of the aesthetic.

A.

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While this might not be an issue for some, another complaint I have about granite is that, in the area I live, its EVERYWHERE...like plaintation shutters, market umbrellas..in every model home for every new condo development...Hovnanian, Toll and Pulte homes ( builders in NJ) have them STANDARD in many of their kitchen packages...ubiquitous. Predictable.

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While this might not be an issue for some, another complaint I have about granite is that, in the area I live, its EVERYWHERE...like plaintation shutters, market umbrellas..in every model home for every new condo development...Hovnanian, Toll and Pulte homes ( builders in NJ) have them STANDARD in many of their kitchen packages...ubiquitous. Predictable.

I just read this quote from interior designer Bev Adams, CKD, CBD: "[Granite] may look dated in the next decade. People are actually moving away from polished granite. Customers are beginning to prefer soapstone or honed granite."

Anyone care to comment?

Hmmmm....good thing we eGulleters care more about performance than being trendy.

Eliza Cross

"A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion."

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Don't misunderstand me ... I LOVE granite.  I probably would have used it in my kitchen if the Corian colour I found wasn't so perfect (and the deal I got was pretty good too).  Quartz surfaces like Silestone seem to address the shortcomings of granite quite nicely, while still retaining some of the aesthetic.

A.

Any countertop can harbor bacteria. I have searched the CDC site and others and have come to the conclusion that the granite bacteria story is false. Many families have had stone counters throughout the ages and if they were that bad I'm sure people would not have them. Like anything else "stone" counters have different grades/properties if you will. For example the soapstone you use for carving is different than the soapstone you use for counters. Many of the "granite" countertops for sale are not true granite, here is a detailed explanation: http://www.findstone.com/daniel1.htm

So while one persons stone countertop performs great another gets stains and it is a chore to maintain. One person would be uptight everytime a plate was placed on a marble counter while another likes the patina it aquires after time.

Granite is my number one choice, if I was not getting granite I would probably choose formica (or Richlite).

No countertop is perfect it really depends on the person/family.

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  • 2 weeks later...

In a recently received American Institute of Architects Bookstore pamphlet there is liosted a book on concrete countertops. It is written by Fu-Tung Cheng and Eric Olsen and published by Taunton Press. It can be purchased from the AIA for $29.95 (202 pages, paperback, 2001).

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