Affordable alternatives for countertop material? [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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08-26-2001, 12:34 AM

Our kitchen needs a major remodel, and my wife has declared that she is done with cleaning tile grout. She has fallen in love with granite and Corian; I, on the other hand, have become rather fond of being able to pay the mortgage with a few pennies left over at the end of the month for things like gasoline and food.

I have combed the web for alternatives, but everything like this stuff seems to run $50 - $75 per sq ft, or more, installed: Corian, Silestone, Zodiaq, Fountainhead, Surell, Gibralter, Avonite, Caesarstone, Soapstone, Wilsonart, Avanza, technistone, granirex, etc.

A couple of potential alternatives have appeared with little information available on pricing or durability: Pionite and Nuvel. Does anyone have any experience with either of these, and any idea of the relative cost? My impression is that they are more like Corian than granite, but I need to make *sure* that they aren't just another updated version the godawful Formica that I grew up with.

Thanks in advance

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Bud Cline
08-26-2001, 06:10 AM
To my knowledge "Pionite" is just that; laminate (Formica)and Nuvel I'm not familiar with.

I would think by now Pionite also has their own solid surfacing product but I'm sure they are all basically the same.

John Bridge
08-26-2001, 07:01 AM
My experience with all these materials is limited to installing tile backsplashes above them, but I'm a nosey guy, and I ask my customers about pricing.

I think you need to do some serious comparison shopping. In this area of the country, installed granite can go from $39 per square foot, for instance. Silestone is all over the place from $34 to around $80.

Face it. If you want something more elegant than laminate, you'll be paying more money for it. My preferences are granite and Silestone.

Rob Z
08-26-2001, 09:16 AM
Hi Bul

The thing that I don't like about the solid surfacing products is that they scratch easily (yes, they can be repaired) and that you end up paying a ton of money for plastic.

For roughly the same money, you can have a natural product like stone. For me, the natural beauty of stone always surpasses whatever the latest patterns are from the solid surfacing people.

As my friend Kelly says "My opinion, worth price charged".

09-04-2001, 08:22 AM
Have you thought about using 12" or 16" granite tile on the counter? I did this with a black and it looks fabulous! My wife also hated cleaning the grout on out old tile counters, but with this tile I used a silicone grout, in black, and the grout lines are very narrow. You can usually get granite tile for about $6.00 a foot, as long as you get the "standard" colors.

Bud Cline
09-04-2001, 09:55 AM
Keep in mind the darker the grout the more susceptible it is to hard water stains. This assumes the use of cement grout.

In a small project such as a counter top I would consider using epoxy grout. Your cleaning problems are over if you do.

The grout lines between cut stones (granite for example) don't have to be very wide.

09-04-2001, 09:59 AM
Epoxy grout is the way to go with stone tiles. The cleaning is down to almost nil...

09-04-2001, 09:10 PM
I like the idea of the granite tile. A friend of mine does mostly granite, marble, and travertine work in high end custom homes. One of his recent projects had a small amount of the granite tiles....16's I believe left as "remnants"

I guess when you can afford a million dollar home the "remnants" are pretty good

He used these for a countertop with amazing results. The price was good

It's worth a shot and a heckuva lot cheaper than Granite, Silestone, or granite slabs


Bud Cline
09-04-2001, 11:13 PM
Just happened to think........

Concrete countertops are coming on strong, there's a thought.

Any of you guys seen a concrete counter top?

Rob Z
09-05-2001, 04:51 AM
there was an article in Fine Homebuilding about concrete counters within the last year. They are not any cheaper than stone or solid surfacing, so the article reports.

I think they look pretty cool.

Bud Cline
09-05-2001, 10:16 AM

I'm sure from a "consumer sales" standpoint they are no less expensive but don't you think a DIY'er or you or I could do them cost effectively?

I'd like to try it somewhere. Can I come to your house?

09-05-2001, 12:24 PM
I guess they are kind of a pain to keep clean, I am told you have to wax them. And they will stain pretty easy. They do look cool though. I was thinking of trying then out on a small scale in a bath or something. But thats on the bottom of a long list of things.

09-05-2001, 06:03 PM
A British customer told me that in Europe polished concrete tops are all the rage in high end homes.

Have seen a concrete countertop in a high end modern loft downtown.It was poorly done and sealed with a shiny sealer that will probably wear easily.

A designer told me that a proper polished concrete top is shiny and looks like marble.The mix is made with a formula of concrete and some kinda hardeners,2 part epoxy maybe,and then it is actually polished to a high sheen and sealed with an impregnator.

Wouldn't mind learning these techniques.Looks a bit too modern for me but is something I'd like to be able to do for customers.

John Bridge
09-05-2001, 07:31 PM
I think you're right, Ron. The only installation I've actually seen was fabricated off site. The pieces were then brought out and installed pretty much like any other solid surface. It did have a gleam to it.

Rob Z
09-05-2001, 08:31 PM

You're welcome to visit and help me do work around the house. I have a deck I'd like to build, also.

I definately think someone with mud and concrete experience could pull this off. From what I've read, it's more than just mixing up some sakrete and dumping in to the forms. I'd want to do some studying on the subject first.

Email me for direction to VA. Bring some tools and Tanner.