Check out my building blog to learn more about construction for your home or office in Austin! David L. Traut, President, CAPS Certified (512)444-0097

Choosing A New Countertop For Your Fine Cabinetry

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 @ 12:12 PM


    Whether you have replaced your old cabinets with a set of new fine cabinetry or just need an updated work surface atop your existing setup there are a few choices that need to be considered before choosing a new countertop for your fine cabinetry and making your final decision.  Plastic laminates, solid surface material, granite, quartz, and concrete are the most popular choices today when considering new or replacement countertops for a fine kitchen upgrade.  Each surface has it's own set of pros and cons to take under advisement before a conclusion is reached so that it blends with your lifestyle.  Remember that any samples of materials that you see are only small representations of any larger piece when choosing products.  Furthermore hotpads and cutting boards should always be used no matter which top you choose.

Counter Tops

     Nonporous plastic laminates have been around for many years which is a testament to their durability.  We've come a long way since the days of harvest gold and avocado green but some of this original material still exists in kitchens today.  We now have different grades of laminate and the HD grade offers interesting designs and textures that help to hide scratches.  Heat should never be introduced and the use of hot pads is a necessity.  Seams are also a consideration when choosing laminates because they are still visible even when using today's matching seam fill products.  Color caulks offered by the laminate manufactures matching their laminate colors are used where the top meets the splash for flexibility.  Drop in sinks are preferable when using plastic laminate but now there are some undermount units available. There are also many edge profiles produced today to enhance the look of your new laminate surface.  Never use abrasive cleaners on any plastic laminate surfaces because they dull the existing finish.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     Solid surface materials like Corian are also composed of nonporous plastic where the color is continuous throughout it's thickness.  This material will stain and scratch but due to their makeup the solid surface tops can be reworked by professionally buffing the the affected areas.  Remember that the darker the product the more evident the scratches.  These tops do appear seamless and are more bacteriostatic than stone.  The pricing varies for groups A-E with the solid color A group being the least expensive.  The higher priced groups give you many more color choices and variations.  A matte finish with a low sheen verses the higher glossed finishes found on granite is typical.  There are no limits for the edge profiles and different colors can also be used as an accent. (see photo below)

     Granite is a natural stone coming right out of the mountain so no two slabs are exactly alike.  Many natural colors are available and usually lighter tops are preferred over darker stained cabinetry.  The stones are cut and polished to a high gloss finish but this can be altered to produce a more dull surface by a process known as honing.  There are different edge treatments available limited only by the fabricator.  Seams are visible and accepted and only avoided by using  larger pieces to limit the number of joints.  One downfall of granite is it's porosity.  Granite tops require maintenance and must be sealed frequently.  The duration between coats is directly proportional to the amount of use your top gets.  A good rule of thumb is to see if water still beads up when you place on the surface.  If not, reseal.

     Quartz is a man made product consisting of 93% stone pieces held together by resin and dyes.  It is the newest material available today having bacteriostatic qualities and it is technically maintenance free due to it's nonporous surface.  In its beginning this product contained small pieces of stone but now larger pieces are being used to create more interesting patterns.  The overall look is a more uniform pattern than that of granite.  It is the most scratch resistant choice out there but things do happen.  The joints are not seen.  Like granite there are no limits to the sinks that can be used.

     Concrete tops are poured in a mold outlining the face and edge profile.  The varying colors of the substrate are accomplished by adjusting the variables within the mix like cement colors, the type of sand(s), or by the add mixes used during the mixing process.  Many factors can produce shade, hue, and tone contrasts like acid etching stains used on the  surface once it has been poured and set.  More creative and interesting contrasts can be achieved by using additives in the mix like stainless steel filings, glow in the dark materials, or colored glass chips.  Once the slab is polished it must be sealed at the rate needed per use.  This process lends itself to a patina with age.  

A Solid Surface Example with an Accented Edge

fine cabinetry and solid surface tops in Austin, Texas 


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Kitchen Cabinets Austin, Texas

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Dec 14, 2011 @ 13:12 PM


     Kitchen remodeling in Austin, Texas like most other cities include many of the same aspects. So what should you consider? Have you decided you need more room? More storage? Are you looking for a complete kitchen makeover? Will you add on to your home?  How will you determine what's needed without some soul searching and research? All are great questions when considering such a costly investment in your home. At least we know that remodeling of both the kitchen and bath reap the most benefits and ROI when it comes time to sell your home. Try and fill in the answers to the questions below for your home using the following steps which will aid you in defining your new kitchen remodel.

    Determine what is needed by first identifying your priorities. Kitchen remodeling ideas are endless.  Consider how you use your kitchen as it pertains to your personal family lifestyle. Consult with everyone you know who has endured a kitchen remodel and pick up on the pointers they recognized in hind sight. Collect a series of favorite photographs and ideas from any and all media collections to construct a scrapbook of sorts.  Your collection will need to be narrowed in scope to fit your situation before the final design is agreed upon when remodeling an Austin kitchen.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

     Start deciding on your budget and determine what the scope of work will be for your kitchen remodel. These variables can only be solved with accurate planning. It is far easier and least costly to perform this step on paper rather than with change orders issued throughout the construction phase. Determine what you would like to see in your new kitchen but most importantly what you can reasonably afford.

     Driving down a long straight road can be boring and not very stimulating especially if you take away the surrounding environment.  This point of view is also true for a dull standard 30 or 42 inch high straight line set of wall cabinets having the same depth no matter how interesting the rest of the kitchen may be.  If you line up a set of boxes it always looks like a lined up set of boxes.  Why not break things up and make those fine new replacement cabinets more interesting by varying both their height and depth along the same cabinet line?

     Height variations can defeat the dull repetitious look and provide a place for indirect accent up lighting used in kitchen cabinets Austin, Texas.  The different heights can give you more work room where needed above the cabinet top surface or create a space to display some of your most prized kitchen accents.  Why not come directly above or on the cabinet top and start a special set of utensil drawers where their contents can always be seen easily?   You can also mix in open shelving to display decorative articles changing the overall elevation.  Inserting fancy colored or clear multitextured glass into some doors can protect the cabinet contents but produce a more open look.

     Wall cabinet depth variations beyond the standard twelve inches allows for special storage needs for items like 13 inch dinner plates or larger baking dishes to name a few.  The standard short cabinet above the refrigerator can be expanded to an 18 inch depth making it useful for larger objects and easier to reach. 

     Base cabinets can also vary in height to make appliances more accessible.  Set your dishwasher up on a raised platform to facilitate looking into and not down onto your dishes thus saving your back.  Additionally base cabinets are typically 36 inches high but some people are more comfortable with a height of 34 inches which also works well with standard height appliances.  Be creative and make your new fine cabinetry custom for you the consumer.





fine kitchen upgrades in austin, texas


ADA Compliant Kitchen Cabinets

ADA Kitchen Austin

     Any ADA compliant kitchen cabinets in Austin, Texas will need to produce a better service or work triangle between the sink, refrigerator, and stove placement.  The shorter the sum of the triangle legs the more efficient the layout but islands can also be incorporated into the design to increase the efficiency.  The prep sink within the island can become it's own focal point of the work triangle displacing the duties of the main kitchen sink.  The orientation of the island toward the work triangle is very important making sure traffic can still flow freely within the designated triangle. Islands can contain all sorts of special storage areas.  Mixer lifts, produce storage drawers, wine storage, and dough board pullouts are just a few of the many useful aspects that can be incorporated into the island.

     Placing the dishwasher beside the sink and raising it up four to nine inches obove the floor makes bending and reaching in to load or empty the machine a more comfortable activity.  An elevated kick space aids mobility assistive devices and raises base cabinets to a more comfortable height increasing accessibility.  A pull out eating surface can be installed beyond a visible top drawer front providing legroom and ease of use.  Placing the spice drawers or shelves next to the cook stove also makes good sense.  Storage of pots and pans must also be placed within the vicinity of the stove.  Utilizing pull out shelves will bring the heavy pots and pans out in the open where they can be grasped easier.  Cooking and eating utensils must have their place between the stove and sink according to use.  Dividers and drawer organizers are a good way to control clutter and increase organization.  Task lighting is a concern making sure there is plenty of light to function properly as well as placing adequate light used over the main kitchen sink.  Roll out trash bins or pull out shelves are a consideration during the layout process.  Lowering a wall oven to a height that is easier to reach can help with safety issues.  All ADA remodeling concepts are meant to aid in your comfort and help you prepare for the future. 


    ADA Kitchen Cabinetry



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