We finally chose counters! So you’ve now followed along as we decided on our kitchen layout, floors, cabinets, appliances, and here’s the story on the counters. We always knew that we wanted quartz, but we never got around to looking into them until a couple of weeks ago. We did a ton of research into what material would be best for us and decided on quartz because it doesn’t require sealing, doesn’t stain, works with undermount sinks (we didn’t know you can’t do an undermount with certain materials like solid surface), and is offered in the colors we wanted. The process of picking our counters was really stressful for us but we learned a bunch that we wanted to pass along in case anyone else is in the same situation!
Tip #1: Look at the same samples in different light! First we went to Lowe’s and Home Depot, and honestly, we were incredibly frustrated with the experience at both of them. The lighting is horrendous, the customer service was mostly lackluster, and worst of all, no samples. Yep, you can’t take anything home, so we had to drag a floor tile and piece of cabinet into the store to compare, only to find that the lighting was so bad we couldn’t make any decisions. You can buy counter samples online, but the one we wanted had an estimated ship date of JULY 27, two months after we need the counters!
So… Tip #2: try to start planning counters early so you can buy samples online! Oops. We did all of this frantically in one weekend two weeks ago, when our kitchen was already half done. We love stress.
So, anyway, after we got frustrated at the big box stores, we decided to visit a stone supplier. They had some of the same brands (like Silestone) and some other brands (like LG), great customer service, but best of all… GOOD LIGHTING. So we took our floor tile and cabinet piece in there, too, and it turns out some of the options that had looked terrible at Lowe’s looked really good in decent lighting. Phew.
Tip #3: Big box stores charge by the square foot and stone suppliers charge by the slab! We liked three quartzes at the stone supplier, two of which were also available at Lowe’s (Silestone “White Zeus Extreme” and “Blanco Orion”). We got a cost estimate from the supplier and also ran the numbers at Lowe’s. Lowe’s was over $2,000 cheaper for the exact same materials! That’s HUGE, you guys. Here’s why: Lowe’s and Home Depot don’t stock or cut or install the stone themselves, but contract out the work to local stone suppliers, acting as a middle man. Because Lowe’s and Home Depot sell so much volume, they can afford to sell by the square foot, instead of charging you for an entire slab, but the stone supplier will charge you for an entire slab, even if you only use half of it. Get cost estimates from both, though, because you may get lucky.
Tip #4: Find out who the supplier is for your big box store & ask if they can get something you like that isn’t offered! We decided that we want to do plain solid white quartz on the long back counter (Silestone “White Zeus Extreme,” not pictured), and a marble-looking quartz on our island. Our first choice for the faux-marble was LG “Minuet,” and second was Silestone “Blanco Orion,” which you can see above. We liked that the LG had slightly softer/lighter/less veining on a slightly whiter background, but they’re very similar. LG Minuet is not sold at Lowe’s BUT we asked Lowe’s who their supplier is, called that supplier and found that they sell LG Minuet. (This was a different supplier than we had gone to, by the way.) We asked Lowe’s if they could get Minuet from the supplier, even though they don’t sell it at their store, and they could! It was just a few dollars more per square foot than our second choice, which we thought was worth it. It pays to ask!!
Tip #5: Budget for extra charges. When we ran our numbers at Lowe’s, we didn’t take into account some extras, like the one-inch overhang all the way around adding to the total square footage, the charge for cutting out the undermount sink, and the brackets that we’d need to support the island overhang. All of these things add up quicker than you’d think.
So they’re coming out Friday to measure and fingers crossed they’ll be able to install it soon. We’re really excited about our choices, though of course it’s always nerve wracking to make such a big (expensive) decision in such a short amount of time based on such a small sample. Hopefully we chose right! What do you think of our choices?