Monday, March 25, 2013

Countertops: Cubic Zircon or Diamond?????

I love to cook. I love to bake. And it is a good thing, because I spend a large part of every day cooking for our family. So in gutting, redoing, and adding on to an old farmhouse that will eventually be our home, I have put many hours of research and thought into the kitchen layout. I have to admit, at first I didn't know if it was even possible for the existing kitchen to transform into something that would be functional for our family. I was pretty skeptical. But it really has been fun seeing it all come together. But then came the decision of what to use for countertops. At one time I thought it would be neat to someday have concrete slab countertops. But I have never met anyone who had them or anyone who knew anything about them... so I basically dismissed that notion. Granite or marble was completely out of the question because I'm too frugal to even consider it. So we decided that we would do laminate even though I wasn't exactly thrilled about that option. However, not knowing any better, I chose and bought my sink: a beautiful, large, double basin apron front farmhouse sink.... which also happened to be an undermount sink. I didn't know this was a problem. My contractor said something like, "I'm gonna have to think about this one...". Come to find out... I guess you can't use an undermount sink with laminate countertops because of the potential of getting water into the laminate seams and thus ruining the countertop.  But my position is always: where there is a will, there is a way! So that got me looking back into countertop options. I began to wonder about concrete again, so I did a google search about concrete countertops in Salina, Kansas.  The search introduced me to a "new" product which became the answer to my countertop problems.  The product is iCOAT. It is NOT a concrete slab. Rather, it is done by skimming a thin coat of a special concrete over an existing countertop (you can do it right over laminate). After the concrete is troweled on, then it is colored to whatever you want! It can take on the look of granite, marble, concrete, metallic paint.... whatever. Then, it is sealed with a 2 part epoxy that is heat resistant up to 500 degrees and never needs maintenance! It sounded too good to be true, so I called the guy who does it and I got to see some sample boards and even visit a client of his to see the finished product. We loved what we saw and decided that it was what we wanted to do.  The other cool thing about it is the price: $35ish/sq. foot.... labor included!  So for the price of good laminate, you get a product that is even better... with the high end look of granite, marble, quartz, or solid surface! Kind of like buying the cubic zircon, but letting everyone else think that it is a diamond!

Being a researcher, I looked for reviews of the product.... but I could not find any. So I had to go on the guy's word and the testimony of his clients who had their countertops done 3 years ago. This is a great option if you want to give your kitchen a facelift without tearing out your countertops.... it goes right on the top of the existing laminate. And unlike concrete slabs or granite, you don't have to reinforce your cabinets to hold the weight of it.  In our case, there were no existing countertops to coat with the concrete. So we had countertops built out of MDF and then had them coated.

So what are the drawbacks of this product? So far, the only drawback is the "curing out" time of the epoxy. Once the epoxy is put on, you can't touch it for 24 hours. After that initial time, you can touch it, but can't put anything on them for an extended amount of time for 2 weeks. In other words, you can wash dishes and set them briefly on the countertop, but you wouldn't want to let them set there overnight. After that 2 weeks, you can use them as you normally would. (I probably will give it a month before I set a crock pot on them for overnight oatmeal).

I'm posting the before and after pictures of my kitchen (which is still a work in progress). Please note that the pictures do NOT do it justice!!!!

These first 3 photos are the "BEFORE" pictures which show the MDF countertop.

Note my undermount sink which led me to search out other countertop options!!! I actually could have mounted the sink higher so that it was either level with the countertop, or even raised above it some... but since finding out about the iCOAT, I was able to leave it as an undermount. (Note that the 5 gallon bucket in the second picture is not a permanent fixture in my kitchen...!)


This is the butler's pantry. It used to be a bathroom. The upper cabinet was sitting in an upstairs bedroom in the house. I love reusing and re-purposing old stuff!!!

And these are the after photos. Again, they do NOT do it justice at all!

The glare is from the kitchen lights.

 The other cool thing about iCOAT is that you can get your perfect, custom color! I'm sure that if we had gone with granite, we wouldn't have gotten this perfect of a color/design!

The epoxy is very shiny... like glass. But you can buff it down if you want.

 Is it the "real" thing? Or not???? You would never be able to tell! The other great thing is that it really has a lot of "depth" to it. Who would have thought that it is only about 1/8ish inch thick? It looks like you can look into it forever!!!!!
So if you are wanting to update your kitchen or are in the market for countertops, I would HIGHLY recommend James from Blueline Construction in Salina, Kansas. He did a great job and was awesome to work with! His email is: and his phone number is 785-643-0799.

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