How To Choose Your Countertop, Backsplash& More

If you’ve shopped around, you may know what a “full-round bullnose edge” is on a granite counter top. You might even know what an “ogee edge” looks like, but… have you ever seen a“parabolic edge”? It’s so new it’s even hard to find pictures of, but here’s what it looks like:

You can see examples of most edges and more cool kitchen & bath ideas at my page at Houzz.com http://www.houzz.com/pro/dbawden/legal-eagle-contractors, or on my website at http://www.legaleaglecontractors.com/cgi-bin/catindex.pl

General Considerations When Choosing Your Stone:


PICK YOUR GRANITE FIRST! If you are remodeling, choose your granite FIRST and design everything else around it. Get a piece of it and carry it with you for choosing tile, flooring, cabinet colors, fixtures and even paint. You are not likely to change that top for years, so look at lots of slabs and get something you really LOVE.

Here Are More Decisions To Make:

  • Edges –several shapes are available.  See them all in our showroom in Bellaire.
  • Corners – rounded or angled?
  • Back-splash – a million possibilities, not just colors but materials (tile? glass? metal?, stone? mirror?
  • Lighting – under-cabinet lights? Accent lights on top? backlit splashes? Other task lighting?
  • Busy pattern – or not? If your stone top has a lot of “movement” pick a plainer backsplash look.
  • Sink mounts – most people get under-mount sinks for looks and no maintenance, but in baths, vessel sinks can also be very attractive.

Let’s Look At These In More Detail


  • ¾” thick (also called “2 CM”)Is what people choose for bathroom tops
  • 1-1/8” = is a thicker material that is not usually doubled, also called ”3CM” thickness
  • 1-1/2” Laminated edge – (Two ¾” layers bonded together then shaped round or whatever you like
  • 2” poured concrete
  •  1” tempered glass
  • Stainless steel – like commercial kitchens

Stone Edge Shape Choices


  • Beveled Edge–Top edge is shaped and polished at a 45degree angle
  • Parabolic Edge – Gently curves out like a bow (see image above)
  • Square or Waterfall or Eased Edge – Top edge is slightly rounded
  • Full Bullnose Edge/ Full round bullnose – is a round bullet shape – top and bottom of the edge
  • Half Round Edge –Top ½ of the edge is rounded but not the bottom
  • Chiseled Edge- Usually done on a thicker 3cm counter or 1” glass – this is a hand-shaped edge and has a chunky, rougher (but not a sharp or spiky), feel
  • Ogee Edge- a traditional “S”-shaped edge inspired byVictorian designs.

Common Back-Splash Approaches


  • Full Slab Back-Splash – you can choose to use the same slab stone to cover the space between the bottom of the upper cabinets and the countertop.
  • 4inch Back-Splash – 4inches high stone backsplash on top of the granite countertop; install compatible tiles above that or painted drywall above the stone.
  • 6inch Back-Splash – 6incheshigh stone backsplash on top of the granite kitchen countertop; install compatible tiles above that or painted drywall above the stone.
  • Full tiled splash above the counter.  Tiles can be natural stone (which requires a good sealer), porcelain, subway tiles, metallic tiles, glass tiles, stainless steel in sheets or tiles, copper, pewter, and blends of these.
  • Translucent glass and stone (like onyx) can now be backlit with sheets of LED lights for a spectacular looks that pops.  Perfect for a contemporary kitchen.

Sink Options


  • Choice of sink is an important consideration! Not just for looks – it gets heavy use.
  • Under Mount Sink – sink is mounted on bottom side of granite kitchen countertop and sink hole is shaped and polished following the curvature of sink.
  • Top Mount Sink – sink is placed on top of the cut sink hole
  • Vessel sink – sits completely on top of the stone
  • Poured, integral sink (for concrete and synthetic marble tops)
  • Material choices range from stainless steel (most popular choice in kitchens), white or a color of porcelainized cast iron, concrete, copper & other metals, glass, composites & natural stone.

Faucet Options


  •  A variety of finishes are available – Brushed nickel is most popular these days, followed by satin nickel, polished chrome, oil- rubbed bronze, copper, and other shaded metals
  • Most people like a pull-out spray head type rather than a separate sprayer.
  • These range in look from traditional to contemporary – lots of choices.
  • Check out the latest offerings of “Touchless” faucets – especially those from Moen and Kohler.
  • Check out the LED light assisted faucets (for baths) – the water glows blue if it is cold and changes to red when the temperature gets hot.

Lighting & Outlet Options


  • General down-lighting: most of my clients change to recessed lights from florescent – or that lonely light in the middle of the kitchen or bath ceiling.
  • However, instead of the hot bulbs we now use cool, energy efficient LED flood bulbs.
  • Recessed lights should be aligned over the leading edge of the counter-tops so they shine on the top and light the floor area behind you.  Consider 4-5” fixtures instead of the traditional 6” ones, for a more updated look.
  • If you do open shelving or glass front doors, remember to light the inside of those cabinets for a great look.
  • Under-cabinet lights are great when you are preparing food.  Over the years I’ve installed:
    • Fluorescent
    • Xenon
    • Halogen
    • Puck lights
    • Strip lights

Now most of my clients chooseLED (light emitting diode) lights. LED’s are finally coming down in price, and look great. Cool, and energy efficient, dimmable and a pleasant color.

  • I like the “ribbon LEDs” better than the strips with only3-5 bulb’s.
  • For most applications I like the “2700K color temperature” LEDs.  These appear warm and golden like the incandescent lights you are used to; not too white, harsh or gray looking.
  • Use “regular” brightness for glass front cabinets, to light toe kick areas at your base cabinets and if you light the space over your upper cabinets.
  • Use the “bright” version for under-cabinet lighting where you need more light.
  • Install the under-cabinet lights at the leading edge of the upper cabinets, centered over your counters – not at the back-splash.
  • Don’t forget Plug Strips! –when you remodel, replace your crazy-few outlets with rows of outlets that go at the top of your backsplashes.  You will have an outlet handy – anywhere you need one, and they are not visible.
  • Move the switches on your back-splash up under your upper cabinets too, for a super-clean looking backsplash & counter area.
  • You can see these ideas and more at theIdea Center showroom in Bellaire, Texas.

You can see examples of most edges and more cool kitchen & bath ideas at my page at Houzz.com http://www.houzz.com/pro/dbawden/legal-eagle-contractors, or on my website at http://www.legaleaglecontractors.com/cgi-bin/catindex.pl


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