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From grout to granite: A kitchen countertop remodel

By Lisa Nicklanovich; photos courtesy of Trish Jones

BEFORE: The Jones’ kitchen had large tiles with grout between them, making cleaning more difficult, which prompted a countertop and backsplash remodel.

One of the deciding factors for replacing the countertops in Brambleridge resident Trish Jones’ kitchen was trying to keep the grout between the tiles clean. A granite solid surface has remedied that problem and given Trish and her husband, Kerry, an updated kitchen. There are many choices out there for countertops and Trish and Kerry are familiar with many of them, having remodeled quite a few kitchens over the years.

Granite was chosen for the Jones’ kitchen for durability, beauty and the coldness of the stone for bread making. “Granite has presence,” Trish said. Their cabinets were in good shape, and while they considered painting them, they decided to keep them as is. Trish said she likes the warm tones of the wood cabinets so she made the new countertops, backsplash and sink work with the existing cabinets.

While granite countertops are still a popular choice, quartz and quartzite are the trendy high-end material used in many new homes and remodels. Quartzite is a naturally occurring metamorphic rock. It is primarily gray or white, and can have swirling veins that bear a resemblance to marble. Unlike quartz, quartzite is highly resistant to heat and scratching but requires sealing before installation and it is recommended to be resealed on an annual basis thereafter.

AFTER: The new countertops in the Jones’ kitchen are granite. Trish asked the installer to use this specific piece of the slab to the left of their stove because she liked the veining in it for that spot, making it more custom.

Quartz is an engineered stone molded and baked into slabs, using ground quartz blended with polymer resins and pigments. Pigments added to quartz can provide a wide spectrum of colors, with flecking and veining. Quartz repels moisture and microbes without a sealer.

Granite is formed from cooled magma and is partly composed of quartz. Like quartz, it is resistant to heat and scratching and comes in many more colors than quartzite. Granite is porous so it has to be sealed before it’s installed and should be resealed every couple of years.

When you visit a stone yard to compare the options, Trish suggested bringing a drawer front or cabinet door with you to make sure whatever you choose will work with your existing cabinet color. Trish chose shiny countertops instead of a honed or matte finish, simply because she likes how the under-the-cabinet lights reflect off the surface. The Joneses also installed lights above their cabinets to add more warmth and drama.

Trish and Kerry had another interesting dilemma they solved quite brilliantly. Their family room TV box jutted into the kitchen. By opening the box on the kitchen side, installing a bookcase into the space and topping it with a beautiful walnut top, they gained five feet of workspace. The wood complements the kitchen colors and looks purposeful.

The Jones’ kitchen is an example of how a complete kitchen remodel is not always necessary to achieve much more functionality and beauty. Trish said, “I can now just scoot crumbs across the counter and into the sink; I love it!”



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