When we bought our home, the kitchen was probably the primary reason we were sold. Both my wife and I like to cook, and often at the same time. Our kitchen is airy and big enough for more than 2 people to work in it at any given time. The counters are spacious and offer ample space for cutting, cooking, just hanging around or mountains of mails and other junk to pile up. Many a party has been held over the kitchen counters.
One aspect of the counters that I didn’t quite like was its plain vanilla-ness. Literally and figuratively. It was laminate, some shade of off-white and though it didn’t look bad at all, I always thought it deserved better. I had obviously mentioned this to Vivian but we had both agreed that it would take some time for us to get around to this project as a) It’s not really something that’s important b) It’s a little more than your average DIY project (it is a LOT more) and the costs associated can become prohibitive
This May, I brought this up and we kinda said, “Oh well, it’s been almost 3 years, and we can afford it …so why not?” And the ball was set rolling.
Like a fellow blogger mentioned about ‘researching’, when we set our eyes on something, we go to the very bottom of it! After couple of weeks of online research, we hit the physical world – that is, stores to go around and actually look and feel the materials. Also to get quotes. By this time we had decided to go with quartz, but had not quite made up our minds as to which brand or product to go with. We got quotes from 9 different places! In one of the stores we went, we were introduced to Cambria. They are manufacturers of engineered stone (the natural material quartz mixed with resins and pigment to obtain a granite like look and feel, with greater strength) based out of Le Seur, Minnesota. A tactile visit is necessary to see and feel the difference between Cambria’s product and other manufacturer of engineered stone, like Silestone, Ceasarstone, HanStone and others. They are a class apart. So are their prices! But we fell in love with Cambria and wouldn’t settle for anything else.
The next step was to cull down from our list of quotes, to the stores that offer Cambria quartz. That automatically brought it down to 5. Finally we had short listed 2 stores. Both had a rating of A on Angie’s list. Eventually we decided to go with the one located in our city, a 10 minute drive from our home. The owner is the worker/engineer/salesperson, unlike other places where a sales person show you around, an engineer does the actual drawings, someone else gives you the estimate and a 3rd party actually installs it. Not to mention the ancillary jobs of plumbing, tearing out the existing top and disposing off stuff. His was a one-stop-shop, where the estimates covered everything AND was not a moving target.
Now we had to select a pattern. We had looked in the store and had almost finalized a pattern, which had a blueish tinge (we both are partial to blue). On the advice of this guy, we came home with 12″ x 12″ slabs of 4 different sample pattern. Once we had ‘lived’ with these patterns for a weekend, we did a volte-face and selected this pattern called Windermere. Finally, our new tops were installed last Friday!
Some things to keep in mind when going for such a project:
– This is not a DIY project. At all
– Go around to the actual shops and stores and see/feel the stuff. Ask lots of questions
– Avoid the big-box stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s and go in for smaller, specialized stores
– Cambria offers a financing plan with 0% interest for 6 to 12 months. Not all Cambria dealers are offered this. The guy we went with, did not have this.
– Get an estimate which covers:
* total square footage (not just your countertop dimensions, but the actual slabs of stones required to make the tops) and backsplash
* kind of edge profile you want
* fabrication process – the stone cut-out job
* plumbing (unhooking and reconnect)
* tear away the old countertop and hauling away and disposing all the old stuff
* the sink (you need a undermount sink)
* faucet [wasn’t included in the quote]
Here are some useful links: