Friday, September 2, 2011

Kitchen Overview - North Wall & The Porcelain Tile

The IKEA cabinets are the Adel Beech variety with low-profile handles that have since been discontinued. The tiles on the countertop are 24" square polished blue porcelain, with matching blue grout in between. The backsplash is created from the Valspar Venetian Plaster, covered with Seal-Krete Hi Gloss Premium Showroom finish.

I love the porcelain. It is so easy to clean. I use Fabuloso Ocean Cool Scent Commercial strength that I purchase from Home Depot. As far as I can tell, that is the only variety of Fabuloso which is food safe. You can use anything to clean the tile, it is indestructible. The grout is more picky. You need to use a pH neutral cleaner for the grout, so that is why I use Fabuloso instead of vinegar to clean. I used to use vinegar for everything, then I found out it not only damages grout, but it can also damage stainless steel. 

I only have one complaint about the tile. There were a few pieces which were defective. If you look at them from a certain angle, you can see a slight pattern of the bottom of the tile which was sitting on top of it while it was stored. It is very faint, and I cannot even get it to show up in a picture. I wish I had cleaned all of the tiles thoroughly and examined them before installation. We had plenty of extra tiles, and I could have trashed the couple that were defective, except I didn't clean the tiles until after installation, so I didn't know the defect was there until it was too late. All in all, the defect is minor, and it is really barely noticeable.

Another great feature of porcelain: you can set hot stuff from the oven right on the counter. There's not really anything you can do to damage porcelain, since it is so strong. I was initially deciding between Corian, granite, stainless steel, and porcelain for the counters. Porcelain tile was by far the least expensive option, especially for a DIY job. The materials cost for the entire counter was about $500. It would have been between $2000-$5000 for the other options. I decided against Corian because I wanted something that could handle hot pans from the oven. Stainless steel is not so easy to keep clean, and it is expensive. Granite would have been my next choice, but it is also expensive. I also didn't like the thought that if something did happen to the granite (however unlikely it may be there is the possibility of cracking or staining), then you have to replace the entire slab. Tile has the downside of grout lines, but then if something happens, you can chip out the tile and replace just that piece.

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