"A Shock to the System"
One of the things I find so exciting about countertop materials is the many choices available, all of which are viable. Having had it for so many years-and so thoroughly wearied of it-tile is no longer a choice for our new countertop material, but those who still find it fresh get something serviceable, and I cannot say that this is a wrong choice. Glass works; marble works; wood works; I have even seen stainless steel in a workable configuration!
In the end, of course, it’s a matter of tastes, but I can say flat out that if I were completely made of money, the countertop I’d install in our new kitchen would be one of those glorious slabs of granite with a wonderful grain, one of those that almost looks like a frozen river meandering through one’s kitchen, a slab so rare and so wonderful that it might well go for twenty or forty thousand dollars, even for a kitchen as small as ours. Along with it, I suppose, I would install solid gold hardware, which I also cannot afford!
But that brings me to a choice that was once used quite a bit because of its lower price point, then fell out of favor in some quarters, but is now making a tremendous comeback, but for all the right reasons. To me, feeling as I do about such things, the worst of all reasons for Formica to come back is because it is suddenly "hot." Fads, as I have many times pointed out, fade. What I want in a new kitchen is something that will stand the test of time. But, as I said, that is not the reason Formica is making a real comeback. It’s because the product itself has been greatly improved over the years.
Formica has always had a lot to recommend it, but in recent years, with the many other choices available, it has fallen into disfavor. Of course, every manufacturer of countertop materials will tell you that his is the absolute best and then go on to recite a long list of reasons for why other countertop materials are poor choices. What they don’t tell you, though, is that every countertop material that ever was comes with a list of dos and don’ts. Here’s the other interesting aspect of that: none of them are completely impervious to damage. Some damage easier than others, but every one of them, under the right circumstances can be damaged. The flip side of that is equally valid. Any countertop material, correctly installed and used properly, does just fine. The cold truth is that what mostly separates countertop materials one from another is price.
I’ve said many times in these blogs that I’m a cabinetmaker and will eventually make our own kitchen, perhaps within the year! Because I’m a cabinetmaker, we can get absolute top-of-the-line cabinetry for about three or four thousand dollars, so that’s a savings. Another area of savings that is certain to happen is the countertops. I can install my own Formica countertop for less than a thousand, but the point I most want to make with these blogs, is that the considerable savings of a Formica countertop over something like granite is there for everyone. Labor, especially well-qualified labor, does not come cheap. But the man who pays a few hundred dollars for rolls of Formica and installs them over an inexpensive substrate can clearly charge much less for his finished product then the man who pays thousands of dollars for a slab of granite and then has to use any number of specialized tools that employ bits that must be frequently sharpened. And the other aspect of that is that most of the granite countertops being installed these days are not particularly awesome. There is, as I said, some awesome granite out there, but it comes with an awesome price.
The other thing I especially love about Formica is that they are absolutely not resting on their laurels. Theirs is a forever changing, forever improving line of products. And that brings us to their latest innovation, namely, IdealEdge, which is an edging they’ve invented that is just that. One of the things some people have disliked about Formica over the years is that tell-tale brown edge, the one sure way of ascertaining that the product is Formica, not something else. Personally, I was always fine with it and fine with it being Formica, because I know about the cost of it, the practicality of the surface, the way it cleans up so easily, and the way it holds up to daily use if only people are wise enough to follow a handful of elementary rules: no abrasives, no hot pans without trivets, no tap dancing.
With this new edging, though, they have most definitely taken their product into the 21st Century. It’s not your grandmother’s Formica anymore. And now with IdealEdge it can be made to match granite or other exotic stone so closely that the only way you’ll know the difference is when you write the check for the installation. The shock you will feel is one of relief… can’t really comment on the shockwaves going through the countertop industry!
For pros, or advanced DIY types check out the installation video for the Formica IdealEdge!
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