A Tour of Countertops with Peacock and Company

By+Judy Bradford

Countertops have gone crazy.

In the old days, say about 20 years ago, you just had lots of laminate to choose from.  Sure, it was dependable and affordable.

But now, shopping for a kitchen countertop offers so many more choices, both natural and synthetic—or a combination of both.  You can even go in for eco-friendly.

“The whole awareness factor has gone up tremendously,’’ says Scott Peacock, who is opening a new countertop store called Countertops of Distinction by Peacock and Company.

To bring cutting-edge countertops to South Bend, Peacock has formed an alliance with Keystone Designs Inc., a solid surface and natural stone fabrication company in Pierceton.  Deanna Hicks is the president of Keystone.

Running your fingers over an artistic, state-of-the-art surface and imagining it in your kitchen is now as close as Peacock’s showroom, located on Mishawaka Avenue behind Bamber’s Supermarket.
Shopping for and installing a new countertop is made easy and fun with the new alliance.  Both companies pay attention to details and are diligent about educating clients, communicating with them and following up on any concerns in a timely manner.  The relationship between the two companies formed over time.

“I started out just getting quotes from Deanna,” says Peacock.  “But then it turned out that she has that same nurturing touch with clients as we do, and it’s the same with all her employees.”

Here are some of the state-of-the-art choices you can make, with their advantages and drawbacks, plus price ranges.

GRANITE

Among the natural stone samples is granite, which comes right out of the earth with all that natural beauty.

“With all the variations, it looks like a piece of art,’’ says Hicks.
“Most of the slabs have a hi-gloss polish on them but you can also get a brushed finish, done by the manufacturer.’’

The surface of a granite countertop is incredibly durable against scratches or heat damage.  “You can set a hot pan or a hot cookie sheet on it,“ says Hicks.

But it is also a porous surface, meaning you’ll have to clean up acidic spills like wine, citrus or coffee right away.  You’ll also have to apply sealants regularly to repel stains.

And, the same geological pitting, ancient ant trails and unusual veining that makes it a work of art are also reasons why there is no warranty on granite or any other natural stone slab such as onyx, marble or limestone.

“It is held together with the same pressure that the earth had to hold it together, so there could be hidden fissures,’’  Hicks explained.  “It is fragile. But if it opens up at all, we can fill the crack in and repair it to the point where you wouldn’t even see (the break).’’

The cost of granite ranges from $60 to $200 per square foot.

QUARTZ

A quartz countertop is a hybrid of 93 percent natural stone and 7 percent synthetic material. It comes with a warranty. So it’s ideal for people who want natural stone but also want some guarantees.

The surface colors and pattern will be more uniform due to the production process:  The quartz is mined, sorted, crushed and cleaned, then mixed with the synthetic and poured into a mold. “People who don’t like the randomness of the natural stone would like quartz,” adds Hicks.

Quartz has a non-porous surface, meaning it’s practically stain-free. But it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance and care.

Cost? From $70 to $125 per square foot.

SOLID SURFACE

The operative word here is “solid.”  That means the patterns and granulations have depth to them, all the way through to a half-inch.
This means if you scratch it, the scratch can easily be buffed out with sandpaper, without affecting the pattern.

Most solid surfaces are either 100 percent acrylic, or a polyester blend, so you’re not dealing with the fragility of a natural stone when it comes to fissures and other possible cracks. There is a 10-year warranty.

That same man-made character also makes it possible for manufacturers to be creative with inlays and patterns. “If someone wants to make it look like tile, for example, we can do that by scoring tile patterns into the surface,”  said Hicks.

Solid surfaces may sound indestructible, but they’re not.  You can damage them by putting hot pans directly on the surface.  You can also stain them if you leave wine, coffee or other acidic substances unattended. A solid surface runs anywhere from $45 to $75 per square foot.

RECYCLED GLASS

For the eco-friendly consumer, a recycled glass countertop can be very satisfying.  Its flecks of color draw you in.  Talk about eye candy!
Imagine standing at your kitchen counter with a cup of coffee every morning and reading the countertop‘s “story”:  amber beer bottles, deep-blue vodka containers and green pickle jars.  Or, mirrors and auto glass.  You can even get a countertop made with  decommissioned traffic light lenses.

The bits of glass have been combined with other natural elements, like soybean and corn resin, or cement.


Its strength and scratch-resistance is comparable to that of granite, and you can set hot pans or cookie sheets on it.  But, like granite, it can also be stained so you’ll have to clean up spills as soon as possible.
Sure, you can cut right on it.  But you’ll dull your knives that way because, after all, it’s glass.

The price tag is a drawback:  from $150 to $200 per square foot.  But if you’re really into saving the environment, and appreciate art being fashioned out of trash, it is well worth it.
And just think of the kitchen conversations it will inspire!