20 January 2009

How to Buy Refrigerator

  • Get the largest unit that will comfortably fit your space.
  • Look for a convenient interior layout.
  • Shelves should be sturdy, flexible and easy to clean.
  • Look for easy-to-reach temperature and humidity controls.
  • The interior (including the freezer) should be well lit.
  • The refrigerator should be relatively quiet.
  • Electronic touch pads are easier to use.
  • Consider your family size. As a general rule, two people should have at least 10 cubic feet of refrigerator space, not including freezer space. Add 1-1/2 more cubic feet for each additional family member.
Style: Inside & Out
The “BI” stands for built-in units. These new units which you can get in a variety of sizes and configurations, now can be “flush” mounted to blend right in with your custom cabinets. Inside you’ll find brighter lighting, self-closing storage drawers, and even some handy-dandy consumer user cards on the inside—you will even know how long your food should stay fresh.

Air and Water Purification
Sub Zero refrigerators come with an advanced “Pure Air” purification system that “scrubs” the entire air volume on an average of once every 20 minutes. This system significantly reduces odors, viruses, bacteria and most of all, the ethylene gases present in some food that cause premature ripening and ultimately early spoilage. Another new feature is the water filtration system. The new “microbiological” filter preserves the fresh taste of clean water and ice while filtering out all the bad things.

Sub Zero refrigerators also have a duel-compressor freshness preservation system. With the duel-compressor system, Sub Zero is able to hold temperatures within a plus-or-minus one-degree. This precise control system ensures the highest air quality, fresher food and energy efficiency.

More Space And More Storage By Using Kitchen Islands

The kitchen island has come a long way from the days of a single small table in the middle of the kitchen. Now, kitchen islands are often elaborate becoming fully equipped, complete with sink, stove, refrigerator and etc.

The Benefits of Kitchen Island
The most important benefits of kitchen island is the additional work space, storage area and room for extra appliances. Kitchen islands become central to the overall kitchen design and add a luxurious touch to your kitchen.

A flat surface island (as opposed to multi-level) is a simple solution and contributes a simple elegance to a kitchen. Architectural details such as bump-outs, corner posts, inset areas and open shelving add personality and style.

While a kitchen island can be as simple as a table with open legs, many new kitchen islands are being designed with functional and decorative touches, turning the island into the focal point of the kitchen.

Some kitchen islands are elaborate custom-built fine cabinetry and include a sink, granite counters, a stovetop, cabinets for storage, a second dishwasher, a warming oven, or a small refrigerator.

The simplest and most common ones have a single surface , like a tabletop. But a multi-level island can incorporate both food preparation and eating areas, wine racks, cookbook shelves, bar sinks, deep fryers, and other amenities. A step-down or step-up surface adds interest and separate work areas.

10 things you should know before Installing Kitchen Islands.
  1. Make sure you have enough space to place the kitchen island.
  2. Stack up empty moving boxes in the size and shape of the island to see how it will fit in your kitchen.
  3. Determine the function of the island. Does the kitchen island just become as extra counter space or more with adding shelves and drawers for storage?
  4. Think about using two different counter levels for storage and display space, and for design details and finishes.
  5. Give space between the island and stationary cabinets about 35" to 40" wide.
  6. The height of the counter of a kitchen island has to match with the other countertops in the kitchen.
  7. The area of movement between the sink, stove, and refrigerator is called the work "triangle". When thinking about installing a kitchen island, try not to interrupt this efficient movement from appliance to work center.
  8. Make sure that your kitchen island is designed in style and compatible with the entire kitchen concept.
  9. Depending on the kitchen size choose between portable or custom built islands.
  10. You may ask or discuss the island design with designer or professional for help. Make your job easier.

Myths and Facts About Caffeine

Caffeine's effects are addictive.
What is addictive? Addictive refers to a strong dependence on a drug characterised by severe withdrawal symptoms, tolerance to a given dose and the loss of control or the need to consume more and more of the substance at any cost. Addicts tend to exhibit anti-social behaviour or even commit crimes to perpetuate the abuse.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (1994), does not list caffeine as a substance that causes addiction. Consumers of caffeine-containing beverages do not fall into this category.

Caffeine is a risk factor for osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis occurs when there’s insufficient dietary calcium and vitamin D, high protein diets, smoking, the onset of menopause, low oestrogen levels, low body weight and a lack of physical activity.

It has been proved by several studied that consume moderate caffeine doesn’t increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. National Institute of Health Consensus Statement on optimal bone health does not list caffeine amongst the risk factors which modify calcium balance and influence bone mass. A study by Penn State Medical School found that lifetime consumption of caffeine had no effect on bone density in 188 post-menopausal women.

Caffeine does cause a small amount of calcium to be lost in the urine about the amount in one to two tablespoons of milk per cup of tea or coffee. For this reason, nutritionists recommend that women take their coffee with added milk, drink one extra glass of milk daily or take a calcium supplement if they are heavy coffee drinkers (over 5 cups of coffee daily).

Pregnant women should avoid caffeine.
Most physicians and researchers agree that moderate amounts of coffee daily will have no adverse effects on the outcome of the pregnancy or the infant's health. Many women find they experience taste changes during pregnancy and cannot drink tea or coffee. So, for all pregnant women, you can still enjoy the taste of coffee, as you like in moderation.

Caffeine causes cancer.
Two studies of large numbers of people in Norway and Hawaii found no relationship between regular coffee consumption and cancer risk. Two projects conducted on caffeine - one in Japan and the other in Germany - demonstrated no link between caffeine consumption and the incidence of tumours in test animals.

Caffeine increases the risk of heart disease.
Scientists now agree that regular caffeine use has little or no effect on blood pressure, cholesterol levels or risk of heart disease. Studies show that while first-time caffeine use can cause a slight increase in blood pressure the changes are minimal and disappear with regular use.
It has also been found that only boiled, unfiltered coffee, such as that taken in some Scandinavian countries, elevates cholesterol. It seems the oils in the coffee that are not filtered out are responsible for this effect, not the coffee or caffeine

Caffeine adversely affects the health of children.
Children generally consume much less caffeine than adults do, since soft drinks and tea are their primary sources of caffeine. Children generally have the same ability to process caffeine as adults. Studies have shown that foods and drinks containing caffeine, when taken in moderate amounts, have no detectable effects on activity levels or attention spans in children.

Caffeine has no health benefits.
Caffeine which contained in some beverages (tea and coffee), have been found to contain antioxidants. Antioxidants terms of heart health and cancer prevention. Caffeine is well recognised as increasing both alertness levels and attention spans. A cup of coffee or tea is often recommended to counter sleepiness. Caffeine may be useful in treating allergic reactions due to its ability to reduce the concentration of histamines, the typical body response to an allergy-causing substance. More research is needed in this area before conclusions can be drawn. Caffeine has long been known to help many people suffering from asthma.

Everything About Caffeine

Coffee, a relative newcomer discovered some 1,000 years ago. Over the last hundred years, cola drinks, ready-to-drink tea and coffee beverages have steadily gained in popularity. Caffeine is the common ingredient in those beverages. Although products containing caffeine have been enjoyed all over the world for centuries, there are many misperceptions about this common food component.

Caffeine occurs naturally in over 60 plant species. Tea leaves, coffee beans, cocoa beans (for chocolate) and kola nuts (added to cola drinks) are the most common sources. The caffeine content of coffee varies depending on :
  1. Type of beans
  2. Where the coffee grown
  3. The way they are processed, ground and brewed.
Tea and Caffeine content is determined by :
The duration of fermentation
  1. Size of the leaves
  2. Brewing time.
Tea leaves actually contain more caffeine than coffee beans but, since a relatively small amount of leaves is needed to brew tea, the caffeine content of a cup of tea is generally less than a cup of coffee.

  1. Caffeine acts as a mild stimulant.
  2. Moderate amounts of caffeine can help improve alertness and concentration.
  3. Caffeine may improve memory and logical reasoning.
Caffeine generally reaches its peak concentration in the blood within 30 to 60 minutes after consumption. Caffeine does not accumulate in the body and is usually eliminated within several hours.

Individuals vary in their sensitivity to caffeine. Some individuals can drink several cups of coffee, tea or soft drinks within an hour and notice no effects whereas others may experience effects after just one serving. Individual sensitivity and frequency of consumption determine the effect of caffeine on sleep and level of alertness. As with everything we eat or drink, it is important to do so in moderation.

Most experts agree that moderation and common sense are the keys to consuming foods and beverages containing caffeine. Moderate caffeine consumption is considered to be about 300 mg, which is equal to approximately two to three cups of coffee.

Antioxidant activity
Antioxidants in food are generally considered to help protect against a range of diseases including cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

When regular caffeine intake is stopped abruptly, some individuals may experience mild temporary symptoms such as headache, irritability or fatigue. These symptoms can be minimised or prevented if caffeine intake is decreased gradually. This is very different from drug dependency or a true addiction, where the user feels a compulsive need to use a substance in ever-increasing doses.

Cardiovascular Disease
Moderate caffeine consumption does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and does not raise cholesterol or cause irregular heart beat. A slight, temporary rise in blood pressure has been observed with caffeine consumption; however, this rise is similar to that resulting from normal activity, such as climbing the stairs.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that caffeine does not increase the risk of cancer. There is no indication that caffeine, a natural component of both coffee and tea, is a risk factor in human cancer.

Bone Health
Research has shown that moderate caffeine intake is not a risk factor for osteoporosis, particularly in women who consume adequate calcium. Although caffeine slightly increases calcium loss in the urine, the amount lost can be replaced by the equivalent of two tablespoons of milk added to a cup of coffee.

Women's Health
Most experts agree that there is no reliable evidence that moderate caffeine consumption is harmful to a pregnant woman or her unborn child.

17 January 2009

How to Clean Cooktops

Cooking is a messy task, but it is easily controlled with quick daily cleanups. Grease is one of the major culprits behind the grime that accumulates on cooktops. But we'll show you how to tackle grease and other culprits that mess up your cooktop.

Gas and Electric Stovetops and Range Exteriors
The exteriors of most gas and electric ranges are baked-on porcelain enamel; the trim is usually chrome; and the control knobs are plastic. The easiest way to keep these clean is to wipe the surface around the heating elements after each use. Avoid using harsh abrasives or steel wool, which will damage the stove's enamel finish. Also consider these suggestions :
  • Wash reflector bowls, or drip pans, and grids in warm soapsuds whenever food or grease is spilled on them.
  • Gas burners should be washed occasionally. Clear the holes with a fine wire. Do not use a toothpick; it could break off and clog the hole.
  • Electric heating elements are self-cleaning and should never be submerged in water.
  • Remove all the control knobs when you clean the exterior of the range to make the job easier. Soak the knobs in warm sudsy water, and dry them with a soft towel before putting them back in place.

How To Clean Ceramic Cooktops

The ceramic cooktop is a glass cooktop with electric heating elements placed under the glass heating elements under the glass. While smooth tops may appear to be easy to clean, special care must be taken to avoid damaging or discoloring the ceramic surface.

How to Clean Ceramic Cooktops
The best way to clean a ceramic cooktop is to sprinkle a nonabrasive cleanser or baking soda over the surface and rub with a synthetic scouring pad or sponge. Rinse well with clear water, and buff with a soft cloth for a clean finish. Here are a few other handy suggestions:

  • Light to Moderate Soil : Apply cooktop cleaner with a non-abrasive pad, paper towel or clean cloth. Hand dishwashing detergent and water or a baking soda paste can also be used if cooktop is rinsed thoroughly and completely dried.
  • Heavy Soil, Metal Markings, Brown/Gray Stains from Hard Water : Gently scrub with cooktop cleaner using a clean cloth or paper towel. Reapply cleaner. Cover with damp paper towels to keep cleaner moist. Let stand for 30-45 minutes. Scrub to remove remaining stain. Do not use abrasive powders or pads since they may scratch the surface.
  • Burned On, Crusty Soils : Hold a razor blade scraper at 30 degree angle and very carefully scrape off soil. Clean remaining soil with cooktop cleaner.
  • If plastic, sugar or foods with a high sugar content melt onto a hot cooktop, remove immediately. (If not removed, permanent damage may occur.) Scrape from hot surface using a razor blade scraper held carefully with a potholder or use a wooden handled stainless steel spatula. Clean residue with cooktop cleaner when surface has cooled.
  • The spillovers should be cleaned from the cooktop as soon as the food gets cooked and the cooktop gets cool. First, clean the spill over with a clean paper towel and then, make use of the cleaner.
  • The areas which have gotten burnt during the cooking should be cleaned with the help of a razor blade scraper. Take the scraper in your hand, bend it at 45 deg angle and then, gently, slide it over the cooktop surface. After the stain gets removed, use spread cleanser. With the help of paper towels, clean the cooktop.
  • The discoloration of the ceramic cooktop, left from aluminum or copper pans, has to be corrected by polishing it. Make sure to polish the cooktop, before using it again. Otherwise, the stains might become permanent.
Tips for Cleaning Ceramic Cooktops
  • Before using your cooktop for the first time, apply a cooktop cleaning product specially formulated for glass-ceramic cooktops. Apply with a non-abrasive pad, paper towel or clean cloth. This helps make future cleaning easier. Hand dishwashing detergent and water or a baking soda paste can also be used if cooktop is rinsed thoroughly and completely dried.
  • Do not put too much gap between two cleanings. The more often you clean the cooktop, the better it is.
  • Make sure that you do not keep any plastic items near the cooktop. This is because plastic tends to melt down with heat and then, becomes very difficult to remove.
  • Sliding pots and pans across the cooktop surface leads to development of scratches. Make sure that you don’t make the same mistake.
  • Never ever use abrasive cleaning products for the ceramic cooktop. They scratch the surface and might lead to discoloration too.
  • The bottom of pots and pans should be checked on a regular basis for scratches and scrapes. If found, they should be removed as soon as possible. These gouges might cause marks on the ceramic.
Protecting Ceramic Glass Cooking Surfaces :
  • Do not use glass, ceramic, earthenware, heatproof glass, or glazed pans; trivets or metal stands; or foil containers (crank-style popcorn poppers) these can mark or etch the surface.
  • Do not use the glass-ceramic cooktop as a work surface, as a cutting board, or for cooking food directly on the cooktop without a pan.
  • To prevent damage to the cooktop, do not slide metal or glass items across the cooktop.
  • Depending on the type of aluminum, moving cookware with aluminum bottoms across the cooktop may result in metal marks on the cooktop. Metal markings must be removed immediately after the cooktop is cool. If they are not removed, these marks may become permanent. Further efforts to remove them could cause chipping of the cooktop. Although the metal marks or the chipping may be visually undesirable, the performance of the cooktop will not be affected.

12 January 2009

What Should I Know Before Choosing Kitchen Countertops?

First thing you should do is identify or write down your goals on what it is you want to achieve with your new kitchen or remodel. This will help you identify certain types of kitchen countertops that fit your objectives or needs.
There are wide ranges of countertop choices available, each has their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. Here some question to help you what you want for your countertops :
  1. Are you going strictly for a look and feel that you have your heart set on, regardless of any other decision factors?
  2. Are you looking for practicality and something that is easily maintainable and affordable?
  3. How do you intend on using your kitchen countertops? Do you do a lot of cooking and food preparation or will your countertops see less use?
  4. What kind of long term durability are you looking for? Do you want your kitchen countertops to look the same 10 years from now, with no visible signs of aging, wear or patina?
  5. What level of maintenance are you willing to put in?
  6. Do you want surfacing that is more environmentally-friendly?
Well, after answer your question, you may dwarf all the list for countertops. Here are some additional points to keep in mind before you choose your kitchen countertops :
  • Stone countertops such as granite are naturally porous and will need to be sealed in order to maintain their stain resistance. Stone is also heavy so your cabinets and supporting structure will need to handle the weight.
  • Laminate kitchen countertops are durable, affordable and can be found in a multitude of different colors and patterns, some that mimic the look of natural stone. There are also edge treatments such as a wood edge or beveled edge that virtually eliminate the dark line typically seen on square edges of laminate countertops.
  • No kitchen countertop material is perfect although some come close from a durability and minimal-maintenance perspective. But don't think that they're indestructible. Understanding that a little care and maintenance is required should help avoid disappointment down the road.
  • Countertop surfaces vary in their strengths and weaknesses so take advantage of that. Don't be afraid to mix up materials within your kitchen. Use butcher block for a dedicated cutting area and a more delicate natural stone like marble for less-used areas you'd like to show off.
See The Most Popular Kitchen Countertops I and The Most Popular Kitchen Countertops II for more information about type of Countertops available.

The Most Popular Kitchen Countertops II

Continue from The Most Popular Kitchen Countertops I

7. Stainless Steel Countertops
For a really contemporary and industrial look for your kitchen, stainless steel is a good choice. They are heat resistant and durable. Because they're constructed to your specifications, you can have a seamless countertop.Stainless steel countertops are not very elegant and look "cold". They do not absorb stains oils or odors, but it will scratch easily and scratches cannot be repaired.

Pros :
  • Easy to clean
  • Heat tolerant
  • Non-porous and sanitary, particularly stainless steel
  • Offers a unique look
Cons :
  • Noisy; may dent
  • Expensive; and the fabrication is expensive; you can't cut on it
  • Can scratch depending on the metal used
  • Prone to denting if objects are dropped on it
8. Soapstone Countertops
Soapstone is generally dark gray in color and has a smooth feel. It is often seen in historic homes but is also used in modern homes as both a countertop and sink material.

Pros :
  • Rich
  • Deep color
  • Smooth feel
  • Somewhat stain resistant
Cons :
  • Requires regular maintenance with applications of mineral oil
  • May crack and darken over time
9. Lavastone Countertops
Lavastone is volcanic lava that's hardened into a stone-like consistency. Most Lavastone countertop material is covered with a hard enamel that makes the surface similar to tile, except you don't have to deal with grout lines like you do with a tile countertop. It can be expensive but you have a virtually unlimited supply of colors.

Pros :
  • Offers a unique look; not a common surfacing material
  • Enameled lavastone has similar properties to tile (heat, scratch and stain resistant, non porous)
  • Wide color range available
Cons :
  • Expensive
  • Few manufacturers/suppliers
10. Marble Countertops
Because of it's extremely high price tag, marble is not often seen on the countertops of whole kitchens. To get the luxurious look, use it on an island or inset at a baking center. Marble requires constant maintenance, as it easily stains. Some new sealers retard staining.

Pros :
  • Waterproof
  • Heatproof
  • Beautiful.
Cons :
  • Expensive
  • Porous
  • Stains easily unless professionally sealed
  • Can scratch
  • May need resealing periodically as per manufacturer
11. Glass Countertops
Glass countertops offer a sleek, modern style that's unique and usually custom-designed so there's little worry of having a kitchen just like everyone else. There's a world of choices in textures, styles and colors so there's virtually no limit to the level of distinction you can put in your kitchen. Glass countertop sources include architectural glass fabricators and glass art studios so there's bound to be a design that's right for you. Glass countertops are sturdy enough to stand up to their role but you'll still want to be sure you avoid dropping something large and heavy on them. They will scratch and they're not immune to cracks or breaks.

Pros :
  • Heat tolerant and stain resistant
  • Wide range of styles, colors and textures available offering a unique style choice
  • Eco-friendly when using recycled glass
  • Hygienic, non-porous surface that's easy to clean and won't harbor germs/bacteria
  • Custom-made product - styles are limited only by the capabilities and features offered by the fabricator
Cons :
  • Cost can be high depending on the style and characteristics of the countertop design
  • May show fingerprints and water spots more easily than other countertop surfaces
  • Typically strong but not immune to cracks or fractures if objects are dropped on it
  • Acidic substances can etch and mar the glass surface
12. Concrete Countertops
If you have countertops in unusual shapes, concrete may be a good choice. Concrete offers endless design options since they're fabricated to your specifications, either right in your home or in a design studio and then shipped to your kitchen. Concrete offers a smooth surface in just about any color along with a stoutness that embodies solidity.
The high price tag may be beyond most people's budget.

Pros :
  • Heat and scratch resistant
  • Can be color-tinted
  • Looks exotic and unusual
  • New treatments eliminate cracking
  • Additives reduce porosity
  • New finishes are more decorative.
  • Can be made to any shape/style and color
  • Can incorporate inlaid decorative items/patterns or useful implements such as trivets
Cons :
  • Mid to high range on cost due to custom work
  • Can look somewhat industria
  • Porous but can be sealed.
  • May develop natural hairline cracks (characteristic of the material)
  • Can be chipped
  • Heavy - requires sturdy cabinetry/support structure
  • Not as widely available depending on location but fabricators are becoming more prevalent and some specialty fabricators ship worldwide
13. Composite and Recycled Materials
Composite and recycled countertops deliver some interesting alternatives for kitchen countertops. Some are made from recycled paper combined with resins to form a surface that's hard yet warmer than stone. Other choices include the use of recycled crushed glass and porcelain that's mixed with resins or cement. The result is a durable but distinctive terrazzo-like surface. The eco-friendly nature of these choices may also give you the satisfaction of having helped the environment.

Pros :
  • Offers a look similar to some natural stone depending on color (slate)
  • 'Green' qualities - made from recycled and earth-friendly materials/techniques
  • Offers a warmer surface to the touch than stone or engineered stone or glass
Cons :
  • Some color change of fading may occur depending on product and use
  • Still somewhat new in the marketplace

The Most Popular Kitchen Countertops I

There are lots of options on the market for kitchen countertops. When you choose your countertop, select a color and texture that compliments your cabinetry, floor or paint selection. Don't be afraid to combine two or more countertop materials in one kitchen. Complimentary colors or textures on adjacent surfaces can create visual interest.

1. Granite Countertops
Granite is hard as rock. Granite is the countertop material of choice when there are no other things to think about - like money. It defines elegance in a kitchen. As the use of granite becomes more widespread, the price comes down. Though costly, when buffed to a shine it creates a smashing look for kitchen counters. It is also riding a crest of popular style that began over 10 years ago. With granite tops, the experience and expertise of the fabricator is vitally important.

Pros :
  • Hold up to heat
  • Many colors available (about 3000 colors)
  • Looks permanent and substantial
  • Very durable and will last a lifetime
  • New sealers are almost maintenance-free
  • Has a high value to home buyers
Cons :
  • Costly, but worth it, more affordable
  • requires some maintenance
  • some stones absorbs stains if not sealed
  • knife can become dull if you cut on it; can crack if stressed or improperly installed.
2. Engineered Stone Countertops
Predominantly a quartz material (93%) that's been crushed and combined with resins to form a hard surface like stone, but without the maintenance requirements like periodic sealing. It is available in a larger range of colors than granite and has a nonporous surface that resists scratches. Some brands on the market include DuPont Zodiaq®, LG Viatera®, Cambria Quartz, and Silestone®.

Pros :
  • Durable as stone but non-porous and stain and acid resistant so it doesn't require sealing
  • Can be offered in colors not found with natural stone
Cons :
  • Can be expensive depending on color choice and edge profiles
3. Solid Surface Countertops
Solid surface is basically a plastic but that's where the blandness ends. Any scratches can be sanded out. Many styles and colors are available and the seamless characteristics work well for expansive countertops and integral sinks. The countertops are custom-made to your specifications by companies such as Avonite, Corian, and Swanstone.

Pros :
  • Renewable (cuts and scratches can be blended out)
  • seamless; stain resistant.
  • Allows for the use of integrated sinks (no visible seams between sink and countertop)
  • No visible seams which is advantageous on large countertop designs
  • Non-porous
  • Many patterns and colors available, some which resemble natural stone
Cons :
  • Softer and easier to scratch than stone or other harder surfaces
  • vulnerable to hot pans and stains which can damage the surface;
  • Relatively higher cost among the countertop surfaces
  • Requires professional fabrication/installation in most cases including repairs
4. Ceramic Tile Countertops
Tile's another choice that's been available for years but you're not limited to just the basic 4-inch squares anymore. Natural stone tiles like granite are available and come in large sizes which means you could have a granite countertop with just a few grout lines for less cost than a granite slab.

Ceramic tile is durable and easy to clean. Add to that inexpensive and you've got a really good choice for countertops for the average home. Because it's installed a section at a time, it can be done by most resourceful homeowners.

Pros :
  • Easy to clean
  • Durable; heat tolerant, scratch and stain resistant
  • Endless variety of styles, texture, design and colors available
  • Can be very cost efficient depending on the type of tile chosen
  • Larger natural stone tile such as granite can be used to provide a more affordable granite kitchen countertop compared to a solid slab
Cons :
  • Can be bothersome to wipe clean because of the interruptions in the surface from the grout lines
  • Grout can stain and discolor over time
  • Custom-designed tiles are very expensive.
5. Laminates Countertops
Well known by trade names such as Formica, Nevamar, and Wilsonart. They're made of plastic-coated synthetics with a smooth surface that's easy to clean. The pieces are cut to size and finished on the ends. New innovations make for a broad range of colors and patterns and more recently, the addition of textures.

Pros :
  • Durable
  • Inexpensive
  • Affordable
  • Easily maintained
  • Almost limitless range of colors/patterns
Cons :
  • Edges and seams visible
  • Not heat tolerant
  • Can scratch and chip
  • End finishing and front edge choices can be pricey.
  • Chips not easily repaired and repairs (such as colored pastes) are still visible after pair/almost imposible to repair.
6. Wood or Butcher Block Countertops
Wood countertops offer a beautiful warm look and are available in a wide range of colors and finishes. Hardwoods such as maple and oak are most often used as countertop woods.

Pros :
  • Unique aesthetic appeal and smooth
  • Offers a warmer surface than stone or engineered stone
  • Butcher block style provides good cutting surface
  • Easy to clean
  • can be sanded and resealed as needed.
Cons :
  • Requires sealing and periodic resealing depending on the application
  • Susceptible to water damage if not properly treated/sealed
  • Scratches must be oiled or sealed according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Generally a softer material and can dent and will scratch and show cut marks
Continue to The Most Popular Kitchen Countertops II

How to Makeovers Kitchen Cabinet?

There'is an easy way to make your cabinet looks brand new with an easy and inexpensive way. You can try a fresh coat of paint or a bold new stain. Add some new hardware and you'll feel like you have a brand new kitchen.

How to make over stained dark kitchen cabinets?
If you try to remove an older darker stain and white wash over it, this will be difficult because there is always some residue of stain or varnish that will show through the whitewash. It will look blotchy unless you put in a lot more time than it would be worth.

Other alternative :
  • Reface them and whitewashing that new bare wood
  • Paint them for about half the cost of refacing
Painting cabinets is very tricky because every square inch of the surface must be thoroughly washed and etched. Waxes, silicone in spray polishes and oil from our hands actually get imbedded in the lacquer surface of stained cabinets and do not all come out with washing alone. Therefore you need to sand the entire surface to remove a thin top layer of the original lacquer (or varnish or enamel paint) to get down to a clean dull finish.

If you never used any polishes on the cabinets, you can wash them and skip the sanding. But don't try with kitchen cabinets or cabinet in bathroom where cause they are likely to get banged around. The last thing you want is for the paint to chip every time you tap it with a saucer. Sanding is the best way to achieve proper adhesion. It also beautifies by removing blemishes in the old surface and making it smoother so the new coat looks better than ever. The more you sand, the better the finished surface will look.

How to paint over previously painted doors?
For good results in repainting an old front door begin by sanding the surface very smooth, applying an oil base primer, sanding it again with 320 grit wet or dry sandpaper with water, then applying a high gloss or satin oil enamel paint. If one of the previous layers of paint was not properly prepared, it will start to peel as soon as it's wet with water and you start to sand. If this starts to happen, stop sanding rather than make it worse. The surface can be painted as is, but it will always have a weak subsurface that is prone to chip, or we can strip the paint down to a firm foundation.

How to prepare formerly stained and lacquered cabinets for painting?

1. Wash the surface
  • Put on rubber gloves and prepare a strong solution of TSP (1/2 cup in 2 gallons warm water) Immerse a flat synthetic sponge in the TSP water and let it soak for a few minutes before using to remove the dirt more easily.
  • Rinse well with clean water.
  • Pay special attention to the places where hands touch.
2. Sand
  • Tear or cut a sheet of wet or dry sandpaper into four equal pieces to fit a rubber sanding block.
  • Use 320 grit if the surface is in good condition, in need of just a little smoothing, and you expect to apply only one coat.
  • You can use 220 grit for faster sanding, but this rougher sand paper will leave deeper scratches on the surface and require more than one coat of paint. Use plenty of water while wet sanding.
  • Use more water if it clogs up.
3. Rinse, dry
  • Rinse the pasty residue from the surface very well with terry cloth or a sea sponge; synthetic sponges don't work very well.
  • Dry the surface as quickly as you can. An old towel is best, and never use paper towels because they are full of lint.
4. Tack cloth
  • Just before applying the finish, wipe with a tack cloth for a really clean, dust-free surface.
  • Be careful around wood joints where water could get into the wood and warp.
  • That's why it is so important to work quickly.
  • Well-made cabinets and furniture are not usually harmed by short term exposure to water.
What kind of paint should I use for my woodwork?
It's a good idea to use the best paint available if your budget allows, but even less expensive paints won't peel. If applying paint with a brush, use a good oil base enamel; it sticks much better than latex (water base) paints and is more beautifying to any piece of wood. If spraying the paint, latex enamel can look as good as oil base paint, if applied with skill. However, if applying water base paint to a previously lacquered or varnished surface, always use a first coat of shellac or oil base primer. It will stick well to the old surface and provide a strong foundation for the top coat of water base paint.