a peek inside the fishbowl

19 Jun, 2012

Reno update #32: kitchen counters, oh my

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno

Last week I had a design meeting with our architect and I picked out a material that I really liked for our kitchen counters. It’s a quartz called Zodiaq and it’s made by DuPont. The colour I liked is called Abyss Black (pictured here).

It satisfied my desire for black kitchen counters without being overly black (read: solid black). It also has a fleck of light golden brown which I think will work really well with our hardwood floors. Unfortunately, I only had a sample in hand and no idea how much it cost.

I started to research quartz as a countertop material in the kitchen, and I liked what I read.

  • Quartz is a man-made product. It’s an engineered stone, a composite of materials which can include actual quartz, stones and minerals, glass, other shiny bits and flakes of colour that is all bound together in resin. Quartz is very durable – heatproof, scratch proof –  and is virtually maintenance-free.
  • Granite is natural stone, and although it’s also quite durable it is also porous. This means that it needs to be resealed periodically. Abrasive cleaners are not recommended and lighter colours of granite might actually stain.

And with that, I gave my heart over to the idea of having a quartz countertop.  In my view, quartz came out to be the big winner here. (It is however worth noting that some experts see no difference in performance between a quartz countertop and a sealed granite one.)

With a goal finally in mind we set out to go shopping. As I said, I had no real idea how much this quartz countertop cost was going to cost until Mark and I started asking questions.

A salesgirl at Emerald Tile told us that their quartz counters run between $95-$110 per sq.ft. Ouch. We quickly realized that granite – a material we’d assumed would be the most expensive of the bunch – can be had for much cheaper. So even though I’m still longing for quartz I don’t think it works with our budget.

We have seen two nice dark granites that might do the trick. One is called Amazon Verde and starts at $66/sq.ft and it’s available at Home Depot. (Pricing depends on the finishing of the edges.) The other one we liked is from a place called Urban Quarry. RONA carries it (I guess they’re a dealer) and it’s called Uba Tuba, which is similar to the Amazon Verde but with less green in it. It costs $75-$80/sq.ft. and it’s pretty nice too.

uba tuba granite

Looking at their website I realize they have a truckload of more colours. I still don’t know if I want black counters with a green undertone or a blue undertone. Ack.

I want to visit a couple more places before making a final decision, and I need to do it ASAP. Picking the counters is kind of a biggie. Everything else stems from there: tiles, colours, etc. I am trying not to be overwhelmed. BABY STEPS! But the thing is, everything is coming together quickly now. The new space is getting easier to visualize. The main floor addition is framed and so we can now see where the doors and windows are going to be.

For example, this will be the back corner of our new family room, with views of the backyard:

Main floor addition

It’s so exciting, but there is still so much left to do!

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10 Responses to "Reno update #32: kitchen counters, oh my"

1 | Chantal

June 19th, 2012 at 9:59 am


it really is so exciting!

2 | Sara

June 19th, 2012 at 10:05 am


Wow they’re really moving at a quick pace!

3 | Wanda

June 19th, 2012 at 10:42 am


David is amazing with colour. If you are stuck or want a good second (third) opinion on finishes or colours….he’s your guy!

4 | Deborah

June 19th, 2012 at 11:22 am


You should visit Hiltz Granite south of Ottawa. The address is 9136 County Rd. 22. You would have to google for directions The phone number is 989-1705.They have an amazing choice of full slabs to choose from. Gives you a much better idea of how it will look as a counter.
They installed our bathroom vanity and kitchen counters. Wonderful people to work with and very good prices.
We are so pleased with their work.

5 | Paula

June 19th, 2012 at 12:07 pm


I chose the granite mostly because I love the natural look of the striations as opposed to the uniform consistency of quartz. I have cream shaker cabinets with an antique bronze granite (aka antique brown)- it is really nice and holds up well for someone who likes to cook a lot and it holds up well with hot pots and red wine spills. Colour is black with flecks of dark brown. I can send you a picture if you like. Have you checked out soapstone?

6 | binki

June 19th, 2012 at 1:07 pm


Have you picked out your BIG family windows? If you know of a place in Ottawa / Mtrl / Toronto (or a website) where I can see some di$tinct large windows, let me know. A place with a showroom would be ideal. We’re going with average stuff for countertops, fixtures, plumbing but I would really like unique windows/glass door in the family room.

7 | andrea

June 19th, 2012 at 1:15 pm



I went to look at some granite slabs this morning and loved them. Like you Paula, the variation and natural look of the stone really appealed to me. So now, quartz is out of the picture. I am sold on the granite!

Binki – Believe it or not we haven’t seen the windows beyond the architect’s sketches. We’re not doing anything too fancy. Our construction manager shopped them around for us. I can email you the name of the company if you like. Just let me know.

8 | andrea

June 19th, 2012 at 1:16 pm


Wanda: David IS amazing! He’s the reason we’re going with dark counters in the kitchen. :)

9 | Allison

June 19th, 2012 at 1:40 pm


Glad to hear you went to look at slabs – even if you liked the sample at Home Depot, each slab can look different! We went to TNT in Carp. We also went to the Granite Shoppe on Colonnade Road and it was also very good. They will send you to a warehouse where you can see a much larger range of granite available. Both places were reasonable, good service and came highly recommended. I went to about six different places, forget all the names now, but we narrowed it down to these two.

Good luck!!

10 | Katie B. of HousewifeHowTos.com

June 21st, 2012 at 12:18 pm


You might be able to find quartz tiles at a better price. They wouldn’t create a completely smooth counter top, but if placed closely together they’d still give you that glossy look with all of the durability of quartz. Just a thought. :)

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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