SOS on kitchen finishes

14 days ago

Hi there, I’m in the process of building a new house. I got this far - layout and cabinets (white shaker), appliances (column fridge and freezer on wall you don’t see with cabinet finish), sink (35” farmhouse SS front) and faucet (Brizo articulating) selected (but not built or installed yet) and now all showrooms are closed due to COVID-19. Builder wants the rest of my selections! He’s still building.

I Have NOT picked wood floor (thinking wide light Euro oak - color?), countertops, backsplash, picture light. I made a mistake and did not catch that windows don’t go all the way down to counters. Do I do mini-backsplash between counter and window? I don’t really like 4” backsplashes but don‘t want to take backsplash material up full wall (Plan to paint walls light beige/gray tone - art on back wall - blue and natural for stools.) Thinking of white Corian for counters/maybe walnut on island.. or more white Corian. White herringbone tile over cooktop. No pendants over island because planning to get Niermann Weeks Italian chandelier over dining table - right next to kitchen (one big room with FR too).

so., what do I do about...



backsplash in areas other than area above cooktop???



Photos of your suggestions greatly appreciated

Comments (16)

  • Belaria
    14 days ago
    last modified: 14 days ago

    A walnut butcher block on the island would be beautiful. White Corian comes in different thicknesses, so be sure you are clear with your builder on which thickness he'll be using. The thicker the better because this is a surface that will be refinished periodically.

    If you get oak on the floor, read up on this thread with some valuable color information: Also beware that oak and walnut are different colors of wood and might end up not looking great together as far as countertop and flooring, but it's personal preference.

    Yes, you'll probably want a mini-backsplash between counter and window. Getting it cut exactly will take some skill, so be sure you have your tolerances written in a contract before going forward in case there are any mistakes.

    You are going to need some light over your island, so if you don't do pendants you'll need some recessed lighting. Sounds like you have your colors already picked out. If you want to post some color inspiration photos, you might get more comments.

  • darbuka
    14 days ago
    last modified: 14 days ago

    First of all, backsplash is the last thing to be selected. All the other finishings need to be installed first.

    Second, eliminate the corbels at the cooktop. They are too fussy, and already date the kitchen.

    Floors...suggest white oak. Takes any stain well, doesn’t get that reddish look over time, and is very durable. Since this is a new build, install a site finished wood floor, not engineered wood.

    Counters...if you’re leaning towards Corian, and that’s what makes your heart sing, then do it. I’m not a fan of plastic counters, but that’s me. Corian certainly doesn’t lend itself to fancy/fussy items, like corbels. I said, that should be selected last, once you see how everything else has come together. IF you’re thinking of doing a tiled mural behind the cooktop, different from the rest of the backsplash, suggest you don’t do it. That detail is already outdated.

    Don't worry about the window not reaching counter. Just tile up to the window, then take it half way up the side of the window, and then paint up to the ceiling. Something like this: Click to enlarge.

    Make sure you include layers of light, including under cabinet lighting, and install light rails to hide the fixtures.

    If you haven’t already paid for the cooktop, consider switching to a rangetop. Rangetops have controls on the front, but below the unit, instead of on top, next to the burners. When the knobs are adjacent to the burners, they constantly get coated with grease, sauce, or whatever has been cooked, sautéed...This is not the case with knobs on a rangetop:

    What are you doing for ventilation?

    mtpo thanked darbuka
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  • mtpo
    14 days ago

    Belaris, thanks! Your comments are very helpful. I’ll post more photos.

  • mtpo
    14 days ago
    last modified: 14 days ago

    Sorry for the sideways photos — I don’t know how to correct that. Hopefully, the inspiration photos below will give you a better idea of what I’m going for. My style (hoping to achieve) is a modernized, paired down, country French using neutrals, pale blue, white and touches of other colors (think hydrangeas, peonies, tulips in a basket). The kitchen in the first photo below is more traditional than my style but I’m using that Niermann Weeks chandelier over my dining table. (I love Nidnay’s house... she has photos elsewhere on this site ... sleek, tasteful, yet a little traditional).

    Although backsplashes are put in last, I have to tell the countertop fabricator to fabricate them out of the countertop material if that’s what I want, order tile soon if that’s what I want, or decide on no backsplash —- so the builder can plan accordingly.

    I’m using lots of recessed lights ... over the island and elsewhere. I am not having wall cabinets on the wall with the range top — there’s open wall space to the left and right of the range hood. I’m planning on plain tile (white herringbone? calcutta look tile?) for the area between the corbels. That will not compete with framed paintings or water colors to be hung under an art light to the right of the cooktop. There will not be any fancy tile.

    BTW... I’m using an induction range top. I would have loved a fancy European gas range but for safety and etc reasons decided on induction.

    I don’t think the corbels will look fussy or dated ... see above and below. We’ll, maybe dated, but I love the look and I AM DATED so we’ll go well together. 😁 I’m getting close to 70. I like that the corbels contain the tile backsplash so that there’s not a dead end where tile stops and Non-tile area of wall begins. I’m not getting pendants over the island — I just couldn’t decide on any by the time I had to tell the electrician how to wire the ceiling. AND ... that left $$$ for the dining chandelier!

    The photo below is one of my inspiration photos for the adjoining family room. I already own the chairs and similar style sofa — I’ll need to get my chairs or sofa recovered in a soft blue.

    If I do wood or Corian for the island, I’m asking for a bid to get the double edge like in the photo below. It goes with the design of my island. see island drawing in earlier post. It’s a traditional touch - a little fussy, but I like the idea of the island having furniture detailing.

    So back to my original questions... (see earlier post and photo of kitchen perspective)...

    what do I do for backsplash in areas OTHER than above the cook top?

    What do I do about wood floors? (They will be engineered with 1/2” “real” wood top layer. I’ve learned much less problems with engineered if I want 7” wide planks. They will be delivered raw .. white European oak... to be sealed and finished on site).

    Glacier white Corian for all countertops? wood for island or more white Corian? (p.s. picking Corian because DH has Parkinson’s and will crack Neolith, dekton or quartz — either dropping things or running his wheelchair into it). I like that Corian and wood are more likely to be repairable.

    thanks to all of you— the advice on this site is tremendously helpful!


  • keith Dcil
    14 days ago

    I like the corbels and the style of the cabinets in your drawing.
    Would it be possible to have the window above the sink in natural or stained wood? It would be a beautiful design feature.
    You could get away with no backsplash by the sink if you use a wipe-able paint. Can always tile later.
    I always prefer a dark wood floor but they are hard to keep clean if kitchen is busy.

    mtpo thanked keith Dcil
  • Kirsten E.
    14 days ago

    I would recommend ordering different corian whites and testing them against your cabinet color; they have several options! I went with designer white for our basement wet bar because I wanted a stark white, but glacier white seems to be their classic white. I love a butcher block counter, but the maintenance dissuaded me.

    I disagree that a backsplash has to be chosen last; I preferred designing rooms with all elements in mind, rather than one at a time. Different strokes!

    mtpo thanked Kirsten E.
  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    14 days ago
    last modified: 14 days ago

    don't worry about the backsplash! If you want tile, then wait. if you don't want a tile backsplash, then have them make the 4" piece using the countertop. That's not a huge decision. either you want tile, or you don't.

    Personally I don't care for tile only behind the stove top. but if you do, then go w/that.

    This one, above is nice, but they did the white subway everywhere else. the herringbone design above the stovetop is done in a diff shade. I'd prob stick with 1 color.

    Have you considered using Quartzite? it's harder than granite and won't chip like the others. I think the TajMajal quartzite would be perfect for your kitchen style.

    here it is w/french oak flooring

    the splash is a 3x6 warm gray tile in a herringbone pattern. very french.

    Taj again, but w/a travertine backsplash.

    french style w/wood island.

    If you don't know what tile your want, just wait until everything is installed. Nidnay, and I, have both gone quite awhile w/o backsplashes while we decide what we like!

    I think the glacier white on the perimeter, and a walnut butcher block on the island would work.

    although, this is the glacier white. how does this look next to your cabinets? When I hear French Country, I wouldn't think of this for a countertop.

    Here's light oak flooring, white cabs and Glacier White Corian. this is a lot of white

    If you don't want a wood island, would the corian be too much white for you?

    diff style than yours, but, it's Glacier white on both the perimeter and the island. these cabs are a light gray. It's a lot of white.

    as for flooring, which do you want? I just got the 7" wire brushed French Oak flooring (engineered) and really like it. comes in many diff shades.

    If you'd rather have solid wood with stain on site, then go that route using the white oak.

  • mtpo
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    Thanks Beth H. A lot to consider. A local lumberyard makes engineered flooring using European white oak in a number of qualities (knots/less knots/select) and thicknesses that can be finished on site. My builder wants to finish on-site and suggested I get 1/2” thickness that is one grade down from “select” if I want some French country knots but don’t want to overdo it. he said that if they accidentally spill something or scratch a factory/mill finished floor, it is almost impossible for them to fix it with a perfect color match but can fix a floor that they colored on site. The quality of the lumber yard flooring — both raw and pre-finished looks great. From what I have read, if I want 7” wide planks, there will be less future problems with cupping etc if I use engineered. Houzz is amazing— I don’t know how I would have learned so much without this site! Given that we’ll have so much wood flooring, our builder strongly suggested we get a whole house humidifier, so that’s being put in.

    I learned a lot from this site about tannins and finish products. Given what I’ve learned from Houzz discussions, I plan to ask for one of the Bona sealers (the builder will do samples for me — Nordic? natural? Etc if I decide on a light floor) or stain and 3 coats of Bona Traffic HD if I decide on a mid-tone. I learned from this site not to go too dark unless I’m prepared to do the necessary dusting and can live with seeing scratches — so real dark, although beautiful, is not for me. I‘m not sure of what to ask for if I want a slight white wash. The lumber yard said that the way they do it, the white paint will not permeate through the wood so much that it will prevent darker finishes down the road if 10 years from now I want to sand and stain.

    we looked at fumed floors before the world shut down. Although beautiful, we ruled them out because the Mill can’t guarantee the finished color.

    How many coats of the Bona Traffic HD should be on the sample before I pick my color? The builder and lumber yard use the Bona products. The yard also has a process to treat the wood for UV (I’m not sure what that is but the yard says they want to supply raw or full finish. I can understand that — in case something is wrong with the final finish, we know who was to blame.) The lumber yard used Loba for a while but they went back to Bona. I’m not sure why— somewhere along the line, I’ll ask them.

    We looked at the top grade oil finished floors but given what I read, the colors in real life, etc, we decided against them.

    Picking finishes is so complex and time consuming!

  • Belaria
    13 days ago

    Bona gets a lot better reviews than Loba. Performance and longevity is probably why they switched.

    mtpo thanked Belaria
  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    if you want info on that specific product, post a new post w/just that. SJ McCarthy is the reigning floor wizard. if she sees it she will tell you. ( you could also do a search on Houzz on Bona sealers for wood floors. a lot of posts should pop up) Just make sure your guys are trained in using Bona.

    this is a stain on site w/Bona Natural/White stain, Bona Mega 1 for the top coat

    This post was mainly for the kitchen items. What did you think of all that white w/the Glacier white countertops and white cabinets? looks very sterile, no?

    mtpo thanked Beth H. :
  • Cheryl Hannebauer
    13 days ago


  • mtpo
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    I’m having a hard time deciding what to do about countertops. When I’ve seen kitchens in person that are essentially all white, using Neolith or quartz with just a bit of gray, I’ve liked them a lot. The color in such kitchens came from counter stools, centerpieces, art work, etc. In the photos posted above, the photographer takes the photo of the White Island from a bird’s eye view which really emphasizes the starkness. But that starkness is what scares me.

    There’s a 99.99% chance that my DH will crack/chip Neolith, DeKTon, silestone, or Cambria etc. — thus, my consideration of Glacier white Corian. The Corian can be repaired. It also is not supposed to discolor from UV light which some discussion boards say is a problem with quartz (Kitchen windows face east south east). I haven’t found a solid surface choice with a pattern yet that comes close to the nice patterns the quartz manufacturers have come up with. Corian’s web site needs a redo... it’s so hard to tell what their patterns/colors look like and it’s also hard to tell from a 2” x 2” sample. I ordered samples of Designer White and Glacier White. The Glacier is a better match for my cabinets. But Beth H identified my fear... is it too much white? But if I go walnut, will it look terrible with the wood floor? A conundrum. For those of us that treat designing our homes as an artistic endeavor, these choices mean a lot. The cabinets in the kitchen below may be a light gray, but even if they were white, I wouldn’t think that kitchen was too stark. But would it be too stark if the countertops were Glacier white? What if the floors were lighter?

    The above photo is from Lark and Linen. What do you think those floors are? If the island was white instead of gray, would it still work? I think that kitchen looks lovely. I can’t tell what the countertops are, but they look white.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    have you thought about doing a two tone cabinet? maybe a light gray bottom and white uppers?

    maybe pick a Corian with a bit of slight veining or movement?

    what about doing an island with some color? that will also help to quell all of the white.

    Are you opposed to the Quartzite option? unless he rolls by with a hammer, he's not going to break or chip. Do simple edging, nothing with a fancy overhang.

    This is a quartzite. Infinity quartzite. it's strong. won't stain. He's not going to chip it. I believe this is a matte finish, but you can also do polished. This is a beautiful stone.

    For the island, I'd do it in wood (the cabinets) like shown here. If you don't want a wood island, consider doing a light gray or charcoal tone. For your splash, You could do a solid piece of this stone behind the stove if you like, and no tile elsewhere. Or, choose a nice tile that you like.

    If you're worried about a wood island,, it's perfectly fine to do a walnut with an oak floor.

    this one with gray cabs and a live edge is beautiful. good for wheel chair too

    if youre set on all white cabs and Glacier white, then I'd strongly urge you to do a colorful backsplash, or even one with some type of pattern. It will break up all of the stark white.

    doing a soft blue or green of maybe a pattern of grays/whites, would look very nice.

    I would go that route (full tile splash) IF you go w/the white on white.

    btw,,,here's a white on white on white w/a dark wood floor

    way too white for me, but if you like it,,,this is what it would look like.

    But, I really like this warm gray cabinet color. with this, you could do your white counter and white tile (here's your corbels) bring in some nice hardware

  • mtpo
    12 days ago

    Very helpful photos Beth H. Thanks! It’s too late to change my cabinet colors. My island base is very open so a lot of flooring will show and I have no regular upper cabinets — just a glass dishes cabinet that goes down to the counter and an oven cabinet. So maybe it will help if the walls are grey/beige or a blue/grey? There’s A Houzz post where someone posted pics of problems with quartzite — that scared me from using it. I’ll look into it again. thanks!

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    12 days ago

    I happen to like granite it is care free and comes in lots of choices I never understand the four legs around a small cabinet for an island. Paint and backsplash are the last choices you make and IMO your builder needs to go home and wait unless he is the only person on site always. I do not like wood hoods or different tile design behind stoves the cobels you show on the hood will bre grasey all the time and are unecessary. I love art in a kitchen and IMO windows that go to the counter are just one more thing to get dirty.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    mtpo,,,,TRUE quartzite does not stain or etch, and it's harder than granite. The problem is, many, many stone yards mislabel slabs of marble as quartzite.

    Quartzite is a metamorphic rock made almost entirely of the mineral quartz.

    If you get a slab that has 'some marble or calcite in it', then it's not quartzite. It's really that simple.

    Some of the true quartzite are Taj Majal, Sea Pearl and White Macaubas

    (they say Mont Blac is quartzite, its' not. Ditto for Super White, Fantasy Brown, and a slew of others)

    quite frankly, it it stains, it's not quartzite.

    If a rock that is labeled as quartzite is soft, then it was mislabeled. The unfortunate term “soft quartzite” has emerged to try to explain why a rock that is labeled quartzite is actually not hard and durable like real quartzite. There is no such thing as soft quartzite though. There is only one kind of quartzite and it’s hard. A rock labeled as soft quartzite is most likely marble.

    Resistance to acids

    Quartzite will not etch from acids like lemon juice or vinegar. If a rock labeled as quartzite becomes etched from acid, then it’s been mislabeled. Marble and dolomitic marble, on the other hand, will etch from these acids. Dolomitic marble etches slightly more slowly than regular marble. But quartzite will not etch at all from normal kitchen acids. Not one little bit!


    Quartzite has a range of porosities. Some, like Taj Mahal or Sea Pearl, have been highly metamorphosed, and the minerals are bonded together tightly. White Macaubas and Calacatta Macaubas have been exposed to less intense pressure, so they are more porous and will benefit from sealing.

    How to do the glass test:

    • Use a glass tile.
    • Find a rough section of the stone, preferably a pointy edge.
    • Put the glass tile on a table, then try to scratch the tile with the stone. Press hard.
    • Inspect the scratch. Is it really a scratch? Or is it a powdered trail of crumbled rock?
    • If the stone is variable and has more than one color or type of mineral in it, repeat the test in different places.

    What the results mean:

    • Real quartzite will scratch glass easily. You’ll hear it grind and you’ll feel it bite into the glass. The resulting scratch will be obvious. Yeah! You’ve got quartzite!
    • Non-quartzite will either leave no scratch or a very faint scratch. Often the rock feels slippery against the glass. It doesn’t make a noise. It leaves a powdery trail that rubs right off. Darn. Not quartzite. But aren’t you glad you know that now?

    What if there is no broken edge to use, such as a full slab with epoxied edges?

    • You can do a similar test with a knife blade. Try to scratch the rock with the tip of the blade. Genuine quartzite will be scratched lightly or not at all. Marble or dolomitic marble will be easily scratched.
    mtpo thanked Beth H. :

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