Ask Mike about...

Kitchens

There is a really bad odor coming from my garbage disposal. What causes this and what can I do about it?

Bad garbage disposal odors are caused by food debris building up in the disposal. To get rid of the odor, place sliced lemon or orange peels in the disposer and run for 30 seconds. Squirt a bit of dish detergent into the disposal while it is running and run cold water for 30 seconds to wash away the debris. Good as new!

What is that chrome thing on my sink?

That chrome thing that looks like an upside down glass on your sink is the air gap. The air gap prevents dirty water from entering your dishwasher drain line and contaminating the dishes there. It also protects the water you use for drinking and showering. Air gaps are required by plumbing code to be installed on all drain lines to protect homeowners from contaminated water. There are many different varieties and a plumber should be consulted to help you choose and install the correct one.

What material should I use for my kitchen countertop?

In the last decade, homeowners have benefited from the incredible variety of materials, texture and colors that have become available for countertops. The chief consideration in choosing a material for your kitchen countertop is how you use your countertop. Materials differ in their hardness and vulnerability to heat, knives and general wear and tear. Choosing the right countertop now would save you a costly replacement in the future. Below, we've gathered a list of countertop materials from most expensive to budget conscious.

The trendiest material right now is granite. Granite is the most expensive material but it also looks the most elegant and comes in over 3000 colors (at last count). Granite is also perceived to add property value to kitchens and thus to your home. Granite is also the hardest material you can buy and can stand up to heat the best. Some downsides include having to seal granite periodically (although some granite has been marketed as already sealed or not needing to be sealed at all). If not installed properly, granite can crack from stress.

Another very beautiful natural stone is marble but because of its extremely high price tag, most people use it sparingly on one counter or on an island or buffet. Marble is a porous material and thus stains easily unless professionally sealed. It is however, heatproof and waterprooof.

If you have unusually shaped spaces in your kitchen, concrete can provide the answer as it is actually cast in your kitchen to your specifications. Concrete can have a decorative finish and be color-tinted and is heat- and scratch-resistant. Concrete is also porous and needs to be resealed continuosly. It can also crack if stressed. There is also the chance it will have a more industrial look than you want in your kitchen.

Another popular choice is an engineered stone countertop (i.e. Silestone, DuPont Zodiaq, Cambria Quartz). It resists scratches and comes in as many colors as granite but is also expensive. It is not a natural stone but man-made and does not require sealing.

For a very modern look in a kitchen, you can opt for stainless steel. It is heat resistant and easy to clean, but can't be cut on. It may also dent. Because stainless steel countertops are custom-made, they are expensive but have no seams and are constructed to your kitchen's specifications.

Solid surface countertops are man-made and generally made out of acrylic or polyester plastics. Some brands include Corian, Swanstone, or Avonite. They are seamless, come in a variety of colors and are less expensive than granite and engineered stone. While these surfaces can be made to look like granite, they are susceptible to high heat (you'll have to use trivets for pots and pans) and can be scratched.

Ceramic tiles can also be used for countertops and can also be installed by do-it-yourselfers in their own home. The cost depends on what tile is chosen but can be considerable cheaper than solid stone and granite. It is also pretty heat-resistant to pots and pans and is easy to clean (although you do have to seal it). Downsides include easily chipped or cracked tiles and stained grout lines. The counter surface may also not be even depending on the tile you choose.

Laminate countertops are made of plastic coated synthetics and are a popular choice for individuals on a budget. The look of laminate has improved vastly over the years (no 1950's-era formica nightmares). These go under brand names such as Formica, Wilsonart or Nevamar. They are easy to clean, come in a variety of colors and are generally durable. Downsides include chips and scratches that are nearly impossible to repair and seams that will show.

Wood or butcher block offer a warm look to a kitchen and are available in a wide range of wood types and colors. Oak and maple are generally used for kitchen countertops though. When damaged, these counters can be sanded down and sealed. However, they can easily be damaged by water or stains over time and often, these cannot be sanded out.

Mike Ingrilli Plumbing does not endorse any particular type of material for your countertop. Rather, we will consult with you to determine how you use your kitchen to help you pick the best material for your budget.