My Seattle Kitchen Remodel: Selecting Countertops

A few weeks ago, I shared that we’re remodeling our kitchen. Boy-oh-boy what a chore it is…we started the process months ago and are just starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. As I’m going through this first hand, I thought I’d share tidbits of things we’re learning along the way.  Today, I’ll share the story of our kitchen counters.

Let’s start by discussing what we had on our “old” kitchen (photo above). We believe our kitchen was last remodeled in the late 80’s to early 90’s. The counters were a white Corian. We were so tough on those counter-tops – I loved them! 99% of stains would bleach out, hot dishes went directly on the counters and sometimes my hubby would slice food (like limes) directly on the counters (much to my dismay). The countertops were not the prettiest thing to lay your eyes on…but they really performed well, especially considering they’re around twenty years old!

Comparing a quartzite sample to a large slab of quartz.

Shopping for new counters is enough to make your head spin for days. I kid you not. After our initial research, we were leaning towards quartzite (not to be confused with quartz, which is man-made). Concerns I had with quartz is that I heard it is not heat resistant with temps over 400 and some colors can yellow over time. Ultimately we just prefer the look of natural stone.

I can’t tell you how many stone yards we went to over the course of selecting our slabs…it was agonizing. One of the most frustrating parts is that some (if not most) stone yards do not post prices for the slabs. You have to go through the installer (fabricator) and then the fabricator provides the price. I think this was especially hard for me since in my industry, as a Loan Officer, we cannot “make up” prices – everything is fully disclosed. In my opinion, this process really feels like a bad game of lairs poker.

Bianco Treviso with samples of our cabinets and back splash.

Finally, to my husband’s delight, I found a slab that stopped me in my tracks. It was labeled as “quartzite” at Pental in Seattle. Bianco Treviso made my heart pitter-patter. It’s stunning. I think I liked loved it more than my hubby…he conceded that it’s “my” kitchen.

We took samples home of the Bianco Treviso along with samples of another quartzite, Taj Mahal to run test on them for etching. I HIGHLY recommend this when selecting a new counter.  I cooked with my samples next to my stove and leave drops of “common” foods in our home, such as red wine, limes and tomato sauces to test for staining. The Taj tested well…however, the Bianco Treviso was not as stain resistant. The next test that we did was the scratch test.  We used glass to try to scratch the two stones. Once again, the Taj would not scratch, however the Bianco Treviso pretty much crumbled with scratched with glass. It’s my understanding that true quartzite will not stain or etch… however, other softer stones, such as marble, will stain and etch. Rut roh…my believed stone was not performing well compared to the other quartzite. I contacted Pental to ask them to confirm if this was truly a quartzite. The reply I received, basically, was that it’s a “soft quartzite”.

I found a great thread in Houzz on “Countertop Geology” and connected with a geologist from Montana who allowed me to send her the Bianco Treviso. She confirmed that this was actually marble, perhaps a dolomite, and was not at all quartzite. Why do stone yards say something is quartzite when it’s not? Quartzite is very popular and popular slabs tend to sell for more than something with less demand. Many home owners, like us, want quartzite because of it’s extreme hardness and durability. There is no such thing as a “soft quartzite” however, many stone yards will mislabel slabs to make a sell… it’s rampant. If you are considering quartzite for your counters, please read this article.  By the way, I forwarded the information from the geologist to Pental and asked them to change Bianco Treviso to be labeled as a dolomite or marble – they refused. In fact, as of the writing of this post (August 4, 2017), it is still being sold as a quartzite. Buyer beware!!

Meanwhile, we received our quote back from our designers fabricator. It was well over what we were willing to spend on our counter-tops. As we were still contemplating proceeding with Bianco Treviso for our kitchen, I tried to find it at other stoneyards. After researching online, I found Granite and Marble Specialties. They did not have Bianco Treviso at their stone yard, however they could provide me a quote based on the slabs at Pental. The price was significantly lower than the other fabricators!  Granite and Marble Specialties has a stone yard just a few blocks north of my office, Mortgage Master Service Corporation. So I decided to stop in and see what they had to offer before we decided to proceed with the Bianco Treviso.

Our slab of Angel Wings granite

Granite and Marble Specialties has a much smaller selection, however I really liked just about everything they had there. And to surprise, I found a granite that I really liked and the cost was so much more affordable! I also really appreciated that I could find out the cost of the slab, including installation, at the showroom! Again, as a Loan Officer, I really appreciated their transparency!

Not only did we wind up saving a significant amount of dough – we have a counter top where we won’t have to worry about it getting stained by red wine or having it scratch.  My husband jokes that this granite works well for us because it looks like already has the four food groups on it! All kidding aside, although we’re still a few weeks out before our kitchen is finished – I couldn’t be happier with our granite countertops and with Granite and Marble Specialties in Kent. (By the way, they also offer a warranty!)
Here’s a sneak peak at my “almost finished” kitchen with the granite counter and back splash. Watch for more posts about the remodel! If you’re considering remodeling your home located anywhere in Washington state, I’m happy to help you with a cash-out refi or a home equity line of credit. Contact me for a no-hassle mortgage rate quote.


  1. We went to Pental today and pointed out several that were dolomite or marble and not quartz. The guy behind the counter and the women on the phone all LIED. I even asked them to inform Pental’s owner. Bianco and Venatino are also marble. Pental is dishonest. Thank you for writing this. One of which I scratched with my key while there. Pental is so dishonest. MSI was so honest. Ian was great and told us the truth about the stones.

Please leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.