There are many categories of countertop
materials with many different characteristics
and looks.  I will try and explain some of the
most popular ones below.
PLASTIC LAMINATE
Plastic laminate is generally referred  to
as "Formica" but comes in many brand
names and colors.  The color selections
offered is awesome.  With a bit of care
and common sense it will give you years
and years of good service.  The basic
drawback of plastic laminate counters is
that your counters will have very visible
seams
.  
SOLID SURFACE
Solid surface is a product generally referred to as "CORIAN", since this
was invented by
DUPONT  in 1964.  In fact the name "Corian:" is a
derivation of the inventor's daughters name "Cory Ann".  While Acrylic
resin itself was invented in the 1930's, the resulting Dupont Corian product
became one of the first space age polymers.    
DUPONT  CORIAN  is made
up of 100% acrylic resin  with a filler of alumina tri-hydrate plus coloring
agents.  
CORIAN  and the myriad of other solid surface brands that use  
acrylic resin, exhibit the best stain resistance of any countertop
surface..period!  
DUPONT  has tested the Corian product with about 200
staining agents including sulphuric acid and many other things that you
would never use in a kitchen or bathroom setting.  I have worked on and
have tested Dupont Corian myself, for over fifteen years and I have yet to
find anything that will permanently stain it.  
IT IS THAT GOOD!
ALMOST ALL MAN MADE COUNTERTOP MATERIALS HAVE A RESIN COMPONENT THAT FORMS THE STRUCTURAL BINDER OF ALL
THESE PRODUCTS.  THERE ARE TWO KEY TYPES OF RESINS THAT ARE USED.  THEY ARE TOTALLY DIFFERENT IN COMPOSITION
AND PERFORMANCE.  
ACRYLIC RESIN
This product is the better of the two resins.  Its molecular structure
allows the molecules to slide past each other giving the product more
flexibility making the finished product less brittle and less prone to
chipping and cracking.  Acrylic resin is also u.v. stable in that it is
unaffected by sunlight and is suitable for outside use.  Acrylic resin also
gives the product exceptional stain resistance and better performance
when exposed to heat.
POLYESTER RESIN
Polyester resin is the second category of countertop
resins.  It has its positives and its drawbacks.  It is more
translucent than acrylic resin and it is far less expensive
than acrylic resin.  It is not u.v. stable and it is unwise to
use it outside as it will fade and even "yellow" over time.  It
is also very brittle and is more susceptible to chipping and
breakage.  This is because its molecular structure is
"linked" similar to interlocking rings, which reduces its
flexibilty.  
TECHNICAL STUFF
QUARTZ OR ENGINEERED STONE
THE APPROVED AND LICENSED CONTRACTOR MYTH
It is a fact of life that if you are in business, you are hit with a daily barrage of advertising to bring in more business.  A lot
of these offer to put you on "Barbie's List", "Herman's List".  As soon as you send them money then you are "approved"
"screened" or "reliability proven".   These "list" people then advertise that you have been checked out and you should
patronize these companies.  We are on "Angies List" as some of our customers have recommended us.  We do not pay for
this though.  When you see a large colorful display advertisement in the yellow pages, guess who is paying for it.  These
generally cost up to $20,000.00 per month    Another very expensive way to advertise is to get a booth in a home show.  
These booths can cost you from $2,500.00 to $25,000.00 for a four day run.  This is just the rent for the space.  If you buy
from a dealer who has a booth, either the price of your countertops just went up
or the quality just went way down.  The
lastest trick to save you money is to eliminate the "retailer markup" if you will only come to their showroom and pay over
$5,200.00 to join their buying group.  Give me a break!  A simple call to the Better Business Bureau will answer all your
questions on that scam.  The Houston market is so competitive, nobody pays retail in the first place.

Whether we like it or not, the "Home Depot" and the "Lowes" stores, set the price in the market due to their massive
marketing and high visibility.  One of the two advertises "licensed and bonded" professionals, do their work.  Unfortunately
there is no licensing authority or license required in this market.  Literally anybody with a pulse, a $89.00 angle grinder, a
$20.00 diamond blade and a pickup truck, can be and usually is a granite "fabricator."  Almost all of these guys are illegals
and have no insurance.  If they get hurt at your house, guess who pays.    The unlucky home owner shopping for price
alone, is their prey.  These guys have a "tail light warranty" which means that they will guarantee their work until the tail
lights on their trucks fade away.   We get calls on a regular basis asking if we can fix jobs these butchers have put in.    The
home centers use legitimate fabricators like us but they mark up their prices another 20%.   Since they always use the
lowest bidder, so  quality is not high on their agenda,
and If you like the home center prices, you will love ours.  We always  
beat their prices by a considerable amount.  No matter which countertop provider you choose they
always use
subcontractors to do the installation and they are paid about $2.50 per square foot which means they don't spend a lot of
time to do your installation.  We use our own employees to install our jobs and encourage them to take the time to do the
installation right with inconspicuous seams and
level!  We have to do it right because we have an unlimited guarantee.
QUALITY IS ALWAYS, ALWAYS  AN ISSUE
Like just about everything in life, when you buy granite, you pretty much get what you pay for.  There are so many granite
wholesalers and granite importers around they are hard to keep track of.  There are few restrictions on who they sell to,
and there are no guarantees.  There are many different grades of granite, but there is no formal grading system.  A lot of
granite out there is "commercial grade", meant to go on the sides of buildings and in commercial buildings.  It is
relatively inexpensive and is quite a bit less than "a" grade granite.  Unfortunately, the price of granite is the greatest
issue with some importers, and they will buy anything that is a "deal".  We only buy from
reputable granite wholesale
yards that carry the highest quality stone.  Their buyers actually travel to the quarries and select each bundle and believe
me the quality shows.  We have developed long term relationships with these companies that has been built on total trust.
GRANITE SELECTION
One must use care when selecting granite for your countertops.  When you select a slab, please keep in mind that
nobody can "face polish" the surface so watch for dull spots or imperfections as they don't go away.  Keep this in mind if
you see a bad spot.  Believe me nobody wins if you buy a sale priced slab because there is always a reason why it is
priced lower.   We always ask our customers to select the slabs prior to use, and we will be happy to go with you.  We
carefully select each and every one of our "program" colors and always buy the absolute best looking and the highest
quality slabs available in the local market.  You are perfectly welcome to select particular slabs from them also, in fact we
encourage you to do so.  If you really want to really save money and get excellent quality granite, please consider our
program color granite selections.
One of the most advertised and most well known products, fall into the category of "engineered stone" or "quartz"  the  
originator of this product is "
CaesarStone' which was invented in 1987, and now being sold in this market.   The most
advertised and most popular product is "
Silestone" by Cosentino, which came out in 1998.  We are a master fabricator of
L. G. Viatera, which came out in 2004, and is an outstanding product.   Other brands in this field are:  "Dupont Zodiaq"  
"Okite", and "L.G. Haus Viatera" "Cambria", "Hanstone".  The engineered stone product is made up of 93% crushed
quartz (crushed granite) and is 7% polyester resin used as a binder.  It is a very good product and is very low
maintenance and has a high stain and scratch resistance.  Heat resistance is not a forte with this product.  I have tested it
at 400 - 500 degrees with no damage.  It will not take continued heat like this and will darken if it is exposed to heat in the
same place on a continuing basis.  With normal use and common sense you should never have a problem.  Although It
should never be used outside,  It is a great choice for a countertop!
The absolute cheapest way to get granite in your house is to use pre-made counters or "blanks".  These are available
from a lot of granite yards and are basically made of scrap granite, pieces of broken slabs, or granite that just did not
sell.  One supplier even brags that their edges do not fall off like others.  Many have bad spots or cracks that have been
patched in some way.  We investigated using these several years ago with dismal results. First of all, the edges
generally do not match from one piece to another.  Colors may or may not match and the thickness's vary.  If you are
doing a small counter with one blank, this may not be a problem.  If you try to do a kitchen you will end up with many
mismatched seams.  Since we could not guarantee the quality of these jobs, we quit doing them after two jobs.  We will
never sacrifice quality for profit....
never!   We do not ever buy granite from China as it is quite often dyed or adulterated.  
Almost every pre-made countertop is fabricated in China.
TOWN & COUNTRY SHOWROOM
FABRICATION FACILITY
1500 BRITTMOORE  ST #504
HOUSTON, TEXAS 77043
(713) 647-0455  FAX (713)
713-6855
COUNTERTOPS 101
VERSUS
2 CENTIMETER MATERIAL VS. 3 CENTIMETER MATERIAL
There is a lot of controversy about the advantages or disadvantages of using 2 centimeter granite versus using 3
centimeter thick granite or engineered stone for countertops.  First of all, 2 centimeter granite is 3/4" thick, while the
3 centimeter is 1 1/8" to 1 1/4" thick.  It is actually cheaper for the fabricator or builder to use the 3 centimeter
granite as it cuts the labor cost significantly.  This is the reason why
Lowes, Home Depot, Ikea, and some builders
push it because they can make a lot more money using it.  While this sounds like a great deal, you end up with a
cheaper looking, thinner edge that in my opinion, demeans the look of your new  countertops.  Believe me, if we
thought the 3 centimeter material was the answer, we would certainly use it.

We and most of the quality fabricators in this market, use the 2 centimeter granite with a laminated 4 centimeter
edge because it is more substantial and frankly, just looks better.  To me, the 3 centimeter edge just looks cheap
and lacks imagination.  There are many other reasons why we feel the 4 centimeter (1 1/2" ) edge is better one of
which, it is probably the thickness of the edge in your house right now.  Second of all, the laminated 1 1/2" edge,
hangs down 3/4" of an inch to cover the 5/8" to 3/4" plywood decking that should
ALWAYS be used under any stone
countertop installation.  It is imperative that plywood decking be used to support your countertops to prevent seam
failures and cracks, and to support overhangs.  The decking also reinforces your cabinets, stabilizes the granite and
spreads the weight evenly.  The decking cannot be used with 3 centimeter material because the edge does not hang
down to cover it, so you must use a wooden molding to cover it up.  The people who try to talk you in to the 3
centimeter material will also tell you that because it is thicker you don't need decking.  Do not buy this reasoning
because it is flawed.  The biggest cause of granite and engineered stone failures is lack of support at the seams and
overhangs, followed by cracks resulting from somebody standing or kneeling on your counters.  GUESS WHAT!  All
of these problems can be virtually eliminated by properly using plywood decking under all stone counter
installations like we have done for over ten years.  Decking is so important that we will not do a stone job without
decking, period!  Decking is included in the price of every stone job that we bid at no additional charge.
When you guarantee every job like we do, you
have to do it right the first time!
STAINING AS AN ISSUE
When you decide to spend the money to put new countertops into you home, you want to
make sure that they will hold up and not stain from normal use.  We guarantee every job
that we do and if you select one of our program colors of granite, we will guarantee that
they will not stain under normal use.  If you do get a stain, as long as you have sealed it
once a year, we will come out and remove it to the best of our ability.  If it is a chemical
that etched the stone like drain cleaner or battery acid, that is not covered.  We can get
most stains out, though.  Since we always use resined first quality granite slabs and seal
every stone job with
Dupont Impregnator Pro Sealer, staining of granite has become a
thing of the past.
Granite normally does not stain with normal use and care, but it can stain if a staining
agent like lemon juice, orange juice, red wine, or other acidic liquid is allowed to sit over
eight hours.  This can allow the staining agent to penetrate the sealer and attack the
granite.  While we will do everything in our power to take these stains our, we cannot
guarantee success.  If this is a concern of yours, you may want to consider a quartz
product or solid surface counters like Corian or Staron.  As I have stated previously, no
countertop is perfect and this is one of granite's few disadvantages.
As I have pointed out before on this website, we are trying to change the way countertops
are sold, fabricated, installed, and guaranteed in the Houston, Texas market area.  Too
many countertop or flooring companies or Home Centers try to lure you in with
unbelievably low prices, so they can get you into their store.  They then either practice
"bait and switch" or start with the "add-ons", like charges for edge profiles, faucet hole
drillings, cutouts, curved counters, or islands with edges on four sides, anything to raise
the price.  At
AMERICAN COUNTERTOP FABRICATORS we have no-nonsense square foot
pricing based on the exact square footage of your countertops.    We offer the most
common seven or eight 1 1/2" thick edges at absolutely no charge, and these are the edges
that almost everyone chooses.  All of the cutouts and faucet hole drillings are free except
for the undermount sink cutout, which is an extra charge unless you take advantage of our
promotional sinks.  We include the 3/4" plywood decking in all of our Quartz and granite
installs at no charge.  We do not charge you to come out and measure your countertops
like the home centers.  All of our countertop people are employees and none work on
commission, which saves you money.  All are extremely knowledgeable and can explain all
the details about each product.  Another thing separates us from the rest as we guarantee
all of our installations, including the materials used, including the workmanship.  
If you
ever have a failure, even in eight or ten years, just call and we will be out to take care of
it.  While it is not a written guarantee, it is good as long as we are in business.  We have
been in business for over fourteen years and we are not going anywhere.  It is easy to
guarantee a job as long as you have taken
every precaution to prevent failure, like we do.  
The next time you come in ask us about the details and preventive measures that we take.
WE DO NOT DO PLASTIC LAMINATE AS WE CANNOT
FIND ANY GOOD RELIABLE LEGAL LAMINATE
INSTALLERS, .....SORRY
SHOWROOM HOURS
MONDAY - FRIDAY
8:00 A.M. TO 5:00 P.M.
SATURDAY
10:00 A.M. TO 3:00 P.M.
SUNDAY-CLOSED
We offer you the peace of mind  that we have fabricated and installed your countertops,  
using the best materials available and using the most up to date equipment and methods in
the industry.  We offer our no excuses guarantee which means you don't have to apologize
for a bad seam, chips, discolorations, unlevel countertops or a countertop that does not
match the others.  Our edges will be even and uniform and the seams will be as tight as
possible.
PLEASE NOTE:    WE CAN TEAROUT AND DISCONNECT YOUR EXISTING PLUMBING TO YOUR SINK AND
FAUCET BUT WE ARE UNABLE TO RE-CONNECT ANY OF THE PLUMBING, INCLUDING THE DRAINS AND
WATER LINES.
  THIS MUST BE DONE BY A LICENSED PLUMBER AND SHOULD BE DONE PROMPTLY!

WE ARE ALSO UNABLE TO DO ANY RE-CONNECTIONS OF GAS OR ELECTRIC TO YOUR COOKTOP.  WE
APOLOGIZE FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE THAT THIS MAY CAUSE, BUT  WE ARE PROHIBITED BY LAW, FROM
DOING EITHER.
When man made counter top materials were first manufactured in the sixties, the manufacturers decided that
they had too much to lose in reputation, financial exposure and product liability to allow just any untrained
individuals to fabricate and install their countertop products.  Additionally, it takes quite a bit of skill, as well
as the proper tooling to achieve the quality result that the customer has the right to expect.  There is also a
very, very serious environmental issue called silicosis that is far more serious than the asbestosis problem of
recent years which must be taken seriously.  It does not affect the solid surface industries like Corian, Staron
or Hi-Macs as dust from that is a "Nuisance dust" and is "safe".  We have invested close to one million dollars
over the years in our shop to do EVERYTHING wet which eliminates the dust which is the approved way to
mitigate the threat.  We have always made our guys wear respirators and masks prior to getting the last
equipment.  Now, to be a CERTIFIED FABRICATOR you have to have a shop where you do fabrication wet or
dust free as well as using special tooling as specified by the quartz manufacturer.  You are required to have a
credit line to purchase product from the distributor, and above all you have to carry considerable insurance.  
You are also required to have a showroom.  The basic thing is you have to be a legitimate business in every
respect and few fabricators get approved.  Dupont Zodiaq and Corian will actually go out and spot check
random jobs and audit them for warranty and compliance.

Now, the reason that I bring this up is that some bad actors in the business have violated the rules and have
sold some name brand quartz slabs to uncertified granite "fabricators"  Some of these were "Grade "B" slabs"
with defects and were sold with no warranty but I am sure the customers were not told that fact.  Many of
these "fabricators" that are buying these black market slabs are illegals for one and are the same ones that
don't finish jobs or disappear when problems arise or when sinks fall out.  Every single day we get about a
dozen calls from these "Certified" fabricators wanting to buy slabs from us.  We know that they are lying
through their teeth because if they were certified they could buy the slabs direct like we do.  Nobody will do
anything about it other than pretend it is not happening.  Please do not get taken by this because there is
nobody to help unless you can contact the manufacturer, maybe.
WHAT IS A REAL "CERTIFIED FABRICATOR"
NO EXCUSES COUNTERTOP INSTALLATIONS
Another factor that we at AMERICAN COUNTERTOP FABRICATORS take into account when choosing the
quartz countertop brands, is the resin content of that particular product as it makes a huge difference in
performance characteristics.  All of the major brand Quartz suppliers use a 93% quartz crystal content, mixed
with a polyester resin content of ONLY 7%, which is the ideal ratio.  Many of the cheaper off-brands of quartz
on the market are manufactured in China and have a higher resin content as resin is very inexpensive and as
a result can yield a higher profit.  One brand I saw had a 20% component which is getting close to cultured
marble which builders use in tract homes as they guarantee it only for a year.  When you increase this resin
content over say, 7%, the material will scratch much easier and it is more prone to yellowing over the
years,...and it tends to crack after four or five years.  We will not sell Chinese manufactured quartz
products,...period!
RESIN CONTENT AS A FACTOR IN CHOOSING A QUARTZ BRAND