2017 Buying Guide to the Cost of Custom Glass Countertops, White Glass Countertops and Concrete Countertops.
Comparing Luxury Countertop options: Price, Durability, Style Fit.
For customers looking to buy the best Modern, Contemporary or Coastal countertop for their kitchen and bath, there are very few retailers focused on luxury designs. Home remodeling centers offer many low-cost choices, but they neither fabricate nor have expertise in high-end materials. These big box stores all look eerily the same to us (and boring). I’ve been in your shoes trying to buy custom countertops, and that miserable experience was the impetus for starting Downing Designs countertop store in 1999. Having installed hundreds of luxury kitchens all over the USA, we feel it is important to divulge what we have learned and compare the cost, durability and stylistic benefits of these high-end countertop options. We are well-qualified, after all, we are the only manufacturer in the world that designs, fabricates, and installs glass countertops, white glass countertops and concrete countertops under one roof.
Our design center creatively shows beautiful kitchen and bath displays with countertop materials that are unequaled, and often unseen, except in design magazines. Long ago, we partnered with the companies in each product category, many from outside the USA and sold their products. We realized that the market demanded a more unique, hand-crafted product, we set out to design and develop our own glass countertop and sink products. Clients love touring our 16,000 sq ft Tampa factory and design center and see our vibrant full-scale kitchen and bath displays. They are fascinated to see how glass countertops are made in a highly interactive process with their artistic input. Our interaction starts by discovering our clients lifestyle, scale of their space and architectural tastes. Our passion for design in artistic glass countertops then takes over and we infuse our glass with dramatic textures. No other countertop material offers such creative input on its design.
While our glass countertops are likely the most expensive countertops you can find anywhere in the world, that does not mean they are not affordable. Our best advice is to use complementary countertop materials…each suited to its purpose. Our displays show how the pairing of one exceptional, high-value glass element with lower-cost materials can create a dramatic kitchen or bath design, while preserving your budget. We prefer this “layered” look using different cabinet colors, countertop thicknesses, and custom lighting as it creates a visually exciting, yet practical kitchen design.
Downing Designs is not interested in the “usual suspects” that anyone can fabricate, just the most beautiful countertops that are designed for you in the USA and installed with careful attention to detail. Please read our buyers guide below to help you compare these countertop options:
Glass Countertop Prices and Buying Guide
Cost. The average retail cost of a Glass countertop is between $150/psf and $900/psf.
How is it Made. Ultra Low Iron Float Glass is fired in kilns atop a textured sand bed.
Largest Size. Large glass countertops up to 126” in length without a seam.
Typical Thickness. 1.5” thick is typical. 1.5” thick glass weighs ~21lbs per square foot. Thicker glass adds to cost exponentially as the glass annealing time is an exponential function of thickness. E.g. 1.5” thick glass countertop will require about 10 hours to properly anneal. For a 4” thick piece, it will take ~14 days. This exponentially higher time in the glass kiln translates into a higher cost.
Design Options. Textured glass designs can take many shapes. Artistic texturing of glass countertops and high bars should enhance the flow of the space where it resides. Hand-made textures designed to flow with your room takes vision and communication with your glass countertop artist. A well-designed glass texture will have a large visual impact on the room it inhabits. Although there are many styles on the market, it’s craftsmanship that’s typically going to determine price. Not surprisingly, artistic, custom hand-textured glass is more expensive and more interesting than glass made by the pattern from a reusable mould.
Polished edge. Polishing Glass to an optically pure quality takes 11 steps and a great amount of skill. CNC machines produce highly visible lines on the edge. “Liney but shiney” may be OK for granite, but it visibly obscures the refraction potential of the glass. Make sure you inspect the quality of your edge polish before buying glass counters.
Cutouts. Cutouts for holes for supports, sinks and faucets need to be done with a waterjet. Waterjetting glass usually runs about $100 per hour for setup and cutting.
Back Painted Glass. Textured Glass is transparent, and can be back painted any color for back splashes or countertops. Back painting glass also adds depth to the textures. Glass paint is available in any custom color in the Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams color deck.
Integral Color. Color can be added between layers of glass before firing using glass frits. This enhances the artistry of the design, and is permanently fused to the glass.
Lighting. Lighting glass counters is an art to itself. LED’s and under lighting can add dimensional depth to textured glass countertops. LEDs can be installed at the rear edge of the countertop between the wall and countertop. For high bars, stainless steel covers can be added to finish the look. Down lighting with narrow beam LEDs highlights the textural shadows below the glass. Having an experienced glass countertop designer that is experienced in lighting options is key to getting the most from your purchase.
Brackets. Most high bars require metal support brackets and/or Low Profile Caps to secure the glass above the lower countertop or knee wall. Textured glass is tricky because it has an undulating bottom to be secured to a flat support. We recommend a custom support bracket that elegantly and securely cantilevers the glass up and over the lower countertop.
Durability. Glass has a Mohs Hardness of 6.6 Scratching, chipping are not an issue if using round over tops (vs a 45 bevel which has 2 sharp edges). Repairs in field are possible. Scratches can be buffed out.
Installation. Textured Glass Countertop installations are not for for amateurs. Please make sure that your installers are THE BEST you can find.
Most Often Purchased For: Modern, Contemporary, Transitional, Coastal, Indoor, Outdoor, Kitchen, Bath, Backsplashes, Tables, Stair Steps, Glass Shower Walls.
Summary. Textured glass countertops are are a luxurious material that add an artistic element to your kitchen, bath or restaurant. They are a luminous focal point that your guests will gravitate to at your next gathering They come alive in the evening with a thoughtful lighting plan and can truly appear to float. Glass is our favorite countertop material, and combining a Textured Glass High Bar with LED and ceiling spot lights over a White Glass countertop is pure magic. It’s a top dollar splurge, but if placed in high-value areas it can pay you back every day with a WOW! Factor and a high resale value for your home.
White Glass Countertop Prices and Buying Guide
Cost. The average retail cost of a White Glass countertop is between $150/psf and $250/psf.
Color. It is the purest white countertop available. See our comparison of white countertop options.
How is it Made. White glass countertops are a fusion of glass and silica at 2700 degrees, poured into forms, cooled, polished to a gloss finish. It is as non-porous as glass.
Largest Size. Slab sizes are 61” x 111” x 1.125” Maximizing the yield per slab lowers the cost.
Typical Thickness. 1.125” thick is the standard white glass countertop thickness. Lamination of edges can provide thicker edges. 1.125” thick white glass weighs 23lbs per square foot.
Design Options. White glass countertops can be fabricated into many shapes. Arced shapes vs Linear shapes take longer to polish and will add to cost. Waterjetting glass usually runs about $100 per hour. The unbelievable strength of white glass allows you to create designs with MUCH wider cantilevers, and overhangs, without bracing.
Edge. Polishing White Glass takes many steps and a great amount of skill and effort. Make sure you inspect the quality of polish before signing a contract. Square polished edge with a roundover is standard.
Cutouts. Waterjet cutting sinks and faucets is recommended.
Lighting. White Glass is opaque and cannot be underlit.
Durability. White Glass has a Mohs Hardness of 7.0 Scratching, chipping are not an issue when using roundover tops. Repairs in field are possible. It is non-porous and you do NOT need to use sealers.
Staining. White Glass Countertops aka Nanoglass countertops are by far the whitest, strongest, most stain-proof, UV-proof, cigarette and hot pan-proof, hair dye-proof, solvent-proof acid-proof material we have ever tested. For outdoor kitchens, it is the perfect material because it is 100% inorganic…and unlike quartz, whose plastic resin binder will yellow in the outdoor light. It also stays very cool to the touch (96 degrees on a 93 degree day) in direct Florida sunlight…amazing!
Installation. White Glass Countertop installations are performed with care, and is not for for amateurs. Pure white is the hardest to match seam color. We offer custom colored seam kits for our customers Please make sure that your installers are THE BEST you can find.
Often Used For: Commercial restaurants, homes, offices. Modern, Contemporary, Transitional, Coastal, Indoor, Outdoor, Kitchen, Bath, Tables. These are the most rugged countertops we offer.
Summary. White Glass Countertops are a pure white, non-porous, hygienic and luxurious material. They make the apparent size of each room they inhabit appear 25% larger. In an era where we purchase countertops and homes by the square foot, adding 25% to the visual volume of your home adds tremendous value.They are also a very contemporary and modern countertop option that is great for outdoor countertops. When combined with stone or reclaimed wood paneling, white glass gives a very pure and interesting Jetsons-Flintstones juxtaposition.
Concrete Countertop Prices and Buying Guide
Cost. The average retail cost of a Concrete Countertop is between $149/psf and $300/psf.
How is it Made. Concrete countertops are created from sand, aggregates, cement, fibers. Poured into custom forms, cured, and then polished to the matte or gloss finish. Terrazzo countertops are ground to reveal aggregates. Concrete needs to be sealed as it is porous.
Largest Size. Concrete countertops can be fabricated to lengths in excess of 12’. Expect to pay a premium when big pieces over 300lbs are installed. 1.5” concrete countertops weigh 20lbs per square foot which is about the same as granite.
Typical Thickness. 1.5” thick is the standard minimum concrete countertop thickness but 2” thick concrete is the most popular. Any thickness can be specified without lamination resulting in a beautiful one-piece look.
Design Options. Any shape can be created with a skillful fabricator.
Polishing. Polishing concrete to a matte finish is a multi-step process. Gloss concrete requires more effort. Matte concrete feels like a worn shell, and is very comfortable to touch. 90% of orders are matte.
Cutouts. Cutouts for holes, sinks can be moulded into the concrete or cut with standard diamond tools.
Color. The base color of white concrete is similar to canvas. Pigments can be added to the concrete mix to match any color. Expect to pay more for expensive pigments, and color matching services.
Terrazzo. Terrazzo is a matrix of concrete, pigments and aggregates. Aggregates can be recycled glass, SeaShells, Mother-of-Pearl, Agates, etc. “Vetrazzo” is a prefab slab with a high recycled glass content. All terrazzo needs to be sealed periodically just like concrete.
Lighting. Concrete is opaque. However, clever mating of concrete with glass and fiber optics can create very interesting effects.
Sealer. Sealing concrete is a must. Many topical “plastic” sealers are available, but they will yellow and/or peel over time. Plastic sealers hide the very popular tactile nature of concrete with a barrier. Penetrating sealers do an excellent job of preventing stains except from long-term food acid spills. They do not yellow, and leave the surface feeling soft and natural. Make sure you inspect the sealer quality before buying.
Durability. Concrete has a Mohs Hardness of 5.5 Scratching, chipping is not an issue if using roundover edges. Repairs in the field are possible. Concrete requires attention to prevent long-term exposure to food acids which can etch the concrete. Concrete stains from organic sources can be removed with bleach.It is a 100% inorganic material it works well outdoor unlike quartz, whose plastic resin binder will yellow outdoors. Lighter concrete colors stay reasonably cool to the touch. It requires sealing every 3-5 years (wipe on wipe off) and can be refinished in the field.
Often Used For: Restaurants, and home. Modern, Contemporary, Transitional, Traditional, Coastal, Indoor, Outdoor, Kitchen, Bath, Tables, Stair steps, Floors, Sinks.
Summary. Concrete Countertops are a luxurious surface and can be created in exactly any color and thickness you desire. Aggregates (such as shells and glass) included in the concrete allow for an unlimited artistic palette. They also make excellent sinks for bathrooms as they can be formed in a variety of creative designs. Concrete sinks with glass basins make for unusual, contemporary designs. Concrete can patina over time but this adds character to their perfectly imperfect nature. Concrete is a very historic material and plays well with glossy contemporary cabinets to give a very interesting “Jetsons-Flintstones” juxtaposition
Jeff Downing Designs Info Blogs
At Downing Designs glass studio in Tampa,Fl we have pioneered a highly interactive process whereby our clients have direct input into their textured glass designs. With this process, we create beautiful glass objects that have both an artistic form and function. When...read more
When the owners of the American Social Bar and Kitchen in Tampa visited us to initially discuss their bathroom sink ideas, we discovered they were interested in a very contemporary look for their new Harbour Island location. Our design center showed them exactly...read more
Buyers Guide to Custom Glass Countertops, White Glass Countertops and Concrete Countertops Info Blog.
Buyers Guide to Custom Glass Countertops, White Glass Countertops and Concrete Countertops. Shopping for Custom and Luxury Countertop Materials. For a customer that is simply looking to buy the best or unusual Modern, Contemporary or Coastal countertop for their...read more
Since there are so many ways to illuminate a countertops, we thought it would be a good idea to discuss options for lighting glass countertops. There are 4 ways used the majority of the time: Under Lighting Glass Countertops Down Light Glass Countertops from the...read more
There are hundreds of options to consider when choosing a kitchen sink for your glass kitchen countertop. For the contemporary or modern kitchen, we have almost exclusively recommended one sink: the Kohler Apron Front sink. The Kohler Vault and Strive are very...read more
We get many requests from people who wish to light their glass countertop. We believe there is no bad way to light a glass counter, just good, and better. If lighting an untextured glass top, you can silicone an LED strip onto the side of the glass, and use either an...read more