Q&A / 

From local craft stores to the Internet, stencil patterns can be found anywhere in a variety of shapes, sizes and designs. Here is a list of some well-known stencil companies.

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Call the following manufacturers if you would like to receive some beautiful color literature illustrating all the colors, patterns, styles, etc. of plastic laminate and edge treatments. Be sure to ask for both pieces of literature. In almost all instances, they will tell you the location of their closest dealer.

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Do you know someone who hasn't experienced or seen plastic laminate, especially in countertops? I can't think of a soul. Plastic laminate counters dominated the kitchen countertop market for years. They had virtually no competition. They are still immensely popular today, as they offer a durable surface which is quite affordable. Plastic laminate can also offer a huge return on investment. Recent published figures show that a minor kitchen remodeling job offers a 98 percent return on your remodeling dollar. A minor kitchen remodeling job almost always includes a new plastic laminate countertop.

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While plastic laminate appears to be the wonder material, it requires care to keep it looking like new. As long as you follow a few easy steps, your laminate will look great for years to come. Pay particular attention to soaps. I was amazed at what I learned while researching this topic!

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Following is a list of the major manufacturers of solid surface countertop materials. Look at their web sites and be sure to check the specification sheets. These sheets usually describe the composition and materials used in the product. This is important, as you should try to determine which material has the highest percentage of acrylic plastic.

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Advancements in plastics technology within the past twenty years have brought new, durable plastics into our kitchen countertops. These solid surface countertops have dropped in price and include the marble, granite and slate surfaces we see today - with excellent resistance to stains and weight. These countertops are not only beautiful, but easily cut, installed and withstand household kitchen traffic.

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Damaged Formica countertop? Ceramic tile to the rescue! Yes, on more than one occasion ceramic tile has come to the aid of a frantic homeowner or builder who has burned or deeply scratched a laminate countertop. In addition, the repairs to make the transition can be handled by anyone with just moderate skills. There are just one or two critical steps to installing ceramic tile and the rest is a breeze!

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Granite countertops are very heavy. When you try to balance one on a thin half wall, bad things can happen. Countertops that are not properly supported can flip and crash to the ground. Furthermore, the short wall needs to be braced so it does not wobble and tip.

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Granite countertops are beautiful, but remember, they will stain. Try to keep oils and liquids off of granite before it is sealed and stained countertops will be a thing of the past.

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Concrete countertops are spectacular looking. However, if you plan to install your own countertops be prepared to work hard. Your skills must run to finish carpentry and concrete finishing. Perhaps a skilled concrete countertop installation is called for.

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