Glossary of Counter Top Design Terms

Learn the lingo so you'll know how to talk to a designer about what you want. 

Apron Front Sink: Often referred to as farmhouse sinks. They have a panel in front that extends down the face of the cabinet in which the sink is supported. 

Backsplash: The material that protects the wall behind the sink from water.

Build-ups: Strips attached to the underside of countertops to raise them even with the cabinet tops.

Bullnose: A finished, rounded edge on countertops.

Butcher Block: A countertop crafted from a variety of hardwoods and often used in island or countertop inserts.

Caesarstone: A man-made stone that is much harder than natural stone, making it resistant to scratches and stains.

Cambria: A brand of natural quartz countertops.

Cantilever: The area of the countertop that hangs over the cabinet, leaving it supported from just one side.

Corian: Corian is the brand name for a solid, non-porous and repairable surfacing material created by DuPont.

Drain Board: A portion of the countertop with grooves or depressions designed to channel water into the sink.

Edge Return: A thick countertop edge intended to give the impression of a thicker slab.

Edge Profile: The shape of the front edge of your countertops.

Engineered Stone: A man-made composite usually of crushed quartz bound together by resins and designed to look like natural stone. Engineered stone requires less maintenance than granite because it is non-porous.

Gloss: A smooth finish with a deep shine.

Granite: A coarse-grained igneous rock that will polish to a high gloss and is a popular choice for kitchen countertops. Granite countertops need to be sealed twice a year.

Grout: The paste used to fill the space between ceramic tiles.

Honed Finish: A smooth, satin-like finish

Impregnators: Designed to penetrate a stone countertop to restrict water, oil and dirt from entering the stone.

Inlay: Contrasting color placed between the portions of the countertops bearing the main color. Used for decoration.

Laminate: Made by adhering material to particle board substrates. It often is referred to by brand names such as Formica, Wilsonart and Nevamar.

Limestone: Stone composed mainly of calcium carbonate.

Lip-mount: Sinks with lips around the edge and dropped into a space created in the counterop.

Marble: A metamorphic rock that can be polished into an elegant, luxurious gloss. Marble is less commonly used for entire kitchen countertops because it can be scratched and stained more easily than granite.

Matte: Smooth finish with little shine

Mitre: A seam in a countertop where the counter changes direction. Usually found in a corner.

Non-porous: A material that won't stain, and is easy to clean and resistant to bacteria buildup.

Quartz Countertops: Non-porous, doesn't scratch or stain like granite, and there's no need for resealing.

Sealer: A solvent used to help keep spilled substances on the surface of the countertop.

Shim: A thin piece of wood used to level countertops during installation

Soapstone: A non-porous, metamorphic rock that ranges in colors from ash grey to charcoal black.

Solid Surface Countertop: Known by brand names Corian, Staron, Gibraltar and Avonite, it is made by combining natural minerals with resin, is non-porous and is designed to look like natural stone.

Stainless Steel: These work well in contemporary kitchens and can take abuse from kitchen utensils and hot pots.

Undermount Sink: Unlike the lip-mounted sink, this sink mounts beneath the countertops.

Vessel sink: A sink that sits on top of the countertop.

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