DESIGN & SALES COUNTER: What surface material do you use for the countertop?

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Mike Labbe

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Jun 25, 2002
Lincoln, RI
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RESULTS from previous surveys: LINK TO RESULTS

-What surface material do you have on your Design counter? Fitting table?
-What is the width and height? NOTE: By WIDTH i mean left to right, not depth to customer
-Do you offer stools or seats for customers? For Staff?
-Do you have a handicap accessible (lowered) front counter section?

Participants are encouraged to post photos in this thread!

Discussion heartily welcomed

-This survey is intended for framers.
-Your poll selections are anonymous, although discussion is public and encouraged.
-Results represent only a small sample of the industry, and should NOT be used as a planning tool/business plan.
-This survey is purely for entertainment and discussion.

NOTE: Due to the forum software change, the results are incorrect. Only 2 of the questions converted properly.

To view the results, see the web link above.
[ 08-01-2006, 07:04 PM: Message edited by: Mike Labbe @ GTP ]
Last edited:
(Other) We used carpet on the design counter for years and a year ago we enlarged it and put on floor tile which looks ceramic.
White 4 mm Coroplast is my favorite for back room tables. We have two tables 42" high, and two tables 38" high.

In the gallery, our design table used to have a glass top. When I installed our Integrated Framer visualization system I replaced the glaring glass with medium-gray Sintra PVC sheet. It is a great looking, matte-finished surface for general purposes, but it can be scratched easily.

There is another plastic sheeting product that has pebbled texture and a bit more gloss, which is sometimes used on bathroom walls in gas stations, so it must be quite durable. I can't think of its name right now, but I will try that next.
I clicked on “tempered” glass, although it is actually 1/4” plate.

I figured that was close enough.
I would love to have leather on every table!

It'$ not in the works yet.
Carpet. Came that way, will probably stay that way for awhile. Problem is the velcro on the frame corners stick, and the color is a mauvish shade, which bothers the artwork designing process, so I have to put a sheet of matboard down. Not in the budget right now, maybe next year.

We just carpeted the front of the counter on Saturday, for more corner sample display area. Never enough room! And I've really pared them down lately. I think they're cloning themselves at night. But that's another topic!
Jim, you're talking about FRP. About $32 for 4x8 at HD. Very durable but unless you spray it down with a clear mat finish Krylon [yes its paintable] or the plastic Krylon.. I think the camera would pick up the dimpley back ground.

The ivory would be nice.

But if you had the bucks for leather, and wanted quiet yet VERY durable and easy to refinish, then there is good news.
DOW Chemicals patent on Corien is over. Now ANY contractor can buy a 30"x12' sheet for about $400.
With a good table saw, 1' slices off the end can be re glued to the 30" width to make 42" wide and 9' long.
Using the colormatched epoxy, the seams disappear.

Sanding the surface gives you the reflection you choose. Standard is 600 grit, but for use of the overhead camera.. I'd go for a "photo grey" at 400grit.

It will stand up to any cleaning agent. And if all else fails... ROS [Random Orbital Sander].

As for working it.. it does dull the bits a little faster than teak... but works like a dream.

Here is what I just finished with $800 worth of Frost White.


Other than the hardware and mirror, the entire cabinet came out of a 30x72 sheet.
Sales Counter
sales counter 2
A granite sales counter that is 16' x 48" x 1 1/4". It has a slight curve to it. Suspended above it is a drywall, we call it a cloud, which is the exact size and shape of the counter. It contains alternating light fixtures 2' flourescent (6-each) and small recessed halogens (7-each) 5' above the 36" high countertop. The granite is a light beige overall with black specs and some honey colored veins that compliment our bamboo flooring.
Counter has a flat panel monitor at each end.
Underneath are (4) 5 drawer 53 x 41 flat files which make it easier to keep the surface more clutter free.
There are three molding display units each have (5)rotating triangular black velcro covered "columns". Each unit is 85" high 76" long 14" deep. Purchased from Evald Moulding.
"handicap accessible (lowered) front counter section??"

Sure, it uses pneumatic (compressed air) levers to lower the table to any desired height. And, it rotates 360 in any direction. And it converts into a sleeping / couch sofa with built in mini-bar and handicapped-friendly toilet as well..... ;)
No kidding, Jen! I thought about posting a picture of our front counter too, until I saw Tim's. Embarrassing.

Top notch Tim, and all that space!! Heaven!
Judging by some of the responses so far, it would seem that respondents may be confused. When asking for the width of the table, aren't you really asking about the total length? I can't imagine trying to reach across a design counter that is 13 feet wide, nor can I imagine trying to frame on a fitting table that is only 3.5 feet long.
:cool: Rick
I have 4 major tables. At one time (when I worked alone) all tables were 30" tall. Now, we are in the process of putting new legs on all of them (except perhaps the design table) to make them 36" tall to accomodate a taller employee.

In making them taller, we're also creating vertical dividers rather than a horizontal shelf underneath. That has been cool, and a big help storage-wise.

However, after 16 years of 30" tall tables, when we turned the first one (mat cutting table) up on its legs - :eek: "Man" I thought, "what a tall table!"

I'm getting used to it though...
Originally posted by JFeig:

The width of the counter (per Mike) is the right to left measurement ----- not front to back
I had the same question until I thought landscape and realized my width would be height. e.g. the wizard. The longest is still the lenght to me.

Nice look Tim. Poor and Ugly can be nice also.
The design tables and displays are all built from red oak and black formica...sometime back in the early 80's. I think I'll keep them, but I've seen some real cool effects done with corrugated tin and may look into covering the bases with something like that. I still like the black, but the red oak has lost its charm.

the work tables are 36" with polyflute tops covered in craft paper.

The big work table (was put up on a temporary basis about 5 years ago) is 72" x 120".
We do have a stool for customers to sit on, except the stool's on my side of the counter. I'll share, if someone needs it.

But not a lower, handicapped-accessible design area. Unless you consider the floor, where we sometimes put art (on a big sheet of matboard!) to look down on.

We have 2 fitting tables, end-to-end, each 53" long. A 37" tall one for 6'4" Bob, and a 34" one for 5'3" me. They're carpeted, but we keep a clean surface by covering with the kraft paper that comes between the glass lites.
Our fitting surface is covered with recycled release paper. It is really slick and protects the surface of the frames. It also cleans very nicely. And it is cheap (because we used to throw it away...)
Oh, and by the way, we have two stools for the customer. And we offer those 8 oz bottles of spring water, chilled, from our little fridge/printer table. Most appreciated in this weather... (stole that idea from Enterprise Rent A Car...)
Our design table is an old desk with tempered glass on top. I have a rolling stool and the customers have a really comfortable high back chair and a plastic folding chair.

For our fitting table we use chip board over carpet and the mat cutting table we use chip board over wood.
Are there any more photos to share?

We have 3 design tables. The 8ft wide table is 28" tall carpet covered. The 4 and 5 ft wide tables are 38" tall, glass topped carpet covered. Appropriate height swivel chairs for each table. Once we added the shorter, wider design table, all work seems to gravitate to the shorter table. We seem to have more shorter customers and felt that the design tables should work best for the customer instead of our preferences. Our seat at the design counter is a Costco adjustable Leather & Chrome mechanics saddle stool on wheels.

Work tables in the back are taller and work for taller folks. All are either gray I/O carpeted or short, loop pile commercial carpet covered.
On the back fitting tables I use cardboard and then lay the cardboard paper that comes from fabric mats on top. It is sturdier than paper so you don't have to replace it as much. With the kraft paper I have had bad surpriese with razor blades hiding underneath a rip.
My design tables are 40" tall,7'long and 25" front to back with a piece of plywood mounted in the middle that is at a 52 degree angle that is 46"wide by 40" tall covered with a piece of sheet metal and auto head liner over that. This allows me to design at an almost vertical wall angle by using magnets to hold art and mat samples with the velcro on the corner samples sticking to the head liner. It really looks good. I also provide two easy chairs where a customer can sit back and view the design as if it were on the wall,the chairs also keep hubbies comfortable and quite!!!!!
by Mike Labbe Are there any more photos to share?

There probably would've been, but Tim's put us all to shame!!
Ray, I'd really like to see a picture of yours, I'm having trouble visualizing the sheet metal thing. I like the magnet concept. Oh! I just got it...auto head liner...fabric that covers the car ceiling, sheet metal behind! Ah... interesting!!! My crampy fingers would love that!
Val, I am sorry but I am probably the only one on here who does't own a digital camera(lost it and just about everything else in the divorce) so no pictures but one day this too will happen. The angle piece that I design on is a layer of 1/2 inch plywood with a piece of very thin sheet metal glued to it with the car headliner glued to that and a smll board at the bottom to keep things from sliding off. The car headliner is just right for velcro and the magnets can pull thru it without much trouble.
Thanks Ray, I finally got the picture in my head, and am anxious to try that!
That is a great idea Ray! I played around with trying to put a hing in the counter so I could tilt the counter up, but did not think the carpet would hold art up. I could use sheetmetal covered in fabric instead!
If you use the auto head liner fabric you can use the velcro fastners for the frames and then the magnets for the art and the mat samples. You can either use the magnet on top of the art or under neath like a shelf. My magnets I got at Mc Master Carr ar about 1/4 inch thick and work fine although rare earth magnets are much stronger.

Must say, Tims shop, and counter are to die for

And certainly gives me some ideas on how I would like our store to look.

But for the meanwhile, we'll settle on how it is now.

He are a couple of photos of our design counter from different angles.

The counter is modular in five sections, this lets us change it around from time to time.

The counter tops are Granite for 4/5th and 1/5th is laminated formica with our pos screen flush mounted flat into the counter top behind glass.

The other end has just a regular lcd pos screen above the counter.

Size is 17ft wide or long.
4ft deep and 8 ft on the other end.

We have modern office chairs on rollers with the backs taken off so its just a seat on wheels.
These are great for wizzing back and forth along the counter.

The Frame corner samples are on magnetic white backing and always looks new and clean.

sort of front on photo, but its cropping out about half the counter.

from the other end

and our photo of our visualisation design counter, lol

Not quite sure exactly what the software is using for the counter, looks a little like stone I guess, and about 8ft by 4ft in size.


Just a reminder: Final days to participate. Any other photos to share?

Wow, Another great shop to admire!!

My front counter top is tile. I copied it from some pictures Roxanne Langley sent me. Her shop is beautiful!!!

my counter is 12' long and about 3' deep. It is 39" high. (customer does have a stool)

My mat samples are on one end and the computer on the other.

One the front are moulding samples (customers always kick these off), and on the back side are vertical dividers to store med. to small completed work that is wrapped to protect it.

On either end there are horizonal shelves that I keep extra mat samples on and medal frame samples in a big box.

There is one large florecent light above in the ceiling. I wish I had one of those drop lighting thins like Tim has.

I find the tile is easy to clean and adds texture to my shops appearence.

My main Work table is 7 1/2' wide and 4' deep. It is 40" high. I have my mat cutter on this table and for that I have a platform to stand on, to cut mats. For fitups it keeps me from bending over at all and that is so my back doesnt' go out.

I use to work in a shop with low tables and my back would kill me at the end of the day. I have thought about taking them down about three inchs and see if I like that better, but I just haven't had time to deal with that yet
The results are in!

Aug 2006 Poll Results: WHAT'S ON *YOUR* COUNTERTOP? (91 participants)

DESIGN & SALES COUNTER: What surface material do you use for the countertop?
42% Formica
15% Carpet
15% Wood
09% Tempered glass
05% Fabric
03% Other(please post on forum)
02% Stone
02% Coroplast
01% Linoleum
01% Naughahide
01% Paper or kraft
01% Teflon or other plastic
01% NONE/Does Not Apply
00% Ceramic tile, Plexi, Faux stone, Brick, Leather, Cardboard, Foamcore, Stainless or metal

DESIGN & SALES COUNTER: WIDTH of this counter? (left to right. combined, if multiple)
01% None/Does Not Apply
05% Less than 3 feet wide
22% 3-3.99 feet wide
09% 4-4.99 feet wide
11% 5-5.99 feet wide
08% 6-6.99 feet wide
04% 7-7.99 feet wide
14% 8-8.99 feet wide
03% 9-9.99 feet wide
09% 10-10.99 feet wide
00% 11-11.99 feet wide
04% 12-12.99 feet wide
09% 13 feet or wider

DESIGN & SALES COUNTER: HEIGHT of this counter? (from floor to top surface)
01% None/Does Not Apply
04% Less than 30" high
07% 30-30.99" high
02% 31-31.99" high
14% 32-32.99" high
03% 33-33.99" high
08% 34-34.99" high
09% 35-35.99" high
21% 36-36.99" high
05% 37-37.99" high
05% 38-38.99" high
02% 39-39.99" high
10% 40-40.99" high
02% 41-41.99" high
02% 42.42.99" high
03% 43" or higher

FITTING TABLE: What surface material do you use for the countertop?
29% Carpet
24% Paper or kraft
10% Cardboard
09% Coroplast
05% Other(please post on forum)
04% Linoleum
04% Foamcore
03% Wood
03% Formica
03% Fabric
01% Tempered glass
01% Plexi
01% Teflon or other plastic
01% None/Does Not Apply
00% Ceramic tile, Stone, Faux Stone, Brick, Leather, Naughahide, Stainless or other metal

FITTING TABLE: Width of this counter? (left to right. combined, if multiple)
01% None/Does Not Apply
00% Less than 3 feet wide
10% 3-3.99 feet wide
24% 4-4.99 feet wide
07% 5-5.99 feet wide
13% 6-6.99 feet wide
02% 7-7.99 feet wide
23% 8-8.99 feet wide
02% 9-9.99 feet wide
04% 10-10.99 feet wide
01% 11-11.99 feet wide
02% 12-12.99 feet wide
10% 13 feet or wider

FITTING TABLE: HEIGHT of this counter? (from floor to top surface)
01% None/Does Not Apply
00% Less than 30" high
02% 30-30.99" high
00% 31-31.99" high
04% 32-32.99" high
01% 33-33.99" high
10% 34-34.99" high
10% 35-35.99" high
29% 36-36.99" high
11% 37-37.99" high
11% 38-38.99" high
03% 39-39.99" high
09% 40-40.99" high
03% 41-41.99" high
03% 42.42.99" high
02% 43" or higher

PLEASE NOTE: The September poll will be delayed until after the new software is installed.