Health Physics Convention Paper
AARST Panel Expert

Avonite Copper Canyon

Al Wrote the Book on Countertops

The Interior Graphic Standards Countertop Section Author Knows a Little Bit About Countertops

A few years back the publisher of Interior Graphic Standards contacted the owner of the Carpenter Shop, Al Gerhart, and asked him to re write their countertop section.   Interior Graphic Standards is the college text that is used to train Interior Designers and Architects and is renowned as the most comprehensive material reference manual in the industry.  .


A countertop expert will build your countertop

  • Countertop section author of the latest edition of Interior Graphic Standards
  • Co authored several published scientific studies and presented presentations at scientific conferences
  • Over 40 years of countertop building experience
  • Master fabricator of solid surface materials, factory trained and certified

Al was chose because of his ground breaking scientific work on granite countertop material safety risks from radon, radiation, and heavy metals.  His work lead to numerous scientific studies on consumer safety and worker safety, including a nationwide alert sent out by the CRCPD to state and federal radiation officials.  Al has co authored studies that were presented at AARST conferences(radon scientists), Health Physics Society conferences (radiation safety), Industrial Hygiene conferences (toxic heavy metals and radiation dosages of granite workers), and other industry conferences.   The Carpenter Shop has hosted numerous scientific studies on granite worker safety that were tests were conducted by Health Physicists, Industrial Hygienists, Aerosol Particle experts, O U Medical Center experts, OSHA experts, and NIOSH experts, many of whom had doctorates in their respected fields.


OU Health Science Center Study host
Industrial Hygienist Convention Presentation

Al expanded the Interior Graphic Standards countertop chapter three fold, adding information on granite countertop testing and durability, bringing much needed information to the design community.   Very little was changed from the initial draft that Al turned in, mainly the addition of a few tables and illustrations.   As industry professions become better trained in the reality of their countertop choices, the consumers will benefit from more durable and more affordable countertop materials.

You may be aware of our effort to test & encourage the granite industry to test their natural stone material to ensure  safety.  We  began testing granite over a decade ago and have gotten our granite supplier in Abilene to begin testing his material.  He has gone so far as to send detection instruments down to Brazil for his buyer to test bundles of slabs before he even commits to import the granite.  But if for some reason a slab is missed they also test the material as it comes out of the shipping container.



This immersion in the scientific and college level educational aspects of countertop production means that few days go by without a phone call from a worried homeowner, builder, fabricator, even lawyers looking for advice on countertops.   The writing of the countertop section of Interior Graphics Standard was just the beginning of Al’s education as the exposure to countertop issues questions brought by the notoriety has expanded the knowledge of how countertops  perform over time and the issues that arise both in fabrication and from a homeowner’s perspective.  As the Carpenter Shop fabricates and sells all types of countertops you are going to know the product before you buy.  If you are looking for an Oklahoma City Countertop fabricator we hope you seriously consider Solid Surface Countertops but we can provide what you need.


Blue Pearl Solid Surface by Avonite

Solid Surface Countertops

Our favorite material by far is solid surface.   Clean, reasonably economical, scratches will simply sand out, can be repaired nearly perfectly, seams are nearly invisible, sanitary with an NSF 51 rating, integral mounted sinks, and many other reasons to choose this product for a kitchen countertop. 

A huge variety of colors are available including granite and quartz types, take a look before you say no.  The three colors in the menu above show it can be a pretty as granite.


Bristol Blue by Cambria

Quartz Countertops

Quartz materials are a mixture of the weakest form of solid surface, polyester type, and quartz chips.  Better than granite by a mile for sure but quartz comes with its own set of issues that cause problems down the road.  It stains, scratches,  and seams come apart and aren’t covered by the warranties.   The most important thing to know about quartz is about the  co efficient of expansion of the combined materials, quartz chips and polyester solid surface materials.

Blue Pearl Granite

Granite Countertops

Granite Countertops… I could talk for hours why I don’t recommend granite countertops for most kitchens.   Unstable due to internal stresses that causes cracks, it stains, the undermount sinks tend to fall out or require constant re caulking.  The material is dangerous as hell to fabricate, is contaminated with heavy metals, radioactive  elements, and deadly silica particles. 

But if you have your heart set on granite keep reading so you at least know the pitfalls. 

Cheap the first time

Not at all cheap long term

Laminate Countertops

Laminate Countertops do fill a need for those with a very small budget.  The problem is that back twenty years ago laminate wasn’t that bad of a material.

Two things happened, they took all the good chemicals out of the glue and they learned to make paper thinner and thinner thanks to computer controlled paper production lines.  Laminate is mostly resins and paper and the color paper and clear layer has gotten so thin the laminate doesn’t hold up



The Carpenter Shop is Oklahoma City’s best and most experienced solid surface countertop fabricator and installer.  We have done solid surface countertops for nearly twenty years and are one of the few OKC countertop shops that still manufactures there own countertops and cabinets.