How to Choose Your Kitchen Countertops

So you’ve finally decided to start that kitchen remodel you’ve been dreaming about! One of the most important material selections is going to be your countertops. You probably have boring, standard grade laminate countertops in your kitchen right now that are just screaming for an upgrade! While we may all dream of natural granite counters because of their gorgeous look, there are several other considerations, other than aesthetics, that you must keep in mind. These are durability, maintenance, and of course, price.

Above all, your countertops must be functional for the way you plan to use your kitchen. So think about you and your family’s preferences, tendencies and the types of activities that you plan to do in your new kitchen as you read through this guide of countertop options.

1. Granite
Granite is considered the top of the line when it comes to countertop materials. Granite is a natural stone that gives kitchens a permanent and substantial look when compared to some less expensive options like laminate. Most of the Granite on the market today is harvested from Brazil and other South American countries, although you can find different types of Granite all over the world. The price of Granite varies depending on where in the world it is harvested, as it is very expensive to ship large slabs of Granite safely across continents. There are some more affordable Granite options, but their price is still well above other countertop material options.
As far as functionality goes, Granite holds up well to heat, will last a lifetime and adds value to your home as it is something that home buyers are willing to pay extra for.

There are, however, disadvantages to choosing Granite other than the high cost. Since Granite is a porous natural stone, it will absorb stains. To prevent this, Granite must be resealed yearly. In addition to routine maintenance, Granite can crack under stress or if it is not properly installed and will dull your knives if you cut directly on the surface.

2. Marble
Marble is probably the most expensive natural stones, requires constant maintenance, and stains easily. Therefore it is usually used as an accent material instead of as the main countertops for the kitchen. If you want to add a luxurious look to your kitchen, think about using Marble just for your kitchen island countertop or in a inset used for baking.

3. Engineered Stone
You will see engineered stone countertops marketed as Quartz, because 93% of their composition is quartz particles, the same type of mineral which naturally occurs in Granite. Engineered stone countertops are actually more durable than natural Granite and require no maintenance since the resins used to bond the quartz particles together make the finished material non-porous and resistant to both stains and acid damage.
The downside to Engineered Stone is that it is actually about as expensive as Granite, because of the high quality natural minerals that are used to make it. If you have the money and love the look of Granite, but dread the required maintenance, then Engineered Stone is the way to go.

4. Solid Surfacing
Solid Surfacing is similar to Engineered Stone, but is much more cost effective because of the way it is installed. A part of the thickness of the countertop will be made up by a less expensive substrate, like wood. Then, a mixture of acrylics and other particles is laid over the substrate to form the surface. If you have ever seen countertops with an integrated sink, this is the material that is used. Solid Surfacing is actual the only material that is able to be molded to any shape. Homeowners love Solid Surface countertops because they can be installed totally seamlessly over long expanses. Solid Surfacing are stain-resistant and also come in just about every color you could imagine,so they are a great choice no matter what look you are going for in your kitchen. Any scratches can be buffed out because the thickness of the acrylic material is much thicker than other materials such as laminate.

The only real disadvantage of using Solid Surface countertops is that they can become discolored if you set a hot pan directly on the surface, but this can be easily avoided.

5. Concrete
A new trend in countertops is using Concrete. Since the Concrete is poured in place into a a wooden form, the countertop will be totally seamless. There are a variety of different pigments that can be added to the concrete mixture, so you can customize your Concrete countertop to be whatever color you want. There are also several different finishing options you can choose from, including troweled (smooth), ground (sanded to expose the aggregate) and pressed (stamped with a tool that create a veining similar to natural stones).

While Concrete countertops are much less expensive than Granite while still giving the substantial look of stone, they do require a decent amount of maintenance. Leaving a damp sponge on the Concrete for an extended period of time can cause discoloration, and if you spill any acidic substance, like lemon juice, the surface can be permanently etched. It is advised to seal Concrete countertops four times per year and to also apply a wax paste every two to three months.

6. Wood/ Butcher Block
Wood countertops create a beautiful warm look in any kitchen, and are a great compliment to painted cabinetry. There are a wide variety of colors and finishes available among the hardwood species that are used for countertops, from maple to oak to exotic woods like teak. Wood countertops are easy to clean, and butcher block is excellent as a cutting surface. Like hardwood floors, wood countertops can be sanded and resealed many times over their lifetime. Over time, wood countertops can be damaged by water and stains, and special care must be taken of scratches that have not been sanded out.

7. Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel has become a popular option for homeowners seeking a modern or industrial look for their kitchen. It is very easy to clean and can be manufactured your specifications making a seamless countertop. Stainless steel is heat resistant, so you don’t have to worry about damage caused from setting hot pots and pans directly on it’s surface. The disadvantages to using Stainless Steel is that is may dent or be noisy when in use, and also custom fabrication can be expensive.

D.R. Hartman Construction Inc

If you are looking for a full service commercial or residential construction company in the Maryland, Washington, D.C., or Fairfax County, Virginia region, we'd love to have the opportunity to learn about your construction project and give you a free quote. Submit our online contact form or call Don Hartman at (301) 926-9000.


Comments

  1. Counter tops are definitely something a lot of people have trouble deciding on. There are so many types of counter tops, some listed here that some people may not know about, it can be a bit overwhelming. This is a great post to let people know the differences between all of their options.

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