Whether you are embarking on a complete kitchen remodel, on the hunt for a quick update, or simply weary of your old kitchen countertops, you’re in luck; There are a variety of attractive and functional countertop materials to choose from today.
Yours kitchen countertops it can become a focal point in the room, so deciding on the look you want is as important as the function.
Tips for choosing kitchen countertops
Your kitchen countertops provide a work area for food preparation and often serve as a casual dining area. Depending on your lifestyle, you can also entertain, work, design, or use this kitchen worktop for a multitude of other activities. That’s why it’s worth gathering information and putting some thought into choosing the right countertop for your lifestyle.
5 tips to help you choose the best countertops for your kitchen
1. Lifestyle. If your kitchen is the active center for family life, the countertop can take a beating. You want a durable and beautiful surface and one that can withstand heat, humidity, scratches and cuts, stains, and even certain food ingredients that can damage it.
2. Maintenance preference. How much care and maintenance are you willing to perform on your countertops? If sanding a butcher block to remove nicks and scratches or to seal granite to prevent stains and chips feels like too much work, you want to choose a countertop that requires less maintenance. If the right answer for you is a simple cleaning routine that uses non-toxic cleansers, your countertop surface needs to reflect that preference.
3. Distribution. Some countertops, such as granite, marble, and other natural stone surfaces, are only available as large slabs. These slabs need to be cut to the right size and shape for your kitchen. If you are looking for a single slab countertop, you may be looking for a specific size, pattern and color, and pay more for larger pieces. In contrast, countertop materials such as tile, wood and quartz do not have to come from one large piece.
4. Style and appearance. Certain countertop materials come with dynamic veins or patterns with lots of color and activity. Others are more uniform and tranquil.
5. Budget. Kitchen countertops come in a range of price points. The price per foot of natural materials will vary depending on the rarity of the color and pattern of the material and the size of the slab you need. There are, however, beautiful and durable countertops available at every price point.
With such a variety of countertop materials to choose from, know that some will fit your lifestyle but not your budget; some will give you the look you want but may require more maintenance than is realistic for your home.
Pros and cons of 9 popular countertop materials
Beyond the stone and wood used for work surfaces in past centuries or the innovative Formica of the 1950s, you have many new kitchen countertop materials to consider, such as concrete, glass, quartz and marble. Here’s the scoop on the newest materials to help you decide which will work well in your kitchen.
1. Marble, soap, and limestone
Marble, soapstone and limestone are natural materials mined as a single piece of stone. Their durability has made these materials the best choice of countertops for hundreds of years.
Advantages: Marble and limestone are always in demand as classic countertop materials. Limestone offers a stone look without the graining or heavy veining of marble and is remarkably heat resistant. Marble always earns high marks for its durability. Soapstone resists heat damage and is very durable. It is also resistant to stains and bacterial contamination, and cleans easily with just soap and water.
Disadvantages: Soapstone is prone to nicks and cuts and can change color over time. Certain stains, from oil and grease, are too tough to wash off. However, small scratches can be repaired by applying mineral oil and then sanding the stained area. Limestone and marble stain quickly, so it is essential to attack the spread of the problem immediately. Excessive heat can damage the marble.
Quartz surfaces are made from crushed stone bound together with a polymer resin and often sold under brand names such as Caesarstone and Silestone.
Advantages: Quartz mimics the look of natural stone but requires much less maintenance. Quartz countertops they are non-porous and resistant to stains and scratches. To maintain, wipe them with mild soap and water. Quartz holds up well to nicks from serrated knives, encounters with hot pans, and even abrasive pads used for cleaning. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns that mimic marble and granite.
Disadvantages: Corners and edges can chip, and you’ll need a professional to repair them. Choosing the rounded edges helps to avoid any chips.
Granite is a natural stone cut from the earth as a single piece. It is then polished and cut to size for a countertop.
Advantages: Because it is a natural material, each slab is unique. Granite with rare veins and colors will cost more. It is heat, cut and scratch resistant.
Disadvantages: You need to periodically reseal the granite to remove stains. Like quartz, corners and edges can chip and should be professionally repaired.
Laminate countertop is a semi-rigid plastic sheet made by combining layers of paper and resins. The top visible layer is a decorative sheet with added color and design.
Advantages: Laminate is inexpensive, easy to install, and comes in various styles and colors. It resists stains and heat and cleans easily with soap and water.
Disadvantages: Any direct cut can permanently damage a laminate countertop; make sure you always use a cutting board when preparing food.
5. Butcher’s block
Butcher block countertops are made from dense hardwoods such as maple, walnut, oak, teak or cherry. Butcher block benches are constructed using 11/2” square blocks with three different grain options: end grain, end grain, and wide plank, each producing unique and attractive appearance.
Advantages: The wooden surface adds warmth to any kitchen. It is easy to repair, replace, and install, and some finishes are stain resistant. Butcher block is gentle on knife blades and incredibly durable, with the added advantage of the wood’s natural antibacterial properties, which kill 99% of bacteria within three minutes of exposure. This makes butcher block tops safe for everyday food preparation, according to a 1994 study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin.
Disadvantages: Damage from scratches and nicks occurs with some frequency but can be sanded away.
6. Recycled glass
Recycled glass is a popular new green building material.
Advantages: This is a very contemporary look; finely ground glass creates a less busy look, and most glass is resistant to stains, scratches, cuts and heat.
Disadvantages: Some glass countertops developed a thin crack during heat testing.
Today’s concrete countertops are fabricated entirely outside your home, unlike the 1980s, when they were poured on site. They are usually 1 1/2” thick and can be poured into slabs up to 10 feet long. Your installer can add colors and patterns to customize the look you want in your kitchen.
Advantages: Concrete can be a completely customized look and can be poured to appear seamless. It is also very durable and heat resistant.
Disadvantages: Concrete is heavy and requires strong, high-quality cabinets underneath for support. It can be expensive to customize and take regular sealing to maintain; without sealing, it stains easily and will absorb moisture. Regular sealing also prevents small cracks that are likely to develop over time.
Ceramic tile has been a popular countertop choice for decades. It has fallen out of favor in recent years due to the introduction of new solid surface countertops. It’s still an attractive choice for a backsplash or a second work surface on an island, peninsula, or wet bar.
Advantages: Ceramic tile is non-porous, stain resistant, and affordable. The tiles come in many color and pattern options.
Disadvantages: Tile grout needs to be cleaned and sealed regularly to prevent chipping and staining.
9. Solid Surface
Solid surface countertops are made from a combination of acrylic and polyester, or either material alone. They come in a variety of patterns and color options.
Disadvantages: These countertops can scratch, burn, and suffer with a knife. You can, however, sand the scratches and fill deep gouges with epoxy or Cyanoacrylate.
Among the many kitchen countertop materials homeowners can choose from, quartz and granite are consistently the most popular.
Quartz vs granite countertops
You will notice the quartz and granite they share many similar qualities. Both are scratch and heat resistant; quartz is also stain resistant. Both surfaces tend to catch at the edge but choosing a rounded edge helps to avoid this problem. Granite needs to be sealed every 3-4 months to maintain its stain resistance.
You can find quartz at every price point, from very budget-friendly versions to those that are more expensive and resemble marble. Quartz can mimic patterns, colors, and veins found in granite and marble.
Many homeowners find that quartz offers the best value for money and comes with the least maintenance burden. If you decide that quartz countertops are best for your kitchen, you can buy countertops online through Simply Kitchens. At Simply Kitchens, you can find a wide selection of quartz countertops in colors and designs to complement any kitchen cabinet style. Choosing your countertop this way will help keep the process simple and save you hours you could otherwise spend matching your cabinets and countertop. Visit Simply Kitchens for answers to questions about kitchen countertops – and help designing and ordering your countertops online.