You’ve spent months deciding on cabinets, back splash tile, color, finishes and you’re ready to design your kitchen. Then you think “what type of counter top do I want?”
It’s important to choose something that looks good, but you also need to choose something that will hold up to the everyday use of your kitchen and will work within your budget.
With so many styles and materials out there to choose from it can be very overwhelming. Don’t worry, we are going to guide you to the material that will work best for you.
The first step is to evaluate the way you use your kitchen. For example, if your family uses your counter top to prepare and cut food on, then you probably want to stay away from a solid surface counter top. If you are busy with work and after school activities, granite or butcher block are probably not the right material for you either.
Here’s a guide to the different materials available to help you make the right choice.
Granite is still one of the most desirable tops. This natural stone has lots of character, with unique grains and colors and no stone is exactly alike. It provides a high-end look and when properly sealed is one of the most durable options. Prices do range based on color, availability and complexity of the grain. You must seal granite once a year and it’s important to wipe up all stains as quickly as possible, especially oils, wine, acids and soda.
This engineered stone is quickly becoming as desirable as granite. Quartz now comes in a wide variety of colors and shade. It still gives the high-end look and due to its non –porous surface, its maintenance free. You won’t save much choosing quartz over granite, but the slabs are more uniform and the grains can be matched to provide a seamless look.
This solid-surfacing material, Corian, has been around for nearly 40 years. It comes in an endless range of colors and patterns. It is highly resistance to stains and scratches and can be repaired. Unlike its rivals, this material can be fused together to create a seamless look and endless shapes. Due to its resin-based composition, this material is sensitive to heat and susceptible to scratches. Soap and water cleanup is all that’s required, but make sure to dry the surface well as water marks and finger prints can easily be seen.
Plastic Laminate, or Formica, is starting to make a comeback. Due to new patterns that resemble natural stones and woods, this material is available for a fraction of the cost of quartz. With its wide range of available edges, it can work with any design. You must use a cutting board while cutting because knives will scratch the melamine finish. And trivets must be used with hot pans due to the lamination. A damp cloth or sponge and some mild detergent is all that is needed for routine cleaning. Be sure to avoid bleach as it can discolor your counter top.
Wood is another traditional counter top that has lost fame over the years. Properly sealed, wood counter tops are sanitary, heat-resistant and good for cutting, slicing and chopping. While polyurethane seals can protect a counter for a few years, many homeowners prefer to draw out the natural beauty of the wood with a less glossy mineral oil finish. This requires reapplying the oil every four to six months. Though wood is ideal for food prep, it is recommended that trivets and cutting boards are used to maintain the warmth and beauty of the counter top.
The current darling of the design world, the gray-toned veining in Carrara or Calcutta marble isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, it also helps to disguise wear and hide light stains. With timeless appeal, this stone gives any kitchen a high-end look. Although the cost is comparable to some granite, marble is porous so staining can be a problem. Regular sealing and special care with anything acidic to prevent etching will keep the creamy surface looking its best.
The most inexpensive of all the other counter top materials, tiled counter tops have faded, being replaced by seamless, low-maintenance tops. Tile provides a durable surface but be sure you are using tiles that are rated for floor or counter top. Maintenance on the tile is low, but beware of the grout. Try to use tiles that can have smaller grout lines. Here the color ranges, patterns and shapes are endless.