If you’re building a new home – or simply giving your kitchen a face lift – you may be surprised at the variety of options available when it comes to your counter tops. While granite, quartz and laminate are always popular choices, there are other materials worth consideration. Check them out in the article below.
Quartz counter tops are actually engineered stone products. While consisting mostly of natural rock, resin is incorporated into it to produce a very strong product that resists scratching, burns from hot pots and pans, and staining. Chipping, however, is possible and therefore bull nosing – rounding edges and corners – may be desirable. Quartz is naturally antibacterial, a definite advantage in a kitchen. It is durable and easy to maintain, without a need for the regular sealing that all-natural stone products often require. Quartz comes in virtually every color and shade, making it easy to find just what you imagine your counter top will look like.
In many households today, you will find granite counter tops. Popular because of its natural beauty, this type of counter top instantly gives a kitchen the high-end look and feel desired by many homeowners today. Quarried and not manufactured, granite may be expensive depending on the number of slabs required. Matching up the natural patterns and veins inherent to this stone is required, and seams may be visible. Granite is fairly easy to maintain. It should be sealed every year or two to maintain its stain resistant quality. Other than that, wiping up water and spills is all that’s needed to keep it in good shape. It is resistant to heat and scratches, and when maintained properly, is antibacterial. It comes in a wide variety of natural colors and patterns, providing you with many choices.
Soapstone is a somewhat softer rock made up of talc, historically used for a great variety of purposes. When the talc content is high, the material in its softer form is ideal for sculpting and not for the kitchen. But when lower, around 70%, it is ideal for counter tops because of its density and strength. Soapstone has graced laboratories, kitchens and cookware for centuries because of its ability to resist chemicals, foods and liquids, and high heat. Its natural dark gray appearance can have some variation, but in general, you will find soapstone in this color palette. Although countertop soapstone is quite durable and strong, it can scratch over time.
When we think of wood, we generally think of our floors, but many counter tops are made from wood as well. Whether butcher block style or simply long straight surfaces, these counter tops come in different kinds of woods. Bamboo, oak, and cherry are all good choices. Regular maintenance of wood counter tops is required. Liquids and foods easily stain many woods and conditioning the material every few years is a must. It is also prone to scratching from knife cuts, so you’ll want to be sure to use cutting boards. Counter tops made of wood require sanding and sealing to smooth them out and restore their resistance to bacteria and staining. Wood adds character and warmth to a kitchen, especially in country-style homes.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock formed largely from calcite and fossilized organisms. Used in kitchens, counter tops of limestone may be somewhat less expensive than other stone alternatives. It is extremely strong and highly resistant to chipping and scratching. Although it can stain, limestone’s beauty can be easily maintained with wiping up spills immediately. Limestone comes in lighter shades, and its color choices are somewhat limited.
Considerably more expensive than most other counter top options, marble is a material prized by bakers for preparation of baked goods. Often used in just a section of the kitchen’s counter space, this stone lends an elegant look wherever it’s used. Its natural veining can make it somewhat challenging to match slabs for a seamless look, but the end result is desirable by many because of the material’s high end look. Marble is an extremely hard surface, impervious to high heat. But because it can scratch and stain, it does need to be sealed. And marble can chip, so hiring a professional to install this material in your home just makes sense.
If you’re anywhere in the Kamloops area, call Mike at 250-572-4812 to arrange for a personalized consultation – free of charge, of course. He and his team are courteous and highly experienced. He’ll be happy to speak with you and schedule your new counter top installation, whatever your choice. He’ll even help you make that decision if you’re not sure of which material to choose.
Stainless steel is a commonly used kitchen material, currently on trend for appliances large and small. Often used in commercial settings because of its durability and ease of cleaning, stainless steel offers those same advantages to the home kitchen. This antibacterial and durable surface can handle dishes right out of the oven, although a cutting board is necessary since it easily scratches. While it is waterproof and extremely easy to clean, fingerprints are easily visible, meaning constant wiping off if that bothers you. Contemporary and industrial modern settings benefit from the sleek and cool appeal of stainless steel. A stainless steel counter top can be pricier than many other materials.
Solid surface refers to a combination polyester/resin material. You may be familiar with the popular CorianÒ brand which produces solid surface materials. Easy to clean and maintain, solid surface does scratch, and trivets should be used before placing any high heat cookware on the counter. Your kitchen sinks can be made of the same solid surface material and provide you with a seamless transition from counter top to sink.
If you dismissed laminate as an option, you may want to take a second look. Many of our parents and grandparents chose it for their homes solely based on price. With the resurgence in the popularity of mid-century modern style, laminate patterns of the 50s and 60s are back, as well as countless new ones. But even if mid-century modern doesn’t appeal to you, laminate patterns are so attractive today because many resemble stone and other natural surfaces, without the higher price tag. This plastic material is still at the low end of your choices price-wise, but you can attain a higher end look on a budget if choosing it.
You will always need to use a cutting board and trivets for hot dishes with laminate, but that’s hardly a sacrifice when compared to the considerable savings in cost. It cleans up very easily with no special cleansers necessary. Colors and patterns are practically endless. Laminate should be looked at as an option if you’re on a budget and not concerned with resale value of the home, since it doesn’t offer your home the extra value that natural stone does.
Glass counter tops are yet another option and are popular in modern and industrial-style homes. Thicker, tempered glass – glass made stronger by a heating process – provides an excellent kitchen counter top consideration. Its nonporous surface is very easy to maintain, although its shine may show crumbs and smears. It is also heat resistant and antibacterial. A cutting board is necessary as glass scratches easily. Glass counter tops are created with solid color glass, as well as with mosaic style glass pieces incorporated into longer lengths. There is a large variety of design options available.
Tile – made of ceramic, porcelain or stone – has been used for many years throughout the home and is sometimes chosen for kitchen counters. While it provides an easy to clean and heat-resistant surface, maintaining the color of the grout can be a challenge because grout is very porous. Also, the tile can crack over time if something is dropped onto it. However, because tiles are individual pieces placed in a pattern over a counter run, you can design your counter to include tiles with pictures or designs to create a unique style all your own. If you choose to seal the grout, which is recommended, and are careful around it, a tile counter top can provide a lovely, more traditional look for years to come in your kitchen. Tile is often a more affordable option to someone looking to replace a counter top.
A newer option than others, cement counters come in many colors and textures. If you’re not familiar with cement in your kitchen, don’t think sidewalk cement! Cement counter tops can be customized to your particular design choice and come with high shine and often the ‘wow’ factor. This choice in material appeals to more modern and industrial chic homeowners. Because of the expense of the molds into which the material is poured and the high degree of customization available, cement surfaces don’t come cheap. And they can develop cracks over time. But cement counter tops also resist scratches and can withstand high temperatures.
Obviously, there are many choices in counter tops available to the consumer. As with anything you choose for your home, consider your own individual lifestyle habits and preferences first, and then narrow down your choices accordingly.
If you know you’re not the best at wiping down counters throughout each day, you probably don’t need a glass counter top; a granite one is better for hiding crumbs. If a counter top seam will bother you, instead of a natural stone product, you may be happier with solid surface or a hand-poured surface such as cement.
And if you still need help in making that decision, call on Mike at D4 Construction in Kamloops. He’s installed countless counter tops and can do any home renovation project you need.
Make your no-obligation appointment today by calling Mike at 250-572-4812. Tell him you read about your new counter top here and he’ll work with you to give you the kitchen of your dreams. And don’t forget to send us your before and after pictures. We can’t wait to see them! And you may just see them here in a future issue.