In a kitchen, the countertops are the hardest working surfaces in the room. Finding the right material for this important component of a working kitchen can be difficult and confusing. While looks are important, other factors must be considered first. These factors include long-term durability, resistance to heat and stains, water resistance, and overall ease of cleaning. Once these important issues are addressed, then it’s time to choose for attractiveness.
There are five different types of materials that perfectly combine practicality and beauty. Materials may be natural, engineered, or manufactured and can be solid or applied as a veneer. This short guide will walk you through these five types of countertop materials and help you to make a decision.
Before you shop, think about how you want to use your countertops. While a granite or a ceramic countertop may work well for the majority of your needs in the kitchen, you’ll also need a wooden surface for cutting, chopping, and slicing as well as a marble section for rolling out pastry or making candy. A viable solution is to combined two or more materials and place them at strategic locations to streamline your kitchen tasks.
Countertop combinations should be selected during the design phase. This way you’ll have dedicated work spaces as well as regions suitable for eating or cleanup operations. The countertops that you choose will affect both the functionality and a look of your kitchen.
Stone Countertops: Marble, Granite, And Limestone
When it comes to both beauty and practicality, stone countertops rank at the top of the list. While they are the most expensive choice, they last forever when well taken care of. Within the stone countertop category, granite is definitely the most popular. Granite can be purchased as either a solid surface or in tile form that is installed with a very tight grout lines.
The use of granite in a kitchen has become increasingly common over time. This elegant stone creates the look of high-end design in even the most modest kitchen. The good news is that prices have been coming down as more people choose it.
Granite is available in different finishes. The matte look is known as honed within the industry while a shiny, polished finish remains very popular. Before you buy, check the maintenance requirements. Newer sealers reduce the need for maintenance but some finishes require regular sealing. Granite as well as marble are subject to staining when not properly sealed.
While you won’t find a harder stone than granite, it’s important to remember than any stone will break when enough pressure is applied. Damage typically occurs during transport or when improper methods are used during installation. In general, stone countertops provide high value.
Quartz And Acrylic Countertops: A Solid, Engineered Surface
Engineered stone countertops use particles of quartz that are bound together. 93% of the mass is quartz which makes this a very solid option. In addition, engineered stone comes in a wide range of colors and is very resistant to scratches.
Engineered stone is often confused with granite but trails the natural stone in popularity. It’s easy to tell the difference by comparing the consistency of the quartz particles throughout the final product and comparing it to natural stone. Quartz-based countertops are durable just like granite but are much easier to take care of since no sealing is required to maintain them. This engineered product will last for years but is more expensive than granite or other stone countertops.
Acrylic countertops are similar to quartz. They are seamless and are referred to as Solid Surface in the industry. They do not deliver the same natural look that stone or some quartz countertops deliver but they make up for this by coming in a very wide variety of finishes, patterns, and colors.
On the plus side, Solid Surface countertops are stain, moisture, sunlight, and heat resistant. Bacteria and mold are readily removed from the surfaces which creates a safe working surface. However, they are vulnerable to high levels of heat and can stain. These countertops can be custom-made with an integrated sink.
Many people are confused by the term Solid Surface since many other types of countertops are also solid. However, this term is widely used within the industry and it’s important to know the difference. Don’t confuse it with other varieties that are also solid.
Tile Countertops: Choosing From Ceramic, Aluminum, And Copper
Many people think of ceramic countertops as outdated but there are some advantages to keep in mind. Ceramic tile lasts for a long time, is easy to keep clean, and doesn’t break the bank. Most people find that installation is simple to do since each small tile is installed on its own. After installation, they work great since they stand up to steaming hot pans. Available in many different colors and patterns, they add style and functionality.
Ceramic tiles are not without their downside. Tiles do crack and chip and the final product may have an uneven surface. In addition, many homeowners find that the tile grout is difficult to keep clean.
Tiles offer some interesting design choices. They are available in both copper and aluminum and a number of different textures to add flair to your kitchen design. They really shine when used as a back splash since they can be mounted as squares, diamonds, or subway block.
Stainless Steel Countertops: A No Nonsense Approach
When you think of a serious chef hard at work, most people see stainless steel countertops in the kitchen. For a contemporary approach, this durable and heat-resistant material is an increasingly popular choice. Countertops are machined for precision and delivered as a seamless surface. Simple and easy to keep clean, they are expensive and subject to dents.
Concrete Countertops: An Industrial Look
Modern designers love concrete and are using it to make countertops that are cast right in your kitchen. Improvements in technology make this material much less porous than in the past which means that they are easy to keep clean. Exotic and unusual, tinted concrete enhances modern design with a material that is both heat and scratch-resistant.
No matter what your style or budget is, you are sure to find a kitchen countertop that suits you from one of these five selections. Be practical first and then let your imagination be your guide.