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Once upon a time, choosing a kitchen countertop was not something an advice post would be written on, as not all options were viable and affordable as they are today.
However, nowadays, kitchen countertops can be made out of anything and everything, even paper (yes, you read that right!). So playing the field is a bit more demanding than it once was.
But, no worries, we can help you pick the best alternative. Whether you’re remodeling your kitchen or designing it from scratch, below, you’ll find everything you need to know about various types of kitchen countertops.
Let’s dig in.
The Three Deciding Factors
In the process of choosing a countertop for your kitchen, three deciding factors will lead you to the best alternative.
1. The Needs
Before deciding on anything, you have to think about the way you are, or you will be using your kitchen. Do you usually eat outside, or cook inside? Do you use your kitchen for socializing? If so, how often do you have people over? Or, do you maybe have kids who will use your countertop as their space to do their homework or explore their creativity while drawing?
Answering these questions will allow you to estimate the frequency of using your kitchen countertop. And ultimately decide whether you need to look for a material that is more durable and not prone to scratching. Or you can just as well satisfy your needs by choosing a more stylish, or cheaper alternative.
2. The Budget
The next thing to decide, after assessing your current needs, is how much you’re willing to spend on the chosen countertop. Some options cost more than others. And more often than not the cost will depend on how durable you need the material to be.
Anyway, deciding on your maximum budget will streamline the process of choosing a countertop. As it will limit your options from the very start (and we all know that choosing from a few options is easier than choosing from many).
3. The Look
Last, but not the least, is the look you are striving to accomplish. Some materials will fit your kitchen’s style more than others. But thankfully, now the same (or at least similar) look is achievable using various types of materials.
The Options (materials you can use for the countertop)
Okay, now that we have gone over the three deciding factors when choosing a kitchen countertop, let’s take a look at the alternatives one by one.
Granite is by far the most common choice among natural stone countertop buyers. It comes in a variety of colours, and in two finishes.
The price usually depends on the variations in the stone, its colour and its finish. If you choose a granite countertop made out of stone found in an exotic, hard-to-reach destination, logically you should expect a “saltier” price.
To maintain, it needs to be periodically resealed (6-12 months).
Marble looks elegant and can make your kitchen look amazing. But it is not the best choice if you’re cooking regularly, as it can be easily stained and scratched, even if you reseal it regularly.
Soapstone is used less often than granite, as it scratches easily. And deeper scratches cannot be repaired with a little sanding. But it is more than great at resisting heat-induced damages.
Engineered stone countertops resemble countertops made out of natural stone, as they’re made by a combination of resin and crushed quartz (you can consider them as a “green” alternative to natural stone). Naturally, as they’re artificially made, they come in a wider variety of colours.
If you’re looking for the material with the highest resistance to stains and damage – look no further. This makes quartz countertops really durable and easy to maintain.
Stainless steel is the go-to choice of professional chefs, as it is the most hygienic – no bacteria can reside on it once you wipe it clean. It is heat and stain resistant but is susceptible to scratches.
It can also give an appealing modern look for home kitchens as well. But the fact that it is manufactured tailored to your kitchen can make it an expensive choice.
Many people choose a wooden surface because of the warm feel it can give to the kitchen. Most wooden countertop buyers go for hardwood options such as oak and maple. Although wood can be scratched and damaged (especially its edges), it’s just a DIY job away from looking great again.
Laminate is the least costly option out of all the alternatives. Also, it’s relatively easy to maintain and clean.
And no, it does not look as simple and unattractive as it once did. New technologies have made it possible for the laminate to look more refined. Heat does not cause much damage, but cutting directly on it does.
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Solid surfaces are available in a wide range of colors, and are easy to maintain, looking for no special care unlike natural stone.They are stain resistant and small scratches are easily reparable. Sadly, it is not heat resistant, but the fact that solid surfaces have the same color or pattern all the way through, allows for burns, just like small scratches to be sanded out.
Concrete is the go-to choice for people going for a modern, industrial look. You can pick between various finishes: ground (sanded), trowel (a smooth finish), pressed (has a marble-like look). Concrete is becoming an increasingly popular option among buyers because of the possibility to be customized and pigmented.
The problem is that concrete is hefty, so it needs stable and secure support and is not resistant to temperature extremes. Another thing to note is that concrete asks for periodical sealing to continue looking good.
One of the cheapest and most convenient options from the list, which is also the easiest to repair. When a tile is damaged, you can always replace it with another.
Here are some final tips to keep in mind, that’ll hopefully make the whole process of choosing a countertop for your kitchen even easier.
• Neutral colours are a cheaper option than custom colours. So choosing a “colourless” countertop might save you a few bucks
• Lightly coloured countertops are a better choice since they do not show as many fingertips, breadcrumbs or dust as darker ones do. Also, matte finishes are more prone to showing marks than polished ones do.
• Save some money by using leftover materials from when you were building other parts of your home. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough leftovers to build an entire countertop, as mixed materials can also look great.
• Don’t always trust the samples. Some materials like wood and laminate will most probably match what you had seen when you were in the store, but natural stone countertops will likely be different. So, if you choose the latter (marble, limestone, granite, soapstone), go to the stone yard to pick your final piece yourself.
• If you like the look of concrete but want to save money, you can just apply faux concrete on top of a laminate countertop.
• Don’t choose your countertop in isolation – take home a sample to see how it looks together with all other materials in your kitchen.
Author Bio: Nicole Andrews is the marketing manager for Euro Marble in Sydney, Australia. With a background in interior design, she enjoys writing about the latest industry trends. In her spare time, she walks her dog Rusco down at Bondi Beach.