Countertops

What are your kitchen countertop options?

You must be wondering which countertop is right for your needs and your new dream kitchen. Whether it’s an update or complete remodel, new countertops can give your kitchen a much needed face lift.

Before you make that final choice, it’s important to know what each material offers in terms of durability and ease of maintenance. Countertop material is subject to constant use and sometimes, downright abuse. You still want it to look good 10 years down the road. The type of counter material you choose will depend on your budget and how you want to use it. You will be seeing it every day from early morning to late at night, so choose something that is visually appealing to you.

If you already have fallen in love with a certain granite or a laminate color then work the rest of the kitchen around it. If you don’t really care about the counter and the cabinets are the star of the show for you choose a counter in a neutral, contrasting color to the cabinets to make them the standout feature of the kitchen. Researching kitchen countertop ideas can inspire the look of your new kitchen.

Here is an overview of the most common countertop materials plus the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Laminate countertops

 

Laminate is the most popular of all countertop materials. It is made of plywood, chipboard or medium-density fiberboard, topped by thin plastic laminate.

 

Advantages

∗ solid, durable material
∗ inexpensive
∗ wide range of colors, textures and patterns available
∗ cleans easily with soap and water
∗ water resistant
∗ resistant to most stains

 

Disadvantages

∗ dark backing may be visible at seams on lighter colors
∗ can chip or scratch over time
∗ cannot be used as a chopping surface
∗ can be damaged by high heat

 

Solid surface countertops

 

Solid surface is made of cast plastics such as polyester, acrylic and mineral fillers.

 

Advantages

∗ highly resistant to permanent damage; markings can be sanded away
∗ seams are barely visible
∗ can be molded into unified counter and sink
∗ cleans easily with soap and water
∗ is nonporous, stains do not penetrate the surface
∗ with proper cleaning, resists the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria
∗ is also heat and scratch resistant.
∗ durable material

 

Disadvantages

∗ expensive
∗ lower cabinets may require reinforcement
∗ dark colors will show nicks
∗ looks artificial

 

Marble countertops

 

Marble is a luxurious stone available in a variety of colors and patterns. The surface is suited to baking, candy making and rolling out dough. However, it requires a sealant to prevent staining.

 

Advantages

∗ water and heat resistant
∗ beautiful, natural material provides a smooth, cool surface
∗ hard wearing, durable
∗ cleans easily

 

Disadvantages

∗ expensive
∗ lower cabinets may require reinforcement
∗ may not be practical for entire kitchen — better for one work area
∗ will be stained by lemon juice, sugar, alcohol and oil
∗ will dull knife if used as a chopping surface

 

Granite countertops

 

Granite is a elegant, polished stone available in a variety of colors. The surface is suited to baking, candy making and rolling out dough. However, it requires a sealant to prevent staining.

 

Advantages

∗ water and heat resistant
∗ immune to stains, resistant to most alcohols, oil and lemon juice
∗ cleans easily
∗ aesthetically pleasing and functional

 

Disadvantages

∗ expensive
∗ lower cabinets may require reinforcement
∗ will dull knife if used as a chopping surface
∗ seams are visible

 

Slate countertops

 

Slate is dense, fine-grained stone available in black and muted shades of green, grey, purple, red and blue.

 

Advantages

∗ less expensive than marble and granite
∗ water and heat resistant
∗ surface damage can be removed with sandpaper
∗ easy to clean

 

Disadvantages

∗ lower cabinets may require reinforcement
∗ limited color choices

 

Tile countertops

 

Tile and mosaic countertops are made of high-fired, dust-pressed clay available in a variety of colors, designs and textures. It is best to choose glazed ceramic with textured surface or matte finish.

 

Advantages

∗ water and heat resistant
∗ resists scratching
∗ easily cleaned
∗ will not burn, stain or discolor

 

Disadvantages

∗ grout between tiles is difficult to keep clean although there are new stainless grouts available
∗ hard on glassware and china
∗ lower cabinets may require reinforcement
∗ cannot be used as a chopping surface

 

Wood countertops

 

Wood, or butcher block, is a warm, natural material. Hardwoods like maple, teak and beech are best. Surface should be finished with clear varnish or oil. Wood cut across grain wears most evenly.

 

Advantages

∗ excellent chopping surface
∗ easy on glassware and china
∗ resistant to moderate heat
∗ easily cleaned

 

Disadvantages

∗ avoid using near sink, moisture will blacken surface
∗ may contract in dry conditions
∗ can scratch and scorch
∗ wet metal kitchen equipment left on surface will leave rust stains

 

Stainless steel countertops

 

Stainless steel is a strong material and is appropriate for areas in contact with water. It's available in matte, patterned, sandblasted or polished finishes.

 

Advantages

∗ waterproof, heat resistant
∗ durable
∗ easy to clean
∗ extremely hygienic

 

Disadvantages

∗ noisy and cold
∗ fabrication is expensive
∗ will dull knife if used as a chopping surface
∗ difficult to maintain shine and keep free of marks

 

Quartz countertops

 

Quartz, also referred to as engineered stone, is made from 93% natural quartz and 7% resin pigments and binders, and is a strong material.

 

Advantages

∗ mold, mildew, heat, crack and scratch resistant
∗ impervious to stains
∗ does not need to be sealed
∗ extremely hygienic
∗ available in different looks such as imitation granite and stone or in a variety of colors

 

Disadvantages

∗ seams are visible
∗ very heavy — must be installed by a professional
∗ lower cabinets may require reinforcement

 

You can find kitchen countertop ideas at model homes, home renovation stores and magazines. Our advice is to choose a material that you can live with, something tried and true like laminate, granite or solid surface from a reputable company.