If you are getting ready to remodel your kitchen, one thing you are definitely thinking about is your kitchen countertop. Despite what type of countertop you currently have, this is one element of the remodel that likely needs an upgrade. Over time, many types of countertops fade, crack, chip, and become damaged from normal wear and tear. Taking the time to understand what your options are is the first step in figuring out which type of countertop material is right for your new kitchen.
Although the least expensive of materials and relatively easy to clean, laminate is not always the best option for kitchen countertops. This is because laminate is the most susceptible to damage, including being burned, scratched, and stained. Furthermore, when exposed to moisture it is possible for the laminate to expand and peel. Just another note; laminate countertops cannot be used with undermount sinks.
Solid Surfacing Countertops
For years, these acrylic and polyester blended countertops were referred to as the one brand that made them – Corian. However, they are produced by a variety of manufacturers now, and are simply called solid surfacing countertops. No sealing or special cleaning is required of solid surfacing, but they are prone to burns and scratches. With that said, these can be easily sanded out, giving the solid surface countertop a brand new appearance. The major downside, these types of countertops tend to look artificial and feel artificial even though they can cost as much as real natural stone countertops.
Perhaps marble countertops look and feel the most luxurious, but that does come with a price. Not only are marble countertops more expensive, they are also a soft material. This means that they are susceptible to staining, scratching, and chipping, even if they are properly sealed upon installation. However, with proper care and maintenance on a routine basis, marble countertops can last a long time.
Tile is an inexpensive material to use for your countertops and lends itself to just about any style kitchen décor. Although it stands up well to the blade of a sharp knife, resists stains, and is easy to replace a tile or two if they are broken, it does have its downside. Tile is an uneven surface, which makes it difficult to roll out dough or keep a cutting board in place. In addition, the grout lines tends to stain and promote the growth of bacteria even when sealed.
Becoming more popular, soapstone countertops are found in more kitchens around the world than ever before. Being a natural stone, soapstone tends to start out as one color and then darken over time. This can be seen as a positive or negative aspect of soapstone countertops, depending on your personal preference. It works very well in cottage-style kitchen, or those with Old World charm. However, soapstone countertops do require regular polishing with oil, and it does tend to crack, scratch, or develop nicks. In addition, the rough surface has a tendency to scuff or scratch fine china and glassware.
In recent years, concrete countertops have come to the top of the list for many homeowners. They are very versatile and are custom built to fit any design and can be tinted to just about any color. Unfortunately, concrete countertops have a few major downsides that you will not find with other types of countertop materials. First, they are prone to staining unless they are frequently sealed. In addition, they settle, which gives way for cracks to develop. Lastly, concrete countertops are extremely heavy and require additional support beneath them, and they can be more expensive than other options.
Stainless Steel Countertops
Although most often seen in commercial kitchens, stainless steel countertops are making their way into homes across the world. The biggest reason? They are very durable, easy to clean, resist staining, heat, and bacteria, and are light weight. However, they need to be wiped down regularly to clean off fingerprints. In addition, stainless steel can be easily dented, the color can be changed by chemicals, they are prone to scratching, and often times they are noisy, especially when moving pots and pans across the surface.
Perhaps the number one choice of homeowners, granite countertops provide the most benefits. They are affordable, coming in mid-range across the board. They can be custom cut to fit your space, and are available in a variety of colors. Although they can stain, chip, crack, they are one of the most durable surfaces and can be protected with a simple yearly sealing. In addition, because they are a natural stone, granite countertops are unique to each home, showing off a variety of different swirls, veining, and speckles, depending on where they were harvested from, and they last a lifetime.
There are several different materials that can be used for kitchen countertops. They all have their pros and cons, but you, as many homeowners have discovered, will get the most bang for your buck when you choose granite countertops.