All homeowners planning a kitchen or bathroom remodel desire only the best. Unfortunately, the majority are unable to afford the very best of every kitchen or bathroom component and so settle on prioritizing what components to sink major dollars into and what components to let slide. A general rule regarding kitchens is those features which will receive the heaviest use are the items on which the homeowner should not skimp.
Countertops and appliances, of course receive the heaviest use and should never be overlooked. The most prominent feature which draws the most attention of any kitchen is always the countertop. There is almost an endless selection of sizes, shapes, colors, and materials to choose from when countertops are involved.
Some materials, although available, should not be used in a kitchen countertop application. The most durable of all materials for use in the kitchen is granite and engineered stone or quartz. Following is solid surface countertops available under several different brand names and then laminates at the bottom.
Laminate countertops are the most common throughout the entire nation. Most builders install laminate countertops due to its low price point and ease of working on-site with the material. For the most part, laminate countertops are very limited in character and style. While overall durability is passable, laminate countertops do not begin to approach the beauty, longevity, or durability of natural or engineered stone.
Granite is the premier material for kitchen and bathroom counter applications. Shapes, style, and finish vary and can be altered to the homeowner’s desire. There are an almost unlimited range of colors and choices with granite due to being 100% natural stone. Granite is naturally resistant to stain, heat, scratching, and other blemishes. No two granite countertops are the same in the entire world. This is not the cause for the higher price point.
Extracting granite from quarries is a complex and dangerous task requiring the use of explosives, industrial cranes, and cutting machines. Granite stone requires highly skilled craftsmen to shape and safely handle granite or any other natural stone. Except for diamonds, sapphires, topaz, and rubies, which are highly impractical for use in a kitchen, no other material is harder than granite. For this reason alone, highly specialized industrial machining is necessary to cut and work with the granite. After all is said and done, it is surprising the installation cost per foot is as inexpensive as it is.
Engineered stone or quartz countertops are another favorite for use in kitchens. Quartz is a key ingredient found in granite and therefore shares much of the same durability and longevity for quartz countertops which granite countertops are known to possess. The differences between granite and engineered stone are negligible and should not affect any decision making process.
Solid surface countertops are strictly man made synthetics with some natural elements integrated and are approximately the same price point of granite countertops regarding installation. Solid surface countertops are not as hard as granite and therefore can be dented or scratch more easily. When these accidental blemishes occur, they can be sanded and buffed out with relative ease, unlike granite or engineered stone countertops.
There are many other natural stone materials of which marble, limestone, and onyx are a few, but these stone materials are better suited to bathroom applications or fireplace hearths and mantles. Which ever material is utilized for a kitchen or bathroom upgrade, be sure to pay heed to the supplier’s maintenance instructions to ensure the beauty of the material will last for decades to come.
If you’re planning a kitchen remodel, or if you would like to update the look of your kitchen, there are many decisions that you’ll have to make when it comes to the look, feel and durability of your new countertops. You can give your kitchen a wonderful upgrade that will increase your home’s value and provide added appeal to your living space. Laminate, marble, quartz and granite are countertop materials that can give your kitchen the wow factor that you have in mind.
Laminate countertops have seen many upgrades from the more traditional Formica top. These are patterns and colors that look like real granite. The colors are natural and the texture can be seen through many different patterns. A nice advantage to choosing a laminate countertop is that the backsplash is usually built in, making sure there is no room for anything to fall behind or under the counter. Laminate countertops provide you with more options for the edges. You can add a wood piece in a bevel edge that compliments your cabinets, if you wish. A drawback to laminate countertops, however, is that they are not knife-friendly. Be sure to use a cutting board when slicing food on your laminate countertop because scratches and knicks will show. Furthermore, you’ll want to make sure you never place a hot dish or pan directly on the laminate surface because burn marks will be evident. Laminate countertops are the least expensive option.
Quartz is another choice for counter surfaces and it performs extremely well in a family kitchen. Most quartz products are made of 93% natural quartz, with the other 7% being man-made material. Quartz is scratch resistant as well as mildew resistant. The beauty of natural quartz stone can compliment the look of your cabinets and appliances nicely. Once you have made a color choice, a fabricator will measure the area and send you an estimate. The quartz countertop will be made to custom fit your cabinets and kitchen layout. Quartz countertops are significantly more expensive than laminate, however they are extremely more durable. You’ll never need to replace them because of scratches or dents.
Marble and granite countertops are the most expensive of all the materials, but the luxurious beauty that they can provide will shine through and make a your kitchen into a pristine living area. With granite or marble, a sealant should be applied to the countertop on a yearly basis in order to preserve the natural beauty. A professional will need to install this type of countertop to ensure it is customized to the specific needs of your kitchen. Be sure to wipe up any spills immediately because marble and granite can stain. If beauty and luxury are important to you, granite or marble may be the perfect choice for your new countertops. Choose a color and pattern that you like. Because of the high cost of granite and marble, you won’t be replacing these countertops any time soon.
Choose the countertop material that meets the specific needs of your family and lifestyle. Impress your friends and add value to your home. You’ll be surprised how much changing the countertops can make it seem like you’ve had a total kitchen remodel.