Kitchen countertops come in a wide range of styles, colors, materials, textures… and price points. The options give homeowners a lot of great choice in determining the look and feel of their own kitchens, but with so many options to choose from, it can be hard to nail down exactly which kitchen countertop is best for you. Here’s some information you need to make the right kitchen countertop choice for your home.
Think about wear and tear
Owners of high-use, high-traffic kitchens should be very careful in choosing their kitchen countertops, as not all are made equal. Some countertop materials are just more sturdy, heat-resistant, and stain-resistant than others. Butcher block, as an example, is probably not a good choice for the busy family kitchen. While it can make a space feel warm and welcoming, it stains very easily, is not heat-resistant, and needs to be waxed and re-stained at regular (almost monthly) intervals to keep it looking fresh. Ultimately, it’s not worth the fuss if you expect your countertops might take a daily beating. Tile countertops pose a similar issue: while the tile itself may be heat and stain resistant, grout lines can stain very easily and can trap icky germs and food particles over time.
The hardiest choices for the busy kitchen are likely granite and quartz. Granite has been a go-to kitchen countertop options for decades: it comes in a wide range of styles and colors, is heat and stain-resistant, and nearly impossible to cheap. Granite needs re-sealing periodically – a few years in and your granite shows signs of staining if not sealed properly. But it’s otherwise virtually indestructible. Granite can be a little pricy but is well worth the investment if yours is an active kitchen.
Quartz, however, has emerged onto the scene as a new and equally durable option, and is available at Marble. Though not technically a “natural stone” (quartz is a composite of ground quartz and resin), it still very much retains the look and feel of natural stone countertops, as well as the durability. Quartz is heat-resistant and stain-resistant. It does not require re-sealing, waxing, or any type of maintenance post-installation. And though it may scratch (if you really try hard enough), it’s about as sturdy as a countertop can be without actually being granite or marble. Quartz has become a highly popular option in the last few years and as a result, there are quartz countertops of various styles to fit any budget and any kitchen.
The casual cook has a little more choice
But perhaps yours is not a high-activity kitchen: perhaps yours is a romantic space made for periodic entertaining and not to be put to the test regularly. If so you’re lucky: you’ve got a bit more options. The chef who’s concerned less with durability and more with style may consider choosing marble countertops. Marble is an exquisitely beautiful and incredibly durable natural stone. It’s slightly more porous than granite and is therefore not stain-resistant. But the cautious chef who wipes up spills quickly and avoids leaving standing water on countertops should get along just fine with it.
Other, porous natural stones might also be a fun option for the casual chef. Limestone comes in beautifully crisp whites and creams, and can give a kitchen a heightened sense of style and luxury. Soapstone is a unique choice as well: as the name suggests, it is rather soft like a piece of soap. Don’t let that you fool you though – it is still very durable.
Some designers are looking outside the box
For those interested in installing kitchen countertops that make their space stand out above the rest, there are some really fun choices available today. Butcher block has come back in style, and with good reason: it lends a warm, shabby-chic feel to a space and can make one feel like a true Parisian Chef-de-Cuisine. Another unique and authentic-feeling choice is stainless steel. Stainless steel has long been used in commercial kitchens as it is incredibly easy to clean and relatively inexpensive to buy in bulk. Designers have caught wind and are now introducing stainless steel countertops into the home kitchen. Be warned though: these scratch and ding easily, and absolutely show smudge marks and fingerprints; therefore, need to be cleaned often.
Finally, the poured concrete countertop is always a fun choice for the adventurous chef looking for an industrial feel in their space. Concrete countertops are incredibly hardy, heat-resistant and generally stain-resistant, and are difficult to chip (though it is possible). If you’re considering installing poured concrete countertops, let a professional do the work: concrete countertops need to cure for extended periods and are incredibly heavy. It’s also no easy task: concrete needs to be poured delicately to avoid bubbles or uneven surfaces. It’s best to let a professional handle it so that the results are immaculate.
With so many choices today it can be difficult to decide which kitchen countertop is right for your space. Just keep in mind the wear and tear that the space is likely to endure, your budget, and your willingness to be a little adventurous, and all should be fine.