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Choosing Between 11 Common Types Of Countertop Materials
Choosing the materials for kitchen countertops are often compared to choosing the types of flooring for the house.
But other than both of them having a hard surface, they are actually incomparable.
While the flooring is is a part of the house that you will make contact with most of the time, the countertop is a place where a lot of intense activity takes place.
It constantly gets splashed with water, grazed with knives, slammed by glassware, holds cups and plates with very hot water and food, etc.
So a lot of considerations have to be put into choosing materials for kitchen countertops.
Don’t get me wrong. A lot of thought has to be put into flooring choices. But flooring is more for aesthetics while countertops are more for both aesthetics and practicality.
Here are the pros and cons of the most popular countertop materials that homeowner tend to build.
Granite has an expensive appearance while being extremely durable.
It don’t just take hits and knocks well, it is also highly heat resistant.
And when finished and sealed well, it can be so stain resistant that you would be able to permanently stain even if you tried.
It brushes off chemicals like dishwasher liquid with little adverse effects, reaffirming it amazingly long lifespan.
Design-wise, they are available in all types of styles and colors and each slab of granite is unique.
They feel premium to the touch and are the preferred choice of households should their budget be able to accommodate it.
This brings us to the main drawback of granite.
It is almost always about price. If you find a contractor or supplier who has quoted you a price that seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Another disadvantage is that while it is extremely sturdy, it can be very difficult to repair should it be damaged.
For extended longevity, homeowners should reseal a granite counter top every few years.
With the beauty of granite countertops, it almost seems that there can be no other that will be able to edge it.
But marble is absolutely gorgeous to look at. And for some natural and scientific reason, they get even more beautiful as they age.
There is just something about marble countertops that make a kitchen look elegant.
They are also highly heat resistant with a very long shelf life.
The choice of marble is often due to a homeowner prioritizing form over substance.
Not that it has no substance. But granite would be just that little more practical than marble as it’s a little cheaper.
More than that, marble is more susceptible to staining compared to granite.
It is also not as insensitive to chemicals as granite while it can also be challenging to repair.
Marble in white is known to turn slightly yellowish after a few years.
And just like granite, it should also be resealed frequently to prolong it’s lifespan.
Quartz is amusingly more expensive than granite.
Material wise, it is more affordable than marble. But installation costs for quartz might be higher compared to marble.
The biggest reason people choose quartz, even at it’s high prices, is that it is so durable that it’s virtually maintenance-free.
While it is not necessary to seal them, doing so makes it non-porous.
Exceptionally resistant to stains and scratches, they also hold their own against chemicals very well.
The main disadvantage of quartz is that it’s not as heat resistant as marble and granite to heat.
And just like the other two materials mentioned so far, damage will be tough to repair.
4) Stainless steel
Stainless steel has been making it’s presence felt in more and more modern kitchens.
It can sure blend in to kitchen design very well because of the many premium electrical appliance made with a stainless steel finish.
In some ways, it can also enhance the overall look of a kitchen if stainless steel silver is part of the design’s intention.
They are as good as 99.99% stain-proof and chemicals will have little effect on it.
On top of that, due it’s material characteristic that doesn’t promote bacterial growth, it has a more hygienic feature as well.
Just be mindful should you order them as they can get pretty expensive.
The biggest problem with them is that they are prone to scratches and can be a fingerprint magnet like the latest smartphones.
More than that, they can be noisy when installed improperly with bad workmanship.
And while they have high tolerance to heat, they also transfer it very well. This means that the heat from a hot bowl of soup might be felt on an area of the countertop surface inches away.
When you love granite but cannot convince yourself to spend all that money, a contractor would usually recommend soapstone as the best alternative.
The retain the attractiveness of granite and also add a certain rustic and retro style to it.
They can be a great selection for old houses when homeowner want to retain the classic look.
More importantly, they are inexpensive when you compare them against the premium range of countertop materials.
They are pretty capable of withstanding heat, stains, and chemicals. And can be hygienic too as with stainless steel.
However, they are not as durable as the top-of-the-line materials as they tend to chip and scratch easily.
Some people choose to oil it to alter it appearance. If you choose to do that, take note that it might be costly to maintain it.
Glass don’t just look pretty, they can have a premium feel to it as well.
They are naturally nonporous and stain resistant.
While they can be fragile, modern technology and manufacturing breakthroughs have made glass less and less brittle.
They are generally strong when they are fabricated with at least an inch of thickness.
However, glass is still glass and can break when you smash something on the table accidentally, putting them in the hazardous category.
Do avoid glass if there are children in the house.
Other than being a fingerprint maker, it is also not as heat resistant you some might prefer.
Limestone is often a cheaper alternative for remodeling projects where the owners desire marble but cannot afford it.
Just like marble, it can last for a very long time and heat resistant.
They can be just as alluring as marble but require much more regular maintenance work.
This is because they can be easy to scratch and stain. Because of the way it is put together, it can also trap food residue. Making it a potential hotbed for bacterial growth.
It does’t hold up very well to chemicals as well.
A variant of limestone is travertine.
They are a little cheaper than the original while retaining it’s good looks.
The compromise is that it’s less durable, making it necessary to conduct maintenance tasks more regularly.
For households seeking the cheapest type of countertop material, there no other options more cost-effective than laminate.
You basically purchase the design you like and apply it on from pasting with glue.
The biggest advantage of laminates, other than the affordability is that they can be easily replaced with little regret.
Whether you need to tear off an existing one and install a new one or paste a new design over it, you can easily get over it as they are so affordable.
However, they are not resistant to heat, can easily crack, and you would be lucky if it does not start corroding within 2 years.
Anyway, you can replace them with little fanfare when their lifespan expires.
Concrete is probably the most old-fashioned of materials.
Nevertheless, it has it’s charisma for the right type of home design.
They are not cheap, yet inexpensive as well. They are priced in a range that most people would classify as average.
They do well with heat and can be customize to any shape or form the homeowner desires.
Because of this level of customization involved, they can be built seamless too.
While they are durable, they can crack easily when it is built with bad workmanship.
The moment you think about tiles, you might think of concrete.
But when it comes to kitchen countertops, tiles are ceramic by design.
Just like laminates, they can be very affordable and easy to install.
In addition, they can be easy to repair.
The biggest pitfall of tiles is that the end product after installation can be uneven with grout lines that traps food items and easily stains.
Also known as butcher block, wood is also highly customizable and simple to repair when damaged.
A wood countertop can offer that timeless look especially when you are using a resort style design theme.
Consider that they can be sanded, finished, and cut.
When used with compatible interior design, they can look majestically aesthetic.
But with wood comes a host of maintenance issues.
They can be prone to dents and scratches, water is an arch enemy, and can house bacterial growth within the cracks.
Choosing the best countertop material
Selecting a material is just a the start. Because you will then be faced with the decision of what type of edges for the countertop.
There is a big variety of standard edges available like bullnose, cove, ogee, bevel, depont, etc.
There is also a wide selection for laminated edges like mitered, square, chiseled, etc.
Even so, the most basic straight edge tend to be the most popular.
Finally, be mindful that there are 3 main factors in choosing kitchen countertop material.
Weigh them up and carefully decide which factors are most critical for your home.
While more expensive and premium materials can be more worthwhile over the long term, also remember that a mistake in planning will be more costly as well.