Kitchen countertops can set the tone and look of the most important room in your home. Choose carefully when remodeling.
Today you have more choices than ever before with natural stone and manmade materials available in every color of the rainbow. New materials offer colors, patterns, and textures that can help you to achieve the perfect look to match your personal style.
While it's tempting to choose your countertop based on looks alone, you need to consider other factors like durability, maintenance, and cost before making your final choice.
Meeting your lifestyle needs
First, examine your needs and define a few parameters. Ask and answer some simple questions. First, how do you live?
- Do you have small children who love to fix their own snack after school? Maybe that stunning white Carrara marble might not be your best choice because it can stain!
- Do you love to prepare meals? Are you always chopping and mixing? Durable, beautiful granite might be a great choice.
- Are you looking for a sustainable, eco-friendly material? Bamboo is not only sustainable, but it also doesn't release any VOCs.
- Love to bake? Marble stays cool and is the perfect surface for kneading dough. Maybe that Carrara marble might work out after all!
Narrowing your countertop choices
With so many attractive options at all price points, the good news is that even if you have your heart set on a particular look but the material doesn't fit your lifestyle needs or budget, there's probably a reasonable substitution available.
Natural stone is the first choice for many homeowners, and granite is number one. Granite comes in a variety of colors, and due to the veining, each slab is unique. Granite comes in both polished and honed finishes. Polished granite is almost luminescent, while honed offers a softer matte look. Costs can vary widely. Locally mined more common stone is the most affordable, but exotic granite is available that rivals quartzite, onyx, and marble in it's color, depth, and beauty. It goes without saying that an exotic granite that ships once a year can be pretty pricey!
While granite is the most popular choice, there are many other natural stone options available. Marble, Soapstone, and limestone are all softer than granite and are prone to staining and etching, so they need to be oiled and sealed periodically to keep them looking their best. If you have the budget stones like onyx or quartzite are beautiful and exotic.
Man-made surfaces or engineered stone are another popular choice. Engineered stone is made using stone chips and dust combined with resins to bind them. They offer the look and feel of natural stone, are extremely hard and durable, and are available in every color imaginable. They fall within the same price range as common granite.
Solid Surface countertops can be an exquisite and practical choice. Popular with homeowners they come in a wide variety of colors. Solid surfaces are custom cut to fit your space, so there are no seams to catch debris and scratches are easily buffed out to return your countertops to like new condition. The one drawback is that solid surfaces do not take heat well and can be damaged by hot pots or pans.
Laminate is the most affordable option on the market. It comes in a variety of colors and designs. Unfortunately, while it is affordable, it is also easily scorched if a hot pan makes contact and it's easily scratched. That being said, new laminate countertops are being manufactured with highly scratch resistant surfaces.
A traditional material that can warm up your kitchen space, wooden countertops like butcher block or bamboo are easy to clean, and small scratches can be sanded out easily. Water can damage wood countertops, so you will need to oil them frequently to keep the surface sealed and your countertops in top shape.
Custom-made concrete countertops are a trendy new surface that can be customized with pigments, acid washed for a unique look and come in several different finishes. Concrete can be trowel finished for a smooth surface, ground to expose the sand aggregate or pressed to reveal a marble like veining. Concrete does need regular maintenance. Extreme temperature variations can cause warping or curling and damp sponges left on the counter can cause staining. Acids like vinegar can also etch the surface. To keep your countertops fresh and new concrete should be sealed up to four times a year and a high-quality paste wax applied every couple of months.
Details and custom designs
Finishing touches like custom edging can personalize your space and make a design statement. While square edges are standard, there are some decorative edges that can fit into any décor. Edges like bullnose, radius, beveled, egg and ogee can add additional cost, but there a great way to customize your kitchen. Edge styles depend on your countertop material.
Today designers are customizing counters to meet the specific needs of homeowners. Combining materials is becoming more popular, for example, granite counters on the main cabinets and a bamboo island countertop. Another popular trend is custom inserts. Love to bake? Consider an inlaid section of marble, the perfect surface for working dough. If you do a lot of chopping and food prep, what about adding a butcher block cutting station for preparing those rich winter soups and stews.
Before settling on a choice, the best bet is to speak with a design expert at Forward Design Build. They can help you to understand all of your options and show you examples of countertop materials so that you can get a sense of how the feel. With all of the excellent materials available today, with a little research, you're sure to find the perfect countertop to match your needs and budget.
Forward Design Build is a residential design-build firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan that is known for its commitment to craftsmanship and communication. We are committed to improving our neighbors quality of life with inspired design and creative remodeling. Our homes are highly functional, exquisitely beautiful, and remarkably comfortable. Contact us to speak with an expert about your new home or remodeling project.