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Kitchen countertops: five categorical options for beauty and durability

It can be challenging, even confusing, finding the right material for your countertops, which are the hardest working surfaces in your kitchen. In addition, there are considerations to keep in mind before choosing a countertop based solely on appearance. A countertop should be durable, scratch resistant, heat resistant, water resistant, stain resistant, easy to clean, and attractive. This brief guide reviews five categories of materials selected for their perfect combination of practicality and beauty. There are many material options (natural, manufactured or engineered) for countertops that can be installed as a solid surface or applied to a backing such as veneer.

The material you choose can influence the type of sink you want, whether it’s a built-in, drop-in or undermount. An integrated sink will only work with stainless steel or solid surface materials, like Corian. An undermount sink is the most versatile and can be used with any type of countertop material, and an undermount sink also works with any material except wood.

Also consider textures and edges, as your choice of material will affect these as well. You’ll want to research all of the border styles for your choice and check the sharpness and thickness of the profile.

A combination of two materials can be a solution when you are considering tasks to be performed on that countertop. While you can choose granite or ceramic for most countertops, you may want a wooden section for chopping, cutting, and slicing, or marble for rolling out cakes and making candy. The combination of two materials can be worked into the design and provide the best solution, where one type of material is for a work area and another for cleaning or eating. In fact, countertops affect the look of the entire kitchen and can make a dramatic design statement.

1. Stone: Granite, Marble and Limestone

Granite, marble, and limestone may be the most expensive option, but they are the best choice for their beauty and practicality. They will last forever with proper care. Granite is the leading choice within this category. Stone can be installed as a solid surface, but a more reasonable installation can be done as granite or limestone tile with tight grout lines.

Granite exudes elegance in a kitchen, and as its use has become more widespread, prices have come down. Stone updates even the most modest kitchen. It resists heat and comes in a range of colors. It is substantial and will last a lifetime. It can have a matte finish such as “honed” or a bright polished finish. New sealers are almost maintenance-free, but granite may require periodic sealing and some stones, particularly marble, can absorb stains despite being properly sealed. Granite has the second highest hardness rating after diamonds, but any stone can crack if stressed during shipping or installed incorrectly. Stone offers high value to home buyers and granite kitchen countertops in particular are elegant and timeless.

2. Quartz and acrylic based: engineered stone and “solid surface”

Countertops made from engineered stone are made up of 93% quartz particles. Engineered stone offers a wider range of colors than granite and has a non-porous surface that resists scratches. Engineered stone is not as popular as granite and is often mistaken for granite, but the regular consistency of the pattern gives it away as man-made. In fact, engineered stone has all the benefits of granite but is easier to maintain, without the annual sealing required by natural stone. It is more expensive than granite or stone. Engineered stone brands include Silestone, DuPont Zodiaq, LG Viatera, and Cambria Quartz.

Like quartz-based engineered stone countertops, there are seamlessly manufactured acrylic-based countertops that are referred to as “solid surface” countertops. While they also offer a wide variety of colors, patterns, and finishes, they do not have the natural look of stone. They resist stains, moisture, sunlight and heat, and inhibit the growth of mold and bacteria. However, they are vulnerable to hot pans and stains that can damage the surface. Solid Surface countertops are custom made and their acrylic material can be molded to include a built-in sink for seamless installation. Solid surface countertop brands include Avonite, Corian, and Swanstone.

The term “Solid Surface” for this category of acrylic-based material is confusing. These countertops are so called because they are simply “solid”. However, they are solid, custom-made, fabricated, seamless countertops, just like quartz-based engineered stone countertops. Also, the term is doubly confusing since stone (granite, marble, limestone) and wood (butcher block) countertops are also seamless “solid” countertops, as opposed to sheet metal countertops like laminate or tile.

3. Tile: Ceramic, Aluminum and Copper

Although ceramic tile seems old-fashioned as a countertop material, it has many advantages. It is durable, economical and easy to clean. Ceramic tile countertops are usually installed one section at a time and most people can easily work with the materials. Ceramic finishes are great because they accept hot pans, are easy to clean, and are available in several different textures. The only downsides are that the grout between the tiles can be difficult to clean, the tiles can chip and crack, and the surface can be uneven. In addition to ceramic tiles, tiles also come in aluminum and copper for a great new look in either brushed or smooth textures. Also, tiles can be set in various sizes and patterns such as squares, meter blocks, and angled like diamonds. Backsplashes can have unique designs and mosaic tiles.

4 stainless steel

To give your kitchen the look of a serious chef at work, or a contemporary industrial design, stainless steel countertops will work for you. This material is extremely heat resistant and durable, and it’s easy to precisely build countertops to your specifications as a seamless surface. While they are easy to clean, on the downside, they can get dented and can be very expensive.


Contemporary and industrial concrete countertops offer another option that combines function and sleek modern design. These can be built and molded right in your kitchen and can be colored. New treatments reduce porous character and eliminate cracking. The concrete is heat and scratch resistant, and the look is exotic and unusual, a nice twist on the modern design theme.

In short, they are kitchen countertop options for all styles and all pockets. Any of the five material options for your new or remodeled kitchen will add character and beauty to your hard-working kitchen surface. Your choice will define your kitchen as the worktop is the center of all kitchens. These options have a proven track record of durability and beauty. While there are other options, like laminates that scratch, edge lift, and look cheap, or solid wood surfaces that can be porous, scratched, and high-maintenance, these five categorical options alone will increase the value of your home. home while surviving scratches. , food and water spills to maintain a clean, elegant and decorative appearance.

(c) 2012 Elizabeth McMillian

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