Home Design: Material World, 5 Kitchen Countertops
Every kitchen has countertops, yet oftentimes, not much thought goes into the vast array of materials available. As the workhorses of the kitchen, they should be able to stand up to wear and tear beyond their aesthetics. When making a selection, it’s important to consider the different characteristics of each material, how you’ll be using them in your own kitchen, how durable they need to be, and if you’re OK with a natural patina. To determine which countertop best suits you and your needs, weigh the pros and cons of these options.
Quartz countertops are created from a compound to your exact specifications, using a resin and particles of very finely ground quartz, and can be polished to a high shine and mimic the look of marble. Since it’s manufactured, you can get any color, pattern, texture, and finish imaginable. It’s also very durable; is resistant to scratches, chips, and breaks; won’t need to be sealed; and is non-porous, so it’s stain- and bacteria-resistant. Keep in mind, however, that quartz tends to be more expensive, and is not as heat-resistant as granite, tile, or concrete.
Granite is a natural stone that’s quarried from all over the world. It goes through an extensive polishing process to get shiny but can also be honed for a matte finish, and is considered one of the most beautiful countertop materials. Available in limited colors and natural patterns, you’ll likely search for the perfect slab to fit your home. Granite is eco-friendly—since it’s naturally harvested—has excellent durability, and is heat- and stain-resistant (if you take proper care of it). The major con is the sealing needed to maintain it. If it’s improperly sealed or you don’t reseal it when needed, it can become porous, which can lead to staining, bacteria, and possibly breaking. The maintenance is similar to that of marble, which also tends to be just as expensive as granite.
Butcher block is the most common and popular form of wood countertops, and is sometimes mixed with quartz or granite throughout the kitchen, like on the prep island or near the oven. Wood countertops can be made from reclaimed wood or bamboo for an eco-friendly option, add a warm and beautiful touch to any kitchen, and work well for those who enjoy baking and will be doing a lot of food preparation. You can also count on it being one of the least expensive countertop options. Wood tops do have to be sealed quite often to keep water out, as it can warp and pull apart the wood as well as hold bacteria in and stain.
Usually one thinks of concrete as being heavy and cumbersome, but new materials make it a light yet durable and trendy choice. Durability is, in fact, one of the biggest pros of concrete, as well as shape and size customization. You can also etch, stain, or press tiles into it. Concrete countertops require about as much sealing and maintenance as granite or marble, and can be expensive to install.
5) Solid Surface
Solid surface countertops are becoming extremely popular. Made from a synthetic material, like acrylic, you can get them in nearly any color, so they remain the most versatile and durable product out there. They can be patterned to mimic granite or quartz and yet don’t need the maintenance of those materials. They’re not porous and therefore won’t stain or hold bacteria; plus, they’re more affordable than their stone counterparts. You may find they’re not as heat-resistant as quartz and may scratch occasionally, but that can be fixed easily. While they don’t provide the same high shine and luxe look as stone, they do fit in well with a modern or traditional look.
By Kerrie L. Kelly, Fasid