What To Know When Choosing A Countertop Material

On average, half of the budget for a full kitchen renovation goes to the cost of material and installation of the countertop. That’s why it’s important to make the right choice before laying down cash for what could be an uninformed choice in the long run.

Finding the Best Counter Material For You

There are four key factors to consider when choosing a countertop.

  1. The desired aesthetic or look
  2. The level of maintenance required
  3. The durability
  4. The price

Finding the right material for you is easier once you find a balance between these four that you are personally comfortable with. To help you sort through your options, here are some pros and cons of the most popular and well loved materials on the market.

Natural Stone

Natural stone can mean anything from marble to limestone to slate, and each have their own individual differentiations, however, they all rank high in popularity (and price) for very good reasons.

Pros: Aesthetically, natural stone adds a luxurious class to any space. Installing natural stone is one of the only ways to raise the overall value of a home. Stone counters usually come in ten foot custom slabs, limiting the number of seams to deal with when cleaning or performing general maintenance, although it can be cut into tiles as seen in the backsplash below. Stone is incredibly durable and long lasting, making scratching, water damage, heat damage or staining much less of a concern.

Cons: The price is high. There’s no way around that fact. However, the high price reflects the established beauty and long-term durability that comes with the purchase.

Laminate

Laminate is a man made material consisting of kraft paper blended with resin and fused to particle board, that has long been used as a cost conscious countertop solution.

Pros: As laminate is man made, it can imitate pricier surfaces like marble or granite or provide rennovators with endless design options when it comes to color and customized creativity at a much lower cost. Laminate needs regular cleaning, but does not require any special treatment. It’s a great choice for a low budget solution to a much needed counter replacement.

Cons: Unfortunately, with the lower price tag comes a shorter lifespan. Scratching, burning, staining and even peeling become an issue, limiting viable years of use.

Solid Surface

A solid surface is a combination of acrylic and polyester materials that forms a solid, impermeable surface that is often used in kitchen and bath construction, and was originally sold under the name Corian.

Pros: A solid surface is a man made material, and therefore can be customized to mimic any natural or artificial look desired by a designer. It is also an easy maintenance surface with no need for sealing as it is nonporous already.

Cons: The price ranges from moderate to near what you would pay for natural stone, so using it as a lower cost alternative to granite may not be the logical choice. Solid surface materials are also less durable, and may scratch or stain with time.

Ceramic

Ceramic refers to an inorganic non metal that is shaped, fired and cooled to be created. When installed, ceramics are often held together by grout as seen below.

Pros: Ceramics have a classic vintage look to them, and with the right maintenance, can last much longer and are easier to fix than a singular piece like laminate. Ceramic tile comes in a wide variety of designs and, depending on your choice, is low cost and generally easy to install.

Cons: Although it’s easy to fix, ceramic tile is prone to chipping and requires regular maintenance and occasional sealing. When not sealed, staining on both grout lines and tile becomes a concern.

 

Wood

Butcher block counters and a great way to add personality to a space. They are generally cut from the harder woods, and appeal to someone with a rustic aesthetic in mind.

Pros: Butcher block counters are a moderately priced throwback to our grandmother’s and great grandmother’s kitchens, and are nothing if not durable in a well used and loved manner. If you’re concerned about wood counters not being as clean or eco-friendly as you would like them, check out bamboo (second photo). Bamboo grows at an incredible rate, making it one of the most sustainable materials in use. It also has a natural antimicrobial quality that will keep your counters from harboring any nasty bacteria.

Cons: Though they are beautiful, they are also high maintenance. Hardwood counters are not usually sealed,

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instead oils are regularly applied to keep the wood from looking dried out. Scratches happen, but aren’t a huge problem because of the aesthetic they bring and the fact that they can be easily sanded out of the surface. Another concern is warping, as kitchen counters are in contact with water on a regular basis, a concern that moisture will absorb into the wood and cause swelling and warping is a valid one.

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Concrete

Concrete has been used as countertop material for ages, however it is not until recently that it’s industrial look has come back into mass popularity.

Pros: Concrete is a moderately priced, durable solution to creating a unique industrial design. Then material is mixed and set in it’s custom shape prior to being installed providing a completely flat smooth surface. During this process, it can be customized by adding any one of a variety of substances such as color tinting or inlaid design elements.

Cons: Unfortunately, the more you customize, the higher the price can climb. Concrete is also slightly porous, making the maintenance a little more intensive, requiring regular sealing and waxing. Although it is stain and heat resistant like natural stone, cracking is a concern over time if not well cared for.

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3 Responses to “What To Know When Choosing A Countertop Material”

  1. […] What To Know When Choosing A Countertop Material « Denver Tile … […]

  2. Wood countertops remain a very popular choice for homeowners. Wood offers a natural beauty that will enhance the appearance of any kitchen or bathroom . But there are drawbacks to wood countertops too. Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of wood countertops that will help you evaluate them for use in your remodeling or new construction project.

  3. The installation of butcher block countertops is a little different than stone, laminate and tile countertops. Because wood is a natural and porous material you need to realize that there can be some expansion and contraction as seasons change and the air becomes more humid or dryer. Wood expands when it’s humid and takes on moisture and it contracts when it is drier and moisture is reduced.

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