Let’s Talk About Kitchen Countertops
Choosing kitchen countertops or countertops for your bath, laundry room, or home remodeling project requires an in-depth look at your needs and likes. There are so many beautiful countertop options and styles for you to see at our Long Island kitchen showroom. Each countertop material has distinct characteristics whether it be granite, marble, quartz/engineered stone, wood, stainless steel, copper, concrete, or glass. When you are remodeling, the countertops you choose will have a tremendous impact on the overall design of the room. You also want the countertops to be durable, easy to clean, stain resistant, and attractive. To help you make an educated choice about the right material for you, we have highlighted some key points you will want to consider about popular countertop materials.
Granite kitchen countertops are still the most popular countertop choice in our market. It is the benchmark of what people expect to spend on a counter. Budgets start there, and then alternatives are looked at above or below the price of granite. It is very elegant, and the beauty of the stone is stunning with almost any cabinetry you choose. It is extremely durable and heat resistant. Granite is a natural stone that comes in a range of beautiful colors. An important consideration is that granite is a natural rock, variable by nature, and the color or pattern will NOT be consistent; therefore, there can be surface pits in the rock. Yet, this is what makes granite countertops so beautiful — every counter is like a work of art. You should seal granite once a year, and depending on edge design of the stone you select, know that edges may chip due to normal wear and tear around the sinks and dishwashers where heavy pots may hit the edges going in and out. Some stone is harder and may not chip at all.
Engineered Stone/Quartz Countertops
Engineered Stone/Quartz Countertops are available in a dazzling range of colors and have a nonporous scratch-resistant surface. For those who love the look of granite but are concerned with its lack of consistency, Quartz is a very hard material and can give you a natural stone look with consistent color and texture throughout the quartz countertop. Each slab looks the same, which helps minimize the visible seams that you will get in granite countertop installations. Quartz is easy to maintain and doesn’t require the annual sealing required by natural stone.
Wood or Butcher Block Countertops
Wood or Butcher Block Countertops can add a beautiful, warm look to any room design. Wood tops are not all equal, and different configurations affect the price. For example, wide board plank is more expensive, medium planks will be slightly less, and end-grain will be the least expensive. Other things that affect price are the edge profile and the thickness profile. For example, the more detailed the shape of the edge profile, the higher the premium, and the same is true for thicker profiles. The type of wood and the finish you choose are all important considerations. Butcher block is typically maple but is sometimes made of cherry or oak or even a mixture of several types of wood. You can chop and dice on butcher block but your slice marks will show. Other wood counter options include bamboo, mahogany, cherry, or teak. There are pros and cons of using different finishes such as a sealer or a mineral oil. A polyurethane finish is durable initially but might not be the best choice if you’re putting food on it. Polyurethane also requires the maintenance of resanding and resealing.
Concrete countertops in our market are typically cast on the job site. They are about the same price as granite but can be even be more, which is typically due to the installation fees rather than the material cost. Each counter has to have a custom mold made, but the advantage is that the counter can be formed into any unique shape. We have used concrete in both modern and rustic kitchens and have added color-tinted elements and inlays for an exotic appearance. Concrete is heat and scratch resistant, and requires periodic sealing to keep it stain resistant.
Metal counters such as stainless steel, copper, and zinc will give your kitchen a modern or industial feel. Think of stainless as you would think of your stainless sink. That is the way it will look. It is heat resistant, durable, sanitary, and easy to clean. It can scratch, so you won’t want to cut on it. Water spotting, dents, and fingerprints can occur. Some clients opt for brushed or textured finishes that help hide scratches. Stainless can be noisy but can be insulated to absorb some of the sound. Other metals like copper or zinc countertops are an option, but not too many people are willing to live with the downsides such as spotting. If you are looking for an old world look this is a beautiful option. If you want it to look perfect all the time, but don’t want to be a slave to it, then metal countertops might not be the right choice for you.
Glass countertops are a nice choice as are glass backsplashes. Glass gives you the ability to showcase color in an artistic style, incorporate texture and shape, and reflect light. Glass shows less dust and fingerprints, particularly if there is texture in the surface. There are numerous choices in color finishes and patterns. We have installed glass countertops up to 1 1/2 inches thick, and these countertops are wonderful for outdoor applications when backlit. Glass is the least porous and is hygienic but it can scratch like most countertop materials. Our designers will engineer the supports needed to properly hold the weight of a glass countertop. A beautiful look is a smooth top and textured bottom.
Marble countertops are more porous than granite and will have to be sealed by an experienced stone fabricator. Some marbles are more conducive to being used in a kitchen and are less fragile, so we would guide you in choosing the appropriate marble for the room you intend to use it in. If you are using marble for a table area as opposed to a task area, then you could get away with a more fragile piece. Marble can be expensive and requires regular maintenance since it is susceptible to staining and chipping. Marble is waterproof, heat resistant, and extremely beautiful, but it is porous.
Soapstone countertops are a cross between marble and granite. We have used them in both old world and modern homes. The finish is smooth and deep in color (grays, greens, and blacks). You will often find soapstone used in farmhouse sinks. It is mostly stain resistant but requires regular maintenance with mineral oil. It is softer than granite, but it still is a great counter to work on.
Ceramic Tile Countertops
Ceramic tile countertops are relatively inexpensive and can have a nice look; however, there are several drawbacks including that the grout lines can stain, the tile can chip or crack, and the surface is not smooth. Generally speaking, we don’t see much demand, and this choice is not as popular in our area. We have, however, used ceramic tile in smaller side buffets. Ceramic tile is durable and stands up well to heat. It comes in a wide variety of colors textures, designs, and prices.
Corian countertops have an appearance similar to stone and can be molded and formed into almost any contour or shape. The color or pattern is consistent all the way through and can be perfectly integrated creating an illusion of a solid, seamless surface. Our original installations of Corian included only four different shades of white and beige, but we now use Corian in a wide palate of colors and patterns. Corian can also be used for inlays. We have used certain colors in outdoor kitchens because their translucency allows us to backlight them. We recently completed an outdoor kitchen that gives the client the ability to select the color of the illumination in the Corian counter with an optional setting that allows for multiple colors to bounce to the beat of the music or DJ. Corian is stain resistant and easy to clean. It is considered heat resistant, but we suggest that you avoid direct heat exposure to protect the surface. Corian countertops can be scratched, so use a cutting board. Shallow scratches can be removed with mild abrasives or a Scotch-Brite pad.
Paper countertops are considered one of the greenest architectural surfaces on the market today, although not hugely popular in our area. Paper countertops are made from recycled paper and proprietary, petroleum-free phenolic resins that are pressed and baked to create solid sheets. They are often used for cutting boards and are a nice option for smaller counters such as laundry rooms. Paper countertops are stain resistant when properly finished but can potentially stain (i.e. red wine, mustard). Damage that does occur may be repaired by lightly refinishing the material. A yearly application of mineral oil or an approved finish will help keep this countertop looking new.
Slate countertops are a natural nonporous and heat resistant stone. Slate countertops fit well in both traditional and modern kitchens. With slate counters, there are limited color choices — most with tones of green, gray, red, brown, purple, and black. There are many types of slates that need no sealing for preventing stains. Slate stone countertops are scratch resistant. Mild scratches on slate countertops can be removed with just with a damp cloth or steel wool. The edges are usually simple, with the sharpness taken off the edge. Slate looks beautiful in a matt honed finish. The honing process produces a warm, durable, and natural surface. Although low maintenance, we recommend use of mineral oil to protect a slate counter.
Laminate countertops used to rule the countertop kingdom before we had so many choices. Laminate offers a seemingly endless combination of vibrant colors, patterns, and textures. Certain designs can replicate the look of granite or engineered stone. Laminates combine paper and resin pressed and bonded (laminated) together under high pressure and heat. It is reasonably durable and easy to maintain. Laminates are inexpensive, low-maintenance, and easy to clean. They are susceptible to damage from sharp knives and hot pans. You will need to use a cutting board, and you can’t clean laminate counters with abrasive cleansers or steel wool. Dark lines may show at the edges; and if you damage an area, it is difficult to repair.
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