Great kitchen countertops are a key ingredient in a top-notch kitchen that is both warm and inviting, yet also functional. Here’s a quick guide to the most common material types, their strengths and weaknesses.
The current king: Granite. For the last fifteen years, granite has dominated the kitchen counter market. It is a tough, durable stone and there are seemingly endless patterns and colors. It is highly resistant to scrapes, cuts and stains, but it can chip, though choosing a rounded edge will minimize the chances. The only periodic maintenance is redoing the clear seal on it.
Quartz and quartzite. Quartz and quartzite counters are rising in popularity. What is the difference between the two? Quartz is a manufactured material made of an aggregate of quartz crystals and a polymer bonding adhesive. Quartzite is cut straight from the earth. Quartz is sealed and periodically needs resealing, whereas quartzite needs no sealer. With both, the look is elegant and unique. Both are also highly resistant to scratches and stains. Silestone is a similar product made with quartz and is extremely popular. However, some professionals have concerns that hot pans can cause damage to the bonding material.
The elegance of marble. Another beautiful, natural stone look is marble, lending an elegance to a kitchen. It is more prone to scratching and chipping, and like granite, needs periodic resealing to protect it from staining.
Concrete. If you’ve ever liked stained concrete floors you might like the same look with concrete counters. They are, however, more prone to scratching and staining. They can settle and develop hairline cracks.
Recycled glass. This style takes recycled pieces of colored glass and binds them together into unique patterns for a gorgeous look. The pieces can be pea sized or finely ground. It is resistant to heat and scratches but stains can be absorbed by the bonding material.
Bamboo. If you are looking for a wood counter, consider bamboo. It has a very nice look. Bamboo grows in almost limitless abundance worldwide so it is environmentally friendly. It is a hard wood but nevertheless can scratch, burn and stain.
Butcher Block. Like bamboo, it makes for a beautiful wood counter, but it is very prone to scratches and stains.
Solid Surface. For some time, solid surface countertops such as Corian ruled the marketplace. Recently taking a back seat to granite and quartz, solid surface still is a great option for its resistance to stain, scratches and fading. This acrylic polymer is solid all the way through and is available in an array of colors and patterns. Damage can be repaired easily with light sanding or gentle scrubbing.
Laminate. Though it fell out of favor over the years, laminate has been improved by manufacturers. It now comes in gorgeous looks and the telltale ugly seam lines at the edge have been rounded to be far more appealing. Resistant to stains and heat, it is nevertheless prone to scratching. The price is right, as laminate is the cheapest of the counter choices.