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March 30, 2014

Guide to Kitchen Countertop Materials

concrete-countersMaking decisions on a remodeling project can be overwhelming. Countertops are one of the main focal points in the kitchen and can add elements of elegance and a natural feel to your design. The materials that you use play a large part in the overall design and can effect how you function within the space; therefore, these decisions should be considered carefully. Budget, durability, and overall design all play a big role in the material that you choose.

Choosing the Right Materials

Stone

The most popular choice is granite. Many choose this when no other factors need to be considered. Granite is expensive, however it is the most elegant choice for a kitchen countertop. Granite is heat resistant, lasts a lifetime, comes in over 3,000 colors, and has a very high value for home buyers. This investment is a very expensive endeavor but can make a space look classic as well as return the investment in a future sale.

Solid Surfaces

This material is engineered in a solid and therefore can be sanded down if any scratches or stains occur. The countertop can be customized to the design specifications for your kitchen. This is also a seamless design which has a classic look and can be fit into many spaces or existing shapes. This surface is stain resistant, but can be susceptible to hot pots and pans. Some of the most popular companies that design solid surface countertops are Avonite, Swanstone, and Corian.

Plastic Laminate

Inexpensive, durable and easy to clean, laminate is a great choice for a remodel on a budget. This material is made in many colors and is cut to the size and shape of your existing countertops for a resurface option.

Ceramic Tile

Tile can be a good option if the design elements match with the remainder of pre-existing kitchen. Tile is an expensive option, but comes in thousands of colors, designs and shapes. The surface is heat resistant, but is uneven and grout can get stained. Tile is also expensive to repair, if it becomes cracked (happens relatively easy with a tiled countertop).

Butcher Block/Wood

Wood or butcher block countertop surfaces have become more popular over the past few years. The warm colors and stain choices can bring a natural element into a kitchen design and work to compliment floors and cabinet colors. The surface can be stained and sealed as needed, as well as repaired when scratches or accidental stains occur. However, because it’s a natural element, the wear & tear is more frequent and the surface is less durable overall. Butcher Block also allows for your countertop work space to be expanded farther than your cutting board. The entire surface can be used and can create more area in your design.

Concrete

The unique benefit of concrete countertops is the extreme versatility for homeowners. Concrete is easily customizable, can be molded with just about any size and shape, and is a great option if you are seeking an earthy, natural appearance. Additionally, concrete is a more eco-friendly option compared to other petroleum based, unsustainable synthetic materials. However, along with a custom, handmade product, concrete countertops also come with a premium labor cost.

Stainless Steel

The most contemporary and modern design material that can be chosen is stainless steel. This material comes with its costs however. Customizable, and heat resistant for hot pans, this surface is easy to clean however cannot be used as a cutting board. It also can be easily dented and only comes in the one variety. This material does not mix well with wood cabinets and requires other modern design elements.

Marble

Extremely expensive and constantly needing upkeep, this material can be out of reach for many home remodeling projects. However, if you’re able to afford this type of material, it can provide an elegance and beauty because of the classic stone texture and colors that other materials cannot achieve.

Other Considerations

Color

A popular idea for remodeling in the kitchen, the color you choose can make a bold statement. When considering color, you can add it into many of the materials, but make sure that you take into account the other elements in the kitchen. Appliance color, cabinet material, and flooring can be big factors when choosing a accent color for your countertops. Don’t be afraid to consult a professional if you are in need of some overall ideas to tie in all of your elements.

Eco-Friendly/Food Safe

Many consumers are looking into green materials that can be used throughout their kitchen surfaces. Bamboo flooring is popular, as well as water-based adhesives for laminate surfaces. There are many materials and manufacturers that are prioritizing the environment as they make and install elements. If this is on the top of your list as well, make sure you check into all of your options because it can be pricey. For more info, check out these 10 eco-friendly options to consider.

Matching Floors and Cabinets

When considering the material for your countertop, make sure that you also take into consideration the other elements, such as flooring & cabinet colors. If it’s an entirely new remodel, then starting from scratch and picking out complimentary elements is easy. Many choose to compliment cabinet color with floors (if hardwood) and then create a neutral tone for the counter tops. However, for a more contemporary kitchen design, choosing a colored countertop can add in a catchy element among stainless steel appliances and white cabinets. If using pre-existing elements, bring in samples to test out and determine how the new countertop will look among the elements that are staying. Avoid clashing designs and patterns, and think of the bigger picture, especially if there is an open floor plan where the overall design of the room is greatly altered based on one element in the kitchen.

Zillow.com has many great pictures of how others are designing their kitchens, check them out for inspiration. Let us know of other sources of inspiration in the comments below!

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