A kitchen or bathroom countertop is likely one of the hardest used surfaces in your home. When it comes time to choose or replace it, there are a number of factors that should be considered. Although the aesthetic appeal may feel most important at first glance, ponder the following questions before starting your search.
- What is my primary reason for purchasing this countertop?
- What is my maximum budget?
- What level of durability is necessary for this countertop location?
- How much maintenance am I willing to contribute?
- Is there a wide range of options to choose from?
- Do I have the skills and tools necessary for a DIY installation?
To help simplify the decision-making process, we’re presenting the most popular and trendy countertop options, outlining the pros and cons for each choice, and summarizing the primary reason for selecting each one.
QUARTZ: Quartz is an engineered stone, created to become a better alternative to granite or marble. It can be custom fabricated with a large range of color options. It continues as a top trend because it is non-porous (requiring no sealant), is scratch and stain resistant, and is easy to maintain and clean. Quartz is one of the more expensive countertop options and is typically not DIY friendly.
CHOOSE QUARTZ … if you are looking for the best overall countertop material and you have an ample budget.
GRANITE: Granite is considered a luxury countertop choice. Although it can be expensive, the cost has decreased in recent years. With a wide variety of options, it is strong and durable and withstands heat, making it a great kitchen option. It can be buffed to a glossy shine and adds real estate value to a home. Because it is porous, it will require occasional resealing, and it can crack if not properly installed. It is best to hire a professional.
CHOOSE GRANITE … if you prefer a more elegant, high-end look for your kitchen and want to increase your real estate value.
MARBLE: Marble is a wonderfully unique material. No two sheets are the same, with each having its own unique graining. While it is waterproof and heatproof, it also scratches and stains easily and can be difficult to repair. Because of its high cost, it is often used for just a section of a kitchen, such as an island or a baking station. It is considered a benefit when it comes to resale of your home.
CHOOSE MARBLE … if your primary goal is to achieve a distinctly unique look for your kitchen.
WOOD/BUTCHER BLOCK: Wood countertops have increased in popularity in recent years. They offer a warm, quaint look and are generally affordable. With a wide range of colors and finishes, they can be sanded and resealed as needed, making them a long-lasting option. They do require regular resealing or oiling, but they can be easily cleaned and maintained with regular household cleaners. Wood countertops show water damage and should not be used for direct food preparation due to bacteria. It is not recommended that you use wood in a bathroom.
CHOOSE WOOD … if your home has a relaxed, country vibe.
SOAPSTONE: Soapstone is a natural product, typically dark gray in color with varied veining. It is non-porous, which makes it healthy and safe, and it is considered durable and stain resistant. While it is a softer material, scratches can easily be sanded out. It requires regular treatment with mineral oil and develops an antique-like patina over time. A DIY installation is not recommended.
CHOOSE SOAPSTONE … if you have a historic home and prefer materials that are environmentally healthy.
STAINLESS STEEL: Stainless steel counters have increased in popularity with the trend toward contemporary, industrial kitchens. Some of its merits include that it is heat resistant, seamless, durable, and easy to clean. Stainless steel is a more expensive option and can be noisy depending on its usage. While it scratches easily, you will get a good return on your investment with this material.
CHOOSE STAINLESS STEEL … if you have a modern kitchen and prefer clean lines and easy maintenance.
CONCRETE: Concrete countertops are considered unusual and offer the possibility of unique decorative features. They can be color tinted to match your kitchen and are relatively durable as well as heat and scratch resistant. Because of its porous nature, it will require regular resealing. It is also prone to crack if not properly formed, so it is best to hire a professional, although the cost is primarily due to labor rather than materials.
CHOOSE CONCRETE … to create a one-of-a-kind look.
LAMINATE: Laminate countertops are made of particle board covered with a plastic-coated synthetic material. Historically they are considered a low-end option, but with an increase in color and pattern options, they are steadily on the rise. Laminate is inexpensive, easy to clean and maintain, and DIY possible. Visible seams and dents or scratches can inhibit resale.
CHOOSE LAMINATE … if you own a rental property or are living in a temporary home.
With all the countertop options on the market, knowing your criteria before beginning your search will save you a lot of time and stress. As with all design choices, this is another way to express your unique personality while creating a home that best fits your own personal needs.