Choosing The Ideal Counter Top Material For Your Kitchen Remodel
The kitchen is the heart of your home, and you naturally want to make yours as functional and beautiful as possible.
Whether you’re building from the ground up or remodeling your existing kitchen space, the materials you use in your kitchen can determine the way it works, looks, and feels. In addition to your cabinets, you should also think about the type of kitchen countertops you want.
There are many different kitchen counter materials, and each comes with its own set of pros and cons. From classic granite to modern quartz, you have lots of options to consider.
Today, we’re sharing a few tips to help you choose the best ones for your needs.
Natural Stone Countertops
When it comes to kitchen countertops, there are two general categories: natural stone and man-made. There’s no right or wrong choice here, but there are some key differences between the two.
Let’s break them down.
Natural Stone: Organic Movement
As its name implies, natural stone comes from the earth. It’s full of fluidity and movement, and no two slabs are exactly alike.
If you want to bring personality into your kitchen, a natural stone island is an ideal way to do so. This material also looks beautiful in under-cabinet countertops and range backsplashes.
Within this category, there are four main types. These include:
Of these options, granite is by far the most popular one. While it was once reserved for only the most elite, high-end kitchens, it’s now more accessible and affordable than ever before. It’s also durable and resists heat, chipping, and scratches.
Granite comes in lots of different colors and patterns, from very light to extremely dark. You can even find slabs with shades of blue, purple, crimson, and garnet in them!
If you’re eyeing granite, think about the color scheme you’re planning to use throughout the rest of your kitchen. Then, look for a slab that either complements or beautifully contests those tones. White cabinets can look stunning paired with light gray or white granite but are equally gorgeous with darker hues that incorporate browns, blacks, and tans.
While you can find some granite selections at your local home improvement store or showroom, most homeowners go through a local fabricator to pick out and purchase their perfect slab. The team will cut and polish your granite, and then seal it with a special sealer that should last for years, keeping the material free of stains and scratches.
With the exception of very large or long islands, most granite can be installed as a single piece, with very few seams required. This creates a smooth, sleek look. If you love a streamlined appearance, granite could be a great choice in your new kitchen!
Love the idea of granite, but not sure about the sheen? You can also request a honed or leather finish! Honed has more of a matte look, while leathered granite is slightly textured to the touch.
While it comes in fewer colors and patterns than granite, marble is another natural stone that’s highly popular with modern homeowners. Before marble gets made into countertops, it’s removed from quarries. Then, it goes through further processing cycles to create unique slabs.
There’s a little less movement to this material, which you may prefer if you find granite too busy for your taste.
The primary characteristic of marble is its deep, pronounced veining. This gives each slab an element of sophistication and timelessness and helps it look right at home in nearly every kitchen. While it’s certainly beautiful, one factor to keep in mind about marble is that it’s softer and more porous than granite.
This means it’s not as stain-resistant, and won’t hold up as well against scratches or chipping. While both granite and marble are equally heat-resistant, it’s still smart to play it safe. Use a pot holder or towel to protect your surface when transferring pots and pans from the oven to your countertop.
If you love to cook in your kitchen, marble’s consistently cool temperature may pique your interest. It’s a great work surface for kneading dough or making cookies, but be careful when using a knife as it could leave scratches.
Slate is a dark-colored natural stone that comes in five main hues:
This stone is very dense and tends to be mostly solid colored. The exception would be variegated or mottled purple slate, which features visible veining and contrasting shades. While the material is naturally matte, you can make your slate countertops shine a little by buffing them with lemon oil.
It’s non-porous and stain-resistant, and its subtle tones create the perfect neutral backdrop in any kitchen. Though it’s softer than granite and other natural stone materials, any scratches are easy to buff out.
One benefit of choosing slate countertops is that you can also use the same material to construct your sink. Especially if you have an island sink, this is a great way to achieve a cohesive and consistent look. Slate is nearly maintenance-free and is becoming an increasingly popular selection among today’s homeowners/
Like slate, soapstone can also be used in your sink construction. Most of the time, this material is a green/black hue. While many homeowners prefer the moody dark hues of soapstone, you can also find lighter versions if that’s the look you like.
Unlike slate, soapstone is porous. As with granite, you have to seal it to preserve its appearance and prevent staining. You can seal most soapstone with mineral oil.
Now that we’ve covered some of the top natural stone kitchen materials, let’s dive into the man-made category.
As you might expect, these materials do not come fully from the earth, though they may contain some natural components. Here’s a little more detail on the top sellers in this category.
Quartz is an engineered stone surface. The countertops themselves consist of small particles of quartz, bound together with resins. Over the past few years, quartz has become one of the most sought-after premium surfaces, renowned for its minimalistic simplicity and versatile appearance.
Like granite, quartz comes in a wide variety of patterns and colors. You can find everything from stark white quartz to quartz that’s so smooth and dark it looks like concrete!
Arguably the top reason to go with quartz? It never needs resealing!
Unlike granite, this stone isn’t porous. That means you don’t have to worry about it staining or scratching. It’s also harder and more heat-resistant than either granite or marble.
Though there are advantages to going with quartz, granite still has a slightly higher resale value. If you install granite countertops in your home, you could increase its value by up to 25%! That’s a good perk because like marble, quartz countertops can be on the higher end when it comes to fabrication and installation costs.
Solid Surface Countertops
Unlike quartz, solid surface countertops do not contain any natural materials. Instead, they are fully synthetic. Most of the time, these counters are acrylic.
The main benefit of choosing a solid surface material is that it’s affordable. As technology has improved, they also look more realistic. Today, you can find countertops designed to mimic high-grade granite, quartz, or marble at a fraction of the price.
However, keep in mind that while solid surface countertops might look like the real deal, they aren’t. They’re not very resistant to heat or scratches, though this can vary by material. Most homeowners find it worthwhile to invest in a higher-quality solid surface countertop that can withstand a little more use than the standard options.
If you’re looking for budget-friendly countertop materials, laminate could be an option. To make this material, manufacturers take sheets of plastic laminate and then bond them securely together to a particleboard core.
They can design laminate to replicate a variety of natural stone or engineered materials, giving you versatility in your choices. However, there are more drawbacks than advantages when it comes to this type of countertop material.
First, laminate isn’t very durable. It’s essentially sheets of material glued to one another, so you can imagine how well that holds up under years of wear. Before too long, you might notice that your countertops have started to bubble, warp, split, or scratch in places.
While you might save a little money on the initial installation, think about how much you might spend on potential repairs down the road. If you use this space frequently, it’s best to invest in kitchen materials that are up to the task.
Concrete countertops might sound dark and heavy, but that isn’t always the case. In recent years, manufacturers have made strides in concrete technology. Now, this material is more lightweight, which makes it a more feasible choice in the kitchen.
Concrete is sleek and smooth, creating a neat appearance devoid of any of the veining or movement you might find with granite, marble, or quartz. It’s also very durable and built to last. It’s nearly impossible to crack or chip concrete, and you can rest assured it will hold up under even the most hectic kitchen conditions!
The only potential downside to concrete countertops is that they don’t always look as polished or luxurious as some of the other materials. Their appearance tends to be more rugged and rustic, which is what many homeowners prefer, especially those who gravitate toward the modern farmhouse aesthetic.
You’ll also need to seal your concrete countertops regularly, as with granite models. If not, they can harbor stains and become discolored.
Butcher’s Block Countertops
Years ago, butcher’s block countertops were a mainstay in nearly every kitchen. These counters are made out of slabs of wood and are easy to recognize in many homes.
They’re prized for their rugged durability and their lack of fussiness. You don’t have to seal butcher’s block countertops, and they’re ready to use any time you need them, with minimal prep. In fact, these types of countertops are another chef’s favorite!
Of course, wood is also soft and porous. You’ll need to be extra careful to wipe up any spills as soon as they occur. This material can harbor moisture and bacteria and is also easy to scratch and scar with a knife.
Another element to keep in mind is that butcher’s block countertops are also prone to warping, especially in humid conditions. While you can find some relatively inexpensive models, most of these counters are made with premium types of wood, which can increase the cost. Unless you have a specific reason to go with this material, it’s not the most practical to install.
Setting a Budget and Timeline
Once you’ve researched all of your options for kitchen countertops, it’s time to think about which ones fit your project budget. Then, reach out to your fabricator or installer to understand how long each type of material would take them to complete.
If you’re crunching numbers, remember to keep a long-term perspective. Resist the urge to cut corners, even if you’re trying to conserve costs. You could easily wind up doing more work and spending more money down the road, so it’s best to choose a strong material now.
Research Different Kitchen Counter Materials
If you’re remodeling or building your dream kitchen, every decision is important. Countertops are a major one, and you shouldn’t take this step lightly.
While there are lots of different kitchen counter materials, there’s only one that’s perfect for your space. Think about your budget and take a look at all of the available options. Then, choose the one that delivers the functionality and appearance you love.
At Michael James Remodeling, we’re dedicated to helping you ace every part of your remodel project. If you’re dreaming of a new kitchen, don’t wait. Contact us today to discuss your vision and let us turn it into a reality.
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