Materials for Kitchen Countertop
Picking out countertop material used to be a lot easier when there were significantly fewer choices. Now there are not only more materials available, but also new patterns, and new types of countertops application. The latest trend is to mix and match two different kinds of counter materials together. You might like to pair up a solid-wood counter surface with a marble insert and stainless steel.
The countertop material that you select will be a large part of your overall kitchen design. If you go with a wood countertop than your kitchen would be set for a traditional or provincial style kitchen. A Concrete countertop, on the other hand, would be setting your kitchen for a more contemporary feel. When using concrete, you could have a prefabricated countertop or have it custom made with added colors, pieces of glass, tiles, or anything else.
There are no rules set in stone about a particular material for countertops that you would like to use, but one is prevalent no matter what rules you may follow: you must think about the material and maintenance required to maintain the look of kitchen counters. Even though marble is thought of as a very low-maintenance choice – it does have to be sealed every couple of years as not to be damaged by liquids. If you have no time for it, then you shouldn’t have to live with an expensive stained countertop.
A solid-surfacing material for countertops is made from synthetic material – usually polyester or acrylic. It is very easily maintained. The costs and durability resemble that of marble and granite. This type of countertop is absolutely water resistant and almost impervious to any dents or scratches that you would have with a light sanding. The solid-surfacing countertops used to only come in white and pastel colors, but now there is a much more comprehensive range of color – as well as customizing options available. These countertops require very little maintenance and last at least 20 years!
Marble and granite are not only the most popular choices for countertops but also the most expensive.Marble is a very heavy stone, but it is a very soft and porous material. It can be stained very quickly – even with water. Marble countertops are an excellent choice – usually, every piece has its own little imperfections that are much appreciated. You should treat marble counters very gently and make sure that you keep them properly sealed.
Granite countertops are have come back with a boom – it is the new chic style. Granite counters have a cool and hard surface – but it is a lot less absorbent than marble. The downfall of granite countertops is that they show fingerprints quite easily, but granite repels anything that would permanently stain it much better than marble.
There are a few other stone materials for kitchen countertops that are popularizing themselves on the designing scene: limestone and concrete. These countertops have a much more textured look in comparison to the refined and smooth look of marble or granite counters. They also, of course, have to be sealed to be able to withstand the elements because they are still absorbent.
Limestone could be gotten as a slab or as tiles. If you are thinking about concrete countertops, know that it could be one of the most creative countertop choices – you have an artistic license that pulls out all the stops. You can mix any colors into your concrete counters, creating any patterns that you would like to see in your kitchen.
Wood is incredibly beautiful and warm. It changes shape due to environmental conditions – expanding and contracting. Wood countertops can warp if the surface is exposed to water, so it is a good idea to apply a finish in the form of a varnish, lacquer, or oil periodically. If any burns or stains occur on the wooden counters, you can easily sand them away.
The top two wood options for kitchen countertops are Teak wood and Butcher-block countertops made from sugar maple. Butcher-block countertops are great because they resist warping, scratching, and damage from cutting.
Butcher-block counter definitely needs some upkeep. You need to make sure that you keep it sealed – probably every month. You will also have to be able to scrub the wood countertops periodically with anti-bacterial soap to make sure that there will not be anything left over on the counter from uncooked food. If you are willing to commit to the upkeep, your wooden countertops will last.
Stainless Steel Countertops
Using stainless-steel in the kitchen can make it look sterile, but you have to make sure that you balance out the metal with warmer materials. Whether it is the whole stainless-steel counter or just one section, you can balance it with the warmth of wood cabinets – it can be a very sophisticated look. Stainless-steel could also be embedded as a strip in a wood countertop to function as a landing strip for hot pots. Another perfect place for the stainless-steel surface would be by the sink because stainless-steel is impervious to water.
There are a few negative aspects for the stainless steel countertops, they can get very noisy to work on and, and stainless-steel will show smudges. That is essential to know that there are several grades of stainless-steel material. Then lower the grade than more likely that material will be vulnerable to scrapes, stains, and corrosion. The higher the chromium and nickel content (and therefore the grade), the better. You should definitely go for a material that is the closest to the highest grade and also looks for the thick stainless steel so it won’t dent easily. A good quality stainless-steel countertops should last about 15 years.
Ceramic Tile Countertops
Tile countertops have been a classic kitchen favorite. Of course, it is waterproof and is durable. It is impressive as a backsplash by your sink – it will add great color, some pattern, and texture for the pattern. While hand-painted, imported, or antique tiles are quite pricey, and you might think that they are out of your range, you can create a very unique design by using the not-so-pricey ones. Don’t write off any tile that you may not be sure about. You cannot be sure about how it will look until you try it in combination with the others that you know you are sure about.
Even though tile countertops have effortless upkeep, you must re-grout periodically. You have a few choices with grout colors – you must, however, consider, that darker grout will camouflage stains better than the lighter colors. You also must remember that you have to seal it to make sure that no bacteria will be trapped in the grout itself so that no unsanitary conditions will be created.
There are two types of finishes that are used on tiles. They can either be glazed or unglazed. The Unglazed ones are in a matte finish, they could be pretty appealing, but they are not to be used around water or anything stainable unless it is sealed. You can also get glazed tiles that are with a more matte finish.
Plastic Laminate Countertops
The cheapest countertop surface and the most used surface in the kitchen. These countertops are made from melamine, paper, and synthetic resin that is bonded using heat and pressure than it is glued to particleboard or plywood.
These countertops are cheap, and there is an incredible array of colors and patterns. Laminate countertops can withstand minor abuse – such as some stains, water, and minor scratches. On the other hand, laminate counters cannot be protected against being scratched by sharp knives and a pot right off the stove will burn the finish. You cannot mainly repair those damages on laminate countertops.
The more expensive is the color-through (aka solid-core) laminate counters. They are a bit different from the traditional laminates because they are solid all the way through and there are no break edges between the different sheets of the laminate.
You can find patterned laminate countertops instead of the one color ones. You can find a faux stone, leather-, and wood-like laminate counters. The speckled stone pattern tends to be the most popular one because it easily hides any of the imperfections that will be caused to the countertop due to using it. There are laminates for kitchen countertops that are offered with an antibacterial shield that would not only protect your counter from bacteria, but also from mold and mildew. There are grade variations to the laminate countertops, but due to the fact that it is so inexpensive to go for the better ones. If you take good care of your laminate counters and keep them clean, they will last you up to 15 years!