How to select the right countertop material

From granite to glass: choose the option that works with your style and budget

Selecting the right countertop material can be a very daunting process and the amount of different materials, colors, and finishes can overwhelm anyone tackling a kitchen renovation project.  I therefore wanted to address some of the key issues one should consider when selecting what to install in your kitchen or bathroom, keeping in mind the functionality, aesthetics, and budget.

The truth is, there has never been a better time to choose a new material for your countertops. Gone are the days when laminate counters ruled the market! Today, we can choose from limitless number of colors, textures, and patterns, in materials such as natural stone such as granite and slate to quartz, wood, and even concrete.

Natural stone countertops

The natural variations in colors and textures of natural stone make each countertop unique. The most popular stones are granite and marble, but limestone and soapstone are also quite popular. This option is durable and long-lasting plus it does not go out of style. At the same time, bear in mind that natural stone is porous and needs to be sealed when installed in order to avoid stains, and it requires regular maintenance and resealing to maintain the look and the quality.

Cultured stone countertops

Also known as engineered stone countertops, cultured stone countertops - such as quartz - look and feel similar to natural stone counters. They are available in a wide variety of colors and textures and unlike natural stone, they are uniform. In other words, as it is a manufactured material, it allows a much wider variety of colors and the selected color will not vary. It is harder than natural stone and will not chip or crack as easily. I love the fact that it is non-porous so it resists staining much better than granite, marble, or even concrete – this is a great choice for families with little kids. One of the drawbacks can be the price – some of the options in this category can get more expensive than some of the other options. It is also not resistant to heat so you`ll have to be more careful with hot pots in the kitchen or hot hair curlers in the bathroom.

Laminate countertops

This option is very affordable and comes in hundreds of colors and patterns. While not has trendy as granite or quartz, it is selected by many homeowners due to its low price point and durability. New laminate options often are made to mimic the colors, texture and look of natural stone. It is easy to clean (another bonus!) yet is not heat resistant, can fade in direct sun, and can also scratch fairly easily.

Tile countertops

This material has also been used for many years for countertops. While great for backsplashes, I must note that tiles can crack and chip, plus the grout has to be resealed on regular basis in order to avoid darkening. It does offer endless possibilities – think of all the colors, styles and shapes that you can choose from! It is also one of the more affordable options so homeowners who cannot spring for quartz counters and who do not want laminate, may find their answer in choosing tile countertops.

Wood / butcher block countertops

Wood counters add instant warmth to any kitchen, and butcher block is the most common type of wood countertops. It can deliver a very modern look, or create an instant country-feel in your otherwise urban interior. I like to remind my clients that when choosing this type of counter, they need to be prepared to maintain it properly in order to keep it looking fresh and beautiful. In order to do that, they need to oil the surface every four to six weeks -it is more of a commitment than some homeowners are willing to make. There are three ways that wood countertops are fabricated: edge grain, end grain and wide plank. Prices vary depending on the wood species used, but on average they're comparable with quality granite counters.

Cork countertops

An increasingly popular material, cork works well for a number of surfaces such as flooring, wall paneling, and certain types of countertop applications. As cork is a quickly regenerating plant, it is a great option for homeowners who value being sustainable and prefer green materials. Cork countertops are durable, and much more affordable than the ones made of wood. It resists water and microbes, plus offers some heat resistance. Keep in mind though that cork does not fare well in humid environment, and may get brittle when used in direct sunlight.

Recycled glass countertops

Just like its name implies, recycled glass countertops are made from post-consumer recycled materials. There are several different manufacturing techniques that all produce beautiful and unique countertop material that is mold and mildew resistant, scratch and stain resistant, low maintenance, and offers a wide selection of color options. As only warm water and mild detergent needed for cleaning, the surface is non-porous and no sealing is required. Made of approximately 90 percent glass mixed with resins, they install similarly to any solid counter, including granite, marble, Corian or quartz. Keep in mind that this material, while gorgeous, can be pricier than some of the lower-end options!

Concrete countertops

Last but not least: concrete countertops! They have quickly started to grow in popularity ever since pre-cast concrete counters became more readily available, eliminating the issues and hassles around hand-poured concrete counters which often did not deliver desired results. It can complement other natural materials such as stone and wood, and deliver a very stunning finish. I love that it can be tinted to match my clients` color choices! Yet again I need to add a word of caution that while heat and stain resistant, concrete counters must be sealed and regularly maintained to resist staining.

Like I said in the beginning, there has never been a better time to choose a countertop that matches your style, your home décor, and your budget. I am happy to provide more info on any of the above listed materials, and to help you choose the option that best compliments your home. Contact me for a free consultation to find out more!