by Deb Williamson
If you’ve done any shopping for countertops lately, it won’t take long for you to realize that your options are endless. From high-end quartz and granite, to natural marbles and soap stones, to inexpensive high-definition laminates…… countertop options flood the kitchen remodeling markets. So which countertop is right for your kitchen?
My top pick for countertops is Cambria quartz. Quartz is rated 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness (diamond is 10) making it the most scratch-resistant and durable surface available. Cambria quartz uses the clearest white crystals which results in stunning designs with impressive coloring and dimension. Cambria countertops never need sealing, polishing or reconditioning and clean up with just warm water. This high-end surface is also non-porous which means stains and bacteria and never get absorbed, providing homeowners with food-safe preparation surfaces. Cambria is definitely the top choice for no maintenance countertops, but it does come with a premium price tag.
Granite is another beautiful countertop of choice. Because granite is stone cut from the earth, variations in patterns are expected. These variations add to the appeal of this 100% natural countertop choice, but it can also make matching up slabs difficult to achieve. The cost of granite is similar to the cost of quartz, but granite requires regular sealing, typically once a year. Granite is a porous surface which means spills need to be wiped up quickly, especially if its oils, wine, acids or soda.
A couple of other natural and beautiful countertop options include marble and soap stone. Costs of both of these surfaces are comparable to granite. Marble provides a timeless, natural charm with unique patterns and veining that help hide wear and tear. Drawbacks to marble include staining, regular sealing and strength issues. Soap stone also delivers unique natural surfaces with beautiful veining and colors but unlike marble and granite, are naturally stain and bacteria resistant. Soap stone does not require sealing, however, regular applications of mineral oil help disguise surface scratches and add shine, which can become cumbersome for busy homeowners.
Another solid countertop option to consider is concrete surfaces. Concrete is highly customizable, which means it can be molded into any desired shape. Concrete countertops are extremely durable, seamless and easy to clean. A couple of disadvantages to using concrete for your countertops include the need for sealing, heat sensitivity and hairline cracks that occur in nearly all poured concrete countertops.
Butcher block, stainless steel and recycled countertops are also options that are decorative and functional. The main advantage of a butcher block countertop is that it provides an ideal surface for food preparation when sealed properly. Stainless steel is also an attractive option that is easy to clean and delivers the most hygienic countertop available. Some of the drawbacks of stainless steel include the fact that it scratches and dents easier than most surfaces. For the eco-friendly homeowner, a recycled concrete, glass, paper, composite or plastic countertop might be the perfect surface for your kitchen. The limitations to recycled materials are specific to which type of material is recycled.
Finally, don’t overlook the new high-definition laminate countertops. Weighing in at a fraction of the cost of solid surfaces, high-definition laminate delivers the most affordable countertop in a variety of attractive and up-to-date designs and colors. Laminate is easy to clean, easy to install, durable and easy to change when styles change. Some of the disadvantages of laminate countertops include heat and scratch sensitivities.
There are advantages and disadvantages to every countertop option available. Make sure to consider what options are most appealing to you and what countertop surface will work best with your lifestyle. Remember to always look at the disadvantages, so you’re prepared for what may happen after the product has been installed. Once you’ve considered the options and made a selection, you can relax and enjoy cooking with your new countertops!