Many things in a kitchen contribute to giving this popular room its personality. Appliances and choice of cabinets go a long way toward crafting that look, but perhaps nothing defines a kitchen more than a homeowner's choice of countertops.
Countertops are where the action takes place in a kitchen. It's where meals are prepared and where hungry houseguests or curious kids watch the family chef whip up the night's meal. The options with regard to countertop surfaces are numerous, and the following are just a few of the more popular options homeowners planning to replace their existing surfaces might want to consider.
Laminate countertops are popular and affordable. Made of sheeting glued to plywood or particleboard substrate, laminate countertops are water-resistant but not very heat-resistant, so homeowners will want to place any hot pans, pots or baking sheets on trivets to maintain the laminate. Many homeowners prefer laminate countertops because they are available in so many colors, meaning they can match any homeowner's preferences, no matter how colorful those preferences are. Cutting on laminate countertops is not recommended, but such surfaces are easy to clean and maintain.
Quartz is among the most durable countertop surfaces available, as it is resistant to bacteria, heat, stains and water. Though quartz is not available in as many shades as laminate, it is similarly easy to clean. Also like laminate countertops, quartz surfaces tend to have easily visible seams, which may irk homeowners who find such minor imperfections an eyesore. Quartz countertops can be expensive depending on the amount of surface area a kitchen has, so budget-conscious homeowners with especially large kitchens may find quartz countertops bust their budgets.
The natural beauty of granite is what draws many homeowners to install this popular surface material in their kitchens. Thanks to their unique shading and tone, granite countertops are never the same from one home to the next, and granite complements many different cabinet colors. Granite also is resistant to heat, scarring and, when sealed properly, stains. Granite is naturally porous, so if it is not sealed properly, it can harbor bacteria. Some granite countertops must be sealed annually, while some pretreated countertops can go as long as 15 years without a need for resealing. Unlike other countertop surface materials, granite, which is among the most expensive countertop materials, does not come in a vast array of colors, so homeowners should expect to choose from just 20 or so color options.
Homeowners who want to give their kitchens a modern and eco-friendly feel may want to consider recycled glass countertops. Recycled glass countertops, the majority of which are now produced with 80 to 90 percent post-consumer glass, are made of pieces of glass that are held together with cement binders. Some might be concerned that countertops made of recycled glass are not very strong, but the cement binders are very hard, making the countertops durable, strong and unlikely to chip or crack. Recycled glass countertops come in various colors and are resistant to both heat and stains. Installation of recycled glass countertops can be tricky, as improper installation can lead to stress points that make the glass susceptible to cracking. As a result, the installation of recycled glass countertops is best left to professionals with experience on such projects. Recycled glass countertops can be quite expensive as well.
Copper countertops add a bold stylistic statement to your kitchen. They are not used quite as often as the other materials mentioned, so they add a unique touch and work especially well in a rustic-styled home. Copper is easy to keep clean, is stain resistant and is non-porous. Perhaps one of the best benefits on copper countertops is that they are antimicrobial; and germs die on contact with the material.
Two things are for sure when it comes to marble countertops: they are beautiful and they can withstand heat. Marble has a desirable finish, and can come in a range of colors including solid white, black and white, solid black, rose, gray, yellow and more. Being heat-resistant, it can tolerate hot pots and pans and won’t yellow from the high temperature. The concerns surrounding marble is that it is relatively porous and less sturdy when compared to other natural stone countertops – this leaves the material vulnerable to staining, chipping and cracking.
Soapstone countertops provide a natural look and many luxury benefits. Some pros that attract buyers to soapstone include durability, aesthetic value, density, eco-friendliness, return on investment and cost effectiveness. The material is non-porous and so dense that a sealant is not required to protect the surface. Soapstone can last for several generations and is available in several different textures. While the slab itself may be costly, homeowners can save money on installation as it is a relatively easy material to install – even as a DIY project.
Limestone is considered a highly sophisticated and arguably the most beautiful countertop material available. Due to its popularity, durability and aesthetic appeal, it can increase the value of a home and provide decades of joy to the homeowner. Many love the idea the material itself is formed in marine waters from shells, fossils of aquatic life and sand – making each piece highly unique and stunningly detailed. Limestone is not as dense as quartz, granite and soapstone, however, and may scratch more easily.
A homeowner's choice of countertop surface material can go a long way toward defining the personality of his or her kitchen, so homeowners should consider their options before making a final decision.