Kitchen Countertop Guide
Ask any realtor or home builder and they will tell you that the kitchen is the most important room in the house. When building or renovating a kitchen, layout, cabinets, and flooring are all important aspects of the design; however, the focal point of most kitchens is the countertop. A kitchen countertop must be functional and stylish.
If cost isn’t an issue, stone countertops such as granite and marble are the optimum choice. Many homeowners however, are renovating or building on a budget and may choose to go with a more affordable option. Furthermore, stone countertops may clash with your kitchen flooring or cabinets.
Before purchasing kitchen countertops, it’s best to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of each type.
As far as modern trends go, granite countertops are currently in vogue. Almost every major kitchen countertop supplier carries granite, which was once considered only in luxury builds. It’s not that granite is more abundant now, it’s just that manufacturers have found ways to implement granite countertops in kitchens in grades other then super high-end, making the product much more affordable; however, it’s still typically more than $100/sqft.
It’s easy to see why granite offers a great ROI, between its durability and natural beauty. Perhaps the only drawback to granite tops is that they must be sealed semi-regularly. When done properly, the material is resistant to heat and stains to preserve that elegance and serve as a focal point in any kitchen layout.
If granite is the alpha dog among kitchen countertop materials, then quartz has to be considered an up and coming beta. In fact, many homeowners are starting to actually prefer quartz due to the fact that it is a manufactured product (approximately 93% natural stone) and thus doesn’t have some of the weaknesses as granite and other similar materials. For example, quartz is non-porous which means it doesn’t have to be sealed to prevent damage from spills and stains. All that being said, quartz is still a relative unknown to most novice home buyers and therefore, doesn’t present the same ‘wow’ factor (or ROI) as when they hear the magical words “granite.”
At first glance one would expect that marble countertops are the top echelon when it comes to kitchen décor. After all, the product is a true rock star that can carry value all by its lonesome in a room. There’s no doubt that marble offers spectacular beauty that is unrivaled whether it be in the familiar white or other colors such as solid black, grays, greens, rose, and yellow. Contrary to popular belief though, marble isn’t recommended for the kitchen because it is porous making it susceptible to stains and that it is not rigorous enough for heavy use and exposure. Although marble is incredibly beautiful, it is most ideal for surfaces that are less frequently used, such as bathroom countertops or fireplace surrounds.
When feasible it’s always recommended to go for the maximum combination of style and function when choosing kitchen countertops. Of course, in the lobby of a luxury hotel or for a home that does a lot of guest hosting, sometimes style has an increased importance. Similarly, in a household with multiple kids and high kitchen traffic, functionality of the countertops should take precedence. In this case, laminate kitchen countertops might offer more bang for the buck.
Laminate is popular for two reasons –it’s durable and it’s affordable. Laminate resists stain, heat, and most impact and is only usually around $40/sqft. The styles often aren’t the most luxurious, but in some cases the best kitchen investment is one that simply ‘gets through’ a stage of life.
Wood is a great kitchen countertop choice mostly for cabins or rustic homes, but combined with hardwood floors it can fall into the trap of being “too woodsy” in modern homes. The best design trends feature some contrast, which means wood countertops fit better with tile or laminate flooring.
Wood adds a warmth to a kitchen that no other material can replicate. It is also recyclable which is always nice and some wear and tear actually adds to the allure of the kitchen. For the most part though, wood countertops are high maintenance as the material is softer than stone and needs to be sealed to prevent water damage and stains.
Ceramic tile is very affordable and with some creative designs can add a unique style to the kitchen. The placement, positioning, colors, and layout of the tiles are virtually endless. Tiles are also very durable, but easy to replace if damaged. The material is very stain-resistant and easy to clean up which makes them great for high-use areas. That being said, even with an immaculate design a tile countertop won’t exactly enamor potential buyers and isn’t the best choice if you’re looking to recoup costs during resale.
Stainless steel countertops offer a unique look for a contemporary kitchen styles. Other than the grating sound of knives on steel, stainless countertops offer almost nothing but benefits ranging from being resilient to water, stains, oils, bacteria, and mold while just looking cool. The reflection of the stainless steel makes the kitchen appear bigger while also providing a natural light. It’s not a look that everybody enjoys, but for the right tastes stainless steel is a perfect kitchen addition.