How to Choose Kitchen Countertops

countertops

When choosing kitchen countertops, consider carefully what you need and what you can afford. It’s a good idea to choose the most functional material possible for your countertop.

It needs to be…

  • durable.
  • easy to clean and maintain.
  • stain-resistant to all liquids, even acids.
  • heat-resistant to many different objects (pots, pans…).
  • scratch-resistant, to avoid scratches while cutting ingredients on it.
  • a suitable match for your tastes and kitchen design.

It’s difficult to find material for kitchen countertops that possesses all these qualities, so a combination of different kinds of materials is perhaps the best option. It’s interesting, practical and probably cheaper. For example, you can use a quality material, such as granite, for places that receive the most frequent use (e.g., around the range or the sink), and you can cover the rest with cheaper material, such as laminate.

Kinds of material for kitchen countertops

The following materials are popular choices for kitchen countertops. Some other, less traditional ones, such as lava stone, paper-base, copper & zinc, are also used, but less often; perhaps they will become popular in the future.

Some of them require comparatively little care and maintenance. Others you will need to maintain regularly (e.g., resealing and/or polishing), according to the instructions of the manufacturer.

1. Natural stone countertops

Expensive, but functional. You can use different types of stone for your kitchen countertops: granite, marble, mineral soapstone, limestone, slate… Each one has its advantages and disadvantages. What unites them is their excellent durability and beauty.

Granite is a stone that possesses highly desirable qualities, and it can be used anywhere in your kitchen; round the sink, round the range, for a food preparation area… If price is a consideration, you might want to use it only for a kitchen island.

Characteristic features…

  • extremely durable.
  • visually appealing, with a unique pattern for each layer.
  • scratch-resistant (in contrast to marble, which is a softer stone).
  • heat-resistant.

Disadvantages…

  • absorbs liquids; you will need to maintain it regularly.
countertops

2. Stainless steel countertops

This is a functional, comparatively expensive material. It can be used anywhere in your kitchen; round the sink, round the range, for a food preparation area… You can integrate it with a sink, as a seamless unit. This will facilitate cleaning and gives your countertop an integrated look.

Other qualities…

  • neutral color, which facilitates color coordination for your kitchen.
  • trouble-free maintenance (this is the choice for countertops in the food service industry).
  • heat-resistant.
  • stain-resistant and waterproof.

Disadvantages…

  • prone to scratching.
  • prone to fingerprints.
  • easily dented; you need a hard base to attach it to (usually plywood). The hard base also serves to reduce any noise made by objects coming into contact with the steel.

3. Concrete countertops

A comparatively expensive material. Concrete is a good solution if your countertop will have an unusual shape; you can cast it directly in your kitchen.

Characteristic features…

  • easy to shape the edges.
  • easily integrated with a sink, like the variant with the steel.
  • can be painted, polished or textured.
  • can be customized according to your needs and desires.

Disadvantages…

  • absorbs liquids; you will need to maintain it regularly.
  • prone to cracking.
  • placing hot utensils on the surface can mar the finish.

4. Tile countertops

A comparatively cheap material, although custom-made tiles may be expensive. You can place them anywhere in your kitchen; round the sink, round the range, for a food preparation area…

Characteristic features of ceramic tiles, which are among the most frequently used for kitchen countertops…

  • wide range of colors, patterns and textures.
  • durable, heat-resistant.
  • glazed tiles are stain-resistant and waterproof.
  • tile countertops are comparatively cheaper than large slabs.

Disadvantages…

  • fragile.
  • difficult to knead on them, due to the uneven surface.
  • matte tiles absorb liquids; you will need to maintain them regularly.
  • the grout between the tiles gathers dirt.

5. Laminate countertops

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An artificially produced, low-cost material, laminate is one of the most frequently used materials for kitchen countertops. It’s best to put it in places in your kitchen that are not used frequently, because its quality is not as high as that of some of the other materials.

Characteristic features…

  • beautiful and affordable.
  • a wide range of colors, patterns and textures.
  • can resemble ceramic, stone or hardwood.
  • easy to shape the edges.

Disadvantages…

  • prone to scratching.
  • vulnerable to heat.
  • fragile.
  • once damaged (burns, scratches…), it is difficult to repair.

6. Wood countertops

A natural, comparatively cheap material. A very good variant is to use it as a butcher’s block, inserted in a countertop made of other material. Butcher block countertops are ideal for preparing food on.

Characteristic features…

  • warm, comforting appearance.
  • a wide range of finishes, shapes and designs.
  • easy to shape the edges.
  • minor damage to the countertops is easily repaired by sanding.

Disadvantages…

  • vulnerable to heat and moisture; you can spoil it if it is placed near the range or the sink.
  • absorbs liquids; you will need to maintain it regularly.
  • prone to scratching.

7. Solid surface countertops

A moderately expensive artificial material. You can use it for a great part of your countertops in the kitchen, especially round the sink. You can integrate it with the sink, just as with steel and concrete.

Other qualities…

  • durable and trouble-free maintenance.
  • easily shaped edges.
  • a variety of styles exist.
  • it is possible for it to have strong visual appeal, like stone.
  • damage such as scratches and burns can be repaired.
  • stain-resistant and waterproof.

Disadvantages…

  • vulnerable to heat.
  • prone to scratching.

8. Quartz (or engineered stone) countertops

An expensive but quality material for countertop. A great percentage of it is real quartz stone. You can place it everywhere in your kitchen, as with granite and steel. Again, if price is a consideration it can be used just for a kitchen island.

Some of its characteristic features…

  • durable, smooth and scratch-resistant.
  • a visually appealing material with consistent colors.
  • adds a luxurious element to your kitchen.
  • stain-resistant and waterproof.
  • heat-resistant.
  • trouble-free maintenance.

9. Glass countertops

Glass is not often thought of as a material for countertops, yet glass is an ideal material for modern kitchen countertops.

Characteristic features…

  • glass looks beautiful and adds a transparent or translucent depth to your kitchen countertops as compared to the traditional opaque countertops.
  • glass provides an aesthetic as well as a functional advantage, and can be totally customized as per your tastes and requirements.
  • when it comes to maintenance and hygiene, glass countertops are the best, since they are absolutely non-porous, moisture-resistant and stain resistant.
  • glass can endure heat, and is suitable for areas around ovens and stoves.

Disadvantages…

  • prone to cracking.

Cooktops to warm every cook’s heart

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