Kitchen countertops can make or break a kitchen remodeling. If you choose top end stainless steel appliances, hardwood cabinetry, expensive tile floors, and luxury faucets and hardware, then top it all off with laminate instead of granite, you’ve effectively devalued your high end remodel substantially with one wrong decision.
Laminate counters can be a great choice for a budget kitchen in a small house or apartment, but upscale projects demand upscale materials all the throughout. Right now granite sets the standard for high-end construction, but standards change all the time. Knowing your budget, your style, and which countertops fit which styles of décor can help in making the right choice.
The following kitchen countertop materials are among the most popular and most functional, and each type is more or less appropriate for different spaces and decors:
- Granite countertops. Today most people expect granite in new construction, and few people would do a serious kitchen remodel without at least pricing granite. Granite comes in many colors and, though expensive generally, also comes in many different price points depending on whether the granite is imported or domestic and what thickness and style of counter is desired. Granite has to be periodically refinished professionally to maintain the shine and durability of the surface.
- Quartz countertops. Quartz is actually very similar to granite except that quartz stone is combined with artificial materials such as Corian and other manmade products to make the countertops more durable. Quartz tends to be more expensive than granite, but it is also easier to care for while retaining the natural beauty of real stone.
- Concrete countertops. Concrete is not the easiest material to use as a countertop, but when applied correctly can create a look that is very similar to quarried stone (such as granite or quartz) at a fraction of the cost. Professional installation is also available. Concrete can be colored and textured to fit almost any custom décor, making it a popular alternative to conventional countertop materials.
- Solid surface countertops. Synthetic materials like Corian or Wilsonart are usually made from a acrylic or acrylic and polyester mix made into a hard solid countertop that mimics the look of stone, wood, or any sold color or textured pattern. Synthetic countertops are moderately priced (some are expensive), widely available, and very popular because of their durability and versatility. They are easy to clean and repair and hold their value well.
- Stainless steel countertops. Stainless steel is a specialty counter material that is popular in modern décor or for use in ‘industrial chic’ ultramodern kitchens. Stainless steel has a dramatic, clean look but the material dents and scratches easily. If not cleaned correctly, stainless steel will spot and become dull, so maintenance is not as simple as most homeowners expect it to be.
- Wood and other specialty countertops. Kitchen countertops can be made of almost anything, including tile, wood, ceramic, glass, and many other unique materials. Any specialty material used for a counter will usually require extra care and attention and will cost more than standard counter materials, but for custom kitchens, tile or ceramic countertops can make a dramatic decorating statement that some homeowners find worth it.
- Laminate countertops. Laminate comes in thin sheets that attach to wood with adhesive, giving it the appearance of a solid surface countertop, stone, wood, or just about anything else. Laminate is very inexpensive and widely available. It is very popular for budget remodels and rental properties. Laminate countertops are not recommended for most kitchens that get heavy use. The budget look and feel of the material does not fit into most modern kitchen upgrades.
No matter what kind of counters you choose, keep in mind that your kitchen counter gets some of the heaviest use of any workspace in your entire home. What’s more, realtors commonly say that kitchens sell a home; so choosing the best countertop materials you can afford definitely affects your home’s resale value.
Sturdy, beautiful kitchen countertops last for years and making cooking and working in the kitchen a joy. With all the fantastic choices, textures and colors available today, shopping for them can be a lot of fun too!
About the Author:
Scott Gray is currently a handyman enthusiast who enjoys providing tips to consumers and homeowners. For more information about do it yourself home improvements projects, tips for choosing the best cordless drills for your home and sliding compound miter saws be sure to visit everydayhandyman.com.