Countertops: The 5 Most Commonly Used Materials and a Not So Common Type You Should Consider
Countertops are usually the second most prominent feature in a kitchen design, but with all the different options and trends out there, it can be difficult to make an informed selection.
When working on a kitchen remodeling project with clients there are a lot of decisions to be made. I like to break up the selection process in parts to assure no one gets overwhelmed with all the decisions needed. After selecting the cabinet line, wood specie, door style, and finish for the cabinetry (which is usually the most prominent part of the design), I tend to have clients select their countertop next. As a designer I provide my clients with guidance and the information that they’ll need to select their countertop.
Here is a list of what I’ve found to be the most popular countertop selections, along with a couple bonus materials you may not know about!
The Most Popular Countertops
I would say that 80% of the countertop installations we do here at Masters Touch is with granite—and with good reason!
- This natural stone has a large selection of varieties, colors, and patterns that can fit into most any design scheme.
- Its inherent hardness makes it one of the most durable countertop surfaces available when sealed properly. Sealing only needs to be done about once a year (I tell people to do it during their birthday week to make it easy to remember), and the only other real maintenance is to just not let any spills sit for an extended period of time (which most people wouldn’t do anyway).
- One caveat to note is that granite, although very hard, can be scratched so be careful using a knife directly on the surface.
Granite is number one in the industry and is still what the real estate agents advertise in their listings, but the next countertop surface is starting to give granite some competition.
Also known as engineered quartz or engineered stone, quartz is my personal favorite countertop surface and is on its way to becoming the favorite of the industry.
- This surfacing is a combination of about 5% resin and 95% crushed quartz, resulting in a solid, durable, and attractive countertop surface.
- Because it is not a material found in nature like marble or granite, quartz is not limited to certain colors and styles. Adding colorants and dyes makes the options for quartz almost endless.
- It can look just like granite or marble, or it can have a solid color appearance for a more contemporary look.
- There is almost no maintenance needed and the durability is unmatched, though direct heat can cause some damage.
- Quartz is also non-porous, so these counters can be kept 99.9% bacteria free, and some are inherently antimicrobial.
- Plus, quartz countertops are typically considered to be a “green” product which is an added bonus.
Marble, especially white marbles like Carrara and Calacatta marble, is a stunning countertop material with a very luxurious feel. However, in terms of practicality, it is not the best idea for a kitchen and not one I recommend often.
- It is pricy and requires quite a lot of maintenance and care; it should be professionally sealed and resealed often.
- Plus, it is porous (which means it stains easily) and can be scratched.
- On the plus side, it is waterproof and heatproof —a vanity application often works much better than a kitchen application.
- If you insist on having marble countertops in the kitchen, opt for just the island or a baking station.
For the right person, marble could be the perfect countertop to contribute to a dream kitchen, but for most, the cons outweigh the pros.
You may have first been exposed to soapstone in the high school chemistry lab, as many lab surfaces use soapstone due to its durability (chemicals and/or heat will not harm it), its lack of porousness (no place for bacteria to grow) and its resistance to staining. All of these characteristics make it a great material for kitchen counters.
- Soapstone, a natural stone made of mineral talc, is usually a shade of gray, sometimes with a green tint to it. The mineral talc gives it its “soapy” feel.
- There is not a lot of stylistic variety to this stone, so it is best for people who know they want this particular look.
- It is often characterized by its veining, and its styling lends itself to fit in older or historic homes.
- Maintenance is fairly minimal, but mineral oil should be applied to keep it looking at its best.
One of my favorite kitchen renovations, which will be featured in a future blog of my favorite kitchen renovations, features soapstone countertops.
Butcher Block Countertops
Countertops made of wood add a warmth and richness to kitchens and often works best in traditional or country-style kitchens.
- Wood has been used a work surface for years (think chopping blocks, workbenches, etc.) so it is a viable option for the kitchen as well.
- Typically a hardwood like maple or oak is used, but a number of wood species and finishes are available for a wide variety of looks.
- Butcherblock countertops definitely need to be oiled to protect the surface.
- Knives can scratch the surface and bacteria can grow in the scratches, so take care to disinfect the surface often.
However, for the right application, it can be a warm, classic look.
Lesser Know But Ones You Should Consider – Recycled Countertops
With a background in sustainable design, I wanted to throw in my two cents for a few lesser known countertop options, recycled countertops. There are several options that combine a mix of recycled materials and resins.
- For example, ever heard of countertops made of paper? Paper fibers and a resin combine to make a countertop that has a uniform solid look that is both waterproof and heatproof. PaperStone is one manufacturer of this type of surfacing.
- Or, how about countertops made of recycled beer bottles? Recycled glass is combined with cement, concrete, or a resin to make a colorful countertop that is both practical and sustainable. IceStone and Vetrazzo are two brands that come to mind.
Like all surfaces, there are some cons to consider to all materials, but if you are looking for something that is ecofriendly, a recycled countertop may be an option for you.
So, there you have some of the most common (and not so common) countertop options in the industry today. Please visit our website for more information on countertops we offer and the services we provide. I can help you make a countertop selection for your kitchen renovation or remodel, so give me a call at 508-359-5900 today!
Next article, I’ll be talking about different backsplash options to complement your beautiful countertops but until then, happy designing!