Kitchen countertops are one of the most outstanding parts of your kitchen. Besides the kitchen flooring, the countertop is the largest surface in your kitchen and its look can make or break the whole design of your room.
Kitchen countertops add color, depth, and beauty to your kitchen and enhance the cabinetry, backsplash, and flooring.
There are lots of options on the market for kitchen countertops and choosing the right counter for your kitchen can be confusing.
Whether you’re looking for affordability, function or style, today’s market is full of options.
A wide variety of countertop finishes and materials are available with choices that range from lower priced laminates that look like stone to the most precious imported granite.
But the beauty of a countertop is not everything and of course, you want them to be practical, durable, and easy to maintain.
When selecting a new countertop there are some things to take in consideration as: strength, stain resistance, burn proof material, elegance, durability and price.
To help you make the right choice, we need to take a look at the wide range of materials available.
1). Laminate kitchen countertops. They are the most affordable option and one of the most commonly used kitchen counter materials. They’re inexpensive, made of plastic-coated synthetics with a smooth surface that’s easy to clean. The pieces are cut to size and finished on the ends. The plastic-coated synthetic surface comes in a variety of colors, textures and patterns (sometime it can looks like stone “faux-stone”).
- Advantages: Lots of colors, patterned design, inexpensive, easy to maintain.
- Disadvantages: Vulnerable to heat, stains and scratches. Virtual impossible to repair.
- Maintenance: Easy to maintain: only wash with damp cotton cloth and mild dish detergent.
2). Wood or Butcher Block. Wood countertops offer a beautiful warm look and are available in a wide range of colors and finishes. It is a popular countertop with chefs, a butcher block looks and acts like a wood cutting board. The most used are made from maple, oak or beech. In recent years is an increased interest in wood countertops due to the advance in sealants and the unusual grained hardwoods that are available. With a proper care your wood counter tops will last for years.
- Advantages: Can be moderately priced; easy to clean; smooth; Scratches and cuts will be noticeable but they can be sanded and resealed as needed.
- Disadvantages: Can be damaged by water and stains over time; Vulnerable to fire and burns.
- Maintenance: Wash with damp cloth and mild dish detergent; Treated and linseed regularly with mineral oil.
3). Soapstone. Soapstone is a natural quarried stone that is very dense. Soapstone is visually rich-looking, dark gray or black in color and has a smooth feel. A popular granite-looking material, soapstone doesn’t stain or show marks, but you’ll have to seal it yearly with mineral oil. We can find this kind of countertop in historic homes, but also in modern homes where is used also like sink material.
- Advantages: It has a rich, deep color; Smooth feeling; Somewhat stain resistant. It’s also great to use for sinks.
- Disadvantages: Can be expensive; Vulnerable to cracks, which can’t be fixed; Can become darken over time.
- Maintenance: Wash with damp cloth and mild dish detergent; Small scratches can be removed through sanding; Coat with mineral oil once a month to preserve color.
4). Stainless Steel. A stainless steel countertop is not only sleek in style, but heatproof, strong, easy to maintain and anti-bacterial material. For a really contemporary and industrial look for your kitchen, stainless steel is a good choice. They can take on just about any shape allowing you to have a countertop that may not be possible with other materials. It will brighten up any kitchen if you want that industrial look.
Advantages: Resistant to heat and rust; Very durable and hygienic; Heatproof-takes hot pans.
Disadvantages: Expensive; Noisy and dent if banged with a pot; Fabrication is expensive; Vulnerable to marks (especially fingerprints)
Maintenance: When washing, wipe with grain; Mild abrasive powder can be used and avoid bleach, which stains.
5). Ceramic Tile. Ceramic tile is durable, easy to clean and inexpensive. It is a really good choice four countertops. This affordable countertop option allows you to create just about any type of layout or design using varying sizes and types of tile. Available in many colors, sizes and patterns, ceramic tile looks clean and modern. It’s durable, long-lasting and heat and moisture resistant, but can chip or crack and grout lines can be hard to keep clean.
- Advantages: Affordable like price; Highly resistant to heat and moisture; Large variety of colors, texture and styles. Ceramic tiles are a very practical choice and lasts for years with proper installation and upkeep.
- Disadvantages: Vulnerable to cracks and chips; Counter surface is uneven; Grout lines become stained; Custom-designed tiles can be very expensive.
- Maintenance: Wash with damp cloth and mild dish detergent; Use epoxy on grout to prevent staining.
6). Solid Surface (Corian). It is one of the most popular and highly durable kitchen counter tops. Available in a wide range of colors (more than 130), textures and patterns it has a rich look and is a consistent solid material. Because solid surface counters are just what they’re called, solid, any scratches can be sanded out. It is also a stain resistant material. Sinks built-in using the same material, gives a sleek seamless appearance to your kitchen.
- Advantages: Can be moderately expensive; Huge selection of colors and styles; Resistant to heat, stains and dents; Low maintenance.
- Disadvantages: Vulnerable to hot pans and stains which can damage the surface; Any abrasions require professional care.
- Maintenance: Wash with damp cloth; towel dry; Sponge using a mild abrasive liquid cleaner.
7). Concrete Counters. It is practical and versatile and ideal if you have a uniquely shaped space, since the concrete can be poured to fill any layout. May be expensive, but its surface is heat, scratch and crack-proof and can be finished in any color, texture or style.
- Advantages: Looks exotic and unusual; Heat and scratch resistant; Can be color-tinted; Very durable.
- Disadvantages: Expensive; Requires annual resealing to eliminate cracking and porosity; Heavy and vulnerable to stains.
- Maintenance: Wash with damp cloth and mild dish detergent; The spills have to clean up immediately to avoid staining.
8). Engineered Stone (Zodiaq, Silestone). This manufactured stone is a popular choice for office desktops but also for kitchen countertops. Because is made from natural quartz it is very durable, non porous, scratch and stain resistant. The use of quartz for kitchen countertops has become very popular in recent years as an alternative to similarly priced granite. The engineered stone countertops provide a durable and care free surface and also great look to your kitchen. The benefit of this engineered material is its consistent color and pattern throughout. It has a natural luster from the crushed quartz (93% quartz particles) which is the main ingredient it contains. It goes very well with modern and traditional kitchens.
- Advantages: Resistant to stains and acid, heat and bacteria resistant (Hygienic); Durable and Smooth Finish; No sealants or waxes required; Low maintenance.
- Disadvantages: Expensive; Abrasions need professional care.
- Maintenance: Wash with damp cloth and, if necessary, non-bleach, non-abrasive cleanser; The spills have to clean up immediately to avoid staining.
9). Granite. This material is the perfect choice for any kitchen. The granite countertops add value to a kitchen and also they are the most durable. It defines elegance in a kitchen. They are very expensive but because the use of granite becomes more widespread, the price comes down. Spectacular in color and pattern, granite countertops are clearly a timeless choice.
- Advantages: Very durable and resistant to heat, water and stains; A wide range of colors (3,000); 2nd highest hardness rating after diamonds ; Aesthetically pleasing add a high value to home.
- Disadvantages: Very expensive, but becoming more affordable; Can crack if improperly installed; Requires regular maintenance.
- Maintenance: Dust twice a week with soft cloth; Requires annual resealing.
10). Marble. Marble is not often seen on the countertops of whole kitchens because of its high price. It gives to kitchen a luxurious look even if you use marble only for an island or a baking center. Unfortunately marble requires continue maintenance, as it easily stains. Marble is available in a variety of colors and patterns and like ceramic tile, you can create unique patterns, but again you’ll have to deal with keeping grout clean.
- Advantages: It is waterproof, heatproof and beautiful;
- Disadvantages: Very expensive; Vulnerable to scratches and stains (very porous); May need resealing periodically.
- Maintenance: Wash with lukewarm water; Polish semi-annually to maintain shine;
11). Icestone (Glass). Available textured, sandblasted, etched or grooved, glass is sanitary (it’s non-porous) and though it’s easy to clean it may be hard to keep it looking spotless and free of fingerprints and scratches. For a one of a kind design in your kitchen, recycled glass countertops is a great choice. Recycled glass colors and ingredients assure that no two counters will be the same. Glass is sanitary (it’s non-porous) and though it’s easy to clean it may be hard to keep it looking spotless and free of fingerprints and scratches. It’s also heat proof but can crack if a pot is dropped.
- Advantages: Stronger than marble is resistant to heat and scratches; Offers more color-customization options than granite.
- Disadvantages: Somehow expensive; It can stain if not properly maintained.
- Maintenance: Wash daily with mild soap and water; You have to avoid ammonia- and bleach-based cleaners.
We also can find Copper countertops or countertops from eco-friendly materials like Paper-stone and Bamboo countertops.
Do not forget kitchen countertops have a great impact visual; they are a practical but in the same time a decorative element that complements and enhances the beauty of the kitchen.