Exploring Kitchen Countertop Types
Below are some of the most popular Kitchen Countertop Types. Any material can be used for kitchens countertops. Its up to you to decide how much care and maintenance you wish to put into the product to achieve the desired look, longevity and effects you want. There is no right or wrong answer, only personal preference.
Granite has been the star of the medium to high-end kitchen design for years, and its popularity shows no sign of weakening. Granite is a natural stone and consist mainly of quartz, mica, and feldspar. It comes in hundreds of colors and is available in textures such as polished, leather, sand blasted grain, rough and honed. Granite usually has a lot of grains and swirls referred to as “Movement” and mostly used in traditional, transitional and eclectic designs. If you’re looking for a unique, beautiful and resilient countertop for your kitchen remodel, consider granite as one of your top choices. Granite requires a new protective top coat at least once a year.
Engineered Quartz, also know as Manufactured Quartz, is a man-made product created mostly from natural materials. It’s made of roughly to 94 percent ground quartz and 6 percent resins and pigments that are combined into durable and nonporous slabs.
Engineered Quartz is much stronger and has a higher impact rating than granite and is scratch and heat resistant. Quartz countertops are available in dozens of colors with patterns that are consistent, unlike those found in natural stone. Making this material the preferred choice for modern and contemporary designs.
Patterns are also available to include variations you get with natural stone. Such as multi-hued slabs with flecks, swirls, mirror chips and random patterning to make them almost indistinguishable from the real thing. Slabs were once available only with a polished finish; now you can get them with a honed, sandblasted, or embossed patterns. So if it’s the look of matte limestone, textured slate, or glossy granite what you want, there’s a quartz countertop for you.
Marble is much softer than granite and can be marred by scratches or stains. It’s not a good choice for kitchens as it can stain and scratch easily. Marble is usually used for tops on furniture such as side tables and dressers. No matter how much sealing you do, Marble will stain if used in a kitchen.
Soapstone is a natural stone with a silky feel. Soapstone is only available in dark colors that deepen with time, developing a burnished patina. Soapstone is heat resistant and not harmed by hot pots, citrus, wine, acids or chemicals. The downside, it is much softer than many other stones, therefore, it can scratch and chip with abuse and should be oiled from time to time. Soapstone is a preferred choice for bakers working with bread dough, pie crust, pizzas, etc, making it an option for the island or separate countertop.
Many of our projects incorporate a wood top to add a touch of warmth to the kitchen’s island or bar top. Over time a wood top develops a beautiful patina finish from regular use. Wood counters need to be oiled from time to time to hold their luster and can also be sealed with a food grade polyurethane for less maintenance. Typically there are three types of woods used for countertops; maple, cherry and black walnut. We order our tops from John Booz or custom make them when wider boards are preferred. Often Clients ask us to distress their wood top to give them a used, warm appearance. Wood tops are also great for working with bread and pastry dough.
In the hands of a skilled artisan, concrete can assume any color or shape and can be very unique. The addition of glass, shells or other materials gives concrete counters the look of terrazzo or mosaic, and modern finishing techniques deliver smooth, strong and seamless surface.
This is my least favorite of all countertops for several reasons. The first being the High Cost vs Value. Of all the countertops available, this material holds the least value for longevity. While it sounds cool and can look great early on, staining will occur in the cooking and wet areas. The concrete must be sealed and stained and even then, in a few months the color will fade. If you are into an industrial look, this is for you.
Glass is truly a unique and beautiful countertop material for the modern and contemporary design. It is amazingly strong, scratch, stain and heat resistant and incredibly easy to clean. Available in many thickness’s, colors and textures. Thinkglass offers some remarkable glass for many types of applications.
Made from up to one hundred percent post consumer recycled paper, fortified with petroleum free resins, Paperstone is an environmentally friendly option and available in smooth and textured surfaces that are reminiscent of stone, concrete and leather. Paperstone counters are a great way to increase sustainability without sacrificing style.
PaperStone surface is non-porous and provides stain resistance and it absorbs virtually no water. Surface cuts or marks may be sanded or rubbed out with an abrasive pad. It has a superior strength that allows unsupported overhangs up to 18″ when 3/4-inch material is used. It is only heat resistant to 350 degrees and has been certified ‘food safe’ by NSF and is LEED & Green Building compliant.
Stainless steel is usually used in modern, contemporary and industrial flair kitchens.
Stainless counters are aesthetically pleasing with clean lines. They offer non-porous surfaces, are resistant to water, heat and stains. Stainless tops are great for meal preparation as it is extremely hygienic with regular cleaning.
Downside to stainless is that swirl marks and denting can occur.
Laminate has been used on kitchen countertops since the 1920’s and is still very popular today. They’re inexpensive, durable, come in lots of colors, textures, patterns, sheens and edge designs. They resist grease and stains and clean up with soap and water and can take a lot of abuse.
On the downside, laminate tops can be damaged by hot pans and sharp knives, abrasive cleaners can dull the finish, and if water penetrates seams, the substrate can expand and the laminate will bulge. Surface damage is difficult to repair. All of these problems can be avoided through proper installation and use.
Laminates are here to stay and many cabinet manufactures use laminates to cover flat style doors and cabinets boxes. Most modern style homes and nearly all business and hospitals use laminates due to it’s low maintenance and ease of cleaning.
Before granite stole the spotlight, Dupont Corian flooded the market and was the go-to material in high end designer kitchens. It’s popularity faded quickly in the residential market due to high cost and maintenance, low heat tolerance and boring colors. The material can crack, stain and burn from a hot pot. Solid surface sinks were notorious for cracking from pouring boiling water in the sink from draining pasta.
On a plus side, Solid Surface is 100% repairable from a qualified technician. Solid surface material in non porous and seamless. Sinks can be integrated seamlessly into the countertop, making this material the ideal solution for hospitals and clinics to prevent bacterial growth.