Most clients are familiar with common countertop materials such as marble, granite or quartz. However, those popular options by no means limit a palate or choices. Other popular countertop materials include:
Laminate (Formica, Wilsonart, Devmar and others): Laminate is cost effective, comes in hundreds of colors and patterns and is easy to clean and maintain.
Wood (Butcher Block): Wood is a living product that will change over time. Wood will show wear and tear, nicks and scratches; it is not heat resistant and needs to be sealed regularly. The attractiveness of wood is its ability to add character and warmth to a kitchen. Another advantage of wood is the range of available thicknesses and edges. Wood countertops should be viewed and used as a piece of fine furniture as opposed to a high-performance kitchen top solution. Designers often pair wood with other countertop materials.
Stainless Steel: Professional chefs gravitate to stainless steel, in part, because it is impervious to bacteria and heat. Stainless steel requires more maintenance than most other surfaces because of its propensity to scratch and show water spots and fingerprints. Stainless steel is often selected to create an industrial look or for those who want the look and feel of a commercial kitchen.
Recycled Glass: This green material is easy to clean and maintain, stain resistant, heat resistant, durable and strong. Each glass countertop is unique, providing a custom look. Recycled glass, despite its strength, can crack if not properly installed. Also, some designs easily show fingerprints and water spots.
Concrete: Concrete is extremely durable and is often custom formed in the kitchen or bath to fit any size, shape, texture or color desired. Concrete countertops need to be regularly sealed to prevent staining. Additionally, concrete tops can scratch and chip.
Solid Surface (Corian and Swanstone, among others): Solid surfaces are made from acrylic, generally less expensive than stone or quartz and easy to clean and maintain. They come in rainbows of colors and the material is unique in that the seams can be invisible. Solid surface countertops can be damaged by heat and are susceptible to scratching.
Tile: Common countertop tiles are made from ceramic, glass, granite and porcelain. Tiles come in an endless array of styles, colors, shapes and textures and can be sized to fit any motif. Tile countertops tend to be labor intensive for installation and need to be sealed regularly to prevent damage to the grout. If you are interested in granite, marble, glass, porcelain or another type of natural stone, a way to reduce material cost is to select tile instead of slabs, but doing so will increase your installation and maintenance costs. While there may be cost saving advantages to go with tile over slabs, there are also huge performance differences. Slabs do not require grouting or feature grout lines. Plus, stone, quartz, marble and glass slabs last longer than tile alternatives.
Porcelain: Porcelain countertops are available in an endless array of colors, patterns and textures; they are easy to clean and heat resistant. Porcelain is also stronger than granite and lighter. Porcelain slabs are extremely durable but there is the potential for chipping and cracking.
Seeing Is Believing
What countertop would fit perfectly in your new kitchen? Contact or visit Howard’s Kitchen Studio to see and experience firsthand the right countertops for your home.