The kind of countertop you choose can limit your options or provide just what you need to have the countertop you want. There are many different materials that countertops are made out of, and choosing the right material is just the first step toward having the counter and kitchen that you want.
When you go with a natural stone for your countertop, you are getting not just that great, earthy look, but also an incredibly durable countertop that could last for generations. The most common natural stone countertops are granite, soapstone and slate. Granite is by far the most common, and it is becoming increasingly common to find it in kitchens all over the world. It used to be something that only the very rich could afford, but improved manufacturing techniques have brought it into the kitchens of people from all walks of life.
Soapstone and slate aren’t used as often, and that’s mostly because they aren’t as durable. They also are not available in as many colors as granite. You can get granite in just about any color you can think of, but soapstone tends to be green-black to green-gray. Slate can be either black, gray, green, purple or red.
You might know plastic laminate by its trade name- Formica. Laminate is incredibly durable, and it comes in premade sheets. These sheets can be manufactured into any color or style you choose, so there are a ton of options with this material. The price can range considerably too. If you go with something that is already made and you use a simple edge treatment, you can get laminate for cheaper than just about any countertop material. There are very expensive, very decorative sheets of laminate available as well, if your tastes go in that direction.
In the past, you would see tile used commonly in countertop remodels. But the trend has definitely shifted, and you don’t see tile countertops as often. That’s because they can be high maintenance and not as durable as many other substances. If you are going to go with tile, be sure to pick a tile that is graded for countertops and not the cheaper, more fragile wall tile.
Wood countertops have never been very common, and that’s mostly due to the price. Nowadays, you can get wood countertops for roughly the same price as you would a granite countertop. While wood is great for chopping on (and it is the only countertop surface that is recommended for chopping), it can also be a pain to maintain. If you don’t keep up with it, it will quickly lose its finish and become susceptible to warping.
We have several kinds of wood countertop choices available, so let one of our specialists detail your options for you before you make your choice.
One of the newer countertop options is the solid surface. This is a fabricated material made from polyester, acrylic or a combination of the two. While solid surfaces are essentially imitation stone, they come with a lot of benefits. If there are scratches or dents in the material, you can sand them out or fill them in pretty easily. They are also resistant to stains and they come in any color or pattern you can imagine.
A Guide to Granite Countertops
For most of our clients that want our recommendation, we go with granite countertops. There are a lot of reasons for that, but it mostly comes down to the sheer number of options and the inherent durability. Nothing really lasts longer, making granite a very cost-effective choice, even if it isn’t the cheapest option upfront.
Which Type of Granite to Use?
When you use granite for your countertops, you have a lot of choice. There are many different colors and patterns available to you, and the best one for you will depend both on what look you are going for and on how the rest of your kitchen looks. You’ll want to browse our full selection of granite to find the one that best suits your kitchen remodel.
Granite Countertop Maintenance
Every material you use for your countertops will need to be treated and cleaned a different way. As strong as granite is, you have to maintain it if you want it to last for as long as possible.
Before you do any cleaning, be sure your countertop is sealed. This smooths the granite and ensures nothing gets into the cracks and causes erosion. There are three different types of sealer you can use to keep out stains and corrosion.
- Topical – This sealer only covers the outside of the stone and does not seep in, which sets it apart from other sealers. It is incredibly durable and very hard to remove, so make sure it is applied properly.
- Penetrating – This one keeps the shine to a minimum and allows your granite’s natural beauty to show through. As the name suggests, it gets deep into the granite to give it a powerful seal.
- Stone Enhancer – Adding Stone Enhancer to your granite countertop is a lot like whetting a stone. It darkens it and brings out the natural vibrancy while providing superb protection.
Keeping Granite Countertops Looking Perfect
You can read about how to keep granite countertops clean, but briefly, you’ll need to re-seal your granite countertop a couple of times a year. But once it is sealed, you can clean it with a heavy-duty stone cleaner. Make sure you clean it regularly, wiping up any spills as soon as they happen. This will protect the seal on the stone and prevent stains. You also want to avoid any harsh cleaners, such as lemon or vinegar solutions. To polish the granite, you can use a soft cloth.
The Right Sink for a Granite Countertop
Granite’s unique look calls for a unique kind of sink. What we recommend to most people who are having granite countertops installed is to use an under mount sink. This is set into the granite, and it blends with it seamlessly. It never detracts from the natural beauty of the granite countertop.
Drop-in sinks can work for granite countertops as well, and they are slightly less expensive to install than under mount sinks. Many of our clients ask us to use their old drop-in sinks on their new countertops just because they are so used to them. Whichever way you choose to go, we’ll be able to accommodate your needs.
Alternatives to Granite
Maybe granite isn’t right for you. For many people, it is too expensive or too difficult to maintain. In those instances, there are some great alternatives that they should consider.
Solid surface countertops are more expense and a lot easier to maintain. They also tend to look a lot like granite, so you don’t lose much of that natural charm. You will need professional installation on solid surface countertops though, if you want to avoid water seeping into your countertops and ruining it later.
Quartz is another good alternative. Once again, it is cheaper than granite and it requires a lot less maintenance.
Laminate can be a good option as well. No other material appears as similar to granite without being the real deal. Now, since it isn’t actually granite, it won’t be as durable, but the difference in strength and durability isn’t going to be severe. Probably the closest granite-like laminate on the market is Wilsonart’s Winter Carnival. Most people won’t be able to tell the difference, and you’ll save a lot of money.