Summertime is a relatively easy time to renovate your home, and your kitchen is a good place to start. The right kitchen countertop will beautify your kitchen, increase your home’s value and have the durability to last for many years to come. With so many choices out there–from granite to soapstone or even concrete countertops–it isn’t easy to pick the right material for your kitchen. Read on to find out how 6 kitchen countertop materials stack up when it comes to beauty, durability and price.
Solid surface counter tops like Corian™ are made of acrylic, so they tend to be resistant to sunlight and moisture. They come in a wide variety of colors and have the option of a seamless sink installation. Solid surface counter tops are somewhat heat-resistant, although it’s not a good idea to set a hot pan directly on them. These counter tops are much less expensive than natural stone and don’t require any sealing. Since “solid surface” means that the material is the same throughout the thickness of the counter, you can remove minor scars with light buffing. A good solid surface countertop can increase your home’s resale value somewhat.
Soapstone is a beautiful material that is a perfect fit in a historic-style décor. It has a warm feel to it, as opposed to the solid coldness of granite. Soapstone is not cheap–prices tend to be comparable to granite. You need to treat soapstone counter tops regularly with mineral oil to bring out the color and increase stain-resistance. Consumer Reports gives it a “so-so” rating for stain resistance. Soapstone is prone to scratching and chipping, so it is probably not ideal for a high-traffic kitchen.
Among kitchen countertop materials, granite tops the list for durability. It is resistant to chipping (a problem with ceramic tile) scratching (a problem with wood and laminate) and cracking (a risk with concrete). Granite is porous and can soak up stains, so you will need to seal most granite countertops annually. Granite slab countertops are among the most beautiful options, and also among the most expensive. Most granite countertops typically boost a home’s re-sale value.
Marble counter tops give your kitchen an elegant, classic look. The veining in natural marble slab counter tops gives them a beautiful depth of color. Natural marble is also one of the most expensive counter top materials, however. Marble counter tops are heat-resistant, but are prone to chips and scratches and must be sealed, usually yearly, to make them more stain resistant. When Consumer Reports tested a marble counter top, they found that even sealed marble became permanently stained when exposed to hard water stain-removers. Therefore, marble might not be the best choice for homes with hard water.
Recycled Glass/ Recycled Glass Tiles
Recycled glass terrazzo slab countertops are a modern, eco-friendly option for your kitchen countertop. These countertops are made by mixing recycled glass with epoxy or concrete, and can be made with larger chunks for a variegated look (see photo) or with ground glass for a more solid-color look. For the greenest option, look for countertops that use “low VOC” binders, which means that less harmful gas is released into the environment during their manufacture. Recycled glass slab countertops are resistant to heat, cuts and scratches, but are not as stain-resistant as other options. The price of recycled glass slab counter tops is in the moderate range.
Recycled glass tiles are made by melting down repurposed glass. These tiles are very pretty, but are prone to chipping, scratching and cracking, which makes them more appropriate for a backsplash than a countertop.
A laminate counter tops, such as Formica™, is one of the most inexpensive kitchen countertop options. Laminate counter tops have a bit of a bad rap appearance-wise, but modern laminates have come a very long way since the 70’s “faux-butcher-block” look. Now there are hundreds of options to choose from, though the price goes up a bit with the higher-end choices. Laminates are stain-resistant and fairly heat-resistant, and don’t crack easily. They are prone to nicks and scratches, though, and you can’t buff scratches out like you can with a solid surface counter top. A laminate counter top won’t do your home’s resale value any favors, but the price is right for families on a tight budget.
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