The kitchen serves as the heartbeat of the home and a key driver of resale value. So when planning the remodel of your kitchen, every decision is an important one. But one of the most important decisions, both visually and functionally, is your kitchen countertop material.
Think about it: what’s often the first thing people comment on when they come into your kitchen? Odds are, it’s the countertops…or perhaps the cabinets, if custom made by TriFection. Where do a significant percentage of everyday kitchen activities take place? You guessed it: the countertop. Your countertops need to be a perfect blend of both beautiful and functional, while also not breaking the bank.
How Do I Choose My Kitchen Countertop Materials?
In an ideal world, we could choose any material we liked. However, the material must also be functional for the space and fit into your budget. Therefore, your kitchen countertops must achieve the trifecta of perfection: visually appealing, functional, and cost-effective.
Remember, the countertop should work in combination with your backsplash. The material will be covering a lot of surface area in a very important area of your home. Depending on the material you choose, it can be a sizable portion of your total remodeling budget.
The countertop material needs to be resistant to heat, stains, and impact. Though there are dozens of kitchen countertop options, here are several of the most popular that proved both durable and financially sensible, while still providing a beautiful work space for our clients to enjoy:
Granite Kitchen Countertops
Granite remains the most popular kitchen countertop material, and for good reason. It’s incredibly durable and absolutely beautiful. Every slab of granite is completely unique, with its own “character” that comes from the mix of colors and natural movement. Some options feature far more natural movement than others. Similar to diamonds, prices range widely based on the rarity of the color and quality of a particular slab. You should seek advice from a trusted professional when picking granite because an inexperience buyer can easily overlook important details.
Like most natural stones, granite is porous and must be sealed as part of installation and periodically thereafter. However, when originally sealed and cared for properly, granite is not a high-maintenance product. The sealer can last 10 to 15 years, and reapplying sealer is similar to waxing your car – not a big deal. Granite can withstand high temperatures, spills and impact extremely well.
Quartz Kitchen Countertops
Engineered quartz has become more popular in recent years as an alternative to natural stone. It features many different color options, durability, and low maintenance. Comprised of various stone materials and resin, quartz can mimic the look of granite or marble. Given its lack of porosity, quartz does not require periodic application of a protective sealer.
Another benefit of quartz countertops: they’re green! No, not actually green; they’re environmentally friendly. The stone materials that form your quartz countertops are by-products of other quarrying or manufacturing processes. No stone is quarried solely for the purpose of creating quartz countertops.
A note of caution regarding quartz countertops: they should not be used in outdoor applications or even indoor areas that receive a great deal of sunlight. UV rays from the sun can cause some degree of discoloration in the resin over time. For example, what originally was pure white can become off-white or yellow due to extended sun exposure. Also, a quartz “bookmatch” (fusing together two separate pieces to look like one continuous piece) typically does not look as natural as granite or other stones since every quartz slab of a given color is manufactured identically. TriFection’s countertop experts can explain this concept in greater detail.
Quartzite Kitchen Countertops
Quartz and Quartzite: although they sound similar, the two materials are completely different. Quartz is a man-made material while quartzite is a natural stone.
Quartzite usually comes in a shade of white or grey. Although its appearance varies greatly, quartzite has very distinct veining. Popular for its natural beauty and durability, quartzite resists heat, etching and scratching more than other surfaces. And, each slab offers a unique, one-of-a-kind look to give your kitchen a personalized feel. Quartzite comes in an array of colors and veining that run subtle to bold. In essence, quartzite looks like marble but wears like granite.
Butcher Block Kitchen Countertops
Butcher block kitchen countertops seem to make any home a little warmer and more inviting. If the homeowner maintains their butcher block countertops, they will age gracefully. However, without proper upkeep, they will begin to dull and crack over time. Butcher block is made from straight cuts of wood, pieced together into thick slabs that provide a sturdy and stable work surface. Butcher block kitchen counters can be constructed from just about any type of wood, with maple being the most popular.
For butcher block kitchen countertops, the price can vary greatly, depending on the grain construction and thickness, along with the type of the wood used. Unlike laminate or solid surface countertops, butcher block countertops can be repaired fairly easily.
Marble Kitchen Countertops
Traditionally, marble associates with luxury. You’ll often find it installed on high-end floors and bathrooms. Marble looks very attractive to many consumers, with its natural, gentle swirls. However, relative to granite and quartzite, it is a softer stone and not appropriate for kitchens. Acidic cooking oils and cleaners, as well as common food juices and drinks, can etch marble in the event of a spill. Marble also scratches and dings easily from the impact of a dropped kitchen utensil or other object. As such, the TriFection team of designers strongly advises against installing marble countertops in the kitchen. If you do, be prepared to treat the countertop very gingerly or incur the expense of refinishing multiple times. Save it for your bathroom remodel instead.
Specialty Kitchen Countertops
The following kitchen countertop materials fall into the category of “specialty”. These materials appeal to those with unique and modern tastes in the Greater Houston area. It’s important to note these materials are not as readily available and fewer color options exist. Furthermore, the number of experienced and trusted installers are few and far between. Consequently, the cost is typically much higher compared to other countertop options. Lastly, if you plan to incorporate the following materials into your kitchen design, consider the durability and future service availability, if required, and the possible impact on your home’s resale value. These options tend to be trendy and may not appeal to a broad universe of future home buyers.
Soapstone Kitchen Countertops
Soapstone kitchen countertops attract consumers with a narrow focus on their desired look. Fewer color options exist and slabs feature a lower degree of variation. Given its density and lack of porosity, soapstone is a durable, low-maintenance product. As a chemically inert material, soapstone will not be harmed by acidic juices, cleaners or other chemicals. Consequently, it’s a very popular choice in science labs. Soapstone darkens naturally over time. Periodic application of mineral oil helps preserve the desired look.
Recycled Glass Kitchen Countertops
Recycled glass appeals to those folks with highly contemporary tastes. Also known as crushed glass, they are made of large shards of glass set into either an acrylic or concrete base. Eco-friendly and eye-catching, recycled glass countertops are easy to clean and non-porous. They can, however, be somewhat vulnerable to high temperatures.
Concrete Kitchen Countertops
If you want to bring a modern, outdoor feel into your kitchen, concrete countertops may be for you. Concrete can be cast into virtually any shape, as well as pigmented, textured or stained with a variety of finishes. Some homeowners even choose to embed stones or tiles for added enhancement. Concrete holds up well against heat, stains, dents and scratches but can be somewhat prone to cracks as it ages.
Stainless Steel Kitchen Countertops
Stainless steel fits well in extremely high-use residential or commercial kitchens and for cooking enthusiasts. These counters are easy to clean, durable, and aesthetically pleasing to those who like a modern, industrial look. Although rarely requested as a replacement option, stainless steel countertops usually have a very loyal following among the small group of homeowners who’ve used them previously.
Remodeling your home certainly can be stressful and intimidating, particularly when it comes to choosing the right combination of materials. If you or someone you know is considering a kitchen remodel in the Greater Houston area, or for more information, contact TriFection by filling out this short form on our website or simply call 281-KITCHEN!