A quick trip to your local home improvement store will give you a glimpse of the wide array of countertops available to put the perfect finishing touch on your kitchen remodel. Before you choose a countertop based on price or appearance, you need to assess the way your kitchen is used so you can choose the best countertop material for your family's lifestyle. An experienced remodeler will be able to help you decide on the best countertops for your situation.
Luckily, there are so many types of materials and colors available that if you end up with your heart set on a particular look that is not the best fit for your family's needs, you can likely find a look-alike in a more suitable, often manufactured, material. While price should be a consideration, the countertop is not the part of the kitchen remodel you want to cut corners on. In most kitchens, the counters get the most daily wear and tear. Here are some of the benefits and disadvantages of the more popular countertop options.
Stainless steel countertops
Stainless steel has seen a major comeback in countertops and appliances in residential kitchens, especially with families that have children.
Stainless steel is very easy to sanitize, durable, stain proof and temperature proof. Stainless steel gives a modern, clean feel to a kitchen and helps brighten rooms that may lack natural lighting.
Some families dislike the fact that stainless steel shows fingerprints and small scratches easily.
Marble and Granite countertops
Marble is the most sought after countertop material, largely due to its visually stunning appearance. Because marble is a naturally occurring stone, each piece is unique. Marble is available in a variety of colors and hues, and color is determined by the geographical location where it was mined. Granite is very similar but more durable than marble.
Marble and granite are some of the longest-lasting materials used for countertops. If you care for your countertops properly, they can look the same several generations later as they did when installed. Because marble and granite are very hard stones, they do not tend to chip or scratch and are heat-resistant.
Depending on the color you choose, and where that color of marble is mined, the cost for marble countertops is typically a significant investment. Granite tends to have a more stable price regardless of color, but it is also expensive. Marble and granite must be sealed regularly to protect the counter surface.
Engineered stone countertops
Engineered stone countertops are made from 90 percent quartz, but they can be made in a wide variety of custom colors, allowing for more precise control over color coordination that natural occurring stone. Few people can tell the difference between quality engineered stone and natural stone.
Engineered stone is significantly less expensive than granite or marble, and much easier to keep up. There is no need to seal engineered stone countertops like you must do with natural stone.
Engineered stone is not heatproof, meaning you must exercise greater caution with hot surfaces than you would with marble or granite.
Solid surface countertops
Solid surface countertops are made of a hard, synthetic material that is nonporus and available in a variety of colors, styles and textures. In recent years, solid surface countertops have been a very popular choice for many kitchen remodels.
If you like the look of a more expensive countertop, but do not want to deal with the cost and maintenance associated with them, solid surface countertops are an excellent choice. This type of countertop can seamlessly integrate with your backsplash and requires very little upkeep. It also tends to be a third of the cost of the natural stone countertops and gives the same appearance.
Solid surface countertops are not heat-resistant. They also stain and scratch fairly easily. The good news is that you can sand away the blemishes without burning too much elbow grease.
Ceramic tile countertops
Ceramic tile countertops are seeing a push in popularity as more people go for a vintage look in their home design. Ceramic is available in all colors, and can often be installed as a do-it-yourself project over your existing countertop.
Ceramic tile is very simple to install and very easy to clean. Ceramic tile also allows a level of creativity that other surfaces cannot provide, and the backsplash can easily be tied into the overall design. Ceramic tile is heat- and moisture-resistant as well.
The most significant disadvantage to ceramic tile countertops is that the grout can be very difficult to keep clean. The surface is naturally uneven, allowing for dirt and debris to build up on the grout. Grout can stain, so consider colors other than white for kitchen applications.
Mix, match and accessorize
Still cannot choose a countertop? Many people are finding that mixing and matching the various types of countertops can help set apart different areas of the kitchen. For example, stainless steel might be a great option for a kitchen island where you do all of your chopping and mixing, while the rest of the counters may benefit from a stone look.
If your budget allows, consider decorative edges, especially on stone countertops. Bevel, radius, bullnose and other finishing edges can make your countertops stand out.