Kitchen Countertops: How to Choose the Right One

Countertops for the kitchen

Kitchens are a focal point in the home as well as an integral part of family life. Everyone gathers in the kitchen for a meal here or there throughout the week, no matter how busy his or her schedule is. Quite often, the day really begins in the kitchen as the first cup of coffee is brewed or the school lunches are taken. Additionally, entertaining guests at parties, family gatherings, or celebrations typically takes place in the kitchen.

Moreover, remodeling your kitchen is a winning situation for almost every homeowner.  Not only do you achieve the benefit of a nicely redone, attractive kitchen, but also, you reap the benefit of an increased resale value for your home. Updated kitchens are one of the best features a home on the market can offer to potential homeowners.

However, remodeling the kitchen is not for the faint of heart. This is an expensive undertaking that can take several days or even weeks depending on the remodeling that is being done. Therefore, it is important to consider all of your options carefully and make your selections wisely. This is not likely to be an undertaking that will be redone any time soon.

There are certain facets that should be considered when undertaking this type of task. Although some are more important than others, none of them are insignificant. The process of choosing the right kitchen countertops should involve a look at the visual or aesthetic appeal, the functionality of the countertops, the affordability of the countertops, and the maintenance features for each type of kitchen countertop.

Visual or Aesthetic Appeal

  • Personal taste- Personal taste varies widely, so it is a good idea to select a manufacturer who can provide at least thirty or more options as far as colors and styles. Selecting something that pleases one individual is difficult enough as it is.  However, if you are trying to please more than one person, it is a good idea to have many choices from which to make your selection. Plus, if you don’t take the time to peruse your options before having the kitchen countertops installed, you might come upon something you like better after the fact.
  • Matching style throughout the home’s interior- If you want a house that flows with style, select the same style for your kitchen that is featured elsewhere in the home. Whether you prefer traditional, contemporary, country, or Southwestern, you will most likely stick to the same style throughout your home for a put together look.
  • Reselling- When remodeling the kitchen, it is important to consider whether you will be selling your home in the near or even the not-so-near future.  If putting the home up for sale is a distinct possibility, then you should attempt to select something that will have widespread appeal. In most cases, something with a basic color and good functionality should be a good choice.

Functionality Aspects

  • Cooking- In order to get the most out of the countertops that you select, consider the following questions first.  Do you cook every day?  Do you cook once in a while when you cannot avoid it?  Are you the type of chef who likes to place hot pots on the countertop without the benefit of a hot plate or thermal barrier?  Do you use a lot of roughly designed cookware that may scratch unprotected surfaces? You will need to take all of these things into account when selecting the type of countertop that you want for your kitchen.  Engineered stone and granite provide excellent scratch resistant and heat resistant surfaces. Therefore, these options are excellent for those who will spend hours cooking each week.
  • Baking- If you are a baker, then you might also want to consider some of the above considerations as well.  Do you need a surface that can resist the heat of tray after tray of deliciously warm cookies?  Perhaps you will also need a stain resistant countertop for all of the food colorings that you might be using in your food decorating endeavors. If this is the case, then you will need to consider engineered stone or stainless steel surfaces, both of which provide excellent heat resistant and stain resistant qualities.  Granite is also a viable option, although its stain resistant qualities are not quite as good as those found in engineered stone or stainless steel.           
  • Entertaining- If you entertain a lot, then you should consider durability along with visual and aesthetic appeal.  Entertaining your guests necessitates a lot of wear and tear on the kitchen countertops in many cases due to all of the buffet set ups and preparation for the events. In fact, not everyone will be as cautious and careful of your countertops as you will be.  Therefore, it is important to consider which features you might need to incorporate in your selection.
  • Decorative purposes- If your kitchen is more of a gathering place and less of a central cooking or baking station, then you might place more emphasis on the decorative aspect of your countertops.  You might be more concerned with seam visibility than with heat resistance.  If that is the case, then you might want to consider any of the following all of which provide excellent lack of seam visibility: engineered stone, stainless steel, butcher block, or laminated surfaces.

Affordability

  • Limited budget- If your budget is limited, laminated countertops is an excellent choice. Although granite is typically expensive, prices have come down somewhat in the last few years. Ceramic tile and laminates are also inexpensive choices.
  • Unlimited budget- For the budget that knows no boundaries, several different types of kitchen countertops are excellent choices including concrete, stainless steel, marble, and engineered stone.

Maintenance Considerations

  • Scratch proof- Granite can crack when stressed beyond its limits. Engineered stone and concrete countertops are generally scratch resistant. Ceramic tile is subject to cracking and chipping. Although butcher block is not scratch resistant, scratches can be professionally repaired.
  • Stain proof- Granite and butcher block readily absorb stains and so they are not good choices for a busy kitchen. Engineered stone falls into the stain resistant category. The grout lines on ceramic tile countertops are easily stained. Marble is a poor choice if you are concerned with stains. It stains easily and requires constant maintenance in order to keep up its luxurious appearance.
  • Heat proof- Granite is an excellent option for heat resistant countertops. Ceramic tile is very resistant to heat. Stainless steel, concrete, and marble are also heat resistant.

Basic Choices for Kitchen Countertops

    • Granite- Granite is an elegant option. Unfortunately, the color choices remain somewhat limited. It is heat resistant. However, it does not resist stains and it requires periodic sealing.
    • Engineered stone- Manufactured by quite a number of companies, engineered stone is available in a wider range of colors than granite. It does not require periodic sealing. It does resist stains and is easy to care for.
    • Stainless steel- Although stainless steel is an excellent choice for a kitchen in the contemporary design, it is not very functional since it is not resistant to dents and scratches. Additionally, it is quite noisy when items are placed or moved on them. Plus, it is an expensive choice. It is, however, heat resistant and easy to clean.
    • Marble- Marble countertops are expensive and in many cases, time consuming to care for. Marble countertops that have been treated with certain sealers are more stain resistant than others. Plus, it is not scratch resistant.
    • Ceramic tile- An inexpensive choice, ceramic tile is heat resistant and easy to have installed, especially since it is installed one section at a time. Lots of color options exist as well as a variety of textures and designs. Unfortunately, the grout is easily stained while the ceramic tile itself is prone to chipping.
    • Butcher Block- Available in a number of color options, butcher block often comes in oak or maple hardwoods. It is easy to clean and can be sanded and resealed. Unfortunately, it is not stain or scratch resistant.
    • Concrete- Concrete countertops are both scratch and heat resistant. Unfortunately, cracking is possible unless they have been professionally treated. Some color choice is available. This type of countertop tends to be on the expensive side.
    • Laminates- This type of countertop has been manufactured under trademarks such as Formica and Wilsonart. Although numerous color options exist, laminates are disagreeable when it comes to scratches, chipping, or tears. Laminates are inexpensive options that are easy to clean and maintain for the most part.

Since the kitchen countertops are a large part of your kitchen, it is important to take the time to research all of your options. Even if price is a concern, shopping around can sometimes lead to affordable choices.

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