12 January 2009

There are lots of options on the market for kitchen countertops. When you choose your countertop, select a color and texture that compliments your cabinetry, floor or paint selection. Don't be afraid to combine two or more countertop materials in one kitchen. Complimentary colors or textures on adjacent surfaces can create visual interest.

1. Granite Countertops
Granite is hard as rock. Granite is the countertop material of choice when there are no other things to think about - like money. It defines elegance in a kitchen. As the use of granite becomes more widespread, the price comes down. Though costly, when buffed to a shine it creates a smashing look for kitchen counters. It is also riding a crest of popular style that began over 10 years ago. With granite tops, the experience and expertise of the fabricator is vitally important.

Pros :
  • Hold up to heat
  • Many colors available (about 3000 colors)
  • Looks permanent and substantial
  • Very durable and will last a lifetime
  • New sealers are almost maintenance-free
  • Has a high value to home buyers
Cons :
  • Costly, but worth it, more affordable
  • requires some maintenance
  • some stones absorbs stains if not sealed
  • knife can become dull if you cut on it; can crack if stressed or improperly installed.
2. Engineered Stone Countertops
Predominantly a quartz material (93%) that's been crushed and combined with resins to form a hard surface like stone, but without the maintenance requirements like periodic sealing. It is available in a larger range of colors than granite and has a nonporous surface that resists scratches. Some brands on the market include DuPont Zodiaq®, LG Viatera®, Cambria Quartz, and Silestone®.

Pros :
  • Durable as stone but non-porous and stain and acid resistant so it doesn't require sealing
  • Can be offered in colors not found with natural stone
Cons :
  • Can be expensive depending on color choice and edge profiles
3. Solid Surface Countertops
Solid surface is basically a plastic but that's where the blandness ends. Any scratches can be sanded out. Many styles and colors are available and the seamless characteristics work well for expansive countertops and integral sinks. The countertops are custom-made to your specifications by companies such as Avonite, Corian, and Swanstone.

Pros :
  • Renewable (cuts and scratches can be blended out)
  • seamless; stain resistant.
  • Allows for the use of integrated sinks (no visible seams between sink and countertop)
  • No visible seams which is advantageous on large countertop designs
  • Non-porous
  • Many patterns and colors available, some which resemble natural stone
Cons :
  • Softer and easier to scratch than stone or other harder surfaces
  • vulnerable to hot pans and stains which can damage the surface;
  • Relatively higher cost among the countertop surfaces
  • Requires professional fabrication/installation in most cases including repairs
4. Ceramic Tile Countertops
Tile's another choice that's been available for years but you're not limited to just the basic 4-inch squares anymore. Natural stone tiles like granite are available and come in large sizes which means you could have a granite countertop with just a few grout lines for less cost than a granite slab.

Ceramic tile is durable and easy to clean. Add to that inexpensive and you've got a really good choice for countertops for the average home. Because it's installed a section at a time, it can be done by most resourceful homeowners.

Pros :
  • Easy to clean
  • Durable; heat tolerant, scratch and stain resistant
  • Endless variety of styles, texture, design and colors available
  • Can be very cost efficient depending on the type of tile chosen
  • Larger natural stone tile such as granite can be used to provide a more affordable granite kitchen countertop compared to a solid slab
Cons :
  • Can be bothersome to wipe clean because of the interruptions in the surface from the grout lines
  • Grout can stain and discolor over time
  • Custom-designed tiles are very expensive.
5. Laminates Countertops
Well known by trade names such as Formica, Nevamar, and Wilsonart. They're made of plastic-coated synthetics with a smooth surface that's easy to clean. The pieces are cut to size and finished on the ends. New innovations make for a broad range of colors and patterns and more recently, the addition of textures.

Pros :
  • Durable
  • Inexpensive
  • Affordable
  • Easily maintained
  • Almost limitless range of colors/patterns
Cons :
  • Edges and seams visible
  • Not heat tolerant
  • Can scratch and chip
  • End finishing and front edge choices can be pricey.
  • Chips not easily repaired and repairs (such as colored pastes) are still visible after pair/almost imposible to repair.
6. Wood or Butcher Block Countertops
Wood countertops offer a beautiful warm look and are available in a wide range of colors and finishes. Hardwoods such as maple and oak are most often used as countertop woods.

Pros :
  • Unique aesthetic appeal and smooth
  • Offers a warmer surface than stone or engineered stone
  • Butcher block style provides good cutting surface
  • Easy to clean
  • can be sanded and resealed as needed.
Cons :
  • Requires sealing and periodic resealing depending on the application
  • Susceptible to water damage if not properly treated/sealed
  • Scratches must be oiled or sealed according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Generally a softer material and can dent and will scratch and show cut marks
Continue to The Most Popular Kitchen Countertops II

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