12 January 2009

Continue from The Most Popular Kitchen Countertops I

7. Stainless Steel Countertops
For a really contemporary and industrial look for your kitchen, stainless steel is a good choice. They are heat resistant and durable. Because they're constructed to your specifications, you can have a seamless countertop.Stainless steel countertops are not very elegant and look "cold". They do not absorb stains oils or odors, but it will scratch easily and scratches cannot be repaired.

Pros :
  • Easy to clean
  • Heat tolerant
  • Non-porous and sanitary, particularly stainless steel
  • Offers a unique look
Cons :
  • Noisy; may dent
  • Expensive; and the fabrication is expensive; you can't cut on it
  • Can scratch depending on the metal used
  • Prone to denting if objects are dropped on it
8. Soapstone Countertops
Soapstone is generally dark gray in color and has a smooth feel. It is often seen in historic homes but is also used in modern homes as both a countertop and sink material.

Pros :
  • Rich
  • Deep color
  • Smooth feel
  • Somewhat stain resistant
Cons :
  • Requires regular maintenance with applications of mineral oil
  • May crack and darken over time
9. Lavastone Countertops
Lavastone is volcanic lava that's hardened into a stone-like consistency. Most Lavastone countertop material is covered with a hard enamel that makes the surface similar to tile, except you don't have to deal with grout lines like you do with a tile countertop. It can be expensive but you have a virtually unlimited supply of colors.

Pros :
  • Offers a unique look; not a common surfacing material
  • Enameled lavastone has similar properties to tile (heat, scratch and stain resistant, non porous)
  • Wide color range available
Cons :
  • Expensive
  • Few manufacturers/suppliers
10. Marble Countertops
Because of it's extremely high price tag, marble is not often seen on the countertops of whole kitchens. To get the luxurious look, use it on an island or inset at a baking center. Marble requires constant maintenance, as it easily stains. Some new sealers retard staining.

Pros :
  • Waterproof
  • Heatproof
  • Beautiful.
Cons :
  • Expensive
  • Porous
  • Stains easily unless professionally sealed
  • Can scratch
  • May need resealing periodically as per manufacturer
11. Glass Countertops
Glass countertops offer a sleek, modern style that's unique and usually custom-designed so there's little worry of having a kitchen just like everyone else. There's a world of choices in textures, styles and colors so there's virtually no limit to the level of distinction you can put in your kitchen. Glass countertop sources include architectural glass fabricators and glass art studios so there's bound to be a design that's right for you. Glass countertops are sturdy enough to stand up to their role but you'll still want to be sure you avoid dropping something large and heavy on them. They will scratch and they're not immune to cracks or breaks.

Pros :
  • Heat tolerant and stain resistant
  • Wide range of styles, colors and textures available offering a unique style choice
  • Eco-friendly when using recycled glass
  • Hygienic, non-porous surface that's easy to clean and won't harbor germs/bacteria
  • Custom-made product - styles are limited only by the capabilities and features offered by the fabricator
Cons :
  • Cost can be high depending on the style and characteristics of the countertop design
  • May show fingerprints and water spots more easily than other countertop surfaces
  • Typically strong but not immune to cracks or fractures if objects are dropped on it
  • Acidic substances can etch and mar the glass surface
12. Concrete Countertops
If you have countertops in unusual shapes, concrete may be a good choice. Concrete offers endless design options since they're fabricated to your specifications, either right in your home or in a design studio and then shipped to your kitchen. Concrete offers a smooth surface in just about any color along with a stoutness that embodies solidity.
The high price tag may be beyond most people's budget.

Pros :
  • Heat and scratch resistant
  • Can be color-tinted
  • Looks exotic and unusual
  • New treatments eliminate cracking
  • Additives reduce porosity
  • New finishes are more decorative.
  • Can be made to any shape/style and color
  • Can incorporate inlaid decorative items/patterns or useful implements such as trivets
Cons :
  • Mid to high range on cost due to custom work
  • Can look somewhat industria
  • Porous but can be sealed.
  • May develop natural hairline cracks (characteristic of the material)
  • Can be chipped
  • Heavy - requires sturdy cabinetry/support structure
  • Not as widely available depending on location but fabricators are becoming more prevalent and some specialty fabricators ship worldwide
13. Composite and Recycled Materials
Composite and recycled countertops deliver some interesting alternatives for kitchen countertops. Some are made from recycled paper combined with resins to form a surface that's hard yet warmer than stone. Other choices include the use of recycled crushed glass and porcelain that's mixed with resins or cement. The result is a durable but distinctive terrazzo-like surface. The eco-friendly nature of these choices may also give you the satisfaction of having helped the environment.

Pros :
  • Offers a look similar to some natural stone depending on color (slate)
  • 'Green' qualities - made from recycled and earth-friendly materials/techniques
  • Offers a warmer surface to the touch than stone or engineered stone or glass
Cons :
  • Some color change of fading may occur depending on product and use
  • Still somewhat new in the marketplace

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