A new kitchen countertop can add to the look of your kitchen and improve its functionality. Material options for your new countertop differ in aesthetic appeal, required maintenance, strength, and applicability. There is something for every homeowner’s taste and budget.

Material Comparison

To select the most suitable material for your new kitchen countertop, it is advisable to have an idea of ​​each of its properties so that you can make an informed purchase.

Laminate: Laminates are made from thin sheets of plastic of varying thickness. Formica is a commonly used laminate. Laminates can replicate the look of other materials, such as granite. It is an inexpensive material, available in a wide variety of colors, patterns and surfaces, the edges can be squared or rolled, and the material is stain resistant and easy to clean. Laminates also have some disadvantages. Its finish can be damaged by heat; therefore, hot pots and utensils should not be placed on a laminate surface. Cleaning fluids with strong chemicals can also damage the surface. A laminate is not useful as a cutting surface as it scratches easily; therefore, it is advisable to mount a cutting board. Once damaged, a laminate cannot be repaired, it must be replaced. The flat edges of a laminate surface tend to chip. Laminates do not have a uniform appearance, particularly the lighter shades. This is because the backing is dark in color. Scratches and abrasions will show up on a high gloss surface, but not on a patterned laminate.

Tile: Tile is a relatively inexpensive way to add color and character to your kitchen. They are available in a variety of sizes ranging from 1 to 18 square inches. The tiles are mainly made of glazed ceramic; the glazing makes the tiles resistant to moisture, dirt and scratches. Tiles give you the freedom to design your kitchen countertop in the most creative way. They can be arranged vertically, diagonally or horizontally. Mosaic tiles offer a variety of texture and pattern options. However, grout used between tiles gets dirty easily, is susceptible to mold attack, and requires frequent cleaning. Tiles are not very impact resistant and often chip easily, slightly more expensive than laminate, using epoxy grout, which has the advantage of being more resistant to dirt, can add to the cost.

Corian: Corian is a brand name for a solid surface kitchen countertop material. It has been available for the last 30 years. Unlike laminates, a solid surface that includes a single block of plastic. Solid Surfaces are durable, available in a range of colours, matte and gloss finishes, seams are not prominent and therefore have a consistent look. Solid surfaces can mimic the look and feel of stone. They are stain resistant, non-porous and can be easily cleaned with mild soap. Damaged surfaces can be repaired with the help of repair kits that are readily available. Most brands offer transferable warranties. The main disadvantage of opting for a solid surface is its price. Installation must be performed by a certified installer. In addition, the surface can be damaged by heat and can be scratched under certain circumstances.

Granite: Granite is the most commonly used stone for countertops. Its feel and character are imitated by various synthetic alternatives but never equaled. Granite is extremely durable, scratch proof and heat resistant. Therefore, it eliminates the need to install trivets or a cutting board. Offers a wide selection of natural colors in polished and matte finishes. It can be cleaned with soap and water, a special cleaner is recommended to remove stains.

Granite also has some disadvantages. It is expensive, heavy and requires professional installation. It requires periodic sealing to prevent staining and has visible seams. Granite tiles are an inexpensive option for installing a slab; however, grouts require regular cleaning to maintain sanitation.

Other options in stone countertops include limestone and marble. Limestone offers a limited color selection, but has high heat and impact resistance. Marble provides a nonstick surface; can also be used for baking. However, marble is porous and discolors easily.

Quartz – Quartz is a beautiful natural material that is also strong and durable. Silestone and Cambria are quartz countertop surfaces. Quartz offers several advantages over other countertop materials. Provides greater resistance to scratches and burns compared to plastic surfaces. It also does not require resealing and provides better stain resistance than granite. Quartz is available in a range of colors and offers many edge design options. Since quartz is an engineered product, the colors are more consistent than natural surfaces like granite. It is also an approved surface for food preparation by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) of the United States. Quartz countertops do have seams, but they are thin and, when installed correctly, are barely noticeable. Most manufacturers offer a 10-year warranty on the material.

Wood and Butcher Block: Wood is another natural surface favored for character that you can add to your kitchen. Wood is an ideal cutting surface, as it does not dull the knife edge. A wood countertop is prepared by gluing strips of rock maple or beech wood together. Wood is easy to care for and lasts a long time. However, the designs and edge details of a butcher block should not be too complicated, as they are difficult to clean. Thorough scrubbing is necessary after using the butcher block for raw meat. Regular sanding and oiling help remove scratches that appear over time. Wood also requires regular sealing treatment.

How long does it take to install a countertop?

The time needed to install a countertop will vary depending on the material. Heavier materials such as granite and quartz will require more time for proper installation. A preformed laminate kitchen counter can be installed in about 2-3 hours. With most installations, there are always some adjustments to make, as many times factors such as the walls not being plumb or the cabinet surface not being level come into play. If the countertop is fabricated on site, the process may take 2 days or more as the seal and finish take time to set.

Copyright 2008 by ABCD Publishing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *