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How to choose the right countertops

Countertops

Countertops

 

So over a year ago I did a pretty detailed blog post on our website about the different countertop options you can choose from for your kitchen remodel. Since so much has changed, I wanted to give you all an updated guide for 2020 on how to choose the right countertop material for your next kitchen remodel. 

Let’s get started and work through the countertop materials and I will explain the pro’s and cons for you on each of them.  

Countertop Materials

Wood / Butcher Block 

For some, wood and countertops just don’t seem to mix. However, a high quality wood with the right kind of sealer can make for a beautiful, warm and long-lasting countertop. The price varies substantially depending on the type of wood you choose, edge details etc.  Just talk to your designer.  

Pros:
  • It has a unique warm feeling and can really add that special detail to your kitchen design especially with another type of countertop.
Cons:
  • It’s heat sensitive, of course it can dent and scratch, and It needs to be sealed properly (unless you invest to a really high end supplier and it will be sealed for life. (I will discuss wood countertops in more detail in a future video/blog post).

Solid Surface Countertops 

Solid surface countertops really had their place in time, and they were a big hit at some point when granite still had a higher price point. I see it phasing out more and more as a countertop option in residential design, but it’s going strong on the commercial side as it is such a versatile material. It is basically a blend of acrylic or polyester resins, powdered fillers and pigments, cast into slabs. There are different manufacturers, but the well-known ones are LG Hi-Macs, DuPont Corian and Wilsonart.  

Pros: 
  • Solid surface is durable and nonporous, making it resistant to stains, mildew and bacteria 
  • Comes in almost every color imaginable 
  • Tops are installed seamless due to the material’s ability to be shaped & integrated with each other with heat 
Cons: 
  • Heat sensitive material 
  • Vulnerable to scratches (Pro: Scratches can be buffed, making your tops look like new) 

Laminate Countertops

Ok, hold it right there! Before you go like “heck no I am not putting laminate countertops in my kitchen”, hear me out.  

Instead of using the old school Formica laminate colors that LOOK like granite, how about using a modern feeling and textured high end laminate that will give your new kitchen a contemporary twist.  

As you guys know, I’m originally from Germany and always head back here and there to revisit friends and the food.  Most German kitchens actually fall back on these super cool looking modern laminates as it is so incredibly durable and inexpensive.  

Pros:
  • Incredibly durable, can come in array of styles and finishes, won’t stain.
Cons:
  • Careful with heat, it’s still a plastic and you have to use heat protection 

The sample shown in the video is actually from one of our cabinet suppliers Bellmont Cabinets.

Granite Countertops 

Granite countertops are a very popular countertop option with an array of different colors. You can choose between so many different stone varieties. Different options come with and without veining, as well as customizable finishes like leathered, polished or matte finishes. The biggest thing about granite to remember is that it’s extremely unique and every slab is one of its kind. I think you should only use granite if it fits your design and situation. Nowadays granite and quartz run almost hand in hand with pricing.

Remember granite is a porous material and liquids will soak into the stone, and you will have to seal it. I sometimes call it a sponge you can’t squeeze. In the right setting though, nothing beats the beauty of a natural stone. I recommend granite if you have standard cooking use of the kitchen, not a ton of spills with the little ones, and not crazy cooking nights with lots of grease. If it’s more of a modest setting, this is going to perform great and look stunning! 

Pros:
  • Wide price points to hit every budget, won’t scratch easily, resistant to heat 
Cons:
  • Needs to be sealed periodically, it’s a porous material and liquids will soak into the stone, sealers will help to slow down the process, but liquids should always be whipped and not left on the stone tops over night 

Quartz Countertops 

Quartz has become the number one selection for most customers as it comes in array of colors, price points, different brands and the best of all there is hardly no upkeep.  

Quartz is a man-made material which consists of up to 96% of natural quartz, mixed with resins and pigments for a tough, non-porous material. Again friends, other than granite, quartz is a non-porous material option which means no sealing and it’s anti-bacterial once cleaned so great for the family! 

Over the past 5 years a lot has happened in the quartz world.  When you could only get fun different top finishes on granite, you can now also get different finishes like honed, concrete, matte and leathered finishes with quartz. One of my all-time favorite finishes are concrete finishes and the best manufacturer I believe who offers these is Caesarstone Quartz.

Another point to think about are thicknesses.  I don’t think most people know you can get most quartz colors in a 2cm thickness and a 3cm thickness. The 2 cm slabs are less expensive, and they can be built up to the 3cm thickness with a plywood sub top.  This is a nice way to save some cost while getting the same look.  Just talk to us for more info on the different thicknesses.  

Pros: 
  • Very Durable & resistant to heat
  • Nonporous material, making it resistant to stains, scratches and bacteria 
  • Comes in almost every color imaginable 
  • Low maintenance 
  • Due to the nonporous composition, available for longer overhangs and fabricators can work with bigger pieces that call for fewer seams 
  • You can even get warranties from the manufacturers 
Cons: 
  • I honestly can’t think of any! 

 Dekton (aka Porcelain surfaces) 

This material is new on my list and I think it’s absolutely worth talking about as it’s been gaining in popularity since it was first introduced into the market in 2013So what the heck is Dekton?  Well first Dekton (parent company is Cosentino) is a brand who manufacturers this new porcelain infused countertop option.   

Dekton describes their countertops as a combination of quartz, porcelain, and glass.  I would describe it as a hybrid of the best materials in the market for surfacing right now. Dekton is categorized as stronger than your average quartz which is why it makes great for commercial applications. Black and dark quartz and natural stone colors can actually fade over time if exposed outside to the sun, but Dekton won’t fade.

Dekton is amazing when used for wall cladding on the exterior of buildings, outside kitchens etc. It comes at a higher price point than your average quartz and I don’t think you necessarily need the extra strength in your standard kitchen application. But hey, if you are out there and you want the strongest and you are a true fan of Dekton then talk to us and we will get it installed. Another thing to remember about Dekton is it comes in different thicknesses and the pattern will only run on the surface. Meaning if I were to look at the edge from the side you wouldn’t see the pattern run. Some people don’t like this, some people don’t care, and heck some wouldn’t even notice but it’s something to think about. You could get around this situation and miter your edge detail but that is getting into a lot of detail again. Talk to our team if you want more detail on this amazing new countertop option and we can walk you through it’s characteristics 

Pros:
  • Very very durable, heat and scratch resistant  – comes at a higher price point than your average quartz 
Cons:
  • Comes at a higher price point than your average quartz 

Marble Countertops 

For some reason, when people talk about countertops they always add marble to the list and you really have to do your homework and think about the application you will use it for.  

Don’t get me wrong, Marble has classic look that always seems to be in style. For lovers of white kitchens in particularMarble is a natural stone composed of calcium carbonate; it’s in the same stone family as limestone and travertine. Color variations occur in marble due to mineral impurities in the stone.  

But be warned, as you still have to seal marble, you cannot change the fact that marble will develop a natural patina that can’t be cleaned off, and it is an extremely soft stone and will get severe scratches very fast. Most marble tops will get installed and already come with scratches. 

So here is my tip, I would only use marble in rooms like bathrooms and other rooms like buffet areas, but I would never let you install marble countertops in your kitchens. There is a different natural stone I would recommend to you called Quartzite.  Quartzite is basically a love child between granite and marble. If you want the natural unique look of marble, go with a quartzite instead. If you just want the veining look but keep it simple and easy to clean, go with a man-made quartz that looks like marble.  

Honestly if someone installs a marble in your kitchen, they do not have your best interest and you are dumping money down your drain! Cold hard truth my friends! 

Pro: 
  • Classic look that’s always in style 
Con: 
  • Soft material, will very easily scratch 
  • Develops natural patina (Pro or Con depending if you love it or not) 
  • Porous material needs to be sealed every 6-12 months depending on fabricator to prevent staining 

That’s it for today! 

I want to make sure that all of your questions about this topic are getting answered.  Please contact us at King’s Kitchen for any remodeling questions you may have!

Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next time! 

-Kerstin

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