From minor updates to complete luxury remodels, the kitchen is one of the most popular rooms in the house for home improvement projects. While some homeowners will undertake a smaller project – perhaps keeping their cabinets and changing the look of the kitchen with a new backsplash and countertop, others will opt for a complete gut and remodel. Either way, there are so many decisions to make. Between choosing the right cabinets, flooring and countertops, in addition to appliances, hardware and lighting it can often be an overwhelming process.
When it comes to choosing materials, countertops are often involved in both minor and major kitchen remodels and can make or break the look of the room. Not only do the various available countertop materials such as quartz, granite, marble, laminate, tile and concrete, offer a wide variety of looks, they also require a different level of maintenance.
Below we’ve compiled a list of available countertop materials for you to consider.
Quartz countertops are also known as engineered stone countertops and are often used as an alternative to natural stone. Quartz is one of the toughest countertop materials available and is nearly maintenance-free and resistant to stains, scratches and even heat. And, unlike natural stone, quartz does not need to be sealed and can be cleaned with a damp cloth and a mild, nonabrasive soap.
Granite countertops are often considered to be among the most beautiful of countertop materials. That said, they are also some of the most expensive. Granite has a lot of natural variations from stone to stone, making each slab unique and providing each kitchen with a custom look. Granite does require some extra TLC, including regular and proper sealing of the stone to ensure it delivers the look and performance you are looking for, for years to come.
Marble countertops deliver a high-end look and remain a classic choice when a homeowner is seeking a premium quality countertop. Like granite, marble is a natural stone with a lot of natural variety from stone to stone, providing a unique look in each kitchen. Also like granite, marble requires maintenance and needs to be resealed regularly. Marble is softer than granite and will scratch easier and etch easily when exposed to acids, such as tomato or lemon juice.
Laminate countertops remain a very popular option for homeowners, as they are one of the more budget-friendly materials. Laminate is available in the widest variety of colors and patterns, and is often made to mimic the look of natural stone, quartz or wood. While laminate countertops are made in a higher quality than ever before, they are less resistant to damage than other materials and will need a gentle touch. Also, as laminate countertops are made of plastic, they can be more easily scratched than most surfaces and are less heat resistant than other surfaces.
Tile countertops are one of the most versatile materials as they come in a large variety of styles, sizes, shapes and colors. While tile countertops can be tailor-made to go with a variety of kitchen styles, they will require homeowners to seal the grout every few years to keep it from harboring bacteria and becoming stained. Tile, while being one of the more cost effective materials, can also be expensive to install.
Concrete is one of the newest materials offered for kitchen countertops. Innovations on how the concrete is produced means that it can be made in an array of colors and is made thinner and lighter while still being strong enough for everyday kitchen use. The concrete is often poured right in the kitchen, meaning it can be custom formed to fit an area of any size or shape.
Solid surface countertops are a fairly new material, made of solid synthetics that give it many of its characteristics. Solid surface countertops have become a popular choice as they offer a greater quality vs. laminate countertops with a wide variety of colors and patterns. That said, they are not heat or scratch resistant.