Among all the areas in your home, kitchens and their countertops may have the most demanding role to play. Not only do we want them to be beautiful, but as this is where all your food preparation occurs, they must be extremely durable—heatproof, scratchproof, and stainproof.
Since there are so many materials, styles, and designs to choose from, it makes sense that selecting the material for your new countertop is an intimidating decision. Where do you even start?
Questions to Ask Yourself
The final decision doesn’t need to be overly complicated. Set your priorities, ask the right questions, and you won’t find yourself sucked in by the seduction of the marketplace’s advertising and options.
- How will your countertops be used?
This assessment of how you and your family use the kitchen daily is the most crucial aspect of your decision in choosing your countertop material. If your kitchen is the central hub of your home during all hours of the day and night, a place where snacks, meals, and gatherings occur, you may be less concerned about small scratches than you would be about the stain-repelling factor.
- What are your sizing requirements?
It is helpful when shopping to have a rough idea how many linear feet are needed to complete your project. This will be beneficial to estimate approximate material cost as you go along. You may also decide to go with more than one material. If this is the case, you will need to know how many feet of each material you will need.
- How much upkeep are you willing to do?
Certain materials come with a laundry list of demands for proper upkeep, while others are tremendously hardy. Be honest with yourself regarding the level of effort you are willing and able to put into caring for your new countertops. Don’t let your heart guide your wallet.
- What budget do you have?
This is an important consideration. The price range for materials varies considerably. The availability locally affects price also.
- What materials grab your attention?
While you do not want to ignore how the countertops will look, it is a mistake to decide on aesthetics alone. It may appear beautiful displayed in the store, but sparkling white may not fit your lifestyle, so some compromise might be involved. In the end, you are the one who must live with the decision to ensure you make one you are ultimately comfortable with.
A versatile classic, marble is a time-honored choice for countertop material. It looks good in a variety of kitchens, but there are some downsides to choosing marble. The cost of marble makes it a poor choice for small budgets and, being a natural stone, it will also develop a patina over time from ordinary use.
What is marble?
Found in mountainous regions in Europe, Asia, and North and South America, marble forms as pressure or heat alter sediment into a dense formulation. As a metamorphic stone, it polishes well due to its crystalline nature. No two slabs of marble are the same because of the unique patterns caused by mineral deposit veins.
What this means is that when you choose marble for your countertops, no other home in the world will match what you have installed. It is truly one of a kind.
Being porous makes marble prone to absorbing stains, particularly those of an acidic nature. However, marble rarely dimples or chips, is solid, and is heat resistant.
Marble colors and finishes
Marble is available in a diverse selection of natural colorations. It comes in hues of pink, black, green, white, gray, and yellow, with some having subtle patterns, while others have darker, prominent veins.
There are three common finishes for marble: leather, honed, and polished.
Leather finish: Texture is added to a honed marble surface to make it appear leather-like. This finish is generally seen with darker shades of marble and is not reflective. One benefit to this finish is effective concealment of imperfections.
Honed finish: Marble is sanded until it has a smooth, almost soft, satin-like feel. Since the process opens the pores of the stone, it is susceptible to staining. However, a honed surface conceals many scratches and flaws.
Polished finish: The process of grinding and buffing results in a slick, high-gloss surface, preferred for showcasing the details of the marble’s character, veining, and color. This finish is the least porous, but it is the most vulnerable to etching by household cleaners and food acids.
Marble will also require sealing, regardless of the finish you choose. To keep marble looking its best, wipe spills up immediately, cut food on cutting boards instead of directly on the marble, and only use a specialty cleaner or mild dish soap for cleaning.
Natural materials may long have ruled the roost in the countertop department, but solid-surface materials like Corian are gaining huge traction in the market for buyers. The versatility is an enormous draw for consumers looking to update their current countertops. Couple this with widespread availability and a low price point, and you have the secret behind Corian’s popularity and success.
What is Corian?
Originally developed by DuPont in 1967, Corian was the brand name first used for solid surface countertops. It is a synthetic product composed of 66% minerals and 33% binding resins. Being plastic, Corian has low resistance to heat and stains, does not have the natural look of marble or granite, will dent and scratch, and is not available in a high polished shine.
There are hundreds of matte hues available for solid-surface countertops. The range encompasses everything from solids to stone patterns and metallics. If you want your kitchen to stand out, consider using an eye-popping orange shade to set off the room!
Another benefit to using Corian is the adaptability it has with other materials. It can be integrated seamlessly with other materials.
Using granite for countertops has been the trend in high-end options for years. Its durability is high, it has great stain resistance, there are many color options, its resale value is good, it doesn’t scratch, and it resists water and heat.
What is granite?
As a natural mineral, granite is rock-hard, coming in second only to diamond. Thanks to its durability, you will never need to replace a granite countertop unless there is a catastrophic event.
Although it is relatively difficult to crack or chip a granite countertop, if it does occur, the issues are generally easy to fix.
There is an astounding number of colors in which granite is available—roughly 2,000. Even the most difficult to please person will find something appealing in granite. From swirls to sparkles, choosing granite is the easy part!
There are so many color options they are broken down into hue groups—blue, purple, green, black, gray, gold, brown, beige, red, pink, yellow, and white. Just like marble, no two slabs of granite are the same, so you will be creating something uniquely your own.
Granite must be resealed annually after installation to retain its beauty and durability.
A Final Word
There are many colors, patterns, and designs to choose from among marble, Corian, and granite. This is the fun part—looking through samples and narrowing down your selection of favorites!
Take your time deciding. It is a big decision, and you want to be happy and excited about your purchase, not only when you leave the store, but years down the road every time you walk into your kitchen. If you are installing the countertops yourself, make sure you use the right type of countertop glue so your seams are connected beautifully and your joints are perfect. Silicon is ideal for caulking joints, such as where the countertop meets the wall or for the backsplash and the countertop.