Your kitchen countertops are the centerpiece of your space. They have the power to make or break a remodel, so don’t skimp out on them. Depending on what your expectations are for your kitchen’s look, there are options for countertops that are worth checking out within your budget.
Starting with your price range, you can determine whether you can afford to install natural stone or manmade products. But, no pun intended, try to avoid cutting corners by picking a material that looks like natural stone. In reality, you can’t re-create what nature has already designed. And even though natural stone is more expensive, it lasts a lifetime, whereas manmade materials may require replacement at some time due to wear and the way they’re constructed.
Natural Countertop Choices
There are plenty of options to choose from in natural stone countertops. Granite is a very popular material, and the variety of natural colors and patterns add uniqueness to each selection. Granite is a solid performer, resistant to nicks from knives, splashes, heat and daily wear and tear, although it has to be sealed occasionally to prevent stains from setting in. Lastly, it’s heavy – so strong, supportive cabinets need to be installed to support granite countertops’ weight.
Marble is one of the most luxurious countertop materials you can choose. It exudes elegance, distinction, and gives a kitchen a highly upscale feel. It can stand up to heat very well, yet keep its cool if used for tasks such as preparing dough for pastries or baking. But because marble is very easy to stain, scratch, and chip, you might not want to use it throughout your entire kitchen, but rather in areas where there’s minimal usage.
Soapstone is another material that has the quality of granite, yet is not as flashy. Its beauty is subtle and natural and complements kitchens found in older or cottage-style homes. It’s unique in that its hue can change over time, starting out with a light patina that darkens with age. You’ll have to polish soapstone with oil to keep it looking new, and since it can crack, you’ll want to be careful with it to avoid knife scratches and nicks. Soapstone also has a natural, rough texture that can scuff glassware and china.
Manmade Countertop Choices
Solid surface countertops are crafted typically from acrylic and polyester. You might be familiar with the brand Corian, which has been used generically to label this material. Many manufacturers sell solid surface countertops, and they’re fairly popular and used quite extensively in kitchen remodels. Solid surface countertops are non-porous, so they’re literally maintenance-free. Scratches and burns are easily sanded out, and the choices of colors and patterns are numerous. For the adventurous kitchen remodeler, vibrant choices of colors such as turquoise and red help make your kitchen stand out. The main drawback to solid surface countertops is that they don’t resist damage from hot pans or knives.
Laminate countertops are made of paper that’s blended with resins and fused to particle board. Laminate has been a kitchen countertop standard for many, many years. Even though it has a rather plain look, new designs that are emerging capture the appearance of stone, butcher block, and other more expensive choices. It’s very affordable, so it’s perfect for tight budgets, and laminate is easy to care for and clean. The biggest drawbacks are that laminate countertops can get scratched, burned, and stained. But it’s still full of value for more modest kitchen remodeling projects.
Stainless steel has become a very durable and useful option to install in home kitchen remodels. As stainless steel countertops were once commonly used in commercial kitchens, they’ve become more popular for home use, and can be custom made to seamlessly fit your kitchen. Stainless steel is practically indestructible, and also stands up to heat. In more modern and loft-style kitchens, the look complements the natural brick and industrial-inspired look of these homes. You have to be diligent about wiping stainless steel off frequently to erase fingerprints, and it can also be dented (so try not to drop heavy pans on it!). Because of its customization, stainless steel can also be quite expensive.
However you design and plan your kitchen remodel, you can rest assured that there’s a multitude of countertop options to meet your needs, and there’s a perfect choice that can be tailor-made for your kitchen.