Kitchen countertops are not only the center of food preparation activities in the kitchen, they are also commonly utilized for for small fixit or other projects. They provide workspace for food and ingredients for cooking and act as storage for small appliances and utensils. Whether you're looking to replace your old kitchen countertop or building one for a new house, choosing the right one can add value and practicality to your home.
Kitchen countertops are available in different materials. Which one is best for you will really depend on your personal style and taste, along with your kitchen remodeling needs and cooking style. Here we present a few tips to help you with your choice:
Laminates are also known by brand names such as Formica. These are one of the most popular, because they are durable, colorful and affordable. There are hundreds of colors, textures and patterns to choose from so it's impossible not to find one that's perfect for your kitchen.
Laminate countertops are also resistant to stains and grease and they can be cleaned with water and soap. However, it's best to wipe them dry right away since excessive exposure to water can get through seams and cause delamination from the wood. Laminates are also susceptible to scratches and cuts, but above all remember they will burn if you set a hot pot from the stove onto the laminate.
Who hasn't appreciated the beauty and warmth that wooden countertops give to a kitchen? Wood is durable and can be stained to bring out its grain and character.
Butcher block countertops consist of beech or rock maple hardwood strips that are glued together to form a solid wood block. They can be as thick as 1 ½ inches and can be shaped into any size that fits your needs. Butcher blocks are great for knife works like dicing and slicing.
With the proper care and maintenance, wood countertops can last a long time. For maintenance, rub with mineral oil or any liquid treatment recommended to protect its finish and maintain its shine. Scratches may be smoothed with sandpaper.
The only problem with wood countertops is that when exposed to a lot of moisture or liquid, it can cause some warping. Butcher blocks can also turn dark if they are not treated with a sealant.
Glazed ceramic tiles are durable, attractive and easy to clean. They are resistant to heat, scratches, cuts and stains and will only damage if hit or pounded with heavy objects. You also have many choices when it comes to patterns and colors available to match your decor and kitchen cabinets. You can even combine different colored tiles with other textures to create a look that's all your own.
If your concern is the discoloration of grout over time, you can opt to use additives, sealants or colored grout to minimize color changes. The only drawback with tiles is that they are susceptible to chipping and cracking under abuse, but they are fairly easy to replace if you have some spares. The grout should also be allowed to cure for about two weeks after the tiles are installed.
Simulated stone are solid surface materials that are non-porous and resistant to water and stains. They are also very easy to clean and have the look of marble. Like wood, simulated stones can be rubbed with an abrasive cleanser to remove scratches and cuts.
However, they are not recommended for cutting and for holding hot materials like pots and pans. They can be shaped into anything and come in a wide variety of colors.
Granite, slate or marble are beautiful stone countertops that come in various colors and shades to match any cabinets. No two blocks are the same, so if you choose natural stone, you can be sure your countertop will not look like anyone else's.
Most granite countertops are tough and will resist scratching, cracking and staining. Marble and slate are porous so be careful with coffee, tea, wine or oily spills because these will stain the surface. They are heat resistant, so you can put your pot of boiling water on them straight from the fire and not worry about warping or cracking.
While they are more expensive, natural stone countertops are easy to clean with warm soapy water, or use a special purpose granite cleaner and sealer.
The most popular choice of professional chefs and cooks around the world, stainless steel is extremely durable. It will not rust nor stain and can work well in a location that's near water. It is heat resistant and very easy to clean.
Stainless steel is also quite expensive and if hit with a heavy object or pounded, it will dent. Direct cutting on its surface is also not recommended. For the home, stainless steel is also less practical because cabinets tend to be wood, and are a rough match decor wise.
Once you've made your choice, remember to consider three things: looks, durability and maintenance.
Consider how your countertop will look in your kitchen. Would you want it to blend with the entire scheme, or do you want it as a focal point? The last thing you want is to get a countertop that is out of place. It will not only cost you a lot of money to replace but will also be a constant source of annoyance.
If you like working in your kitchen and you anticipate that your countertop will experience a lot of rolling, pounding and chopping, then choose a tough material. Consider also the kind of utensils you have, along with your food preparation and cooking style.
As of the date of this research, there is no kitchen countertop available that is self-cleaning so make sure yours is easy to maintain. If you're the kind who likes to periodically scour and scrub, materials that are resistant to scratching something to consider in your choice.