When redesigning a kitchen, one of the biggest decisions is countertops. There are a wide variety of choices and researching all of them can get overwhelming fast.
It’s very easy to choose a countertop based on looks alone, but there are many other factors to consider when deciding between the most popular trends. Some options include natural granite, natural and manmade quartz, concrete, and butcher block.
Look tends to be the first consideration, but cost, durability, and maintenance are also key factors to consider. We’re exploring the most popular kitchen countertop options right now and evaluating their advantages and disadvantages so you don’t have to.
Despite its price tag, granite tends to be a top contender when it comes to kitchen renovations. This stone has become an industry standard over the last handful of years in both high and low-end real estate.
Granite countertop benefits include:
- There are tons of options in color and style because it is a natural stone. Each piece is unique and can provide a custom look for any kitchen or bath.
- Durable and can withstand heat, scratches, and cutting
- To add more diversity in styles, granite can be polished or unpolished for a unique look
- With granite, you’re able to pick out the exact slab you want. Because there is so much variation in veining and coloration, it’s a huge benefit to be able to pick out your slab to make sure it’s exactly what you like.
In terms of maintenance, granite counter tops need to be maintained by sealing them once a year to keep them stain-resistant.
Manmade and Natural Quartz Countertops
Quartz has become a close runner up for a lot of modern renovations looking for that picture perfect white kitchen. It’s quickly rivaling granite for a top pick among newly renovated kitchens.
Quartz countertop benefits include:
- Man made or natural quartz options, so there are lots of varieties of styles
- Stain resistant
- No sealing needed
- Quick clean up with water and soap
- A variety of color options available with “marble looks”
- Most quartz fabricators don’t let you pick out your specific slab because they are manufactured
- Similar in cost to granite!
One downfall to quartz is that the manmade versions are much less heat resistant than granite. According to our countertop fabricators, manmade quartz can only withstand heat up to 200 degrees due to the glue used to fuse the pieces of material together. If you dream of taking a sheet of cookies out of the oven and setting it directly on the counter, manmade quartz may not be for you.
A new and inexpensive trend in countertops is concrete. It’s a very versatile option, and a lot of concrete countertop fabricators are now able to imitate marble countertops using concrete. The look is quite amazing when you compare it to the options that even granite or quartz can provide.
Concrete countertop benefits include:
- Marble look among a variety of other styles
- Resistant to heat and cuts
- Marks can be sanded out
- Industrial/modern feel is easily achieved
Some downsides to concrete can be:
- More expensive and labor intensive to install because the installation process is very important
- Has to be sealed to prevent food and water stains
- Color can change over time
Butcher Block Countertops
Butcher block is a great alternative for smaller areas, such as islands or pantries, and has become another favorite due to its country cottage feel and rustic vibe.
Butcher block countertop benefits include:
- Adds warmth to space
- Easy to clean
- Scratches can be buffed out
- Can easily double as a durable prep space
- Mostly stain resistant when sealed properly
A few downfalls are that butcher block countertops are not ideal for wet areas like near sinks. They do require regular treatment with mineral oil.
As you can see, there are many differences between some of the most popular options for countertops. It’s important to consider the factors beyond just the look you desire for your kitchen or bathroom. Yes, you certainly want to enjoy looking at your space, but you also have to live with the durability and functionality of it as well.
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What You Should Know About Buying Countertops for Your Home Renovation
Apart from the possibly grueling process of picking out the material you want, there are also some things you should know about the countertop buying process.
- Many fabricators can take up to six weeks to have availability to schedule your template date. This could leave you without a functional kitchen for quite some time if the date is not scheduled far in advance. Cabinets are required to be installed before countertops can be templated, which always makes the scheduling for these tricky!
- All cabinets must be completed before templating. Any under-mounted sinks must be ready to give to the fabricators to be able to mount those to the countertops.
- If you’re going with an apron/farmhouse sink, that will need to be set in place before templating begins.
- Be sure to ask about the details of signing a contract, paying a deposit, and whether they have a restocking fee. It’s also important to know when the final time to change your mind on a design is (to avoid any restocking fees).
- If you are renovating a countertop in a smaller area like a bathing or laundry room, ask if the countertop fabricators have a remanent pieces that you can look at. When you purchase countertops, you’re required to purchase an entire slab, which may be too much for the space you are working with.
- There are different slab sizes, both 2cm and 3cm. With 2cm slabs, they require a plywood base that is exposed underneath the countertop, whereas the 3cm does not show this plywood base. Be sure to confirm which thickness you are getting so you are not surprised by the results!