Choosing a countertop surface used to seem a little bit more straightforward – there was the “cheap” choice and the more luxurious option. While other countertop surfaces did exist, it seemed like everyone was picking between laminate and granite.
Nowadays, the choice isn’t as straightforward – and that’s a good thing! There are tons of popular countertop surfaces to pick from and each comes with its own list of things to consider before buying.
Let’s break it all down.
For some time, granite has been the go-to for “luxury” countertops. The stone option looks beatiful in just about any kitchen, but the benefits go beyond its sleek, modern look.
Unlike some other surfaces (like laminate) granite countertops are incredibly heat resistant. A hot pan can come right off of a stove and onto the counter without doing damage. (That said, it’s never a bad idea to be on the safe side of things!)
Granite counters are also a fairly hard surface, meaning that its okay to cut food with a knife directly on the counter in most circumstances. That said, it is possible to chip granite with a very hard mineral.
On the downside, granite is known as a fairly porous surface. It’s somewhat susceptible to stains from liquids that are left on it for a period of time. It’s important to seal granite to prevent this. The darker your countertop, the less likely it is that you’ll encounter significant staining.
As far as visual appearance is concerned, quartz shares much in common with granite. The two surfaces share several patterns that look almost indistinguishable from one another. Although quartz is technically a manufactured (not natural) product, it still has that beautiful stone look.
Even though we’d technically consider quartz to be manufactured, it still is comprised of over 90% true stone, meaning that most of the appearance comes from the natural ingredient.
Like granite, quartz is very, very heat resistant. It is also very close to impenetrable in terms of scratching. While it’s not impossible to scratch quartz, it’s very difficult to do so in any kind of normal kitchen use.
Perhaps the biggest difference between granite and quartz is this – quartz is known as a much less porous surface. While granite is likely to get stained, quartz is so stain resistant that it doesn’t even require sealing before use. That said, we’re not trying to recommend any kind of wild experiments on the countertop – there is still a possibility that certain chemicals could lead to staining.
Hang out around a hardware store or a showroom for one day and you’ll likely walk away amazed by one thing – there are a lot of people out there who can’t tell the difference between laminate and stone countertops!
And that’s not a knock on anyone’s taste. In fact, you might find that you can’t tell the difference yourself until you touch the surface. Laminate countertops have come a long, long way. They’re looking more and more like stone and are available to purchase at just a fraction of the price.
All that said, laminate countertops do offer some challenges. They are not cut-resistant and are highly susceptible to staining. They aren’t heat resistant either. If you choose laminate countertops, you’ll have to be prepared to use cutting boards, heat absorbing pads or coasters, and the like.
If you’re prepared to do all of that but are ready to enjoy the benefits of a nice looking kitchen, upgrading to a new laminate might be just the thing for you.
Soapstone countertops are right up there with what’s currently trending in countertops. These surfaces have an incredible and unique appearance that resembles a darker version of a marble countertop.
Soapstone countertops share many of the benefits enjoyed by those with quartz countertops. These surfaces are extremely heat resistant and very, very difficult to stain due to their non-porous nature. They don’t have to be sealed to have these qualities either.
That said, soapstone countertops are on the softer side and do not share the resistance to cuts and scratches that granite and quartz have.
Marble countertops might just be the “new” granite. They’re popping up in all kinds of modern kitchens and are a very trendy choice. A lot of this is due to the fact that marble is a perfect match for the white kitchens that are popping up everywhere right now in 2018. The white/black patterns add a perfect amount of contrast to any kitchen.
That said, all buyers should be aware of what comes along with a marble surface. Unlike many other stone surfaces, marble is soft and porous. It stains easily and can get scratched up after some usage.
Butcher Block / Wood Countertops
Want a countertop that’s renowned by many as the warmest, most inviting surface for your kitchen? Consider butcher block! This kind of counter stands in stark contrast to most stone patterns, but it’s adaptable enough to fit with all kinds of designs and layouts.
The interesting thing about butcher block is that it’s not really scratch-proof at all and is prone to some markings here and there from your knife. That said, it’s actually the best kind of surface for your knives, that’s why so many cutting boards are made from the same material. Some homeowners would argue that scratches add character to butcher block, but if you disagree, you’re best served to use a cutting board.
Butcher block is also not considered to be heat resistant, and it’s not waterproof either – it requires occassional treatments to avoid staining.
If you’re interested in learning more about the counter-type that could fit into your next kitchen renovation, give us a call. We’d be happy to talk through your options and how they might fit within your budget and renovation plan.