It’s enough to make a homeowner dizzy. Time was, the only choice for a kitchen counter was laminate, or to use its most common brand name, Formica. But those days are far, far behind us and today the choices seem endless.
How do you decide between granite and marble? Concrete and stainless? Soapstone and wood? Engineered stone and tile?
Price and Function
Price still drives a lot of decisions. And well it might! The price of natural stone or granite is far higher than that for laminate or stainless steel.
If you like the look of stone or granite, many high-end laminates and solid surfaces (such as Corian) are engineered to look like it. This may be good way to go if you have a tight budget, although bear in mind that solid surfaces are pricier than laminates.
If your kitchen is old fashioned with wooden cupboards and a wood floor, you might opt for countertops that incorporate a lot of wood to keep the kitchen looking authentic. You can mix stone and wood, for instance, with the stone nearer the stove and the wood in parts of the kitchen that are not heavily trafficked for food prep.
On the other hand, if you have a very modern or small kitchen, you might opt for a colorful solid surface. If you prefer sleek, go for granite or stainless — with the former being far more costly than the latter.
Stone: Engineered stone is made mostly of stone particles bound with an aggregate and resin. It appeals to those who like uniformity and strength, as it does not scratch. It’s expensive, to be sure, but lasts forever. If you want natural stone, you will choose among granite, the most popular, slate, soapstone, limestone and marble. All have pros and cons. Granite, for instance, is more porous than others but also tougher. Marble and limestone stain easily. No two slabs of natural stone are exactly the same, so your countertop will not be perfectly standardized.
Wood: Wood was extremely popular until eclipsed by granite. But now it’s back and homeowners love it. It provides warmth and texture to a kitchen. It’s your decision if you want to allow the wood to absorb nicks and chop marks from knives, or if you want to treat it so that it really should not be subjected to that kind of abuse. Popular woods for countertops are cherry, walnut, mahogany and rock maple.
Concrete: This is truly a luxury surface that is honed to the texture you want and can come in any number of soft, appealing colors. Thick concrete counters can also be heavy and so you should make sure your kitchen can sustain it. Concrete requires sealing and regular waxing. It can develop hairline cracks that most homeowners think make it all the more charming.
Solid Surfaces and Laminate: Solid surfaces can look like stone or granite and are exceptionally durable. They don’t stain or chip but are “soft” enough so that dishware is less apt to break if dropped. They also come in a range of colors and textures. Laminate comes in a wide range of colors and patterns and is the least expensive choice. It is durable but can scratch and may scorch if a hot pot is set on it.
Whatever you decide, your new countertop will look smashing.