The kitchen is no longer just the place where you prepare the food. It has evolved into a multifunctional space, where friends and family gather to share about their day, cook, entertain, and eat. I guess we can say that the kitchen is the heart of the house, so it’s only natural to want it to look as good as possible.
Considering all these and the fact that the countertop is a big part of your kitchen furniture and overall design, you’ll see how it takes a lot of work to choose just the right one. There are a lot of factors that go into making this choice, but here are the ones I consider crucial:
Moving forward, let’s go through each of these factors, while I pinpoint the features that should be considered for each.
Aesthetics & Style
I decided to talk about aesthetics, first, because this is the first element that makes a visual impact on the general aspect of the kitchen. I recommend choosing the countertop after you’ve decided on the colour and style of the cabinets and floor because it needs to integrate nicely with both.
The aesthetics are highly dependent on the type of material you select. For instance, materials like stone, granite, or marble have a natural look and each piece is unique in colour and design. On the other hand, materials like quartz or laminate (which are man-made) offer a wider range of colours and designs.
The countertop could blend in with the kitchen style, or it could create a contrasting note, breaking the pattern and mixing things up.
Durability & Functionality
Besides the beauty of the material, you must also consider its durability. For instance, if you decide on natural materials, make sure to choose quality stone products that will withstand the test of wear and tear.
When it comes to durability, granite is one of the most recommended materials. It looks good and it is highly resistant to the occasional rogue knife. It handles heat and cold well and it doesn’t lose its beauty in time. However, it is sensitive around the edges and it is prone to staining (which is why it requires resealing every few months).
Another great material for kitchen countertops is marble. Its elegant shine and gorgeous designs make it perfect for an elegant kitchen. Marble handles heat and cold well, but it is very susceptible to staining (even when sealed) and it’s easier to scratch and chip.
On the other hand, Quartz (or engineered stone) is a gorgeous material that requires little maintenance and resists extremely well to stains and scratches. However, while it resists heating, prolonged exposure to high temperatures may affect the resin and leave a mark.
Of course, the list of possible materials for a kitchen countertop is longer. The idea is that, before making the choice, you should consider how you’ll use the kitchen. If you’re the kind of cook who likes to keep busy all day long, you’ll need a durable material that will withstand your cooking enthusiasm. But if you’re mostly using the kitchen to make sandwiches and have coffee with friends and family, you can focus more on design.
Each type of countertop will require some type of maintenance. This is why you should think about the time and money you are willing to invest over time.
For instance, marble requires your attention over the years, with frequent resealing and special cleaning products that protect its beauty. On the other hand, granite also requires resealing, but it is less pretentious when it comes to cleaning.
If you’re looking for a more natural and warm approach, a butcher’s block is a fantastic idea. It’s also easy to clean (just soap and water) and only requires periodic oiling and disinfecting to prevent bacteria from getting inside the wood. However, since it is a natural fibre, it will contract and swell with moisture and scratch easily.
So, if you’re looking for a material that’s easy to maintain, specialists strongly recommend Quartz. It doesn’t need resealing and resists well to damage and stains. Since it’s an artificial material, it is also antibacterial (non-porous in nature), which means it doesn’t need any special cleaning techniques or products.
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While I think you should start with the budget, it’s best to discuss it last. In plain words, it helps to know your spending limit before you go looking for the best countertop, but it’s also wise to leave room for unexpected costs.
However, if you are on a tight budget, you may want to go with options, such as laminate, solid surface (Corian), or butcher block. The most affordable option is laminate, but it’s also the one that’s the easiest to scratch and damage with heat. Still, if you’re not planning on a lot of cooking, there are a lot of amazing design options for this type of material.
For a budget that’s not tight nor generous, I recommend choosing between granite and quartz. The price is rather affordable, and both materials look wonderful in the kitchen. Granite has the advantage of a unique design, put together by Mother Nature, while quartz is more consistent in pattern. Also, don’t dismiss the fact that granite is a bit more pretentious when it comes to maintenance.
Finally, if you want to splurge, materials, such as marble, concrete or stainless steel are quite popular nowadays. Marble is the most elegant, but if you’re looking for an industrial look, concrete and stainless steel may work best. However, they all require extra care when doing kitchen work and need more focus on maintenance.
Now that you know a bit more about kitchen countertops, I recommend weighing the pros and cons of each. Also, before you take the final decision, make sure to visit a showroom where you can see your favourite materials used as kitchen countertops in a wide range of settings.
This way, it’s easier to make an idea of how the material would look like in your kitchen. I also recommend bringing a colour sample from your kitchen cabinets, to make a comparison on the spot. This is important because things are rather different in reality than what you see in pictures or when trying to match samples.
Posted in Home Improvement
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