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Countertops at a glance – Which one is right for you?

If you are planning on a new kitchen or simply just updating your existing kitchen, the decision on a countertop can be overwhelming.  There are so many different materials and manufacturers out there and you want to make sure you are getting the most functional, economical and attractive surface for your heart of the home, your kitchen.

Here is a list of the most popular countertop choices on the market today and the pros and cons of each:

Granite:

granite

A timeless classic natural stone.  Granite is and has been for a very long time one of the top choices for a countertop in your kitchen.  One that is sought after in any home.  It comes in a variety of colours from light-dark tones and each slab is unique with its own colours, shades and patterns.  It can be done in a polished finish appearing shiny and wet, or in a honed finish for a more natural look.

Scratch Resistant Yes
Stain Resistant Yes (if properly sealed)
Heat Resistant Yes
Easy to Maintain Yes
Sealing Required Yes (once/year)
Cost ($-$$$) $$-$$$ (varies by colour and availability)

There is now a new product on the market that is applied to granite to make it more stain resistant.  Ask your supplier/installer for more information.

Quartz:

quartz

Quartz is an engineered stone material made in a huge variety of patterns and colours.  This material is becoming more and more popular and a favourite choice among buyers as it can look exactly like granite or any other solid surface with zero maintenance and limitless design capabilities.  There are many different manufacturers that provide quartz so some research is required to determine which is right for you re: warranties, colours and patterns etc.

Scratch Resistant Yes
Stain Resistant Yes
Heat Resistant Yes
Easy to Maintain Yes
Sealing Required No
Cost ($-$$$) $$$ (varies by manufacturer and colour)

Solid Surface: (Corian)

corian

Solid Surfaces is another man made material that comes in a variety of colours and patterns.  Since it is factory manufactured, the colours area endless and designs can get very creative with solid colours or fun patterns.  If you are going for a natural looking countertop this is not the material for you.

Scratch Resistant No (can be buffed out)
Stain Resistant Yes
Heat Resistant No
Easy to Maintain Yes
Sealing Required No
Cost ($-$$$) $$-$$$ (varies by colour and pattern)

Laminate:

laminate

The most affordable of all the countertop choices, laminate is available in so many colours and designs.  It is available to mimic any of the other types of countertops by using a photographic image and stretching it out over a hard surface.  It is also the hardest to maintain as it can be scratched, burnt and stained if not careful.

Scratch Resistant No
Stain Resistant No
Heat Resistant No
Easy to Maintain Yes
Sealing Required No
Cost ($-$$$) $ (varies by colour and pattern)

Concrete:

concrete

A more modern choice is poured concrete.  Concrete can be mixed with pigments to provide some colour, and finished using different techniques to provide a smooth or textured finish.

Scratch Resistant Yes
Stain Resistant Yes
Heat Resistant Yes
Easy to Maintain Somewhat
Sealing Required Yes (several times a year)
Cost ($-$$$) $$$ (labour intensive and must be made on site)

Stainless Steel:

Stainless-Steel

Also a more modern choice but the most hygienic choice of them all.  This is why stainless steel is used in most commercial applications such as restaurants and health care.  It is however becoming more popular in residential settings as well.  Stainless is easily scratched however so cutting cannot be done on the surface itself.

Scratch Resistant No
Stain Resistant Yes
Heat Resistant Yes
Easy to Maintain Yes
Sealing Required No
Cost ($-$$$) $$$

Butcher Block:

butcherblock

Wood countertops area a nice option as an accent surface or for a kitchen that is trying to achieve a rustic/warm design.  Wood does come with a lot of maintenance however since it is easily scratched and stained.  The good news is that any damage can easily be sanded out.  Frequent sealing is necessary for this type of countertop.

Scratch Resistant No
Stain Resistant No
Heat Resistant No
Easy to Maintain Somewhat
Sealing Required Yes (frequently)
Cost ($-$$$) $$

 

I hope this makes your choice of countertop more informed and in the end a much easier decision.