While it may be tempting to pick countertops on looks alone, there is a multitude of factors to consider before your purchase. From maintenance, to cost, to durability, it’s important to research what materials and styles best suit your lifestyle and budget before making a decision. In order to assist you on your search, today I am going to discuss the basic fundamentals of choosing a material, edge, and style that best suits you.
First, let’s take a look at the different material options available to you.
Laminate is the most affordable countertop on the market. Although, being a compilation of plastics, it can be scorched and scratched very easily. However, there have been strides in scratch-resistance over the last few years.
Pro’s: Affordable, wide range of colors and styles, durable
Con’s: Not heat resistant and can be difficult to clean
Cost: $10-$30 per square foot
Quartz are engineered by combining ground quartz with resins, polymers, and pigments. This creates a durable and non-porous surface area. Quartz is a natural mineral and comes at a variety of pricepoints.
Pro’s: Easy to maintain, heat and scratch-proof, customizable
Con’s: Can chip, can show seams where pieces meet
Cost: $35-$100 per square foot
Granite is often the top choice for countertops. It comes in two finishes, polished and honing. Polished leaves a glossy and darkened finish, while honing is soft and matte. Granite can be easy to come by, but if you pick an imported color or finish, it could affect the price point.
Pro’s: Little upkeep is necessary, stain, heat, and water resistant
Con’s: Very heavy and needs a lot of support, final colors often differ from samples
Cost: $35-$200 per square foot
Marble is a very thin and delicate natural stone. It is often best for kitchens where lots of baking is taking place, but require careful care. Marble can be easily damaged, scratched, and chipped. However, it does look very elegant and clean in most kitchens.
Pro’s: Available in a wide variety of colors, looks classy
Con’s: Porous, chips and scratches easily, expensive
Cost: $50-$150 per square foot
Concrete countertops can come in a variety of stains, colors, and textures. Concrete can be very high-maintenance and is easily damaged by extreme temperature fluctuation and water exposure.
Pro’s: Tough, heat and stain resistant
Con’s: Very heavy, can warp or curl
Cost: $75-$125 per square foot
Butchers Block instantly warms up a kitchen. It’s easy to clean and to buff out scratches. However, water can easily damage the surface which requires for constant oiling in order to seal the surface.
Pro’s: Affordable, naturally anti-bacterial, warm feel
Con’s: Not very heat or water resistant, requires consistent maintenance
Cost: $35-$70 per square foot
Not only is stainless steel aesthetically pleasing, but highly durable and easy to clean. It is non-porous and comes in a variety of finishes. It is best used in a kitchen with high-traffic and consistent use.
Pro’s: High-end commercial grade, durable, heat and water resistant
Con’s: Fingerprints show up easily, can be dented and scratched
Cost: $75-$100 per square foot
The next thing to consider when deciding on countertops is the edges. While squared is typically the standard choice, there is a variety of options to choose from – radius, bullnose, bevel, egg, ogee, and many more. Each edge creates a unique finish and can drastically change the style and overall appeal.
For a modern and sleek aesthetic, squared edges are the perfect touch. While not perfectly squared due to the risk of sharpness and chipping, the edges round off subtly, but maintain the sharp appeal.
Straight edges are best to maintain a clean-line and minimalist aesthetic. Straight Edge’s look great on both thick and thin slabs and are very customizable. This edge is particularly subtle and assists in accentuating other details of the room such as intricate backsplash, elegant furniture, or detailed design in the stone.
Beveled countertops have a clipped, flat angle that typically rests at a 45 degree angle. This looks best in elegant, contemporary spaces. It is also great for enhancing other elements of the room, as well as easy to maintain and clean.
Bullnose edges are rounded from top to bottom, which creates a very simple and sophisticated allure. Bullnose edges look great for any room and style considering it is a timeless and classic style. It creates the allusion of thinner stone, which looks more elegant.
The ogee is a more ornamental and detailed edge which creates a sort of “S” shape due to the curvature. It can be subtle or more dramatic, but is very decorative nonetheless. This can make stone appear to be more prominent or heavy, so it is not recommended for smaller spaces.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the different styles, stones, and edges to choose from, you can use these styling tips to help you narrow down which countertop is best for you. There are still many things to consider outside of price, durability, and maintenance, such as the space of the room, the style, and general purpose.
How to pick a countertop that compliments your space:
When looking through your different options, it’s likely that there are multiple stones, colors, and textures that would fit your space agreeably. This may make narrowing down the best option a bit challenging, but remember it’s your space and you can mold it however you want to!
Narrow down your style:
The most important step is to have a clear vision of what you want the end result to look like. The best way to do this is to look at pictures that reflect the design and style you want to incorporate into your space. Pinterest is a great tool to utilize when picking designs. Once you have 5-10 pictures collected, evaluate their similarities to see what you consistently lean towards. If 5 of your ten pictures are marble, it’s likely that marble would compliment your taste. If 3 of 5 pictures has a straight edge, that may be a safe choice to incorporate in your space.
Determine the purpose:
If your kitchen is going to have a lot of traffic or little ones running around, marble with sharp edges may not be your best choice. Really narrow down your top priorities and uses of space when deciding on your countertops. If your top priority is purely taste and looks based, then make sure you pick something timeless that you’ll like for a long time. There are often fad colors or trends that can influence your decision but may not remain your top choice long term. Keep in mind how often you’ll be in the kitchen, how often others will be, and what purpose your space serves for you and others.
Mix and Match:
Don’t be afraid to mix materials! Having a different stone on the island versus the other counter tops can add a lot of character to a space, and often serves for the perfect compromise. If you want something more aesthetically pleasing under your cabinets and something more durable for your island, this gives you an opportunity to have the best of both worlds.
There are many things to consider when deciding on your countertops, but with the right research and proper evaluation it can be easy to find the perfect fit. Don’t hesitate to ask a professional or your contractor what they recommend either. At New Life Homes our professionals and designers are highly qualified to help you put together your dream kitchen!