Home is where the counter-top lies. The most popular spot for the family is the kitchen. A lot of time is spent in the kitchen socializing, working, and prepping. It’s where you gather friends and family for holiday get-togethers. If your kitchen is feeling dated, worn out or inefficient, it is time for a change. Remodeling a kitchen is one of the areas of the house that has the most decisions to make and the most beneficial when you go to resell. This room not only expresses you and your style but it has to have functionality and durability also.
Counter-tops are the most important piece aside from cabinets in your remodeling project. When choosing a type of counter-top you must think about your lifestyle over the next 10-15 years. A few things to think about is durability, maintenance, and style. There are so many varieties of counter-tops out there that we have made a list with some pros and cons to help you make a better decision.
GRANITE- Granite is one of the most popular choices for kitchen and bathroom counter-tops. Adding a granite counter-top can instantly increase the value of your home. If you choose to put a granite counter-top in, it will be cut according to your specific measurements.
So depending on the design of your kitchen, if you decide to upgrade another area with granite, later on, you will not be able to match your current stone exactly, because granite is a natural stone, and you will never have 2 identical pieces. Granite stone has its own unique pattern, similar to a fingerprint, which means every piece is different. However, if the granite is mined from the same location, there will be enough similarities to allow for some consistency throughout your project.
Granite is a good option in the kitchen as it is great when it comes to withstanding high heat and scratches. This means you don’t have to worry about placing hot pans directly on it and damaging the surface. It is also safe to cut directly on the surface and you do not have to worry about scratching it, so no cutting board is necessary! It is also resistant to UV rays from the sun, unlike quartz, so it’s ok to use in outdoor kitchens and bar tops. Since granite is a natural stone, it is susceptible to damage, but with the proper care, it can resist stains, scratches, and bacteria.
In order to properly maintain the granite, it is suggested to seal it once a year. If this step is taken, then the counter-tops can be easily cared for by just cleaning with mild soap and water. You can also purchase special cleaners that have a protective coating in them.
MARBLE- Like granite, each cut of marble is completely unique. It too is cut in one piece from the mine with its own one-of-a-kind fingerprint. It is a stone that will never go out of style and adds a classic look to your kitchen. Also, just like granite, if you decide to add on later, if you do not get a cut from the same mine, you might have a hard time matching the coloring and fingerprint of the stone.
If you are on a budget then a basic marble might be the way to go as it is usually the least expensive option of the three. With that being said, it is also the more porous of the three options which means it is more prone to scratches and stains. One thing to keep in mind is the stain factor. Because of the porous nature of this stone, things like juice, wine, and coffee can dull the finish of the stone and ruin your counter-tops.
You will also need to be sure to always use a cutting board as sharp objects can scratch the counter surface. There are products made for cleaning stains on marble, however, the best option is to have it sealed to prevent any stains in the first place. Like granite, it is suggested to seal your marble once a year.
QUARTZ- Like granite and marble, quartz is also a natural stone, however, quartz countertops are man-made and not cut directly from mines like granite and marble. This means it goes through a manufacturing process before it is put in a home, which can have advantages as well as disadvantages.
Something to take note of is the fact that quartz counter-tops use a binding agent during the manufacturing process. This may or may not be a factor when making your decision. Because of the use of the binding agent these countertops may have high Volatile Organic Compound (VOC’s) as compared to granite or marble. If you are concerned about your homes air quality, this is something to take into consideration. While for others it would not be a determining factor. Quartz is also susceptible to UV rays. If your windows do not block out the sun’s harmful UV rays, this could affect the coloring of your counter-tops over time.
An upside to quartz is the color selection is much greater than that of granite or marble. Another positive is because it is manufactured, it is easier to get matching pieces and have more consistency if that is something that is important to you, or if you plan on doing more upgrades later on. Another positive is the durability, quartz requires much less maintenance compared to granite and marble as it is more resistant to acids from drinks and stains. It also does not require the annual sealing like the others do and do not harbor bacteria.
Concrete- This is one of the newest types of counter-tops offered. New innovative ways formulated concrete now to make it light and come in a variety of colors and textures. It is usually a custom material and is often framed and poured right into the space being renovated. It is very durable and hard and doesn’t chip easily. You can even go as far as customizing by embedding shells, tiles, pieces of colored glass or stones. They tend to be expensive and run in the price range with granite and quartz. Concrete counters need to be sealed regularly and can be stained by some liquids like coffee and juice. This is also a specific look giving you a contemporary and somewhat industrial feel to the space.
Recycled Glass- This is another unique counter. It can look very modern and contemporary. They can also be made to look antique or traditional. These counter-tops tend to not be good with children because they are fairly expensive. Also, can show water spots or fingertips easily. In some cases can crack on installation, so using a professional is highly recommended.
Eco-friendly- These counter-tops are growing in popularity because they do as much for your space as they do for the environment. The most common eco-friendly counters are Bamboo, reclaimed wood, recycled HDPE, palm-wood, recycled glass and recycled paper counter-tops. They are all reasonably priced, durable and you are putting your part and giving back to the environment.
Lava- This is a unique counter-top and also highly functional. These counters are made from lava stone quarried from the site of ancient volcano eruptions. Specifically, from Auvergne, France but they are starting to be developed as the demand becomes higher. It is custom cut for each order and then glazed with enamel with heat in excess of 1,300 degrees. The glaze gives it a smooth, non-porous finish that is water-resistant. After it cools small cracks in the glazing appear and give it a unique appearance. They are very expensive exceeding any other counter-top but will last you 50 years plus no maintenance.
Resin- They are a solid surface that has a seamless finish and is offered in many colors and styles. Crafted from cured epoxy, acrylic or polyester resin which is a synthetic material used in a wide variety of applications. It is cut to order and can be customized and excel in attractive appearance and durability, even red wine! Also, resin counter-tops are non-porous and you can use common household cleaners on them. Another thing to note is they are quite affordable. Be sure to ask the contractor what type of resin is used in the brand. Make sure you know the durability, brittleness, and heat resistance information along with the cost. Corian is the most durable and highly-rated material which is made from acrylic polyester.
Stainless Steel- With so many large kitchen appliances now featuring stainless steel finishes, you can select counters that blend seamlessly with your appliances. It looks gorgeous with anything and compliments materials such as wood cabinets and natural stone flooring. It’s very durable and non-porous. The only downside is it’s not affordable and it can make the space feel cold and uninviting.
Laminate- Even though laminate counters are becoming outdated they still are a popular choice due to affordability. They offer excellent versatility and value. Nowadays you can find colors and patterns that match surfaces like marble or granite to make it look more lavish.
It is important to understand all aspects of each type of stone before making your final selection. It’s hard to say that one is any better than another. It really comes down to personal choice and how it will be utilized. Pricing also varies by class of the stone, each stone type is categorized by a class rating from 1-5. Class 1 would be your more basic color and design. Class 5 would be a higher quality, more detailed “fingerprint”. Retro Pro’s experienced design staff can answer any questions you have and will help guide you through your selection process. Whether your primary concern is durability, cost, or uniformity, there is an option for you!
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