As with anything, when it comes to countertops, brand names often hold a lot of appeal; however, if you can look past the well-known designers, your options really involve a relatively small grouping of materials. While the average kitchen of years past used to consist of a minute prep area set upon worn laminate, today’s choices involve a range of colors, patterns, and textures that come in a wide variety of materials.
While there are definitely creative choices for every individual project, five of the most popular countertop materials include natural stone, solid surfaces, plastic laminate, wood, and concrete.
1.) NATURAL STONE: When people think of luxury countertops, they often think of natural stones such as granite, soapstone, and slate. Granite, which is by far the most popular of the three, comes in a wide array of colors and is cut into long, thick slabs that require few (if any) seams. Generally stain and heat resistant—when treated with a special impregnating sealer—the durability and widespread popularity of this stone has helped to stabilize prices and expand the market.
On the other end of the spectrum, soapstone and slate come in a more limited number of colors, but they can be fabricated into sinks which match the countertop, and in the case of slate, remain relatively easy to maintain.
2.) SOLID SURFACES: Generally speaking, while many contractors tend to dismiss solid-surfacing as nothing more than imitation stone, the truth is that these materials have produced incredibly renewable, repairable counters in thousands of kitchens. Made of 100% acrylic, 100% polyester or a combination of the two, these surfaces are highly resistant to stains and scratches, and can be engineered into almost any design you can dream up.
3.) PLASTIC LAMINATE (FORMICA): Produced in a wide variety of colors, textures, and patterns, this is a durable material which can stand up in even the toughest kitchens. Generally found in sheets ranging from 2×4 ft to 4×8 ft, this resilient material can be found in ready-to-install portions which range from approximately $2-$3 per square foot.
4.) WOOD: While it has lost prominence over the years, wood is still considered a beautiful addition to any kitchen, especially when used for secondary areas such as a baker’s prep area, a dining counters or a food chopping block. Although it requires a bit more maintenance than many homeowners are willing to put in—mineral oil needs to be reapplied every 4-6 weeks—it’s a great option for those who are looking to install a true chef’s kitchen. Most wood counters are generally made from rock maple, however, teak, walnut, cheery and oak are also used.
5.) CONCRETE: These types of counters, which often resemble natural stone, are rapidly finding their way into more kitchens due to their durability and versatility. The precast molded slabs, which tend to be made from scratch and delivered for installation, are fully cured in a workshop before delivery. Like several of the other materials listed above, concrete can be found in a variety of colors and is generally sealed to prevent staining.
Mirko Attolini | CRES Builders | www.cresbuilders.com | 770-983-4698