A new kitchen countertop can add to the appearance of your kitchen and enhance its functionality. The material options for your new countertop differ in aesthetic appeal, required maintenance, strength, and applicability. There is something for all owners’ tastes and budgets.
Comparison of materials
To select the most suitable material for your new kitchen countertop, it is advisable to have an idea of each of its properties so that you can make an informed purchase.
Laminate: Laminates are made of thin plastic sheets of different thicknesses. Formica is a commonly used laminate. Laminate can reproduce the appearance of other materials, such as granite. It is an inexpensive material, available in a wide variety of colors, patterns and surfaces, the edges can be square or rolled, and the material is stain resistant and easy to clean. Its finish can be damaged due to heat; therefore, hot pots and utensils should not be placed on a laminate surface. Cleaning fluids with strong chemicals can also damage the surface. A laminate is not useful as a cutting surface as it is easily scratched; therefore, it is advisable to mount a cutting board. Once damaged, a laminate cannot be repaired, but must be replaced. The flat edges of a laminate surface tend to chip. Laminates are not uniform in appearance, particularly the lighter shades. This is because the backing is dark in color. Scratches and abrasions will show on a high gloss surface, but not on a patterned laminate.
Tiles: Tiles are a relatively inexpensive way to add color and character to your kitchen. They are available in a variety of sizes ranging from 1 to 18 inches square. The tiles are made mainly of glazed ceramic; the glazing makes the tiles resistant to moisture, dirt and scratches. Tiles give you the freedom to design your kitchen countertop in the most creative way. They can be arranged vertically, diagonally or horizontally. Tiles offer a variety of texture and pattern options. However, the grout used between tiles gets dirty easily, is susceptible to mold attack and requires frequent cleaning. Tiles are not very resistant to impact and often chip easily, they are a little more expensive than laminate, the use of epoxy grout, which has the advantage of being more resistant to dirt, can increase the cost.
Corian: Corian is a brand name for a solid surface kitchen countertop material. It has been available for the past 30 years. Unlike laminates, a solid surface consists of a single block of plastic. The solid surfaces are durable, available in a range of colors, matte and gloss finish, the seams are not prominent and therefore have a uniform appearance. Solid surfaces can mimic the look and feel of stone. They are stain resistant, non-porous and can be easily cleaned with a mild soap. Damaged surfaces can be repaired with the help of repair kits that are readily available. Most brands offer transferable warranties. The main disadvantage of opting for solid flooring is its price. Installation must be done by a certified installer. In addition, the surface can be damaged by heat and can be scratched under certain circumstances.
Granite: Granite is the most commonly used stone for countertops. Its touch and character are mimicked by various synthetic alternatives, but never quite equaled. Granite is extremely durable, scratch proof, and heat resistant. Therefore, it eliminates the need to install trivets or a cutting board. Offers a wide selection of natural colors in polished and matte finishes. It can be cleaned with soap and water, a special cleaner is recommended to remove stains.
Granite also has some disadvantages. It is expensive, heavy, and requires professional installation. It requires periodic sealing to avoid staining and has visible seams. Granite tiles are an inexpensive option for installing a slab; however, grouts require regular cleaning to maintain hygiene.
Other options in stone countertops include limestone and marble. Limestone offers limited color options, but has high heat and impact resistance. Marble provides a non-stick surface; can also be used for baking. However, marble is porous and discolors easily.
Quartz: Quartz is a beautiful natural material that is also strong and durable. Silestone and Cambria are quartz countertop surfaces. Quartz offers several advantages compared to other countertop materials. Provides greater resistance to scratches and burns compared to plastic surfaces. It also does not require resealing and provides better stain resistance than granite. Quartz is available in a range of colors and offers many edge design options. Since quartz is an engineered product, colors are more uniform than natural surfaces like granite. It is also an approved surface for food preparation by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) in the United States. Quartz countertops have seams, but these are thin and, when installed correctly, are hardly noticeable. Most manufacturers offer a 10-year warranty on the material.
Wood and Butcher Block – Wood is another natural surface that is favored for the character that you can add to your kitchen. Wood is an ideal cutting surface, as it does not dull the edge of the blade. A wooden countertop is prepared by gluing strips of maple or beech wood. Wood is easy to care for and lasts a long time. However, the designs and details of the edges of a butcher block should not be too intricate, as they are difficult to clean. Thorough washing is required after using the raw meat butcher block. Regular sanding and oiling helps remove scratches that appear over time. Wood also requires regular sealing treatment.
How long does it take to install a countertop?
The time required to install a countertop will vary depending on the material. Heavier materials, such as granite and quartz, will require more time for proper installation. A preformed laminate kitchen counter can be installed in about 2-3 hours. In most installations there are always some adjustments to be made as factors such as the walls are not plumb or the cabinet surface is not level come into play in many cases. If the countertop is fabricated on-site, the process may take 2 days or more as the seal and finish take time to set.
Copyright 2008 by ABCD Publishing