When remodelling or designing a kitchen, choosing the right kitchen counter is one of the most difficult, yet important decisions you will have to make. As one of largest surface areas in the room, your countertops must both compliment your space aesthetically, and match your lifestyle functionally. They are the center of any kitchen design and simultaneously act as the main workspace in the room. Often, our countertops are used as meal prep stations, alternative dining areas, work desks and more. As such an integral part of the kitchen, your countertops need to be perfect, but how do you choose the right kind?
We’ve pulled together a simple guide that describes a few key points to keep in mind when considering new countertops. We’ve also included a rundown of the main kitchen counter materials and their properties to help you make an informed decision.
Two Main Considerations
Think about what the focal point of your kitchen is – is it the chandelier? A detailed archway? A beautifully carved hooded stove? You should try and pick a countertop colour and style that pulls together the features of your kitchen. Depending on the look you are going for you can either have your countertops be the focal point of the room, using dramatic colours and patterns, or use them to emphasize other design elements. By choosing a more subdued countertop style you can draw attention to other interesting aspects of the room.
Long lasting quality materials like quartz, granite and copper will be a bit more costly than other materials, but will also be worth their price in durability. Assess your lifestyle and needs before making a decision. If you have a house full of young children you might want to consider something that can withstand a few accidents. You might want to consider a material that is heat and scratch-resistant. Alternatively, if you find it easy to maintain the longevity of the finishes in your home, you could consider something more delicate and elegant like marble.
Getting to Know the Different Countertop Materials
Once you’ve identified what you value in your material by considering the points above, you can much more easily narrow down the countertop options that fit your lifestyle and design.
Marble is known for its traditional and elegant aesthetic as well as its unique and natural patterns. For this reason, and its easy-to-work-with, malleable properties, marble has been the popular choice as a building material for centuries. However, since marble is so porous, it can be a host for bacterial growth if not properly maintained. It also stains quite easily, making it tougher to keep looking new in a household of young children or messy, experimental cooks. Despite the cons, the good thing about this material is that it can be sanded down and re-polished to restore its original condition. While marble requires some investment to maintain, much like a vintage car, it’s beauty and value are hard to replace.
Materials like copper, and stainless steel have been making a come-back with their chic, industrial look. They can be a great way to add a little shine to your kitchen without using high-gloss veneers on your cabinets. They are also incredibly durable, and almost completely resistant to staining and heat. While modern homes often integrate structural metals and clean lines into their designs, some more traditional kitchen styles have also started experimenting with elements like copper in their finishes. Think copper sinks, lamp holders and handlebars – or even countertops.
Quartz is a type of engineered stone that uses quartz crystals held together with a resin binder. It is the most popular engineered stone because it comes in hundreds of varieties and shades. The durability of quartz is its main feature being virtually stain, scratch and heat resistant. Furthermore, its adhesives and sealants exceeds emissions guidelines for volatile organic compounds, meaning it is very sterile, non-toxic and non allergenic. One of the only downsides to using quartz is that it cannot fully replicate the beauty of natural marble. Marble-like veins made for quartz patterns often repeat or and appear to be less crisp than those found in natural stone. Finally, depending on the type of quartz and placement in your kitchen, it has been known to discolour overtime with too much direct sunlight.
Using concrete for your kitchen counter is a fashionable trend seen in more and more homes over the past few years. Though still not as popular as some of the other options, concrete is an easy way to infuse your home with a rustic yet industrial feel that’s both trendy and down to earth. As one of the lower cost options on this list, it is much more durable than marble, but still porous and susceptible to stains and scratches if not sealed properly. That being said, the imperfect look is part of the charm for concrete, meaning you can get away with few dings or cracks here and there. Concrete is also quite easy to fix or repair if it does somehow get badly damaged.
Butcher block is another rustic yet trendy material that has been growing in popularity over the years. The great thing about wood is that if you scratch, nick, scorch or stain these countertops, and you can simply sand the damage away and reapply a protective coating of mineral oil. However, they do require a special process for cleaning, and do not get as sterile as some of the other options above. It isn’t the most functional without a good finish and needs regular oiling. If you love the look of butcher block, but are not willing to commit to the maintenance, a good compromise is using it as an accent piece or as part of a smaller prep area rather than for your full kitchen counter.
With these options, countertops can take a bit of time to select depending on your desires for style, quality, colour and price, but rest assured, we can help you find what you are looking for. Book a call with our designers to get advice on choosing the best counters for your dream kitchen.