Good day to you, and welcome to the Jericho Home Improvement blog.
Today we’re tickled pink to be focusing on the best countertops to consider for your kitchen.
Rather than dig into the really rare, exotic, or ultra-luxurious materials available to homeowners today (repurposed wood, high-grade metals or glass, butcher blocks, etc.), we’re sticking with the five most common and popular materials.
All of our Kitchen Remodeling and Kitchen Refinishing Projects incorporate the first three:
- Ultra-Dependable Granite
- Gorgeous Marble
- Timeless Quartz
- Quality Solid-Surface Blends
- Traditional Ceramic Tile
Throughout the article, we’re going to layer in some nice pictures both from sources like TheSpruce and our own Kitchen Remodeling Gallery. Although the photographs may not perfectly correlate to the category, we wanted to provide you with plenty of relevant eye candy using granite, marble, and quartz.
Let’s dive right in, and we’ll keep it short with some introductory sections and then the core considerations for each material.
#1: Ultra-Dependable Granite
The second anyone starts talking about kitchen countertops, granite is usually the first material to roll off the tongue. Like all-natural wood siding exteriors, beautiful polished stone is highly prized indoors.
From our neck of the woods here in Kansas City, MO, the material is both common and available across the planet. We seem to work with granite almost every day.
- While granite may have a higher sticker price out the door, the ROI in added home value makes up for it, thanks to how popular the material is among homeowners. Pricing largely depends on your installer, the style of granite you choose to use, the manufacturer, and your exact location.
- Granite is non-porous, hard to crack (when properly installed), heat-resistant, insanely easy to keep clean, hard to scratch or damage, but it’s heavy! The weight means you must factor in extra support, labor for installation, and permanency.
- You’re going to want to have it sealed roughly once a decade to prevent staining and weathering. The only tricky part about this is remembering when it comes due.
#2: Gorgeous Marble
Between granite and soapstone, we’ve got the second most common material for the best countertops in modern kitchen remodeling – marble!
Marble is cherished for its unique presence, natural sparkle, and polish and because of how it showcases different mineral deposits in each unique slab.
- Whereas granite needs a good sealing once a decade, marble requires attention once a year. So this increases maintenance a bit. And you have to keep in mind marble is lighter and softer than granite, making it easier to scratch.
- Most of the homeowners around the Kansas City, MO area we work with choose marble for smaller portions of their kitchen counter space: sections around sinks or other appliances, for islands, etc.
- Marble isn’t the kind of countertop material for households with many children and pets and potential hazards. It’s expensive and easier to damage. However, the return on investment can be substantial.
#3: Timeless Quartz (Engineered Stone)
When you take quartz crystals and bind them together into a solid composite material with specialized resin, what do you get? Quartz! The perfect alternative to more expensive options, most of us have been fooled by quartz countertops a time or two,
“Oh my, what wonderful marble!”
“Wait, is this granite?”
Not to be confused with Quartzite (a 99% pure metamorphic rock that’s too porous to be countertop material in raw-natural form), quartz slabs are usually about 90-93% pure. The other 10% comprises the pigments for style/coloring and the coating: polyurethanes, waxes, or acrylics.
Homeowners like knowing each slab will come without imperfections and be completely uniform. And, they’re more appealing or natural-looking than our next material.
- Quartz doesn’t have the cost of marble, but it’s more durable. You’re less likely to chip, scratch, or damage the material. That said, it can melt when hit with temperatures higher than 300-degree Fahrenheit.
- You’re going to have a larger variety of styles and coloring to choose from with Quartz, thanks to modern resins used in manufacturing. Some of them look nearly identical to marble and granite (similar veining).
- Requires no recurring sealing, and the maintenance is near non-existent. In a general sense, along with its lighter weight, this is why quartz is considered more DIY friendly (not advised!)
#4: Quality Solid-Surface Blends
Now we’re into the acrylic and polyester blends of material that will cost substantially less than granite, marble, or quartz. Can they mimic the look of stone? Yes, to a degree, but they’re definitely far from the real thing.
These materials came about when most other groundbreaking petroleum-based products came about – the 1960s!
For decades DuPont held the patent, but since the 1990s when it expired, there’s been an explosion of solid-surface material brands all doing essentially the same thing: Hi-Macs, Staron, Hanex, Wilsonart, Corian, Avonite, Swanstone, etc.
- These are strong, durable, non-porous materials, but the major benefit is the low price tag for homeowners who choose them. They also require low maintenance, offer plenty of styling choices, and you don’t need to continually seal them.
- Obviously, these materials are not as heat resistant as stone. They can melt and be burned. You can also scratch and dent them, but they’re FAR easier to repair than natural or engineered stone. Trying to repair marble can be a chore.
- Because they’re less expensive, homeowners assume they’re DIY-friendly. They aren’t. You actually need to get them installed and fabricated by a professional contractor (integrated sink/countertop units are abundant).
#5: Traditional Ceramic Tile
If you ask 100 people which is more beautiful and versatile in its beauty: tile or natural stone, we’re betting a majority side with tile. There’s literally no end to what you can create with tile — often ceramic, made of fired and glazed clay.
Sure, there are some serious elements of construction to keep in mind (plywood substrate, laminate base, grouting, etc.), but the results are outstanding in the kitchen! Whether you opt for a classic 1960s or retro 1970s look or kick it into modern high gear, the cost-to-beauty ratio is nice.
- On the one hand, yes, tile countertops in the kitchen are advertised as DIY friendly. But are they really? The vast majority of amateur work cannot compare to professional work.
- Tiles can be cheap. How cheap? REALLY cheap. But, the cheaper the material, the less durable it is. When you combine this with the amount of maintenance tile requires over the long term, it’s a serious investment.
- Grout. It gets dirty. It gets dingy. It seems to collect stains and can become a real headache. Down the road, you can turn to tile refinishing, but again, it’s another ‘gotta love tile to do this kind of investment.
In Conclusion: Make The Most Of The Best Countertops
Your goal as a homeowner is to get the most value out of your remodeling investment possible. The best countertops are those that deliver the most benefits for you and your in-home lifestyle. Perhaps tile or solid-surface materials aren’t the best fit, no matter how much less they may cost upfront? For the majority of our projects, it’s always granite, marble, or quartz.
If you’d like to know more or are interested in professional kitchen refinishing here in the Kansas City, MO area, check out our Service Areas and give us a call. We look forward to hearing from you, and thanks for your time today.Tags: Ceramic Tile, Countertops, Granite, kitchen, Marble, Quartz