Functional and attractive counters for your home
If you're planning to replace your kitchen countertops, you're probably already aware that there are nearly limitless options available in terms of materials, styles and finishes. While the style and finish should work with the rest of your home décor, there are definite advantages and disadvantages to the various materials. The cost of the base materials also varies, so you'll want to explore your options before making a decision to ensure your project doesn't go over its allotted budget.
The major materials used to make kitchen countertops include laminate, tile, marble, granite, synthetic or natural stone, concrete, stainless steel and wood. Take a close look at each of these in turn and consider their respective costs during the planning stages of your project.
Properties of Kitchen Countertop Materials
Here are the characteristics, pros and cons of the most common kitchen countertop materials:
- Laminate. These countertops are affordable, durable and highly water-resistant. However, they can easily be cut, burned or cracked, which will call for repair or replacement.
- Tile. A tile counter is easy to clean and care for, and tiles are available in a vast array of colors and styles. Over time, though, they may become cracked or discolored, and bacteria and contaminants can build up in these cracks.
- Marble. While marble is strikingly beautiful and very strong, it is also prohibitively expensive and stains easily, making it a poor choice for functional countertops. Most marble countertops are purely decorative.
- Granite. Heat-resistant, durable and very hard, granite is a good choice if your budget allows -- it tends to be very expensive and must be resealed regularly, plus it requires a lot of care and maintenance.
- Synthetic stone. While expensive, synthetic stone countertops offer outstanding functionality, heat, stain and acid resistance, and ease of maintenance.
- Natural stone. These countertops usually require professional installation and are expensive, but are practically impervious to anything you might throw at them. They are also markedly beautiful.
- Concrete. The versatility and durability of concrete is attractive, but professional installation is expensive and pretty much unavoidable.
- Stainless steel. While stainless steel countertops are prone to dents and scratches, they are also waterproof and very practical, especially for industrial kitchens.
- Wood. One of the most affordable options, wood is attractive because it can always be sanded or refurbished, but it stains easily and can be badly damaged by water without proper protection.