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Making Your Kitchen Countertops Count

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by Allison Gunkel

Anyone who enjoys cooking understands the value of unfettered kitchen space. This space is usually cherished most in the form of clean kitchen counters, waiting expectantly to be filled with various ingredients; ingredients that will combine into favorite family recipes and traditions. Obviously good comfort food deserves good counters. So what exactly makes a good counter? That’s for the cook to decide!

Luxury Kitchen Countertops for your Home

Is your home’s kitchen guru the person that succumbs daily to new, involved recipes from the latest gourmet cookbook, or is it the designated kitchen helper that whips up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for everyone’s lunch? The counters that work best for the chef depends exactly on what he or she is using it for.

Granite:

  • Top choice in many new homes, however, is quite expensive
  • Variety of colors; 2 types of finish; no two pieces are the same
  • Handles heat well, but can flake and chip due to prolonged contact
  • Does have visible seams
  • Fairly scratch resistant but not scratch proof – repeated cutting on surface will cause permanent scratching
  • Will stain – spills should be cleaned immediately
  • Regular resealing and maintenance should prevent unnecessary staining and scratching

Quartz:

  • Expense is comparable to granite
  • Extremely colorful including unusual colors (ex. Lime green, electric blue)
  • Color is consistent throughout, in all directions – no visible grain or pattern
  • Handles heat well
  • Does have visible seams
  • Resistant to scratches
  • Non-porous surface is not susceptible to staining
  • Does not require sealing, only minimal maintenance

Engineered Stone:

  • Expense is comparable to granite and quartz
  • Variety of colors greater than granite
  • Very high heat resistance
  • Scratch resistance
  • Stain resistant
  • Simple maintenance

Concrete:

  • Expense is comparable to granite, quartz and engineered stone
  • Color is customizable; three finishes are available
  • Handles heat well, however, abrupt temperature changes can cause warping/damage the sealer
  • Does have visible seams
  • Fairly scratch resistant but not scratch proof – repeated cutting on surface will cause permanent scratching and can damage cutlery
  • Damp sponges left on surface can cause discoloration; acidic spills damage surface
  • Must be sealed on average 4 times per year; recommended waxing every 2-3 months
  • Note: Concrete counters are ideal for imbedded ceramic or porcelain tiles to be used as permanent heat pads. The same can be said for imbedding wooden butchering blocks and kitchen trivets.

Solid Surface:

  • Very appealing to consumers; moderately priced
  • Wide variety of colors
  • Moderate heat resistance; very hot pans can damage surface quite easily
  • Does not have visible seams (virtually seamless)
  • Should not be cut directly on, however, small scratches are usually able to be buffed
  • Stain resistant
  • Durable and adaptable, requires little maintenance

Wood–Butcher Block:

  • Homey and inviting; moderately priced
  • Low heat resistance
  • Easy to clean, yet is susceptible to water damage
  • Requires frequent oiling to prevent water and stain damage
  • Scratches must be oiled, sealed or sanded frequently to prevent unsanitary conditions

Laminate:

  • Quite popular; most affordable
  • Many colors and designs available
  • Scorches upon contact with heat
  • Does have visible seams
  • Easily scratched
  • Does not require sealing
  • Wears fairly well over time when not used with direct heat or cutting
  • There is no repair that can be done-so take care!
Stylish Marble Kitchen Countertops Ideas

Currently there is a push for using sustainable materials for interior design in addition to new home construction. When considering your kitchen countertops, there are affordable options that will allow you to “go green.”

The first of these options is the use of 100% post-use glass or porcelain that is bonded with an epoxy resin. There are a wide variety of colors – each consumer’s counter is as unique as the glass used. These counter tops are heat and scratch resistant, but cutting boards and trivets should be used to promote the beauty and design. They are resistant to stains and clean easily without requiring sealing. Virtually seamless, the recycled glass countertops are a beautiful way to make your kitchen functional and eco-friendly.

Another option to recycled glass is a synthetic concrete. This material is a cement-based composite that weighs half as much as standard concrete while retaining twice the strength. It is more resistant to chipping and scratching with a workability resembling that of wood. It does require some sealing and waxing to prevent staining.

After considering your favorite recipes and the conveniences you would like your kitchen counters to provide you, it should not be too difficult to determine the material that will best suit your needs. Professional consultation and installation is recommended for any material chosen. Warranties and quality guarantees should be discussed prior to installation – a counter’s integrity can be compromised by a substandard installation leaving unsuspecting consumers less than satisfied. With all this in mind, it won’t be long before your home’s favorite chef and their helpers are enthusiastically making your kitchen counters work for you.

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