Countertop Basics: What are your options?

The kitchen is the gathering point of the home and a major selling point when looking to buy. Countertops dictate the personality of the kitchen, and with so many options it can be difficult to decide what will work best for your budget and lifestyle.

Granite countertops have become the standard in many homes, and for good reason. Granite is extremely durable and low maintenance. The material can withstand heat and scratches.

The color options are vast, ranging from mild browns to soothing blues and grays. Granite is 100 percent natural stone. No two countertops are exactly alike, so your kitchen is guaranteed to be unique. Granite is, however, a porous material. “Quartz can be cleaned with most any common household cleaners and does not need to be sealed. Granite however, should be cleaned with mild soap or Granite specific cleaning products and does need to be resealed once a year or so to protect the longevity of the stone,” according to Mike Hyer of RockTops Granite and Stone Fabrication.

Profile Cabinet and Design has observed quartz countertops becoming a popular trend over the last few years. “The consistency, variety, durability and

Photo courtesy of Profile.

ease of maintenance are huge positives,” commented Steven Nelson from Profile. “We still do some granite and natural marble, but the engineered stone (quartz) has really taken a huge bite out of their market share.”

Quartz countertops are manufactured using about 95 percent natural quartz and five percent polymer resins. Quartz is extremely durable and nonporous. Color options are wide ranging, but tend to stay within the white, blue, black and gray color families. Quartz is scratch resistant but does not hold up well to extreme heat. “Gra

nite and quartz are about the same in price range, falling between $2,000-5,000 for an average home,” said Richardson.

Marble is another classic option for countertops. It brings a bright and clean feeling to any kitchen. Despite the luxury look, marble is usually in the same price range as quartz and granite. It is even more porous than granite, so sealing the countertops once or twice a year is necessary. Due to the nature of the softer stone, people tend to opt for a matte finish as opposed to polished. If sealed correctly and often, staining shouldn’t be as high of a concern.

Limestone has become a more popular option for outdoor kitchen spaces and decorative additions such as backsplashes. There are a few different types, but Travertine is the most popular. Acidic food and drink do not favor limestone countertops even when sealed properly, although recent product development has extended the longevity of limestone countertops.

Concrete is another type of countertop experiencing a surge in newfound popularity. Concrete countertops bring a rustic charm to the kitchen, although, according to Nelson, they can also be a big gamble. “Quality varies greatly and the quartz colors cover the concrete palate with a more consistent and easier to fabricate product,” stated Nelson. Concrete countertops are also not exempt from the possibility of stains and cracks even when sealed properly. Redeeming qualities of the material are the versatility and the price. Although not cheap, concrete can be less expensive than granite. Concrete can be made into almost any color or shape imaginable and offers the possibility to embed stones or even fossils into the countertop.

When shopping for kitchen countertops or doing a renovation, think about what the needs of the household are before making your decision. No matter your lifestyle, HBA member companies will work with you to create your dream kitchen.