Countertop low down? We all got ‘em. We all want ‘em! And we all need ‘em. Countertops. Whether kitchen or bathroom, countertop options are buzzing and we have the low-down.
Replacement, full renovation or new build – all countertops are not created equal. Prior to choosing a look and even a room design scheme, it may be a good idea to research different countertop options first so all characteristics of each stone are understood. Educate yourself so you know the things that fall under your “must haves”. You may fall in love with a countertop and realize how high-maintenance it is after the fact.
What you may not know is that some countertops require conditioning once a week or every several. Others may scuff or chip in some areas – some may be able to be fixed and conditioned while others’ dents will only remain a permanent fixture on the countertops’ surface. When choosing our kitchen countertops, we knew our budget and color choice. We also knew that there was not one countertop that checked all the boxes.
So, having this knowledge under our belts, we tried to zero-in on a countertop that checked most of our “must have” boxes. This also meant we needed to compromise and let go of a few “must haves” to gain in other areas. Like I said earlier, not all countertops/stones are created equal and there are good and bad qualities to most of them. This made our decision a little easier.
Countertop Low Down
Countertops are the number one ingredient in a kitchen or bathroom. They are expected to be functional as well as decorative. It can get to be overwhelming and expensive in the early phases of the countertop selection process. Don’t get your brain in a tizzy just yet.
Below we’ve outlined some of the most popular countertop options today. The internet has all types of photos and information to refer to when researching which countertop is right for your installation. Countertops can be made into any thickness and any length imaginable. Just realize that if you go outside the box it will cost you!
For example, we have friends that have a very big island in their kitchen, maybe about 12 feet long. When they were designing their kitchen, they were adamant on finding a stone in the size and thickness that fit their space in order for there not to be a seam in the countertop.
The less costly route is to pick a stone and the fabricator will cut it where necessary. To install our friend’s island countertop, require a lot of man-power and a very careful install. It also required much support, making the whole process pricier than most. However, their island is a beautiful fixture in their kitchen, acting as its own work of art.
Our island and other countertops are small, so one piece of stone (“slab”) was plenty. Once our cabinetry was installed, the fabricator came in and did a final measure in order to cut the appropriate overall countertop size as well as holes for the stovetop, the sink and its hardware (handles, spout) and edges. The fabricator also made sure the appropriate support was installed in this phase so when they fitted the countertops in, everything would fall into place.
Choosing the material for your countertops is the first and most important step. Learn the qualities and properties of each countertop you may be considering. Below we’ve listed a few material options that are popular today, for obvious reasons (look, durability, cost). We hope it helps in any beginning stages of countertop selection!
Different Countertop Materials
As we mentioned above, there are many different countertop materials to choose from and we’ve outlined a few below for your reference.
Quarzite – a rock made from sandstone and quartz crystals. Quarzite is a great, cost effective alternative to marble. Heat resistant and water resistant. Each slab is unique, very durable and easy to clean.
Quartz – combination of natural quartz and resin, Nonporous, durable, but cannot take high heat (will discolor and damage). Comes in variety of colors. Adds some texture due to subtle veins and patterns. Usually shiny (can be honed/dulled), polished finish. Expensive option.
Soapstone – made from quarried stone. Has a milky appearance from the talc in the stone. More pliable, but a softer material than granite. Fairly expensive but offers a classic look and charm. It is less brittle therefore reducing the chance of cracking from stress or weight. Soapstone is not porous, so does not absorb liquids.
Marble – timeless elegance. Unique, natural stone. Durable and heat-resistant, but it etches and stains very easily. Marble can be conditioned with an epoxy or polyester resin. Be sure to use a sealant annually to help protect the surface. Can come honed or polished.
Granite – natural beauty and durability. Seal every 10-15 years. Available in a variety of colors and designs as it is naturally sourced. Each slab features a unique design.
Butcher Block – durable and provide natural beauty. Work well in a farmhouse or as an accent countertop because they bring a rustic, homey feel to any kitchen. Wood varieties may include cherry, maple, oak and walnut. Can warp and hold stains, so be sure you are okay with an aged aesthetic. Seal when installed and regularly after.
Laminate – most budget-friendly. Great stain-resistant and provide much versatility. It is synthetically manufactured so it is available in many different colors, patterns and styles. Finish options range from a matte or high gloss finish and everything in between. Low-maintenance and easy to clean. They cannot stand heat, so be prepared to have plenty of hot plates at the ready!
Concrete – offer a very industrial vibe. Can be moderately priced, but require a mold to be made.
Stainless Steel – typically used in restaurant-grade kitchens, but since they are heat-resistant and indestructible home cooks have flocked to this new countertop trend. They are easy to keep sanitary as well.
Ceramic Tile – Affordable and can look beautiful as countertops. Can handle heat and water when it is properly glazed. It won’t stain. Note that dirt and debris can accumulate in the grout in-between each tile, so be sure think through color options, etc.
Countertop Round Up
Countertops can really illustrate the atmosphere of any kitchen, bathroom or built-in. It is important to educate yourself on all of the elements each different countertop purvey so the appropriate decision can be made both for practicality and aesthetic purposes. A counter’s material can update a surrounding room with a more modern feel (especially when updating a farmhouse!).
It is also possible to use certain countertop materials to add time-period flavor to an updated home. For example, using butcher block in an original modern farmhouse speaks to the originality of the home and sheds a 180-degree design on the space! Your home’s working surfaces have a lot of design power, so our countertop low down is to be sure to choose wisely.