How to choose a kitchen countertop
With so many options out there, choosing the right surface material for your kitchen counter can be a challenge. Here, Lisa from International Slab Sales, gives us the low down on five great countertop options.
Most likely, the biggest deciding factors will be cost, the ‘look and feel’ you’re trying to achieve and the intended ‘shelf life’ of your kitchen design. A pristine, beautiful surface adds a sense of completion to the kitchen area, often acting as a reference point for the rest of the room’s design elements, while an attractive, long-lasting surface can keep your kitchen looking ‘fresh’ for years to come.
Working within a budget can be tricky, but if you’re not planning to refresh your kitchen design in the next 5-or-so years, it’s important to invest in a surface that will pay for itself, so to speak. Hardier, stone surfaces can last a lifetime if taken care of, and while they cost far less, plastic laminate and melamine type surfaces can get damaged easily. Cheap surface materials often detract from the design and pick up excessive ‘wear and tear’, requiring replacement sooner than one would like. Wooden countertops can create a stunning effect and help to set a warm ambience, but in terms of food preparation safety, durability and maintenance, wood scores lower than some of the other surface options.
The ideal kitchen countertop should have the following qualities: heat, scratch, stain and chip resistance; aesthetic appeal; a trustworthy, ‘green’ certification; minimal or zero maintenance; food preparation safety through a non-porous nature and a classic motif and colour to ensure you enjoy your kitchen for at least a decade or two!
1. Engineered stone
Made from 93% quartz, Caesarstone is a non-porous, heat, scratch, stain and chip resistant, highly durable surface requiring no maintenance beyond normal daily cleaning. Classic design and colour options and varying surface thicknesses provide all the options you need to complete your desired look. A certified ‘green’ product with a lifetime warranty, this surface is worth considering. Beware of imitations – real Caesarstone has ‘Caesarstone’ printed on the underside of each slab.
Although it is the next in line when it comes to hard-wearing surfaces, granite and marble surfaces can contain natural fissures and are porous, leaving them susceptible to stains. Minor, weekly maintenance can prolong the need to reseal granite countertops but marble – being more sensitive – needs extra love and care and tends to be more expensive than granite. Although granite can withstand higher temperatures, regardless of your countertop material you should always use a trivet when removing hot pots from the stove.
This natural stone can look absolutely stunning in the kitchen, but is one of the pricier countertop materials. Its natural beauty unfortunately also comes with a high maintenance warning. Marble is highly sensitive to acidic substances like lemon juice and needs regular maintenance and special care. It is not as hard as engineered stone or granite but there’s no other material like it.
4. Stainless steel
Great for creating an industrial look, stainless steel can be manufactured to your specifications, which eliminates the problem of pesky join lines. There’s no chance of staining, and it’s a great heat-resistant surface but scratches will show quite easily. This is also a fantastic surface hygiene-wise, because it’s non-porous it’s impossible for bacteria to take up residence after you’ve wiped it clean with a good quality cleanser.
Real wood surfaces come in a variety of colours and finishes and help to create a solid, warm, atmosphere. Hardwoods such as maple and oak are popular. Make sure the wood has been varnished and sealed properly and be sure to inspect the piece that will be fitted, ensuring that you get a countertop without fissures, or worse, splinters! The edges may take more of a beating with general knocks and bumps but the good news is that deep scratches or light chips are one sanding and revarnishing DIY job away.
With thanks to Lisa from International Slab Sales
Images courtesy of:
Newstart Homes, Seattle Sky
Latitude Der Kitchen
Carlisle Homes, WL Lexington
Dan Kitchens, Australia