Friday, April 5, 2013

Choosing A Countertop Is the Hardest Decision in a Kitchen Remodel

Beauty and Durability Come at a Cost - But Don't Skimp on the Countertop


Whether you are doing a minor remodel or a total renovation of your kitchen, and whether it is an apartment sized room or includes a center work station and a wet bar, your number one cost in your new kitchen may be your countertop.  Moreover countertops and cabinets are the two aspects of the finished job that can cost you the most grief if not done to your standards.

When choosing a countertop, you will faced with an array of choices.  As you weigh out the various options, these features seem to be the ones that most homeowners consider most critical:
  • Looks - Certainly an issue of personal taste.  As in all things, beauty has a price.
  • Daily maintenance - How easy to clean?  How easy to make sparkle like new?  Two different things
  • Long term maintenance - Are there costs in time and treasure to keep the countertop new looking?
  • Chip resistant - Is the material easily damaged if something is dropped on it?
  • Cut resistant - Is the material subject to being cut if a good knife is used without a cutting board?
  • Stain resistant - What happens if something is spilled on the countertop?  
  • Acid/caustic material resistant - Will lemons, coffee, alcohol or cleaning materials hurt the surface?
  • Heat resistant - What happens if I put a hot frying pan on the surface by mistake
  • Cost - The range of costs for countertops is huge.  What am I getting for the money?
  • Resale value - If you should sell the house, will the countertop be a standout feature?

The Choices For Your Countertop Include the Following 


Marble
Available in a large variety of colors and styles, won't chip or dent, is resistant to heat, and has a nice smooth surface.
It is possible to scratch or etch the surface with the some acids, including coffee, alcohol, harsh cleaning products or even citrus fruits.  You can protect Marble by sealing it, but this may not stop the etching in every case.  You will need to seal the surface once or twice per year for optimum lasting beauty and to protect the surface.   $100-400/foot.
Granite
Pros: More durable than marble, won't scratch, resistant to stains, heat and water if sealed, low-maintenance, high resale value, lots of color options. About the same cost as Marble.  Excellent resale value. 
 Lava Stone
Pros: Many color options, non-porous, highly resistant to heat, cold, stains and scratching, highly durable, low-maintenance.  At least $225/foot.





Solid Surface (Corian, etc.)
Durable, smooth surface, can seamlessly integrate sink and backsplash, easy to sand away stains or scratches, lots of color and pattern options, can imitate other materials like concrete and marble.
Easily damaged by heat.  Susceptible to scratches and dents.  Stains. $45-150/foot.

Stainless Steel
Durable.  You can't stain or harm this surface with acids, stains or heat.  Easy to clean and maintain, but can look dull unless cleaned with a cleanser like Barkeep.
It is possible to nick or scratch Stainless.  $100-300/foot.

 Wood/Butcher Block
Good for chopping/prep surface and gives a great working kitchen feel.
This type of surface is easily damaged by scratches and dents, and can be stained.  Many believe that bacteria can reside in small scratches, so requires a food-safe protective sealer.   High maintenance.  Sink spray and or direct sunlight may result in some fading. $40-150/foot

Ceramic Tile
Pros: Durable, easy to install and clean, heat and moisture-resistant.
Cons: Uneven surface, tiles can get scratched, cracked or chipped, grout can stain. $2-150/foot.




Engineered Stone (90% Quartz)

This nonporous surface is excellent at         resisting abuse such as scratches or stains.  You never need to seal this product and it is easy to maintain.  The look is almost identical to natural stone but by mixing various pigments you can create completely custom looks.  It is not heatproof.$50 - $150/foot


Concrete
This smooth surface is tough as they come and resists scratches and heat.  The potential palette is large and you can choose among  various surfaces. 
You must seal the surface as it is porous.  You will also want to wax.  Since you will need to custom cast to fit, you have flexibility in shaping.  Around $80-150/foot.
Soapstone
Resistant to etching from acids, but can be stained.  Scratches can be removed by sanding or sanded or oiling.
Needs regular maintenance.  Subject to cracks and chips that may not be able to be repaired by sanding or oiling.  The color may darken over time.  $75-150/foot.
Glass
Glass is obviously non-porous and very heat-resistant.  No worries about cuts.  It is very
hard to keep 100% free of haze, fingerprints, and water spots.  Cracks, chips, or breaks cannot be fixed.
$60-300/foot.



Laminates
An inexpensive option that provides plenty of color choices.  Very low maintenance, but subject to cracking, scratches and heat damage. 
$15-60/foot plus installation.





Paper-based Composite
Manufactured from recycled paper, so considered a green solution.  Even the resins are green.   Considered very durable.   Can scratch and stain, heat and stain resistant, but not stain and heat proof, These surfaces will darken over time.  Porous, so requires sealant.  Not readily available.  Need http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=6484286514755646325#editor/target=post;postID=4345442332633159962to special order in most cases.
 $45-75/foot.
Bamboo & Paper Composite
Green, foodsafe, highly durable, hyperallergenic.  Looks like wood.  Bamboo won't discolor over time, is scratch- and stain-proof, water-resistant, and offers more light colors than Paper.  This surface does requires regular maintenance. $30+/foot.

If you found this post helpful, please give us a Like or a +1.  You might also like to check around the rest of the blog for similar articles that might help you with your renovation or remodel.  For instance this post is hugely popular:

21 Exciting Room Addition Ideas That Will Make Your Family Happy

As you may have noted, we are general contractors working in the Dallas metro area.  Please call us if you have any questions or would like a quote on a project.  You can also check our website at http://uniquehomebuild.com


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