Countertops are a big aspect of making your kitchen match your style and desired utility. Your counters alone can completely change the way your kitchen looks, feels, and functions. Over the years, design and technology have evolved to create high-quality countertop options for various budgets, styles, durability needs, and household lifestyles. With old trends returning and new trends beginning, there are always excellent materials and designs to choose from that are worth the investment!
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Laminate countertops are known for being more affordable than other countertop materials. While these countertops can be difficult to repair, they’re durable and function well in high-traffic kitchens. With little maintenance required, including being easy to clean, laminate countertops are adaptable and hold up against kids, frequent baking, and daily cooking.
Durability & Protection
These counters are nonporous so you don’t have to worry about resealing them as they don’t absorb water or harbor bacteria, mold, and stains. However, laminate countertops are easily damaged by heat so you should never place a hot pan on them. Once damage has been done to laminate counters, they’re near impossible to repair.
Home Value & Affordability
If increasing your home value is a priority when renovating your kitchen, you’ll want to avoid laminate countertops. Because this material is more budget-friendly it doesn’t add much to your home’s value and has visible seams. However, don’t let that stop you from considering laminate counters as they still have a lot to offer!
Lots of Options
These countertops are great for people who want a particular style or color as there are many options to choose from. Today, these countertops come in many different patterns, colors, and designs. From natural stone to rustic wood, laminate countertops have evolved to look more aesthetically pleasing and unique for a fraction of the price. Best of all, laminate counters are easy to clean and don’t need routine maintenance. If your top countertop priorities are affordability, different options, and little to no maintenance, laminate countertops are a great choice.
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Ceramic tile countertops have been around for decades and can give kitchens their own vibrant, distinct, and personalized looks. While ceramic tile is one of the cheaper countertop materials, some tiles are more expensive than others. This countertop material has countless options for colors, patterns, and designs that fit any budget.
Unfortunately, tile countertops can be difficult and time-consuming to clean. The grout on tile counters stains very easily and needs to be cleaned often to reduce this. However, one solution to avoid stained grout is to choose a grout that is darker in color. With darker grout, stains won’t be as noticeable.
Functionality & Personalization
Another downside to ceramic tile counters is their uneven surfaces. Because these counters have grooves and dips, baking and cooking on tile countertops can be frustrating. Furthermore, ceramic tile countertops are less durable than other materials and can easily crack. That being said, ceramic tiles give you the ability to completely personalize your kitchen space with tiles in all colors and styles.
If you love the look of ceramic tiles in your kitchen but don’t want the frequent cleaning and upkeep that comes with these counters, consider using ceramic tile as your backsplash. With a ceramic tile backsplash, you can still achieve that look minus the extra work.
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Butcher block countertops are a great choice for homeowners going for a rustic but contemporary look. These counters are created by gluing small planks of wood together so each countertop is unique. Butcher block countertops are generally more affordable than stone countertops, but it really depends on the countertops’ type of wood, wood grain, thickness, and design. Some popular wood species used for these counters include teak, maple, ash, cherry, oak, acacia, birch, and bamboo.
Environmentally Friendly Option
If you like butcher block countertops but want to lower your carbon footprint, bamboo is the most environmentally friendly option. In addition to being better for the environment, bamboo is one of the more affordable wood species. Although it may be tempting, these countertops shouldn’t be used as a cutting board. Cutting food directly on your butcher block counters can change the evenness and feel of the countertop’s surface.
Homeowners interested in butcher block countertops should be aware this material takes a lot of work and needs to be resealed every 6 months or twice a year to reduce the risk of staining and warping. The first year you have your butcher block counters, you need to follow an extensive sealing process to ensure your butcher block is fully protected. This sealing schedule starts with applying a coat once a day for a week. After the first week, you’ll apply a coat once a week for the timespan of a month. Once the first month ends, you’ll move on to applying a coat once a month for a year.
Protection & Repairs
Resealing your butcher block countertops is important to keep the wood from holding bacteria, trapping moisture, cracking, and warping. Additionally, because they’re made from wood, butcher block counters may shrink and expand during seasonal temperature changes. That being said, these counters can be easily repaired with some light sanding to remove stains and shallow scratches. All you need to keep your butcher block countertops clean is some mild soap and water or vinegar.
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Quartz countertops are a mix of resin and natural quartz. These counters have an appearance that’s shiny, glossy, and similar to marble countertops while costing much less. They are very durable and good for kitchens that get heavy use as they’re resistant to stains, scratches, chips, dents, and cracks. However, these counters are susceptible to heat damage so trivets are always needed when handling hot pots and pans.
Quartz counters have a lower maintenance level than many other types of countertops. While other counters need routine resealing to make sure they stay resistant to moisture, bacteria, and staining, these countertops never need to be resealed because they’re nonporous and won’t absorb moisture. You can choose to reseal your counters for extra protection, but this isn’t necessary.
These heavy-duty and low-maintenance countertops are great additions to many kitchens and household lifestyles. For homeowners who want the style of stone countertops with a lower price tag and less upkeep, quartz countertops have some excellent options
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Granite countertops are uniquely patterned and very durable. Because they’re beautiful and able to withstand plenty of use, granite counters are one of the most popular types of counters. Despite their popularity, these countertops cannot be done as a DIY project. Granite counters are very heavy and will need to be installed by a professional to avoid damaging your cabinets below.
Resealing & Cleaning
Countertops made from granite need to be resealed once every 1 to 5 years to ensure protection against bacteria and prevent moisture absorption. Even though they need to be resealed every few years, granite counters are still lower maintenance than many other natural stone countertops. Granite is stain-resistant and easy to clean so it doesn’t require any special cleaning supplies, just some mild soap and water.
One easy way to see if your granite countertops need to be resealed is to pour a bit of water on your counters and let the water sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Once the time is up, wipe away the water on the counter and check for a dark spot. You don’t want your counter absorbing the water so if the counter has a dark spot where the water was sitting, it needs to be resealed.
One feature of granite countertops that attracts many homeowners is the ability to add original, unrepeatable counters to their kitchens. No homes with granite countertops are going to have the same granite pattern. Additionally, even though granite countertops are made from natural stone, there are multiple colors homeowners can choose from. If you’re looking for a countertop that is lasting, hardwearing, easy to clean, and comes in different styles, granite countertops may be for you.
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Concrete countertops are great for homeowners wanting a farmhouse or industrial-style kitchen. That being said, these countertops cost more money and need more upkeep than other countertop materials. Concrete counters are generally custom-made and need to be done by professionals as they’re heavy and, if improperly installed, can damage the cabinets below.
Durability & Care
These countertops are scratch resistant and hold up well against high temperatures, however, they are porous and easily absorb moisture which can lead to stains and bacteria. To avoid this, you’ll need to reseal your concrete countertops every 1 to 3 years depending on your specific counters and sealant. To keep your concrete counters protected and in good condition, use non-abrasive cleaners and cloth.
Cracking & Repairs
Unfortunately, concrete countertops have a high likelihood of cracking over time from things like appliances tightening, readjustments, and houses settling. These countertops are likely to shrink when temperatures change which can create hairline cracks. While the likelihood of cracks and shrinking happening are lower when you go with a professional, concrete can naturally shrink on its own. Thankfully, there are various ways to repair cracks in concrete countertops such as latex caulking, silicone caulking, and epoxies.
Concrete countertops are customizable and great for homeowners wanting a unique kitchen. There are different dyes available that give concrete countertops beautiful shades to match your home and create bursts of color. These counters are precast and installed in your home so you don’t have to wait a month for them to fully set.
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Marble countertops are beautifully unique but have a high price tag. These countertops are seen as timeless and sophisticated with various colors and one-of-a-kind patterns. Despite their popularity, marble counters aren’t a good fit for frequently used kitchens as they’re high maintenance and very susceptible to stains, scratches, etches, and chips. In fact, damage to marble counters is frequently caused by common acidic foods and drinks such as lemon juice, tomato, wine, vinegar, and coffee.
Homeowners who frequently work with dough, pasta, and chocolate will enjoy the marble countertops’ naturally cool temperature which is perfect for these foods. However, despite their natural coolness, you should never place a hot pan directly on your marble countertops as this can damage them.
Repairing & Cleaning
Although they can be easily damaged, these counters aren’t too difficult to repair and clean. That being said, you’ll need to regularly reseal marble countertops every 6 months to 1 year to keep them protected. To remove shallow scratches and water stains, you can buff out your countertop with #0000 steel wool. When you clean your marble counters, you should use 12% hydrogen peroxide, a little ammonia, and a non-abrasive cloth. With routine maintenance, marble countertops will remain durable and beautiful for years to come.
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Stainless steel countertops aren’t just for restaurants, they also look great in residential homes with their clean, industrial appearance. As evidenced by their place in restaurant kitchens, stainless steel countertops are heavy-duty and perfect for kitchens that are frequently used. While these counters are generally more expensive than other countertop materials, they are much more durable and require less upkeep.
Durability & Care
Resistant to heat and rust, stainless steel counters don’t need resealing and, unlike other countertop materials, aren’t harmed by liquids or acidic foods. However, it’s important to clean up spills on your stainless steel counters immediately as the longer it sits, the harder it can be to clean. Overall though, these counters are very easy to clean and aren’t damaged by strong cleaners.
One downside to stainless steel countertops is the material can be very noisy. They also need to be wiped down frequently to remove water spots and fingerprints, which show up easily on stainless steel. Like other countertops, you shouldn’t cut directly on your stainless steel counters. You need to always use a cutting board to keep your countertop in good condition and free from dents and scratches.
Picking high-quality stainless steel is important when choosing countertops of this material. The higher the quality, the less likely you are to dent or scratch your stainless steel counters. If choosing a clean, durable, and environmentally friendly countertop material is important to you, these 100% recyclable counters may be a perfect fit for your home.
When choosing the countertop material that best suits your lifestyle, home, and family, keep in mind what counter features are top priorities for you. By making a list of what you find most important in your kitchen, deciding on a countertop will be much easier. To get more tips and guidance on remodeling your home interior and exterior, check out E&E Contracting’s monthly blog. Have a renovation project or home addition in mind? Get started today by receiving your free quote and speaking with a building professional.