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A Guide to Countertop Surfaces | Part 1

How do you choose the right countertop surface for your kitchen and other areas of your home? There’s a lot to choose from today and before you dive into a large purchase, check out your options below so you can find the best and right material to use for your home spaces. 

Quartz Countertops

Image via Verona Quartz

Known as ‘engineered stone’ to differentiate from natural stone countertops, quartz countertops consist of a very high concentration of quartz crystals (93 percent), a naturally occurring substance. Crushed quartz stone mixed with resin produces quartz countertops that resemble granite but are tougher and virtually indestructible.

Easy to maintain, quartz countertops are resistant to stains, acid, scratches, heat and impact. Unlike natural stone countertops that have porous surfaces, quartz countertops do not have to be sealed. Quartz countertops come in a wide range of colors and patterns and offer a modern look.

Price: $40-$100 per square foot

Pros: Quartz is highly resistant to stains, bacteria, acid and cuts and does not require sealing. It does not chip or stain easily.

Cons: It costs more and is not as heat resistant as granite or crushed glass. It also fades over time.

Granite Countertops

Image via Robeson Design

Elegant and strong, granite countertops are made of naturally occurring granite stone, known for its beautiful patterns and outstanding strength. Often considered a “must have” for luxury homes, granite countertops offer gorgeous beauty with a high-end look and fit well with any kitchen or bathroom style.

Available all over the world, granite stone is naturally rough in texture, but when it is ground and polished, it takes on a smooth surface and offers a rich, lustrous appearance. Granite consists of different materials that give countertops unique looks such as red and pink highlights for granite countertops made of granite high in feldspar. Mica creates brown and black veining while quartz offers white, pink and black hues. The variations create one of a kind, desirable looks that differentiate the stone. It is important to get all your granite from the same quarry to ensure a consistent look.

Price: $40-$100 per square foot

Pros: Granite is highly resistant to stains, chips and heat. If you apply sealer annually, it will stand up to stains consistently.

Cons: It is tough but not indestructible. Any accidents can create chips that you will have to polish down. You need to seal the granite regularly or oil can seep in.

Recycled Glass Countertops

Image via Cortney Bishop

Known for their attractive and unique appearance, recycled glass countertops offer a distinctive style and aesthetic. Glass countertops are eco-friendly as they are recycled from beer bottles, traffic lights and windshields. Recycled glass countertops come in two styles — set in acrylic where the glass looks like it is floating in a lake and set in cement, where the glass creates a shimmery mosaic. 

Price: $60-$120 per square foot

Pros: Recycled glass is highly resistant to stains, burns and cuts. It does not chip, does not require sealing and does not fade over time.

Cons: It costs more and is not as tough as granite or crushed glass. The glass can crack if you place something heavy on it. Acidic foods can also eat away at the acrylic.

Laminate Countertops

Image via Wilsonart

Available in a wide range of colors, laminate countertops are often popular for kitchens and bathrooms because of their affordability. Laminate is a paper-plastic product consisting of several layers of Kraft paper with a resin with almost an infinite range of colors and patterns to choose from. 

Price: $10-$40 per square foot

Pros: This inexpensive product can mimic the look of everything from wood to granite

Cons: It cracks, scratches and burns more easily. It can be hard to repair. Many prospective homeowners leave when they see laminate countertops in homes they are considering buying.

Butcherblock Countertops

Image via Yahoo

Excellent for food preparation, butcher block countertops are a popular choice in kitchens.  Create a warm, rustic cottage kitchen look with a butcher block style wood countertop that is both functional and decorative. You can cut foods directly on the wood surface as the countertop is ideal for food preparation, including meats.

Crafted from wood pieces of differing colors, butcherblock countertops consist of different pieces of wood glued together, sanded and sealed to create a smooth countertop with an attractive pattern.

Price: $35-$200 per square foot depending upon the wood used

Pros: Ideal for food preparation. Heat-resistant.

Cons: Requires periodic sealing and can be affected by long-term exposure to water.

Marble Countertops

By far one of the most beautiful countertops to view and touch, marble countertops are made of naturally occurring marble and are highly prized for their beauty. Marble creates a distinct high-end look that is prized among homeowners. 

Marble is a metamorphic rock. There are many types of marble coming from different areas of the world and valued for their different colors and veining. Some of the most popular forms of marble include:

• Carrara: White or blue-gray, from Italy

• Connemara: Green, from Ireland

• Creole: White or blue and black, from Georgia, USA

• Etowah: Pink, salmon or rose, from Georgia, USA

• Murphy: White, from the USA

• Parian: Very white, from Greece

• Purbeck: Gray/brown, from the UK

• Ruskeala: White, from Russia

• Sienna: Yellow with various color veins, from Italy

• Swedish Green: Green, from Sweden

• Vermont White: White, from Vermont, USA

• Wunsiedel: White, from Germany

• Makrana: White, from India

Fine-grained marble has a more consistent look, while heavier grains create variations in color. Finishing options include honed or matte (matte look), polished (bright, gleaming look) and leather (ideal for darker marble). Every marble countertop is one of a kind and offers a unique beauty, color and look. Marble works well with most design styles from classic to modern.

Price: $50-$170 per square foot

Pros: Gorgeous, outstanding durability, resistant to heat

Cons: Requires regular cleaning to avoid stains and periodic sealing once a year, can be chipped by heavy items, scratches more easily than granite.

Concrete Countertops

Image via Boxwood Avenue

Offering a modern look, concrete countertops are popular for both kitchens and bathrooms. Tech innovation has resulted in lighter concrete countertop options today. Concrete can be dyed to any color and can have colored stones, tiles, glass, shells and other substances embedded in it to create textured looks.

Price: $70-$140 per square foot

Pros: Durable, does not chip or stain easily.

Cons: It costs more and requires regular maintenance like granite. Needs to be sealed regularly.

As you can see, you have plenty of options when it comes countertop surfaces. Read on to Part 2 for several more popular, high quality countertop surfaces to find the best one for your home.

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