Countertops bear the brunt of kitchen work and the more they’re able to endure scratches and moisture, the less often you’ll need to make repairs and replacements. Natural stone is an excellent choice but isn’t cheap while stainless steel is rust-proof and contemporary but dents easily. Similarly, there are other materials that offer much in the way of superior qualities while lacking in others. Here’s a quick breakdown of countertop materials and what they bring to the table.
Laminates are cheap but don’t have to look it. Quality models can offer elegance under a tight budget and even more in the way of resistance to many damaging effects. Stains, heat and impact have little bearing on these affordable materials while installation is easy and so is maintenance. You also have many patterns and colors to pick from, something not always available with other materials.
What does pose a bit of a problem is water seepage through the seams. Laminates have a dark core and a patterned and colored layer on the top so if water seeps in, the two can come apart and look unsightly.
Granite is perfect for heavy countertop use as it’s incredibly hard and difficult to damage. You also have a range of colors and patterns, all natural, which appeals to many consumers. Heat, spillage and knife cuts are endured well.
Despite these hallmarks, granite does chip and filling has to be done by a professional. Stains also make their presence known so regular sealing is necessary.
Concrete is great because it can be customized to suit your specifications. While it has a reputation for being too plain and dull, it can be textured. If left as is, you can also derive a beautiful patina which is completely unique.
The downside of concrete is disappointing. It scratches and chips easily and is prone to developing hairline cracks. Sealants do the job of protecting it against heat and stains but there’s a twist: penetrating sealers guard against heat damage but not stains and topical sealers protect against stains but not heat.
Quartz is suitable for heavy countertop use and like granite, it can endure spillage, heat and knife cuts. It goes one further by being able to resist stains and water penetration.
Unfortunately, quartz has a tendency to chip and crack which isn’t such a big problem but you’re left with uneven surfaces. To add to the issue, only a professional can repair the damage. What you can do to minimize the effects is to have a fabricator round the edges as sharp corners are more easily damaged.
Stainless steel is in and most modern kitchens prefer it over the rest. It’s easy to clean, doesn’t rust, burn and stain easily. It also looks great in a kitchen with clean metal accents.
Like the rest of the countertop choices, stainless steel has issues and they could sway your choice in favor of something else. It isn’t dense which means it dents easily and scratches show up clearly. It’s also a magnet for fingerprints which means regular wiping must be done to keep it looking clean. Strong chemicals can also discolor the finish and ruin its appearance.
Ceramic tile is a common choice for kitchen countertops. Cheap, easy to install and quite durable, it has good heat resistance and deters stains from forming. It also complements other materials well.
What ceramic does lack is a resistance to chips and cracks? Grout stains are also common which means regular cleaning must be done to maintain a pristine appearance.