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Design Inspiration

Choosing Countertops

July 17, 2015

Silestone countertops

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It is where we gather with family and friends. It is where we create culinary masterpieces and where we show off our delicious taste in design.

Our kitchen can be as unique as we are. Options for customization are endless, from the finishes of our appliances, faucets and cabinet pulls to the wood choice and stain color of our cabinets. Perhaps one of the most important decisions with regard to the look and functionality of a kitchen is that of the countertops.  At one end of the spectrum in design, we can give our kitchen a modern and industrial look with stainless steel countertops.  Rather the opposite, we can aim for a high-end, upscale and perhaps formal design with a choice of marble.  And of course there are several choices in between!

Many options in our kitchen are primarily aesthetic in nature, but our countertop choices can affect the way we work in this space. There are pros and cons to each different countertop surface option. We found an article on Houzz that provides a great explanation on everything from the warm classic look of butcher block to the trendy new option of concrete. Here are some of the highlights:

Granite

Granite is definitely one of the favorite countertop choices today and rightfully so. Granite is a timeless beauty with so many different colors to choose from - light, dark, neutrals and grays - it makes a perfect choice from a design standpoint. Want something a little more unique, but still granite? Consider a jewel-toned granite. No matter the color choice, this stone countertop will survive all that life in the kitchen can throw at it, but it does require maintenance to avoid staining because it is somewhat porous.  The process of sealing granite is relatively simple.  There are dozens of products available at any hardware store that will keep your granite looking like new.  It’s also a heavier choice so your lower cabinets must be sturdy, as well. You’ll find this in most new homes (ours included) and in most remodeled kitchens. 

Solid Surface

This option is about the same price as granite but is nonporous, so you can toss the maintenance plan down the garbage disposal. It is more susceptible to knife marks and burns, but those signs of use can effectively be buffed out. From a design standpoint, some critics say solid surface can look manmade, but it’s a great option if you want to get a little wilder with an intense color like a turquoise.

Soapstone

Soapstone isn’t just for chemistry class. This choice in countertops is becoming more and more popular. Soapstone starts out a matte-finish medium gray and darkens over time. It will require some polishing with oil which helps bring out the color and veining, but it can crack over time. It will stand up to heat and scratches can be buffed out if needed.

Concrete

Craving that industrial, edgy look? Concrete might be for you. It can provide an interesting contrast in an otherwise traditional space and can be tinted to any shade you like. You can also add glass pieces, rocks and shells for a countertop that is uniquely yours. Concrete tops have to be customized to fit the space, which equals costly. And there is maintenance required with frequent sealing. As you would imagine, it’s also very heavy, so strong supports underneath are needed.

Paper Composite

If you are searching for an environmentally friendly option, this may be your top choice. Paper composite means a countertop made from paper fibers and resin. It looks similar to solid surface and is pretty hardy but it will need a little maintenance. It is actually a little more costly than granite and solid surface.

Marble

Marble is becoming increasingly popular as a countertop surface option.  Take a look through any home décor magazine and you will find images of happy families gathering in the kitchen and cooking over their lovely white and gray marble tops.  Like granite, Marble is a natural stone, so it must be sealed regularly to avoid staining.  Unlike granite, marble is VERY porous, so it is even more delicate and susceptible to staining and general surface changes over time.  Some homeowners are willing to take on the risk of using the porous stone in their bathrooms and countertops because there are few products that can emulate the look of marble. 

Laminate

Laminate countertops are still widely used because they are one of the most affordable surface options.  Laminate countertops are made from layers of plastic that are bonded to particleboard to create a solid countertop surface. These countertops are available in a wide variety of colors, textures and patterns, ranging from options that look like marble to ones that mirror the appearance of stainless steel. The end result is a clean and finished surface that won't put a huge strain on your budget.

Countertop options are plentiful, and these are just some of the more popular, trending choices right now. If you are considering changing out your countertops, it really is a decision that is worth researching not only because you will be showing this off to your friends and family, but also because this surface will be used on a daily basis and you want something that will stand up to your lifestyle and needs.

What is your favorite countertop choice? Is granite your go-to or are you looking to branch out to a butcher block? Are you craving concrete or swooning over soapstone? We’d love to know!

Decorating Trends, Buying a New Home, Decorating, Design, Kitchens