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
Available in a large variety of colors and styles, won't chip or dent, is resistant to heat, and has a nice smooth surface.Granite
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.
Solid Surface (Corian, etc.)
Easily damaged by heat. Susceptible to scratches and dents. Stains. $45-150/foot.
It is possible to nick or scratch Stainless. $100-300/foot.
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
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
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.Soapstone
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.
Resistant to etching from acids, but can be stained. Scratches can be removed by sanding or sanded or oiling.Glass
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 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.
$15-60/foot plus installation.
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.
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