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It is a common struggle for homeowners to select the best kitchen countertops for their homes and for a number of reasons. The two most common being:
1) They have no idea what is available to them other than what the big box stores shove down their throats.
2)They have not had the proper education on the products available to them.
I had more than a few clients tell me they were interested in quartz countertops only to find out that they were actually leaning towards solid surface. EVERY TIME, the client informed me they had been to a big box store and the “designer” had told them the product they had selected was quartz, because the COLOR they liked had the word ” quartz” in it!
So, I took it upon myself to bring to you a comprehensive but simplified list about the types of kitchen countertops available to you, along with their strengths and weaknesses. However, as I was doing my research and compiling my list, I stumbled across Consumer Reports Countertop Buying Guide! Wouldn’t you know it, they already had a list compiled and filled with FANTASTIC ( and truthful) information. So, instead of doing a bunch of extra work, I thought I would just share their findings with you, but first I will share my honest opinions on the countertops they reviewed.
Quartz Countertops: Let’s just say this is my go to countertop when designing. I usually call this the superman of countertops, maintenance free (aside from regular cleaning) and arguably stronger than granite due to no natural fissures. It is also non-porous, therefore no “ickies” can get where you can’t clean. Last but certianly not least, STAIN, HEAT AND SCRATCH RESISTANT!!! It is still recommended that you use hot pads and cutting boards, but if you have an “oops” you don’t need to sweat it! Also, the new colors available are phenomenal! Some of the fabricators are really able to mimic granite’s natural patterns and flow. In my humble opinion, the only true downfall would be this; you are putting a man made rock on your cabinets, hello broken dishes and glasses.
Granite Countertops: Couple of words that come to mind when thinking about granite. Stunning, amazing, miraculous, fantabulous, you get the point. Let’s face it, Earth does it best, while quartz is a good representation of granite, it really can’t compete if you are looking for your countertop to be the “wow” factor in your kitchen. Most of the exotic granite are so intricate, you won’t find a quartz that even closely replicates natural granite. It does require periodic sealing, you simply wipe or spray the sealer on, let is sit for about 30 min, wipe off the excess and your done! It’s also very easy to tell if your countertop needs sealed. Simply drip a few drops of water on the granite, if it beads up, no sealing required, if it soaks in, you better seal that baby! It is heat and scratch resistant, but same precautions apply to granite as quartz. The fact that granite requires maintenance is where it fails drastically in my book. I am a busy mom, I don’t want to have to remember to seal it every year.
Recycled Glass Countertops: Meh, good concept but that price tag!
Laminate Countertops: Despite the stigma, laminates are actually an excellent choice. Price point is right, and the new laminates such as WilsonArt HD can be five times more scratch and wear resistant than older laminates. To me that’s saying something, as I have seen 30 yr old laminates look almost brand new. Plus they have come a long way in color choices, patterns, and edge options. You can even get the sink undermounted… though make sure you check prices because I have seen laminates with undermount sinks the same or more than entry level granite. Just remember to use a cutting board and hot pads!
Tile Countertops: Can be awesome if done right. Use Schluter kerdi board as the base instead of plywood, this will help to minimize cracking. Also, use a grout such as Bostik’s TruColor. This type of grout it flexible and will move with countertop, minimizing the chances of grout cracking. It is also color fast and does not need sealed! Depending on the tile used, it will be heat and scratch resistant. My only complaint with tile countertops is that is not a completey smooth surface.
UltraCompact Countertops: Save it for your outdoor kitchens.
Solid Surface Countertops: Best for the bathrooms or laundry rooms. Way too easily scratched, though lighter colors help to hide this. Best features are non visible seams and scratches can be repaired. Also, be aware that some of the higher end collections will run the same price (or more) as granite and quartz.
Soap Stone Countertops: I am indifferent on this one. It is such a unique look, but the upkeep is what deters me. It’s perfect if you want a countertop that will ” age” beautifully and you don’t mind remembering to oil.
Concrete Countertops: Another meh, cool look but that maintenance! Also, most quartz companies offer quartz that looks exactly like concrete without the hassle.
Stainless Countertops: Save it for the restaurants. Or use as an accent piece.
Butcher block Countertops: So high maintenance! But man do I love the aged look of a well used butcher block. I would be tempted to deal with the maintenance just to have that warm well loved look in my kitchen.
Limestone Countertops: Don’t. Even. Think. About. IT
Marble Countertops: Unless your kitchen is just for show, don’t. You will thank me later.
Bamboo Countertops: Use it on your floor instead.
So, now that you know how I really feel, I’ll just leave Consumer Reports findings here!
Happy Countertop Shopping!
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