What is the difference among all those kitchen countertops?

So you’ve decided to make some changes to your kitchen.  One of the first things you’ve chosen to do is update your kitchen countertops.  What material should you choose?  You’re faced with so many options you don’t know where to begin.  Is it worth it to pay more for granite?  Can solid surface countertops handle the amount of cutting and cooking you do?  This list goes through many of your different options and explains some of the pros and cons.  Click here for even more detailed information about your countertop of choice.

1. Granite countertops.  Granite tends to be the countertop that defines luxury in the kitchen.  One big problem: It’s expensive!  Unfortunately it can also crack if it hasn’t been installed correctly.  If you cut directly on the surface (it’s the second hardest surface after diamonds), your knives can become dull.  The bonus is that it will last forever and holds up heat.  If you can afford it, it’s probably worth it.  However, it won’t do a small kitchen justice.  If you have a small kitchen in a condo or townhouse, it’s really not worth it to put in granite.

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2. Engineered stone.  This is another expensive choice.  New countertops have come out made of quartz particles.  There are more color choices than granite and it’s resistant to stains and scratches. 

3. Solid surface.  The most common name you’ve probably heard in this category is Corian.  Solid surface countertops can have the look of granite but cost you a little less.  They can stain and they can scratch, but those scratches can be sanded out.  The stains can damage the surface of the countertops along with any heat that is sitting on top.  If you do have a hot pan, make sure to place it on a trivet, cutting board, placemat, or oven mitt first.

4. Ceramic tile.  Like the floor, this is becoming a more popular surface for kitchen counters.  It’s extremely easy to clean, and can be installed yourself to save the money on labor.  However, since you have grout in between the tiles, that can become stained and the tiles themselves are prone to cracks. 

5. Laminate.  A popular choice in laminate is Formica.  And you probably know that laminate is one of the most reasonably priced.  This is a much better choice for a small kitchen.  You can get this in so many colors and patterns – even those that are starting to resemble granite.  Once it chips or cracks, it cannot be fixed unless you replace the counter.  And without it being a solid surface, you can see the edges and seams in between the pieces.

I’ve gone over the most popular five options.  New surfaces are joining this esteemed group like stainless steel, wood or butcher block, marble, and even concrete.  The more unusual material, generally, the higher the price tag.  If you are planning to sell, consult with your Realtor prior to purchasing anything.  They’ll let you know if you’ll be able to make your money back in the value of the home over what you put into it.  I’m happy to consult with you, too.  Please visit me online.