Type of Countertops

With so many options available these days it can be difficult to decide on a counter top. Homeowners must debate price, durability, maintenance cost and the overall value of their home. Here is a little guide to help you decide.

Granite

Granite is the crème de la crème when it comes to building materials. Unfortunately, the price of the gorgeous stone reflects that.

Pros: Elegant, durable, increases the value of your home. Available in more than 3000 colours. New sealers arealmost maintenance-free. Has 2nd highest hardness rating after diamonds
Cons : Can stain if improperly sealed, requires maintenance, knives can become dull if you cut on it, can crack ifstressed or improperly installed. Costly.

Marble

Because of high price tag, marble is used more often in bathrooms than in kitchens.

Pros: Gives a look of luxury, is water and heat proof.
Cons: Porous, may scratch, stains easily unless professionally sealed and periodically resealed. Costly.

Solid Surface

Solid Surface is just what it sounds like, a solid slab of stone. They can be carved into various shapes, allowing for fancy edges. Susceptible to scratches but can easily be sanded down.

Pros: Look of clean sophistication. Custom made, seamless, easy to repair, available in a range of colours, edges can be molded into selected shapes.
Cons: Vulnerable to heat and stains.

Ceramic Tile

Prices range widely and since it can be done in stages it is an ideal choice for the do-it-yourself-er.

Pros: Durable, easy to clean, inexpensive, resists heat, available in a range of colours, textures and designs.
Cons: Can crack or chip, grout can be stained, makes an uneven work surface.

Wood

If your aim is to create the illusion of warmth, this is the choice for you. Hardwoods (maple, mahogany) make the best countertops. Feels close to nature.
Pros: Can be finished in a range of colours and finishes, easy to clean, can be sanded and resealed if damaged.
Cons: Can be damaged by water and stains, can scorch, can be warped, and can allow bacterial growth.

Concrete

Concrete is particularly useful for unusual shaped kitchens because it is cast right there.

Pros: Can be creative with it since it can be inlaid with glass or pieces of tile, heat and scratch resistant, may be colour tinted.
Cons: Cracking is possible. Porous if not sealed.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is currently a very fashionable option. A good choice if you are looking for the more minimalist contemporary or industrial look.

Pros: Heat resistant, durable, prevents bacterial growth.
Cons: Noisy, may dent, should not cut directly on it, fabrication is expensive.

Laminates

This inexpensive option is very common in kitchens. Pieces of plastic-coated synthetic sheets are cut to size and finished on the edges.

Pros: Smooth, clean look; easy to clean; wide range of colours.
Cons: Can be scorched, scratches and chips are not reparable, seams show.