Here are some things to consider, as described by Kitchen Countertops:
- Granite Countertops - Granite is the most popular choice for kitchen counter tops, especially when the size your budget isn’t a consideration. A solid quality countertop can define a kitchen. The inclusion of a granite counter top will add class to the most modest of kitchens. They are available in a number of colors and are extremely durable (although periodic sealing is usually a must). Although there is some maintenance involved, granite kitchen counter tops are elegant and timeless.
- Engineered Stone Countertops - Engineered stone is not as popular as granite but is often confused for a granite finish. Engineered stone has all the pros of granite but is probably easier to maintain (it differs from brand to brand the quality of the stone). Engineered stone counter tops are composed of quartz particles and they are available in a larger range of colors than granite – an additional benefit is a nonporous surface that is scratch resistant. Some popular brands on the market are DuPont, and Silestone. Engineered Stone is often more expensive than a granite finish.
- Marble Kitchen Countertops - Let’s get this out of the way – marble has an extremely high price tag and is not often used for countertops or indeed anywhere in kitchens. While marble is luxurious and instantly recognizable, it requires maintenance and it easily stains. Sealers are required to retard staining and scratches. Please be sure to read all of our great articles before choosing to buy.
- Solid Surface Kitchen Countertops - Solid surface counters are just what they're called, solid. Most scratches can be sanded out. The countertops are custom-made to your specifications by companies such as Avonite, Corian, and Swanstone. Visit our directory for links to these suppliers. The biggest advantage with solid surface counters is the range of colors and patterns… you just have to make sure you are careful with hot pans and everyday mishaps which can leave marks and/or stains.
- Ceramic Tile Countertops - Ceramic tile is extremely durable and usually easy to clean. It’s also relatively inexpensive – a great choice for average kitchen renovators. Ceramic counters are usually installed one section at a time and most people can easily work with the materials. Ceramic finishes are excellent because they take hot pans, are easy to clean and are available in a number of different textures. The only downside is that the grout in between the tiles can be difficult to clean (if poorly designed) and the surface can end up uneven. Both of these pitfalls can be avoided with a professional installation.
- Laminate Countertops - Laminate counter tops are popular and affordable – popular trademarks Formica, Nevamar are house hold names. Laminate counters are made out of plastic coated synthetics with a smooth surface that is usually easy to clean. The pieces are cut to size and then installed and finished on the ends. The biggest advantage of laminate finishing is obviously its affordability and range of patterns and colors. It’s relatively durable and easy to replace if stained or damaged.
- Stainless Steel Countertops - A contemporary and industrial can be achieved with a stainless steel counter. Stainless steel is extremely heat resistant and durable. This choice of countertop is usually constructed precisely to your specifications so you can expect a seamless finish. While they are easy to clean, they can also appear clinical, they are noisy, very expensive it’s difficult to modify the fabrication yourself.
- Soapstone Countertops - Soapstone offers a beautiful finish - it is generally dark in color and has a smooth and welcoming feel. Popular among historic homes (particularly among renovators) it is a great finish for both countertops and can be used as sink material. The biggest pitfall is the regular maintenance soapstone requires: applications of mineral oil will help prevent cracking over time.
- Wood or Butcher Block Countertops - Increasingly popular wood countertops offer a rustic look and are available in a wide range of finishes and timbers. Hardwoods such as oak and maple are often used as kitchen countertops. One of our favorites, wooden counters can be sanded and resealed and the look fantastic, although they require a small amount of care. They can be damaged by water and stains overtime and need to be oiled or sealed – instructions and maintenance will vary from hardwood to hardwood and among manufacturers.
- Concrete Kitchen Countertops - If your kitchen is an unusual shape and you require a very specific shape then a concrete counter might be a great choice (although the elevated price tag may be beyond most budgets). There are lots of advantages: it can be color tinted, it can look fantastic in the right setting (industrial) and new finishes mean that a concrete counter will almost never crack. On the downside, cracking is possible and the finish can be quiet porous (although it can be sealed).
Of course, you also have to consider what kind of feel the room should have: modern, classic, country, comfortable, chic? And your personal style.