The look of your kitchen depends in large part upon the type of countertop you install. Aesthetics should not be your only consideration, however. Here's the low down on some of today's most popular choices.
Granite – Considered by many to be the Rolls Royce of countertops, granite's elegance is only rivaled by its durability. Granite is scratch and heat-resistant as well as easy to clean, but is also one of the most expensive countertop options. It is also heavy, so installation may be best left to the pros. Granite's longevity can turn it into a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, however, sealing will be needed every few years to protect the natural stone and keep it looking like new.
Marble – An alternative to granite, soft, natural marble is typically less costly but is also not as durable, so scratching and the signs of natural wear and tear may occur. Lovers of this look view these imperfections as adding to marble's character and unique charm. If you do a lot of baking, you will enjoy the feel of marble's cold surface for kneading dough and preparing pastry.
Butcher Block – Classic, timeless butcher block can blend into any décor seamlessly. Adding warmth and coziness to any room, butcher block lends itself to group cooking parties as it can double as a cutting board surface. A wide variety of woods can be turned into countertops, so you can choose offering up a unique range of color and pattern grains. Use mineral oil to seal and protect butcher block countertops from water damage and get ready to invite your friends over for a feast.
Quartz – Man-made, engineered stone, quartz comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns. It gives serious cooks the ability to create a uniform, neat look as it lacks the natural patterning of stones such as marble or granite. Easy to clean and incredibly durable, it is stain and crack-resistant and requires no sealing. It is not, however, heat-resistant, so pots and pans cannot be placed right on its surface.
Stainless Steel – A metal, stainless steel is antibacterial and non-porous, requiring little maintenance and no sealing. It is uber-modern in look and can instantly update any kitchen. Scratches can be eliminated easily with stainless steel cleansers made specifically for that purpose.
Glass – Incredibly versatile, tempered glass countertops can take on many moods and can be utilized to house fabric or artwork between its layers, creating a one-of-a-kind, individualized look. Glass is non-porous and able to withstand high heat as well as lend drama and glamour to any kitchen.
Solid Surface – Man-made, solid surface countertops are one of the least expensive yet most durable options available, making them perfect for rental properties and starter homes. They can take on the look of natural stone, are easy to clean and low maintenance, although not indestructible. Solid surface countertops are heat-resistant yet can scorch if not protected.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
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