Kitchen Countertops 101: Choosing the Right Countertop
A well chosen kitchen countertop can transform your kitchen into a welcoming space where you feel at home. When it comes to choosing the ideal counter top, 4 factors drive the decision making process – Looks, Price, Durability and Maintenance.
Step 1: Identify Your Needs
First critical step of making a decision on a countertop is understanding your needs – Do you cook often? Do you have Sous Chefs – aka kids assisting you? Are you looking for a hassle free countertop or are you willing to pay the price of having a surface that scratches easily like white marble? These soul searching questions will ensure that what you choose reflects your daily life style needs.
Step 2: Pick your Looks
Second task on hand is a rather fun one! Today there is a large variety of colors, patterns and finishes available for a countertop. Explore this world by flipping through magazines, visiting sites like Houzz and Pintrest, visiting a stone distribution center near you.
Step 3: Select your Countertop Type
Even if you have your heart set on the white Calcutta marble, take the time to understand the different countertop choices. Here’s why. Today you can get a similar look to that Calcutta marble but in a more durable Quartz surface. Here are some of the most commonly used countertop materials and their advantages.
This continues to be the number one countertop choice in US. Granite can provide you the one-of-a-kind look since each slab is unique. It comes in a variety of different shades from black, brown, cream, beige, white, blue, green to vivid patterns. The choices in this category are seemingly endless with new colors and patterns being introduced regularly. Granite comes in primarily 2 finishes: Polished (shinny, smooth look) and Honed (matte finished). Cost of the granite depends on its origin, color and finish but can range between $35-$100 per sqft, installed.
Marbles provide a classic, elegant touch to any space. Marbles are classified into Hard and Soft categories. For kitchen countertops, a hard marble such as Brown Fantasy are recommended due to the relatively high durability they provide. The softer marbles chip, scratch and stain easily. Your choice of marble may cost you between $40-$100, installed.
Also known as engineered stone, Quartz is becoming a popular choice for countertops due to its highly durable characteristic. Quartz is a man made product made by a blend of stone chips, resin and pigments. A variety of colors and patterns imitating natural stone looks are available today. Quartz is waterproof, does not require any sealants, with stands heat, scratches better than any other surface. Installed Quartz countertops can cost between $40-$90 installed.
There are of course other countertop materials such as Butcher Blocks, Stainless Steel, Concrete, Soapstone, Porcelain, Laminates. None of these, however, provide the same durability and beauty as natural and engineered stone countertops.
Step 4: Choose a Fabricator
A good kitchen installer ensures the following:
- Takes ownership of the project from start to finish, which incorporates taking accurate measurements, fabricating and installing of countertops.
- Educates the customer regarding different options available for countertops, informing about care and maintenance
- Ensures high quality installations which include rodding, polishing, finishing seams, sink mounting, sealing.
Step 5: Visit a Warehouse to identify your slab
If your choice of material is one of the natural stones, there can be color and pattern variance from one slab to another. Therefore, it is best to identify the right slab at the distributor’s warehouse.
Step 6: Begin Installation Process
Your fabricator will inspect the slab, measure your kitchen, create a template, cut the slab according to the template, work on the edges and install it in your kitchen. If you have chosen a natural stone product, ensure that granite sealer is applied to your countertops. This will protect the stone from staining. Engineered stone requires no sealant.
You are now ready to enjoy the timeless beauty of your new countertop!