We use them every day throughout the day. Many of them perform without complaint. They must endure all kinds of duress, like dropping, spilling, burning — even climbing. Countertops are like floors. We take them for granted, and then we have the nerve to become disenchanted when the wear finally catches up.
These unsung heroes of our daily lives deserve our thanks. Whether we’re homeowners ready to bid our current countertops farewell or trade professionals helping our clients replace them, the least we can do is be smart about our next choice.
Countertops Are Everywhere
Just think about all the countertops you or your clients have in the house. Sure, everyone thinks of the kitchen. But what about the bathroom, living and dining rooms, home office, garage, or laundry room? Where there are cabinets, islands, or built-in desks, there are likely countertop surfaces. You may not be remodeling a small bathroom or adding a new flooring choice for the living room, but you probably have countertops in these rooms that need replacing.
Because the kitchen countertops are multipurpose and the most common, take about five minutes to survey the ones you’re about to replace. Go ahead and head over there. We’ll wait.
Now take a look around and ask yourself or your clients how the countertops are used: Do you cook or bake a lot? Do you brew your own beer? Are work or school projects spread across them? Do you host parties, play dates, or a book club? How often do you end up folding laundry on your island? Does your infant’s bouncy seat wind up on the countertop while you cook? And that’s just for the kitchen countertops.
Countertops are the silent partners for every household activity, including all the mishaps. We’ve all gotten soap and toothpaste near the faucet of our small bathroom or spilled something on a surface in the garage. Something’s bound to happen, and it’s likely those countertops need to be replaced.
What About the Most Popular Countertop Materials?
You often see marble, granite, and quartz used for countertops. Their timeless beauty is what attracts homeowners. Beyond their coveted visual appeal, each has distinctive qualities.
• Natural beauty
• Variety of colors with popularity in neutral tones and veining
• Easy to tool for countless edge profiles, including etched edges
• New finishes available with different brushing and polishing techniques
• Very porous surface, which requires care and regular maintenance
• Natural beauty
• Scratch and heat resistant (within tolerance)
• Hard and durable
• Wide range of colors and patterns
• Porous surface that requires regular sealing
• Engineered stone that still comprises of almost 90 percent natural product
• Variety of neutral to bright colors
• Nonporous surface, so no need to seal
• Scratch and stain resistant
• Hard and durable
• Impact resistant due to elasticity of resins
• Easy care with mild soap and water
Certainly, the above three don’t constitute a complete list. Other countertop options include cultured marble, Corian (acrylic), and laminate (yes, it’s not just for floors). So if solid surface countertops aren’t in your price range, these can be budget-friendly alternatives, and each has a great range of designs.
• Approximately 82 percent natural stone materials suspended in polymer resins
• Mimics beauty of natural marble and is ideal for bathroom applications
• Low maintenance
• Moldable (customizable)
• Not as strong as natural stone
• Man-made acrylic
• Solid surface with a wide variety of permeated patterns and colors
• Nonporous, which makes it ideal for kitchen and bathroom applications
• Stain and heat resistant (within tolerance)
• Seamless transitions between areas of the surface
• Can be scratched, but most are repairable
• Layers of paper plus melamine resin; can include recycled materials
• Wide variety of styles, colors, and patterns
• Easy to maintain
• Stain, heat, and impact resistant (within tolerance)
• Can be scratched; not repairable (so use cutting boards)
As you can imagine, color and pattern become just as important to the decision-making process as the material of the countertops. Ask yourself or your clients what kind of statement you want to make.
If you prefer that a countertop subtly complement the room, choose a neutral color, such as white or beige, in a simple pattern that matches the cabinets. If there isn't timeless flooring in each room, you might consider a pattern that matches the carpet or hardwood floor.
Want to be bolder? If so, a contrast may be in order. Cabinets with a light tone could call for a darker countertop (think black, gray, or dark brown). Meanwhile, darker cabinets would pair nicely with a countertop of a lighter color, meaning you can spring for that off-white or light green quartz countertop.
If you’re slightly more daring, you may prefer to have the countertop make a statement unto itself. You can add some pop with distinctive colors, such as red or blue, or a unique pattern.