Countertops_101_-_Deciding_on_Your_Kitchen_Countertop_Materials by zhucezhao


									Countertops 101 - Deciding on Your Kitchen Countertop Materials

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For many, their kitchen is the most important room in their house. And
most real estate experts agree that the best way to improve or raise the
property value of a house is to remodel the kitchen. The first major
hurdle will be to choose your kitchen countertop material - and there are
more choices out there than just granite!

countertops, kitchen counters, granite countertops, remodeling kitchen,
kitchen counter tops, home improvement, general contractor, remodeling,
kitchen remodel, countertop replacement, slate counters

Article Body:
For many, their kitchen is the most important room in their house. And
most real estate experts agree that the best way to improve or raise the
property value of a house is to remodel the kitchen. The four major
components of a kitchen remodel usually involve replacing the major
appliances, installing new floors, replacing or re-facing the kitchen
cabinets, and installing a new countertop. Let’s focus on that final
component – replacing your current kitchen countertop material with a new

      Naturally, it involves more than just running off to the store to
pick out a new countertop for your kitchen. You will first need to
consider how much you want to spend. You also need to think about how
much time and effort you’ll need to spend to maintain your new
countertop. Finally, you’ll want to seriously consider the style and look
you want in your kitchen. Whatever type of countertop you install, it
will be the focal point of the entire room.

      The very first type of countertop that pops into the mind of every
anxious kitchen renovator is granite. However, there are many countertop
materials to choose from – and granite is only one of them. These days, a
kitchen remodeling hopeful can select tile, stone, acrylic, concrete,
stainless steel, and laminate, even wood!

      Let’s start with the most popular: granite. Granite countertops are
the most popular but also the most expensive. Why? Besides the beautiful
surface, granite is extremely heat and scratch resistant. A granite
countertop is very durable and will last a long time. A granite
countertop will never go out of style and granite slab installation will
greatly increase the value of the house. The drawbacks? Other than the
expense, granite is a natural stone and it is porous. A sealer will be
required to prevent staining. One alternative is to use granite tiles in
place of a massive slab. The cost savings on the tiles is high. It is
important to not use the granite surface as a cutting board as it will
dull the finish (and ruin a knife or two.)

      Besides granite, there are other various stone surfaces that can be
used on kitchen counters. Quartz, marble, limestone, soapstone, and slate
surfaces are very popular today. Marble is smooth and cool, perfect for
food preparations directly on the surface. It’s not as durable as granite
and requires more sealing maintenance to protect from staining. Slate is
very durable and has such a unique surface that it can really stand out
in a kitchen. As slate has been used as a roofing material, it doesn’t
require as much sealing protection, but some upkeep is still needed.
Limestone is very porous and spills must be treated quickly to prevent
staining. It has a natural, weathered look that can deepen and darken
over time. Natural quartz has a look similar to slate but does not stain
or scratch as easily. Engineered quartz has been gaining popularity as
well, but the costs are considerably more (engineered materials are a
quartz composite product mixed with epoxy, polymers, and small stones or
pebbles for a unique look and feel.)

      Glazed ceramic and porcelain tile has been popular in kitchens for
decades. It comes in a huge variety of colors, shapes, and designs. The
tiles can be a small as a square inch and as large as six square inches.
The tiles are durable and also have some of the same heat and scratch
resistance qualities as granite. The porcelain tiles are usually more
expensive than the ceramic tiles, but the porcelain tiles are more
durable and the hardest fired type of tiles. Drawbacks of tile? It can
chip easily, more expensive than laminate alternatives, and the grout can
be an issue. When putting the tiles together, there are grout lines
between each of them and grout can stain very easily. It will require a
lot more maintenance to keep it looking good. Because of the grout
issues, the ability for the tiles to break and chip easily, and the
overall cost, it is best to leave the installation work to a

      Concrete is not only for sidewalks or driveways. A concrete
countertop is pigmented and can be polished into a smooth and shiny
surface that can resemble any natural stone. The counters can be molded
in a factory or cast on site. Concrete is rather porous and needs to be
regularly sealed, similar to granite, to resist stains. It can be made
into any shape and have any thickness. Concrete is also heat and scratch
resistant. The counters can be made in a variety of colors and textures.
Drawbacks on concrete? The sealer that is required is not the only
protection needed. The sealer needs to be waxed every one to three months
to prevent stain and water damage, so maintenance can be extensive. You
cannot cut on the concrete surface without leaving marks. Concrete is
also very expensive.

      A restaurant would probably be the first thing one would think of
when it comes to a stainless steel kitchen counter. But there is a reason
most restaurants use this material. Durability, stain and water
resistance, low maintenance, a myriad of size and shape choices are just
a few of those reasons. It’s also very easy to clean and you can put a
hot plate or pan on the surface without worry of damaging it. Drawback –
many don’t like the “industrial” look of it. It can be rather expensive
to have made. Cutting on it can leave marks and it can be easy to dent.
It’s important to make sure the surface is at least 18 gauge and has
eight to ten percent nickel in it.

      Sometimes called Butcher Block Countertops, a wood counter is
usually made from strips of maple or oak that has been glued together.
But just about any hardwood can be made into countertops. Bamboo
countertops are the latest trend! Wood counter material has a warm,
beautiful look that can come in a variety of shades and textures. It’s
perfect for people who want to cut directly on the surface of their
counter. It can be sanded and resealed in the event of any deep cuts,
scratches or stains. It can be easy to install and the prices are
reasonable. Drawbacks? Wood is not very hard and can easily burn,
scratch, or dent. The wood can warp or turn black near sinks from regular
water contact. And it requires regular sealing.

      Formica is the most common name for laminate counters. It’s made of
a thin layer of plastic glued to particleboard or wood. Plastic laminate
counters are very inexpensive, lightweight, and available in an endless
supply of colors and patterns. It is very stain-resistant and, as a
plastic material, it is easy to clean. Because it comes pre-formed, it
can be easy for a do-it-yourselfer to install. Drawbacks to Formica?
While these counters are somewhat durable, they do not last forever.
Laminates are not heat or scratch resistant but they are stain resistant.
Abrasive cleaners can dull and scratch the surface. Warping or water
spots occur with excessive exposure to moisture. The color or pattern can
fade with time.

      Solid surface counters are manufactured tops that are custom-made
for any application. Popular companies include Corian, Avonite, and
Swanstone. These surfaces are durable, water resistant, easy to clean,
non-porous, and are even resistant to mold and bacteria. And nicks or
scratches can be sanded away. Drawbacks include problems handling hot
pans on the surface, high expense, and the excessive weight requires a
good strong cabinet base (similar to natural stone.) Some do not like the
plastic or “fake” look of the material, but the material does have a wide
range of colors to choose from.

      Replacing the kitchen countertops is only one step in your goal to
renovate the kitchen, but it is considered the biggest step by many. You
can really make a statement about your kitchen and your home with the
right selection of countertop material. Of course, once you take care of
those worn out counters that came with the home, it will really make
those old cabinets, flooring, and appliances stand out! It’s all just
part of the process of increasing the value of your property. When you’re
ready to take the plunge and install those granite countertops, contact to find a local countertop professional to handle
the work.

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