Tips on Choosing the Ideal Countertops for Your Kitchen Renovation

Several key elements come together in a kitchen renovation, including cabinetry, overall design and appliances. But one of the most important decisions you'll make involves choosing the kitchen countertop. This surface influences the atmosphere and appeal of your space, and also affects function and longevity. Be sure to consider every option and make the best choice for your family.

Common Kitchen Countertop Options

Although new looks and innovations appear every season, several countertop options remain popular and well within the average kitchen renovation budget. Consider the following:

  • Laminate - still the most popular option for basic kitchen countertops, laminate comes in a broad range of colors and styles. It requires little maintenance and costs less than many other options, but does scratch and stain easily. Laminate installation requires seams, which can swell and split over time, resulting in an unattractive, impractical surface. Formica and Wilsonart are two leading manufacturers of laminate counters.
  • Marble - often used in high-end homes and bathroom upgrades, marble countertops provide a smooth, attractive surface that stands up against normal wear and tear. This natural stone is susceptible to acids found in citrus, alcohol and certain cleaning products and must be sealed on a regular basis to ensure longevity.
  • Granite - stronger than marble and available in a broad range of naturally occurring colors and patterns, granite is fairly expensive and must be sealed on a regular basis. Many kitchen designs call for granite on the kitchen island or around the stovetop, taking advantage of the durability and heat resistance offered by this stone countertop.
  • Solid Surface - this manufactured product provides a seamless look in your kitchen renovation and is available in a wide range of colors and styles, including many that imitate more expensive countertop materials. Solid surface counters are prone to heat damage, staining and scratches, but can be sanded down for efficient repairs. Dupont Corian is a leading type of solid surface kitchen countertop.
  • Stainless Steel - commonly used in industrial kitchens due to the durability and hygienic benefits, stainless steel is a favorite for modern kitchen designs. Strong, attractive and customizable, stainless steel tends to be noisy and shows fingerprints.
  • Butcher Block - a classic choice for rustic country kitchens, wood countertops provide a smooth, natural surface for food preparation, but will easily stain, scratch and dent. Butcher block also requires regular sealant and should not be used around the sink.
  • Concrete - a very durable choice available in a wide range of colors, concrete kitchen counters should be custom cast for optimum appearance and durability. It must be sealed for protection and remains porous and susceptible to staining.
  • Ceramic Tile - this option could be fairly inexpensive in most kitchens and tiles come in a nearly endless selection of shapes, colors and patterns. However, the grout often stains and tiles present a fragile surface in family kitchens.
  • Glass - recycled glass counters offer an eco friendly solution for your kitchen renovation, with a high resistance to heat. This non-porous surface tends to break or chip with hard use, and repairs are difficult.

Think About Your Lifestyle

Your lifestyle and cooking habits dictate the ideal choice for countertops. Taste comes into play, as certain styles tend to work well with kitchen designs. Butcher block and ceramic tile countertops complement rustic dècor, while contemporary kitchens look best with stainless steel or concrete countertops. Natural stone options work in either style and provide an ideal solution for eclectic tastes.

How much maintenance are you willing to do? Several options require annual sealing (butcher block, marble, granite and concrete) and others call for special cleaning products. If you're not committed to preserving your new kitchen countertop, it's best to choose an option that requires less maintenance, such as laminate or solid surface counters.

Think About the Long-Term Investment

Choose the countertop that fits into your kitchen renovation budget, but remember to consider the long-term investment. Laminate and ceramic tile present the most economical options, but they also have the shortest lifespan and tend to deteriorate in appearance within the first eight to ten years.

A well preserved natural stone countertop in granite or marble provides decades of function, and looks fantastic as long as regular maintenance continues. These products cost much more than standard laminates, but add to the property value.

Compare less expensive styles with mid-range kitchen countertops and high-end styles. Think about the longevity and performance, as well as how this countertop will suit future kitchen remodel projects. Neutral toned marble or granite countertops may be reused years later, while other styles like cast concrete limit the potential for a remodel.

Prices fluctuate depending on your location, but the following guidelines help when shopping for a kitchen countertop:

  • Inexpensive Products - laminate countertops (starting at $15 per foot) and ceramic tile counters (starting as low as $5 per foot)
  • Mid-Range Products - butcher block countertops (starting at $40 per foot), solid surface counters (starting at $50 per foot) and glass (starting at $60 per foot)
  • High-End Products - concrete (prices begin around $80 per foot) and stainless steel, marble and granite (all start at $100 per foot)

Prices move up based on the individual quality and availability. Plan to install the best countertop your budget allows, based on your lifestyle and tastes. Shop around and ask about end-of-lines and clearance items. Custom products, like concrete and natural stone countertops, come with premium prices, but also add an unmistakable flair to your new kitchen.

Choosing a countertop is an important step when planning your kitchen renovation. Consider your lifestyle and budget, and think about how you'll need to care for the product. Opt for something that adds value for daily living, as well as over the long-term. This key element in kitchen design creates a lasting impression. Take the time to choose well and hire a professional installer to realize the greatest return on your renovation investment.

Posted by: diana
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