Choosing a Kitchen Counter
Your kitchen counter tops are what you use the most and the first thing you notice when you enter the room. When choosing new counters its critical to make the right decision not only from a usability and design perspective but one that also meets your budget as well. With so many options it can be quite confusing to confidently know which direction to go. I consult with my Fairfield County clients on design choices and often handle the entire kitchen renovation. Here is some of the information that I share with them.
The steps in the process involve choosing your material, obtaining an estimate, setting up an appointment for a professional to take measurements , then templating the stone and finally, waiting for your custom-cut counters to arrive and be professionally installed. Before the template can be created you’ll need to pick out all of your fixtures including your sink, faucet, range or cooktop and options like soap & hot water dispensers, a prep sink, refrigerator, dishwasher, and microwave.
So lets talk about choosing your material. First make a list of criteria that are important to you specifically: aesthetics, usability, maintenance and budget. From a design standpoint do you want light or dark, solid or multiple colors, large or small grains.In terms of usability, consider how long and hard you will be using the counters. If you cook with a lot with heavy pots you may want to opt for a hard substance and if you are renovating to sell you might want to go with on-trend marble.
Marble has a timeless, elegant and sophisticated look. Despite its luxurious appearance, there are some downfalls when it comes to durability in that it is a soft stone that chips and scratches easily. Rounded corners can help prevent chips and using knives on cutting boards will protect the surface. Acidic substances such as lemon juice and certain cleaners may dull the finish, so marble counters should be sealed and polished to keep them looking their best. Marble is heat resistant however not meant to withstand high heat and is a classic choice that’s been used in European kitchens for ages. Today it is one of the most popular choices for Fairfield County Kitchen renovations.
Granite is a high-grade stone that is quarried from different sites around the world. It is highly durable as it is scratch resistant and can withstand the heat of hot pots. However, it does have its limits and like all stone can chip from the strong impact of something heavy and should be sealed to prevent against staining. Typically slabs are priced via a grading system based on the overall uniqueness and rareness of the stone in color and variance as well as surface finish. Granite is a very popular choice as it is relatively reasonably priced and comes in an array of colors and unique patterns to compliment a wide variety of design styles.
Quartz can be misleading as it is named after a natural stone, however, it is actually a composite material made from approximately 90% quartz chips and 10% acrylic resin. It is non-porous substance that does not require sealants or polishing to retain it’s luster and is also scratch, chip, stain and bacteria resistant. You will notice the engineered look and repeat of the pattern which is most noticeable in larger surfaces. An important thing to note is that quartz is heat resistant but not heat proof. It is, therefore, recommended that you do not place hot pots, pans and bakeware think about window placement and size, when considering quartz, as it can fade when exposed to continuous direct light. Engineered quartz has a more uniform look than stone slabs. Overall it is a flexible design choice offering more than a hundred colors and patterns.
Quartzite is often confused with quartz but differs in that it is not engineered but is a natural stone. It goes through quite a process, originating as sandstone and through high heating and pressurization by tectonic plate compression in the earth’s crust it is transformed into Quartzite. When heated, individual quartz pieces recrystalize giving it a beautiful and decorative sparking pattern. It rivals granite in terms of hardness and durability but like all natural stones must be sealed periodically to protect it again stains. Quartzite comes in different shades and is a great option for someone who wants a marble-like look with the strength and durability of granite. Honing this product helps it to be stronger and more durable.
Soapstone is a natural stone which has some interesting attributes and haracteristics. While it is softer than marble, scratches can be easily repaired with a quick sanding and a coat of mineral oil. Soapstone is heat resistant and does not need to be sealed as it is impervious to staining. It does have a limited color palette and typically develops as a gray-scale stone that darkens naturally and when oiled. Soapstone is a good choice for rustic, contemporary and modern kitchens and for someone who prefers something out of the ordinary.
Concrete counters are also for someone who wants something unique, a high-end appearance and heat resistant. Instead of purchasing a slab, they are built on site in custom shapes, sizes and thickness and can be easily personalized with subtle textures. Concrete is a porous substance susceptible to knife marks and stains and should be sealed regularly. These countertops work with many design styles and are an excellent choice for a modern setting.
There are so many considerations when it comes to choosing a kitchen counter, some of which are beyond the scope of the article. Some of them include additional materials not mentioned here, picking a different stone for your island from the rest of your counter tops, what kind of edge to choose, and of course pricing. Whatever you decide, with the Kitchen being the hearth of the Fairfield County home and the counters taking center stage I always recommend making a practical choice to suit your lifestyle and one that you will love for years to come.