These days the kitchen is the place that many of us spend most of our time, in a busy world the kitchen tends to become the center of the home, not just for cooking but for eating and “hanging out” as well.
This means that when shopping for a new home the kitchen is of paramount interest to most would be homebuyers. Size aside the ‘fixtures’ in a kitchen – the countertops and cabinets – are of great interest to many. The fact that a home may boast a certain type of counter – granite springs most readily to mind – is often used as a selling point in real estate listings and some buyers have been known to add countertop type to their list of criteria when viewing homes. Sure, countertops can be replaced but it’s an often rather expensive job that few new homeowners want to take on right away.
But are granite counters all they are cracked up to be? Is laminate really so inferior that its presence in a kitchen merits a price cut? The fact is that every common countertop material type has its own set of pros and cons that should be kept in mind if these kitchen fixtures are going to play any part in your homebuying decision. Here then is some information about the most popular kitchen counter top materials available today and their pros and cons:
Laminate Countertops – Laminate countertops, often referred to as Formica, are usually the most inexpensive choice when it comes to kitchen counter tops. Made from a wood and paper compound they are light and easy to care for.
The Pros: Come in lots of colors, fairly easy to clean, inexpensive and easy to find. The Cons: Very visible seams, if chips and cracks occur they are almost impossible to repair effectively.
Ceramic Tile Countertops – Ceramic tile is often a very popular choice with homeowners who are looking for something different to laminates but still looking to save money.
The Pros: Can be created in any color or pattern the homeowner desires. Very durable and can withstand heat very well, easy to install and can even be considered a DIY project. Another relatively inexpensive choice.
The Cons: Grout lines can become very dirty and hard to get clean. Prone to cracking and chipping.
Wood Counter Tops – Wood countertops are a great choice from a design point of view for those who are going for a rustic look in their homes. They may not be a very eco friendly choice though unless you opt for recycled wood.
The Pros: Smooth and beautiful, scratches and nicks are easy to sand away. Natural antibacterial properties can make fro a healthier kitchen. Often a more durable choice than laminate or tile.
The Cons: Have to be oiled and varnished properly to maintain their looks. Can be quite easily damaged by excess moisture and stained by brightly colored liquids/foods.
Engineered Stone – Engineered stone countertops are made from a natural quartz and mixed with a resin to bind it all together.
The Pros: Available in a great many colors. Resists stains very well and is quite easy to take care of on a daily basis.
The Cons: Rather expensive, especially if you choose custom fabrication.
Stainless Steel Countertops- The perennial choice for restaurant and commercial kitchens for those who like a modern look for their home stainless steel countertops can be an excellent choice.
The Pros: Resists heat and staining, easy to care for, can be a very bold design statement. The Cons: Very noisy. tend to dent easily and scratches can become a problem. Custom fabrication is expensive. may rust over time.
Recycled Glass Countertops – Recycled glass countertops are considered to be one of the most eco friendly choices available at the moment as well as one of the most beautiful.
The Pros: Very beautiful, every countertop is different. Uses recycled materials so is a very green choice. Durable and heat resistant.
The Cons: Expensive, only a little cheaper than granite.
Concrete Countertops – Concrete countertops offer the ultimate in design possibilities as they can be created in any shape or size you desire.
The Pros: Have an unusual look and can be tinted to any color a homeowner chooses as well as crafted into any shape. Heat and stain resistant and very durable.
The Cons: have to be sealed to make them non porous, can be rather expensive.
Soapstone Counter Tops – Soapstone is a natural stone and has been used in homes as a counter top material for centuries.
The Pros: Beautiful deep colors. Somewhat stain resistant. Very long lasting and durable. The Cons: May darken over time. Needs to be treated with mineral oil on a regular basis to prevent cracking.
Granite Counter Tops – Granite has become the choice of counter top for many homeowners over the last few years, as long as you can afford it.
The Pros: Comes in an amazing array of colors. Very durable, resists staining and heat very well. Is considered to be the hardest counter top material available. Will increase the value of your home.
The Cons: Prone to cracking if not properly installed. Expensive.
Marble Countertops – Although very beautiful marble is also very expensive so it is rare to see more than an accent counter top (such as a kitchen island) in marble in a residential kitchen
The Pros: Its beauty and durability. Completely waterproof and heat resistant. The Cons: Very expensive. may need resealing to prevent water damage.