Because it is so central to the function of any home – perhaps even more so than ever before these days – the kitchen is certainly one of the spaces in a home for sale that potential buyers pay most attention to.
When it comes to the look and function of a kitchen, the countertops have a huge part to play. And while it often seems that everyone wants nothing but granite in their kitchens these days (at least that’s the way those TV home shows make it seem) not every home for sale has them, and no, not every home buyer wants them.
When searching for a new home, it often helps if you are at least a little informed about the function, as well as the appearance, of the fixtures and fittings it contains. So, as we are talking about kitchens and countertops, let’s take a look at what some of the most commonly used materials have to offer, and what downsides they come along with.
Laminate countertops, sometimes also 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 and the ‘new laminates’ available are far more attractive – and better at ‘mimicking’ more expensive choices – than their older counterparts.
The Pros: Come in lots of colors, fairly easy to clean, inexpensive. The Cons: Sometimes have rather visible seams, chips and cracks can be almost impossible to repair.
Ceramic Tile Countertops
Ceramic tile is often a very popular choice with homeowners who are looking for something different to laminates but were looking for a ‘budget’ choice when they were installed.
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 ecofriendly choice though unless they were crafted from recycled wood.
The Pros: Smooth and beautiful, scratches and nicks are easy to sand away. Natural antibacterial properties can make for a healthier kitchen. Often a more durable choice than laminate or tile.
The Cons: Must 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 Countertops
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 daily.
The Cons: Rather expensive, especially in a custom fabrication.
Stainless Steel Countertops
The perennial choice for restaurant and commercial kitchen,s 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 countertop of choice of most professional cooks and chefs, so perfect for the homeowner who is a keen and serious cook themselves, albeit an amateur one. The Cons: Very noisy. tend to dent easily and scratches can become a problem. Custom fabrication is expensive and, surprisingly, they may rust over time.
Recycled Glass Countertops
Recycled glass countertops are considered to be one of the most ecofriendly 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. Can be tough to care for.
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 both to install and, if needed later, refinish.
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, and, in many ways, for good reason.
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 often increase the perceived value of a home.
The Cons: Prone to cracking if not properly installed. Expensive.
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 regular resealing to prevent water damage.