How to Pick the Right Kitchen Countertop and Best Materials

Choosing a material for the countertop surface that suits your lifestyle is the first step to a functional kitchen. After all, the countertops are where the cooking actually takes place. It could also be argued that your countertops are the backdrop and the main event in any kitchen - they take up a lot of visual space.

And the materials and options you choose, whether it's indestructible composite slabs or handcrafted tiles, are as much for utility as it is for style.

That said, choosing the right countertop can be tricky. First, there are so many options: How do I know which marble I want? And what is the difference between quartz and quartzite? On second thought, what exactly is quartzite? Between the natural, man-made, and designed materials and the color options for each, there is a lot to learn.

Later, you will find everything you need to know about countertops. But before investing in or falling in love with something, here is a list of things to consider, according to Elizabeth Margles, vice president of marketing at Caesarstone, regardless of the material you use:

  • Color and design (the style statement you want to make).
  • Material size and shape (thickness, length, and style of slab edge).
  • Integration with splash guard (if materials match).
  • A kitchen island (like it or not, and to match the countertops).
  • Durability and ease of maintenance (think about how you will use the space).
  • The total cost of ownership (not only initially, but also the cost of future maintenance).

And with that in mind, read on to see the top 5 best countertop materials and learn how to make the best decisions for your space and budget.

1. Granite

As one of the hardest natural stones, granite can be more expensive (although Margles tells us it can cost almost as much as high-quality quartz). That means it's the most durable too, making it great for family kitchens that are used a lot but still crave that element of luxury.

It is also one of the most scratch and heat-resistant natural stones available. Granite will need to be sealed regularly to maintain its longevity. If you're wondering where it comes from, granite is basically the crystallized form of hot liquid magma.

2. Marble

Marble has practically become synonymous with every type of natural stone (or artificial composite) that we see. But it is really very specific.

Interestingly, marble is a composite of a variety of minerals, including calcite, graphite, and more. It is one of the softest natural stones, which makes it slightly less durable. It's prone to corrosion ("the first scratch is the deepest," says Otten), but there's no denying the luxurious look.

3. Quartz

Ideal for trouble-free cooking, quartz requires no sealing or polishing and has twice the impact resistance of natural stone, but is still somewhat heat sensitive so hot pots should not be placed directly on top.

Quartz countertops are created by mixing quartz particles with resin and polymers to create an extremely durable surface that looks like natural stone.

This blend of natural stone and synthetic resins is more resistant to household chemicals and cleaners than natural stone options (so you can keep surfaces flawless at all times). Some high-quality quartz materials can be as expensive as natural ones.

House Beautiful Editorial Director Jo Saltz opted for Caesarstone quartz in her kitchen to mimic the look of marble but resist wear and tear.

4. Tiles

While tile is obviously a great option for backsplashes, it can work great for countertops too. Tile countertops are great if you're looking for a retro look and want something more affordable.

The downside is that they often require grout to stay clean. White is the most obvious choice for mortar, but "there is a full spectrum of mortar," says Jake Rodehuth-Harrison of ETC.etera. That said, tiles are more resistant to heat, so they hold up better to pots and hot plates. Make your choice.

5. Soapstone

Soapstone is another natural stone, usually dark gray in color with a silky smooth touch. Saw a recent resurgence as an alternative to granite.

Soapstone is often seen in historic homes, but it is also used in modern homes as a material for countertops and sinks. Over time, soapstone takes on an antique-looking patina that can be very attractive in certain kitchen styles.

Contrary to expectations, the architectural soapstone used for countertops is actually quite tough and resistant to stains. However, it will scratch over time, although this may increase the old patina of the stone.

We hope you enjoy watching this video about what's the best kitchen countertop:

Source: Slater Young

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