A kitchen countertop is the focal point of any kitchen. Where do we, day after day, cut our vegetables, smash the meat, put hot pots and spill our coffee?
That’s right, we do all of that and more right on the kitchen countertop. For all these reasons, our countertop has to be able to endure the harsh conditions in the kitchen – it has to be just as durable as a workshop counter.
Well, that wouldn’t be that hard to achieve – sadly, that’s not the only aspect of your countertop. It also has to have the looks to astound anyone who crosses your door. A countertop has to be chosen to match the design of the rest of your kitchen.
The harmonic mixture of practical and visual aspects can be a tough nut to crack. Luckily, the producers of countertops are well aware of these issues – and do their best to offer us countertops which are both visually astounding, and as hard as nails.
Read on to discover all types of countertops you can get, as well as their individual properties.
- Design – especially in the kitchen, the design of our furniture is not without a meaning. When buying a new countertop, we should get one that matches the rest of our kitchen, both in style and color. Usually, when equipping our kitchen, people buy all the appliances and furniture first, and then get a countertop to match the rest.
- Durability – another important aspect, before you decide which type of a countertop do you need, is how hard are you going to exploit it. A big family needs one resistant to almost everything, but if you need a countertop simply to prepare a cup of tea every morning, it might be better to consider a more budget option.
- Price – of course, price plays a substantial role when choosing a countertop. Currently, the producers offer us a wide variety of types, colors, and shapes – and the price of the best of them can really make our head spin. As we said previously, think about the purpose your countertop going to play in your kitchen, and choose accordingly.
- Materials – these days, producers allow as a wide variety of materials and techniques – you can get yourself a steel countertop which resembles wood, and a wooden countertop which resembles steel. Still, the choice of the exact material can be important to some customers because of their ecological and personal point of view.
Okay, now that we know what to consider, before setting our foot in a countertop shop, it’s time to get to the core of it. What are the materials we get to choose from?
It is still the most popular kind of a countertop, even though many consider it to be cheap and outdated. Well, it is cheap indeed – but who said it is a bad thing?
Laminated countertops are lately making a huge comeback, because of the new technologies available to their producers. Their quality has increased dramatically, which makes them able to compete with more precious materials.
A laminated board is basically a fireproof chipboard, covered with a layer of the laminate. Whether the laminate is to be of a single color, or multicolored, is up to you. Additionally, you can pick one which imitates stone, wood or hardened steel. The choices and styles are endless – you can even choose them in matte or gloss, depending on your preferences.
The countertops from leading producers are resistant to attrition, hits, scratches and stains. Additionally, they can withstand high temperatures (up to 180°C) and light – they do not change color under strong daylight. You can round up the edges on any side, to suit your preferences, or leave them sharp.
As you can see, laminated countertops are very versatile – bottom line is, it’s entirely up to you to choose the design, style, and type that meets your needs.
It’s a solid and lasting option for your countertop. Composite used for producing them is a mixture of natural minerals with resin and some pigments. Tops are made from medium-density fiberboard, covered with a layer of composite which is between 10 to 16 millimeters thick. Composite is highly thermoplastic, which makes it easy to mold – it’s easy to give it any form we desire, and there won’t be any signs of welding left afterward.
Composite countertops can match any kitchen design as they can be found in a wide plethora of colors and shapes. Most commonly found in one color, dappled or with visible aggregate.
Additionally, the composite is extremely durable, non-toxic, resistant to sunbeams, temperature, moisture or damages. If you get yourself a composite countertop, remember to polish it every once in a while – with proper maintenance, a composite countertop can serve you even for over twenty years.
If you choose to get yourself a composite countertop, remember you can also get a sink from the same material – such solution presents itself incredibly well, and there will be absolutely no edges visible.
When we think about stone countertops, we naturally link them with elegance and luxury. Choosing stone as a material for our kitchen counter means higher price, but also excellent durability and quality, which will more than compensate for the expense.
There are plenty of choices for the type of stone we can use for our top – the colors and patterns are endless, you can find hundreds of different options. Countertops are usually made for individual customers, each of them crafted especially for you, in accordance to your needs. The most popular stones used to create kitchen countertops are marble, granite and travertine but each of them is a bit different when it comes to characteristics, such as impregnability or toughness.
Granite is one the most durable minerals, and as such is usually recommended as a material for the best kitchen countertops. It’s highly resistant to mechanical damages, corrosion, chemical agents, moisture. Additionally, it is not afraid of high temperatures. Marble, for example, is a bit weaker than granite, but can still be used, just requires a bit more care.
A huge advantage of stone countertops is the wide variety of designs – we get to choose from a plethora of both simple and fancy solutions because molding the stone is pretty easy when using correct technologies.
One thing to remember is that porous materials, such as granite, require being sealed to be really stain-resistant, and it’s best to repeat that procedure every 3 years or so.
A great option for minimalistic, modern kitchen. Easy on the eye, peaceful color, uniform surface, practical and elegant character – these are without a doubt the advantages of using stainless steel for your kitchen countertop.
The material itself is resistant to moisture, mechanical damage, temperature and it is not afraid of red wine. Among all the merits, there is also a flaw – steel has to be wiped dry, or else there are going to be water stains all over it.
Steel countertop is a great alternative not only for the lovers of modern design but also for people who like innovative solutions no matter the cost. Such a top will present itself incredibly well around industrial elements of decoration.
As for the technology, most of such countertops are made from a fiberboard covered with a layer of steel plate, which is usually around 1-3 millimeters thick.
Another kitchen innovation is a countertop made from glass. They are produced from tempered glass, and thanks to that the surface is very durable and won’t break as easily as it would have been in the case of the ordinary glass.
To make countertops perfectly safe, producers now also use triplex or laminated glass – thanks to that, even if broken, there is no way for the glass to cut anyone. While the overall depth and width of your countertop may vary, the tempered glass which covers your top is always at least 10 millimeters thick.
As for the design of such countertops, there are plenty of options – your glass can be colored, matte, glossy or even covered with a digital print of your choice. Same as the stone countertops, glass tops are individually made for each customer, which adds to the price, but owning a one of a kind, unique piece of kitchen furniture might be worth it.
If ecology is your thing, it’s also possible to get similar countertops made from recycled glass.
A timeless material, which looks great both in a modern and a rustic kitchen. A wooden countertop will add some coziness, warmth and a touch of nature to your kitchen. At the same time, it’s a more demanding material than the ones I mentioned before, so keep that in mind. Wood requires regular care because it’s susceptible to stains, scratches and obviously does not take high temperature very well.
Just off the top of my head, if you happen to spill some red wine on it, it has to be instantly wiped clean. Forget about cutting your bread directly on the countertop. Hot pots do not belong on a wooden countertop. You get the idea.
It is quite important which type of wood was used when producing the countertop you want to get. If you want your countertop to serve you longer than one season, we advise you to look for oak, ash or beech. Lately, producers of wooden countertops started to turn their attention toward some more exotic species of trees, which are even better suited to survive the harsh environment of your typical kitchen. If you decide to get yourself a wooden top, it’s best you ask the producer about the properties of the wood types he’s offering.
One more thing to know about wooden countertops is there are two kinds – solid wood and laminated timber. The thing is, solid wood can change its shape over time, so we advise you to look for well made laminated timber, which is going present itself just as good while being more resistant.
If we are looking for something that is both solid and not very expensive, a great solution could be a concrete countertop. The main asset of such a countertop is the wide number of forms it can take to imitate other materials and excellent durability.
One flaw I can think about, concerning concrete countertops, is their heavy weight. If you are to install a concrete countertop, it’s best you think about a very solid support.
Other than that, it’s resistant to pretty much anything and very easy to maintain. All it needs is to be wiped with some soap and water. However, while concrete itself is both temperature and cuts resistant, it is usually covered with a sealant to improve the looks of it. If that’s the option you want to get, you shouldn’t cut your bread directly on top if it, as well as you, should be careful not to place too hot pots on it.
If you liked the stone countertop, you are going to love the quartz one. It does not have to be sealed, as it was in the case of the concrete countertops, and as such is resistant to really everything. Not only can you do whatever you want on it, including putting hot pots and cutting bread, it’s also more durable than stone.
Almost no maintenance required, again, all you have to do is simply wipe the stains off it. Additionally, it’s probably the most scratch resistant mineral available for countertops.
One possible drawback of using quartz for your countertop is, it’s even heavier than granite, so of course, requires professional installation.
A fairly new solution on the market – countertops produced from cork. It’s a growing alternative to wooden countertops, as it shares the same eco-friendly aspect.
Easy to sustain, water and heat resistant, not much to say about it. It is also quite cheap, compared to the granite and composite options, so I guess that’s always a plus. Other than that, there is not much to say about it – it serves its purpose, but not much past that. Won’t drop your guests dead from envy, probably.
Another mineral good to make countertops from. Soapstone comes in a gray color, but darkens with age, and many customers find that appealing.
The main difference between soapstone and granite is the feeling when we touch it – soapstone offers us a nice, matte texture.
If you somehow manage to scratch it, all it needs is a bit of sanding or oiling.
Pewter can be a nice alternative to stainless steel. Cheaper, softer and easier to mold – usually finds its place in more traditional kitchens.
It is not only the price that makes people pick pewter over stainless steel – it is a bit darker, usually shows some signs of use, therefore, gets rid of the sterile feel of stainless steel. While there is nothing wrong with the clinical look of steel countertops, some people like their kitchens a bit more alive and traditional, which is where pewter has the upper hand.
Of course, there are plenty of designs, and it’s not like pewter can’t be used in modern kitchens, mind you.
Okay, now that we listed most of the more popular materials, used to produce countertops, let’s go through their price really quick. As we already said, the price greatly varies between them, and can be a huge factor when deciding which one to choose. Let’s put them into separate groups, accordingly to their price:
- Upperscale ($100 – $200 per square foot): Composite, stainless steel, glass
- Mid-range ($50 – $100 per square foot): Concrete, granite, pewter, soapstone, quartz
- Low-end ($20 – $50 per square foot): Laminate, wood, cork
Of course, these price ranges are rough estimates, and a lot depends on your producer and his prices, the cost of the installation, etc.
Anyway, that should give you some idea of what to expect. Keep in mind, you can also find some luxurious materials to make your countertops from – we’ve only listed the most popular ones, nothing stops you from installing a 24 karat gold countertop.