Whether building your new home or renovating your existing home, at some point you will have to consider what type of material to utilize for your countertop surfaces. With so much information out there, its hard to know what style is both visually stunning and functional for the area in question. Below are some of the most common material choices we see trending.
Polished granite countertops remain the top choice of most homeowners. Traditional granite is a natural material, meaning variation in the stone’s pattern is common, which adds to its appeal but can make matching up slabs tricky. Natural granite requires a bit more care than the price comparable manufactured quartz to maintain its look — because of its porous nature, you need to be mindful to wipe up stains quickly, especially oils, acids and colored sauces. Further, your will want to re-seal approximately once a year to maintain the durable surface.
A slight twist on the polished granite, honed granite allows for a softer, matte looking finish, as opposed to the popular glossy look achieved through polished granite. Considering they are made from the same natural material, honed granite is equally as resistant to scratching, heat and cracking making it a durable choice in your kitchens & bathrooms.
If you have been perusing the internet and residential design magazines lately, you would have gawked at the gorgeous gray-toned veining illustrated in both Carrare or Calacatta marble. The major difference between these gorgeous Italian marbles is that Carrara marble tends to be grayer with softer veining, while Calacatta is more white with bold more dramatic veining. Besides its soft, dramatic, luxurious and aesthetically pleasing appearance, its tone helps mask wear well. However, this natural material is porous so staining can become problematic. A regular sealing routine should be followed in order to maintain its timeless look.
Engineered quartz countertops are created by mixing crushed quartz, polyester resin, and color pigments, and pressing the materials into non-porous slabs using a very powerful press. After the slabs are pressed, they are baked or cured at 200ºFerenheit for several hours. After this process these manufactured slabs are stain, acid, scratch, heat and impact resistant and unlike natural stone countertops, don’t need to be sealed as they are non-porous. However, the relatively low temperature at which the slabs are cured makes the material susceptible to being damaged by hot pans. Furthermore, the resin is susceptible to color fading from exposure to UV light or chemicals. Quartz comes in a wide range of colors and patterns, and typically ranks close in popularity to granite.
Ultra Compact surfaces is another engineered stone which employs exclusive technology which mimics an accelerated version of the metamorphic process (The change natural stone goes through when subjected to high temperatures and pressure over thousands of years). The properties which make this an ideal countertop surface is that like Quartz, it is stain, scratch, heat and impact resistant. Unlike Quartz however, this material contains no resins which makes it incredibly UV resistant maintaining its colour stability, and is more dense and durable when compared to Quartz. Its non-porous nature means it also never needs to be sealed. It has the appeal of a completely uniformed surface which can fit seamlessly into a variety of design styles. It is also very resistant to ice & thawing making it an ideal surface for an outdoor kitchen. Ultra compact surfaces come in a wide range of colors and patterns – my personal favourite mimics the look of Calacatta marble!
Catching a bad rap for being un-sanitary, properly sealed wood countertops in fact offer a functional, decorative and sanitary surface for food preparation. If you are looking to achieve that eclectic cottage feel, opt for a butcher block wood countertop. Wood is naturally heat resistant, and can certainly add warmth to any kitchen space. We see clients opting for this surface on the island, when mixed with an opposing surface such as granite or quartz on the perimeter counters.
If you are looking for a surface that will be kind to your budget, opt for a laminate countertop. Thanks to a variety of fresh patterns available, new life has been breathed into this tired product. There are now many options to create both traditional and trendy looks.