How to Determine the Best Kitchen Countertop for you!

How to Determine the Best Kitchen Countertop for you!

The wildly popular marble countertops are beautiful, but this beauty isn’t for everyone. Families with kids who frequently spill drinks (or anyone who gets a bit clumsy after a glass of wine) may regret their purchase as the surface stains easily. The softer material also makes it more susceptible to scratches and damage. The luxury appearance makes up for the high maintenance for some, but there are less expensive, lifestyle friendly alternatives for others.

Countertops can not only make a large aesthetic impact in your kitchen, but they’re extremely high functioning for cooking, baking, and dining. Choosing the right material for this surface depends on your style, lifestyle, and budget requirements. Since countertops are one of the first things you interact with in a kitchen, they will have a big aesthetic impact on how you feel in the space.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular surfaces, and their benefits. 

Countertop materials

Quartz: 

  • Blend of ground natural quartz with synthetic resin
  • Scratch and stain-resistant 
  • Heat-sensitive
  • Uniform patterns “look”

Laminate: 

  • Least expensive
  • Options that imitate the style and patterns of highly priced materials you love
  • Stain-resistant
  • Low-maintenance
  • Easier on dishware (less likely to break when making contact)

Butcher Block: 

  • Great for cooks and minimalists
  • Easy on dishware 
  • Add a water/heat-resistant finish to expand usage
  • Uniform look
  • We suggest purchasing from Richelieu for premium quality.

Concrete: 

  • Durable
  • Cheaper than marble
  • Stains easily - add a sealant to minimize stains
  • Uniform look

Granite: 

  • Expensive
  • One of the hardest natural stones
  • Heat-resistant and scratch-resistant
  • Exhibits natural, randomized veining
  • Requires more maintenance and resealing

Quartzite: 

  • A precious natural stone similar in appearance to marble
  • Resistant to heat and scratches
  • Bolder colours and a variety of patterns

Onyx: 

  • A beautiful natural stone with distinctive bands of colour 
  • Soft, less durable (tip: use a high-quality sealant to increase longevity)
  • For a beautiful sight, backlight the stone

Solid Surface

  • Composed of natural stone and synthetic resin
  • A mid-range choice that works beautifully as a seamless countertop
  • Uniform look
  • Not scratch-proof, but you can buff out scratches 
  • Solid surface requires little maintenance.

Marble: 

  • Elegant, veining patterns
  • Heat-resistant 
  • Less durable and more susceptible to stains and scratches
  • High maintenance

Before you settle on a kitchen countertop material, there are a few factors you should think about to find the right fit. 

    1) Your Budget

      The materials you use determine the price of your countertop. Laminate is the most affordable option, but sometimes it makes more sense to purchase other materials based on your lifestyle.The pricing varies depending on who and where you get it from and the installation cost.

      Quartz, butcher block, quartzite, concrete, granite, onyx, and solid surface could cost upwards of $5000 (depending on the size of your kitchen of course). With laminate countertops you’ll save thousands of those dollars!

        2) Your Lifestyle

          The way you live and how much maintenance you want to be on the hook for, should determine the type of material to purchase.

          Homeowners who love to bake/cook may invest in a heat-resistant material like solid surface to avoid heat marks or burns and use a chopping board or scratch-resistant material to prevent knives (or cats) from ruining the counters. A marble countertop is more prone to etching since they are a softer stone compared to hard granite.

          Families with young kids may prefer a non-porous countertop as oil, wine, and berry juice stains that don’t get wiped up right away will stain porous countertops. 

          I often recommend laminate for young families.Not only is it less expensive and mimics the popular natural materials, but you also won’t kick yourself if any mishaps happen. Once the kids are grown it’s a fairly straight forward upgrade to quartz or granite if desired.

            3) The Look

              Kitchen countertops take up a lot of real estate in your kitchen.Ensure your choice complements the overall vision for your kitchen and your style.Certain materials create an elegant look, such as marble or quartz, and others produce a modern farmhouse or industrial vibe like granite, concrete, or butcher block.

              Know what you like.

              Do you prefer uniformity or natural veining? A little more symmetrical or random? Bold patterning or subtle designs? Your aesthetic preferences determine your ideal kitchen countertop.

              For a uniform look, choose quartz, solid surface, concrete, butcher block, or (some) granite. Laminate can also be uniform since there are so many patterns to choose from. 

              For a highly characterized look, choose quartzite, granite or onyx as they have bolder colours and strong veining patterns.Marble can also have strong veining patterns depending on the type. These stunning patterns can still grace your kitchen without the expensive cost…. It’s called laminate

              The Case for Laminate

              Laminate is possibly one of the most underestimated materials.The material is composed of tightly pressed paper sheets glued onto a wood composite substrate. Gone is the ‘distasteful’ look of the 50s—new laminate countertops are a truly versatile material.The latest advances in technology allow homeowners to enjoy a look and feel that mimics real marble, granite, stone, and hundreds of other patterns.

              Even if you can afford other materials, laminate offers great benefits:

              • 1/4 the cost of others
              • Softer to the touch - gentle on dishware
              • Warmer to touch - not as cold as stone surfaces
              • Non-porous/stain-resistant 
              • Low maintenance 

              One of the downsides to laminate is its susceptibility to chips, cracks, burns, and water damage.However, by taking care of your countertop: wiping spills, using hot mats and cutting boards, your counter should last many many years.

              We hope this helps you feel more prepared as you tackle kitchen countertops. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions about our services. Our team of designers are ready to help you make those tough design decisions.

              Xo Leanne