Replacing an old kitchen countertop with a new one can enhance the look and most likely the comfort level of the kitchen, as well as heighten its serviceability. Decisions on materials to use for your new countertop vary in visual appeal, level of maintenance needed, sturdiness, flexibility and suit,ability to kitchen needs. Careful planning can make the project answer to the owner’s liking and resources.

Black Granite Countertop with Small Island

Black Granite Countertops add elegance to this kitchen.

Material Comparison

A variety of different materials are available for countertops; each has advantages and disadvantages.

Laminate: Laminates are sheets of plastic-like material with different thickness. One of the most common brands of laminate is Formica. Laminates can imitate the appearance of other materials, like granite and granite. It is a very affordable material, and comes in a wide range of colors, designs, and textures. It is stain-proof and quite easy to clean.

Laminates have their drawbacks too. Their covering can be destroyed under too much heat, so hot cookware and utensils cannot be placed on the surface. Detergents and cleaning agents with sharp chemical consistency can damage it, too. A laminate is not appropriate for cutting and chopping as it is easily scratched and cut. A chopping board should be used in order to protect the laminated surface. When installed, laminates often must be cut into sections; this is especially obvious with lighter finishes as the backing is often dark. Though scratches tend to show on glossy surfaces, they are not as evident on laminates with pattern or design.

Tile: Tiles are a moderately low-cost approach in adding color and spirit to your kitchen. They can be bought in different sizes, which that range from 1 and 18 inches across. Tiles are normally ceramic, with a high or low gloss. The glaze makes tiles durable and easy to clean. Tiles allow for creativity in the countertop design. They can be fixed in a vertical, horizontal or diagonal arrangement, and they come in a wide range of pattern and texture. However, the grout used between tiles is easily stained and is prone to mildew growth. Tiles can chip quite easily and at times are not really tough against impact. Ceramic tiles are a little more costly than laminates.

Corian: Corian has become a household name as it has been available for over three decades. It is the solid surface material for the kitchen countertop. It is quite different from laminates, since the solid surface is made of a single chunk of plastic. These surfaces are long-lasting, and come in different colors and finishes. Solid surfaces can imitate the appearance and feel of stone. They are resistant to stains, non-porous and may be cleansed easily with soap. However, they can be destroyed by too much heat and may be scratched under certain circumstances. Damaged surfaces may be restored by using a reliable repair kit that is readily available. Transferable warranties are provided by most brands. Solid surface materials are more expensive than laminates and tile, and the installation must be done by a professional installer.

Granite: Granite is a commonly used material for countertops. Its texture and quality are copied by numerous synthetic substitutes, but have never been quite on a par with it. Granite is highly durable, resistant to scratches and heat. It has a wide array of color selection in both glossy and matte finishes. It is easy to clean with soap and water, though a special agent is highly recommended for stains.

Granite has some disadvantages too. It is pricier, heavy, and needs to be installed by a certified installer. It needs regular sealing to avoid getting stained. Its seams are also visible and obvious. Granite tiles are the more affordable alternative, but the grout between the tiles has the same drawbacks as grout with tiles.

Other alternatives for stone countertops include marble and limestone. Limestone provides limited color selections, but has high resistance to heat and impact. Marble offers a surface that is nonstick and smooth. It offers a good surface for creating baked goods.  However marble discolors easily and is quite porous.

Quartz: Quartz is a magnificent, natural object that is durable and hard. Silestone and Cambria are brands that produce a quartz composite countertop. This material offers a number of benefits as compared to other materials. It is very resilient to cuts and scorch, which makes it quite different from the plastic countertops. Also, it does not need resealing and offers better resistance to stain than granite does. Quartz has an array of colors and provides a bigger selection for edge designs. Because quartz is a custom-made product, the colors tend to be more uniform than granite and other natural surfaces. It has earned an approval from National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) in the US as safe for preparation of food. Quartz countertops may have seams, but they are slim and when properly fixed in place may not be very obvious to the naked eye. A ten-year warranty for this material is often provided by the manufacturers.

Wood and Butcher Block: Another natural countertop surface is wood. It is always appreciated for the quality and appearance it can provide. For one, it is a great cutting surface, since it is not bad for the knife-edge. A wooden countertop is built by putting strips of beech wood or rock maple together with glue. Wood is a material that is easy to maintain, as well as long-lasting. The designs and edge details, however, should not be elaborate as they tend to be hard to clean. Regular oiling and sanding can do much in removing the scratches that are accumulated in time. A regular sealing is also required for wood material.

Time Required to Install a Countertop

The time spent to mount a countertop varies with different materials. Weightier materials, like quartz and granite usually take more time for installation. A prepared laminate countertop can be placed in 2-3 hours, depending on the complexity of the layout. In most installations, there are some alterations to be done because cabinets are not perpendicular to the walls or the surface is not level in relation to the cabinets and so on. If the kitchen countertop is manufactured onsite, the procedure may take a couple of days or more, as the finishing and sealing normally takes some time to be completed.