Remodeling any area of the home is a huge undertaking. However, planning and executing a kitchen remodel requires a great many decisions to be made, can take weeks, and has additional impact on a family because often they are inconvenienced for a time by being unable to cook or eat in their own kitchen during the remodeling process. Most homeowners want to make sure they do their homework and make informed decisions about the design and materials to be used to ensure the remodeling process goes smoothly and quickly.
While much time and attention are given to choosing cabinetry during kitchen remodeling in Royal Oak or Utica homes, countertops are also a very important choice and should be researched and evaluated carefully. Perhaps the homeowner knows they want to get rid of their old ‘80s white tile counters, and their neighbor or best friend has had beautiful marble counters installed recently. But is marble the right choice for them?
With so many options for counters, how can homeowners select the best countertop choice for their family’s kitchen design and usage? They may want to consider aesthetics, budget, ease-of-maintenance, and the durability of each countertop material.
But First, a Primer on Kitchen Countertop Material Options
Before looking at the criteria that can be used to evaluate countertop choices, let’s first review the different countertop materials on the market.
- Laminate – Laminate is made of resins blended with paper and fused to particleboard. It is incredibly versatile when it comes to the patterns and colors in which it is available, and can even mimic stone and wood grain. It is durable and less expensive than other options. Two leading manufacturers of laminate countertops are Formica and Wilsonart.
- Natural Stone – Natural stone counters include quarried stones like granite, marble, and soapstone. These are definitely the most expensive options on the market and offer beautiful, one-of-a-kind colors and patterns found only in nature. Of these, granite is the most durable but still needs regular sealing to maintain its effectiveness.
- Engineered Stone/Quartz – These countertops are made from quartz crystals held with resin binders and tinted with color. Quartz is strong, durable, and easier to care for than natural stone countertops, as it requires no sealing.
- Solid Surfaces – Made from acrylic, polyester, or a blend of the two, solid surfacing counters (like the countertops made by the brand Corian) are seamless, come in a wide variety of color and pattern options, and require almost no maintenance other than a soap and water cleaning. They are more expensive than laminate, but are not heat-resistant and will show scratches.
- Other Choices – Concrete, butcher block, stainless steel, ceramic tile, recycled glass countertops…all of these are less popular options, but each has its benefits and champions in the kitchen remodeling world. Check with a kitchen remodeling firm in Utica to see what alternative countertop materials they carry.
With so many countertop choices, homeowners have much to consider before making a decision. Here are some criteria to help a homeowner completing a kitchen remodeling in Royal Oak to select the countertops that are right for them.
First of all, homeowners should consider what countertop material appeals to them design-wise for their kitchen. Are they particularly drawn to natural stone options like marble and granite, or are they more passionate about the bold color options available with a solid surface or laminate countertop? They should consider what will best complement the cabinetry and appliances they’ve chosen, as well as which materials will provide the “look” they’re going for. Luckily, similar looks are available in many countertop materials these days, so if a particular material isn’t financially feasible for the homeowner, they can likely find a very comparable look in a lower-priced alternative material.
Going beyond the look of the counters, those planning kitchen remodeling in Utica should also consider how they plan to use the countertops. Does their family do a lot of cooking, resulting in heavy wear and tear on their surfaces? Perhaps they have children or teenagers who prepare (and spill) food often, so they require a more stain-resistant countertop. Or, maybe they’re more interested in entertaining than cooking, and so the look of the counter is more important than its durability.
If the highest levels of durability are required, granite and quartz are the winners here. Both are heat-resistant and hold up well to knife nicks, splashes, and stains. Marble handles heat well but stains easily. Laminate is susceptible to burns and scratches, as are solid-surface countertops, although the latter can easily be sanded to remove marks.
Maintenance and Upkeep
Another criteria homeowners should consider before choosing a countertop is how much work they’re willing to put into its maintenance. Porous natural stone materials, like marble and granite, require occasional (think once a year) sealing with oil to resist stains. Similarly, wooden countertops like butcher block require oiling at least twice a year to fill in scratches and protect the surface. Even some metal countertops like zinc do well with some periodic shining with beeswax. So for homeowners who know they are not willing to put in the work required for the upkeep of some counters, they should look toward other choices. Solid surfacing and laminate are virtually maintenance-free, requiring no sealing or special cleaning. Engineered stone/quartz is also a low-maintenance choice.
The budget consideration is definitely one of the most important. While marble is absolutely beautiful, it’s very expensive, and if a homeowner knows that they cannot afford it, there’s no sense falling in love with it. It would be wise to first consider what is within the homeowner’s budget for the remodeling project, then to explore countertops within that budget. Countertops can vary widely in price from about $22 per square foot for a basic plastic laminate to about $250 per square foot for high-end marble or granite. On the more expensive side (with price ranges based on the grade of the stone) is natural stone (marble, granite, soapstone), followed by engineered stone (like quartz) and solid-surface countertops. Laminate is definitely the most affordable countertop option.
Making a Final Countertop Choice
With all of the various countertop materials available, homeowners looking to install new counters have many factors to consider to help them narrow their choices. In addition to considering what they can afford, how much upkeep they’re willing to do on their countertops, how durable the counters need to be, and what they just are naturally drawn to, design-wise, they may also wish to think about other factors personally important to them, such as how bacteria-resistant the material is. Granite, soapstone, wood, and stainless steel are naturally the best at resisting bacteria, while options like tile – with grout – are more prone to bacteria growth.
Homeowners completing kitchen remodeling in the Royal Oak or Utica areas of Michigan should be sure to visit a kitchen remodeling specialist or showroom to evaluate all the countertop options available in their area.