I admit it, I love countertops. Cabinets can be gorgeous and inspire, but it’s the countertop that, to me, is the crowning glory of a kitchen space. There are so many countertop options to choose from and there is absolutely something for everyone. There are some brilliantly fun and retro laminate choices such as Wilsonart’s Boomerang:
Wilsonart Boomerang, Butterscotch
Some laminate looks very much like natural stone or wood products which can give the look of granite or marble without the price tag that can often come with it:
Formica, Santa Cecilia Gold
There are also many edge profiles you can choose when working with laminate whether it’s a square “flay lay” edge, bevel, cascade or even a Gem-Loc edge which can give your laminate countertop a smooth, beautiful look. The Gem-Loc edge is usually a solid surface color placed in the edges making for a rounded, smooth profile.
If you want to move up a level from laminate, you might want to think about solid surface countertops. The best known is Corian®, which has many color options. Solid surface tops can offer integrated (seamless) sinks, and set-on-splash or a cove splash which is also seamless. Hi-Macs, Avonite, Swanstone and so many other choices are also available and some are absolutely gorgeous! Be warned: solid surfaces do scratch; but not like they used to – there is deep color technology now which makes it much more difficult to see most scratches after time – though if the scratches were to get to be TOO much, they can be buffed out by a professional. The biggest benefit of solid surface countertops is that they are non-porous. They are also NSF safe.
( http://www.nsf.org/consumer-resources/what-is-nsf-certification/ )
Solid Surface Display, Corian Pine with integrated sink and cove splash
One of the countertops that we find exciting is butcher block. Another would be stainless steel. Whether you want a natural maple butcher block or something a little more exotic like zebrawood, teak, or wenge, it’s all available. It is an extremely porous option and needs to be oiled from time to time. It can and will stain but if you want a counter that will show just how used and loved it has been, wood can be a wonderful choice.
Craft-Art Wood Countertop, distressed
A counter that we like as well is one of the most traditional countertop materials: Soapstone. There are a variety of colors soapstone can come in from greens to grays with a variety veining looks. Remember your chemistry class countertops? Soapstone! It is essentially talc, and holds up beautifully over time. Soapstone is another top that will also show how loved and used it has been. A patina will develop over time and it will show fingerprints from time to time but they will fade and add to that patina enriching the stone as it is used.
Dura Supreme Cabinetry display with Soapstone countertop with set-on splash.
Granite is always a popular countertop choice; it is 100% natural stone and comes in a variety of colors. Granite is a very porous but with a good sealant can last many, many years and is a gorgeous choice, as well. One of the nice things about granite is that it can often be brushed for a different textured top versus a polished top and that in itself can change the look of a space. Granite is a top that can, if cared for properly, last the life of a home. Marble is another natural stone product, however is a very soft stone and extremely porous. It will definitely need a lot of attention to keep it from etching and staining, but there are color options that, if cared for, can absolutely last!
The test to see if a granite top (or any sealed top) needs to be re-sealed is to put a few drops of water on the top and let it sit for twenty minutes. If at the end of that time the water has soaked into the counter, it’s time to re-seal. If it stays beaded on top, it’s OK for a while longer. Granite can stain and etch with acidic foods, but if cleaned right away, those occurrences should be minimal.
Dura Supreme kitchen with brushed black granite.
Quartz is one of the most popular countertop choices right now because it is so lifestyle-friendly. You never have to seal it or worry about staining, scratching, or etching because you spilled your tomato sauce on it. Quartz countertops are generally about 94% stone and 6% resins which make it a non-porous counter option and does not support the growth of mold or bacteria. One quartz company is Greenguard certified as well; they recycle all of their water that is used when they manufacture and they also have no impact on air quality. You can’t ask for more of a green countertop than that!
Quartz is another of those countertops that will last a lifetime if it is treated well.
Koch Cabinetry display with Cambria quartz countertop & Dekton display
There are many other countertop options. One of our favorites here is Minerva by Geomatrix, which is a countertop that consists of fly-ash and recycled glass and is local to Montana and comes in a variety of colors to match just about any room. It can also come without the glass particulates and more concrete with the fly-ash, these tops are called Vesta Stone. No two Geomatrix tops are alike, so what a great way to support local businesses and get a countertop that no-one else has!
Treated concrete is always an option for a countertop as well; the variety of inclusions and treatments that can be done with concrete is truly limitless! If you like the look of semi-precious stones in your concrete, marbles, or fossils, it can be done.
The new kid in town right now is Dekton, which is an indoor/outdoor countertop option and is 1/3 glass, 1/3 porcelain, and 1/3 quartz and does say that it is as much as five times stronger than granite. This is also perfect for flooring, but in our world it’s the only counter out there that claims to be mostly heat proof. In other words, it's one of the only tops out there today you can put a hot pan directly on it without worrying about counter cracking or otherwise being damaged. There are ten colors available right now, however, there will be more to come! I have recently seen a preview of the new Dekton colors, and one looks like marble only indestructible...truly amazing!
Once you have chosen your countertop, please discuss with your designer or sales person what you will need to know about maintenance and care of your new counter. If there is a warranty, you will need to know what can void that warranty. A great countertop is one that will last you a lifetime if it’s well taken care of. You are the one who will be living with your new top, so be sure it is one that you truly love!