For people touring a home, the style and design of the kitchen has the potential to stand out more than any other room in the house, and this is especially true for kitchens with great countertops.
When they are chosen correctly, traditional countertops can add an unassuming elegance to a room without ever being noticed, and a more eclectic choice in countertops can provide dramatic inspiration for the entire look and feel of the room itself. In either case, and for any variation in between, counters are crucial to the style of your kitchen and can be an asset to the overall value of your home.
Given that they are so important, you should consider several different key factors before you install countertops into a new home or as part of a kitchen renovation.
Your price range, personal preferences, and lifestyle can all impact your eventual decision, and you should explore each area before choosing a material or even measuring the space for your new counters.
Explore What You Like and Need In New Countertops
Your kitchen countertops should work for you functionally and aesthetically, and before you start any installation project, you should think about how your needs in those areas will impact your material choice and design.
For instance, if you rarely entertain but still spend a lot of time in the kitchen, you may choose a different surface than someone who wants to make more of a statement. On the other hand, if you have a family who loves to hang out in the kitchen area, you may choose a countertop material that requires less upkeep.
Whether you are a single person who loves to cook or a mom with a big family and a hectic schedule, you will want your counter to reflect your own personal style while still functioning to meet your unique needs. Material choice is certainly one variant to think about, but you can also create a distinct counter by customizing the edges and shape of your counters.
The way your counters are trimmed, or their edging style, is a great way to change the overall design of your countertops. In terms of countertop edges, one person may prefer the modern look of a bevel countertop edge, while someone else may favor an Ogee countertop edge because they feel it adds to the traditional appeal of their kitchen. Other popular choices are variations on the Bullnose countertop edge, a curved design that removes some of the sharpness of other edging choices.
In addition to edging, you may also think about customizing the actual shape of your countertops to add flair or create more or less counter space in your kitchen.
Many times, including features like a curved countertop over a bar or an angled counter over a certain corner in the kitchen can help you completely transform your space. Remember that you can also use these features to completely change the placement of things like your sink or refrigerator, further adding to the custom options available to you.
Of course, it is difficult to think about custom options if you haven’t yet decided on a budget for your project.
The Cost of New Countertops
New countertops are not strictly reserved for individuals with massive budgets, but you should have some idea as to what you can spend on your new counters because it will likely impact some of the decisions you make.
The actual material you prefer will probably have the greatest influence on your budget, with custom options like edging and design coming in second. However, you may also want to think about things like how long you plan to be in your home as well as how appealing the countertops will be to interested buyers, should you decide to sell your house in the future.
Popular Materials for Countertops
There are a wide range of different materials you can explore as you plan your countertop project. The following list contains an overview of some of the most popular choices in countertop materials along with their most prominent features and rank in terms of cost.
Laminate countertops are popular because they are typically the least expensive counter material, and the synthetic materials used to make them can be produced in a variety of different designs, making them a good choice for those who want to customize their space with interesting colors or patterns.
In terms of its disadvantages, laminate tends to be much weaker than other counter materials and may be much more prone to scratching and potential staining. Additionally, it is not easy to repair and may not be cost effective when it comes to things like custom shapes or edging.
Solid Surface Counters
Generally, a blend of certain acrylic components makes up most solid surface countertops. This counter surface is a popular choice because it is nonporous, which means it less permeable to mold and bacteria and may require less maintenance than stone counters.
Solid surface counters are also typically less expensive than natural stone counters, like granite, and they can even be produced to look like the surfaces of popular stone choices. However, in contrast to stone, solid surface counters are not nearly as resilient against heat, which can easily damage them.
This is a beautiful material, and granite countertops are becoming one of the most popular choices among homeowners and designers today. Although it is one of the more expensive countertop materials, its popularity has made it a little easier to get in a variety of colors and a little less expensive than it has been in past years.
In addition to its beauty, granite is a great material for countertops because the stone is very tolerant of heat and is very hard, giving it durability and protection against scratches.
When it comes to maintenance, granite countertops need the proper care required of any natural stone; installation and the right protective sealant is necessary to keep the material from cracking or becoming stained.
As one of the most visually appealing counter surfaces, marble can add elegance and sophistication to any space. Similar to granite, it is one of the more expensive choices in countertops, and it is also very resistant to heat and water.
Marble is also comparable to granite in terms of its care, although it may demand even more attention in the form of sealing, polishing, and routine maintenance.
Other popular choices in countertops include wood, copper, stainless steel, and quartz.
As long as you are aware of the custom options and materials available to you and have a good idea of your own style, you can likely make the most of any budget to install countertops that are perfect for your kitchen and accommodate your individual needs.
If you are looking for a flexible way to add an upgraded or different look to an area of your home, tile can be a great material to use. The variety available in color, material, and style of tile allow you to use it almost anywhere and for any purpose.
Planning Your Project
When it comes to planning a tile project in your home, you should be selective in the basic look of your tile by choosing a color and style that appeal to you and work well in combination with other decorative elements in your home. You should also consider a couple of additional things before choosing your tile.
The finish of a tile and the material used to make it often indicate that it is ideal for a particular use or environment over another. Some types of tile may be more attractive when used in certain rooms, and others that also look great may not be able to withstand the same conditions.
Before making your final decision on tile, you should consider:
Each of the following types of tile is popular for its own unique properties and benefits, and you should make sure that the tile you choose will work well for its intended purpose.
Popular Types of Tile and Their Basic Properties
Ceramic tile is made by combining water, clay, and various minerals into a molded form which is heated until solid. There can be a lot of variation in the appearance of ceramic tile, but one of the primary ways it can be distinguished is by whether it contains a glaze or does not.
When ceramic tile is glazed, it becomes more resistant to stains and heat, but tile surfaces may be at higher risk of damage from external forces. The coating also makes glazed tile easier to maintain and keep clean.
Unglazed tile has a more consistent appearance and color in the absence of a coating, is quite strong, and is typically used in areas with a lot of foot traffic, as it is less slippery than glazed versions.
When elements like firing temperature are altered, different variations on basic ceramic tile are created, including porcelain, quarry, terra cotta, and mosaic tile.
Tile made from natural stone can provide a variety of looks and applications, and it can be polished or honed to create a smooth surface. When polished, stone tile contains a shinier finish and tends to show damage more obviously than honed stone tile, which is less reflective.
Popular types of stone tile include:
More to Consider
When choosing your tile, you should also consider the area you plan to tile and how it might impact the size of the tile you purchase. For example, large surface areas like floors are generally covered with large sized tiles, while smaller areas and walls are usually covered with smaller tiles.
However, larger tiles may not be appropriate for the patterns you would like to create, making mosaic tile a strong possibility.
Additionally, if you intend to use tile for flooring in any area, it is important that you consider safety and the risks that any one type of tile may pose as a walking surface.
Both the COF and PEI rating of any tile can help you determine whether it is suitable for use as flooring. The COF, or coefficient of friction, rating will rank the smoothness of a tile in numbers between zero and one. Generally, it is recommended that only tiles with a rating of 0.6 or more be used for walking surfaces, and anything less is considered to be a slip hazard.
The PEI rating of a particular type of tile gives you an idea of its ability to withstand scratches and general wear. This is another important consideration for flooring, as weaker surfaces may sustain damage more easily and be more likely to present rough walking surfaces.
This rating categorizes tile into one of five different grades based on its strength against surface wear, with one being highly susceptible to wear and best for indoor wall applications and five being highly durable tile that can handle high amounts of traffic. In addition to consideration for flooring, you can use the PEI rating to determine a tile’s appropriateness for other projects in your home.
Marble Polishing Experts is a woman-owned business in Denver, Colorado with years of experience in marble restoration, granite restoration, flagstone, limestone, travertine, terrazzo, and tile and grout cleaning. Looking for stone experts? Call us today!
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