If you’re in the process of selecting a new countertop for an upcoming kitchen or bathroom renovation, you know that choosing all the materials can be both fun and overwhelming. We get it! It took us years to be able to select materials with ease and confidence. Just learning to read the undertones of the materials to make sure they will not clash takes time.
How to choose from the top 3 countertop materials
A renovation is a big investment and ideally you want to save money where you can, and not make costly mistakes. Add to that the research into what material is best for your application, and what suits the style you are aiming for, and homeowners are easily stymied.
To learn more about the most popular countertop materials, keep reading. We’ve put together our guide with all the pros and cons we can think of. If you have been using a laminate countertop or butcherblock, for example, one of the advantages of these harder materials is that they are cool to the touch and provide a beautiful surface for rolling out pie crust or cookie dough. All of these materials are a big upgrade that will add value, but will consume a sizeable chunk of your renovation budget.
Here are more things to love and a few downsides to look out for…
We all know and love marble for its beautiful appearance and elegant vein patterns. Think of beautiful brasseries in Paris to conjure up an image of the beauty of this old-world material.
Let’s look at some of its properties
Its classic beauty is one of the many reasons why marble is sought after. Not only is it a natural material, but its appearance is unique. Each piece, like a fingerprint is different, and has its own personality and character. Marble forms in many colours and occurs with a little, or a lot of veining depending on variety, and the quarry.
Pro tip: Because each piece is unique, it is essential that you go to a supplier to select the exact slab that makes your heart go pitter-pat. Also take the time to mark what part of the slab has the particular markings or character you are drawn to so they cut your piece out of the right section.
One of the most beneficial pros is the fact that marble is heat resistant. Despite this, it is not a good idea to place a piping hot pot directly on it for risk of discolouring it. As I mentioned above, it is a great surface for people who love to bake, even in a heat wave, because it will keep the dough cool while it is being rolled out.
Susceptible to staining and scratching
One its downfalls is that because this material is porous, it absorbs liquids and shows stains a lot easier than other surfaces. The stains that are left on the surface may also go deeper into the material if a spill is not wiped up right away. Knives and other sharp objects can scratch, and chip the surface. Larger objects such as a large pot or cast-iron pan can damage and chip away pieces of the marble.
Because it is a porous material, so it needs to be sealed. There is maintenance involved in preserving its beauty so be aware that if you miss a treatment, liquids may penetrate and stain. When the seal fades and is not maintained, this stone can be easily marred by oil, wine, juice and anything acidic which can cause etching.
Sealants can help prevent staining and etching but must be applied frequently. To be clear, many love this about marble. It is known to be a material that acquires a patina over time, and that old world etched marble look is sought-after by many.
If nothing but the look of natural marble will do (and we hear you here), just know what to expect. A good option is to reserve it for a low traffic area to lessen staining and chipping.
Although quartz is made up almost 90% of natural stone, it is a manufactured product. A resin is combined with ground minerals that are mined creating an aggregate that binds the rock to form a beautiful quartz slab. Pigments can be added to give it a unique and beautiful aesthetic sometimes mimicking natural granite or marble, sometimes giving a unique aesthetic only found in quartz countertops that comes in a wide array of colours and patterns.
The appearance is more consistent and predictable than naturally occurring stone countertops. It can mimic other materials without the inherent properties of their counterparts. Overall it is a stronger material and less damage prone than either marble or granite.
Can be made a wide array of colors, patterns and they can resemble a number of different materials such as marble, granite and concrete for a very contemporary look. Larger slab sizes mean seams can sometimes be avoided or concealed easily in larger installations.
It is heat resistant, crack resistant and to chipping as well.
Quartz is a modern convenience made for families to withstand wear and tear. Because of the engineering process it resists stains beautifully, is less prone to chipping, and has antimicrobial properties!
If those aadvantages weren’t enough, it can add value as an upgrade when building or remodeling. Granite used to be the gold standard on a realtor’s listing but quartz has surpassed that because of its strength and versatility. Adding quartz surfaces to your home can add value. It is a pricey investment but one that will really pay off if you plan to sell.
Value engineered options
The big names brands are beautiful, there is no denying that but we also source from a number of off-brand suppliers when the budget is tight. Many are offering reproductions of the big name designs offering a moderate price savings. Ask your designer what options they can offer.
If naturally occurring beauty in imperfections, and the patina of age is the aesthetic you love, then this likely isn’t for you, but what many people love about quartz is the consistency it offers.
Yes, we have all dreamed about having the very much sought-after beautiful quartz counter tops, but it is an investment. As we said, however, it’s an investment that will pay off when it’s time to sell.
Granite is a natural material. It is excavated stone that can be cut into slabs and polished before being sold. Each slab is unique with natural imperfections and unexpected veining and striations in the stone. Kitchen granite countertops aren’t customizable like quartz. This means the selection process can be lengthy if you’re looking for a specific color or overall appearance. But despite this, it is guaranteed to be one-of-a-kind. If you love a good dose of character in your design, then granite is the aesthetic choice for you.
Granite is sold in large slabs and each piece is unique.
Granite countertops are not damaged when exposed to heat. They are one of the most heat resistant materials for countertops on the market. You can place hot pots and pans directly on the surface without harming it but don’t leave them too long. If you use heating elements that run for a long period of time, like a crockpot, you should use a trivet.
Granite scores a high on a scale of mineral hardness. Very few minerals can scratch it. You can cut directly on granite but it isn’t recommended because it is likely to dull your knives.
Beyond its natural beauty and unique appearance, the biggest advantage to granite is its strength. Much like quartz, it’s a countertop that will last for years – even decades – to come.
Prone to damage
Granite is undoubtedly durable, but it is also brittle and is slightly more prone to damage. Repairs can be relatively easy to repair if they are minor.
White granite countertops are definitely more susceptible to stains. So if morning coffee or red wine isn’t cleaned up directly you may find a nasty stain. Darker colours hide more, as you might suspect.
It takes some effort to maintain. Because it is a somewhat porous material, spills should be cleaned immediately. Mild soap and water or granite-specific cleaners should be used. To keep your granite in tip top shape for the long haul, it’s best to treat it with a granite sealer at least once per year for protection against germs and stains.
If you, like many, find yourself staring like deer into the headlights, we can help you pick out all of your selections with our kitchen design lite service, or your bathroom with our bathroom lite package even if you are doing the work yourself. Just picking out a countertop can be overwhelming with so many options. It is a big investment after all and we want you to get it all right. Why not invest in a bit of reassurance in a good outcome?