Picking out kitchen countertops can be a difficult one for many homeowners. There are so many great choices that it can be overwhelming. Several factors may come into play for your decision. Here is a rundown of 4 awesome materials for kitchen countertops that may help you make a good choice.
These Materials for Kitchen Countertops
Soapstone is a naturally occurring stone mainly composed of talc, and has the smooth texture of soap, hence the name. Despite it, soapstone will not melt in water. In fact, it is a favorite material for laboratory surfaces because it is chemically inert, which means it does not react to most chemicals. It is also highly dense, so it will not stain or harbor bacteria. It is typically a medium greenish-gray that will eventually become a dark charcoal gray. Its quartz content presents as a distinct veining through the stone.
Soapstone is extremely durable, and will last for decades with very little maintenance. The ideal material for kitchen countertops because it is food safe, stain proof and heat resistant. It is not only used as countertops, but also sinks and stove surfaces. It does not react to acids and other staining agents, unlike many natural stones. This includes the usual suspects such as wine, coffee vinegar, lemon, and tomatoes. Maintenance of soapstone involves simply the regular use of water and mild soap. You can make the color more even by applying food-grade mineral oil.
However, even though soapstone is non-porous and durable, its main component, talc, is particularly soft. Over time, the corners and edges may wear away, and it is still susceptible to nicks and scratches, although those can be sanded out. The key is to choose a slab that has as little green it as you can find, because those are the harder ones. It is also important to note that most soapstone is only commercially available in Brazil, which means it has to go a long way to get to the US. It is rather expensive at an average of $90 per square foot, but since it lasts for a long time, it is a worthwhile investment.
One of the most popular countertop material is granite. This is the most common natural stone in the world, and one of the most attractive. It s highly durable, ranking as high as 7 on the Mohs hardness scale due to the quartz, and comes in a relatively wide range of colors due to the feldspar. These are the two main components of granite, which is an igneous rock that formed slowly from magma.
The funny thing about granite is that not all slabs identified as granite are actually granite in geologic terms. In commercial terms, however, when a supplier calls it granite, then it is probably a stone harder than marble with visible crystals. It may actually be basalt, gneiss, permatite, gabbro, granodiorite, or any of the many similar types of stone.
Granite is popular because it looks great almost anywhere, and each slab is unique, even those that come from the same block. It is durable and versatile, and highly scratch- and heat-resistant. You can cut directly on its surface without doing any damage, and with proper care it lasts for a long time. With proper sealing, it is also stain-resistant. Some “granites” are so dense that they do not even need sealing.
However, most granite countertops are porous, and stains easily without the appropriate seal. A porous stone may also harbor bacteria, which make sit doubly important to seal it well and ensure the seal is intact at all times. The average price for granite countertops is $50 per square foot, although installation can nudge that up to $100 per square foot. Exotic slabs can also send your costs up.
Marble is one of the most popular and recognizable of the natural dimension stones. The patina is beautiful and distinctive, and lends an elegance to any room. It is a metamorphic stone made of calcium carbonate, just like travertine and limestone, with characteristic veining that is particularly apparent in countertops. Most marble is white, although other colors are also available, including black. It is naturally cool, which makes it a favorite among pastry cooks. The average cost of marble is $85 per square foot, increasingly sharply for non-white varieties.
However, marble is a relatively soft, porous stone, and it stains, scratches, and etches easily. It is important to be very careful with the detergents and materials you use on marble as it easily dulls. You will need to seal it regularly, especially if you use it for food preparation, because unsealed marble can harbor bacteria. Generally, a honed surface will reduce the risk of damage.
While engineered quartz is still a stone material, it is not natural. It is at least 90% quartz, which is what makes granite durable. It is held together by resin. Since quartz itself has no color, the manufacturers also add pigments. The great thing about that is it makes engineered quartz customizable and in a wide variety of patterns and colors. This makes it easy to find the perfect slab to match any kitchen or bathroom design. Because it is a highly dense material, it is non porous and non toxic, and needs no sealer. It is also stain- and scratch-resistant. It also requires very little maintenance.
The problem with engineered quartz is it is not heat-resistant. The color also tends to fade in direct sunlight, so it is not a good material for outdoor use. It is also not the most affordable of stone materials, averaging $100 per square foot. Several brands of engineered quartz are available, including Silestone, Caesarstone, and Zodiaq.
Many other non-stone options are available for kitchen an bathroom countertops, but for the purpose of durability and aesthetics, the above materials are the most awesome. The next time you plan a remodel or renovation of your kitchen, you can use the descriptions above to decide on the material that best suits your needs and lifestyle.