Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Top 10 Countertop Materials

With exposure to water, heat, sharp knives, and more, countertops carry a heavy burden in the kitchen. Discover the pros and cons of each countertop material to help you make the right choice for your kitchen.

Beautiful butcher blockButcher Block
    Butcher block is the best type of wood to use for kitchen countertops. It can stand up to cooking, cutting, and chopping without dulling knives. And at the same time, butcher block can soften the look and feel of any kitchen.
Butcher BlockButcher Block: Pros & Cons
    -- Simple to install and repair, scratches can be sanded out
    -- Ideal for cutting or chopping
    -- Requires a food-friendly sealing that must be reapplied periodically
    -- Demands thorough, prompt cleaning after food preparation and spills
    -- Vulnerable to moisture and heat
Laminate CounterLaminate
    Laminate countertops are inexpensive, easy to clean, and available in the widest range of colors, textures, and patterns. You can even give laminate an upscale look with a sculpted edge treatment such as a classic ogee or sleek beveled edges.
Laminate CounterLaminate: Pros & Cons
    -- Versatile and cost-effective counter choice
    -- Easy soap-and-water cleanup
    -- Resistant to heat, stains, and scratches
    -- Susceptible to damage from sharp knives and hot pans
    -- Deep scratches are difficult to repair
    -- Cannot be repaired if scorched
Modern KitchensStone
    Stone works for serious cooks because it's durable, colorfast, and resists scorching. Plus, each piece is unique and boasts enduring good looks. The most popular choices include granite and marble. Though it's the most expensive countertop material, you can cut the cost and add texture by using tiles instead of a single slab.
White stone countertopsStone: Pros & Cons
    -- Hard and resistant to heat and scratches
    -- Easy to clean if sealed (although marble is susceptible to stains)
    -- Increases value of your house

    -- Well-constructed cabinetry needed to hold this heavy material
    -- Requires frequent resealing for porous stones such as marble or limestone
    -- Expensive
solid-surface --limestone lookSolid-Surfacing
    Solid-surfacing countertops mimic the look of granite, glass, or other stones and boast a softer, warmer feel. This low-maintenance material can also resist damage from heat, moisture, and fading.
Solid-Surfacing CounterSolid-Surfacing: Pros & Cons
    -- Wide variety of colors and design possibilities
    -- Can be molded into sinks
    -- Nonporous and resists scorching
    -- Scratches and stains can be sanded and buffed out
    -- It's almost as expensive as real stone
    -- Can discolor if hot pots and pans are left in place
    -- Softer than stone so sharp knives can damage
kitchen islandQuartz-Surfacing
    Quartz-surfacing countertops are made of 93 percent crushed quartz blended with color pigments and plastic resins. Quartz- surfacing can stand in for stone without all the maintenance. Its nonporous surface requires no sealing.
red and gray u-shaped kitchenQuartz-Surfacing: Pros & Cons
    -- Available in a larger range of colors than traditional stone countertops
    -- Resistant to heat, stains, and scratches
    -- Never needs to be refinished
    -- It's almost as expensive as real stone
    -- Not quite as natural-looking as real stone
Curved concrete countertopConcrete
    Don't be afraid to move concrete indoors. Concrete is an extremely versatile countertop material. It can take on many different colors, shading, patterns, and sheens to suit any kitchen style. Concrete countertops can be poured in place or fabricated off-site and installed later.
Concrete countertopsConcrete: Pros & Cons
    -- Can be stained a variety of shades and fashioned to resemble various kinds of stone
    -- Heat- and scratch-resistant
    -- It's an extremely durable material
    -- Highly acidic liquids can damage the surface if it's not cleaned immediately after spills
    -- Requires periodic sealing
Ceramic Tile CounterCeramic Tile
    Ceramic tile is a popular choice for kitchen countertops because it's water-, stain-, and heat-resistant. Ceramic tiles also comes in variety of styles and colors and can easily mesh with traditional and contemporary styles.
Ceramic Tile CounterCeramic Tile: Pros & Cons
    -- Available in a wide variety of colors and styles
    -- Glazed ceramic tiles are extremely resistant to heat, scratches, and stains
    -- Easy to keep clean
    -- Can be labor-intensive to install
    -- Grout can stain or collect food particles so grout lines require periodic cleaning, bleaching, sealing, or regrouting
    -- Tiles can crack or chip
kitchen with eating counterGlass
    Glass countertops are durable, versatile, and gaining popularity. Install just a clear top layer to match anycolor scheme or install two layers -- a clear top layer and a textured bottom layer -- to help mask scratches. Give a glass countertop added interest with a decorative edge.
Recycled Glass CounterGlass: Pros & Cons
    -- Heat- and stain-resistant
    -- Easy to clean, just use a window cleaner
    -- Recycled-glass options (shown here) are eco-friendly
    -- Can chip or break with heavy impact and may scratch
    -- Requires frequent cleaning
    -- Could be better used as an accent countertop than as a work surface
Dark wood countertopWood
    Though it's uncommon to see wood countertops -- besides butcher block -- run throughout a kitchen, a wood-topped island or baking center is popular. Using wood countertops for these prep stations adds instant warmth and charm to a kitchen.
Light wood countertopsWood: Pros & Cons
    -- Can be made from reclaimed wood for an eco-friendly option
    -- Surface can be renewed by power sanding
    -- Long-lasting
    -- Vulnerable to moisture and heat
    -- Some raw meat or high alkaline fruit and vegetables (e.g. beets, papaya) can cause stains after extended exposure
    -- Requires a food-friendly sealing that must be reapplied periodically
    -- Could be better used as an accent countertop than as a work surface
Stainless Steel CounterStainless Steel
    Stainless-steel countertops can be found in kitchens ranging from traditional to contemporary style. Stainless steel can complement any kitchen because it matches many common kitchen appliances. It's perfect around cooktops and ranges where hot pots and pans often land.
Stainless Steel CounterStainless Steel: Pros & Cons
    -- Tough; impervious to stains and high temperatures
    -- Won't oxidize and develop a patina like other metals
    -- Doesn't need to be coated with a finish
    -- Shows nicks and scratches; avoid scouring powders
    -- Needs a solid, firm underlayment or it will dent

Monday, February 20, 2012

Granite Countertop Ideas

Before I begin this article, I'd like to preface by saying that granite is always my choice in countertops. I like it because it's a hard surface, it's easy to clean and maintenance is very basic. It adds value to your home and it simply looks phenomenal. Therefore, I am biased toward granite and think the variety of looks that it offers is simply amazing. Just be creative. Anything is possible with granite.
Also, in a couple of days I will post an article on various options for countertop materials. Just remember, granite is always the best! in my personal opinion.

Get ideas for granite countertops in the kitchen. 

Find colors of granite countertops and learn how to mix finishes to create a beautiful kitchen.

Unique sleek countertopMarbled Granite Countertop
    Granite countertops come in an amazing variety of colors and styles. This Bianca Romano granite features edges that are mitered and pieced for a beefy look. The light color of the countertop contrasts perfectly with the deep color of the wood cabinetry. The light reflects gently off the granite to give the room a bright and welcoming feel -- ideal for those who enjoy ample sunlight.
Speckled Granite Countertop
    This black-speckled granite countertop adds to the sleek look of the kitchen. Partnered with stainless-steel appliances, the countertop provides the kitchen with the perfect amount of texture. The speckled granite also creates an ideal backdrop for greenery placed throughout the kitchen, making the plants and flowers seem right at home.
White kitchenHoned-Granite Countertops
    These dark honed-granite counters provide just the right topping for this primarily black-and-white kitchen. The dark handles on the cupboards and drawers match the color of the granite, pulling the kitchen together. The timeless black-and-white pairing makes it simple to change an accent color to give the kitchen a different feel. In this instance, the bright red accents bring a warm touch to the cool color scheme.
Glossy Granite Countertops
    Glossy granite countertops in a warm earth tone provide practical work surfaces in this kitchen. The marbled counter gives the granite ample texture that makes it stand out against the smooth stainless steelof the sink and warming drawer. The smooth surface and strong durability of the granite make it an ideal place to prepare food or set down a piping hot plate.
Large, open kitchenBrazilian Granite Kitchen Countertop
    This green Brazilian granite countertop transforms the kitchen into an elegant workspace. Light reflecting off the countertop gives the room a cheerful and roomy feel, making it fun to prepare a meal. The subtle color of the countertop fits well with the dark wood paneling, which offsets neutral colors throughout the room. This style of granite creates a classy look that will entice everyone into the kitchen.
Contemporary Kitchen Countertops
    A modern countertop may be the perfect addition to a contemporary kitchen. This Verde Marinacci granite countertop contrasts with the pale maple cabinetry while creating a fashionable workspace for preparing meals. The detailed granite hides fingerprints, and the smooth finish makes cleanup easy. Strategically placed plants and flowers bring out the greenish tones of the countertop and give the kitchen an earthy feel.
Beautiful kitchen with checkered floorsGranite-Top Islands
    Practicality and aesthetics are equally important when designing a kitchen. This kitchen boasts two granite-top islands, making it simple to move around the kitchen while preparing dinner. The granite also adds an elegant look. The dark color of the granite is ideal for hiding smears and fingerprints. Not only is the kitchen sensible, but the granite creates a perfect balance between country and classic and adds to the splendor of the room.
White kitchenMarbled Granite for a Sunlit Kitchen
    Light tones and ample sunlight are the perfect partners to give a kitchen an airy feel. Add a marbled granite countertop, and the sun really bounces around the room. The silvery color of this counter blends well with the stainless-steel appliances and silver handles on the cabinetry. The marbled granite also makes it easy to hide a few crumbs or spills forgotten after a busy day, and adds class and style to the kitchen.
Colorful kitchenGranite Countertops as a Go-Between
    Mixing contemporary style with an antique look may seem challenging, but, done right, it can result in a unique and magnificent kitchen. Here, the marbled granite countertop and stainless-steel appliances add a modern touch. The dark wood floors, white cabinetry, and brightly painted walls make the kitchen pop with energy. The darker color of the granite provides a perfect center between the white cabinets below and white paneling above. The antique-looking clock provides a touch of personality.
White and Black kitchenSleek Granite Countertop
    This black-and-white-inspired room is the perfect place to showcase a black granite countertop. Placed atop white woodwork, the granite creates a clean contrast with the cabinetry. Using the same granite on a backsplash behind the sink ties the kitchen together. The black-and-white checkered walls add texture, while the smooth granite pairs well with the barstools. The black-and-white scheme makes it easy to add a splash of color to change the decor.
Contemporary wood kitchenGranite Island Countertop
    Keep kitchen remodeling costs down by using granite on an island and a granite-look laminate for the remaining countertops. Here, the charcoal color of the marbled granite offsets the light hues of the cabinetry, creating a contrast that looks chic and stylish. Silver accents bring out the marbled texture of the granite, pulling the room together.
Dark wood, sleek countertopGranite for the Countertop and Backsplash
    Granite countertops and backsplash give this kitchen a traditional look. Pastel-colored walls pair well with the dark granite. Stainless-steel appliances and brushed-nickel hardware prove to be the perfect accents, making the granite's marbled texture more evident.
Colorful kitchenContrasting Countertops and Cabinetry
    This shiny black granite countertop provides a crisp contrast with the pale birch cabinetry. Extending the countertop a few feet beyond the woodwork creates a comfortable eating area for casual nights. The sleekness of the countertop goes well with the inviting deep red color of the walls, creating a warm atmosphere that will entice others into the kitchen to see what is cooking.
Stainless steel, contemporary kitchenModern Marble Countertops
    Silver is the color of the future. Stainless-steel appliances, silver accents, and a fresh, ash-color marbled granite countertop make this kitchen ultra-contemporary. The classic white cabinetry adds the right amount of diversity. The window overlooking the sink lets light bounce off the countertops, brightening the room. Stainless-steel barstools invite guests to relax at the island, and the granite countertop offers a place to enjoy a drink or eat a casual meal. The contemporary look of this kitchen is sure to remain modern for years to come.
Large kitchen windows over sinkDark Brown Granite Countertops
    A neutral color scheme is ideal for dark chocolate granite countertops. Dark enough to hide any spills or fingerprints, yet elegant enough to bring the room together, this granite countertop along the wall is a perfect fit. The dark brown counter is a perfect contrast for the paler wood cabinetry. Yellows and browns throughout the kitchen add color and give a personal touch to the room. Able to withstand children and adults, the granite adds both function and beauty.
Curved countertopCurved Granite Countertop
    This rounded granite countertop highlights a creative way to introduce style to the kitchen. Granite countertops generally have straight edges, but this counter shows that a kitchen can be a fresh and contemporary room. The cool gray and white marbled granite is a perfect topping for the steel cabinetry below. The marbled countertop is a welcome change from the smooth finish of the drawers and adds flair.
Colorful, contemporary kitchenHoned-Granite Island Top
    In this kitchen, the black honed-granite island countertop blends with the black trim around the doors and with the stained cabinets. Placed atop a light-colored wood island, the granite contrasts well with the white chairs and provides ample space for eating a casual meal or finishing homework. The dark granite adds an element of drama to the kitchen and works perfectly with the room's color scheme. While the black granite brings mystery, light is still able to reflect off the island, making the room seem bright and fun.
Green style kitchenGranite Countertops for a Vintage Kitchen
    The green hues of this granite countertop provide the perfect adjacent piece to the vintage armoire in the kitchen. The granite-top island makes it easy to move around the room while preparing a meal or cleaning up after a dinner party. Ornate decor seamlessly blends with the green granite to create an up-to-date kitchen while the ambience remains formal and classic. The blend of modern and traditional makes for a beautiful kitchen that can easily withstand the test of time.
Open, white kitchenBlack Honed-Granite Countertops
    A black granite countertop creates the perfect contrast with white cabinetry and hardwood flooring. The dark granite gives the kitchen an added splash of style and distinction. Paired with white walls and cabinets, the black counter makes it simple to include an accent color, such as a bright red, to intensify the flavor and personal flair of the room. The black-honed granite countertop is an ideal place to prepare a meal or entertain the kids with after-school snacks. Yet the timelessness of the black granite allows the room to remain elegant and aesthetically pleasing to all who see it.
Large, white kitchenSoapstone Look in a Granite Countertop
    This granite-topped island with a cabinetry-matching base is close to the living room and used mainly for entertaining. The granite was honed to create more of a soapstone look, while the curved end allows knee room for people seated at the stools. The darkness of the countertop flows well with the dark stained wood floors, and both provide an elegant contrast to the whiteness of the cabinets and walls. The curved end of the island is ideal for kids enjoying an afternoon snack or a quiet and simple meal for two at the end of a long day.
Old style kitchen

    In this cream-color kitchen, a solid light-brown granite island countertop keeps the area elegant and minimizes the busy-looking patterns that many granite countertops create. For a more traditional look, solid-color granite can be ideal. The soft tones of the granite in this kitchen blend well with the cabinetry. The darker colors of the kitchen chairs create distinction and stand out against the lighter colors in the rest of the room.
White kitchen with green islandBlue Ice Granite Countertop
    This blue ice granite countertop adds a subtle touch of color to the kitchen and complements the distressed blue finish on the island. The traditional style of the room remains evident with the aged cabinetry. The light color of blue ice enables sunlight to bounce around the room and creates an inviting and carefree atmosphere.