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


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