If you’re looking to install new countertops in your kitchen, you’re not alone: 95% of homeowners planning to renovate their kitchen say countertops are their top priority this year.
This consumer purchasing guide covers 15 options, as well as the pros and cons of each material and the average cost of installation.
- Granite worktops
What it is: You probably already know that! Granite is a natural stone countertop material that has been popular in the kitchen for years. It is available in a wide range of colours and combines well with many floor and wall models.
Granite countertops are becoming more and more common because of their greater availability and affordability.
How much does it cost? Granite can be expensive. It is not uncommon for prices to vary between $80 and $200 per square meter of installation, depending on the color of the granite, the manufacturer and where you live.
On: Since granite is in high demand and considered beautiful, countertops will add undiminished value to your home. It is non-porous and hygienic, heat resistant and easy to clean. It’s not easy to scratch.
Delays: Granite is very difficult to remove and should be considered a perpetual update, because you might have to tear off the whole kitchen counter if you get tired of it. It is expensive compared to other common countertop materials.
It is also very labour intensive because it is very heavy, which means it may need more structural support than your wickets already offer. It should be sealed every ten years or so to prevent it from staining and cracking if it hits a large, heavy object.
- Quartz worktops
What it is:
Not to be confused with quartz worktops – a type of artificial composite consisting of 90% quartz and 10% resin – quartzite is a relatively new alternative to solid stone for granite or manufactured quartz worktops.
Quartzite is a natural rock that begins its life as a kind of sandstone and turns into quartzite when exposed to heat and pressure. The resulting white or grey stone has beautiful bands of color that give it the appearance of marble while retaining the power of granite.
It is therefore important to check with your supplier whether your quartzite is hard or soft. This affects the durability of the material and the frequency with which you need to perform routine treatment to maintain it.
Cost: $85 to $200 per square meter of installation, depending on the type of quartzite you choose and where you live.
On: The neutral colours of quartzite go well with almost any colour scheme in the kitchen. Its natural and dazzling patterns give it a clean, modern and organic look. It is fairly heat resistant (but a protector should be used if you leave the pot for a longer period of time).
Did you know that? Quartzite is also harder than granite, which makes it slightly more durable.
Delays: Depending on the type of quartzite, periodic sealing (as with any stone surface) may be required to prevent stains. Moreover, because it is a heavy stone, a professional installation is required.
- Recycled glass worktops
What it is: Increasingly popular with people looking for an environmentally friendly solution for countertop materials – or those looking for a unique and trendy look for their home – countertops are made from recycled glass fragments held together by a binder, usually cement or resin.
How much does it cost? The reconstituted glass countertops cost between $50 and $100 per square foot, plus about $80 per hour for installation, resulting in a cost of about $75 to $150 per square foot installed – slightly higher than typical granite or quartz.
The price of your installation may vary depending on whether you need backsplashes, gaskets, sink recesses and improved or curved edges. Moreover, some glass colours are more expensive than others.
On: Each recycled glass counter top is unique because each top uses a different mix of glass. They are very durable, do not leak easily and only need soap and water for cleaning. Depending on the binder used, recycled glass can be very environmentally friendly – or not, as some binders are made with toxic chemicals.
Delays: Cement composites should be sealed every 5 years to protect them from acid food stains. Resin-based composites require less maintenance, but cannot be polished to the same gloss. In addition, if glass countertops are hit by a heavy object, they can break or break, which can lead to costly repairs.
- Soapstone worktops
What it is: Soapstone is a natural stone that takes its name from its soft, almost soapy surface.
There are two types of soapstone, artistic soapstone and architectural soapstone, but only architectural soapstone can be used on countertops because it is much more durable than artistic soapstone. It has a natural grey colour (usually dark grey, although lighter species exist) interspersed with lighter veins.
Soapstone has been used for centuries for kitchen worktops and looks particularly natural in a country kitchen (which is a major design trend nowadays).
How much does it cost? Soapstone worktops generally cost between $60 and $105 per square foot, depending on where you live and the thickness of the sheet you need.
On: The dark, warm and neutral look of soapstone fits well with different kitchen designs. It’s quite malleable, so it’s unlikely to break under too much weight.
It is very non-porous compared to other similar surfaces, making it extremely unlikely to stain, and therefore does not require the regular sealing that many other natural stone countertops require.
The fact that it is non-porous also means that it is easy to clean and decontaminate, making it a good choice for people who cook a lot with fresh vegetables.
Delays: Because it is naturally soft, soapstone can be scratched or chipped more easily than other stone materials. In addition, the slabs are rarely longer than 2.5 metres, which means that longer counter tops require multiple overlaps and complicated installation work.
- Worktops of solid material (Corian)
What it is: Originally invented by DuPont in the 1960s and sold under the Corian brand name, solid counter tops are made from mixtures of acrylic and polyester. They were originally developed to imitate the appearance of natural stone by being more resistant and non-porous.
When DuPont granted its patent in the 1990s, a wave of different solid surface materials came onto the market, including Hi-Macs, Staron, Hanex, Wilsonart, Durat and others. These brands use essentially the same formula – the original DuPont – but differ in the colors offered.
How much does it cost? Approximately $45 to $75 per square meter will be reviewed, mainly depending on the color chosen.
On: Solid countertops offer a wider range of colours and appearances than any other material, although none of them look particularly natural. They are very cheap compared to other countertops. Moreover, they require very little maintenance and do not require the use of sealants or special cleaning agents.
Delays: Solid worktops are not heat-resistant and can burn. They are also sensitive to scratches and knocks. However, they can be repaired in case of damage. Moreover, you cannot buy fixed countertops directly, so you cannot do it yourself here: You must go to an authorized dealer and have them installed by a professional.
- Slate worktops
What it is: Clay stone is a soft and dense natural stone, just like its cousin, soapstone.
Unlike soapstone, however, slate is not porous and requires no maintenance. Slate comes in dark and subtle colours and is naturally matt. It consists of clay and silt that has been compacted over millions of years. This long process produces a durable material that is very suitable for domestic use.
How much does it cost? Approximately $60 to $70 per square meter installed.
On: As mentioned earlier, slate is virtually maintenance free. Because it is non-porous, spills are easy to wipe off and not to smear.
It also means it’s naturally antimicrobial. It is also durable, splinter and scratch resistant, and has good heat resistance. This means you can safely place a hot pan without worrying about leaving a mark.
Delays: Slate has few disadvantages, except that it is not available in a wide range of styles and colours. Because the edges of slate tiles can be sharp, experts also recommend rounding corners.
- Tile worktops
What it is: Tile pictures are usually made of ceramic tiles (home-made from baked clay), usually placed on a plywood base or on an existing laminated worktop, because the tiles themselves can be too thin to be used as worktops.
These counters were popular in the 70’s and 80’s, disappeared for a while and have recently come back into fashion.
How much does it cost? $30 to $50 per square meter.
On: The tiles are available in different colours and styles and are very heat resistant, so cooks don’t have to worry about putting a hot pan of cupcakes on the counter. They are extremely inexpensive and can be installed by yourself if you are a do-it-yourselfer. And although tiles tend to crack or split, they can easily be replaced one by one without the need to buy a new sink.
Delays: Food can accumulate in the cement mortar between the tiles and is difficult to clean, resulting in stains. If you clear the gauges, the surface may become blurred. And, as mentioned before, tiles crack easily when objects fall.
- Recycled paper tops
to actual size
What it is: Recycled paper countertops are composite surfaces made of formaldehyde-free resin, pigments and – you guessed it – recycled paper. They have a soft and warm appearance and are often compared to soapstone.
Recycled paper is generally only available in dark, matte shades, although some companies offer lighter colours. The best-known manufacturer of recycled paper is PaperStone, but they are also produced by a number of other companies including RichLite, ShetkaStone and Kliptech.
How much does it cost? About $40 to $80 apiece.
On: Because they are mainly made from recycled materials, they are more environmentally friendly than many natural materials. They are relatively cheap and easy to work and install due to their light weight. They are durable, non-porous and unpainted. They are also heat resistant, but only up to 350 degrees.
Delays: Recycled paper countertops should be sealed regularly and do not tolerate abrasive cleaning agents. They are not necessarily recyclable, although they can be cut and reused.
- Butchery block table tops
What it is: Butchery counters are made of glued hardwood planks – often maple, but sometimes also ash, teak, oak or even bamboo. These eye-catching rustic countertops are becoming increasingly popular because the country style is in vogue everywhere.
There are three basic types of butcher’s block: End grain, edge grain or facial grain.
Grain is mostly used for countertops because it is durable and less expensive; it is made by gluing long planks together at the sides.
The front, on the other hand, consists of flattened shelves, which are less suitable for intensively used kitchen worktops as they can easily be dented and cut by grinding.
The final grain consists of small cubes arranged in such a way that the ends are visible on the surface (see figure above). It is becoming increasingly popular because it is extremely cut-resistant, but it is also the most expensive option.
How much does it cost? Most meat counters cost between $40 and $65 per square meter (including installation), but prices can vary considerably depending on where you are, the type of wood you choose, the type of finish you get, the number of square meters of kitchen counter you install, and whether you choose to install it yourself or hire help. On average, the total cost of installing Butcher’s block counters is between $2,000 and $4,500.
On: Butcher’s tables look warm and inviting compared to the cold and sterile appearance of steel or granite. They can be made from recycled or regenerated wood, significantly reducing the impact on the environment.
Unlike other surfaces, scratches and wear spots can be repaired by sanding. Moreover, wood is naturally antimicrobial. As an extra bonus, the butcher’s block counter can be installed by you when you are within easy reach.
Delays: The butcher’s wood must be lubricated every six months to protect it. Worse still, wooden countertops are generally not heat and stain resistant. This means you can’t put a pan in it without protection, and a ring of water from a cup without a coaster can become permanent.
- Concrete worktops
What it is: Concrete dishes – usually with the addition of pigment, so they don’t look like paving stones! They are then sealed so that they are not porous and resistant to heat or dirt.
Concrete countertops have long been in fashion, especially with people who love the industrial or rustic look, and they don’t seem to lose their popularity.
How much does it cost? The price is usually between $65 and $135 per square meter, but can vary considerably because concrete countertops are often a do-it-yourself project.
On: Concrete counter tops have to be made by hand and can therefore be adapted to any project. The ability to mix pigments or even materials such as shells or glass offers a wide range of aesthetic solutions. Concrete is durable, scratch resistant and lasts for years with good sealing and maintenance.
Delays: Watertightness and regular maintenance are necessary because of the natural porosity of concrete, which can lead to light stains.
- Stainless steel worktops
What it is: Stainless steel casings have been the choice of professional chefs for decades because stainless steel is stain and heat resistant and has a long service life. Stainless steel worktops are made of thin stainless steel sheets attached to a wooden or other substrate. The metal in the corners can also be welded to avoid seams.
Stainless steel is available in various qualities and designs. The best steel for kitchen worktops is type 304, which is highly scratch resistant and very durable.
In addition, the surface reflection of a particular piece of stainless steel is classified by a number indicating the degree of polishing.
The numbering system ranges from 0 to 8, with 8 being the most polished surface, but also the one with the most scratches and fingerprints. A medium finish (e.g. #4) is perfect for a glossy look with no commercial flaws.
Finally, the thickness of the steel is also assessed on the basis of its strength, with the smaller digits representing thicker steels more suitable for heavy use; 16 and 18 gauge are the most common settings in the house.
How much does it cost? The rate varies between $75 and $150, depending on the size of the sample.
On: Stainless steel is the strongest and hardest material for worktops. It can withstand many impacts that can damage another surface. It is more heat resistant than most countertops. It integrates perfectly with stainless steel sinks. Unlike many natural surfaces and most other metals, it does not change color over time (the so-called patina development). Moreover, it is completely recyclable!
Delays: Bleach and chlorides can easily damage stainless steel. It’s not a budget option, and it’s very noisy when you’re adjusting pots and pans. And cold aesthetics may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
- Recovered wood worktops
What it is: At the other end of the thermal spectrum of stainless steel, we have the natural beauty of wooden countertops. Wooden countertops are made from different types of wood, from black walnut to bamboo, but one of the latest ecological trends is the use of reclaimed wood: Wood recovered from a previous use, such as in a house, barn or other building.
How much does it cost? Prices vary considerably from one supplier to another. Typically, traditional wooden countertops cost between $50 and $100 per square foot installed; think to pay a little more.
On: The most important thing is that recovered wood is sustainable. Wood is naturally more durable than minerals such as granite, because wood is a renewable resource, but recovered wood is a secondary renewable resource, making it even more durable.
By using reclaimed wood, your project can be LEED or FSC certified and your home can benefit from special tax credits.
Secondly, salvaged wood has a unique appearance because it usually contains more than one type of wood and the pieces have been weathered for many years. This gives your kitchen a rustic or historic look.
In addition, recovered wood is more durable than traditional wooden countertops because it has been exposed to the elements for years.
Delays: Reconstituted wood is rare because it has become so popular and therefore more expensive than traditional wooden countertops. It may also have unwanted imperfections or have been treated with toxic chemicals in the past, which is difficult to detect.
- Building block (quartz) worktops
What it is: What is now called quartz is actually a composite material consisting of quartz crystals and a kind of binder, often resin. They look like natural stone countertops, but these artificial quartz countertops have extra benefits that you can’t get in a natural way. These advantages have made quartz one of the most popular countertops in the past year.
How much does it cost? Approximately $60 to $100 per square meter installed.
On: Quartz has a wider colour palette than natural stone because pigments can be added to the resin. It is hard and durable and less prone to dents and splinters than quartzite. It also requires little or no maintenance.
Delays: Quartz can be scratched and it melts at temperatures above 300 degrees Fahrenheit, which means you need to use a heating pad.
- Marble worktops
via Elizabeth Roberts
What it is: Marble, long considered a sign of luxury, is a natural stone created by pressure deposition, creating a crystalline structure that allows it to be polished. It’s not as hard as cousin’s granite, but also not as soft as soapstone. It is found in a variety of natural colors, including white, black, gray, yellow, pink and green, and sometimes with prominent veins of mineral deposits that are considered attractive.
How much does it cost? Generally $125 to $250 per square foot, depending on thickness and quality.
On: Unique and beautiful, marble is also heat-resistant.
Delays: Because marble is very porous, it should only be sealed once a year, and even then it is likely to stain if it comes into contact with very acidic substances. It is also very sensitive to scratches.
- Copper worktops
What it is: As with stainless steel, counter tops consist of thin sheets of copper foil attached to plywood or another substrate.
How much does it cost? $100 to $175 per square meter.
On: The cool thing about copper is that it’s antimicrobial. In one test the E. coli bacterium on stainless steel survived for 34 days, while on copper it died after only four hours.
It is also beautiful and adds a unique warmth to a room where stainless steel tends to distract. Copper can sometimes be recovered from scrap yards, making it an environmentally friendly choice. It can also be cleaned with a simple mixture of lemon juice and salt. Regular wax or oil depilation keeps it in perfect condition, but is not necessary.
Delays: Over time, copper naturally oxidizes (patina). It is a living surface that changes colour from red to brown and then to green and gradually becomes dull. For many it is attractive, for others it is unacceptable. Copper is also easily scratched and dented.
Which material are you going to choose for your kitchen counter this time?
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