For many homeowners, the kitchen is considered the most important part or room in the house. Real estate agents agree that in order to raise or improve the value of a home, the simplest and best way is to remodel the kitchen. There are four things that may be done to remodel a kitchen. You can install new flooring, replace major kitchen appliances, replace or reface kitchen cabinets, or replace the kitchen countertops. This article will focus on the last option, installing new kitchen countertops.
Selecting countertops does not mean simply going to the local building supply store and picking just any countertop. The first thing that must be done is to determine a budget that you can afford. It is also important to decide how much effort and time you are willing to devote to cleaning and maintaining your new countertop. Maybe the biggest factor is to decide what style and the overall look that you are trying to achieve with the new countertop. All of these factors are important and you need to remember that the new countertop is going to be the main focal point of the kitchen.
Normally the first material that you think of for the countertop is granite. Granite is a great choice and maybe the most common but it is important to remember that there are a number of different materials that are available that might work as well. With the new technology, there are a number of new products such as stone, tile, stainless steel, concrete, acrylic, wood, and even laminate.
We will discuss granite first. Granite is by far the most popular of countertops but they are definitely the most costly. Why is this? Granite when polished is the most beautiful surface and it is scratch resistant and withstands heat extremely well. Granite countertops are extremely tough and durable and they are long lasting in their service. Granite will definitely increase and raise the value of the home and they almost never go out of style.
There are several drawbacks to the solid granite counter top. The first problem is that granite itself can be expensive. Granite as a stone is porous and requires a sealer to prevent staining from moisture spills. It is possible to substitute granite tiles in place of solid granite stone. By doing this you will realize substantial cost savings on the installation. Another drawback is that a cutting board must be used with a granite counter top. Cutting directly on the stone or tiles will result in scratches on the counter surface and will definitely dull any knives that are used.
OTHER NATURAL STONES
There are a number of different natural stones that may be used as a countertop. Marble, soapstone, limestone, slate, and quartz are some of the other common stone material that is frequently used as a countertop material.
Marble is a cool and smooth material when finished. It makes a great surface when used in the preparation of food. The disadvantage of marble is the durability of the stone. It will require additional sealing of the surface to prevent severe staining of the counter.
Slate countertops are very durable and are very distinctive when used in the kitchen. Slate is also used as roofing material, therefore, the material is not as porous as other stones and will require less sealing protection when used as a countertop.
Limestone is a porous material so it requires significant sealing when used. It is important to clean a limestone counter quickly when dealing with spills since staining is possible. Limestone has a naturally weathered appearance that tends to darken with time.
Quartz has an appearance similar to slate but has been found to more resistant to stains and does not scratch as easily. There is also a new product that is becoming more popular and that is engineered quartz. This is a quartz composite compound that is mixed with polymers, epoxy, and small pebbles or stones. This produces a material that has a unique appearance and feel. However, there are significant cost increases with this material.
Porcelain tile and glazed ceramic have been found in kitchens for years. The great thing about these products is the variety of shapes, designs, and colors that are available.These tiles come in different sizes, some measuring six inches square and as small as one square inch.This material is very durable and also contain some of the same scratch resistance and heat qualities as granite. Porcelain tiles are more durable than ceramic but they also tend to be more expensive.
There are some drawbacks to tile countertops. They do chip more easily and solid stone and the grout can become an issue. The grout becomes part of the overall appearance of the counter and if it stains, this will affect the look of the counter. It is also possible over time that grout can become damaged and leave the tiles. Tile counters do require a bit of maintenance and upkeep. Because of these issues, it is probably wise to leave the installation of the tiles to a professional installer.
Concrete is a material that in recent years has been found to be adaptable to a number of different uses. It is no longer only used in driveways and sidewalks. You can now use dyes and pigments to produce a product in a variety of colors. When concrete is finished and polished it can become very attractive and almost appear as a natural stone. This concrete product is normally a factory mold type of product but it is possible to pour and mold a countertop on site. It is possible to have any thickness and any shape that you want. These counters are scratch resistant and very resistant to heat. Because of the variety of textures and colors available this makes concrete a flexible and great choice for countertops.
There are some distinct disadvantages of using concrete in the kitchen. Because concrete is such a porous material it is necessary to seal the material on a regular basis. The counter must be treated every couple of months in order to prevent water damage and staining. This makes maintenance on the counter an ongoing and constant problem. Concrete also does not withstand cutting food on it because it can damage knives and leave scars. The last problem is the cost, concrete is expensive.
Stainless steel counters have become the norm today in the food prep business. There are some very good reasons for this. It is water and stain resistant, it is durable, and its availabity in many different shapes and sizes. Stainless steel is also easy to maintain and clean. It has has a high resistance to heat.
The major drawback to stainless steeel being used in a home is the industrial feel and look of the counter. Stainless steel does not withstand cutting on it, it will scratch. Stainless is also susceptible to denting or bending. It is also important to get a counter that is made with the proper amount to nickel and be the correct thickness. The counter should have 8-10% nickel and should be 18 gauge.
Wood countertops are normally referred to as Butcher Blocks. This is a counter that is made from oak or maple strips that have been formed and then glued together to form the block. It should be noted that almost any wood would do, in fact, Bamboo countertops are now quite popular.
Wood counters provide a beautiful, warm homey look and feel to any kitchen. These counters are available in a large variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Even though the wood countertop will reveal cuts and scratches, it is very simple and easy to sand and refinish the top to provide an almost new counter. Wood countertops are an easy installation and are quite reasonable when it comes to cost.
The disadvantages of this type of material are that it does cut or scratch easily. If the surface is not regularly maintained then food could become trapped on the board in the cuts or scratches. This could produce some health problems. It is also possible for the wood to become stained or warp with regular water contact. The counter is going to require regular sealing and maintenance.
Laminate countertops are commonly referred to as Formica. This material is made from a wood or particleboard and has a thin layer of plastic glued to it. These Formica (plastic laminate) counters are lightweight, inexpensive, and are available in an endless supply of patterns and colors. Since the surface is plastic it is simple to clean and are virtually stain proof. Formica is pre-formed, therefore it is a perfect product to install for the do-it-yourselfer.
There are a number of disadvantages of Formica. These countertops are very durable but there can be problems particularly if the installation is not done properly. Although the Formica is stain resistant, they are not resistant to scratches and heat. It is important to use the proper cleaning agents on Formica since abrasive cleaners will dull the surface. Water spots and warping may also occur if the counter is exposed to excessive moisture. Formica counters can also fade or dull over time.
There has also been an increase in countertops that are referred to as “solid surface”. This is a type of counter that is always a custom-designed and made for the project. These include products from such companies as Swanstone, Avonite, and Corian. These countertops are water-resistant, durable, non-porous, easy to clean, and are resistant to bacteria and mold. It is also easy to maintain their appearance since scratches and nicks can be sanded to disappear.
The drawbacks of these counters include high expense, no heat resistance, and the excessive weight of the material. Similar to natural stone these counters will require a substantial cabinet base to bear the weight. There are also some complaints about the fake or unnatural look of the material. This drawback can be overcome by the wide selection of colors that are available.
As I mentioned earlier in the article, there are a number of ways to remodel your kitchen to increase the value of your home. Replacing your countertops is only one, but it is considered a major upgrade. It is possible to make a major statement about the house with new countertops.
The problem with replacing those old countertops is you will really bring attention to the old appliances, cabinets, and flooring. Just remember that any and all changes are just part of a process that will increase the value of your home.