5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Countertop

A person who is having a new home built, buying a previously owned home or renovating the home that they have will need to consider what to do about the kitchen countertops. In the last two instances, the homeowner has the option of simply leaving them in place if they are in fairly good shape. But in the case of a newly built home or counters that are going to be replaced, the homeowner should ask the five following questions:

Is the kitchen going to be used frequently?

A family that is going to actually going to use the kitchen as a place to prepare, cook and eat food will need a sturdy countertop. This countertop won’t be irreparably damaged by spills, heat, knife cuts, abrasive or harsh cleansers or pots and pans that are inadvertently dropped on it.

Do I mind high maintenance counters?

Countertops made of porous material such as granite, marble or non-vitreous ceramic tile need to be sealed every few years to protect them from even mild acids such as wine or vinegar. The homeowner can do this task themselves, or have a professional come in and do the job. A stone counter that is stained can be repaired by applying a poultice, but stone that is chipped needs to be repaired by a professional. It is possible for the homeowner to replace a damaged ceramic tile. Knowing the batch number of the tile will help make the replacement an exact match of the surrounding pieces.

How much can I afford to spend on a countertop?

Stone countertops are expensive, even if they are made of non-porous stone. Other types of counters that cost are porcelain, stainless steel and solid surfacing. Laminate surfaces are not as expensive, but they do not resists stains and scratches as well.

Are the floor cabinets sturdy enough to support the countertop?

Stone counters are heavy and require floor cabinets that are strong enough to support them. The homeowner may need to have a contractor assess the strength of the cabinets if they want an all stone countertop. The cabinets may need to be reinforced or replaced with tougher ones.

What sort of material should be used for the countertops?

There is a wealth of material that can be made into a good, durable countertop. They include:

Granite and Marble
The first is an igneous stone formed in volcanos, while the second is a metamorphic rock changed over eons from limestone. They are both beautiful, come in a rainbow of colors and are all but indestructible. It is possible that a countertop made of one of these stones will outlast the house. But they need to be sealed to protect them from etching and staining, and they should not be washed with acidic or alkaline cleansers. A homeowner can know when the stone needs to be sealed because a drop of water sinks into it instead of beads on top of it.

Laminate
Because laminates are both durable and inexpensive, they are the most common type of countertops for the kitchen. They are made by bonding a laminate sheet over a particle core. Some come with a backlash already attached. Though they are not scratch and stain proof, a homeowner can choose a laminate countertop that makes these flaws hard to see. These would have light colors, matte finishes and interesting patterns.

Solid Surface
These are acrylic resins that are poured into molds, so they can have integral sinks and drainboards. As with stone counters, solid surface counters can only be installed by a professional. If the homeowner tries to install the counter, it will void the warranty.

Solid surface counters can be pricey, but they’re very easy to take care of. Burns and stains can actually be removed with sandpaper or steel wool.

Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is an alloy of steel, chromium and other metals that gives it both a shine and a resistance to rust and corrosion. A stainless steel countertop is also easy to clean and does not mind having hot pots and pans placed directly on it. To protect the counter from dents, it should be at least 1/16 of an inch thick.

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About the author: Wifred Murray

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