Countertop : The Definitive Guide 2018

Kitchen Countertop girl BeautiCountertops are made to be beautiful and durable at the same time! This 2018 definitive guide to the pros and cons of each class leading countertop material will blow you away with the stark differences each stone type has to offer. You’ll be guaranteed to find the right stone choice for your countertop and hopefully get the bigger picture on the surface that can change your kitchen or even bar lifestyle forever! Kickstart the mid-year off by having your countertop looking as good as you are! Lets get started!

What Type Of Countertop are you looking for?

1. Quartz
2. Granite
3. SoapStone
4. LimeStone
5. Marble
6. Laminate Countertops
7. Solid Surface
8. Recycled Glass

1. Quartz

quartz countertop

Quartz is an engineered stone made of quartz crystals and resins. Its durability and beautiful natural finish make it a favorite for homeowners who prefer a stunning but relatively maintenance free countertop.

 

Pros

  • Quartz is abundant mineral and therefore cheaper than granite and marble.
  • Quartz can have many colors depending on the chemical composition of the minerals, and
  • All patterns are synthetically achieved, making it gradations consistent throughout a slab. You have the option of choosing subdued monotones or striking colours
  • Quartz countertops are a simple mixture of 93% crushed quartz rocks and 7% resin binders and colour additives.
  • Appears to be a naturally occurring slab and looks rich.
  • It is stronger than granite and more flexible, so it doesn’t  chip as easily as granite does

 

Cons

  • Quartz is made in standard slabs and the seams get pretty obvious. A darker colour can help you hide seams, but lighter colours and bold patterns can make seams harder to hide.
  • Quartz is simply less naturally attractive than granite. There are many quartz options that mimic granite but it’s rather poorly done.
  • At a similar price point to granite, which is rather sad considering it’s not as pretty.

[Credit : Pros and Cons Quartz- all you need to know]

Cleaning Regimen

  • Since it is nonporous, it is relatively easy to clean with mild soap and water.
  • Quartz can withstand oil, tomato sauce, ketchup, wine, coffee, juices and other stain producing liquids.
  • Non-porosity means there is no risk of bacteria and viruses

 

Maintenance Regimen

There is no need to reseal quartz at all. Just buff it once in six months. It’s mostly maintenance free.

 

Popularity

It’s currently the most popular Countertop material. It is also considered to be the most child-friendly countertop as its durable, hides stains well and is non-porous with the one caveat of not being scratch resistant.

 

2. Granite

Granite is an igneous rock, with visible grains that create contrasting perforations. When cut as a slab, it forms a stunning centerpiece for any kitchen. In fact, for a time, it was the most sought-after countertop material.

 

Pros

  • Colours, striations and veining are available in an endless variety.  Between the light and dark shades, there are so many you can choose from.
  • The most stunning natural stone on the market.
  • Highly durable and can quite possible outlast your house if taken care of properly. If you chip it (You are freakishly strong, but we understand it happens), we recommend keeping the piece and having it glued on by professionals at Stone Amperor.
  • For the most part, they’re heat resistant so you don’t have to worry about scorch marks from pans.
  • Granite is pretty hard so knives won’t damage your

 

Cons

  • Slabs are a maximum of 3 meters long and 2 meters wide. So for larger area’s, seams may become very apparent. You can always opt for a darker colour to make the seamless noticeable, but a natural stone is unique, so it will never match completely.
  • If pots have grease on them or any organic liquid, it can seep into the porous granite and stain the surface.
  • So, remember when I said, your knives can do no harm to granite? Well, it turns out, granite can do more harm to your knives. It can dull your knives.
  • Granites hardness, though typically an asset, can be a real problem if you have glass bowls, china or wine glasses. A slight tap when placing the bowl on the countertop and you can create a hairline crack, and this can propagate into an even bigger crack.
  • Any natural stone has a slight risk of carrying radioactive materials like Radon. Have your slabs tested in the warehouse before installation?

[Credit : Pros and Cons Granite – all you need to know]

Cleaning regime

  • Stick to cleaners that are pH neutral. Try a damp dishcloth with warm soapy water.  
  • Never use an abrasive cleaner or anything too acidic or alkaline. You don’t want to scratch or strip the seal, leaving it exposed and vulnerable to seepage and stains.
  • Organic liquids like alcohol, vinegar, citrus juices and cooking oil can penetrate the seal and seep into the surface, discoloring it. Blot them up immediately. Never wipe because that simply spreads stains.

 

Maintenance

Granite needs to be resealed once every six months. You need an impregnating stone sealer that works on all stone surfaces and does not alter the color.

  • Clean your countertop with a stone cleaner, and let it dry completely.
  • Apply the sealer to a dry, clean and lint-free cloth, and wipe down the entire countertop surface including the edges.
  • Wait for 5 to 10 minutes before applying the second coat, and you’re done.
  • Wait 24 hours for the repellant effect to take hold, before preparing food on the countertop.

Watch this video for further explanations

Price Point

Granite is one of the most expensive materials in the market, with prices ranging between $100 to $300 USD. The installation also commands a hefty sum as a single mistake can botch the slab, and you’d need a new one. Another costly expense is building strong cabinets that can take the load of granite.

 

3. Soapstone

 

Soapstone is a mineral rock with a milky grey rustic appearance. As a quarried natural stone, it has beautiful veinings, making it a simple but elegant option. It’s a steatite stone that has mineral traces of chlorite, magnesite, dolomite and talc. Soapstone with more talc tends to be softer and is typically used by sculptors.

 

Pros

  • Soapstone is beautiful and versatile, with solid shades of white or black with contrasting veinings. It’s a great look for rustic or eclectic kitchens.
  • It lasts long and is very durable. Though soapstone is softer than granite, it is more pliable and less brittle.
  • Being non-porous, soapstone does not need any sealing, only some periodic oiling for better aesthetics.
  • As it grows older, it gets much darker and produces a beautiful and natural patina.

 

Cons

  • Slightly maintenance prone, because to avoid spotty darkening, you will have to oil the entire surface evenly
  • A rough surface can chip your china and glassware. Opt for a smooth finish.
  • You won’t get a wide selection of colours. If you like bold patterns, you would be hard-pressed to find them.  

 

Cleaning Regimen

Since its non-porous, all you need is a mild soap with warm water and a dish rag. It is inert in nature so you can breathe a sigh of relief when working with fresh fruits, acids and meats.

 

Maintenance

Periodically rub down with mineral oil to maintain lustre.

 

Price point

It costs around the same price range as low-end granite, at $75 to $115.

 

4. Limestone

This natural stone is a beautiful light colour with a marble-like texture. Used in constructing some of the most beautiful buildings of yesteryear, limestone has a way of tempering bold interiors with a soft earthy tone.  

 

Pro’s

  • Limestone is very adaptable and easy to mold without considerably affecting construction.
  • Bears a similar resemblance to marble, with white, sandy and pearly shades.

 

Cons

  • Very fragile compare to granite and quartz. Because it’s so soft, its prone to scratching so always use a cutting board
  • Needs a fair bit of maintenance to prevent water damage, including quarterly resealing.
  • The biggest issue with limestone its that its a carbonate, so it will react violently with anything that has acid. Food juices, vinegar and meat may become a problem.

 

Cleaning Regimen

  • Using a microfiber cloth, dab some pH Neutral cleaner and wipe it all over the counter. let the cleaner sit on the surface for about 20 minutes, without letting it dry. Re-apply if necessary. For hard to remove stains or grease spots, use a limestone compatible alkaline cleaner.  Either item can be found at your nearest limestone countertop supplier.
  • Using the same microfibre cloth scrub the surface gently.  If you don’t have a microfiber cloth, use a soft-bristled plastic scrub brush.
  • Using warm water, rinse the surface of the countertop and wipe dry with a microfiber cloth.

 

Maintenance

  • Before applying your sealer and sure your countertop surface is dry and clean.  if your limestone happens to be very porous, you might have to let it dry for between 24 to 72 hours.  This will make sure that you do not trap in any moisture into the limestone.
  • Using a cotton cloth dab a thin coat of sealer,  and wipe down the entire countertop early without missing a spot.  Let the sealer seep into the limestone for 15 to 30 minutes. check the entire countertop for streaks,  and reapply a bit of sealer to wipe them off.
  • Apply two to three coats of sealer. If your countertop happens to be honed or textured surface then you may need to apply more than 3 coats.
  • Do not use your countertop for at least 24 hours,  so your sealer drives thoroughly.

Price Points

Prices can between $60 to $75 USD per square foot.

 

Recommendations

Limestone has become trendy for use in bathroom vanities. There is a general consensus online that limestone can be troublesome for kitchen countertops.

5. Marble

This is the darling of countertop materials. Oh my granite which is an igneous rock, marble is metamorphic.  This means millennia of heat and pressure applied to limestone created marble. Carrara marble is a basic form of marble that is off-white and cheaper than the Calcutta and statuary marble that have dense and deep veining.

 

Pros

  • The most stunning natural stone known to man.  It’s beautiful creamy colour with bold beautiful veining,  will draw all eyes on it.
  • Marble is relatively heat resistant.  you don’t have to worry about scorching as it can hold it’s on against hot pots and pans.   Thinking of using it as a bathroom vanity? you don’t have to worry about setting your hair straightener or curling iron on it, as long as it doesn’t remain on the marble for long. in fact, due to its heat resistance, it is ideal for fireplaces.   It does not yellow from prolonged periods of heat exposure and can withstand the occasional spark.
  • Despite marbles proclivity for scratches,  it remains one of the few countertop materials that can be sanded down and polished again.
  • You can have your custom marble slabs engraved with a pattern of your choosing.

 

Cons

  • It’s best to stick to white or off-white colours and avoid darker shades of marble. any acid spillage or etching will be more prominent on a  dark surface.
  • Marble is hard but also quite brittle.  its corners can chip in a very easy, so it’s best to keep beveled or curved edges.
  • It can be quite prone to scratching so it’s best to use a chopping board for food preparation.
  • Marble will, however, patina with age. Many people don’t see this as a negative,  as there are a charm and allure to old marble.

 

Cleaning Regimen

Floor Polishing

  • Always wipe stains and liquids on marble surfaces as soon as possible. Orange juice wine and coffee are your enemies.
  • Food particles to give off a strong colour,  like human curry powder coffee grounds and leafy greens should be wiped up immediately.
  • A simple cleaning method would be to use a damp cloth water to remove spills and dust particles.
  • Wipe the surface dry without leaving any drops or streaks of water.  
  • For any rigorous cleaning, use a light soap or marble cleaner and wipe it into your surface with a soft non-abrasive cloth.
  • If you’re using light or white coloured marble, hydrogen peroxide is a safe cleaner choice.
  • To get that extra shine on your marble, use a chamois cloth.  Chamois can dry and shine your marble surfaces at the same time. 
  • A really useful trick to stain removal is to apply poultice.  Poultice is a thick paste made of baking soda and water. Apply the poultice liberally to the scratched or stained area and cover it with a plastic wrap,  leaving it for 24 hours to rest. Remove the plastic and check the results.
  • If you’re battling 3 spots, try sprinkling a bit of cornstarch or over it and let it sit for about 20 minutes.  The cornstarch should absorb degrees and make it easy for you to wipe it away with a damp cloth.

Maintenance

To remove scratches, try the following:

  • Be your regular cleaning Regimen,  use ultra-fine sandpaper and rub the area lightly.

 

Here is how you can reseal your marble countertops:

  • Using a store-bought marble cleaner,  spray the counter down and rub it gently with a soft cloth to dry. This will remove any impurities and dust particles,  that could ruin the sealing process.
  • When using a marble sealer,  ensure you have as much ventilation as possible.  Marble sealers have high levels of volatile organic compounds that can make you nauseous. Pour the desired amount into a container you can easily dip a paintbrush into.
  • Using a clean dry paint brush, paint the sealer onto the counter ensuring that you overlap your strokes to prevent any streaking. Allow the sealer to dry for 15 minutes,  before applying the second coat.
  • Reseal your marble countertops every 2 months,  to keep it looking pristine.

 

Price Points

Unfortunately mobile has some of the highest prices on the market,  with average cheaper options going for $40 per square foot, and the top of the line luxury options at a staggering $100 per square foot. It truly is the price for opulence.

6. Laminated Countertops

Laminate,  commonly referred to as Formica, is a decorative sheet made of paper, resin and plastic sheeting that is bonded to plywood substrate,  or countertop particle boards to create a laminate countertop.

 

Pros

  • Laminates are the least expensive option for countertops. If you’re the kind of person that likes to change up their house decor every few years,  then laminate is a great option for you.
  • Laminate is also very easy to install.  if you have a little DIY in you, you can install them in a brand new ply board,  or even on an existing laminate countertop.

 

Cons

  • Laminates are prone to scratching and are very easy to damage. So you’d best be on your guard when working with knives and sharp objects.
  • Laminate is far from heat resistant.  Hot pans and boiling grease can melt it in seconds.
  • Laminates also do very little for your resale value.  So if you’re thinking to sell the property, laminates won’t get you very far.

 

Cleaning regimen

Here’s what to do for daily cleaning

  • Using mild liquid detergent gently wipe down the laminate with a soft cloth.
  • Be careful not to use too much water, as it may penetrate the seams and cause the laminate to swell up and crack.
  • Avoid using any highly acidic or alkaline cleaners, with the exception of diluted vinegar for grease stains.
  • To remove stains, make a routine of baking soda and mild cleaner, and apply it to the stain. Give it 5 minutes before rinsing it with a soft non-abrasive cloth.
  • Never ever use steel wool on laminate surfaces.  This can cause more staining as the surface will become more porous.
  • Inkblots and stubborn stains need nail polish remover.  Use a cotton ball to rub the stain out.

 

Maintenance

  • Following a thorough cleaning,  apply a tablespoon of gel-gloss to a sponge.
  • Using circular motions wipe the gloss all over the laminate countertop, and don’t miss a spot.
  • With a dry cloth,  write down all the excess sealant from the surface.

7. Solid Surface

granite kitchen tops

Solid Surface is this amazing man-made material that’s a composite of acrylic epoxy,  polyester resins and other chemical combinations and pigments. They were created for the sole purpose of being a countertop and can mimic the appearance of natural stones like marble and granite.

 

Pros

  • Solid surfaces engineered to be the most durable countertop material ever.  It is relatively impact resistant, so there’s no need to worry about cracks,  chips or any fissures that can propagate.
  • Solid surfaces are also non-porous, So bacteria or water damage from sink installations, will not be a problem.
  • It is the easiest to clean and can take soapy water and mild abrasive house cleaners with very little long-term maintenance.
  • Solid Surface is readily scratch-resistant, so knife scratches and cigarette burns can be easily sanded out.
  • Unlike natural stones,  Solid Surface can be made seamless and can be easily fabricated into any space.

 

Cons

  • Unfortunately,  this revolutionary countertop material has a fatal flaw.  It is not as heat resistant as one would hope. Though it can handle boiling hot water and pans that have hot water in them, the high temperatures of boiling oil,  or pots and pans that have dry heat, can cause scorch marks and even melt.
  • Solid Surface is relatively resistant to typical kitchen acids and alkalis from food preparation,   like lime juice and vinegar. However, stronger chemical compounds like nail polish, paint removers,  sinner lacquers oven cleaners can severely damage your countertop.

Watch this video for the Pros and cons of Solid Surface

Cleaning Regimen

For daily cleaning

  • Regularly wipe down your countertop with a damp microfiber cloth.
  • Use a mild dish soap and warm water to get rid of any dirty or stained areas.
  • To prevent any streaks or water spots,  dry thoroughly with a towel.

 

For Stain Removal

  • Use liquid mild abrasive cleaner so difficult stains.
  • If your Solid Surface has a matte finish,  try cleaning it with a baking soda and water paste.

 

Price Point

Solid Surface is relatively inexpensive to buy, but costly to install. this material needs professional assistance,  and installation can cost anywhere between $50 to $200 per square foot.

8. Recycled Glass

This is a relatively new material to hit the countertop market. Recycle glass is beautiful and eco-friendly, with more homeowners installing it every year.  Crushed glass chips embedded in concrete and encased in a tough but durable acrylic.

 

Pros

  • Recycled glass countertops are extremely eye-catching,  and can give you bold and contemporary looks, or even subtle and subdued striations.
  • it is very hard and durable, so it does not stain easily.
  • Recycled glass is easy to clean and non-porous,  and with some light re-sealing, the concrete is stain resistant.

 

Cons

  • Unfortunately,  recycled glass is fairly expensive and installation costs can be substantial.  you will need professional installers.

 

Price Point

The material itself is usually priced at about $50 to $80 per square foot. This, however, does not include installation,  and you will require professional service.

 

Butchers Block

Butcher’s Block is made of wood that is glued together to make a stable sturdy countertop surface.  It comes in three types: Edge grain, face grain, and end grain which illustrates how the wood was glued together. End grain pieces tend to be more expensive as they camouflage knife marks and are gentle on blade ages. For countertops, it’s best to use unsealed butcher block.

 

Pro

  • Wood countertops are warm and beautiful,  which is why many homeowners opt for it.
  • There are many different types of wood,  and each has their own character. Hardwood like maple and cherry oak or teak have beautiful finishing.
  • Recycled wood is an eco-friendly option for countertops.

 

Cons

  • Butcher’s Block needs regular sealing,  and if done incorrectly, is friendly for germs and bacteria.
  • It is also prone to water damage, So it needs constant treatment with mineral oils or other protectants.
  • It is very scratch prone, and through your knives are safe from dulling,  your countertop can sustain a lot of scratches over time.

 

Cleaning Regimen

  • Remove any food residue with a plastic scraper,  and avoid gouging the wood.
  • Using mild dish soap, hot water and a scrub brush or sponge,  scrub down the entire countertop thoroughly
  • Rinse the countertop with hot water and a clean dishcloth.
  • Spray undiluted vinegar onto the surface and let it sit for 15 minutes before wiping it off with a clean damp dishcloth.
  • Dry the entire countertop surface with a clean cloth or paper towel.

 

Maintenance

  • After cleaning your butcher block surface and sanitising with vinegar,  make a lemon salt mixture by mixing a quarter of a cup of salt with enough lemon juice to make a paste.
  • Scrubs the best charity into your butcher’s block with a scrubbing brush to remove old is and bleach out stains.   add more lemon juice if the mixture gets too dry.
  • Seal the entire butcher block with mineral oil, by rubbing in a small amount using a cloth or paper towel.  As the block continues to “drink” oil, keep reapplying till it stops.
  • After checking to see if no more oil can soak in,  remove any excess oil with a cloth.

 

Price Point

Butcher block can cost anywhere between $40 to $60 and lasts a lifetime.