There are countertop options in all colors, styles and materials. What goes with what? A couple of things are going to influence your ultimate decision – how long are you staying in the house? How much time do you spend in the kitchen and what do you do there? And what can you afford? A Marling HomeWorks designer can help with your decision and quote several options for you.
Typically, the most economical option is laminate. Today’s laminate is not your parents laminate! You can get decorative edges, high definition finishes, and colors that mimic marble and granite. You can even get an undermounted sink. One of the knocks on laminate is that the tops don’t have the solid “feel” of natural stone, quartz or even solid surface.
The price point of laminate means you can change it out in a couple of years and not break the bank. Laminate is a thin layer of melamine resin on top of a decorative layer with the design on it and then stacks of craft paper with hardeners and resins on top of a board. It is great for DIYers if your cabinets are level, you order the right size and if you are doing an island – you remember to get end caps. But you need to remember its paper and resin, so it can chip on the ends or get gouged if you drop something on it. Laminate will scorch and if you are really liberal with water usage you may have swelling issues. Each of the laminate companies have a patented “finish” but many of the colors are similar. The best-known laminate manufacturers are Formica, Wilsonart, Pionite and Nevamar.
A number of the laminate companies also make material for vertical applications including leather and decorative metal. There are also chalkboard laminates and laminates with a “white board” finish so you can color or write on them and then wipe it off.
Moving up on the cost scale takes us to solid surface or acrylic. The most recognized name is Corian, but Formica also makes a solid surface as does Wilsonart, Staron, Avonite and Hi-Macs. Solid surface is made by mixing acrylic polymers and pouring the mixture into a mold. The slab can then be “fabricated” to different shapes. Some of the solid surface companies also add polyester to the mix to produce some vibrant colors or a surface that is semi-transparent and can be backlit. There have been innovations in the past several years to get more “movement” veining and swirls, in solid surface but there are still limitations to the color palate. Although it is cheaper than granite or quartz, a full kitchen with a decorative edge and an incorporated sink can still carry a hefty price tag.
You can get a molded-in sink with solid surface and the backsplash area can be “coved” so there is no seam. Solid surface can be scratched, but the benefit of solid surface is the scratches can be buffed out. As the name implies, it is a solid color all the way through so you won’t be buffing down to a layer that is a different color. Like laminate, it will scorch.
Granite or natural stone is priced on how easy the color is to get and how much of it can be quarried. Some of the really exotic granites can cost as much as quartz. Quartz is generally at the top of the price scale, but it has the highest resale value and it requires little maintenance.
Granite needs to be sealed, but it does come with a seal from the fabricator that can last for more than 10 years. While the big box stores may give a square foot price, most design houses quote on the project. A square-foot price quote factors in how much of a slab a project will use. If your project would use 7/8ths of a slab and the last bit wouldn’t be useful – the store is going to figure in the waste into your square foot cost. A quote based on the project should just include the material used. Cost varies depending on the edge profile you want. There will be seams and that’s another thing to watch for when you are getting a project quoted. Marling HomeWorks designers work with fabricators who will do the longest run possible so there are fewer seams. Big box stores tell the fabricator they need to make a certain price and that may mean lots of seams – even on an island.
Quartz is a manufactured “stone” containing pulverized rock mixed with resins and then made into an extremely strong slab of material using heat and pressure. It has a continuity of surface meaning the pattern is consistent – while you may pick your granite slab and be fairly certain of the color, fabricating can bring up some different colors and textures because that’s just the way Mother Nature decided to stack those materials.
Granite also has pores so heat and a break in the integrity of the seal means wine, tomato sauce, orange juice or whatever can get into your stone and its going to stay there. Quartz is diamond polished and it is tough to nearly impossible to break the integrity of the surface. Many restaurants use quartz countertops because they are easily cleaned and there’s virtually nowhere for bacteria to hide.
If you are considering a kitchen upgrade with new countertops, a Marling HomeWorks designer can help with colors and price. Design services are complimentary, so what are you waiting for?
Laminate gives a lot of different options to a homeowner. This is Formica - River Gold
Laminate patterns mimic natural stone and there are a number of decorative edges available.
This is Meganite, which is a brand of solid surface. Some solid surface companies are making colors that look a lot like crushed stone products that contain recycled glass.
Solid surface companies are trying to get more movement in their products - tough with a poured molded product. This is one of the newer Corian colors - Dune Prima
This is Uba Tuba granite. A common color because it is readily available in a number of quarries around the United States.
This is Cobra granite, a more unusual color but there are a number of other granite colors which are very close. Be careful if you are looking on line for colors - you will soon see a lot of the granite colors have a lot of variations between suppliers.
Quartz has a uniform surface. There are some quartz companies that are doing softer or honed finishes on their products. Quartz companies include Cambria, Hanstone, Caesarstone, Viatera, Silestone, Wilsonart, and Corian Quartz. This is Cambria's Waterford.
Although a lot of DIY shows seem to feature marble as a countertop, marble has a lot of issues. It is soft, it scratches and it discolors. That's why the quartz companies are doing their best to show lots of new "marble" colors. This is Caesarstone's Staturio Nuvo.
If you want to go green, there are recycled products that are in the Quartz family. This is Dekton which has a great industrial look and a matte finish.