Choosing counter top materials is not so complicated. The least expensive is laminate. That is wonderful surface actually. There are so, so many “looks” to choose from: shiny metal to granite look, different edge style and different finishes. My favorite was the granite look with copper high-lights and with raster finish. On that counter it was wonderful to bake buns and pastries and it was very easy to clean. With laminate you have to be careful with about seams and hot pans. It lasted nine years in my active use.
One house I had a dark granite ( Uba Tuba) counter. It really looked great when it was clean and shiny. But sealing it very often and polishing it every day was a lot of work. I had a dishwasher under the counter where I baked so when appliance was on it heated the counter and my buns were rising great. On the other hand when counter was cold it was perfect for baking pastries. On the negative side I broke many crystal glasses on the hard surface and it was noisier in the kitchen due to the hard surface. I'd never put hot pan on it. Also I liked less the fact that the counter works like a mirror and showed all cabinet under lights. In one kitchen I had white, sparkling quartz counter top, it was beautiful. It was so easy care, no sealants and showed food deliciously. It was more expensive than granite, but worth it. But again it echoed in the kitchen and glassware breaks easily
Then I was thinking to use two different materials as counters. For the first time I had massive wood counter and laminate together. My kitchen did not have echo. The wood counter was great to bake on and no glasses were broken if/when dropped on it. I was surprised how easy it was to take care of after the first oil/wax treatment. It was very affordable solution - excellent value.
Today’s solid surface counters are also beautiful. It could look like Carrera marble. I cannot find seams and even the sinks can be made of the same material. Also they are not so hard as quartz or granite so there is much less echo. If something happens to the surface it is easy to sand and repair. Soapstone counter top has great natural look. Many times also the sink is made of the same material.
Soapstone counter top has great natural look. Many times also the sink is made of the same material. If you are not waxing soapstone surfaces (which darkens and bring more depth) it will eventually show all stains especially oily stains and in the long run it will not look stylish any more. Also the material is “softer” so hitting the surface accidentally with a pan or something else could result missing a piece or making a scratch. Cost-wise it is close to quartz.
Concrete counters are also available. They are totally custom made. You can get different colours and finishes. Sinks are integrated also. They are heavy. I found cleaning them more challenging. I will give same points for noise and breakage as granite and quartz. They look modern and cool. I have never chosen marble counter because of staining and sensitivity for acidic liquids. Also it needs sealants and I like to avoid chemicals
Next time I will share my experiences with back-splashes.
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