A Closer Look at Kitchen Counter Tops (Part 3: Natural Materials from Wood, Metals, Concrete)

Closing out the breakdown of the endless possibilities for kitchen counter materials, we take a closer look at some interesting alternatives that may have some drooling for that unique and custom look.  Having seen some of these options like stainless steel and concrete myself, I know my wish list is growing!

Butcher’s block
A chef’s dream, a butcher block looks and acts like a wood cutting board.

Upside:  Easy to cut on but leaves scratches

Downside:  water and heat damage is an issue so a smaller area for butcher block may be considered; scratches and cuts will be noticeable but can be reduced by treating with mineral or linseed oil periodically and can possibly be sanded out depending on thickness.

Cost:  Expect $40-150 psf

Stainless steel
Ideal for a clean, industrial look and blends well with most any color given its neutrality.  This surface is alloy steel that contains a dash of chromium to make it rust-resistant. Stainless steel is typically attached to plywood decking to provide strength and deaden its sound.

Upside:  heat and water resistant; easy to maintain.

Downside: Scratches and cuts are not repairable so you shouldn’t cut on them. Plus, they can be noisy and dent if banged with a pot if they are not supported properly.

Copper
Like stainless steel, copper can give a polished look to your kitchen. Copper is much softer than stainless steel and can warp or dent.  Scratches are considered part of the patina, so you don’t need to worry about them. Over time, copper will change color so you’ll need to polish it or embrace the new shade.

Cost: $85-200 psf

New Trends to watch:

Glass
Tempered glass counter tops mix function and fashion and give kitchens a modern look. Consider a bar top or as a back-splash to minimize maintenance but retain the fashionable look.

Upside:  Available textured, sandblasted, etched or grooved, glass is sanitary since it’s non-porous

Downside:  Though it’s easy to clean it may be hard to keep it looking spotless and free of scratches. Glass is heat resistant and water resistant but can crack if something is dropped.

Cost: $60-300 psf

Concrete

It may sound like something out of Bedrock, but concrete is practical and versatile.  It is easy to shape to any custom layout since it is cast on site. Made entirely of natural materials, this hardened mixture of water, cement, sand, stone and pigment and gaining popularity.

Upside: Heat, scratch and crack-proof;  can be finished in any color, texture or style.

Downside:  Some types may be expensive and requires regular sealing to resist water and staining.  Newly poured counters are more sensitive to heat damage so curing time is important.

Cost: $80-150 psf

If you missed the first parts:

http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/06/15/a-closer-look-at-kitchen-counter-tops-part-1-natural-stone/

http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/06/17/a-closer-look-at-kitchen-counter-tops-part-2-solid-surface-tile-and-laminate/

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A Closer Look at Kitchen Counter Tops (Part 2: Solid Surface, Tile and Laminate)

Continuing our review of the vast options available for kitchen counter top materials, let’s take a closer look at solid surface, tile and laminate.

Solid Surface:

Corian: A trademarked brand of solid surface material, this type of counter is made of solid synthetic sheets formed by mixing a mineral compound with polyester and/or acrylic resins and is color consistent

Upside:  custom-made to fit your space; any nicks and scratches can be sanded out and is stain-resistant. Available in a wide range of colors, textures and patterns

Downside:  Can be expensive; doesn’t have the same look and feel as natural stone.  May crack when exposed to hot pots, will stain or scratch  but can be scrubbed or sanded out

Cost:  About $40-$90 per square foot.

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A Closer Look at Kitchen Counter Tops (Part 1: Natural Stone and Natural Stone Blends)

The choices are endless it seems for materials that can be used for kitchen counter tops.  Before making that big decision, there are some important questions that you should consider as discussed earlier here:

http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/06/01/kitchen-countertop-surface-questions/

Keeping these questions in mind, lets take a closer look at the characteristics of the different materials to choose from, starting with what nature has to offer in natural stones and natural stone blends.

Natural Stone:

Granite Still a very popular choice in natural stone

Upside:  durable, easy to keep clean and looks beautiful.  You can cut on it, roll dough on it, and place a hot pot in it

Downside: Can be expensive and prices will vary based upon stone choice and size of slab.  Some varieties are more prone to staining or etching and will require routine sealing.

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9 questions you should ask when picking your ideal kitchen countertop surface

Itching to update your kitchen with new counter tops?  The choices are plentiful with many new exciting trends to watch.  To help make the process less intimidating and more rewarding later, I believe it is important to first ask yourself some questions  about the types of surface choices and how they may suit your needs.

9 Questions you should ask yourself to ensure a perfect match for your new kitchen counter top surface:

1) Feel: Do you want your counter to be smooth vs textured?

2) Appearance:  Do you desire a solid or consistent color vs  more natural that has granules, veining or that’s patterned?

3) Material: Do you want a natural vs manmade material?

4) Durability:  Can I chop, slice, and dice directly on my counter tops?

5) Water resistance:  Will I want to roll dough directly on them?

6) Heat Resistance:  Can I set hot pots directly on them?

7)  Stain Resistance:  Can I spill lemon,  orange juice or red wine on them?

8)  Maintenance:  Do I have the time and diligence to reseal them routinely?

9)  Do I want an integral sink that matches the countertop?

Over the next few days, I’ll be discussing the various choices in surface types, along with the pros and cons of each including projected costs.  In the meantime, please feel free to ask a question or provide feedback.