Get the right countertop material for your new kitchen

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There’s a variety of material choices for homeowners to consider when installing new countertops as part of a kitchen renovation. Not only does each potential material give your home a different look, but it can also add new abilities to your kitchen.

When you select a countertop style during a remodel, it’s important to look at your kitchen needs as well as the benefits that each surface can provide. Custom kitchen and bath designer Sherry Gossett explained in an interview how some of the most popular surfaces can benefit homeowners.

Countertops made of quartz are actually a mixture of about 93 percent of the mineral and 7 percent manmade additives. However, it’s this combination that can make quartz so useful, Gossett said. Quartz countertops are scratch and stain resistant, nonporous and anti-microbial, which prohibits the growth of bacteria on the surface. They come pre-sealed and never require another seal. All of these reasons are why Gossett usually recommends it to her customers.

Most Quartz is very consistent but with today’s technology they are able to get the movement and pattern variety of granite. So it is recommended to view slabs of that nature. The near-sterility has also made the counter popular with people who keep Kosher kitchens. It’s also an incredibly durable product, with some producers offering 15-year warranties.

Gossett advises many homeowners to go with quartz, because in addition to all of its other functional benefits, it’s also stylish.

“If you’re looking for a low-maintenance, beautiful look, go with quartz,” Gossett said.

If quartz is partially manmade, then granite is completely mountain-made. Cut as slabs from quarries and mountains, very little changes before granite makes it to your kitchen. This can add a touch of natural beauty as well as imperfections, which is OK with some, Gossett explained.

“There are natural inconsistencies in granite. Some people find that beautiful and that’s what they love about granite – that’s what makes it natural to them. But for others, it may drive them crazy,” she said.

In most cases the rarer the stone, the more expensive. So even if you choose not to go for the rarest, top-dollar granite, you’re still guaranteed a reliable surface. In addition to having inconsistencies, Gossett pointed to its need to be sealed every few years as its main maintenance requirement.

“Granite is a great material. It’s beautiful. For most people, it’s fine. It is semi-porous and it is a solid surface, however, it does need to be sealed.”

Also, beware of very inexpensive square footage prices of granite as they are usually slabs that may have more natural defects, fissures or even smaller sized remnants that, in a kitchen, may cause you to have many seams. The price may also not include template, fabrication and installation.

Laminate, sometimes referred to by the company name Formica, was common for a long time but fell out of fashion as people started to prefer stone. However, with recent technological advances, laminate has been becoming more popular.

“Laminate has come a long way and people are coming back to laminate because they’ve just gotten so much better. They look like stone now. They really do,” Gossett explained. With the use of high-quality graphics and printing technology, people are able to get laminates that look like stone. Counter edges have even changed with laminates, now allowing people to use stone-like rounded edges. Laminate is a beautiful option at a fraction of the cost of stone.

The only material Gossett strongly advised against was marble, which is porous, scratchable and easily stained. Although beautiful, it isn’t practical for most homes. Gossett recommended quartz that is produced to look like marble as an alternative.

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