Kitchen Counter Tops – Inside or out – There are options galore!
When it comes to choosing your new Kitchen Counter Tops make sure you do your homework and look at your choices considering both design and purpose.
There are many and varied choices in counter tops in both materials and design styles, dependent on your needs. So where do you begin?
A little bit of planning at this point can be very helpful.
What are your primary use for the counter top? Are you willing to consider a top that requires special care and regular maintenance? Or are you looking for basic functionality and ease of use? What about the design elements? Is this an important consideration? Finally, what is your budget?
First, there are a few basic categories or kitchen counter tops with which you should become familiar. Then, you can proceed to discover the various alternatives within each category.
Firstly, one of the most common materials in use today is laminate. Most people have seen these and perhaps you have a laminate counter top.
Secondly, there are solid surface stone tops like, granite, slate, marble and quartz which have surged in popularity in recent years.
Then there are all of the traditional products like natural wood butcher block, stainless steel and copper.
There are also modern innovations in laminates, concrete and variants of solid surface epoxy blends. As kitchens continue to evolve, the options in counter tops continue to expand.
If you’re choosing your counter top for a new outdoor kitchen, you should limit your choices to the types that will weather the storm! Even though your outdoor kitchen will likely have some cover from the elements, you will need to consider the counters tops exposure to sun, rain, snow and humidity, even if indirectly exposed.
Similar to so many home renovation projects, it is important to understand your choices in order to make the best decision. Using a tool such as quinju.com will help in collecting and organizing all information in one place making it easier to evaluate your options. Its free home improvement project software has planning functions to facilitate the process and by having everything in one place that you can access from any device it is like having your home renovation binder with you at all times.
Let’s look at the common types you see every day in many kitchens
This is commonly referred to by various brand names interchangeably.
As for the material, however, they are all high pressure laminates and very similar in composition. This product can be purchased in full sheets, to later be cut and glued to a plywood base.
The more common method today it is to buy factory formed laminate which includes a base of particleboard. The installation of these tops is straight forward enough. The material is easily cut, corners are glued and fastened together and then the top is fastened to the base cabinets.
It is a very economical choice that offers a multitude of colour options in solids, patterns and textures. It can imitate solid surface tops very well. For all these reasons, the homeowner has unlimited opportunities to use this material in various applications in the home. Laminate tops are very easy to care for and resist staining extremely well. However they are easily scratched and are not heat resistant.
Another very common trend today is natural stone or the man-made alternatives. There are many choices in this category with regard to color, style and material.
A top choice for many home owners is Granite. Traditional granite and other stones top the list for being timeless, durable and easy to clean.
Granite is a natural stone that is sliced from solid rocks in quarries around the world. It is then cut, shaped, and polished to form a counter top. A top choice for overall long term performance in that it is extremely hard, stain resistant, naturally antimicrobial, heat resistant and scratch resistant.
Although marble is considered by some to be too soft for kitchens, it is beloved by bakers and adds an element of glamour.
Marble is a softer more porous stones so a glass a red wine, turmeric and even oils can quickly penetrate marble and be almost impossible to remove. The fact that it is a softer stone makes it susceptible to marking and scratching with knives and other kitchen tools.
Despite these challenges, it is still used in kitchens for its beautiful clean white appearance. Also, each piece is unique in the grain and coloration. Marble is often a popular choice for bathrooms for these particular reasons.
Quartz counter tops are a man-made or engineered stone formed by combining a mix of quartz (a natural hard mineral) with resins and pigments. This forms a very hard granite-like surface.
The appearance of the top depends on how the quartz is ground: a coarse grind produces a flecked appearance, while a fine grind produces a smooth even look. This material is extremely hard and durable, non-porous, stain resistant, is easily maintained and can have a glossy sheen.
There are many different brands of engineered solid surface counter top materials on the market. Frequently the brand names are used interchangeably to describe the material.
However, you need to be aware that these are not equal in performance, characteristics or costs. So be sure to understand the differences between the alternatives so that you can choose what suits your application the best.
Another counter top material that is enjoying renewed popularity is butcher block. This material is said to add warmth and rustic elegance.
Butcher-block counter top has been in use for centuries. It is an affordable alternative that is a durable, warm and natural. The trick to a butcher- block counter top is the maintenance required to keep it looking good. Butcher-block is manufactured by laminating strips of wood together to form a solid top.
These can be cut and assembled by end grain, edge grain or flat grain, depending on the look or style you desire. Butcher-block can be made from almost any species of wood but Maple is very popular because of its clear straight grain.
Oak and Cherry are also frequent choices because of their color, grain characteristics and relative hardness of these species.
In many modern kitchen designs, a butcher block top will be used as a design feature, perhaps on an island or as a featured work surface integrated into the overall kitchen top design.
Metal Counter Tops
Some of the more modern-looking trends include an alternate counter top solution that is common in commercial applications, but less so in a residential setting. These are Stainless Steel and Copper.
Stainless is used extensively in food preparation areas in institutions, health care and restaurants because of its durability, ease of cleaning, stain resistance and hypoallergenic properties.
Just like all type of man-made materials, there are various grades. This is the case with stainless, both in the thickness of the material (or gauge as it is referred to for metals) and the metal mix or content of the basic elements.
The most common grades used in counter tops are #304 and #430. These numbers refer the mix of Nickel and Chromium. These tops can be found in various thicknesses, or gauges. The most common of which in this application is 18 or 20 gauge.
A less common counter top treatment is copper. This material is a bit controversial as to it practicality for everyday use, but it is certainly a viable alternative if cost is not an issue.
Copper tends to be expensive. It has its drawbacks as it is soft and will dent easily and is not resistant to commons acids like lemon juice.
However, for its advocates, the beauty of this product is enhanced by those common occurrences of denting and staining. They admire the patina and character of its natural weathering.
Concrete counter tops have continued to gain prominence over the past few years as a growing category. These tops can be fashioned in just about any shape, color and texture you desire.
They are extremely strong, durable, stain resistant and economically priced when compared to many of the solid surface alternatives. These tops are made primarily from concrete but will also contain pigment or polymers and sometimes chips or granules of other stone products are added for contrast and design.
The concrete top is formed in a melamine mold by hand. The way the concrete is layered into the mold can create various textural styles in the finished top. After the top is removed from the mold it is polished and treated. It can then be installed in your kitchen just like any other solid surface top.
For more details on concrete tops and how its made check out concretenetwork.com.
Concrete is very durable and has the added ability to withstand changes in temperature, humidly and wet conditions. These characteristics make concrete an excellent choice for any of your outdoor working surfaces, like that prized outdoor kitchen or BBQ prep area. This type of top can also be constructed by the average-skilled DIY’er and can be a fun and rewarding project that will make a great addition to any backyard setting.
In the end, outdoor or in, there are many options when it comes to kitchen counter tops. Take a look and get inspired. Your dream-kitchen awaits!
So let’s get going, dream it, do it, share it with quinju.com!