Finding the perfect countertop is complicated since there are many materials with which they are manufactured and all have advantages and disadvantages. Do you know which ones they are?
Without a counter there is no kitchen. It is a fundamental piece in this room of our houses, since it gives it personality and style. That is why choosing a countertop is something we must spend a lot of time on: Understanding the materials, knowing all the options, their pros and cons, and getting an idea of what we want.
In the case of countertops, quality and style are not at odds thanks to the wide range of materials with which it can be manufactured.
In addition, just by changing the countertop you can give your kitchen a new look, so if you are looking to renew it in a simple way, investing in a good countertop can be the perfect solution.
What to consider when buying a countertop
- Height: Probably one of the most important points to watch, since it has to be located at the correct height to be able to use it comfortably every day. The height will be given by the kitchen furniture, since the countertop will rest on them. The height at which they are usually placed is 90 cm from the ground but it can vary depending on your needs.
- Long: The longer the countertop, the more expensive it will cost. So take the measurements well so that you do not need an inch more or less, since falling short can be just as bad.
- Thickness: The thickness of a countertop is usually between 3 and 5 cm, but it can always be greater depending on the material and the style we want to give it.
- Cap: It is a piece that serves as a finish to the countertop in the part in contact with the wall, so that no water, grease or dirt gets between them.
- Trims: When the countertop piece does not end against a wall, a trim is placed on the edge to protect the material from bumps, rubbing, etc.
- Joints: When the countertop has an L shape, it is normal that it is possible thanks to the union of two pieces by means of a joint. They are not very beautiful and tend to accumulate dirt but sometimes there is no choice but to put them with certain materials.
- Holes: In the countertops the sink and the ceramic hob are usually located. For its installation you have to make holes in the middle and that increases the price. A smooth countertop is not the same as one in which we will have to make these holes.
- Cleaning and maintenance: Not all materials are equally suffered. If you are going to cook a lot, it is worth investing in those that are better cleaned, that are resistant and durable.
- Style: In the end, a countertop sets the style of the kitchen. Modern, rustic, more professional ... And the material is essential to achieve it.
- Budget: A countertop made of a natural material does not have the same price as a synthetic one, the size also influences, if we need it to have holes, etc. Think of it as a long-term investment, as countertops can last for decades when well cared for.
The shape of the edges or edges can also be customized in many cases :
- Simple: The countertop ends with a straight cut of the same thickness as the rest of the piece.
- Miter: The edge of the countertop forms a 90º angle that collects furniture or appliances.
- Half round: Instead of finishing straight like the single edge, the edge is rounded at the top, so that the bottom part does have a straight cut.
- Rounded: In this case, the edge is completely rounded, both the upper and lower areas.
- Beveled: Like the half round edge but the edge with straight shapes.
Types of worktop according to material
They are two large groups. Countertops made of natural materials or artificial materials.
Countertops made of natural materials
Stone, mineral and wood are the protagonists of this type of countertop.
Natural stone countertops
The stones that are used to make countertops not only mark different aesthetics but each one has its particularities in terms of cleanliness, resistance, durability, etc. In addition, since it is made of natural stone, its price is higher, but even there are differences.
It is one of the best materials to make a countertop. It is resistant to heat, scratches and withstands impacts perfectly. It will last for many years in good condition.
It can have a polished or rough finish , depending on what we like. As for the colors, it depends on the type of granite but the common and most demanded are gray and black tones.
As for dirt, it supports it quite well as long as we prepare the material for it with a water-repellent and antibacterial treatment. With this, it will be easy and fast to clean it.
When ordering a granite countertop, it must be borne in mind that it will be very heavy , so its transport and placement will be difficult and this increases its price. If you want it to be L-shaped or need a very long countertop, you will probably need to divide it into parts and use gaskets in the assembly.
In addition, the weight of granite also makes it essential that the kitchen furniture on which it will rest is resistant and of quality.
Slate countertops for kitchens
It is not a material that is seen in many kitchens and, nevertheless, the slate is waterproof, heat resistant and supports very well any cleaning product, although being little porous it almost does not require maintenance. It gives a rustic but very elegant touch to any kitchen.
The normal thing when we think of slate is to imagine it in black, but in reality, countertop manufacturers have many more shades such as green, gray or multi-color slate, in which reddish tones can be seen.
But as a disadvantage it has that it is not the most resistant material to impacts and can be scratched . Therefore, you have to work on it carefully.
Because it is an expensive material, it is seen in few kitchens but where it is, it gives a lot of elegance and class. It is a very hard and heat resistant material although it can break if it receives a very strong blow.
It can be found in many different colors and it is easy to achieve a naturally shiny countertop if it is polished.
As a defect, it is a porous surface, which means that any substance that falls on it and is not cleaned quickly, can be absorbed by the marble. It is especially sensitive to acids , so lemon and vinegar are its "enemies".
In addition, that natural shine is lost over time and can only be recovered by polishing it again. Therefore, if you want marble yes or yes, consider choosing a matte marble rather than polished to forget about this.
Soapstone or soapstone countertops
It is another type of veined stone that is a good alternative to granite and marble. Its veins can be quartz or talc. In fact, it is because it is formed with part of talc that its surface is very smooth , almost velvety, and hence it is known as soapstone.
It is non-porous, so it is resistant to dirt and stains without the need to seal it with chemicals. It also resists heat.
The color ranges from bluish gray to black tones and the streaks are from white to yellow tones.
It is a material that can be more expensive than granite but cheaper than marble. Also, it scratches with some ease but it is easy to repair it by sanding the damaged surface.
Lava stone on kitchen countertops
Lava stone, as its name suggests, is extracted from quarries located at the foot of volcanoes such as Etna.
It is very resistant to heat and scratches. It is easily cleaned thanks to its non-porous surface, so it does not absorb stains either.
The downside is that it is a very expensive material due to its exclusivity.
Quartz countertops are the result of mixing natural quartz particles and polyester resin. This is why it is a very hard and resistant material , easy to clean and available in almost all imaginable colors. Although it is true that you have to be careful with direct heat, since it does not support it well and if we leave a hot container on this surface we can damage it.
When we want a rustic touch in the kitchens, the wooden countertop is essential. We can choose between numerous types of wood (walnut, oak, etc.) that will give us different colors and shades. They can be solid wood or wood veneer countertops, the former being more expensive.
As an advantage you have to know that varnishing it from time to time will always look like new.
But it can be scratched easily and it is best not to leave anything hot directly on its surface. Cleaning must be special, since with a cloth and water we will not achieve much. And you have to pay attention to the possible cracks that may appear.
Synthetic materials countertops
Synthetic material countertops are also very numerous. Do not think that because they are not natural, their prices are far from the previous ones. It will depend on the type of material.
Artificial stone countertops
The greatest advantage of artificial stone is that it can be found in many colors and finishes, whether matte, glossy, satin, plain or mottled, etc. The possibilities are very numerous.
In addition, as it is not a porous material, it is very resistant and easy to clean , even more than granite. It does not scratch and lasts very long in good condition
The only flaw is that it is better not to place hot pans or pots on it because it could burn because it is made, in part, with resin.
Laminate or laminate countertops
They are manufactured with chipboard and their surface is covered with a synthetic sheet , so there are many possibilities when choosing their finish. It can imitate stone, wood or be a creative design. For this reason and because of its easy installation it is a very economical option.
However, they are not as resistant to heat or dirt, although with daily cleaning they last a long time in good condition.
Synthetic resin countertops
Created with synthetic resin, as the name suggests, these countertops are also a good option if we have a reduced budget. They resist scratches and bumps well and as they are not made of a porous material, they are easy to clean and stains are not easily marked. They stand the test of time well and there are also many models and colors available.
Heat is your enemy, so it is advisable not to place anything at a high temperature on them, such as a tray just taken from the oven, for example.
Stainless steel countertops
If you are looking to give your kitchen an industrial air , steel countertops will be great for you. In fact, they are the ones used in professional kitchens.
They perfectly withstand high temperatures , are very hygienic and easy to clean.
The disadvantages are that it is easily scratched and that dirt is immediately noticeable on them, as well as fingerprints. But its durability is excellent.
They are still not seen in many kitchens but the trend will soon change since porcelain countertops resist the passage of time very well . They do not suffer from direct heat or burn, stains do not leave marks, do not scratch and are easy to clean.
This is achieved thanks to the fact that it is a combination of stone and glass that results in this ultra-compact surface. It even perfectly supports chemicals for cleaning.
You will find them imitating wood, stone, in solid color , etc., so they can be adapted to the style of any kitchen.
The downside is the price. These are probably the most expensive materials for a countertop.
The glass countertops bring a lot of light to the kitchen when they are in light and neutral tones, although we can find them in almost any color. For a kitchen with a modern and avant-garde air it is a fantastic option.
They are very easily cleaned as they are not a porous surface and they resist heat very well.
Although it is true that it can be scratched, repairing it is very simple. As a drawback, the traces are quite noticeable the darker the color of the glass countertop and if we want a very large or L-shaped countertop we will need joints and they look a lot, making the decorative effect not look so much.
It is a material that withstands shocks well, is waterproof and is easy to clean.
Another advantage is that this material can be applied on existing countertops , so it is perfect if we want a change in style. It can cover tiles or countertops of any other type.
Keep in mind that direct heat can damage its surface, so it is better to protect it from it and also clean it quickly when it gets stained to avoid marks.
As you can see, the world of countertops is very broad. You have to take all the details into account but without a doubt it will be the material you choose that makes the difference in your kitchen.