The first thing people notice about kitchen countertops is their appearance—and it’s true that countertops are an important part of the kitchen’s overall look and feel. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Countertops are probably the most important part of your kitchen in functional terms. They have so many purposes to serve.
The perfect countertop for your kitchen should:
Look great — Your countertops are a focal point for the appearance of your kitchen. A spacious, attractive countertop can make the difference between a kitchen that looks “gourmet” and one that looks ordinary.
Be durable — Kitchen countertops get a lot of wear and tear—maybe more than any other surface in the home. Unless they’re truly built to last, the wear and tear will soon begin to show.
Be low maintenance — This is one surface that will have to be cleaned constantly, and you want this to be a simple process. Countertops that are difficult to clean will cost an enormous amount of time (and create a lot of stress) in the long term.
Be within your budget — The average American spends between $1,000 and $5,000 on kitchen countertops and professional installation. Costs vary significantly depending on where you live, who you hire, and the design/materials you choose.
The importance of choosing the right material
Even more important than the dimensions of your countertops is the material you choose. Granite remains the most sought-after material, due to its great looks, strength, and practicality. It does, of course, cost more. There are other types of stone that cost less—marble and limestone, for example—but since they’re softer materials, the maintenance and cleaning requirements are higher.
Synthetic or “engineered” countertops are made to look like various natural materials, but their strength and ease of use has been optimized. These materials are a great choice for many kitchens, but costs can be as high as granite.
Solid surface, natural wood, laminate, and even concrete (which can be customized with pigmentations) are also considerations for the modern kitchen countertop. All of these materials have pros and cons that need to be weighted against your priorities: Budget, lifestyle, personal tastes. Online research and talking to friends can go a long way toward helping you choose the right material for your kitchen. Speaking with a professional kitchen remodeler can add priceless insight to the process. After all, these are people who have installed countless countertops of all types—and have received detailed feedback about various materials.
While many popular countertops (such as granite and concrete) need to be regularly sealed due to their porous nature, there are a few that require virtually no maintenance beyond normal cleaning. Engineered stone (usually crushed stone bound together with resin), laminate, zinc, and more exotic materials like lava stone are close to perfect in terms of functionality. Some of them are expensive, though—and looks are also a consideration.
The perfect countertops for your kitchen and your lifestyle
The design and layout of your kitchen countertops will be crucial to the workflow of this important area of the home. The decisions you make now, during the planning and design phase, will affect your lifestyle for years to come. It’s worth proceeding carefully, doing plenty of research, and consulting kitchen experts for their take on how to get it right.
Maybe you’ve dreamt of a certain type of countertop. Maybe there are features you’ve always wanted, such as a kitchen island to make food prep easier. Turning these dreams a reality, while avoiding common pitfalls, is entirely possible when you have a reputable kitchen renovator in your corner. Countertops are an important decision, whether you’re building a new home or renovating your existing kitchen. But it’s not a decision you have to make alone.