Your New Kitchen Countertop – Which Material is Best?
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Well, after months of planning, my kitchen renovation started today – 8am on the dot.
One of the first decisions that we had to make when we started the process was which kitchen countertop material would be best for us.
Going into this, I didn’t really know much about kitchen countertops at all, so I had to do a bit of fast research.
If you are planning to remodel your kitchen, then hopefully you will find this information to be helpful.
This is how I went about making the decision about which kitchen countertops were right for me.
Before you even start …
Become Crystal Clear on Your Requirements
Our current kitchen is about 22 years old. It is seriously the most heavily used room in our small house. Because of the heavy use my requirements were simple. I needed durable kitchen countertops that are easy to clean.
For me, practical considerations come before esthetics. The material that I choose has to work with my lifestyle.
This is why.
Durable Kitchen Counters
Not only does my kitchen see heavy traffic but because the house is small, we do a lot more on the kitchen countertops than cook food. (That doesn’t sound quite right, now, does it?)
What I mean is that the countertops are used for homework, projects, storage, and so much more.
The surfaces go from clean and pristine to piled high with clutter and every stage in between.
So the best kitchen countertops for me are ones that are extremely durable.
Easy to Clean and Care For
Another thing that I don’t have enough of besides space, is time.
And I really don’t like to clean that much either.
If they made a self cleaning countertop, I would be the first one in line.
But since they don’t make that kind, I needed to settle for kitchen countertops that are easy to clean and care for.
Evaluate Your Current Counters
When trying to determine the best kitchen countertops for your space – the logical place to start is with the product that you already have.
You have probably lived in your home for awhile and used the kitchen quite a bit.
So, make a list of what you like and don’t like about your current counters.
- Do they stain or scratch easily?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of the color that you have?
- How do they hold up to heat?
- Do you like the overall feel?
- Are they easy to maintain?
When you know what you like, then it is easier to narrow down your choices as you shop for new kitchen countertops.
My Current Situation
My current countertops are made from DuPont Corian and are a speckled dark green color.
We probably took really good care of them when we first moved into the house. But they took a beating over the years as we raised four children in this house.
And they held up really well.
The surface definitely got scratched up, but because of the dark speckled color you really couldn’t see it.
Speaking of the dark color, it really hides everything. Crumbs, spills, even permanent marker (don’t ask) was all camouflaged.
Honestly, I never thought much about the heat level that my counters could take. We never really put hot pots and pans directly on the surface, but we may have for a couple seconds here and there.
About 3 years ago (when the countertops were roughly 19 years old, I noticed a crack forming in the counter from the corner of our gas cooktop to the edge. This may have been caused by heat, use, age, or who knows what.
Another thing that my teenaged kids would do (that I definitely do not recommend) is cut food directly on the countertop.
Yup – no cutting board.
Like I said, the dark color hid scratches well.
Look At Your Choices
There are several types of kitchen countertop materials out there – definitely more than I am familiar with.
Each one has it’s pros and cons. This chart gives you a quick overview of the options.
Based on my research, I divided my choices into the following categories:
- Natural Stone
- Man made solid surface material
- Quartz Countertops (engineered stone)
In all honesty, I did not consider laminate countertops (a common brand is Formica) as an option because it did not offer the look and feel that I was going for.
It is definitely a cost effective option and comes in many colors, but it was not right for my project.
Natural stone kitchen countertops are gorgeous.
The variety of patterns and colors is mind boggling.
This category includes the following surfaces to name a few
The thing that I found about natural stone is that, despite it’s beauty, each surface is a little quirky.
Some are very porous and absorb stains easily – so you need to seal them periodically.
Others are soft and prone to scratches and chipping.
But on the flip side, some – like granite and quartzite – are very hard and durable with high heat resistance.
This article on The Spruce outlines how to care for different natural stone surfaces.
Man Made Solid Surface Countertops
This category includes the DuPont Corian counters that I currently have.
They can be made from acrylic polymer and a bauxite derivative.
The advantages is they are generally non-porous, stain resistant, and seamless in appearance.
Because they are man-made, they are consistent in color and appearance from batch to batch.
For example, we added a counter area in our kitchen about 7 years after the original kitchen was installed. At that time we were able to buy a piece of DuPont Corian in the exact same color and pattern as the original counters and it looked like it was part of the original installation.
This can be good if you have to make repairs to your kitchen countertops depending on the situation.
Quartz Countertops (Engineered Stone)
Quartz countertops are very popular in kitchens these days.
They are supposedly non-porous, scratch resistant, and easy to clean.
Made from ground up quartz (a natural stone) and bonded together with a polymer resin, this surface is said to combine the benefits of both natural stone and manmade solid surface materials.
The downside is that quartz is not as heat resistant as many natural stones. And while many of the patterns and colors are nice, well, you just can’t compete with nature.
When it comes to quartz there are many brands to choose from including:
- LG Viatara
- Silestone, and
The Kitchen Countertop that I Chose
Personally, I knew that I could not babysit my kitchen countertop. I can barely handle what is already on my plate and I did not need that added responsibility.
So, natural stone was out, for me.
While we had a good run with manmade solid surface countertops these last 20 years, I was ready for a change.
So, that left me with quartz.
You may think that once the decision is made, the work is done. But that is not true.
After I decided to go with a quartz kitchen countertop, I then had to choose brand and color – which is a process in and of itself.
You can read about how I chose the best quartz kitchen countertop for my remodel here.
More Kitchen Design Decisions
If you are planning a kitchen renovation, you might be torn as to whether to use counter height or bar height counters in your new kitchen. Here are some pros and cons to consider.