With hundreds of options for countertops and kitchen surfaces, it′s best to narrow the scope by deciding how long the counter should last, how durable it will be, how difficult to install, and how costly.
Stone countertops, like these marble countertops, are durable. Cared for properly, they will last a lifetime
Countertops have come a long way since the days when laminate was king. By combining form with function, they set a tone and a standard. Be it the classic elegance of granite or the sleek feel of stainless steel, countertop options abound.
Stone Countertops 101
Dealers price stone countertops based on linear or square footage, template, fabrication, delivery, and countertops installation. Prices vary depending on texture, color, pattern, intricacy of edging, number of holes, sink type and seams. A qualified, certified kitchen designer can help research qualified manufacturers and fabricators.
Heavy countertops, like cement, natural, and engineered stones, are held in place with gravity and fixative, while other counters are screwed and glued. Prices range from $16 per lineal foot for some laminates, to $100 per square foot or more for specialty stones. Since countertop pricing ranges from the economical to the astronomical, it′s important to consider longevity, durability, maintenance, and price installed.
Countertop made from natural stone sells for anywhere from $50 to $100 per square foot installed. Granite is quarried worldwide, with colors and patterns that reveal the region and the geological conditions that created it. With granite, each slab is unique, with random and inconsistent patterns. Buyers may visit the fabricator to select their own slabs. Granite is graded for a host of variables including density, strength, water absorption, and acid resistance. Granite tiles are less costly but have more seams, while a 3/4-inch granite sheet can also be purchased and applied to a wood substrate for the same look at less cost and weight.
Marble countertop is less stain-resistant and more porous than granite, so it may be damaged by acidic foods. New England slate, from New York, Vermont, and Maine, is durable, non-porous, and requires no sealing. Marble countertop runs from $50 to $100 per square foot, with black slate, followed by red slate as the most expensive.
Concrete is one of the more dynamic products to grace the kitchen. It boasts texture and detailing unlike any solid product. It is porous in nature, absorbs stains easily, and must be sealed regularly. At an inch-and-a-half thick, concrete weighs the same as a granite countertop. But, since concrete must be poured and cured prior to installation, it′s important to get it right. The stone countertop fabricator should first template then creates the countertop from a pre-cast mold in a controlled factory setting. On-site casting might result in a one-piece installation, but will require major demolition should the countertop need to be removed. Concrete runs about $100 per square foot installed.
Engineered stone is a quartz-composite product mixed with colored pebbles, polymers, and epoxy. It has an even pattern and more color options than natural stone. So, if a kitchen calls for more stone countertop space, it′s easy to order the same pattern and shade. Engineered stone is an extremely durable product that takes the heat and resists stains. Engineered stone is one-and-a-quarter inches thick, and is installed using epoxy. At $50 to $100 per square foot, engineered stone is as costly as granite.
Solid surface countertops offer seamless acrylic faces with seams that are only visible from the underside. With solid surfacing, sink and countertop materials can be integrated to create a fluid, graceful line. Solid surfaces come in a rainbow of colors, patterns, and styles, including stone and glass look-alikes. They are stain and heat resistant, with more edging and border options than natural stone. Scratches are easily softened with a non-abrasive scrubbing pad.