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Tips for choosing a kitchen countertop

When you’re designing or planning to remodel your kitchen, you have a lot of choices to make. The cabinets and countertops make the biggest impact—on the look, function, and budget. We recently looked at the latest trends in kitchen cabinets. Now, the Kettler Forlines Homes team has tips for choosing a kitchen countertop.

Consider your lifestyle.

How do you use your kitchen? The countertop surface makes a difference, depending on what it will endure. A busy family, for example, needs something durable and easy-to-clean. If you’re a baker, you might appreciate a marble countertop, even if just on the center island. Marble is cold and durable, making it an ideal surface for rolling out dough. 

Butcher block is back! This wood surface is great for food preparation. Set down a hot pot on the heat-resistant surface, and chop whatever you need. If you have a scratch or stain, just sand it out and apply mineral oil or beeswax to seal it.

Determine your budget.

The cost of kitchen countertops accounts for a substantial portion of your kitchen remodeling budget. Figure on 10% to 30% of the total investment going toward purchasing kitchen countertops. Anything less than this number could lead to buyer’s remorse as the material may be inferior.

Complement your home’s design.

What style is your home’s decor? From rustic to contemporary, you have many kitchen countertop choices that will blend and accent the style. Modern Farmhouse is a popular home design, and anything from the rustic look of butcher block or soapstone to the polished surface of granite or quartz will provide the perfect finishing touch to your kitchen remodeling project. Contemporary homes can utilize any surface, particularly the sleekness of granite, quartz, and stainless steel.

Decide on the maintenance you can handle.

Every surface presents its own countertop maintenance requirements. Some are “needier” than others, so be sure you know what’s involved in the upkeep before committing to a particular surface.

Quartz is the simplest to keep in pristine condition. Also known as engineered stone, a quartz countertop is extremely durable, heat-resistant, and non-porous. Because of these characteristics, a quartz countertop resists stains and scratches and doesn’t require sealing.

Granite remains the most popular choice for kitchen countertop surfaces. Not only is it naturally beautiful, but granite is a hard surface that is impervious to heat and scratches. It’s available in a range of grades and thicknesses, each of which impacts the cost. Maintaining a granite countertop usually requires resealing once or twice a year.

Marble is another natural stone that works well as a kitchen countertop, if you have the budget. Marble isn’t as tough as granite or quartz, so it chips and cracks more easily. You’ll also need to reseal it every year to protect the surface. 

Laminates have improved over the year’s and it’s no longer your mother’s kitchen surface! You have a broad range of colors and designs, including many that resemble natural stone. It’s the least expensive of your countertop materials choices, but is also more difficult to repair and doesn’t hold up well to heat, water, and stains.

Soapstone has become a popular choice for kitchen countertop materials. It’s a natural stone that is non-porous and both stain- and bacteria-resistant—desirable features for a kitchen countertop. Soapstone’s color will darken over time, so keep that in mind when choosing it. For countertop maintenance, plan on regular applications of mineral oil, which also has the benefit of masking scratches.

Stainless steel gives any kitchen a sleek, industrial look. The metal is easy to clean and can handle a hot pot without risk of damage. Stainless steel doesn’t stain, but it also doesn’t fend off scratches and dents, and can be a bit noisy in a busy kitchen.

Concrete is the rising star among countertop choices. It can assume the color, pattern, and texture of stone, adding a natural look in your kitchen. Concrete can be tinted, textured, and even have accents (like bits of glass and stone) embedded in the surface. It does not resist some stains, so maintenance includes fast clean-up. You should also plan on waxing a concrete countertop top every six months and resealing it once a year.

Look at a countertop, not swatches.

If you’ve ever bought cans of paint based on a small swatch, you know it’s a risky proposition. The same holds true for choosing a kitchen countertop. Once you’ve decided on a certain kitchen countertop material, explore how it will look in your kitchen. Use a kitchen visualizer app to view the countertop. You can add your cabinets to make sure the countertops pair well with your choice.

If you choose granite, many companies let you browse the actual slab so you  can choose the color and veining, eliminating guesswork.

Find the right remodeler.

Working with an experienced kitchen remodeler can make the difference between a dream kitchen and a nightmare. Don’t trust this important renovation to someone who isn’t deeply experienced in kitchen makeovers, or you might end up paying for their position on the low end of the learning curve. For more than 40 years, Kettler Forlines Homes has been building stunning homes in the DC Metro region. We put the same skills to work as a home remodeler. From guiding you through the design process to completing a skilled renovation, the Kettler Forlines Homes team is ready to turn your imagination into a brand new look anywhere in your home. Tell us your ideas and let’s get started!