May 3, 2012

What’s The Perfect Kitchen Countertop?

Sawhill Custom Kitchen and Design

I hate to make all the countertop manufacturers mad at me, but there truly is not a perfect kitchen countertop material to suit everyone’s needs. There may be a “perfect” countertop that fits your requirements, style & taste.  But there’s not a perfect material in my mind that satisfies everyone’s needs.

When trying to select the right kitchen countertop for you and your project there are some things you need to consider that are key to determining the right product for you.  I believe there are five main criteria to consider before finalizing your countertop selection. So let’s look at those first.

How do you feel about seams in your countertop? Most materials require a seam on any kitchen countertop, unless the area is small enough to be fabricated out of one large piece. So make sure to ask where the seam(s) will be in your countertop – if any.

Are you worried about stains on your countertop? If you know that you and your family are not good about cleaning up spills or you like to work with certain products directly on your countertop, then make sure to ask about the “porosity” of the material you’ve selected.  Some Granites for example are more porous than other granites, and special sealers can be added for extra protection.

Some clients are also concerned about heat resistance  because they may have burned a previous countertop. Countertops made from natural materials like Granite or Quartz are pretty heat resistant, but caution should still be taken with these products.  While solid surface materials like “Corian” can be damaged from extreme heat, but can sustain some heat, but trivets are highly recommended.

Of course you want your kitchen to be beautiful, but do you want the countertop to really make a statement, or simply compliment the cabinetry – or both? “Beauty” or appearance over Durability is sometimes more important to some clients. Generally you can achieve a happy balance and get both. But about 30 years ago a kitchen designer told me that “if it looks really cool and pretty, it probably isn’t very practical.”

Durability can be judged by considering the product’s heat resistance & stain resistance, but another aspect of durability is scratch resistance.  Even the hardest countertop on the market can scratch. But the key is to determine how easy the material can scratch, and how easy it is to repair a scratch. A scratch in a granite countertop will typically require a professional repair. Whereas a scratch in a solid surface countertop like Corian can many times be repaired with fine sand paper and a ScotchBrite pad.

So if a client said they wanted a countertop with virtually invisible seams, was non-porous, and scratches could be easily repaired. I would recommend a solid surface produce like Corian.  However, if a client said that the most important thing was they wanted an extremely unique countertop – “one of a kind.” Then I would suggest looking at natural materials like Granite, Marble etc. or even Concrete.

The two examples I give above are just generalities. All products have unique colors or patterns to some extend, and all products offer some durability attributes. The key is to find the product that will preform well for you and the needs of your family. And sometimes the right answer is to use two different products in  your kitchen, like I did in mine!

Tim Aden

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Sawhill Custom Kitchen and Design

May 3, 2012