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Choosing Kitchen Countertops

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Over the past several weeks, I've learned quite a bit about this ever-expanding market.  In this post, I'm going to share what I've learned and reveal my decision on our new countertop material. Please remember, I'm not a professional.  I'm just giving you my thoughts and opinions on the these many products, along with what I hope will be some helpful information I've learned along the way.  We're going to discuss the most commonly installed materials - laminate, stainless steel, marble, concrete, quartz and granite. 

LAMINATE
Did you know that 75% of the countertop market is currently plastic laminate?  It might seem like a dying trend but it was once the hottest, best thing, dating back to the 1950's.  Designers say that it will trend back into style, probably whenever the 1950's style cycle returns.  I'm not sure that I'm sold on that one but we'll see, won't we?

Pros:  It's cheap.
Cons:  It's laminate.

Disclaimer: I have had many homes with laminate.  In 1994, our first home was a tiny apartment with orange laminate countertops.  I covered them with country blue contact paper.  They were awesome.

Photo Source:  Laminate countertops by Decor Chick - these are amazing!


STAINLESS STEEL
It's what you see in all the top restaurant kitchens and it's in a lot of upscale homes. Why don't more people install stainless steel, especially in today's modern kitchen trend?

Pros:  It's anti-microbial, heat proof and easy to clean.
Cons:  It's expensive, it shows fingerprints and water spots, and it scratches and dents easily.

Photo: Decor Pad - Palmerston Design

MARBLE
If you love light colored counters, then you love the look of marble.  There's really nothing prettier than Carrara Marble, in my opinion.  You find it in some kitchens but most often you see it in bathrooms and there is definitely a reason for that!  Marble is fragile.  Why do you think all those sculptors use marble to make their statues?  It's easily chipped and breakable.  If you NEVER cook or even use your kitchen, then this is probably a good choice for you.

Pros:  It's beautiful, clean and bright.
Cons:  It's expensive, it's fragile, porous and stains easily.

Disclaimer: We stayed at this hotel in Rome, Italy last summer and the ENTIRE bathroom was done in Carrara Marble.  I just wanted to live in that bathroom.  It was stunning.

Photo: Tolaris Homes. BHG Hooked on Houses





CONCRETE


Concrete has certainly been trending in recent years.  I'm not really surprised by this trend.  Concrete has a very natural, matte look to it.  It fits right in with the burlap-decorated world we live in these days.  It's just cool but it's not necessarily ideal.

Pros:  Super cool looking, gorgeous matte finish and heat resistant.
Cons:  It's fairly expensive, easily stained or cracked, and requires maintenance.







QUARTZ
I was not a fan of Quartz prior to this "study" of my kitchen.  After I look at all the many new Quartz products out there, I narrowed it down to one of my final choices.  Quartz can be made in any color so you can get that light, marble look and that's probably my favorite thing about it.  I started asking professionals about the different tops and I found that most preferred QUARTZ above any other.  They also said that Cambria Quartz was the "Cadillac" of Quartz. 


Pros:  It's pretty and available in bright, light colors.  It's strong and sealed with no maintenance.
Cons:  It's very expensive.  Some Quartz can cost more than Granite.  It's also not completely heat tolerant and can crack, from what I read.  
Photo: Torquay Cambria Quartz.  Apartment Therapy.  7th House on the Left.



GRANITE
It's been the rage for a several years now and it's still going strong. It's price point is dropping somewhat due to it's availability and new, less expensive methods of cutting the stone.  I think it's so pretty and the fact that it's a real slab of (unmanufactured) stone is pretty cool.

Pros:  It's beautiful and it's strong, for the most part.
Cons:  The lighter colors are hard to find and more expensive usually.  Granite in general is expensive.  It's also fragile and requires resealing every year.  It's hard to get a slab any larger than 9 feet.

Disclaimer:  As I read the pros and cons on this one, I'm almost talking myself out of it.  Notice, I said ALMOST.





So back to my kitchen and my decision - I chose GRANITE.  
It was a very tight race between Quartz and Granite though.

Remodel Update
The house is in demolition mode right now.  There are framed walls and torn up floors and lots of construction dust.  I will share pictures with more details on my next post.  I am busy picking out appliances, flooring, lighting, cabinet colors, finishes and much more!
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