Remodels, as opposed to additions, still dominate homeowner home improvement plans and, not surprisingly, remodeling an old, outdated kitchen still tops the list.
According to a recent survey by Houzz, an online community and site about architecture, home improvement, interior design and decor, the most popular feature to replace in a kitchen is the countertop.
Choosing the right new countertop is no longer a simple, easy process. These days there are so many options that it can be tough to choose. The key is to pick a material that suits your home’s decor, works with your budget, and is durable enough to resist most stains and wear and tear.
To help you decide, here is a list of the most popular countertop options on the market right now:
Granite. This is a very popular natural product. What’s incredible is that each slab is unique, which means you need to be very hands-on about picking the slab (or multiple slabs, if necessary) that will be installed in your kitchen. While the aesthetic appeal makes granite popular, the material’s exceptional ability to deal with spills, hot pots, and knife knicks means that this material is a highly sought-after countertop material (and retains its resale value). Cons? Homeowners should be aware that granite countertops do require periodic sealing for stain protection.
Marble. This material is a classic option and a great countertop material if the homeowner is worried about chips and dings (most can be polished right out). However, this countertop material does require a bit more care, since marble will need to be continually sealed in order to prevent scratches, and staining can be a real issue even after it’s sealed.
Limestone. This countertop material provides a look that is very pristine and clean, but unfortunately, it scratches, chips and stains very easily. If you love limestone, consider installing it in areas where you do the least amount of food preparation.
Recycled glass. If you love splashes of color, perhaps recycled glass countertops may be the option for you. Muted or bright colors, patterns or solids, recycled glass offers a variety of customization when it comes to decor. Even better is that recycled glass countertops are resistant to heat, cuts and scratches. The only real drawback is that glass can chip easily, and the resin between the pieces can stain.
Quartz. Quartz rose in popularity over the last decade because it rivals the look and feel of granite – meaning it looks beautiful and easily repels spills, handles heat, and resists knife cuts – but doesn’t require sealing or stain protection. Keep in mind, however, that quartz countertops are not natural. The material is made from a blend of stone chips; however, as an engineered product it offers homeowners a variety of colors and styles to choose from. Since it’s waterproof it is often a great option for those who intend to install an undermount sink. The one drawback is that the edges and corners are more prone to chipping so consider paying for rounded corners to eliminate a future costly repair.
Laminate. For decades, laminate was the go-to material for countertops. As a countertop material, laminate is stain and heat resistant but that’s where all uniformity stops. Quality among laminate products can differ quite dramatically and the cheapest of the options is often quite poor at resisting water penetration if even the smallest knick cuts the top-coating surface. Cheaper options are also prone to chipping and peeling. If this ends up being the countertop material of your choice, be sure to ask about wear and tear, and warranties. Don’t try to cut costs by simply going for the cheapest option.
Tile. A tile countertop is a great choice for those who want something durable but relatively inexpensive. The best option, due to stain resistance, is porcelain tile, which is also a good material given how easy it is to clean and the number of options and styles you can choose from. One other big advantage is that a tile countertop can seamlessly transition into a tile backsplash – giving your kitchen a clean, simple, fresh look. If you don’t like stained grout, choose a darker color and don’t forget to buy a few extra tiles so you can swap out and repair any damaged tile in the future.
Soapstone. If you want a more affordable material that offers a natural, granite-like look, consider soapstone. The material withstands heat well but will show knife cuts. If you end up with soapstone counters you’ll need to protect your remodel investment by rubbing with mineral oil on a regular basis.
For homeowners struggling to stay on-budget, consider mixing and matching your countertop materials. If you love marble, use it in more prominent areas such as on your kitchen island – the visual eye-candy of most kitchens – but use less expensive material such as laminate on the counters around your appliances.