Kitchen Countertops

Published July 20, 2012

Are you in the market for a new kitchen countertop?

It’s probably one of the larger investments you will make when renovating your kitchen so it’s important to do your homework on the various choices available.

If you are shopping for a new countertop, it’s always a good idea to investigate the pros and cons of the most popular choices on the market. Once you have narrowed down your choice, be sure to go and visit a showroom where the product is featured and speak to a store representative to get all your questions answered.

Countertop choice is obviously dictated by the style and appearance of your kitchen, but it’s imperative that the countertop be durable and easy to maintain. Kitchen counters are probably the most used surface in the home and  wear-and-tear considerations must be taken into account.

The most popular kitchen countertops are wood, tile, stone, concrete and engineered stone.

Wood countertops express a timeless and natural style, however they can show scratches and stains and will absorb water stains easily. Many different types of wood surfaces are available today and you can essentially pick whatever type of wood you would like. Keep in mind however, that maintenance is important with these countertops, as they will require oiling from time to time to keep their natural beauty. Cost is usually in the range $50-$200 per square foot, installed.

If you are considering a tile countertop there are many colour choices available as well as styles, sizes and thickness. Tiles are wonderfully warm and inviting and they are resistant to staining as long as the grout and tile are properly sealed on a regular basis. They can be cumbersome however due to scratches and possible chipping. If you really have your heart set on tile, then be prepared for the work involved to keep them clean and new looking. Cost averages between $40- $100.

There is no question that the number one choice for a kitchen countertop is stone, more specifically, granite. According to North Shore Stone Work’s Mike Stulken, granite is a luxurious, heat resistant surface that is not only stain resistant but is a natural substance that customers tend to prefer. “ Granite is available in an assortment of custom colours and inlays but will require the occasional resealing to prevent stains”, he remarked. One of the most popular choice for this stone at the moment appears to be the “honed” granite. Honed granite is granite that is in its earliest stage of polishing, giving it more of a matte finish as opposed to a shiny, polished look. Cost ranges in the $60- 200 range per square foot.

Concrete countertops are gaining popularity due to their extreme durability and resistance to heat and scratches. They are very easy to maintain and come in a variety of colour choices.  Cons are they can be difficult to install and can have a tendency to look artificial if not done properly. It’s best to secure the services of an experienced concrete installer for this treatment. Cost is $50- 150 per square foot.

Lastly, engineered stones are making a huge comeback. Silestone and Corian in particular. These countertops are heat resistant and available in many patterns and colours. The downside is that they can be scratched and damaged and may absorb stains more easily than granite. Cost is in the $30- 150 per square foot range.

Other countertops choices include laminates and metals. Metal countertops offer a very dramatic look but can be costly. Stainless steel is sleek and modern, however, it tends to scratch easily and may give the kitchen a very commercial feel. Cost is $80-150 per square foot.

Deciding upon a kitchen countertop is an important decision that requires a lot of groundwork. Start early and visit as many kitchen shops as you can. Be sure to ask a lot of questions to avoid any disappointment in the end.